Posted tagged ‘characters’

A Thoughtful Critique

October 28, 2013

Bountiful Woman

Bountiful Woman

Last week I had the good fortune to find a few free hours in my hectic schedule. I used them to have lunch with a writer friend and colleague who lives maybe 10 miles away from me. We chose a fabulous spot, one actually pretty much surrounded by the waters of Lake Michigan and a marina, rather empty this time of year as owners are putting their boats into storage for the coming winter.

But the day was a lovely autumn day. The food was fantastic and so were the Bloody Marys.

As for the conversation? Lengthy, thoughtful, stimulating, and writing oriented. She brought up my most recent releases, the novellas comprising Soul String Saga. And she raved about the whole series and what it meant to her as she read it. After listening to her enthusiasm, I commented that I wished more readers were finding this book. I carried the essence of its theme, plot and characters in my heart for more than twenty years.

Well, she blogged about her thoughts regarding Soul String. I’m humbled by her comparison and her feelings regarding this work. Somehow her words became more powerful once she put them in print. So with her permission, I share them with you. Perhaps, you might find this series interesting too.

Feminism

by Anne Parent

Posted on October 27, 2013
Free to Fly

Free to Fly

I am a feminist. I read Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystic and my life was forever changed. I’m also a romantic and a traditionalist. I know these seem at odds, but I learned that a woman is a product of her many desires. I love a happily ever after ending to a story, my love of romantic fiction. I love powerful women that I find in fiction and I especially love it when they come together.

In the early ‘80s I read Barbara Taylor Bradford’sWoman of Substance and discovered Emma Harte. I was enthralled with the entire Emma Harte saga. I can still see her struggles in building her empire. Emma Harte is symbolic of the feminist movement, but she was more about the costs for a powerful woman.

I have recently discovered another series that has reawakened my past, Casey Clifford’s Soul String Saga. B.J. Kelly spoke to me, as did Emma Harte. B.J. was of my generation, a woman of the ‘70s. Clifford reminded me of what life was like as we opened opportunities for women who came after us. She has so perfectly depicted the choices women were faced with and what they had to give up to step into a man’s world.

However, this is also the story of B.J.’s soul mate and the struggles each of them faced in finding their paths. Every woman should read this series of books to understand why she has the opportunities of today and what women before her endured.

This is the ultimate book of feminism. It is also the ultimate love story.

Feminism is a word that carries strong emotional baggage. Throughout the years it has evolved, sometimes for the good, but not always. For me, it’s about having choices, not having it all. What does it mean to you?

Serene Harbor

Serene Harbor

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Weeping Weather and Time Outs

April 21, 2013

My favorite palm tree

My favorite palm tree

I went AWOL last week. Some of my regulars here even noticed.

Let’s just say I needed a day off. Actually, I rarely take one of those. But I desperately needed a break.

But I finally heeded my own advice and took one. Good thing I did that as this past week was not very pleasant in the weather department here in Wisconsin. Frankly, disgusting would be a complimentary descriptive for the weather. If I’d been cranky and exhausted, the week would have really been tough to handle because the weather was enough to make a saint cranky as my mother used to say.

Let’s see Sunday and Monday were seasonably pleasant. I think it was Monday the temperature actually hit 60 degrees. Then Tuesday arrived. The temps dropped, the skies turned leaden, and it rained. And rained. And. Then. Rained. More. For. Days.

Closeup of Hana waterfall

Closeup of Hana waterfall

Then came the rising waters and flooding in many areas. People began to bail out basements or sandbag their homes as they watched streets disappear into riverbeds.

Friday it snowed. Then sleeted. Then snowed again. The winds were ferocious, and the weather forecasters were talking about wind chills again, not pollen counts.

Saturday the sun came out from behind the clouds. The winds died down. Temps scooched up a tiny bit. However, that much needed orb is showing its shy side again today. But rain isn’t predicted and slightly warmer temps are :-).

Welcome to Spring in Wisconsin.

I think the weather this past week was weeping for the victims of the Boston bombings. And their families. Most of us felt exactly like the weather, mourning yet another senseless act of violence. Some of us shed tears just like the clouds.

CRW Romantic Suspense FinalistMidst the sadness and chaos of the week, I did manage to get Book 5 of my Soul String Saga finished, and it’s now being prepared for publication.

More good news to life the sadness was learning my book, An Island No More has finaled in two readers’ choice contests. Those two notification phone calls definitely lifted my spirits.

