Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: Leap of Faith

I wandered through the ancient forest on a narrow trail covered in moss and leaves.  The wind whistled through the trees, branches rustling and singing, while scattered leaves flew all about me. I could see the bridge now and hear the roar of the waterfall. The breeze pushed and pulled me, leaves crunching and crackling under my bare feet.  Crack! I jumped out of the way as a huge tree crashed behind me with a  bone jarring thud. Once the dust cleared, it blocked the pathway and now I’d have to take the long way home.  The wind whipped up again, pulling me along and I sprinted as fast as I could.  I’d heard about the bridge but never seen it.  Awe inspiring. Two huge oaks trees stretching across the water towards one another, the roots forming a natural walkway.  Warm and bumpy underneath my feet, I walked to the middle and stared down at the water.  The river roared underneath and emptied into a crystal clear lake, surrounded by ferns and wild lilies of white, yellow, gold and orange. Sunlight sparkled off the water and fish swam in aimless circles.  Looking out across the ancient forest, the church steeple rose high above the tree tops and the tolling of the bell drifted by on the wind.   A soft breeze caressed my face and whispered ‘I will catch you when you fall’.  The breeze plucked at my clothes, once again pulling me towards the edge.  The leap of faith, that’s what all the kids called it.  I can do this.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and jumped.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: All for Charity

All for Charity!

Charity drove through the front gate of her property and parked at the foot of the front steps. She laid her head on the steering wheel and took several deep breaths. Someone had been following her all day long. An amateur at best, since he’d gotten close enough for her to see him several times. Probably one of Moore’s goons. They’d never been too bright. Finally, she had lost him on the back roads of the town after taking several deliberate wrong turns.

She stepped out of the car, paused when her phone trilled. The text message from her accountant stated a simple “It’s done.”

“About time." Giggling, Charity strode up the steps and was just about to slip the key in her lock, when she saw the plant next to the door knocked over and dirt strewn all over the porch. She shook her head and set it upright. “I’ll deal with the mess later. Darn coyotes after the verbena again.”

Charity unlocked the door and walked into the foyer, frowned when the lights didn’t automatically turn on. She flicked the switch and huffed out a breath when nothing happened. “Damn circuit breaker." Glad to have made it home just before dusk, she trudged down the hall into the kitchen. After grabbing a flash light from the kitchen drawer, she went out the back door and stopped, surprised to find a wheelbarrow full of dirt parked next to the electrical shed. She looked around but couldn’t see the gardener and had been too distracted to notice whether his truck was still in the drive. Why had he gone home in the middle of the job?

Charity reached up to unlock the shed door to find it ajar. She shivered as she scanned the back yard, the heavy shadows of the woods bordering her property loomed as the sun sank. It was quiet, too quiet. No birds or crickets. In the silence, she heard the gurgle of the small creek beyond in the trees. Her phone buzzed again and she jumped, let out a shriek, and then caught her breath at the message from Grady, “He knows. Get out”

“Relax. No problem, I’ve gotten plenty of time. What can he do from jail?” She texted Grady back, then gathered her wits and pushed open the shed door. The gardener hung from the rafters, his eyes bulging out from his purple face. She screamed, stumbled back and fell over the wheelbarrow. It tipped over, covered her in dirt and grass and debris. She climbed to her knees and reached for her phone, but it wasn’t there. She pawed through the dirt, and then froze.

A creak, then a whisper of cloth had her pressing a hand against her mouth to muffle the whimper. She scrambled to her feet, her ankle going out from under her, having twisted it in the fall. She hopped and limped to the house, stumbled through the door, shut it and slammed the lock home as soon as she made it inside.

Panting, she grabbed the cordless phone and lurched into her bedroom. She slipped on the throw rug and landed on her hands and knees. The phone shot out of her hand and slid underneath the bed.

“No. No. No.” Tears blinded her as she lay down and looked under the bed, but it was too dark to see, the flashlight gone along with her cell phone. She stretched out and felt blindly, her hand bumping packages and papers but no phone. She stilled when the hallway floor boards creaked. The door, she hadn’t locked it! Crawling to the door, she grabbed the knob and leaned as hard as possible against the wood. She held her breath until he gave it up for locked and continued down the hall and started up the stairs to the second floor.

