Who’s in charge anyway?


“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”  Willa Cather

This quote was introduced to me during a class,  Creating Rich Characters, taught by the talented author and illistrator, Angela Sage Larsen.  Ms. Larsen is becoming a St. Louis icon who has published numerous children and young adult books.  You can check her out at AngelaSageLarsen.com

There is comfort in knowing that every story has the same infrastructure, a beginning, middle and end.  What makes the difference is the writer’s ability to develop interesting characters and present a plot that takes the reader on an unexpected journey.

There have been many posts in reference NANOWRIMO recently. One in particular that caught my eye dealt with whether or not to develop an outline before initiating a novel.

For me, I can live without an outiline, although I often scribble notes that come out looking like one.  It is more important to decide what my main character wants more than anything else.  There must be an objective, otherwise there is no need to write the book.

Once that is clear in my head, I need to know the obstacles that will create conflict for the character while in pursuit of the prize, otherwise the story is boring. Finally,I must decide whether or not the character will achieve his or her goal.

I tend to write stories where ultimate happiness or contentment is the goal.  There may be plenty of action to keep the reader interested, but I’m a sap for happy endings.

If I have done my homework in identifying what my character wants,  how he or she will react when challenged and how the story will end, the characters take it from there.  Some writers say it is best to write the ending first.  I haven’t attempted that yet, but I might some day.

What do you think?  Do your characters take charge?

Seasonal Thoughts


My Old Friend

You were my friend, you beckoned me

You listened to my pain

You caught my tears, you dried them up

You were my shelter in the rain

Not even once did you turn away

Nor secret did you tell

You listened to my tender thoughts

You knew me oh, so well

The thought of you would comfort me

When we were far away

I’d close my eyes and you’d be there

In your arms I longed to stay

Too young to know our time would end

We’d part our ways too soon

Now cherished memories are all I have

Beneath the harvest moon.

From the Boughs of a Cradle


Poetry flows freely from my pen onto yellow pads, yet it seldom finds its voice at the keyboard.  Perhaps that makes sense since it’s difficult to walk leisurely through the woods while pecking away on a laptop.  My appreciation for the stimulation that Mother Nature provides began as a small child while wondering the hill of the Missouri Ozarks.  My love of poetry can be attributed to Robert Frost.

Mr. Frost shared the same love for God’s creations that I do.  He created his own footprints in The Road Not Taken and he touched the hollows of my soul through poems such as Bereft.  I felt a kindred connection to his need to share melancholy thoughts in the form of poems.

While I cannot compare my writings to such a master of the art, I share with you a poem that formed from my futile thoughts one evening after watching the local news.

From the Boughs of a Cradle

From the boughs of a cradle, much like you and me

So dependent on others, so innocent and free

He grinned with a smile that would capture your heart

No clue that his world would soon fall apart

Left alone once too often; forced to grow up too fast

The pleasures that warmed him were soon part of his past

The drugs and the booze became his whole life

Such a sense of abandon, such continuous strife

From street gangs to prison, he followed the path

Consumed by his anger, his hatred, his wrath

Now death by injection, the sentence he waits

So hopeless and helpless behind steel gates

The cradle is empty, the smile worn away

No family or friends to protect him today

 Will his soul die before us as inevitable fate

Or will a spirit embrace him?  Is it ever too late?

 

By Diane How

A Glance Back


Trying to measure where the last two years have disappeared is like trying to hug a passing cloud.  I could no more complete an after action report accounting for the time than I could return to working full time every day.

Often, an inner voice urges me to accomplish more than I have done, yet another voice reminds me that I have crossed off a few bucket-list items.  Sometimes I yearn for more, but today, I choose to focus on those things that have brought me pleasure and a sense of fulfillment.

Writing tops my list of achievements.  No, I cannot proclaim a best-seller, but I did publish my first book, Peaks and Valleys.  The non-fiction memoir begins in the 50’s in my childhood hometown of Pine Lawn, Missouri.  As indicated by the title, many of the tales brought a smile to my face as I wrote them.  Some of them were written as tears fell from my eyes.  Revisiting the happy, and sometimes painful, times of my life had a therapeutic consequence.  When I finished, it brought me peace, comfort and an appreciation for the experiences that made me whom I am today.  The journey is worth taking, for everyone.  I hope others will be inspired to follow my path and clean out a few of their own closets along the way.  The book is available through Amazon.com and Kindle.

I also wrote a second book, Burning Embers, for which I am currently searching for a publisher.  Writing a romance/suspense novel in thirty days was not on my original bucket list, rather it was a challenge introduced to me through a writing club that I joined named Pen to Paper Writing Club.  I found the experience so rewarding that I drafted an outline for my next novel which I will begin shortly.  Who knew I had an imagination?

The poet in me continues to surface whenever I cannot find the words to speak directly to friends and family.  I have contemplated publishing some of my poems, but finding gratification in the positive effect the words provide the person for whom they were written is enough for now.

As a multi-tasking person, all that writing wasn’t quite enough to keep me busy, so I began this blog.  My social media skills are limited and until one of my fellow writers encouraged me, I had never visited a blog site.  Now I follow a few that tickle my interests or touch my soul.  I’m still in the beginning stages, but I find it another way to release the writer in me. (http://authordianemhow.com)

More recently, I began volunteering with VITAS Hospice Care as a Story Keeper.  This rewarding opportunity entails recording life stories of patients who are in hospice care so that they may leave a treasure for their loved ones and future generations.  I wrote about my first visit in one of my blogs.  It is amazing how God directs us on our journey to the right place at the right time.  If you have any doubts about following His lead, read When you volunteer are you giving or receiving?.

Every day has not been as uncomplicated as this post makes it sound, but as I said, today, I am sticking with the positive, happy times.  My husband and I have found time to fish, gamble and spend time with our daughter and her boyfriend.  We’ve even managed to get in a few short trips to Branson, Lake of the Ozarks and Georgia.  Lunch and dinner dates fill a few of the squares on my calendar and provide me with the chance to catch up with family, friends, former co-workers and my wonderful Girl Scout buddies.

I yearn to know what memories filter through when you look back a few days, months or years.

Laissez Faire


Our spirit’s born the chill of dawn

When dew clings helpless to the vine

Before the din of structured man

Disguises Mother Nature’s charm

 

The ever present offer waits

It beckons weary souls to prowl

Beyond the confines of chaotic cells

To sojourns of the unrestrained

 

Where endless canvas drifts aloft

Granting turbulence a brief repose

Where breeze directs the music’s dance

Of sheltered forests’ songs of gold

By Diane How