• Tag Archives writing
  • Nearing the Finish Line ~ Cadáin’s Watch!

    A quick update for readers.

    As you probably know, Cadáin’s Watch, Book 3 in The Storms Series, is going live on Amazon on March 14.

    And today, I made a few last revisions to the manuscript, did another spell check, and sent it to be formatted!

    Now, I can breathe.

     

    To preorder Cadáin’s Watch, click the photo above.

     

    And please check out Freedom’s Light: Short Stories at the link below.

    My short story, The Birthday Party, is included in this new anthology endorsed by the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance. The story is set in 1923. A lesser character from the Storms Series, Adela (whose daughter, Patty, hid pregnant Michelle in her Pennsylvania farmhouse), is the heroine.

     

     

    Happy reading everyone!

     

    Related Post:

    Book Reviews for the Rest of Us ~ A Step by Step Guide.

     


  • Latest On Cadáins Watch

    A quick progress update on book 3 in my series, Cadáin’s Watch.

    I am still revising the first draft. I’m 2/3 of the way finished. That’s actually not bad for me, since I admit I am rather slow and methodical in my work.

    I wish I were a faster writer, but I’m not. I wish I were like the roadrunner.

     

     

    Instead, I’m more like a turtle, slow and steady.

     

    turtle-861085_640

     

    So here’s another update, just to let readers know that I am still working hard. Stay tuned.

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    Related Post:

    Cadáin’s Watch ~ First Draft Finished


  • Book Review ~ Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine

    This is the headline to my review of Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine:

    “Compelling story of the human spirit and the deeply ingrained desire to be free.”

     

    How very true this is. I was dying to read Chasing Freedom in full, because I had read bits and pieces of it in order to give Marina feedback. Knowing her dystopia was set in the near future, about ten years after my own dystopian series ends was one of the reasons, but not the only one.

    I have come to regard Marina as a friend. We indies need to support each other, be encouraging and stick together, especially we who are deemed less than optimum by those who have hijacked fiction to push an agenda. This is not news to many people, but for those who aren’t aware of it, Conservative and Libertarian artists often get the shaft, be they authors, actors, musicians or other creative types.

    In music, Rock & Roll icon Ted Nugent, one of the best guitarists to come out of Classic Rock, is despised by way too many people because he champions the second amendment to the US Constitution, while other Classic Rock artists are beloved by Americans across the broad political spectrum even though they themselves are to the Left of Bernie Sanders in ideology, all while living as part of the 1% whom they insist Americans should hate. Yet no one seems to see anything out of the ordinary.

    There are probably other examples of the double standard in the arts; I’m just listing what I know off the top of my head.

    The shaft comes from all the usual suspects: Traditional publishing houses and agents that promote a single ideology and only that ideology, therefore dismissing talented authors who believe differently, Hollywood blacklisting of Conservatives, which ultimately led to the formation of the group Friends of Abe (who have incurred shafting just for daring to join together for support), and, of course, the old stand-by: When successful authors of a certain ideology dare to question the status quo, they are smacked down as angry white men, racists, sexists and homophobes.  This despite the facts:  They themselves are men and women of Portuguese descent and not caucasians, one is married to a black woman, and the aforementioned woman, a Portuguese immigrant/American citizen by choice, is a bestselling author who writes books and stories featuring gay characters.

    For anyone who is reading this and perhaps not quite believing it, I can’t help you. All I know is what I see, which I have described above with supporting links.  And this is what is so darn frustrating.

    Despite story after story describing the lead-up to Marina’s dystopia, and also mine, some people still dismiss us as cranks. This despite the fact that American citizens who escaped from totalitarian societies (including Marina) warn us over and over that we are on the path to a place we do not want to go. They should know; they lived it. Yet few will listen, because the alternative is to be “uncool.”

    We aren’t the cool kids; we don’t agree that certain symbols representing American History, even though they offend some, should be purged. And we have our reasons. If battle flags and statues of Confederate Generals are purged from the public eye, it might be easy to purge them from the history books at some point. And, if the bad parts of American history disappear from the history books, how will future generations learn not to allow a different version of slavery to be foisted upon them?

    This is the point that people who base their ideology on “feelings” miss, time and time again. And I bring up this particular attempt to purge history because of an incident last summer, where my husband, who doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, in order to show his support of free expression and his hatred of purging, placed a small Confederate flag on his truck bumper.

    A week or so later, a crazy man was waiting for him as he came out of the bank. This man proceeded to begin the name calling of “racist, racist,” screaming at my husband that he should drive into the wrong of side of town in Wilmington, DE, so the residents there could see the bumper sticker and “f–k you up.”

    This could have ended badly. My husband does not take any shit, but that day he was forced to counter this idiot with only the words “f–k off.” He couldn’t risk any kind of altercation because he was on blood thinners, and might have incurred a brain bleed if the crazy man, who was younger then he by at least 10 years, knocked his head against the truck.