“Think, think, think. My keys and another cordless phone should be on the table in the front foyer.” She waited until he started rummaging around in one of the upstairs rooms, then snuck out of the bedroom. Avoiding the squeaky floorboards, she crept to the bottom of the stairs, listened, and then bolted for the front door. Charity raced to the car, put the keys in the ignition, but didn’t turn it on. The cordless phone had a limited range and wouldn’t work past her driveway. She dialed 911, but her voice wouldn’t cooperate when the operator answered. It took her a couple tries to squeeze out any sound.

“He’s dead. Someone’s in my house. 2222 Makstore Lane.”

The operator’s voice buzzed in her head as the front door opened and the large man, dressed all in black, stood silhouetted in the door, holding a machete. She screamed, turned the key and threw the car in reverse as she stomped on the gas. He raced down the steps after the car.

Charity couldn’t do anything, but drive backwards, her hands frozen on the wheel, blind to what was behind her, her sight going gray and blurry with fear as the man ran straight towards the car. She whipped her head around, inadvertently whipped the steering wheel as well. The car veered off into the trees and she stomped on the brake.

In the glow of the headlights, the man stopped, a grim smile plastered on his face. Clayton Moore! Panting, she made up her mind. She slammed it into drive, pressed down on the accelerator. He barely jumped out of the way, the car clipping his legs. He threw the machete and it sliced into the windshield, cracking the glass. Too scared to slow down, she raced down the drive, rammed through the closed gate. The air bag popped in her face blinding her as she desperately stomped on the brake. Off in the distance, she could hear the sirens, but didn’t know if they’d make it in time. She beat at the bag, pushed it down and wobbled as she climbed out of the steaming car.

She whimpered as Moore pulled himself to his feet, moved toward her, dragging his injured leg. Backing up, she grabbed the machete. “Don’t come any closer. I’ll throw it. I will.”

He growled out in a gravelly tone, “Seriously doubt you have it in you, little girl.”

“Wanna bet?”

He grimaced, then stumbled to his knees with a groan before he pitched forward on his face.

Charity started to move forward, but thought maybe he could be faking it. She raised the machete and just stood there as the police cars pulled up, gravel flying as they skidded to a halt.

Officers jumped out of the vehicles, guns drawn. “Drop the knife, down on your knees.”

“I called. He killed my gardener, he tried to kill me.”

“Drop the weapon, ma’am.”

Charity dropped the knife, then slumped to the ground sobbing. One of the police officers crouched down by her side. “We know who he is. He escaped from custody three days ago. He was arrested for murder in several states. You are one lucky lady.”

Charity drew in a deep breath, and then rested limply against her damaged car. More lucky than the cops would ever know.  Now, the money was all hers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Writerly Wednesday:

The latest exercise in Chapter 3 of The Making of a Story is all about capturing the details called Render the Tree, Capture the Forest.  By carefully choosing a few details, attempt to capture an entire place, a town, a city, a county.

Since I'm working on editing Eyes in the Ashes, figured my main character driving through town would be perfect for this. During the writing, quite a few new ideas sparked about the story so have to say very helpful exercise.

In the early dawn light as the clouds pearled over the redwood trees, the sheriff drove into town. He passed the bakery where Jacky usually started baking around 4:00 a.m. His stomach grumbled as sourdough and butter, cinnamon and blueberries competed with chicory and roasted espresso beans. Danny waved, loading the truck for his early morning deliveries down at the marina. All the windows along Main sparkled, shiny and clean in time for the May Day parade and the beginning of the fair. In a couple days, the streets would be packed with folks from all over the valley. All the merchants busily preparing for the big day as they created window displays to attract every eye.

Madison books had recently updated their front window to show off local author Jeremiah Gleason’s new thriller “The Dark Gate.” His book sat on a mossy tree stump in the center, surrounded by an assortment of cookbooks, and local travel guides, ringed by greenery from the forest. Down the boardwalk, hanging plants lined the walkways with rocking chairs scattered in front of Patty’s Pizza Palace.

