I’ve watched from the sidelines for some time as Colleen Cheseboro issues a weekly poetry challenge. This week I decided to try my hand at Haiku – a form of Japanese poetry that consists of 3 lines with a 5/7/5 syllable count.
HERE’S THE CATCH: You can’t use the prompt words! SYNONYMS ONLY! The prompt is MYSTERY AND ATTRACT.
Let me know what you think – honesty only! 🙂 I love trying new things when it involves words!
It is my privilege and pleasure to help shine the spotlight on an incredibly supportive RRBC and RWISA author, Mary Adler. Today, she shares her thoughts on telling stories about real characters who lived and died. I’ll let her explain.
TELLING THEIR STORIES
When I am bogged down writing, when I can’t
think of any words, let alone the right words—whatever they may be—I persist no
matter how much I would like to quit. The driving force that propels me to sit
in the chair day after day, to hit the keys even when I know I will scrap the
hard-won scenes, is my need to bring to life the reality of forgotten people.
Don’t get me wrong. My first purpose when writing a mystery is to
entertain, to surprise, to take the reader on a trip to another time and place
and community. But the reason I write
the Oliver Wright series is because I want my readers to know what it was
really like to live in America during World War II, to hear the stories of the
people who lived then.
When I was full of doubt while writing my first
Oliver Wright and Harley mystery, my friend Steve, who is psychic, encouraged
me. For more than one good and
sufficient reason I believe he truly does communicate with the other side. (But that is a story for another
time.) He told me that they wanted
me to tell their story.
I assumed my relatives, Italians who had been
discriminated during World War II, were clamoring to have their story told, but
I was wrong.
Steve told me he saw a group of soldiers
holding rifles, some standing, some kneeling. It was the soldiers who wanted me to tell
their story, to try to make people understand what it was like to surrounded by
death, to watch their friends die day after day after day, and not have time to
Steve’s vision prompted me to write this passage
in In the Shadow of Lies.
Oliver, a homicide detective on medical leave
from the Marines, is back home and remembering what happened on Guam.
I was back in Pt. Richmond, but Guam was only as far away as the
next night’s sleep. It wasn’t the memory of fighting, of being wounded, that
tortured me. It was the memory of walking away from the endless graves, from
the rifles stuck bayonet-down in freshly turned dirt. My men had buried too
many friends, friends who had died beside them, sometimes quickly, sometimes so
slowly they had begged their buddies to finish them off.
Then the living
had moved on—on to more killing. The war allowed no time to mourn, to
grieve, to honor the death of a man they might have loved as deeply as they
would ever love anyone. They moved on, they fought, they buried more men, they
moved on — and no one could see they were drowning in unshed tears.
I had hidden my
face when the hospital plane taxied down the runway on Guam. The medics
expected me to be grateful that I was leaving the fighting, but grief filled my
heart. I was leaving behind friends willing to sacrifice their own lives for
each other and for their dogs. It was why they fought. Forget the pretty
speeches about preserving democracy and freedom—they died for each other,
killing and being killed to end the endless killing.
I can’t know if I have honored the soldiers in
my friend’s vision in the way they wanted, but I believe they sent Oliver’s
thoughts to me to share with my readers. I did my best.
Mary Adler was an
attorney and dean at CWRU School of Medicine. She escaped the ivory tower for
the much gentler world of World War II and the adventures of homicide detective
Oliver Wright and his German shepherd, Harley. She lives with her family in
Sebastopol, California, where she creates garden habitats for birds and bees
and butterflies. She is active in dog rescue and does canine scent work with
her brilliant dogs — the brains of the team — and loves all things Italian.
The Author’s Guild has just published their 2018 Author’s Income Survey. The largest survey of writing-related earnings by American authors finds incomes falling to historic lows to a median of $6,080 in 2017, down 42 percent from 2009.
Hmmm. That doesn’t bode well for us authors. And to be totally honest, I’d be ecstatic to make $6,000 per year from my books. I don’t personally know any Indie author who makes that much money per year from book sales alone.
So, I have to ask myself, “why do it?” Why spend hours, days, weeks and months toiling over work that only a handful people will read?
As most of you know, I never intended to be an author. That was never my goal in life. I just had a story that had to be told and I was the only one who could tell it.
But, since the last of the four books were published in 2017, I haven’t found a place to stop writing. It truly becomes a passion. I looked up “passion” in Merriam Webster’s dictionary and found this: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept
Yep. That pretty much describes it.
