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My Random Thoughts and Observations

Writer's Life

The childlhood memories of my children.
The childlhood memories of my children.

What is it like to be a writer?


My adult son recently texted this picture during a Saturday morning family group chat that perfectly answered that question. It literally made me laugh so hard that my head fell backwards with amusement (and admittedly, some remorse) when I saw it. That picture SO captured my life as a writer… and also the life of a writer's child.


I've been a writer all my life, but I didn't write my first story until the early '80s. (Now scheduled for release in May 2020.) I began that book with pen and paper. The pages were filled with neat cursive penmanship which progressively became messier the more pages I wrote in a single sitting, until the scroll became so messy it was even hard for me to read. I then moved onto a typewriter. This transition made the work easier to read but the process was still cumbersome when mistakes needed to be corrected, or edits needed to be made. So, I bought a word processor with a memory of about 450 words. Again, this improved my writer's life because editing became a breeze. I could now scroll backwards, correct, delete or insert to my heart's content. But the trick with this dandy machine was that I had to remember to regularly save my work onto a disk or the memory would freeze up and I'd lose everything that I had written since my last save. (And that's the subject matter for a whole different blog! How not to rant and scream and cuss in front of small children!) Similarly, if the machine by chance became unplugged, or we lost power for some unexpected reason, everything still unsaved, would be lost.


This takes me to my first Writer's Life story. When my youngest child was a toddler, I was busy writing one of the books in my Enduring Love series (Bend in the Circle, the first book in this series, is scheduled for release in Winter 2020). The main male character in this series is named Sonny. So… one day, my toddler was crawling around on the floor with our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Tramp. I was deeply engrossed in Sonny's life when my daughter and her pup crawled under my desk to play. Aware of what she was doing, but only superficially, I continued typing while glancing under the desk to eyeball my child's play. I thought I was doing a pretty good job as a stay-at-home mom, but truth be known, there were times when I barely kept one foot in the house while I deep dived into some faraway world created on my desktop. And that became evident when my daughter and her pup moved closer to the socket on the wall where my unpredictable word processor was plugged in. As I saw them move backwards, I leaned down from my work to make eye-contact with my sweet little angel and in my dearest mommy loves you voice, I said,  "Please don't let Sonny bump into the plug on the wall because my word processor will turn off and I will lose all of my work." My daughter looked up at me in visible confusion and said, "Who's Sonny?" I stared back at her, equally confused, and asked "Who's what?" I could barely process her confusion as my mind frantically raced through possible name choices for that dog… and her… Sonny, no; Alex, no; Jake, no; Sherelle, no; Jesse… oh, good grief!  None of the choices matched the faces staring back at me, I knew that - and yet, no other names came to mind. Finally, in silent and remorseful defeat I just desperately pointed under the desk and gasped, "Him! Get that dog away from the plug on the wall!"


And this was how my children learned to answer to any name I might call them.  


At some point thereafter, I moved onto a computer, primitive by today's standards, but so much better than that unpredictable word processor I had been using. Editing was easier, saving my work was easier (and faster), and the whole process was more secure from a writer's point of view. I no longer had to worry about regularly stopping what I was doing to save my work. I could just go and go… for marathon writing sessions.  But… this presented a new challenge for my children. I could now deep dive into my characters' lives and leave the tangible world of my family behind… for endless writing periods… almost without notice. (Just kidding!) (Sort of!). And that brings me to my second Writer's Life story.


One day I was again deep in my Enduring Love series when my children began to clamor around my writing desk, asking about dinner. But before I go on with that, let me provide a little backfill for you on the "writing process".


Most people have heard of "writer's block".  All writers experience it. When I experience it, I look at it as a sign that it's time for me to step away from my work and rejuvenate myself as well as my tangible living, breathing family, and also my fictional family. I use this time to let my characters breathe while I focus on my children and husband who have been patiently waiting for me to return to their world. Inevitably, the minute I return, the writer's block disappears, and I am slammed with new dialogue that I can't wait to unload. (A good writer always respects the gift of gab… you don't let it fall on the floor and leave it there for future retrieval. If you do, it will surely be gone when you return, and then – wham! The dreaded writer's block!)