Next door at Four Tunes, the art studio’s front window remained covered. Sebastian and Helene, no doubt had something clever planned. He hoped they would exhibit pieces created by local artists, instead of one of their latest wacked out creations. However, they were being secretive about the whole thing.

As Greg drove the windy road, the marina came into view and reminded him of the miniature diorama displayed in the library. Jackson’s three white, tall sail masts towered above the rest of the boats. Out in the bay, the Greek’s yacht anchored for the week. The mayor had been a bit obtuse about the man and his companion. Although, now that he thought about it, how coincidental that Jackson had showed up as well. He had yet to come by the office, so now would be the perfect time to find out what the heck was going on.

He drove to the end of the pier, parked and headed down the steps to the slips. Seagulls kited above, their cries competed with the chatter and clanking of the fishermen while they offloaded their catches of the morning. As he neared Jackson’s boat, the scent of coffee overrode the moist fish laden air.

Then the man himself appeared on deck, a broad grin on his face, and a cup of steaming coffee in one hand. “You’re late.”

Greg climbed aboard and eyed his friend, took in the pinkish scar that ran down his cheek and the cane in his other hand. “So it seems and the stories of your demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: You fill up my senses!

Write a paragraph using all the senses including place, time and unknown, in addition to the normal five senses:

Ashley was quite mystified by the classless little hovel Gordon had picked for their meeting.  The candle lit restaurant buzzed with conversation and the tinkling of silverware while the pianist in the corner lost himself in his rendition of some classical piece she couldn’t quite identify.  She sipped from the goblet and the spicy liqueur with hints of licorice and cherries teased her tongue. She arched a brow when the idiot plopped down in the seat, reeking of cheap musk and his cheap, off the rack suit, looked as if he had slept in it. The elderly couple eating their dinner in the next booth had more class in their wrinkly pinkies that he would ever have in a lifetime. He glanced around before he drew an envelope out of his pocket and tossed it across the table.  She frowned, fingered the much too slim, slightly grimy, grey rectangle, then covered it with her napkin and slid it into her purse. She sighed and wondered if she lost her mind as she signaled to her driver at the bar to bring over the package.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: I am the Camera

Exercise from Method and Madness class studying Alice LePlante's The Making of A Story.  The goal - to notice what you notice without trying to explain or interpret it. 

Morning time, enjoying sitting out on my back patio, sipping Earl Grey and trying to write, but as usual nature distracts me.  Peppermint and lavender waft past in the cool summer breeze, blending with the fragrant steam from my tea. I’m surrounded by the chatter of squirrels and birds, leaves rustling and the hum of traffic off in the distance. A plane passes overhead, leaving a white contrail in the clear, cloudless blue sky.  

 A hummingbird zips by, comes back and hovers in the air a few feet away from me, chirps good morning.  So tiny, she watches me, talks some more before heading over to investigate one of my tabby cats sitting under the laurel bushes.  Wings buzzing, she dips up and weaves down, moves ten feet, five feet closer, then more until she is no more than jumping distance from Gracie.  She flits back up to the top of the laurels to eat from one of the purple morning glory flowers that winding over the top of my bushes, across the back yard. Hunger satisfied for the moment, she comes back down again to talk to the cat and poops barely missing her. Oh, this one is feisty.  

Gracie’s tail swishes, her ears rotate, head following the bird to keep an eye on it.  She’s caught them before.  Perhaps this is the one I saved a few years back. She’s  actually managed to get one. I saw her playing with something on the patio, realized it was a bird. I ran out, grabbed her and made her drop the bird, a hummingbird.  I  scoop her up and she sits quiet in my hand, trusting that I won’t hurt her.Tiny, iridescent green head, sparkly breast feathers, long thin beak almost as long as her body; miraculously not injured, nothing broken, just stunned. 