The photo says it all. I dared to follow my passion, to tell a story that burned inside me, and it has now lead me to my purpose. That purpose is to write — whether it be stories (true or fiction), magazine interviews, or record reviews — it is now my purpose in life.
Of course, I would love nothing more than to be able to make a living writing. But, based on reality and the statistics shown by the Author’s Guild, that isn’t likely.
There are simply some things in life that are more important than money.
Passion and Purpose!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the survey and your passion for writing. Does it give you purpose? Do you ever think about stopping? What would you do with yourself if you did stop? Have you ever tried?
I can’t imagine what I’d do every day if I suddenly stopped writing. Nope. I’m going to keep on writing money be damned!
As I always do at the beginning of each new year, I seek a word for the upcoming year through meditation and self-reflection.
For 2019, the word I received is CONFIDENCE!
While many who know me may wonder why I would need that word, to me it made perfect sense.
Confidence to keep pressing forward, to keep pursuing a publisher and to keep writing is exactly what I need! If I can believe in myself and my work, then it is a thousand times more likely someone else will also believe in me.
So, to honor that commitment for 2019, I made a list of goals. Trust me, I never do that, but somehow I felt the inspiration this year. The goals are not earth-shattering, but instead simple.
However my #1 Goal is: I will publish a new book in 2019.
There. I’ve said it, now I must follow through. 🙂
I’ve learned so much about poetry from Colleen Cheeseboro and while I didn’t make it into the timeline last week to submit this Shadorma, I’ll post it here and credit her for the challenge.
Basically a Shadorma is a six line stanza with the syllable count: 3/5/3/3/7/5
So, here goes!
Time to let it flow
Let it go
Let it show
Trust the Universe, it knows
Your best way to grow
I’d love to hear from you how you approach a new year!
I’m still looking back at 2018, and one thing that stands out for me, in the literary world, is the number of short stories that were published.
Part of the reason for the large surge was a 90 Day Alpha/Omega Beginning to End Short Story contest sponsored by the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.
While I didn’t read every entry, I did devour a good many and was completely amazed at the writing talent!
I’m going to list a few of the top reads I found and hope you’ll check them out.
I have to start with some shameless self-promotion. “Two Shorts and a Snort” won the GRAND PRIZE in the contest! Needless to say, I was speechless.
This book consists of two short stories and a poem. The first story, “Obsessed” is a story about a man who will do anything, even commit murder to win a lady’s hand in marriage. The second story, “Maggie” is about a baby found in the snow. Could it be that Frank and Mary prayed this baby up? The poem is one that is all-too-familiar. When friends of the opposite sex cross lines and become lovers. “Well, I think I liked you better when we were friends instead of lovers.”
It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of Wendy Jayne Scott’s writing. And this short story grabbed me from the first page!
Here’s a short excerpt from my review: “When Tequila Rose wakes up one morning with a hangover and no memory of the night before, things get even more complicated as a strange man is there with coffee and soup. Who is this incredibly hot and handsome man?”
Here’s an excerpt from my review: “When a man falls in love for the first time and she is married to an abusive man, it can’t possibly end well. But, what happens next shocked and surprised. Is he an angel of mercy or a cold-blooded killer? You decide. Well-written and easy to read in thirty minutes or under.”
Another short story I read that was absolutely fantastic was “Open, Shut” by Nonnie Jules. It tells such a compelling story of the power of faith.
Here’s an excerpt from my Review: “This is an easy-to-read short story you can finish in around thirty minutes. It shares of one girl’s unwavering faith and the ripples of that faith long after she’s gone from this life. I loved the way so many people were deeply affected and changed in the short duration of this story. “
Here’s an excerpt from my Review: “Many stories have been told about the mythical Bigfoot, but in this short story, D.L. Finn presents a different twist on every theory out there. With only a few characters, the author manages to weave an entire story including some backstory. Could it be that Bigfoot was from another planet in our galaxy? I don’t know. Read this short story and find out. This is a quick read and can easily be done on a lunch break. It will leave you wondering.”
An excerpt from my Review: “I loved, loved, loved this short story! It has a bit of everything in the mix from magic to shapeshifters. When Cassidy finds herself with a big problem, she is determined to find out who has put this damnable hex on her and what she can do to reverse it. Warlock, Hunter Rutherford, wants Cassidy. He’s courted her for months and is no closer to getting intimate than he was at the beginning, but why? He can see the desire in Cassidy’s eyes.”
