Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Kate - The Seeds of Rivalry




Oh, sibling rivalry. I’ve seen it up close. Fortunately, as the only daughter and a middle child…my role was the peacemaker and I didn’t have anyone to compete with (or wasn’t interested). But I did have a front row seat. It was sometimes entertaining, funny, and at times…upsetting. Where does it come from? I’m pretty sure the seeds are planted early. In this scene of my upcoming novel, Brooklyn Bitters, although subtle…you can get a sense how it started:

I spooned another helping of gumbo. It felt good to be called a girl at forty-two. As for the beautiful part, I was no Stacey with her sexy body and pretty face. My face wore the signs of too much reading; I had lines between my eyebrows and the beginnings of crow’s feet. I got my dad’s brown eyes instead of Mother’s blue, and my dark hair touched my shoulders with a touch of gray at the temple. At least, I got Ma’s high cheekbones, full lips, and slender, tall frame at five feet nine. I was best described as average. My father always called Stacey the beauty and me the athlete. Of course, I could barely manage twenty push-ups and was always on the tail-end of a one mile run, but he had tried to give me something.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reid - An Fearless Boy and Adult Hero



Pages in the Wind deals with some difficult topics but the story has a lot of heart and it has it’s heroes. Quite a few actually. There’s the doctor, Robert, Pudge, and her love, Reid. Emily falls in love early, and the relationship is a deep one in spite of the early start. Reid is everything that Emily isn’t: fearless, confident, cocky, and at times intense. But he loves Emily and her fears that he’ll drop her as his best friend are not true. He’s exactly what he portrays and is a wonderful character in the book. This is an early passage. Reid is a prankster and gets them both in a heap of trouble. When Emily objects, he becomes offended and accuses her of not wanting to be his friend anymore. Emily convinces him that she would never feel that way. Her inner dialogue reaches far beyond her reassuring words.


Once the prank faded, all I saw was my fearless Reid. I Love agreed with Mr. Hemet’s lecture about the danger of putting a live snake in his house, but his warning to stay away from Reid was wrong. Wrong for me. I didn’t feel jeopardized by Reid, I felt protected. I believed someday the fearless boy would become an adult hero. If my life were threatened, he would be the one to save me.



Monday, December 26, 2016

A Safe Place






We all need a place to feel safe. For most of us, it's our home. After a lousy day at work or a dismal day at school, home is a beacon. But what if home doesn't offer safety? In this passage from Pages in the Wind, eight-year old Emily, talks about her safe place - Grandma's house:

The faint glow of the late afternoon sun touched my face as I jumped out of the car. Birch trees quivered in the breeze, and the scent of damp pine needles and cedar reminded me of Christmas. The fruit groves, giant evergreens, and fields of wild clovers and moss surrounded the old wood and stone craftsman home like an enchanted forest. I gushed with giggles and short squeals knowing the day had finally arrived. I couldn’t wait to spend a month with Grandma.

Unfortunately for little Emily, her safe place only lasts a month. In this scene, she prepares to say goodbye to Grandma, and return to San Francisco with her parents:

Early the next morning, the family gathered at the front door saying their goodbyes. I stood back, dabbing my eyes.

Grandma sat eye-level with me. "My precious bébé. We'll be together soon. Next time I will teach you to make crepe cakes."

My chest heaved as I caught each whimper and reined them back to talk to her. I gazed into her soft blue eyes, already thinking about next August. She had no idea why going home was killing me—I didn’t even know. "I'll write you every day, Grandma. My hand never gets tired. I'll draw you beautiful pictures too." I grabbed her hand, wondering if it was too late to squeeze it twice.

Father pushed me aside. "That's enough. Leave your grandma alone."






Friday, December 9, 2016

designI love the sibling relationship between Emily and Robert in Pages in the Wind. I think it’s especially important in an intense book. We need someone to count on. In this excerpt, the tender relationship is defined:
I heard Robert grab his keys and leave the house. I pressed my palms against my eyes to snuff out the tears. I felt happy and sad. I was happy he’d convinced me my drawings were good but sad because I knew in my heart he had chosen Harvard.
I couldn’t tell him a cockamamie story to trick him into staying. It would have benefitted me, but I couldn’t do that to him. When Father put the negatives in my head and Mother gutted me with disinterest, Robert had been there to fill my head with mirthful sonnets to breathe hope into my tired soul.
Now, I had to go it alone because my sweet brother would be moving to Boston.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cold Claire

img_0283She’s not a villain. She’s not even mean. Claire doesn’t neglect her duties. She educates her children and gives them cultural advantages. She decorates her daughter’s bedroom with beautiful French decor. She studies the teen magazines to make sure her child is dressed in the latest trends. But…you won’t love her. You probably won’t even like her. She’s Claire in Pagesin the Wind.
In this excerpt, a neighbor compliments Emily’s artwork. Eager to get her mother’s opinion, she raises the subject. Here it is:
“Of course you can draw, dear. Anyone can draw but drawing doesn’t make you an artist. Art is extremely competitive, and most artists don’t make a decent living.”
“But I could study art in college and get better, right? I could learn how to paint and sell my paintings at shows and stuff?”
“There are other ways to use art, dear. You can study art history or become a librarian. If you want to use your hands, you can go to beauty school and become a hairdresser. There are many careers you can choose if you like art.”
I gawked at her, speechless. She delivered the verdict and the punishment at the same time. She might as well have said, “No, you have no talent, and put away your sketchpad and do my hair.”
She smiled and returned to the countertop. She picked up a can of Pledge, polishing the wood to a yellowish-brown patina. I watched her shine the teak counter to perfection, but she had thrown enough muck on me to sully a landfill. I retreated to my bedroom.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Comforter in the Story


One of my favorite characters in Pages in the Wind is Doctor Lieberman. At first, an unlikely hero, he is everything you would want in a wise man. In many ways, he is the comforter in the story. When things become sad or dark, the doctor makes us feel we can find our way back from a seemingly impossible human condition. I love him. Here is an excerpt from the story, Pages in the Wind.


The doctor glanced at me without releasing the grip on his pen. "One moment, please."


It amazed me that such a frail man could write with such vigor. I looked forward now to our weekly visits, to some extent because it gave me a break from solitary, but also because I'd grown to like him. He never treated me like an inmate and, in spite of the murder charge, he managed to make me believe I had some good in me.







Saturday, November 12, 2016

Are we becoming too mean?




We have a new president. People are marching on the streets. Groups are taking sides. Is it really a surprise? I'm more and more disheartened by what I read online. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites, the threads I read just seem to get meaner. Heck, read product or book reviews and ask yourself...are the comments productive and respectful or just plain cruel? Why glum on to the negative comments instead of sticking up for civility? I plan to. We all have different pain thresholds and that includes emotional thresholds. I get hurt by mean comments and I'm sure I'm not the only one. There is a world of difference between constructive comments and the personal "you suck and aren't worth my time" kind of comments I read online. Why be so mean? Those cruel (and I've read comments so much worse) words are not going into cyberspace...they are going into someone's mind and soul. I wish people would think about that before their fingers touch the keyboard. Maybe stop for two minutes and think about it before you post words that are just plain mean.