Tag Archives: writing

Down the Dark Road, Part 2

If you haven’t read the 1st part of this fiction story yet, you should page down and check it out.  Due to popular demand, I have written some more.  And as a happy birthday present to my Mom (Happy Birthday Mom!)

here it goes:

Loretta sucked in a deep breath with fear and tightened her grip on Mick.  He simply cursed and banged the flashlight on his leg.  Their truck’s headlights were pointed in the other direction and were no help in seeing into the empty darkness ahead of them.  They had left their doors open and Loretta could still hear the soft waves of the song playing on the radio in their truck.  Eerily, the music playing was the Eagles classic, “One of these nights…I swear I’m gonna find ya…get’cha baby one of these nights…”

Loretta’s flesh immediately goose pimpled and it wasn’t from the outdoor temperature.  She forgot about the music when she heard a snarling growl emanate from the darkness.  Mick cursed again and banged the flashlight so hard that it left a painful knot on his leg.  It flickered back on at that moment and the couple found themselves staring into the glowing, glaring eyes of an unknown creature.  It looked almost like a cross between a wolf, coyote and a hairless cat.  It hunched its back up as it struggled to  maintain its posture on all four ugly legs.  It snarled at the shocked couple revealing a mouthful of sharp teeth reminiscent of an angry wolf.

“What the hell is that thing?”  Loretta said in a shaky voice.

“I can’t tell.  It looks like it has the mange all over its body.  I haven’t ever seen anything like it before,” said Mick.  “Maybe it’s one of those ‘chupacabra’ things?”

“Normally, I’d say that’s nonsense, Mick.  But I read an article in the newspaper the other day that said some of the neighboring farmers have been finding their livestock dead…they couldn’t explain it because all of the blood was drained from the animals, but they were otherwise in tact.  Some of ’em were saying a chupacabra was the only animal known to do that.  Other than vampires anyways.”

Whatever it was, the animal, while definitely angry, also seemed fearful of the humans.  There was something about the creature that was sad.  Even Mick, a seasoned hunter,  felt a pang of pity for it.  At least he felt sorry for it until it lunged at him, slobber flying from its snarling mouth.  It was so lightening fast that it took Mick off guard a moment.  Before he realized it, the animal had its mouth around his forearm.  From that point on, Mick saw everything as if in slow motion.  He could hear Loretta screaming while at the same time the painful bite caused him to drop his flashlight.  He also knew he needed the light to shoot and kill the animal before it did any more damage. The sharp crack of his pistol echoed into the night.

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Writing in 2014

To jump start this year off on a hopeful whim, I decided to take an online writing course.  This way, I don’t have to actually leave the house (since I’ve become a major hermit) but maybe with the classroom format  and having to turn in assignments I will start writing again.  I allowed my inner critic (the bitch) to talk me out of writing for the last half of 2013.  I’ve been following the Gotham newsletters via email for awhile.  They have great information for writer wanna-be’s.  If I lived in New York City, I would actually go take some of their classes, but since that is not an option I thought the online version would be a good way for me to get some professional criticism and help.  A kind of Christmas present to myself.  And as such, I am going to share some of my writing assignments on my blog.  Feel free to criticize as feedback can be constructive.

I’m having a hard time concentrating right now because, of course, when I sit down at the computer to write that is when others in the household decide it would be a good time to sit down near me and converse.  Go figure.

I turned in our 1st writing assignment today.  The assignments are supposed to be kept under 750 words which is about 3 pages typed, double-spaced.  And is very hard for me because once I get going, I have a lot to write about.  Revise and edit are the challenges I struggle with to keep the assignment under the limit.  The 1st assignment was to start with this title:  The Window.  Then write something, anything, to go along with it.  The subject matter immediately popped into my head; therefore, this one is not Fiction, but ‘Memoir’.  Please enjoy, and laugh at your heart’s content.

The Window

I was 23 years old before I realized that I was pronouncing the word ‘window’ incorrect.  In my defense, I have always had difficulty with vocal speech as I am tone deaf to my own voice.  I had to take Speech classes in Elementary School because of my inability to pronounce quite a few letters of the alphabet.  I can remember saying, “Free and three sound so much alike,” but what everyone heard me saying was, “Free and free…”  I had severe troubles with the ‘th’s, ‘sh’s and ‘r’s.  The speech classes corrected my pronunciation issues but I think my hillbilly accent made the teacher’s job a challenging one.  After a session with me, I imagine her beating her head against her desk and pulling her hair in frustration.  My tone deafness muddled the waters.

