MANY PATHS TO A DREAM

IMG_6374It’s book launch day! Okay, so I’m excited. What I need are some fireworks, a parade, and a paper bag over my head to keep me from smiling non-stop.

Yesterday, two boxes of books arrived. Some are gifts, others for Coho Books, an independent book store in town and others still for my upcoming book reading at the Campbell River library on Oct. 21st. I’m calling that event, Many Paths to a Dream, as it’s been a dream of mine to write a novel. For those of you who’ve read my bio., you know I’ve done a lot of different things in my life, but writing a novel has been my Mount Everest.

I’ve slogged up that mountain for many years, thinking that peak was too far out of reach. I’ve taken breaks along the way, sometimes ones to help out a family member, others for travel, but many times, I’ve strayed from the computer because I didn’t believe it was possible. But belief in oneself is a powerful tool.

So, drum roll please: a cry from the deep-ebook cover

A CRY FROM THE DEEP, a romantic mystery/adventure, is now available on Amazon, Kindle and through booksellers everywhere.

What’s it about?

An underwater photographer about to cover the hunt for one of the lost ships of the Spanish Armada buys a Claddagh ring and begins to have nightmares and visions more compelling than the hunt itself.

Here is my book trailer to give you some sense of the mood of the story.

And here is my First REVIEW, by Olivia, posting on her blog yesterday. ….And another lovely one by David Burnett for KINDLE BOOK REVIEW. I love the fact that there are these wonderful readers out there, who take a gamble on unknown writers like myself. I sent them advance copies asking if they wouldn’t mind reviewing them for me. I have to say it was a gamble on my part as well, as I had no idea whether they would like it or not. So far, so good. But as I’ve mentioned to friends, books are like art. We don’t all like the same thing, and that’s as it should be, otherwise this world would be a boring place.

A CRY FROM THE DEEP is print on demand and therefore, not being stocked on shelves except in some independent bookstores, which is great for a number of reasons. It’s always difficult to predict in advance how many  copies will sell. In this way, a bookstore won’t be stuck with unsold copies. And think of all the paper that saves in our environmentally conscious age. I like that.

For those of you who are interested in buying my book ( and no pressure) you can order online from Amazon or others or ask your bookstore to order it in for you, as it’s being distributed through Ingram and available to booksellers everywhere.

Thank you again for all your support. This one took a long time to write. Would you believe over six years? It required a lot of research as it’s got all those underwater scenes, and the most I’ve ever done is snorkel.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the read. And to those who aren’t interested, I’m fine with that. There are so many books, and so little time.

Comments on any of the above are always appreciated. And if you have any self-publishing questions, I’d be happy to let you know what I’ve discovered on getting this far.

 

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Giving Birth to a Book

Yesterday, I met with my friend, Karen Dodd, the author Deadly Switchof the delicious suspense novel, Deadly Switch. She’s been marvellous, coaxing me along, encouraging me, telling me that my book is more than ready. “It’s well overdue,” she said. She’s right. My novel, A CRY FROM THE DEEP, has been ready for months, and yet, I’ve been dragging my heels. Why?

Well, for one thing, I’ve been paying attention to how traditional books are published. My friend, Catherine KnutssonShadows Cast By Stars, got an agent, sat tight during a bidding war between two highly respected publishers for rights to publish her Y/A novel, Shadows Cast By Stars,  and then waited a few years for her story to reach the bookstore shelves. Giving birth to a book takes longer than nine months. It takes time to get it right.

With no publisher or agent to lean on, I embarked on my self-publishing journey with trepidation, realizing thereMy Temporary Life would be countless steps to my destination. It helped that I was supported by similar travellers I met along the way. They kept me going with their generosity of spirit and willingness to share what they had learned. Especially Martin Crosbie, whom I met at the Surrey Writers International Conference a few years back. He is the author of How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle, and someone I can now call a friend, someone who lives the philosophy of paying it forward.

