Fingers crossed, toes too.

I’ve taken a break from writing to edit, write synopses, and write “blurbs” (that’s what you read on the back of a book that makes you like it or not) for all the novels other than what an agent requested in December.

I did all that for a portfolio of sorts I’ll put together for a March workshop when I meet her. I’m hoping they’ll all create further interest, which might land me an agent this year. Cross your fingers and toes so I can make this happen.

I’ll likely start on a new novel soon, one in which I’ve completed the first chapter in December, before things started getting exciting concerning that agent.

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Quote for … life?

Leaves bear the seasons as we bear life. Yet they remain true to themselves, even sharing beauty as they pass into forever, imprinting their colors into our hearts and souls.

Let not foul words or deeds, especially words not meant to harm, alter your colors.

For when we blame something or someone for our lot in life, we make excuses. It’s how we react to outside forces that define us, not outside forces.

 

Novels and queries and synopses, oh my!

As anyone who aspires to publish their writing knows, not only is it hard work, it’s work that’s hard on you. I continue to dream the dream, working that forty-hour grind while trying to be grateful all the while for that forty-hour grind.

I am grateful, but I’m more grateful for being able to write. Penning a story, characters, places, conflicts, and resolutions is an enjoyable thing, likely within the top two personally enjoyable attempts at a creative pastime I’ve ever attempted. And having beta readers enjoy my work is great also. Recently, a woman said her sister came into her room and asked what was wrong, because the reader was cursing. Her answer? She was angry with one of my characters. When you can illicit emotion like that with mere words, what a thrill.

At the moment I’m working on a synopsis for my fifth novel, and it’s (they all are, right?) special. With great characters, a great hook, a great conflict, and a great (I’m a romantic at heart) love story, what’s not to love?

Fellow writers, you know how it is. We hope for that break, but it only comes with hard work, not only learning the craft of writing but learning the craft of storytelling so the reader stays engaged. My mantra is this: If I write something a reader skims, I’ve failed.

Here’s to us, the hard workers, the writers.

Best.

 

Clarity

I visited you today.

Wind moaned through the oaks while leaves blew through the markers. Clouds scuttled in the sky like oversized gray-toned crabs. The grass the men planted didn’t cover the red earth and I knelt to pick up a quartz stone at the foot of your plot.

No stone for you. Soon, I’m sure.

We grew up in the 60’s. Hide and seek and homemade ice cream. What a combination as families gathered to sit on the cinder-block wall that brought together my house and your grandparents’ house. We licked spoons. Vanilla. Banana. Strawberry. Chocolate. Laughed. Listened to stories with nostalgia’s comforting ring. Then we’d run away. Find somewhere to wait while the next kid searched.

Your life was like that. You couldn’t find yourself through the black curtain of addiction.

Sorry. I left out what came before that, which is more of what made us friends.

Hide and seek gave way to placing pennies on the railroad track to be picked up and admired after being squashed flat and shiny. The hikes through the woods led to fishing at the lake that led to bicycles downtown that led to dirt bikes on narrow paths.

Didn’t you break your collarbone that one time?

I do recall my bicycle spill at your house. Who’d have thought two boards placed on a red wagon on its side would spread when the front wheel hit them at speed? Or that a bike and a boy could flip so many times before landing? Or, for the most part, that dirt tastes like dirt? How nothing—except the bike—got broken I’ll never know. You took me in so your mom could check me out. If I didn’t thank you then …

We talked about all that. We tried to stay strong. Did you see?

As we neared our late teenage years I regret how we grew apart, though I doubt it would have made a difference. You were searching. I wish you had found it somewhere else.

I stopped by your parents’ house the day before. Thought if I were going to cry I’d do it then and get it out. I couldn’t because your dear sister held onto me for maybe five minutes. Said they had been talking about our boyhood escapades. She loved you. Loves you. We all do/did. Wanted so much more for you.

I think it likely she left the miniature cross at your site.