So delicate and small, yet not so fragile after all.  I stroke her, light and gentle and she chirps.  She sits quietly in my hand, allows my son to run his finger over her body, talk to her.  His face is precious, the awe in his eyes, the fascination in his smile, the joy in his voice as he talks to her.  Soon, her little body begins to vibrate, then she tries to fly and lands on the patio table.  She rests a few moments, then she’s up and zipping off over the trees – gone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: Match Heminway's 418 word sentence

See if you can match Earnest Hemingway's 418-word sentence quoted in this weeks lecture. Here's the hard part: it has to make sense. Word count should be between 300 and 500 words. You can use any combination of phrases you'd like, in any order, and any topic.

“That something I cannot yet define completely but the feeling comes when you write well and truly of something and know impersonally you have written in that way and those who are paid to read it and report on it do not like the subject so they say it is all a fake, yet you know its value absolutely; or when you do something which people do not consider a serious occupation and yet you know, truly, that it is as important and has always been as important as all the things that, are in fashion, and when, on the sea, you are alone with it and know that this Gulf Stream you are living with, knowing, learning about, and loving, has moved, as it moves, since before man, and that it has gone by the shoreline of that long, beautiful, unhappy island since before Columbus sighted it and that the things you find out about it, and those that have always lived in it are permanent and of value because that stream will flow, as it has flowed, after the Indians, after the Spaniards, after the British, after the Americans and after all the Cubans and all the systems of governments, the richness, the poverty, the martyrdom, the sacrifice and the venality and the cruelty are all gone as the high- piled scow of garbage, bright-colored, white-flecked, ill- smelling, now tilted on its side, spills off its load into the blue water, turning it a pale green to a depth of four or five fathoms as the load spreads across the surface, the sinkable part going down and the flotsam of palm fronds, corks, bottles, and used electric light globes, seasoned with an occasional condom or a deep floating corset, the torn leaves of a student's exercise book, a well-inflated dog, the occasional rat, the no-longer-distinguished cat; all this well shepherded by the boats of the garbage pickers who pluck their prizes with long poles, as interested, as intelligent, and as accurate as historians; they have the viewpoint; the stream, with no visible flow, takes five loads of this a day when things are going well in La Habana and in ten miles along the coast it is as dear and blue and unimpressed as it was ever before the tug hauled out the scow; and the palm fronds of our victories, the worn light bulbs of our discoveries and the empty condoms of our great loves float with no significance against one single, lasting thing—the stream.”

Here we go: 

Once, a very long time ago, there was a man, Henry Durrett with the sculptured body, black wavy long hair, emerald green eyed, who thought he had it all, with the money, the looks, the Mediterranean style house, the trophy wife – Sophia - so blond with those dewy blue eyes that would drag you in just looking at you, who in three year’s time though she had managed to steal it all away from him by investing in her lover’s scheme to sell bonds to a group of Russian businessmen who weren’t known for their intelligence; but little did she know these same men were involved with a cartel that was being sucked dry by a criminally insane lawyer who had not only the chief of police, but also the Governor, in their pocket, as well as her husband who somehow found out, in a round about way, that his wife was cheating on him with his best friend, Richard; so he set them all up making it seem easy enough to rob him blind and all the while, he had a secret bank account and a secret love --- much more beautiful and a whole lot smarter than the trophy wife, but who really cares about looks --- as this woman just happened to be an accountant as well as an expert in computer hacking, and at the end of the poor wife’s life, not only was she bankrupt, she’d driven her poor lover insane, the governor had been impeached and indicted, the chief of police fired, but not before he mysteriously disappeared under suspicious circumstances, the lawyer disbarred from every state in the union, while the Russian business men were driven into exile somewhere in Siberia and instead of him being in the poor house, he was sitting pretty as the governor of Barbados, millions of dollars richer and happier than he’d ever been with the lovely, intelligent, very witty, darling female who had neglected to tell him she had just completed her sex change operation, just months before they met and had three children who were now of college age and by three different very rich woman who were all dumb as turnips and she had managed to bilk every one of them for everything they were worth, so instead of living happily ever after, Gloria, so recently having changed her name from Roberto, smiled happily into her drink, pondering how long she’d keep this one on the hook.