Another self-published writer who has been more than Awakening cover for DStevan256x400generous is J. P. McLean, author of the mystery thriller series, The Gift. Jo-Anne, with her wonderful imagination, is always there when I call with yet another question.

And then there are those who shout their encouragement from their websites. Among them, Jonathan Gunson’s Bestseller Labs giving words of wisdom on how to write that bestseller and J.A. Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, with his in-depth column on the whole publishing industry, its quarrels and accomplishments.

But I’d be neglectful if I didn’t mention the River Writers, my writers’ critique group. I’ve been so blessed to be in the company of these wonderful writers: Kristin Butcher, Jocelyn Reekie, Shari Green, and Janet Smith. They’ve seen every stage of my novel, and their constructive comments have coaxed more out of me than I thought was possible.

And of course, I couldn’t have done it without my family, cheering me on every step of the way. Grandson and film director, Michael Stevantoni, did my book trailer, which I’ll be showing soon. My greatest source of comfort, though, has been Robert—my husband, friend, lover and soul mate. He’s shown such patience with all my turmoil.

Yes, the self-publishing field is a mixed bag. There are too many books that need further editing, or more story development, or more thought put into their book cover designs, but there are also many gems in this group as well. Gems that agents and publishers have let slip through their fingers. Ones that deserve to stand alongside any traditional book out there.

I’m now hoping mine will shine in this pile, but one never knows, does one?  Writing a novel is like any other art form. It’s up to the public to decide whether the artist’s output is worthy of attention or not. And that’s how it should be.

So, with all these thoughts jumbled in my brain, I’m set to launch my book baby into the world. Exciting times!

My novel, A CRY FROM THE DEEP, comes out on Oct. 15th.

CR Branch Exterior 2011 002I’ll be doing a reading at the Campbell River Library, in Campbell River, British Columbia, on Oct. 21st at 6:30 p.m. For this and other events, I’ll be sending out a newsletter. You can find my sign-up form on the right side of this page.

Are you thinking of giving birth to a book? If you are, I’d be glad to give you any tips that I’ve learned along the way, or steer you to someone who knows.

Any comments are always appreciated. 

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Setting the Stage in Fiction

I spent quite a few years honing the craft of writing screenplays, which is useful in setting the stage in fiction. It’s natural for me to think visually when I write. I see the scenes—the rooms or outdoor spaces with people and objects in them.

Painting

Me painting a landscape from a photo.

However, I also know that too much detail can bore the reader. I used to read James Michener, loved his tales, but skipped over his lengthy descriptions of places.

Because of my own taste in reading, I try to paint the scene with just enough words to give the reader a sense of the place, but just like painting with real paint, I don’t want to overdo it. Picasso said, not only is it hard to start a painting (substitute novel), it’s also hard to know when to stop. I want the reader to see what I see, but I don’t want to give them so much that their eyes glaze over, or they lose track of the story.

In my debut novel, A CRY FROM THE DEEP, I used my imagination but I also used photos to inspire me to set the stage. Fortunately, it wasn’t a big stretch, as my husband, Robert, and I have traveled extensively and to most of the places in my novel—Provence, Miami, New York city, and Ireland.

[Killybegs. Co. Donegal, Ireland]

Killybegs,County Donegal, Ireland at an earlier time

Though we toured Ireland, both the north and the Republic, the one place we didn’t get to was the town of Killybegs, which figures largely in my story. For that, I relied on the internet, both photos and tourist information.

In fact, I discovered that a couple of celebrities, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, share the same love of the place. That information sidetracked me a bit, as any research in any area can.

Because of these visual aids and added informational nuggets, I felt at times that I was walking and driving down the Irish roads in my novel along with my characters. That is one of the joys of writing, to go wherever the people in my story take me. It’s what keeps me in my seat at the computer.

What do you do to set the stage in fiction? Is your imagination enough? Or do you use photos from your travels or otherwise? Do you tear articles or pictures out of magazines or newspapers? Or use the internet as a tool? How about sketching? Anyone try that?

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Has Free Sex Killed Romance?

