Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cracking the WIP

            All alone. Not me, the heroine of my current WIP (work-in-progress). She’s married, lives with her husband and his mother in a small town where everybody knows her name. But she is alone. She feels lonely and is looking for a way to escape. For now my working title is “Dreamwalker”, I have to wait and see what the final title will be.

            I've been blessed with my life since, even when I might have been at odds with a person or two around me, I've never experienced such total isolation, I have never felt the desolation that my heroine, Annie, feels. So I am trying to get into her head and understand the sadness and the frustration.

            The story is a Paranormal, a first for me, I've never written in this style before. I am not sure WHAT kind of paranormal will this be, will it be a Paranormal Romance, Paranormal Thriller or what. But I am starting to get into the heads of my characters little by little and I am finding they are writing their own story. And this is a good thing, it’s the way I write.

            Several times I've been surprised by some of the choices and actions my characters have made. In His Lucky Charm I never expected the heroine’s cousin to be such a “bad boy” who was still mourning the loss of his high school love. I definitely did not expect Paige to bolt in Bartlett’s Rule when Lon was just doing his best to protect her. And it really surprised the heck out of me when Sudah turned her back on Matt in Hyphema and blamed him for her cousin’s death.

            I allow my characters to come to life and that is what I am doing now with Annie, Dave, Scott and Dianne (be warned, the names may change before I finish if the characters decide they don’t like the names I chose for them). They tend to become real and yes, like many writers experience, they talk to me and tell me what makes them happy or sad, or why they want their life to be different. Sometimes I play the role of a stern, lecturing parent to try to get them back on the right track, or at least the concept I had of them. Sometimes I am forced to add a twist to my story simply because I didn’t want my characters angry at me.

            I once said I give birth to my characters and sometimes the labor is long and arduous, but it is always well worth it. As I put words to paper I grow more and more anxious to see the way this turns out. I think I am probably going to be a bit surprised.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I have a dream

It was nearly fifty years ago when the Reverend Martin Luther King gave the famous and powerful “I have a dream” speech. In so many ways, this is a very different world we live in today and yet we still have so much further to go.

1963 was a year of violence and tears, dreams and hope. It was a year when civil rights protesters met with brutality from police and soldiers acting on orders of their superiors. Martin Luther King, jailed in Birmingham, Ala. wrote the significant "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and argued that there is a moral duty to disobey unjust laws. Later that same year he told a crowd of a quarter million blacks and whites the enduring words, “I have a dream”.

In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

Dr King preached civil disobedience when necessary, but he also preached non-violence. Even if WE are not the instigators and WE do not personally strip the rights of our fellow human beings away, if we sit still and voiceless as we allow this to happen, then we are just as guilty. He saw a world where all men and women would be equal and respectful of one another.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.”

There are many who have suffered, in the past and even today. Non-whites, women, and homosexuals have to fight every day for equal rights. There are many ways where suffering has to be endured, unequal pay, lost job opportunities, forbidden loves, cold shoulders, exclusion, suspicion, and more.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

Advancements and victories occurred through the years; there has always been room for more. In the 21st-century the American people have seen remarkable changes. Affirmative action has become an effective tool to ensure diverse pools of talent. Equal pay for equal work is a promise with action available when it isn't followed. America saw the election (and re-election) of its first Black president. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed allowing gays in the military to serve openly and proudly. More and more states are passing legal same-sex marriages. There will always be more to do, but our country is honoring human rights for all more and more everyday.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mom mom mommy ma mom ma mommy mommy mom …"What!"

When I write, I fall in love with my heroes, I admire my heroines, and I try to humanize my villains. But the characters I have the most fun creating are the moms.

I had a terrific relationship with my mom, lost her far too many years ago, and have often wished I could be more like her as a parent. My mama was southern born and bred although she lost most of her thick southern drawl after living in NYC all of her married life, when she was upset, the SOUTHERN really came out. Which was really funny because my dad was Puerto Rican and spoke English at home except when he got mad, then he reverted to Spanish. If my folks had a dispute, I felt like I was being raised by Ricky Ricardo and Scarlett O’Hara.

But I digress…

When I write a mom into my stories she can be overprotective and manipulative, comical, almost always loving, sometimes pushy, usually young at heart, often opinionated and almost always adored by her offspring. In my latest WIP, the mom isn’t all that flattering, although she adores her son she is kind of a be-yotch to her daughter-in-law. None of the top TV moms have anything on my character moms.

My favorite mom in my novels has always been Sylvia Hughes from “His Lucky Charm” and “Within the Law”. Cousins Caitlyn Smythe and Tom Hughes were raised by Sylvia who Caitlyn calls Aunt Syl. Sylvia is loving and sometimes a little too involved in her kids’ lives. (and yes, she often uses the colloquialism “kids”, she’s just very down to earth.)