So… back to my story. There I was, typing away at my desk deep in my characters' lives, unloading all that fresh dialogue while my three children clamored around me, begging for food. "Just a minute…" I told them in my loving but distracted mommy voice, as silent words flowed from my mind to my keyboard to my computer screen. My children became unusually insistent as my "just a minute" grew into multiple minutes with no ending in sight. "Mom… please! We're hungry," they whined.  I calmly nodded at their interruption with dignified grace and maternal patience, hoping for a reciprocal amount of patience from them. "I know you're hungry. Just another minute, please." I continued typing as I offered them this flimsy reassurance. "I'm almost finished here. And then I'll make dinner." The kids obediently obliged me for another set of endless minutes, but finally, the wait became too long, the hunger too demanding, and much less patiently they began tugging on my sleeves, tapping me on the arm, and begging more insistently, "Mom, when are you going to make dinner? It's almost midnight…"


And that is the life of a writer's child, and the life of a writer. (And yes, I immediately left the rest of the dialogue on the floor while I quickly located a frozen pizza to jam into the oven for them to eat before midnight. Apologies, apologies, apologies!)    

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Who do you want to be your friend?

I write characters I want to know in my real life.
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Sleepless Night, You Aren't My Friend

Hello darkness my old friend
You've come to taunt me once again
I can't recall my last good sleep
My racing thoughts could make me weep
Nighttime, nighttime, go away
I never liked this game we play.


The sound of silence fills my home
The noises say I'm not alone
Tinnitus ringing in my ears
The snores and creaks I do not fear
Nighttime, nighttime, go away
I never liked this game we play.


My clock has joined the midnight chant
The time clicks through its taunting rant
My sleepless night will end by five
And yet my mind is still alive
Nighttime, nighttime, go away
I never liked this game we play.


It's torture but it's my own time
I tell myself that life is fine
The sleep, I chase outruns my gait
But then I nod off way too late
Nighttime, nighttime, go away
I never liked this game we play.


The hours left are just a few
The darkness fades to skies of blue
My clock demands I face the day
It' time to rise and earn my pay

My sleepy eyes just want to close
Throughout the day I'll want to dose.

Hello darkness my old friend
Tonight, we'll do this all again

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Your Warm Embrace

Wrap me in your arms so I'll remember your embrace,
when I'm no longer able to stare at your face.
Speak with the laughter that sings in my ears,
so I can play it back later into the silence of tears.
Stand with your back to the howling wind,
so the fragrance of you can return like a friend.
Let your lips linger on mine,
in a gentle stalling of time.
I adored you before,
I love you now even more.


The hands of my clock push the hours away,
as I drag my sad loneliness through long empty days.
I look for you now through the mist of my morn,
And grieve through the night where my sadness is born.
I can't remember the feel of your face,
I long for the warmth of your protective embrace.
Your laughter is silent in my hollowed mind,
The scent of your body my memory can't find.
Come back to me love, bring a sweet morning kiss,
Put your hand in my palm because that's what I miss.


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Be Empowered by a Book

There is nothing as powerful as holding a book in your hand. You need only open the cover to feel the potential of another world, a better relationship, or good advice. Books can make anything happen. Open one today.
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The Gift of Positive Feedback

I often find myself waking early, even on a weekend when I had planned on sleeping in. In fact, it's been so long since I last slept in, I don't remember what year it might have been? Who was president, where did I live, and did I even have children then, or have I not slept in since high school? Those early wake up hours allow for a lifetime of quiet contemplation. My mind wanders, sometimes into dark places (I quickly try to escape!), sometimes into fictional lives (that usually forces me out of bed to sit in front of a computer to write it all down), and sometimes into happy zones (yes, I am satisfied with my life). And so was the case today. Against the backdrop of my husband's snoring, I thought about the gift of positive feedback; the kind that I've given and received throughout my life. Positive feedback is powerful. It can literally be life-changing.