Today, unlike two generations past, couples engage in sex without a commitment. But has free sex killed romance?

I’ve been noticing for awhile that they don’t make Dr. Zhivagobig romantic movies anymore. For decades, Hollywood made wonderful romantic films. Some of the best were Gone With The Wind (1939), Casablanca (1942), Dr. Zhivago (1965), Love Story (1970). There was even that wonderful time  in the nineties that saw the production of When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), While You Were Sleeping (1995), The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and then more recently, The Notebook (2004). Since then, the romance genre has evolved into supposed love stories, where couples connect—kissing and fondling are fast tracked—and before long, they are ripping each other’s clothes off and having sex.

Films and books, reflecting our times, no longer tell stories of couples moving slowly towards commitment. The so-called courtship period seems to have vanished.

Nor are there many contemporary books that show a couple falling in love and taking time to consummate their relationship. In the fifties, magazine articles asked, “Should you kiss on a first date?” By the seventies, it was “Should you have sex on a first date?” Today, the magazines are explicit about orgasms, how to please your mate, oral sex, and whether Miley Cyrus went too far with her twerking.

bridges of madison countyThe recent number one bestseller was Fifty Shades of Grey. It was no Bridges of Madison County, where a photographer passing through a town falls in love with a married woman hungering for romance and passion. Fifty Shades of Grey is largely a sex story, with all manners of S & M propelling the characters and the simple plot forward. This book would’ve been considered pornography a decade ago, but with every sexual barrier between men and women removed, erotic stories have entered the mainstream.

But has all this free sex killed romance?  Is this why more than fifty per cent of young people are living alone? Do they need company if they can have sex without marriage? I’d love to know what you think. If you think romance still exists—more than on just on Valentine’s Day—why  aren’t films and books in recent years reflecting this more?

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A SUCKER FOR ROMANCE

I’ve always been a sucker for romance. One Gone With The Windof my favorite books is the old classic, Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. The love story between Scarlett O’Hara, the southern vixen, and Rhett Butler, the man who could not be tamed, resonated with readers everywhere.

In real life, and in books and film, it seems that the guys or girls anyone wants are always the unattainable ones. Why is that? Maybe it’s part of the hunt, the chase, knowing or sensing that if only we could get that elusive person, our world would be complete. We will have proven something.

Or is it just nature—that feeling we get when our eyes connect with that special someone and our body responds and we know that he or she is the one? Love is feeling you’re six feet off the ground and floating on a cloud. Those initial feelings—that lust, that desire—builds and deepens over time, like a good wine that improves with age.

So, given all of that, why wouldn’t I write a romance with that kind of dynamic? These  stories sustains us all. They give us hope that there is someone out there that is the perfect fit. Well, not perfect, but as close to perfect as we can get. We meet, connect, mate, have children (or not) and live happily ever after. That’s the dream. Life may not always be like that, but it’s still the dream.

"Love is like the wild rose-briar"....from a poem by Emily Bronte

“Love is like the wild rose-briar”….from a poem by Emily Bronte

Though married many years to the love of my life, I continue to enjoy a good romance. Perhaps reading a well-told love story awakens those first delicious tingles we all get when we meet that certain someone.

Are you a sucker for romance, too? Have certain novels touched you? What are your thoughts on why the romance genre has endured and manages to thrill no matter how old you are?

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More Housekeeping Than I Wanted

housekeeping-clipartNow, I know why I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world. Details, details. I thought I couldn’t use both Feedburner and Mail Chimp, but I was wrong, so hopefully that’ll work out for both me and my subscribers. If it ain’t broke….

As for housekeeping, I’d much rather sit at my computer than pick up a dust cloth. Of course, I’ll only let things go so far. Yesterday, I picked up a dead fly off my desk. Wonder how long he was there? Was he the one who inspired me to write about a fly?

By the way, is there anyone out there who likes housekeeping? Kudos to you if you do. I’d rather make magic with words.