In this brief excerpt from “His Lucky Charm” Sylvia expresses concern for her son, his lost love and his solitary lifestyle:

“Tommy, you are a young man.” Sylvia continued. “You should not live alone.”
“Ma... please.” Tom laid his fork down next to his plate.
“You’re a good looking man.” She turned to Caitlyn. “Isn’t he good looking?”
“Uh, yeah.”
“Brandon, you’re getting married. Isn’t it a nice feeling to be settling down?”
“Ma! Stop it.” Tom stood up from the table. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He left in a hurry. The back door slammed shut behind him.
Sylvia looked at the rest of the family at the table. “What did I say?” She looked at each of their faces. Caitlyn was studying her plate. “What did I say?”
Walter shook his head and kept eating. “Sylvie, you never learn. Leave the boy alone.”
“What? I’m not allowed to care about my kids?”
Caitlyn put her fork down on the table and leaned over to hug Sylvia. “Aunt Syl, we love you. Tommy just needs to set his own pace. It will happen. Don’t worry.”
Sylvia took Caitlyn’s face in her hands and looked at her eyes. “I just want you two to be happy. That’s all I want.”
Caitlyn smiled. “I know.”
“You hear that Brandon?” Sylvia’s voice cracked. “You better keep my baby happy.”
“Yes ma’am.” Brandon looked at Caitlyn and saw her smile at him. “I plan to work at that for the rest of my life.”
“Good. Very good.” Sylvia nodded and went back to eating.

I think Sylvia is a little bit like Kitty Foreman from “That 70’s Show”.

Some years back I was told by my offspring that I am most like Rosanne Barr. I’m not entirely sure that’s very complimentary, but they said it was. I’ve never been very traditional, have never hesitated to embarrass my daughter and son, and have always loved them fiercely. I’ll never be June Cleaver, or Donna Reed, Marion Cunningham or Clair Huxtable. At least they never claimed I should star in “Mommy Dearest”.

How would you describe yourself or your parents? Do you have a TV mom-type you may have been "raised" by?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Armchair Psychologist: Avoiding Success

            Writers like to people watch and we tend o read into someone’s actions and words just because that is the way our imagination works. While I did take a college level psych class for one term, I am not pretending to be a professional.

            Why is it human tendency to procrastinate? So often we put off the things we should be doing for tomorrow, or the next day. Hey, it took me at least three days between my getting an idea for this post and my actually putting it on paper. We allow ourselves to get distracted or busy with other things we think need to be done.

            Are we really being lazy or suffering from some level of A.D.D.? Or are we somehow afraid that if we try we won’t succeed – if we don’t try then our excuse is we just didn’t have the time. It’s a little like playing the lottery, “you have to be in it to win it”. Of course when we play and don’t win we grumble about wasting our money.

“He is able who thinks he is able.” ~Buddha

            We have to learn to focus on the positive even when the outcome is not what we were wishing for. What did we learn from what we did? Next time we try can we utilize those lessons and perhaps work towards getting closer to our goal? What was the real cost of trying? Maybe the cost wasn't nearly as much as the potential of success.

            Success is not a measure of wealth, fame, title or possessions. Success is the satisfaction and confidence we feel about ourselves, it is the respect we receive from the people who mean the most to us. Success comes from believing on ourselves. Many of the characters I write about in my books are “successful”.

            Even though he comes from money, that isn’t what makes Brandon Price (His lucky Charm) a success. It’s his determination to make it in spite of the lack of relationship he has with his father. Brandon built and runs his own business in computer design, programming and robotics. He has a skill and reputation for the work he does which makes him a hot commodity to the government. Brandon does make a nice amount of money, but he is still a down to earth kind of guy and looks forward to taking care of the woman he loves, Caitlyn Smythe.

            Not all of my characters have complete confidence. Ben Johnson (A Chaunce of Riches) is a capable private investigator, but he is intimidated by Samantha Chaunce’s wealth and worries that he doesn’t have anything to “give her” in their relationship. He almost gives up trying.

            Whether it’s past disappointments, lack of confidence in ourselves, or some limited measure of success, we tend to fear trying. We procrastinate, We make excuses. We let distractions help us avoid doing the things we need to do. Later instead of feeling content with our achievements, we live with regrets because just maybe we might have succeeded.

            What have you been putting off lately? What do you think you could do to help reach your goal? Let’s discuss it here.

Ben Johnson was hired as a bodyguard for a rich widow and her kid, but he never expected to be working for the woman who had abandoned him just when he had needed her the most. Damn it all, he still wanted her. Samantha Chaunce never thought she would have to explain why she married the rich man instead of Ben. Or that her husband had been murdered...and Ben was the prime suspect.