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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Reach for the Stars

Let me start by saying, we are not omnipotent. It doesn’t matter how much you might fight it, life, or fate, sometimes puts you smack in the middle of where you need to be. Many times over the years I’ve bemoaned a circumstance or event, only to realize, sometimes months or even years later, that I needed to be there. There are lessons to be learned, even if we don’t think we need to learn them.

When writing a fiction book, the author is God-like. We make omnipotent decisions for and about our characters, their lives and their choices. We manipulate circumstances to bring about desired events and we put people in places they may not normally be. We give them emotions, thoughts and flaws to make them human (even when the characters aren’t necessarily human at all). When writing, re-writing, editing, and throughout the entire process of crafting a believable story, we do this. We place our characters and the supporting characters where we want them to be so we can hopefully tie all the pieces together for a cohesive, enjoyable tale.

What power! We can’t do that in our own lives. We are subject to the same whims, peaks and valleys as everyone else. We struggle with health issues, fears, love, failure, successes as any other. We are eminently fallible. We have no more insight into the whys of our lives than other people. We are human. But human nature wants to control. We want to make the decisions and postulate on the right to choose our destiny. As authors, we brave fear and possible failure and rejection every day. We wouldn’t have it any other way. But sometimes we fight where we are in our lives. We push and shove to move forward.

A prime example is what’s going on in my life right now. Several months ago my husband and I were struggling financially, so we opted to sell our house (at no profit), reduce our bill payments and start over financially. Like so many others, we were drowning in debt, and it didn’t matter what we did or how hard we worked, the numbers just weren’t lining up. Add to that some health issues I began experiencing due to the increased stress. We decided to man up and make some hard decisions. One of those was getting out from under mortgage debt. Goodbye my lovely little home. We maintained our seasonal park model trailer and stayed there for the summer while we strategized our next course of action. By summer’s end we’d decided to continue the breather we’d taken and move in with my parents, who encouraged the decision. Dad was finding it harder and harder to do the odd jobs around their 1800 square foot home, and my mother’s health had been less than optimal for quite some time.

I love my parents tremendously, but I didn’t want to move in with them, even temporarily. I wanted my own space, my privacy, and my own way of doing things. I was adamant we would only stay a short while as we began looking for permanent living accommodations. Everyone agreed. Okay, I was on the road to recovery financially and emotionally. We had a short term plan in place and were moving ahead. It was all good.

Then last week, at my mother’s seventy-fifth birthday celebration luncheon, my father experienced a mild stroke. We rushed him to the hospital and although greatly shaken, were relieved he seemed to have suffered only minor damage to his left side. Throughout the last week we travelled back and forth between my parent’s home an hour away, my sister’s house, and the hospital. We brought clothing and toiletries to my mother who opted to stay in the city at my sister’s, drove her to the hospital when we could, and visited my dad. Scary stuff. I was supposed to attend a major trade show in Las Vegas for business this week, but it’s a no-brainer. I’m needed here more than there. Sure I’m disappointed. I’ve never been to Vegas before and was really pumped about going, but hey, trade show vs dad and family. No contest.

My superhero, my dad

My dad is my hero – my rock. He’s the one who keeps us on track and laughing (he loves to laugh). I remind myself it could have been so much worse, and it could. We are very lucky. We got a whopping wake up call and thump upside the head to remind us no one is immune. Not even my father.

Here’s the funny thing though. It occurred to me about mid-week that it was a very good thing we were here with them. A very good thing we were able to help out however we could this week. And perhaps a true blessing that my parents won’t return home alone. Over the course of this past week, my mother has said many times how relieved she is that we will be here with them when my dad finally comes home. My dad has expressed the same thing, as have my siblings and children.

Two days ago, on the way home from the hospital, I heaved a great sigh and said to my husband, “I guess it’s a good thing we’re going to be staying with mom and dad for a while, huh?” All the fight had gone out of me. I realized I was right where I needed to be. Life was teaching me another lesson despite myself. It’s all good and well to fight, to strive, to move forward, but sometimes there’s a reason we are where we are. Sometimes we may have to accept that God, or fate, or whatever you want to call it, places us right where we are needed so the story can continue as it should.

Memories

As an author, and as a person, I get that. For now, I’m content to do what needs to be done and be grateful for the lessons learned. I am willing to accept change and let go, for a while, the need to control everything, yet even my decision to do so is solely within my control. Today, I’m just a daughter who is needed by her parents. Each day, each week, each month, I’ll pick up the threads and continue weaving my life’s story, learning as I go.