That’s six short stories you can read in a short period of time and be thoroughly entertained. I hope I interested you in at least one.
This may seem like a strange thing to blog about, but I need input from all of you bloggers out there about an issue with WordPress. For clarification, I am working in the new editor format.
I have been working on a blog for two days and haven’t posted it yet, because I am unable to insert external links.
WordPress will let me link images to an outside site, but will not let me link text.
For example, I had the title of a book, “Two Shorts and a Snort” that I wanted to link to Amazon. I highlighted the book title and the “link” symbol appeared just like normal. I clicked on it and pasted the URL into the box, clicked the next box to open in a new tab and then everything went away. The book title didn’t stay highlighted and no link was attached. Grrrrrrr!!!
I contacted WordPress support and the only suggestion they had was for me to clear my cache and try again. So, I did that and nothing changed.
Is anyone else having this problem? It totally hampers the posting of the blog as it needs purchase links.
I appreciate any help or insight you can offer!
***NOTE*** I switched back to Classic Editor for that one post, and it let me insert the links with no problem. I do hope this is a glitch WordPress will address. Thanks to everyone who commented.
This has been a short story based on a true incident that occurred to one of my older siblings and passed down from my mom. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as I wrap it up today.
When we left Ella, Walter and the children, they were in the doctor’s office where the doctor had removed the shards of glass from baby Charlie’s mouth. He is about to give them home care instructions. We’ll join them to see what he has to say.
Dr. Davis scrubbed his hands then pulled up a metal chair and sat across from Walter and Ella. “Even though I got all the glass I could see out of his mouth, we don’t know how much he might have swallowed.” He sighed. “And therein lies the problem.”
Ella leaned forward, cradling the now sleeping baby. “What can we do, doctor?”
“You may think this sounds crazy, but I want you to get some potatoes and boil them up. I’ll give you some cotton balls to take home with you. Tear off little pieces of the cotton and wrap the potato around it to make tiny balls, and make him swallow it. Do this several times a day. The cotton should grab any slivers of glass and he’ll pass them in his stool.”
The nurse had stood in the background, but moved forward. “Do you folks have potatoes?”
Walter shook his head. “But, I’ll get some.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to drop by your place later today to check on the baby,” Dr. Davis said.
“Thank you, sir,” Ella said quietly. “We’ll find a way to pay you.”
The doctor waved his hand. “Don’t worry about it. It’s Christmas time and the least I can do.”
With a box of cotton balls in hand, Walter, Ella, and the children left the doctor’s office.
Inside the ragged old car, Ella let fresh tears fall. “Oh, Walter, I am so sorry. I only let him out of my sight long enough to hang out the washin’. He just can’t die.”
Walter touched Ella’s arm. “Pull yourself together. We’ll do whatever we can. We need to buy a few potatoes.”
Ella nodded and held Charlie close to her heart. She was grateful that Walter didn’t seem mad at her for not watching the baby closer. She didn’t think she could carry any more guilt.
Over the next few hours, together, Walter and Ella managed to get several potato cotton balls down little Charlie’s throat along with a few sips of water.
True to his word, the good doctor stopped by to check on him, promising a return visit the next day.
Ella sat rocking Charlie as the sunlight faded into cold darkness. “Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, Walter. And, all I want is for our baby to be okay. If we can have that, it’ll be enough.”
Walter nodded. “I know.” He ran a hand through his thin hair. “It don’t seem to matter what we do, we can’t never get a break.”
Jane and Celie had been quiet since they’d left the doctor’s office. Jane sat in the corner with her doll while Celie sucked her thumb.
“Mama,” Jane said. “I’m sorry. I shoulda watched Charlie better.”
“Come here,” Ella said. “Now you listen here, Jane Smith. You are just a little girl. I shoulda never put that responsibility on you. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“But, Santa won’t think so. He knows and he won’t bring us nothin’.”
Ella met Walter’s eyes over the top of the little girl’s head. Sadness crushed her heart. It was true. They had nothing for the girls and no hope of getting anything. Sadness turned to anger and she resented the folks that seemed to have more than enough. They worked hard and didn’t waste anything and yet nothing changed.
Throughout the night and the next day, Ella and Walter continued to poke the potato cotton balls down Charlie’s throat. He’d remained lethargic, only opening his eyes now and then and letting out a whimper.
Early on Christmas morning a car rolled to stop outside their tiny house. When Walter opened the door, he gasped.
