Tag: reflections

A Snippet of What I’m Writing Now

Write. Write some more. Right now I’m writing the first draft of the first two novellas in my new REFLECTIONS series.


This isn’t the smooth and easy writing of fiction.

Because I’m writing a fictionalization.
Fiction? Fictionalization? Sounds the same to the average non-author type.

Except fiction is something completely formed in my muse’s imagination. If set in our real world, I have to be accurate with details, but as far as what characters say and do, I’ve got free license.

Not so with A LABORING HAND and AN ADORING SPIRIT. These novellas are based on the very REAL people Martha and Mary of Bethany. I don’t have much to work with except the Bible’s accounts.

Nothing like taking God’s inspired Word and making a fictionalized story out of it. SO–for those of you still wondering–a fictionalization takes an ACTUAL EVENT and adds fictional elements to flesh it into a complete and compelling story.

Not trying to imply the Bible isn’t compelling on its own because IT IS. But sometimes the things it doesn’t tell keep us from engaging with the characters the way we do in fiction.

You know, get inside their minds and hearts. Feel their fears and pains and indecision. If we can relate to Bible characters in this way, I think it improves our odds at applying their lessons to our lives.

So, here’s a familiar scene from John 11: 1-3 fictionalized and written from Martha’s perspective. (Beware: this is a first draft so there are probably all kinds of errors.)

From A Laboring Hand, chapter six (a rough draft):

His fever raged. Every bad memory from the worst weeks of my life suffocates me. I sweep and cook and bathe his face with water and roll him from side to side so I can put clean linen beneath him.

None of it matters. His shriveled arm clings to his side like a poultry wing. Muscles in his shorter leg twitch, dislodging the sheepskins I’ve heaped over him, hoping to break the fever. He thrashes and moans, and it is the poliomyelitis all over again.

Yahweh, I cannot lose another brother.

Losing two of them to that epidemic nearly broke me, and it did kill my family. The way Abba faded away afterward, losing his will to outlive his heir and the woman he loved.

But Lazarus is the only protector Mary and I have left. I know he really isn’t strong, but he’s a man of legal age and he keeps the meddlers at bay. Everyone knows I’m the one that works to provide for all of us. Lazarus is a good manager, though, and he’s been handling the scheduling and payments for many years. How will I run the business alone? Especially now that Mary is marriageable. And desirable. Unlike me.

Stop feeling pitiful and start being helpful, I hear Mama tell me.

“I’ll sit with him.” Mary’s voice barely pulls me back to the present.

The huge tears hanging on the edge of her thick lashes wrench my heart from my chest. She has lost as much as I have, and she feels everything so much more deeply. If I expect to fold beneath the weight of losing my brother, what will happen to her?

And that’s when I decide. “I am sending a message to Yeshua.”

Her lips tilt into the closest thing to a smile I’ve seen since this fever put Lazarus abed.

“He can heal anyone.” I know there’s more than faith shining in her glowing brown eyes, but I ignore it. That’s a talk for another time.

Instead, I nod my agreement. We aren’t like so many others who follow Yeshua because of his many miracles. He speaks God’s Word with authority, and He is the Messiah. We’ve seen him perform a few feats of divinity, but we’ve heard about even more. Blind men see and lame men walk. The paralyzed can move, a lad’s lunch feeds a multitude and lepers are cleansed.

Whatever afflicts my brother will be a simple matter for the Lord to cure. And we are his friends. He’s done greater things for strangers, surely he won’t begrudge this small favor to his friends?

I scrounge around for a scrap of parchment and scratch a short message. The one you love is ill. I sign it: Martha and Mary.

After tying my coin purse to my sash and covering my head with a shawl, I stride toward the well. Several young boys have been running messages for me, and I think I know where Yeshua and his disciples were planning to next teach.

A group of youths toss bean bags around near the community oven. The scent of baking bread reminds my stomach that I have neglected to eat. There’s been too much to accomplish, or at least I don’t wish to sit still for more than a minute because then the grief crashes in.

I see one of the orphans who sleeps at the synagogue and assists the rabbis.

That’s it for now.

What do you think? What would make it more compelling?

I Write Poems Too

I’ve been writing since I was nine years old. Much of what I wrote during my teenage years took the form of journal entries or poetry. I still enjoy writing poetry.

This month, I’m going to share samples of poems I’ve written on Thursdays.

I know it doesn’t have the “holding out for a hero” punch that my What Would Wonder Woman Do Thursdays, but I’m just a writer. Not a superhero.

Let’s begin with my first published work. Yes, it was a poem.

Why I Write

Words
A mighty deluge swelling
Unwritten phrases compelling
Tales that beg telling
Exuberant expressions propelling
A pencil to engage in spelling
Verbiage continually welling
Imagination never dispelling
Until spilled on the page

Stories
Expand in the soul
Burning a yearning hole
Amplified brilliance, a coal
Igniting, indicting, on a roll
Fiery phrases like a mole
Burrowing to a creative goal
Loquacity the latest foal
Until birthed onto the page

Prose
Awakens from its dreaming
Letters like gemstones beaming
Profuse diamonds gleaming
Brush strokes meanwhile seeming
Composed with silent screaming
Alive, aloud, tempestuous, teeming
Consonants and vowels streaming
Until written onto the page

Published in Reflection Literary Journal: Tenth Anniversary Edition in May 2013

In case you wonder how it feels when words burn a hole in your soul until you bring them into the world. Writers, how would you describe your creative fuel?