The next day they asked me to walk in with them. Said I was family. To simply say I was touched beyond compare does not compare.

I sat with them on the front row. Listened to the minister. The sadness hung over it all.

Regret.

Again, wishes for more than fifty-four years of life for you.

Once more I’m getting ahead of myself.

In line I waited. For my turn to say words that couldn’t convey the weight of grief upon hearts. That weight fell fully when I hugged your dad.

Later, outside, we stood around your casket. It was cold. The coats were many. The smiles of remembrance.

———————

The quartz rock sits on a book where I can see it. It’s stained red. So many wanted your life clean and perfect. Life’s not like that, is it? You came and you lived and you did the best you could. You got to see your grandson. I think I got enough of a look at him to see that your red hair crowns him. Your daughter looks like you. I’d never met her.

When I see your family we hug. When that happens I’m hurt and comforted. The grief clings, the want for more, the want for your happiness.

I like to think that’s the case now. How do Heavenly drums sound? Are the sticks pure gold or ethereal wonders of rhythm? Do you get to play with your rock idols who went before you? It’s a cool consideration, anyway.

The quartz is ice warm in my hand. Within its many imperfections is fleeting clarity. Glassy and glowing when held to lamplight.

Possibly, that’s how we all are. We wished clarity for you but addiction clouded it over. Clouds. Wind. Sun and rain. We fare the best we can. We love, create, tear asunder. Do it all over again and hope.

See you soon.

#STRINGSNSOULS

Have you ever considered playing a musical instrument? Consider no more and do it. It is one of the most creative as well as personally enlightening things you can do. And when you advance to the point of playing with others … well, lets just say there is nothing like it in this world. When you do it’s like you are connected in an invisible soul-bond, ending only as the song fades, picking back up with the notes of the next song.

The 5 string banjo was my first love, followed by the resonator guitar and the guitar, and though learning them and playing by myself was a fine thing, that was no comparison to when I advanced enough to begin making music with others.

Do you play, or have you considered playing? If so, which instrument do you play, and if not, which instrument interests you?

In Fiery Splendor

sunset over the Albemarle sound

As the budding rose is to the rising sun

drawing forth in fiery splendor

so are we

As the smile of a child is to the parent’s heart

bringing forth love in all its mysterious ways

so are we

As the gull is to wave tops

endlessly seeking above crests foamy and golden at sunrise

so are we

As the oak leaf is to emerald grandeur

awaiting the final downward drift with gust and gale

so are we

As we each seek our path, yearning above all else to

lock hope away in our hearts

instead

set it free

Allow hope to bloom, to laugh, to soar

and

at the end

you will pass forth with joy and thanksgiving

filled to everlasting

Our Craft.

Words are magnificent things. With them, a person can communicate numerous emotions ranging from the love in a child’s eyes to the rage a man might feel at being forced to do something totally beyond his control.

Readers understand this, and that’s why we read, and if we’re able, that’s why we write.

Also we write to bring new experiences, new feelings, and for me, new perspectives on the joys and sorrows, and hopes and tragedies, people might feel, could feel, if they lived in different lives, in different times, and in different situations.

Yes, the novel I’m currently revising has both: a man that has to endure an existence he never knew could take place, and his child, who in one scene answers his mother’s question about how much she loves him by spreading his little hands wide and saying, “I know, Momma, this much!”

Two distinct sides of a coin: one complicated to the extreme and one as simple and sweet a thing as we might imagine. To say I’m enjoying this work is a vast understatement, and I’m positive that right now, those reading this may well be nodding their heads in affirmation.

There’s no doubt about it, writing is a craft. And as I’m sure many of you reading this know, learning that craft, delving into its intricacies, both gentle, and not so gentle, is an amazing thing to do,

WordPress is filled with people like you and me, people reaching for the stars within themselves.

As I write this, hopefully your fingertips are reaching for and possibly touching your own particle of brilliance.

J.