This past week could have been a disaster for me—if I’d allowed it. I was very tired. I had many tasks that needed accomplishing. My husband and I were constantly solving one problem or issue only to be faced with two or three more popping up and demanding attention. Now…

Looking toward Diamond Head

Looking toward Diamond Head

Life can be like that. Then add to it weather which promotes moodiness, along with an onslaught of news and currents events which are depressing, well, let’s say, that’s a sure-fire provocation to increase stress and potentially give a person a reason to say “the heck with it all.”

I guess at heart I’m someone who prefers to be realistic but see life as a glass half full in difficult time, rather than describing it more pessimistically as “half empty.” In that sense I’m not only an author who determines the fates and issues my characters face within my books, but I can choose to do the same with my life.

Board sailing like butterflies on the ocean

Board sailing like butterflies on the ocean

So I do. It’s easier that way for me.

And it allows me to determine if I need a time-out. If I do, I figure out how to take one. Like last Sunday. It rejuvenates my psyche and my soul.

Do you need a time out this week? If so, you have my permission to take one.

See you next week…

Banyan tree Lahaina

Banyan tree Lahaina

Last Man Standing

April 29, 2012

My life is like bowling. I'm the last pin standing...

It’s happened.

That situation that I feared developing.

Some of us may have a couple of possible scenarios that fall in this category. Most of us hope such a situation never pops up. We might work very hard to control our environment and our lives to avoid such situations.

However, we know that we can only do so much in manipulating events because outside events often interfere. Things we can’t foresee or control screw things up.

Being able to mess things up for my characters is one of the elements I enjoy in my writing life. I have the control, and believe me, it’s quite enjoyable to make my characters miserable or dealing with things, at least until I give them their happy endings.

And I do that because I can. I’m a writer.

But this isn’t about writing. But my life/the part I can’t control.

Saturday morning at 4:30 before my alarm went off at 5:00, my hubby woke me with an apology. Then he told me he was leaving me in a lurch. In a lurch?!

First I thought he was having another heart issue or worse–a stroke. I became totally alert.

Well his choice of wording wasn’t the greatest (after all it was 4:30 and the sun wasn’t even a glimmer on the eastern horizon yet). And he is a man. And men can sometimes be the worst of patients because their ailments are always the worst of all. Just ask them if they haven’t told you at least once already.

So, what was the problem? He’d gotten up to use the bathroom and let Oreo out as she thought that was a good idea and somehow hurt/strained his back.

Our blossoming trees look like late May instead of April

He couldn’t possibly do anything as he hurt so very much. (We’re facing 72 hours of care for our son this week. That takes both of us at times.)

Now since I had to get to our disabled son’s area on a different floor to relieve the nurse on duty, I quickly dressed, placed everything my hubby would need close at hand for him, rearranged his pillows and put one under his knees like nurses would always do whenever I was in the hospital for my back surgeries, and told him I’d check on him as soon as I could.

So there it was. One of my greatest fears–I was the last man standing in our home–and facing a totally paralyzed son on one level and my husband hurting on another on another floor–2 levels about my son.

I was facing caring for my son for the day alone. I always need help in moving him, doing some of his necessary cares, and getting him ready for the day–or night.

Well, just like my characters, I couldn’t spend the next fourteen hours crying in my coffee over a twist in my carefully planned day. I coped and figured out what to do.

Fortunately, the weather was miserable yesterday (this didn’t help my pain level any–but that’s another post). This meant I was able to find a helpful neighbor who was available to help me move my son. Had the day been lovely, that wouldn’t have happened as she and her friends had plans.

So that writer who is writing my life story was smart enough to provide details that allowed me to survive my worst fear.

Had I given up, I’d have given my life’s writer a writing block. Heaven forbid I’d do such a thing.

This is why I love spring

Well, today I’m still the last person standing in this household. And getting grumpier.

Oh, and hubby? Well, no one’s ever had such pain before, but at least today I only have one floor between down-for-the-count family members/patients instead of two levels. (Meaning hubby managed to get out of bed today. 😉 )

So what’s a fear you’ve had to handle when faced? Or have you been very lucky so far?

Churchill & Oreo:Unconditional Love

September 25, 2011

How Could I Not Adopt Her?

Unconditional love—who doesn’t want it? How many have been disappointed because love relationships didn’t prove to be perfect?

When we’re parents and our kids “love us to death” and we feel the same, most of us have suffered through those dreaded words, “I hate you!” Whether the words are spoken, hissed, or yelled, they take our breath away, break our hearts, push us into seeing the inevitable. This child is no longer the helpless, lovable bundle of joy we carried beneath our hearts, walked the floors with at night, nurtured and worried over.