    I’m writing all of the above because situations like these, if not stopped soon, may lead us to real dystopias like Marina’s fictional one.

    This should give one pause. Take a moment to reflect on the above points, and remember the old saying: “You may not be interested in politics, but politics are interested in you.” Please, if you’re on the fence, get off. Choose Freedom, so your children and grandchildren won’t be forced to chase it.

    Below is my review ~ 5 Stars.

    Dystopian Novel, Chasing FreedomBeing quite familiar with dystopian literature, having read plenty over the years, it’s always a pleasure to find something completely different. Marina Fontaine’s Chasing Freedom is just that–completely different.

    To begin, the setting (near future America from 2040 – 2058) distinguishes this novel from others set further in the future. This is quite a change from the majority popular dystopias, such as The Hunger Games, set far away in time. The Hunger Games and similar stories, though they are compelling, don’t have the same impact as Fontaine’s debut novel. When a book takes you, the reader, to places you already know in the back of your mind are quite possibly in your future, the ride can be scary. But while certain situations portrayed are grim, the author does a superb job of conveying just enough to allow readers to know what has happened to a given character without being gruesome.

    When the novel begins, the majority of the characters are living in dark and oppressive “Cities.” The Cities are planned high-rise slums, where human beings who once lived quiet suburban lives, with jobs and families, have been forced to move by the government. The Cities, and the system, are soul crushing, hateful, and in some cases, deadly. Ordinary freedoms like music, books, religion and even creative outlets such as art are strictly prohibited. Health care is doled out by bureaucratic fiat according to “need” or “quality of life”, and children may or may not be approved for college educations, depending on their embrace of the system.

    Out of this darkness come rays of hope in the characters who begin a rebellion. Main characters Randy and Julie begin the resistance movement as teens, yearning for freedom and willing to fight for themselves and others. These characters and the other freedom fighters endure great pain–emotional, mental and physical–as their movement grows, slowly but surely.

    Loss of Freedom in America is certainly not out of the question. Anyone who is paying attention knows this. Perhaps that’s why the dystopian genre has exploded over the past five years or so. But while the subject matter portrayed in Chasing Freedom gives one pause, it also gives hope. As stated above, the course of the novel covers 18 years, the time from the beginning of the rebellion till the beginning of something better. In those 18 years we see Randy, Julie, Chris, Daniel and other freedom minded kids grow into mature leaders, parents, husbands and creative types. Fontaine’s use of mountains in New York, quiet Lancaster County Pennsylvania, and suburban New Jersey as settings enhances the story, making it relatable in additional ways, since people live and work and go on vacations in these places now, today in 2016.

    This debut novel is a great reading experience. I cared about the characters, cried with them in their sorrow and rejoiced with them in their victories. To end, I will simply say that even though America seems to be headed for exactly the scenarios depicted, I was left with a feeling of hope. Freedom is not free. It was (and is) hard won. And though it can be thrown away with both hands by some people, there will always be others who will fight to get it back.

    BOOK 3

    Above is my criteria for book reviews. Chasing Freedom earned five stars from me, and I hope others will purchase the book and read it. It really is something special.

     

    Marina Fontaine is a Russian by birth, an American by choice, and an unrepentant book addict.
    Because of her background, Marina has always appreciated an opportunity to discover, share and support pro-freedom literature. She runs Small Government Book Fan Club on Goodreads, Marina Fontaine of Conservative Libertarian Fiction AllianceConservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance group on Facebook, and a personal commentary/review blog, Marina’s Musings.
    In addition, she is a part of the Creators’ Team at Liberty Island website, where she contributes book reviews and occasional creative work. In December of 2013, she entered a Liberty Island flash fiction contest with a story that became an inspiration for Chasing Freedom, her first novel.
    Marina lives in New Jersey with her very supportive husband, three children and four guinea pigs, working as an accountant by day and a writer by night. Her other interests include hard rock music, action movies and travel.


  • Photo-Blog ~ Running as Therapy and Inspiration

    I began running 7 years ago. It’s therapy for me, and also a source of inspiration for my writing. Yesterday’s run was exceptionally beautiful, so here it is, captured in photos.

    When I began running 7 years ago, I usually went to nearby parks and ran laps. This was because I was a beginner, and I needed to develop stamina. But running the same laps over and over quickly became boring, no matter how pretty the parks were. I needed a change and a challenge, so I began running in White Clay Creek Preserve, 5 minutes from my home by car. Actually, I can, and have, run to the park from my home. This occurred while I was training for the Delaware Half-Marathon, when I had to run 8, 9 and10 milers on weekends.But I’m training this year. I’m too busy writing the last book in The Storms Series to train, though once the book is published (I’m shooting for May), I may decide to train for a fall race.

