"This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. " Publisher's Note
Dear Reader, this is not a true story ... is of course the biggest lie in publishing. Unless of course of it is a memoir ... then perhaps the words are a product of the author's imagination.
According to Syd Field "the story has to move forward, from beginning to end, whether in a linear or a nonlinear fashion. The way you drive your story forward is by focusing on the actions of the character. ... every scene in a screenplay should fulfill one of two functions: Either it moves the story forward, or it reveals information about the character." From The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field
The story I am writing first appeared to me as a series of plot points complete with a handful of what ifs. That was the easy part. Populating the story with real characters was a little harder, but not impossible. I quickly recognized the antagonist and the protagonist and a bunch of supporting characters.
The main character arrived with two young sons and a whole lot of baggage. She's determined, overwhelmed, and single. She's also attractive, nice, energetic and a lot more unsure of herself than she was willing to admit. She has a ex-husband and an ex-boyfriend and isn't sure what had happened in either relationship. She sorta knows what a relationship should look like.
I treated her as the main character. After all she was the one who caused things to happen in the story. I made a list of plot points, gathered my characters together and started writing. By page 52 I was less sure of myself.
Instinctively I knew that there was a problem with this story. Was it the order of events? The chapters did seem to be choppy and sloppy. I kept moving the index card into different patterns. It just didn't seem to matter. Did I have too many scenes? too many characters? Maybe.
I was so sure I knew what the story was about; the dramatic premise. I took another look at the characters. All of the characters ... and slowly realized that I had failed to recognize the main character. It wasn't her at all, it him and his name was Dominic. His problems are bigger .... deeper and more difficult to fix. Dominic needs something (or someone) to resurrect him.
He needs her. And she is the last thing he wants. She is so obviously wrong that he is unable and unwilling to look beyond the complications. And suddenly this new information provided a different opening. And a new direction. A new twist on complications.
Writing a novel requires action, commitment, creativity, a plotline, and characters ... yesterday was suppose to be a writing day ... it wasn't, because I was stuck. So, what's the problem? The main character is incomplete. Defining him has been an ongoing problem. I know him, know where he's been, what he needs (which is different than what he wants), understand his fears and insecurities.
He's been successful in the past, thought he was happy and believed that there was enough time to fix things in his marriage. He was wrong. I know that the past will bring forth the best in Dominic. I want the reader to recognize this truth.
In The Art of Fiction, Henry James says that the incidents you create for your characters are the best ways to illuminate who they are -- that is, reveal their true nature, their essential character. How they respond to this particular incident or event, how they act, and react, what they say and do is what really defines the essence of their character.
Dominic's life is about to change. A lot. My job is to make him believable, likable, worth investing in. I have to chose my words well. Yesterday I didn't write because I was stuck. I have a lot of bad writing habits. Yesterday I stared at the sky waiting for the answer to reveal itself. I should have been actively writing. Today this appeared in my email:
"We can contact our inner strength, our natural openness, for short periods before getting swept away. And this is excellent, heroic, a huge step in interrupting and weakening our ancient habits. If we keep a sense of humor and stay with it for the long haul, the ability to be present just naturally evolves. Gradually we lose our appetite for biting the hook. We look* our appetite for aggression. " Pema Chodron
Flunking Sainthood is Jana Riess' recounting of her "year-long quest to become more saintly by tackling twelve spiritual practices, including fasting, fixed-hour prayer, gratitude, Sabbath-keeping, the Jesus Prayer, and generosity. Although she begins with great plans for success ("Really, how hard could that be? she asks blithely at the start of her saint-making year) she finds to her growing humiliation that she is failing - not just at some practices, but at every single one. What emerges is a vulnerable story of the quest for perfection and the reality of failure...." (taken from the back cover)
It seemed appropriate that I should read Chapter Seven, Unorthodox Sabbath yesterday. For this chapter the author choose to follow the Orthodox Jewish Sabbath tradition (no driving, no use of electricity, no cooking...) and her companion during this month is Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) who wrote The Sabbath (1951).
I no longer keep the Sabbath of my childhood, Then my Sunday's were memorable for their once a week uniqueness. My father who worked every other day of the week now walked me to Sunday School in the early morning quiet. Dinner was at noon, afternoons were spent at my grandparents and Maryland Blue Laws meant that everyone was taking a scheduled time out.
As I continued to read today I came across Jana's own closing reflections of her "attempts at sainthood" and how the practice of spiritual practice forever changed her. Jana didn't fail.
There is a lot to like about this book. It is highly readable and well-intended. Often I found myself lost in memories of my own life. The unexpected gift is that Jana's journey opened wide the door for these thoughts and reflections. I hadn't expected this. I'd like to think I learned something about myself from reading Flunking Sainthood and how I might better organize my own spiritual learning in the near future ... and perhaps better prepare for my Sabbath keeping.
Poison Pen Press is giving away free ebooks this week. Three books by three great authors, each with multiple series that have garnered starred reviews and consistent raves.