Sometimes I think healthy human relationships don’t lend themselves to unconditional love. But that could be my mood talking at this time.

However, I do think if we’re pet owners, we might get it. Which brings me to my title.

Churchill is a pet character in one of my books. Oreo is one also, but she’s also in my real world.

She’s a ten pound, little ball of black and white fur we adopted seven years ago. Oreo lives up to her name. She’s sweet and good natured. She loves us unconditionally. Really. No strings, no moods, no serious misbehaviors, just tons of personality. A few days ago, she was snuggled up against my hubby’s side while he sat reading. Her little head rested on his thigh. She looked at him with rapt attention and devotion in her brown, amber-flecked, button eyes.

Hubby looked at me and asked, “How does she love me so much? She never wants to be away from me?”

“Except when she never wants to be away from me or Steven,” I answered feeling I felt the same way, but I didn’t want my hubby to get too impressed with himself. (See, there’s that example of imperfect human relationships. And yes, I love the man!)

But my hubby is right. Oreo loves us no matter what we might accidentally do. For example, sometimes my hubby will not see her long tail and steps on it. Or I might firmly say to her “Not yet,” when she wants her dinner, and I’m right in the middle of writing a scene and can’t stop. Well, Oreo just curls back onto my feet and waits until I finish the scene. No, “I hate you” comes my way. Thank goodness.

I Love My Ride

She’s been such an influence on our lives that I put her in one of my novels. Oreo—the pet character—becomes one of the reasons Katy, a grieving widow, finds a way to deal with her new life. Situations like how cute my Oreo is sitting in her little car seat and enjoying a ride, became part of a scene in the book. And like me, when Katy first spied the little black and white fluff ball, she fell in love and adopted it. One of the few times, I was channeling my life experience with a main character in a book.

Just as our pet has become so vital in our lives and loves us unconditionally, so does the fictional Oreo love Katy.

But I confess, before I created the fictional Oreo, I created another fictional pet.

I named this one Churchill. It seemed to fit an Old English Sheepdog. I chose that breed of dog because I’ve always thought they were cute. I researched the breed to discover what traits they were known for. I discovered my choice was spot on for what I wanted of this fictional pet.

Churchill

This energetic, lovable breed was the perfect pet to provide “unconditional love” to my heroine Gabrielle who’d been devastated by the sadness in her life. Because of her losses, she’s determined never to let herself love anyone or anything again. But Churchill was the first one to start breaking down her barriers. He steals every scene I put him in so I had to be careful about that. Churchill was like an overly energetic, very furry, four-pawed fairy godfather. Gabrielle’s icy reserve never had a chance with that furry male. And he loved her unconditionally.

So readers, what do you think? Is “unconditional love” something we find in real life with pets? Or is it only found in some fiction if we enjoy reading that kind with its satisfying, happy ending?

Is She Or Isn’t She?

September 18, 2011

 

A September Dawn

I pulled into the driveway and noticed the screen door to the front porch was at an odd angle. Nothing to worry about as the wind had been blowing hard last night. I tried to straighten it but couldn’t.

Darn, I’d have to call a handyman.

Then I opened the screen door and noticed the front interior door was wide open. That really made me mad that the wind had blown that open also. So I walked in the house and checked it out. Had the wind blown out any windows? Well, I’d better check. I walked into the kitchen and noticed immediately the back door was wide open and the TV from the entertainment center in the living room was sitting on the floor in the middle of the kitchen.

So what did I do? Close the back door and head upstairs to check it out. Went through all the rooms up there and checked out the closets. Nothing seemed unusual up there but all the bed linens on the bed were tangled and thrown into a ball.

I closed the windows that were open up there and turned off a few lights.

Very strange.

I checked the time. I was running late for an appointment and thought I should leave, but I hadn’t checked the last entrance to the house which was—you guessed it—the basement.

So down those dark stairs I went and walked around the whole basement to check it out. That entrance was secure—exactly as I left it. So I walked up the stairs, took a look at the TV in the kitchen and muttered that no way would I be able to put it back where it belonged. Too big and heavy.

I relocked all the doors, left the house and headed for my appointment. I called my repairman about the screen door. He’d meet me at the house in an hour and a half. Perfect.

Even better I was only five minutes late for my appointment. As I was giving my apologies for being late and explaining why, the woman across the desk from me stared.