I can remember belting out gospel hymns with the heartfelt enthusiasm only a child can display at the small country Baptist church I attended every Sunday as a child.  I loved Jesus and wanted to glorify him.  When people turned to stare at me, I just thought they were thinking, “That little girl really has the spirit in her!”  Some time later, (after a few complaints, I’m sure) a Sunday School teacher informed me it would be a better idea to sing a little quieter so that God could hear everyone else singing too.  I overheard a mean little boy in the class whisper to his buddy, “And so we don’t have to hear her awful yowlin’!”  It hurt my feelings, but I didn’t let that bother me too much at the time.

The real heartbreak happened when the Music Teacher at the elementary school I attended picked every single person in our class to be in the ‘Choir‘ except for me and three little boys who would rather cause trouble than sing.  It would not have been so traumatic if she would have just taken me aside and whispered to me the truth.  I would have been okay with that.  But no, she had to make an obvious and ugly point in front of all of my friends.  What she did was have the entire music class of about 50-60 kids sing songs.  During the songs, she would pull a child aside that she deemed worthy to sing in her ‘Choir‘.  After singing five songs, there were only a few children left.  All three of us girls were looking like love starved orphans we were trying so hard.  We wanted to be in the ‘Choir‘ with all of our other girlfriends.  Throughout the whole ordeal the Music Teacher kept complaining, “I just can’t hear everyone properly,” while eyeballing me with a strange look.  I caught on.  I shut up and stopped singing in the middle of a song.  At the end of it the teacher exclaimed, “Great!  I could finally hear everyone,” as she told some more children to join the rest of the ‘Choir‘ group.  My friend Julie gave me a look of commiseration as she left me.  The teacher tortured us all with one more song so she could hand pick some more boys and then she simply disregarded the rest of us with a look of disgust before she began gushing with enthusiasm to all of her future ‘Choir‘ students about how much fun they were going to have.

That story is one of the main reasons why I refuse to sing accappella in church or any groups to this day.  Even when I just sing along for fun with the car radio my own children end up begging me to stop.  It’s not pretty.  But, I thought I was speaking concise.

That is, until one day when my young husband informed me otherwise.  We were having one of those domestic disagreements common to young married couples stressed by working full-time jobs and taking care of two toddlers and a home.  He was complaining about the fact that there were no clean glasses to get a drink of water out of while pointing out that I needed to do the dishes.  In turn, I was complaining that I might have done the dishes if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to go around all the rooms of the house picking up his dirty socks he kept leaving everywhere.  As a couple our chores were pretty much divided up by him being in charge of the outdoor things such as mowing and I did all the indoor cleaning.  I was griping about how much more work this entailed for me and said something to the effect of, “Just look out the window, that’s all you have to do!  Heck, I even need to wash the curtains on that window!”  After all my griping, the grudge he had evidently been holding on to for awhile came bursting forth.  He stormed over to the window and pointed at it while saying with charged vehemence, “Damn it Deana!  It’s a ‘WINDOW‘ not a ‘windell’!  Window, window, window!  Can you say that?  Geez.”

I stood in stunned silence.  I was totally shocked.  I had no idea I head been saying ‘windell’.  After a moment, in a quiet voice, I said, “window.”   He laughed and said, “Thank you!”

I was left to ponder about it inside my head.  It really is such a simple word with no excuse for pronouncing it wrong.  Why on earth had I been calling it a ‘windell’ all my life?  Where did that come from?  And was I destroying other innocent words unaware?

Still, to this day, I have to focus on the word to say it correct or will slide right back into my old habits.  Just a few months ago I was saying something to my oldest son about shutting the blinds on the window.  He looked at me and with a deadpan voice said, “Really Mom?  Windell?  Really?  It’s a window.”   He put a strong emphasis on the end of the word.  It’s been over a decade since his Daddy died but I could hear him plain as day inside my head saying, “Damn it Deana!  It’s a WINDOW!”

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To Be 18 Again…

My first born turned 18 years old today.  It’s hard for a mother to grasp that – the time has sped by and so many memories have been made and so many more lost somewhere in the voids of time.  But I do still remember the miracle of his birth, this boy who was so desired and dreamed about.  I knew he was going to be a boy, but it wasn’t because of a sonogram because the only one taken of him was when he was still too young to discover the sex.  I knew because when I was pregnant with him I had ‘boy‘ dreams.  I dreamed of baseball and sports.  This may not be a scientist’s way of telling the sex of a child, but it worked with me every single pregnancy.  In my sleep the dreams I had were prophetic of the child I was carrying.  Strange maybe, but true still.

My first born gave me the full experience of the painful hours of labor, the exhaustion and fear of what would happen – and ultimately the birth of a beautiful, healthy red-headed baby boy.  Yes, he was born with a full head of red hair.  Unusual in this part of South Texas where most babies are born with brown hair, if they have hair at all.  Unusual too because his Daddy had brown hair and brown eyes, which ‘SCIENCE‘ tells us are the ‘Dominant‘ genes.  Really?  Because, somehow my freakish red hair and green eye genes took control in this scientific battle.