    The linked article has the history and a map of the area. The park is huge, and encompasses acres of Pennsylvania and Delaware. There is quite a bit of history. I grew up in the area, and sometimes I take it for granted. However, it must have been hiding in the back of my mind, since the park is featured in the Storms Series.

    Yesterday’s run began at parking lot one, the closest to my house. I clipped on my old iPod shuffle and began running on the Penn-Del trail, listening to Bruce Springsteen. The trail runs along an old railroad bed. The trains stopped running back in the 1940s. To my left was the White Clay, running slowly, and to my right was a swampy place, with cattails and other stalky grasses. Beaver are building a dam here. Again, it’s strange the way this park figures into my writing. The railroad bed and the beaver are mentioned in book 2 of my series, The Notice.

    About half a mile down, the trail takes a turn to the left, leaving the swamp behind, and continues next to the White Clay. For the next mile or so I ran along the trail, stopping at intervals to take photos.

    White Clay Creek Preserve creekbank White Clay Creek, Pennsylvania Fall in Pennsylvania Landenberg, PA

    IMO, this Fall has been exceptionally beautiful. The foliage is bright and clean and colorful, without a hint of drabness. 

    Running next to the creek is soothing and therapeutic. The iPod’s volume is on low, so the running water filters through, along with the sounds of birds, squirrels and the leaves crunching under my feet. It smells good there. I lose myself in visions of scenes I want to write. The music also inspires. If I get tired I shuffle the iPod until Santana begins playing, making me run faster. (IMO, no running playlist is complete without Santana’s Jingo).

    Finally I emerged from the trail onto Sharpless Road, an isolated country lane. Nearby is London Tract Meeting House, also known as Ticking Tomb Church, because of the legend of the  Ticking Tomb. Please click the link for the legend, and a possible connection to “The Telltale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe. The area was  the home of Native Americans of the Lenni Lenape tribe until it was sold to William Penn in 1683. (The church and the plaque commemorating the sale of the Indian lands to Billy Penn is featured in another scene in The Notice).

    Once on Sharpless Road I turned right, away from the church. I hadn’t run up the following hill since last spring, so I decided to try it.

    uphill

    I didn’t make it. I slacked all summer long, and I didn’t have the stamina to run to the top, so I power walked. My goal is to run up this hill the way I used to by the end of the month.

    Here’s the view from the top. It’s always worth the pain of the hill.

    Landenberg, PA

    I continued on this isolated road, one of the prettiest in Landenberg. Cornfields were here until recently.

    Country Cornfield

    Landenberg, PA

    At the bottom of the first hill two hunters had parked. Deer hunting is permitted in the park, both archery and shotgun. My husband still gets his hunting license every year, however, he doesn’t go out like he used to. When my children were young I felt like a single mom at times, due to his habit of spending every late afternoon deer hunting. He’s a pretty good shot with bow and arrow. We always eat the deer he shoots.

    These days there seems to be an outcry against hunting, and sometimes, hunters. It’s rather frustrating. I’ve seen comments online referring to people like my husband, son and brother-in-law as “rednecks.” People seem to believe the hunters are dangerous. Um… excuse me? This is country life. If you don’t like country ways, move back to where you came from. In the seven years that I’ve been running regularly in the park, never once have I been scared by a hunter. Not once. I’ve seen plenty of hunters of course, but I’ve never felt threatened in the least. The only people who have ever frightened me are dog owners who ignore the leash rule. I was even bitten once by an unleashed dog. Unlike some dog owners who seem to think rules are for other people, the hunters are considerate of others. I trust the hunters much more than the dog owners.

    After passing the spot where the hunters had left their trucks, I came to the smaller hill on Sharpless Rd, and began running up it.

    Landenberg, PA

    This is one of my favorite stretches of road, since this is the place where the idea for the book that would ultimately become a trilogy came to me while running in July of 2009.

    While running along after praying the Rosary I was at a loss as to what would become of America. I felt terrible sense of fear and dread at the thought of Socialized medicine and other such threats to freedom. Again, this was in July, and the fields were full of corn.

    White Clay Creek, Landenberg, PA

    It was here that the idea exploded, just as I crested the hill. The tops of the corn blades were visible through the trees at the top of the bank, and by the time I was on the other side of the hill the idea was firmly planted in my mind. I went home that day and began writing about a young pregnant woman hiding in the corn, and my life was never the same.

    Sharpless Rd. Landenberg, PA

    Above are more fields which will, most likely, be sprouting corn next April. Then I came to the end of Sharpless Road and turned right.

    The Flats,Broad Run Rd., Landenberg, PA

    The Flats, Broad Run Rd.

    Above is the last stretch of road, nicknamed The Flats. I have a vague memory of hearing that it was once used for drag racing, way back when.