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Highly Recommended

 

Kristin Hannah’s book, The Things We Do For Love, is an inspirational look at the issues of love, faith, and teenage pregnancy.

Seventeen year old Lauren Ribido had her future all mapped out. She’d carefully crafted a life to help her reach the lofty goals of a good job, love, marriage and children. In that order. When life steps in with other plans, Lauren has to make decisions that could have repercussions for the rest of her life.

Angie Malone is struggling to find her way back to love, family and peace of heart after a series of life’s difficulty. Returning home to her widowed mother and sisters may save her, or break her.

These two women need each other in ways they’d never imagined. Healing old hurts and finding answers to a future neither wants is what makes this story a good, solid read. I’d highly recommend What We do for Love to anyone who enjoys women’s fiction with a reality bite.

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People connections

Making the Connections

When writing a book, one of the first things we have to do is decide on the characters who will people our books, and the roles they will play. The interactions between them, their idiosyncrasies, dialogue and the amount of time we give them, all factor in.

 I don’t know about other writers, but I start with the two lead protagonists, then add people in around them as I go. Some I can identify right away, others kind of sneak in and take over larger parts than I thought. Then there are the characters I thought I’d use more of, but for one reason or another, end up taking more of a back seat than I’d first thought.

 For each character, I have to see them in my own head – details of what they look like, their personalities, and for major characters, I also need to have an idea of their history (who, what, when, where). I learned early on to keep a separate profile page to refer and add to as I go, otherwise I’ll forget small details. I’ve discovered this is even more important with serial books. You wouldn’t believe what I can forget between Book 1 and Book 2!

Because I’m currently hot and heavy into the final edits of In The Spirit Of Love, I can’t help but address this issue. As per usual, while editing, (or writing), I think about what’s currently happening in my own life, or my life experiences to draw inspiration from. Well, as my husband and I waved goodbye to my English cousins at the airport the other day, I couldn’t help but reflect on how these wonderful people just walked into my life and took up a place in my heart. Two weeks before, I’d only ever met their mother (whom I’ve loved and respected for years), now I knew my cousin, his wife and their two young boys. With only two weeks, I don’t know them well, but I have a much clearer idea of who they are. I can hear their Lancashire accents clearly in my head, and I know a bit about each of them – yes the boys too – to understand who they are and some of their likes, dislikes and small quirks. I found out my cousin reminds me of his father, whom I really liked, he is a lawyer and circuit Judge in his native country, has a quiet manner, a quick wit, and ready smile. He also feels deeply for his family, and took to my father immediately. He’s also co-written a play that was produced and won an award, and is in the process of co-writing a second one. His wife is a lovely woman who works in the auto industry, has a wonderful laugh, is smart and witty, and works hard to keep her family looked after and all the minutiae of life in order.

Having met them, they are now real to me in ways they weren’t before. They now have a role to play in my life they didn’t before. I want to keep up the relationships we’ve started to form, and this means working at it. Emailing, Skyping, and hopefully, visiting my father’s homeland of England sometime in the next year or two. I’ve learned a lot in my years on this earth so far, and one of them is that people enter your life for a reason. It’s up to us to decide what role they will play and what interaction we allow them. Had I not liked my cousin and his family, I guarantee I wouldn’t attempt to keep in contact. I’d happily wave them goodbye and leave it at that. We do that with everyone in our lives, to some degree or other. Relationships take work, they take an investment of the heart, and they require effort of time. We add new people to our lives all the time. Whether family members we’ve never met before, or work colleagues, or the new cashier at the grocery store we frequent.

My point is, as in life, we need to be flexible enough in our writing to allow characters to enter the plot, show us who they are and what role they’ll play in our story. Sometimes the most amazing characters of all come out of left field. This writing gig is an evolving thing; we don’t always have a clear picture of who our characters and sub-characters are, or how they’ll interact with our protagonists (our alter egos). But if we allow enough ebb and flow, it’ll become clear and the story much stronger for their addition.

Then we edit, edit, edit, till we have crafted the best story, dialogue and characters we can. We can do some of this in life as well. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who are positive, and supportive of us, and “edit” the people who aren’t. This doesn’t mean we can eliminate the negative people in our lives completely, but we can definitely choose what role they play in our lives and how we allow ourselves to interact with them. In doing so, we craft a better story for our lives and enrich the experiences we share. By the same token, we can choose what part we play in other’s lives as well.

We can either be positive or negative influences. I prefer to try to be a positive one to those people whose lives touch mine.

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The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

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