“Merry Christmas!” Dr. Davis’ nurse said as she pranced through the door. “I brought you folks some things.” She sat down a large bag that included a ham and fresh vegetables.
Ella moved toward her. “Oh, dear! You didn’t have to do that.”
“I know I didn’t. But I wanted to. I’ve got a few things here for your girls too, if it’s okay with you.”
Jane and Celie rushed forward. The nurse passed brightly wrapped packages to them and they tore into them like ravenous animals.
Squeals of excitement filled the small space, as they unwrapped new dolls, a set of jacks and a ball and a coloring book along with crayons.
Ella fought against more tears. In the midst of the chaos, Dr. Davis arrived.
He strode to Charlie and picked him up. The baby opened his eyes and smiled at the good doctor. After completing an examination, he turned to Walter and Ella. “I do believe we have a Christmas miracle. I think your little Charlie is going to be just fine. You folks did a fine job of doctoring him.”
And, so Walter and Ella along with their three children had a Christmas to remember.
For once, they filled their bellies with as much food as they wanted, and the future held hope…hope for a brighter day…hope for prosperity and hope for happiness.
As I told you at the beginning, this was a true story passed down through the family. Above you can see Ella and Walter (my mom and dad, Marian and I.V. Smith).
I sincerely wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas! If you need a Christmas Miracle, I pray that you receive it. For, it is truly a magical time of year!
When we left Ella and her three children, a kindly neighbor had driven them to the doctor’s office. Charlie, the baby, had eaten glass and was bleeding. Let’s join them in the doctor’s office.
Ella ushered the two girls up the steps and through the wooden door ahead of her.
A nurse dressed in a crisp white uniform and cap stepped from behind a desk.
“Oh my!” She gasped when she saw the child. “Doctor Davis, come quick,” she called over her shoulder.
“Please help my baby!” Ella cried.
The nurse reached for the bundle and Ella relinquished him into her arms.
“Tell me what happened.” The nurse quickened her steps toward the examining room.
Ella and the two girls followed. “I was outside hanging out washin’ when my oldest girl came screaming for me and said Charlie was bleeding.” She swiped a blood-stained hand across her weary eyes. “I was only gone for a little bit.”
The nurse laid the baby on a narrow table as Doctor Davis strode into the room.
He took one look at the baby and reached for cotton gauze. “Nurse Ingrid, fetch me the long tweezers, please.” He glanced up at Ella. “Your baby ate glass?”
She nodded, wringing her hands. “I don’t even know what broke or how it happened, I just got here as quick as I could.” Fresh tears streamed down her face.
The somber look on his face caused her heart to stop.
“This is very serious, ma’am.” He reached for the tweezers. “Nurse, hold him while I try to get these tiny shards out of his little mouth.”
Charlie kicked and screamed while the doctor worked. Ella moved to the table and helped hold his legs.
“Please tell me he will be all right,” she begged.
The doctor looked her in the eye. “I wish I could, ma’am. I wish I could.”
After what seemed like an eternity, Doctor Davis laid the tweezers on a tray and dipped cotton into a basin of water. He gently washed the inside of the baby’s mouth.
Ella sank into a chair near the table and dropped her head into her hands. The two girls moved to her side. Tears had subsided and Charlie finally closed his tiny eyes and slept.
They looked up when Walter dashed through the door. “What in tarnation has happened?”
While the doctor explained, the nurse finished cleaning the baby, wrapped him in a clean blanket, then laid him in Ella’s arms.
Ella barely comprehended the final words the doctor uttered to Walter. “He isn’t out of the woods by a longshot, sir. We don’t know how much he ingested or what it will do to his guts and stomach.”
Walter crossed the room to Ella and placed a trembling hand on her shoulder. “What can we do?”
Welcome to the sixth party in this series and today my guests are the amazing William Price King, American Jazz singer, crooner and composer who has been providing the music content for Smorgasbord for over four years. Joining him today is friend but also new and very welcome collaborator, who has a background in broadcasting and music, Annette Rochelle Aben who will be writing her own Numerology column from the New Year. Also with a wonderful career in both publishing and the music industry, is my third guest, Jan Sikes.
All will be sharing their most cherished Christmas memories throughout today’s post.
My Christmas memories…
In early 1965 a film was released in the UK that was to be a turning point for me and the start of a lifelong crush on the lead actor. Christopher Plummer was 36 at the time that The Sound of Musicbecame available…