I'm a writer. I've been writing fiction and romance novels since the early 80s. I love getting to know the fictional characters that come alive inside me. They become best friends. I laugh with them; I cry with them, I live for them, and they live because of me. But the process of sharing them with the world is terrifying. Writing is a vulnerable process because it is as deeply personal as it is visible. When I write, I fully expose myself in ways that I might otherwise hold back. I shed the protective cover that shields my soul from external criticism, and I vulnerably tell the truth. I use my inside voice on the outside – and I shout out loud with it. And in truth, regardless of my thoughts being veiled by the identity of a fictional character, everything I write comes from my heart and soul. It is as much me, as it is not me.

So, with my first published book now in the hands of unknown readers, I awaited the crushing blow of negative feedback. The kind that you've probably felt before; like at the end of a party that fell flat despite your best planning. It's the disappointment you feel when you present a gift that isn't well received. I remember as a child, I wanted a watch for my birthday. All of my friends had watches. But instead of a watch, I got a bathrobe. I was crushed, and unintentionally burst into tears with a hurtful sob of, "I wanted a watch!" I'm sure my parents were horribly wounded by my honesty.

As children our lives expand with positive feedback. As babies we need it to thrive. As young adults, the affirmation empowers us to set ambitious paths into unknown futures. As mature adults it replenishes parched souls depleted from the sting of repeated defeat. And as seniors the affirmation can make us feel relevant and worthy of life despite declining mental and physical health.

So, imagine if you can, the thrill of my first positive feedback on Something to Remember. It unexpectedly landed in my phone one Saturday morning. That book was so good! Bravo my friend! It came to me from an old friend who had purchased the book on Amazon. Wow! I couldn't stop smiling or re-reading the message. She liked it! My heart soared, and my confidence bloomed. And then more reviews poured in, from anonymous readers, and known readers. A colleague who raved about how good the book was; an acquaintance of my husband who followed him to his car one night just to tell him, Boy, your wife can write! The elderly friend of my mother, who handwrote a multiple page letter to my mom, detailing how much she enjoyed the book, even though she would not normally read romance novels, and would generally disapprove of the characters' actions! But she is eager for the follow-up novel! Wow! And then there are the five out of five, 5-star reviews on Amazon and the 5-star rating in goodreads. They like it! (translated: They like me!)


The gift of positive feedback is affirming, uplifting, empowering and encouraging. Thank you everyone for the positive feedback. So now I ask you: what positive feedback have you received that was life changing, and have you given positive feedback to someone else? How powerful can you be today?

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Never Give Up on Dreams

We all have dreams... at least, I hope that's true, because life without a dream would feel a lot like life without hope. But dreams can feel elusive and unattainable when they involve more than idle wishes.


I first dreamed of being a published author in 1984 when I began writing my first romance novel. I'd always known that I had creative urgings that were both distracting and hard to contain. I was artistic. I took art classes as a child and loved them. I played piano, clarinet, oboe, and guitar. I was athletic. I took gymnastic classes as a child – only until the teacher told my mother that I had a natural talent and my mother withdrew me from the classes, fearing I'd become a circus gypsy as an adult (which, admittedly, sounds kind of fun to me). And I've always liked to write a lot. I used to write poems and short stories all the time. I even wrote to-do lists just because I liked the process of writing things down.


I never finished that first book that I started. I met a published author who gave me some good advice: write what you know. So, I abandoned my first effort (about a baseball player- something I knew little about) and started a new story. It had a military theme, and as an army veteran, that made more sense to me. I also joined Romance Writers of America and met an author who had just published her first book (she's a very successful author today). That was inspiring to me.


Now, in 2019, I've published my first book. Dreams can come true - not always the way you hope or envision, but they can come true. It's been a long journey for me. Since starting that first book that I later abandoned, I've lived in Colorado, Oregon, Louisiana, California, and Germany. I've raised children and helped raise grandchildren (that'll be another blog!). I've attended funerals and weddings. I've laughed and I've cried. And through it all I kept writing. Not to be published (admittedly, I gave up on that dream for many years), but instead to let the characters inside me breathe and cry; they too, needed to laugh and raise children. And the process of writing gave me hope; it kept me hanging onto my dream even if it was only by the white knuckled grasp of my weakest palm.


And then one day I just decided to just put myself out there. It wasn't easy, but determination made it happen. And here I am… telling you that dreams can come true.


So now you try it… what's your dream, and what do you need to do to make it come true?

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