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Two hours makes a difference in a morning run

AM Walk 7182013 017

Summer wanes. One sure sign is the later appearance of the sun each morning.

One of the things I enjoy about summer is the early morning runs. I’ll be outside at 6am, inhaling the sweet peace of a slumbering world.

Unless I want to blunder around in the dark, which defeats half the enjoyment, it is a 7am run come October. Some mornings, when things are especially lazy, I might not make it outside until 8am.

What a difference in the world that awaits me. Two hours and most of the peacefulness is overtaken by wakefulness. So little time yielding so many changes.

What I love about early morning

I’ve been asked many times, “What do you listen to when you’re writing? Or what’s your favorite thing to listen to?” My answer: the sound of silence.

AM Walk 7182013 008At 6am on a July morning, that is the prevailing voice on the wind: silence. It underscores the hum of traffic on the highway, twittering of birds in the trees and occasional barking of a dog.

In my mind, this silence is a major part of the peacefulness of my surroundings.

Watching the sun peek its head over Mount Hood and the Columbia River has an enormous appeal, as well. Summer sun seems to rise and set slowly.

A freshness permeates the air. Not many automobiles have sputtered their caustic fumes. Any wind refreshes the wandering soul.

It’s not that I don’t like people, but they tend to make so much noise. Did I mention that my favorite sound is silence? At 6am, not many people are out and about on the streets and walking path of my town.

How an 8am run is different

The first thing I noticed during an autumn run is the chill breeze. Not so much refreshing as invigorating. Can’t really complain about that.

Traffic noise is tripled. Vehicles zoom past on the highway. Even two streets and a tree break can’t dampen them.

Where there are automobiles, there is stench. Those carbon monoxide emissions appeal to some people (isn’t that why they run their car in a closed garage?) Me? I’d choose naturally scented air, thank you very much.

Because it isn’t unscented. You can smell the blackberries, flowers and fruit when the potent fumes aren’t overpowering everything. Nature’s fragrance.

I have to be watchful for cars backing out of driveways as I run past. They aren’t expecting me, so I must be vigilant of my surroundings. During the 8am run inspiring this post – only three vehicles tried to run me down. I gladly yielded the throughway to them.

Another thing never encountered on the 6am run: a county work crew. On the 8am run, the van from the corrections department drove down my running path like it was a highway. I’m sure the park along the trail will be better for the attention, but dodging trucks on a path not intended for motorized vehicles didn’t improve my outing.

Certain bits of wisdom come to you during an early morning run.

For example, a flatbed truck delivered shingles and other roofing material to a house as I jogged by. I marvel at the conveyer belt transporting the unwieldy stacks onto the roof (I remember my dad carrying them up a ladder on his shoulder).

The wisdom: I want to be the guy at the bottom of the conveyor. He gets to set the pace. The guy on the roof, aided by the gentle slope beneath his feet, must keep up or be swallowed by the influx of materials.

In my town, there aren’t very many morning people. Regardless of the time, I never pass more than four or five individuals. I’m grateful for this because it means I’m not required to share my morning peace with anyone else.

What sorts of things have you noticed are quite different depending on the time of day? Do my readers who live in larger cities find the same sort of emptiness on early morning streets?

Moon over Maui

Moon over Maui
Moon over Maui

At ten in the morning, the moon sits at eleven o’clock in the azure sky. This Maui moon paraded around in daylight with all the bravado of a Harvest Moon at midnight.
In our world, the moon shares the sky with the sun for more days than not. I have noticed this at home in the afternoon. Rarely have I spied it flying so high in the morning. This might suggest that I don’t look at the morning sky as often as I do the afternoon sky.
More than likely it means that I’m thinking about other things and take no note of the moon smiling from the sky during the day. Kicking back on the lanai in Hawaii: a totally different story.
A bright moon on the brilliant blue backdrop gave me the title for this post. Reflecting on the title brought other thoughts to mind (no, my brain wasn’t on vacation in the same way as my body).
I will moon over Maui on Monday. Webster says moon means ” to spend in idle reverie.” This definition surprised me because I thought mooning involved melancholy reflection.
In either case, I will think about Maui for many days and weeks to come. When autumn rain pelts my windows, I’ll recall the warm drops experienced while sitting beside the pool in Maui.
If gray skies dominate the Oregon weather scene, I’ll open the picture folders and remind myself of the special shade of sky in Maui. In turn, I’ll marvel again about the truly blue waters of the Pacific Ocean when dreariness turns the Columbia River a greenish-gray.
When I’m creating the setting for the underwater vault in my novel, I’ll study the photographs of the coastine of Lana’i and return to the golden day when dolphins frolicked alongside our catamaran.
What places do you moon over? Is this a good practice? Does mooning over special places and times keep us from savoring the present moment?