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Looking for Love in a Mad World

IMG_5890

Heart-shaped stone I found in 2000 on the shores of Gallipoli, Turkey, site of World War I battle

I’ve been so troubled by what’s going on in Gaza and the Ukraine, that I’ve been glued to the news on TV and my Twitter timeline. I’ve been neglecting my writing, which I love to do. It’s hard to fathom why people want to kill someone else.

When I became a clinical social worker decades ago, I thought if only a person had love, they would be fine. If they had a tortured life, I was sympathetic, empathic, thinking again that somewhere along the road they hadn’t received enough love. I learned very quickly that people are more complicated than that. I ran into children that had no conscience. I remember one child who strangled a rabbit to death with his bare hands. He was the child of heroin addicts. He was probably conceived by his mother while she was under the influence of drugs. His father’s semen was probably similarly affected by heroin. This was a child who showed no emotion; he was damaged and sad to say, no amount of therapy was going to change that.

Today, we are bombarded by bad news. I hunger for a time when life seemed simpler, not that it was. There were still atrocities in the world, but we didn’t hear of them. We didn’t have the same depth of coverage, nor did we have social media.

Through the power of social media today, I love that we are connected, but it also means that bad news travels fast.

Despite the horrors on my TV screen, I still have hope. Like the beautiful heart-shaped stone I found on a trip to Gallipoli back in 2000. There on those sandy shores where a bloody battle ensued during World War I between the Turks and the Anzac forces (Aussies and Kiwis), I found hope in the shape of a stone. It lay there, still, reminding me of all the hearts that were lost and broken. It was a mad battle in a mad world. But when I visited with a group of Aussies and Kiwis, it was peaceful. Just the sound of the wind and the waves rippling on the shore.

Yes, there are too many out there who have no conscience, or are misguided, or are extremists with no tolerance for anyone with different views. They’re out there, and they make our lives miserable.  But there are also plenty of wonderful people with love in their hearts. I’m going to continue to look for love in a mad world. I hope the news isn’t getting you down, or unhinged. I hope you have love to fall back on.

In fact, I’ve written a love story, one that crosses timelines. In my novel, A CRY FROM THE DEEP, there are no wars, no explosions, just people trying to make a better world and finding love in unexpected places. Call me a dreamer. Are you a dreamer, too?

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WRITING PROCESS BLOG HOP

When you read all those wonderful books, do you ever wonder about the writer? Where the ideas come from? What a writer’s day is like? What makes them tick? Are they as crazy as their characters, or do they draw from some other well? The writing process blog hop will give you some idea, if you hop along with me.

Thanks to Karen Dodd, for inviting me to take part in this fun event. I met Karen, who lives in West Vancouver, several years ago at the Surrey International Writers Conference. Her enthusiasm for the craft of writing and her positive attitude meant that we became fast friends. Her debut novel, Deadly Switch, is a suspense that grips you from the first page and doesn’t let go. You can read about her writing process here.

Besides sharing with you how my writing brain works, I’ll be introducing you to some writers that have inspired me with their stories. Pamela Cable, J.P. McLean, B.C. Stone and Margaret Strack, will be following me with their blog posts on July 14th.

Now for the questions.

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

Always something. At the moment, I’ve just finished

My Baba, Lukia Mazurec

My Baba, Lukia Mazurec

revising my grandmother’s story, No Time For Tears, covering the war-torn years between 1915-1929, in what is now western Ukraine. I’m also anxious to revise a novella, The Blue Nightgown, a coming of age story, and The Rubber Fence, a novel about a psychiatric intern, who is so obsessed with her patients on a ward where shock treatment is too often prescribed, that she doesn’t see that her own marriage is in trouble.