Judy Clemens'Embrace the Grim Reaper (#1 in this new series)
Genre: Women Sleuths
Casey Maldonado's life is over - at least as she knows it. In one brief moment of fire and wrenching metal, everything important was gone. The car manufacturer was generous with its settlement, but it can never be enough. Her family and friend - not to mention lawyers - want her to go for more. More money. More publicity. More everything. But Casey is done. No financial gain or courtroom retribution will bring back what really matters ....
Concrete Desertby Jon Talton (A David Mapstone Mystery #1)
Genre: Police Procedural
Having recently lost his job as a history professor, David Mapstone returns to his boyhood home of Phoenix, Arizona, to find the city dramatically changed. It's now a haven for the wealthy retirees and a seasonal retreat for West coast "sophisticates." But pockets of his earlier life - some welcome, some not - remain. Mapstone eagerly accepts a temporary job from his old friend and Maricopa County Chief Depty Mike Peralta: Look into still-open cases and see if he can close any. David is beginning to settle into his new job when his college sweetheart appears at his door one evening. True to his memory of her, she is there because she wants something. Her sister is missing and she want him to look for her.
Mapstone's search for the missing woman is quickly resolved when her body is discovered in the desert, but he is stunned to find the dead sister in circumstances identical to a sensational 40-year-old unsolved murder....
Dangerous Undertaking, A Buryin' Barry Mystery by Mark de Castrique
Genre: Police Procedural
Barry Clayton has a job he doesn't want. When his father became stricken with Altzheimer's, barry left the Charolotte police force for the small mountain community of Gainesboro, North Carolina, where his family runs the local funeral home. "Buryin' Barry" reluctantly assumed the mantle of town undertaker, trying to fit his life into this somber profession. Almost at once it turns deadly...
Publisher Note: "We can give away a book for free on Apple, but please remember that Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and amazon.com all force us to set the price to no less that $.99. However, if enough of you click on the link, 'tell us about a lower price,' ... which is just above Customer Reviews on amazon.com, then usually Amazon will quickly price-match at $0.00.
"Taste of Home credited with being the #1 food and entertaining magazine, read by more that 16 million home cooks has a brand-new cookbook."
Each chapter builds from simple, beloved classics to newer dishes handed down by families from generation to generation that will impress everyone who gathers at the table. Learn fresh techniques, tips, secrets and entertaining ideas shared by Taste of Home Cooking School experts. There are exciting twists on all-time favorites like burgers, pizza, and Chinese takeout ... and more.
This instructional cookbook features more than 400 easy-to-follow recipes with step-by-step instructions and expert advice.There is a Better Than Take OutChapter that includes Beef Gyros and Chow Mein. Plus, the unique "Cheat It" icon showcases low effort recipes that offer big rewards. Nutrition facts are included for all recipes.
The volume is well-thought-out and cook friendly and includes tempting pictures, tips on setting up a well-stocked kitchen and much more. "This essential cookbook allows people of all skill levels in the kitchen to create memorable holiday meal moments in their own homes with family, friends and neighbors," says Catherine Cassidy, Editor in Chief.
Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook is available in both print and ebook at retailers now.
... that Maeve Binchy authored a book for writers? According to the synopsis this book "give a unique insight into how a #1 bestselling author writes.
Inspired by a course run by the national College of Ireland, it comprises 20 letters from Maeve, offering advice, tips and her own wonderfully witty take on the life of a writer, in addition to contributions from top writers, publishers and editors....
It is on order from my local library system. Review to follow.
The Search For A Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy.
by Joan Chittister
"...The question of what each of us is meant to do in life is the question that no one can answer for us. It is the question of uniqueness. It is the moral imperative of every human life. To discover and pursue what we are called to do in life is the very fundament of happiness...." Sister Joan Chittister
How can we define the good life? For each of us the answer is different and depending on the day we are asked the answer can also vary. There are questions that most of us are reluctant to ask ourselves. Am I happy? Have I chosen well? Am I doing what I want to do? Should I make changes? Is this the life I dreamed of? What desire is hidden deep within? Am I in a holding pattern? Is it too late? Am I doomed to repeating the past?
In August I sign up for Medicare, next January I celebrate my next birthday, this time next year I will be 65 1/2 ... pondering my life has been a familiar and reoccurring event. As I look around at my peers and contemplate my own past journey there are a lot of questions for me to consider ... some come with answers, while others are waiting to be revealed. I'm not sure I fully understand how I came to make the choices I did, or how my life would have (could have) been different if I had chosen differently. I haven't been feeling very confident about making "the right" choices going forward.
Have I gained wisdom during my journey. I certainly hope so. Will I recognize opportunities? Yes, I believe I have gotten better. Will I show up? ... for myself and for others in a new and better way? Yes. And yes. I pray that I will.
Sister Joan has distilled the process of making life decisions in this book. Her words will help you look back while moving forward. There is much to like here.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. The thoughts and words are my own.