Monthly Archives: April 2015

Zoe Sinclair ~ A to Z Blogging Challenge

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“How much of yourself have you put into Zoe Sinclair?” I was asked in a radio interview, “As far as looks, age?”

Physically speaking, nothing. The door to my heart and thoughts, however, was thrown wide open,  the similarities endless.

I spent little time describing Zoe because actions and thoughts should do the work. I wanted someone who is completely and totally her own person. Someone flawed. She is not conventionally beautiful, yet can’t be ignored. I wanted intelligent, complicated. Intense.

A lot to ask of any character. So, how does one accomplish this?

Well, I gave Zoe the entire emotional, psychological, and moral weight of the story, since Stranger or Friend is written exclusively from her viewpoint. I didn’t want her role pushed to the background, become incidental or one-dimensional compared to other characters.

Why? First, because characters are the most important element — in my opinion — of almost all fiction. As a veracious reader myself, I respond most to compelling characters facing distinct challenges in memorable settings.

Second, the challenges ahead would break her to pieces. Intensity mattered.  In order to complete the journey, she’d have to put the pieces back together.  This story, you see, had been developing for years in the author’s mind. Now, it was Zoe’s journey; she couldn’t be bothered with small things. 

She took her seat … near the head of the coffin. The wool of the black dress on her skin irritated the heck out of her. She should’ve worn a pant suit but brought nothing black from L.A. Conforming to tradition, Zoe threw on the dress from Father’s funeral. The one she’d left behind to forget. But like unwanted company, death returned; so here she sat, back in black.

~~    Well, dear blogging friend, we laughed, moaned and groaned, but … we’ve made it.   I hope you enjoyed the behind-the-scene inspiration for my mystery novel, Stranger or Friend.   Now, a break before returning to our regular schedule.  Thank You.  Your comments this month have been like flowers on my heart. Sending all of you a great, big cyber hug!  Feel it? 

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Yearning ~ A to Z Blogging Challenge

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Why do we tell stories? Why do we pound away at the keyboard, trying to express ideas, finesse them, present them to the world?  

It’s a heck of an undertaking — turning one idea into a story with the interest it must present to engage readers until The EndIf writing brings financial success, writers do it for many reasons, but why does it start, this storytelling obsession?

Going back, we know storytelling has always been a way of entertainment, passing on history, teaching. An all-inclusive art.

I would venture to say that it’s also a Yearning. The writer aches to shed thoughts. The reader yearns to be taken to different places.

Harry Potter, for example, is a story about loyalty, friendship, courage. In J.K. Rowling’s words: “I had never been so excited about an idea before. I sat and thought for hours, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real.”

One can almost hear the urgency, the yearning to tell the story of this seemingly unloved boy with no identity.

In Stranger or Friend, I had to tell the story of a woman returning home to an ailing mother. A familiar feeling to many. 

Moreover, observations from years past have stayed with me, leading to questions of trust among people from different cultures, of what happens when trust is broken. It always starts with a question, doesn’t it? 

The puzzle is what keeps the feeling alive. 

Yearning is vital.  It’s what makes us do the stuff we might not like (month-long blogging). It challenges us. Yearning keeps us going even when others think we’re nuts. Yearning asks WHY, even if the question goes nowhere or the answers are uncomfortable.

~~ I can’t thank you enough for staying with me this month. Some days, when unsure I could continue, it was our amazing camaraderie that kept me going. The last post is reserved for Zoe Sinclair of Stranger or Friend. Almost there!

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Image: artofgoodappology.com

Xabi ~ A to Z Blogging Challenge

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Bucharest, Romania, cca 1988

Inspiration comes from old places, thoughts, feelings.

I mentioned in the J post who served as inspiration behind Sebastian Herod’s Greek heritage when I wrote  Stranger or Friend.  A friend from childhood we met on a trip to Greece. A boy named Basi (Basileus). The first who made my heart  jump all those years ago. We remained friends for a long time, until, inevitably, we lost touch.

But when describing Sebastian, I had a different image in mind — another face from long ago, but one of a different memory.

Meet Gabriel, or as we called him Gabi. Second one top-left in the picture above. My very first boyfriend. I am the first one top-left. We were at a party in Bucharest, if I remember correctly, both age nineteen.

Since he is an eX boyfriend, and Xabi is close to Gabi, and I simply couldn’t think of another X word, Xabi it is.

I know, creativity is going downhill fast after twenty-four daily posts. Please forgive me. With that said, please meet Sebastian, the man modeled after Gabi, or Xabi, via description and Zoe’s internalizations:

A slim-built man, his chestnut-colored hair hanging past his neckline, looked from Mother to Zoe, a hint of curiosity playing in his eyes …

He studied her like a critic going over an image and coming away interested. Zoe pushed that crazy notion out of her mind. Nothing wrong with a man giving a woman an admiring look. She handed him the coat and looked away before she saw anything in those eyes that didn’t need seeing.

She didn’t know him. She should say no thanks and go home. But those eyes. That smile.

Wyoming ~ A to Z Blogging Challenge

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Wyoming’s stunning landscape made my visit there a few years back an absolute pleasure. So, when I needed a rural place for my mystery novel Stranger or Friend, Wyoming’s majestic scenery immediately came to mind.

Moreover, I needed a good place for winter, and not extremely far from Los Angeles. It’s a big asking of any place — to serve as winter setting, far enough without being too far from L.A., rural, offer one of the natural world’s wonders (Yellowstone, mentioned in the book). But Wyoming had it all.

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Here are two scene descriptions from Stranger or Friend.

They drove on the winding road, through the untouched wilderness that was Wyoming backcountry.  She could see the mountains far ahead… Up there were the trails she’d hiked with Angela and Lori, the pristine views. She closed her eyes, imagining the cover of snow over the point where the mountains met the sky.

So much vacant land in Wyoming. With all the rum in her, it struck Zoe as odd that humanity lived crowded like puppy dogs on top of one another, and this open land sat empty in the countryside. So much beauty. So easy to fall in love. Here, one could even see the stars. Beauty and silence and time to think.

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Images: http://www.attractionsofamerica.com/attractions/wyoming.php, wikipedia