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

I’m not sure how to answer that. I do know that I tend to incorporate a lot of characters in my stories. I’ve always complicated things for myself, so why should my writing be any different? My novel, A Cry From The Deep—that’s coming this October—crosses genres. It has romance, history, suspense, adventure and a ghost. My protagonist, Catherine Fitzgerald, is a single parent and a diver, who struggles with the demands of motherhood and career and the question of what went wrong in her own love life. I was a family therapist for over twenty-five years, so some of my ideas, training, and experience creep into my work, and once the words tumble onto the page, I pick up the thread and go with it. So, in that sense, there’s a lot packed in; my novel is close to 400 pages

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

a cry from the deep-ebook coverThere are a lot of reasons, but I can’t not write. I’m compelled to get my fingers on the keyboard. Some works are inspired by family anecdotes, like the story of my grandmother. A Cry From The Deep was inspired by an attempted collaboration of a screenplay years back. We couldn’t come up with a story that worked, but I couldn’t drop the seed that was planted, and kept fussing until I found one. As for The Rubber Fence, it is loosely based on my work on a psychiatric ward a lifetime ago. I’m also anxious to get back to a murder mystery I’ve started. The inspiration for that came from something a friend said over coffee. Had to do with a smell and my imagination took off. Ah, and then there’s my poetry. If only the clock had more hours on its face…

 

HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK? 

I want to say it doesn’t, as I fly by the seat of my pants. I never know quite where I’m going. Oh, I have some vague idea of beginnings and endings but it’s all the stuff in between that comes together without an outline. I start writing and basically ask my characters to take me there. Something they say or do leads me to the next step and the next. If I pay attention, my characters have a way of letting me know what holes I need to fill. If that sounds airy-fairy, it is what it is. I wish I could map it out clearly before I start, but it’s not my style, and I know that I have lots of company in this regard. But having said that, No Time For Tears was guided by the facts my mother left behind. And so for this one, I did have an outline.

I try to write each day, something fresh, or a revision, or both. Then I usually spend the morning reviewing what I’ve written the day before. I keep going like that until the end, and then give the whole story a rest for a few weeks, sometimes a month, then start over in the beginning. I’m always shocked at how much padding I’ve put in and how much I have to delete. I am a believer of writing is rewriting and more rewriting.

Now, let me introduce you to my guest authors and bloggers. Do check them out. You won’t be sorry.

PAMELA CABLE

When Blogger.com was still around, I met TelevengeCoverHiResPamela Cable there. I read her novel Southern Fried Women and was so impressed, that I decided to stay connected.

Born a coal miner’s granddaughter and raised by a tribe of wild Pentecostals and storytellers, Pamela King Cable grew up in Ohio where she caught ladybugs and fireflies, ran barefoot, and practiced cheers in her driveway. Today, she is still fascinated with ladybugs and fireflies, sometimes wears shoes, and talks about the day she traded in her pom-poms for a beat-up typewriter.

After living over a decade in the south, she returned to Ohio where she continues to cheer for the Buckeyes. She is a multi-published author whose most recent novel, Televenge, has attracted national attention from Fox News, CBS Atlanta, a major Hollywood film producer, as well as book bloggers and media outlets all over the world. Writing fiction steeped in Bible-belt mystery and paranormal suspense, Pamela has gained a reputation for piercing the hearts of her readers. She has taught at many writing conferences, and speaks to book clubs, women’s groups, national and local civic organizations, and at churches across the country.

You can find Pamela Cable at http://www.pamelakingcable.com or http://www.southernfriedwoman.blogspot.com

J. P. MCLEAN

Awakening cover for DStevan256x400I met Jo-Anne a year or so ago, when she came to Campbell River, B.C., to share her experience of self-publishing with my writers’ critique group. I found her to be generous with her time and information and so encouraging. When I read The Gift: Awakening, the first in a trilogy, I was stirred by both her imagination and her prose.  She has since written the other two books, The Gift: Revelation and The Gift: Redemption. When you pick up her novel, you will be surprised to discover what the gift is, one many of us have dreamed about having.

J. P. McLean says she’s been neglecting the vacuum, the dog leash and kitchen duty since she began telling lies and making up stories. She calls it writing fiction and indulges in it most days from her home in the Gulf islands on the coast of British Columbia.