I always tell my son that the song from George Thorogood entitled ‘Bad to the Bone‘ is his theme song because the lyrics of it start out:

On the day I was born, all the nurses gathered ’round
And they gazed in wide wonder, at the joy they had found

And that is exactly what happened at the small town hospital he was born at – nurses from all over the hospital made a special trip by the nursery because they ‘just had to see the little red headed baby’!  Everyone was ‘Oohing‘ and ‘Aahhing‘ over him.

He was such a good baby too.  He only cried for a reason:  hungry or diaper change time.  He traveled well, never complaining about riding in a car seat.  He even kept on his dark, baby-sized sunglasses (keeping out the bright South Texas sun.)  He was cool.  Oh, and I can’t forget, he was on time!  The only baby I’ve ever heard of being born on his exact due date naturally!

As he grew up, he became inquisitive and thoughtful, learning all he could about the world – dinosaurs and wild animals being his first subjects of fascination (besides sports – always sports for this boy.)  His favorite toys were all balls of various sizes.  He could throw them all expertly, leading me to believe he would become a future pitcher or quarterback.  We wondered why he couldn’t catch the balls as well as throwing them.  Then we found out why when he was about 18 months old and his Grandmother took him to the eye doctor.  The poor boy was almost blind!  She fitted him with these cute, little, round, THICK glasses and suddenly he could see everything!  Now you could throw the ball to him and he would catch it !  Because he could see!  As he grew a little older his nickname became ‘Jerry McGuire‘ because he looked so much like the little boy in that movie, with his spiked hair and glasses.

When he started school, he was a good student and always took learning seriously.  Of course, he still always played a sport.  He started out in T-ball, moved on to Little League but found his LOVE when he started playing football.  I never thought he would take to that sport like that because he was never a rough child.  Turns out he really loved being able to hit and knock down other kids all in the name of sport and not get in trouble for it!  LOL.

He’s always been a rule follower so we never had to worry about him getting in trouble for anything at school.  He’s made such good grades in school that he is rated #26 in a class full of 386 kids.  He set a high standard for his little sister and brother to follow and believe me I’ve heard about it from them through the teachers they have all shared.   Both of his younger siblings have had to hear about what a great student/athlete their brother was.  This doesn’t irritate them at all though (which I think is awesome) because they both love and admire their brother so much – they agree – he is great.   How cool is that?

This boy, who just turned 18, so I guess you could call him a ‘man‘ now, has been such a joy to our life.  I feel privileged to call him my son.  I admire him for his wisdom and strength of character.  He has stood by his morals and his idea of right, never falling to peer pressure or doing something ‘other stupid teenagers do.’   As a person of the world and having been a teenager once myself – I’m astounded by his accomplishments.   This was the young boy whose father (also his hero) died when he was six years old.   He took it harder than anyone.  He tried to be strong until he couldn’t hold it in any longer and then there was a time, for about a year, when he would cry almost every night in grief for his father.  (As his Mom, this was so hard for me – I wanted to take his pain away but there was nothing I could do, only be there to pat his back or hold him…it’s really hard to watch your child suffer.)

I worried this might affect him later – like when he became a teenager – as teens tend to find many excuses to act out or go wild.  God blessed this boy though.  He stayed true.  Just last month I was sitting next to him in Church when the offering plate came around.  I knew he had worked his job that week (mowing yards, no taxes:-) but he was at the age where we had stopped suggesting to him that he needed to save some money or give some to God.  We had started letting him make his own decisions without prompting him.  So you can imagine my happiness and pride when I noticed him casually toss a $20 bill in the plate.  Just giving it to God.  Not expecting anything from it, just doing it from the goodness of his heart.  I wanted to turn and hug him on the spot but knew that would only embarrass him.  (I did however, point it out to his sister and brother who have yet to learn the joy of giving their money away to someone else...)

I’d love to write a note to my son telling him things I would’ve liked to have known at the age of 18 – but I’m thinking my boy already knows them.  He is such an amazing young man that I still find it hard to believe I am lucky enough to be his mother.

No matter what mistakes he may make in the future (as we all know will happen) I am still so impressed by this child at this point in his life that I will always remember him as he has been for his first 18 years – which is darn near perfect in my eyes.