    Of course, like so many landmarks near my home, the Flats also made it into the Storms Series. By the time I got there I was feeling tired but also renewed. Like I said, running is therapeutic, especially with so much beauty to gaze upon while doing it. And it’s also inspiring. The combination of running, music and the White Clay Creek just do it for me. I feel like the words will come bubbling to the top when I sit down with my laptop.

    My run ended back at parking lot one, below. I’ll be going back tomorrow for more therapy and inspiration.

    White Clay4


  • Writing A Book. (Or Bleeding At Your Keyboard).

    Sometimes writing a book really can make you feel like you’re bleeding. Today I wrote a scene for book three that I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading – the scene where Jason reunites with his long lost father, Michael Sean. I’m very happy with the scene. It’s slightly less than two pages long, as I don’t want to bog down readers or bore them with a bunch of details that mean nothing.

    But this scene also had to convey the deep feelings of two very complex men. Writing it took a lot out of me. I was nervous for the past few days, worrying that I could never make readers feel what I want them to feel. The flashback scenes in book two, where Jason and his father say goodbye, were some of the favorites of readers. I heard from more than one person that the scenes brought them to tears. I want the reunion to make readers feel the same, and the thought of them being shortchanged hovered over me all morning.

     

    In my previous blogpost having to do with the music that inspired the Storms Series, each character has a song.  Jason and his father Michael Sean’s songs are the ones that fit the characters the best. However, there’s a different song, one that wasn’t included in that post. I listened to the above song, Adam Raised A Cain, from Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town album many times while writing my first two novels. In fact, this song was referred to in book one, in a scene where Jason was trying to push memories of his father away. It’s a dark song, and brooding, the way Jason is at times, and since I picture my Michael Sean character as the older Springsteen in the video above, I think that this is their song.

    Writing A Book. (Or Bleeding At Your Keyboard).

    I think I did the reunion justice. I myself cried as I read what I had written, but in a good way. So I’ll go on from here knowing I did the best I could.


  • Almost There

    I’m can’t believe I’m almost ready to publish my second novel.

    What a roller coaster ride the past 5-6 years have been, since I really got to work on writing. I have always created and always wrote, but never thought I would write a book. I began creating around age ten, when I learned to sew on my mom’s Singer sewing machine. I learned to sew clothes and made a stuffed hippopotamus from a Simplicity pattern. The material had a pink background and was dotted with what looked like candy. I think the hippopotamus may be in my mother’s attic.

    I sewed by hand and machine for many years. When my five year old cousin’s stuffed Minnie Mouse frayed, I mended it for her. I don’t really remember learning to knit, I only know that I learned before age ten. I think my mother taught me. She was a great knitter in her younger years.

    When my daughter was born I sewed special clothes for her, cute little sunsuits, hats and dresses. This continued. I sewed a First Communion dress for my daughter, who was very particular. She did not want satin or frilly lace. The dress had to fit her specs: cotton cloth with a sailor collar, Irish lace and a few tucks, nothing fancy. She picked it. There was a bit of a ruckus about shoes. My daughter loved fancy black patent leather Mary Janes. She wore them from age two on; they were a mainstay. At First Communion time we decided to just let her wear the black shoes instead of buying new white shoes that we knew she would never wear again. I think she may have argued a bit, but we ignored her. That was a mistake. In the group photo of the First Communion class, my child was the only girl with black shoes. The sewing for my daughter went on through High School. I sewed all of her Homecoming and Prom gowns. I did not offer to make her wedding gown, and she did not ask me, thank God.

    The sewing continued for nieces. Here’s a picture of a baptismal gown I sewed. Both nieces wore it. I made a fancy satin appliqué Communion dress for my nieces.

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    Over the years I’ve made many quilts. Here’s one of my favorites.

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    I learned to hand spin wool on my spinning wheel and knit it into garments. I’ve created lovely embroidered linens and cross stitched pieces, and knitted scarves, sweaters and afghans without number.

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    My home is filled with beautiful stitchery. I’ve also knitted baby items for donation to moms in need and created quilts for my children and other members of my family. I do it because I love them.

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    The cross stitched bear above hangs in my sewing room. He’s one of my favorites.

    I don’t know why I waited until I was in my forties to begin writing seriously. I wrote on and off throughout my life, in diaries and journals, but even though I had a secret dream of writing a book, I never took myself seriously until the idea for what ultimately would become the Storms Of Transformation series practically hit me over the head. It was a turning point in my life, one of those occasions that you remember in detail. I remember exactly where I was when the idea slammed me. The idea of NOT following through and at least trying to write was out of the question. I had to do it. I think my ideas have merit. I hope others like my work, but even if that isn’t the case, I won’t stop. My grandchildren may read my work someday. If America continues  on its current path, at least they’ll know I tried.