You can find JP McLean at www.jpmclean.net 

B.C. STONE

I stumbled across Bryan’s blog Belmar coveronline. I was immediately enthralled by his style and critical thinking. He writes posts on various books and authors with such clarity that his musings are both accessible and thought-provoking.  Murder at the Belmar, has more than a touch of Hollywood in it and a dead body in a glamorous hotel. Who doesn’t like that? And don’t you just love this cover?

B. C. Stone is also the author of Coda in Black, and Midnight in Valhalla. He is currently working on Peril in Paradise, the third entry in the Kay Francis mystery series. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Prior to writing novels he worked as a librarian at the University of New Mexico. You can find his blog on books, writing, and related matters, The Vagrant Mood at: http://vagrantmoodwp.wordpress.com

PEGGY STRACK

A STOP IN THE PARKI connected with Peggy on Linked-In. I noticed that she was a speech and language pathologist, and since I had worked with that profession in the past as a family therapist, I was intrigued that she was also a writer. I read A Stop in the Parkand loved the skill and compassion Peggy showed in her writing about a martial couple struggling to make sense of their relationship

Peggy Morehouse Strack writes popular fiction about challenges people face in the fast-paced and often daunting contemporary world. She published her debut novel, “A Stop in the Park,” in 2012. It is the story of Michael and Jaime Stolis, a disillusioned married couple who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream. It was selected  as a Readers’ Favorite International Award Contest Winner in the Reality Fiction Category in 2013 and received this review from Kirkus, “Strack writes with clear, thoughtful, and passionate prose, making for a tense and compulsively readable story of family redemption.” Peggy is currently editing her second novel and will be seeking agent representation in the near future.

Peggy  is a speech-language pathologist living in Saratoga Springs, NY. She has two adults sons and enjoys an active lifestyle that includes hiking, kayaking, and skiing. She is a contributor to “The Write Draft” Blog: http://thewritedraft.me

If you are interested in reading any of these author’s books, you can click on their titles or book images above.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Comments, always appreciated.   

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A FATHER LIKE NO OTHER

My dad, Peter Klewchuk, was a father like no other, though I’m sure many can say that about their own dads. He wasn’t a perfect man, but as perfect as they come. When I look back at his journey, I see a man who didn’t ask for much, even though he had lots to offer.

His was an immigrant family—three brothers and one sister—living in a two room house in Stony Mountain, a penitentiary town, about eleven miles outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He and his brothers slept on one bed, in a horizontal fashion. His sister slept on three chairs placed together. They may have been poor, but they all excelled in school.

Stony Mountain Classroom, Dad is standing against the blackboard, 2nd on the right.

Stony Mountain Classroom, Dad is standing against the blackboard, 2nd on the right.

Peter was always at the top of his class, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have problems there. When he drew a map by hand, too beautiful to believe, the teacher strapped him, accusing him of tracing it. He was also left-handed, another no-no, and he paid for it with more smacks across that hand when he forgot to use his right.

And then, in grade nine, he made a mistake that cost him any further educIMG_5659ation. After recess, instead of returning to class, he went to play ball in the school basement. That ball reverberated  through the floors and into his classroom. He and his friend  were strapped severely for that infraction.

Dad  decided that was enough, and even though he loved poetry and literature, he quit school that day. His friend wanted to quit, too, but his dad told him that wasn’t an option. Mr. Blackburn, my dad’s teacher—the one who’d strapped him—came to my dad’s house, and begged him to return, even promising to tutor him after school. Dad was stubborn. It didn’t help that my grandfather, thinking he could use another pay check, encouraged his son to work alongside him in the town’s stone quarry. Life was even harder after that, and my dad almost died when he got caught in the quarry’s chute.

IMG_5667By the time he reached his late teens, he was tall, dark, and handsome. Girls chased him, but he wasn’t the type to take advantage. A lover of music, he played the violin by ear, as well as the banjo, and saved what little he kept from his quarry earnings to buy both instruments. He was also a natural athlete, teaching himself how to swim in the gravel pits, and ski on the local hill on barrel staves.