“Are you crazy?” she asked. “Or just too stupid to live?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You interrupted a robbery, woman…” she sputtered. “I can’t believe you didn’t see that right away. You went in the basement???”

“Yeah…” I almost squirmed as what I had done really hit me.

“How could you do that???”

“I didn’t hear the scary music?”

The rest of the day proved very busy. I never got a chance to report the incident to the police until early the next morning. I was told to go to the residence but not go in until the officer arrived. Okay, I could do that. The wait was about two minutes. He checked out the repaired screen door on the porch, examined the outside of the interior door which I then unlocked, and we entered. I took him right to the kitchen to show him the TV on the floor. TV was gone, back door was wide open. The officer pulled his gun and called for backup who arrived within a minute.

Another Dawn on a Chilly September Morning

“Stay right here,” he told me and now their guns drawn they repeated my pattern from the day before—and came up with the same result. However, while I waited for them in the living room, I checked more carefully and discovered other electronics were gone this time.

The moral of this story is this: the next time you watch a scary movie and notice the lovely young lady doing something really stupid, like I did—remember, the only reason you think it’s scary is because of the music!

And now you know just how stupid I can be…

Bowls & Books

April 3, 2010

Soup's On

This past week buzzed with activity for me.  Not that I’m not always busy.  But two very different and new activities for me filled two days, one right after the other.

On Wednesday late afternoon I participated in the Bowls and Books fundraising event for the ongoing restoration of our local community theater building.  Area restaurants donated different soups which were judged by the eaters.  Bragging rights for the next year is one of restaurants best rewards.  Also the event lures new customers to a restaurant in the future.  The community theater group gets funds to continue their work rehabbing the gorgeous theater, and local authors get the chance to do a meet and greet as well as the possibility of selling books.

Amazing soups, appetizers and dessert as well as meeting potential readers?  How could I not agree to do so? 🙂 Seemed like a win-win situation for all of us.

The three hours went very well: For the group putting on the event, for the participating restaurants with fantastic soups, appetizers and desserts, and for the authors.  While I talked with many potential readers and sold books to some, the memory of two readers will stay with me.

Writing takes characters

One was a young man (13 years) who stopped by my table because he was attracted to my book cover.  I was intrigued by his shirt (as you can see from the photo; its slogan tied into the last few posts on characters).  We talked about the book and writing. He mentioned he wanted to be a writer.  Then he left to get his soup.  He came back about 20 minutes later and asked “What’s the most important trait for someone who wants to write?”

I thought a moment, answered, and then he asked another question and another—all on elements of how I plot, do research, use characters, set goals etc.  Each time I answered, he left, then returned to ask another one.  His questions were incisive and well thought out.   I’ll never forget him or his questions.  He asked to take a photo of me so he could tape it to his computer.  “For inspiration,” he said.

He didn’t buy a book.  I told him the book was aimed for an older audience.  “Oh, I get it.  I’d enjoy it more in a few years.”  I nodded.  “That’s what you mean when you mentioned to always think about who you are trying to reach.”

Wow.  His teachers must consider him a gift in the classroom.  I know I would have. 🙂

I agreed and wished him all the luck in the world.  Imagine what this marvelous young man will be like in ten years!  I expect he will have already done some writing and gotten it published in student magazines and school newsletters.  He’s already pursuing the dream.

The second person I’ll always remember was a man there with his girlfriend.  They  were both attracted to my book because of the cover.  (Got to love that great Wild Rose Art department) They skimmed the laminated article I had on my table about my first book signing last fall.  They also asked a lot of questions about the book.  From their questions I inferred they were avid readers.  After several minutes they entered the area where the soups were but not before the man told me he would buy the book before he left.

I didn’t see him again and at the end of our time, I started packing up.  Just as I reached the exit door, the man came running up to me.  “Please tell me you didn’t sell all your books!” were his first words.  I shook my head.  “Great, I was afraid I’d missed my chance.  Can you please sell me one now?”

Well, you know my answer to that one.  Pleased as punch I walked back in, signed the book, talked to him a bit more, and took his money.  He told me he’d email from my website to let me know how he liked it.

I’d say those three hours were well-spent.  Everyone who stopped asked great questions about writing and my book and others I’m working on.  Not all bought a book, but I think they might remember my name and buy the next time I encounter them.  On so many levels, those hours were productive.  Next week I’ll post about doing Career Day at a middle school in my hometown.  It too was an awesome experience, one I’ll be happy to do again.  What have been your awesome experiences lately?

If you are celebrating Easter or Passover, may your holiday be blessed and spent with family.