When he married my mother at the age of 28, it was 1938, and the depression had taken its toll. What little money he’d earned and saved, he’d passed on to his father, who had promised him the land next door to the family’s two-room house. He never got it. What surprised me about my dad was that despite the breaks, he was never bitter. An honorable and honest man, he believed in the Ten Commandments, and always treated his father with respect right to his dying day. I never heard an unkind word from him. Just disappointment over not finishing school.

So, Mom and Dad toiled all their lives, taking jobs that meant working seven days a week and then some. They scrimped and saved, and Mom and Dadby the time the 50s rolled around, they were doing pretty well, with a rooming house and another piece of property they rented out. Dad still worked at the meat packing plant inserting salt brine in pork bellies, but he never lost his love for the written word, and would quote Tennyson, Wordsworth and Kipling to me, poems he’d memorized in his school days and had never forgotten.

One thing though. He was as unlike his father as day is to night. He was gentle, full of humor, and love. He showed that by sharing his delight in noticing the new growth on a balsam tree in spring, diving with me for rocks that we’d throw into the sandy-bottomed lakes of Manitoba, tickling me when I tickled him, teaching me to throw a ball and drive a car, and sending me all those newspaper clippings when I moved west with my family.

He may not have left a mark on the world, but he left a mark on me. It’s almost twenty years since he passed, and I still tear up when I think of him and how much I miss him.

If there is something I can impart to others about this coming Father’s Day, it’s to treasure those you love, to take the time to stay connected, as life takes them away all too soon.

I love you, Dad! Happy Father’s Day, wherever you are.

How about you? Any tributes to your dad that you’d like to share? Any special memories?

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Write What You Don’t Know

I’ve heard it over and over again—write what you know. That makes sense, as writing what you don’t know is more difficult in many ways. As an author, how do you get inside your characters, or describe the places where they live or work if you know nothing about the jobs they do, or their communities?

On the other hand, how lovely it is to explore other ways of living, being, working. What a creative challenge it is for the author to get into the mind of someone who has other interests, other goals in life, and gives you a different constellation in which to travel. When you write what you don’t know, you have to let your imagination fly.

It seems best-selling author, Toni Morrison (here in conversation with author Junot Diaz) agrees that it’s often better to to write what you don’t know. 

Though I’ve enjoyed the journey, writing what you don’t know requires not only imagination, but a lot of research. It’s the main reason my novel has taken a long time to write, but I have to underline, it’s been fun.

If you have a peek at my bio. you’ll see that I get bored easily, and as a result changed jobs and occupations often. It stands to reason then that my characters’ pursuits would be different from mine. How else was I going to feed my insatiable curiosity?

Catherine Fitzgerald, the protagonist in A CRY FROM THE DEEP, is an underwater photographer. That’s something I’ve never tried. So not only did I have learn about the business of taking pictures underwater for a living, but also about the ins and outs of scuba diving (without doing it myself, as I’m too cowardly to try).

Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island

Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island

However, I do understand something about her passion for the sea, as I’ve snorkeled. I can hear some divers out there guffawing. I know it’s not the same thing. Swimming on the surface of the water has little risk, but at least I can say that I’ve been sufficiently entranced with what lies underwater to delve further.

For research, I went out one afternoon with a group of scuba divers and grilled them about their sport. I also talked to instructors and owners of dive shops, and visited countless web sites for specifics. After reading some of my chapters—which include some diving scenes—a member of my writers’ critique group (who was a diver) expressed surprise that I had never tried scuba diving, as the underwater scenes were believable. What helped my writing was—as I mentioned above—my love of the sea. I am fascinated by what lies beneath, and that love and fascination propelled me to investigate what I didn’t know. Loving the sea as much as I do gave me an in to my character’s passion, her mindset. From there, I wove in everything else.

Here’s another great article published in Writer’s Digest entitled, Why You Should Write What You Don’t Know by Brian Klems.

Have you written about subjects you know nothing about? How far have you stretched yourself? And what do you think about write what you know vs. write what you don’t know? Would love your comments.

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