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Merry Christmas

I didn’t post last month because I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo.   National Novel Writing Month.  I did it, I completed 50,000 words in one month.  ‘They’ were right though, that’s really not enough for an entire book.  There is more to the story I wrote and I will be working on completing it in between other Holiday tasks that continually arise.  Hopefully, sometime in January I will finish the book and start on my revisions.  At least I did get to feel the joy of the accomplishment of participating and have something of substance to work with from it.  Since I was sidetracked not only by the solid week of Thanksgiving Holidays but also by a stint serving jury duty, I feel extra proud of myself for getting that ‘winner’s badge’.  Yay me.  I guess I will think of it as a Christmas present for myself at this point.  But maybe some year I will be able to hand out copies of my first book for Christmas presents.  Now, that would be cool.

Merry Christmas to all!

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Writing a Novel (in 1 Month)!

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and this year I thought it would be a crazy, wacky idea for me to try.  Most likely I will write crap, but hey, practice makes perfect right?  Or, in the very least, practice makes you better.  I want to try it, but at this point, I don’t even have a fleeting idea of what kind of novel to write, much less the story to fill it.  I’m crossing my fingers that when I sit down and begin typing November 1st that the God of writing will send magic waves into my mind that turns into a story on the page.  But what to attempt?  A Mystery, a drama, some type of teen story, a pre-teen fantasy story, or something ‘Shady’ (romance with an edge), Horror, Suspense, Memoir….so many to choose….where to start?  I enjoy reading almost everything so saying to write what you read is no help to me.

So tell me, what is your vote?  What would you like to read if I wrote it?  I’m taking suggestions for the next few days.

If nothing else at the end of November I will just title my book “Crap” and shove it in a box somewhere.

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Cliche, Adage, Platitudes, Proverbs and Revelation

My oldest son came into the kitchen yesterday morning and shared a great morning story with me.  He preempted with “You know I ‘always‘ take my contacts out at night before I go to bed, right?” Yes, I know this because he is a stickler for the rules and rituals in life.  Then he said, “When I woke up this morning, I looked around and thought ‘Wow, I can see!  It’s a miracle, I can see!’  Then I walked over and looked into my contact case and realized, ‘Oh man, I forgot to take my contacts out!'”  Haven’t we all had disappointing (yet funny) moments of revelation such as that?  I know it wasn’t too long ago that I was searching frantically for my sunglasses when my daughter laughed at me and said “Oh Mama, you’re so funny!  They’re on your head!”  And then there was the moment in a grocery store that my stomach took a roller coaster ride when I thought  “Oh no! I’ve lost my keys!” and a few seconds later realized “Oops, the keys are in my hand! (under my shopping list) Duh!”

Everyone sees things through their own eyes thus perceiving life differently.  When confronted with a barren landscape one person might look at it as ugly and boring while another might choose to focus on the sky, noticing the vibrant blue behind the puffy cloud formations and label it as beautiful.  You know, the whole ‘glass is half full or half empty’ thing and the ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder‘ adage.  I’ve read many books about writing and they all, at one point or another, say to avoid using terms of cliche.  But a cliche can also be a universal truth and sometimes the best way to get a point across is by using it.  I find it ironic that these same writers will use cliches in their own writings.  I guess it goes back to that old proverb, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Lol.  That collective group, ‘They‘ say not to use cliches in writing because they are trite, unoriginal, etc. but the expressions have become popular because they are true and sometimes that is the entire point.  It is my personal opinion that some literary types try too hard to avoid ‘cliche’ and end up simply being pretentious.  The trick is to find that happy medium (pun intended).  I think that might be one of the tricks to a happy life as well.

The famous country musician Willie Nelson likes to say that “Too much of anything isn’t good for you.”  This is a simple truth.  The opposite can also be true – that not enough of something can be bad for you.  I think that ‘not enough‘ simple truth in life and writing can be harmful.  Sometimes there is no need to over analyze facts, stories, expressions, etc.  There are times when the simple truth is the only importance.   The simple truth can sometimes be the best way to express oneself.

Opinions may vary, but most describe the best writing as ‘revealing’ or stay up late reading a book just to get to that point in the story with the big moment of revelation.  Memoirs and reality TV have become extremely popular in large part due to the curiosity of human nature in seeking others’ revelations (heightened by the fact that they are supposed to be true.)  Blogs, also freshly popular, are by their own very nature, revealing.  My blog, Dragonfly Chat, may include the occasional use of the cliche – but it will also present to you revelations.  (Along with funny things my kids do and say, because ‘what is life without humor?’ lol

What are your favorite cliche’s? And what would you say if you couldn’t use them?

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Interruptions

Today I didn’t have an overly eager list of things to get done.  I just wanted to start getting my Thanksgiving grocery list together & planned, do some writing and get my exercise workout in.  I had an unusual amount of interruptions to this process though and saw my free time dwindling away.  Instead of just saying “Screw it, forget writing and working out,” I decided to try a different approach and set it in my mind that I was going to write & exercise no matter what.  I didn’t let the little things knock me off balance.  I persevered and did indeed write a short story for my husband, went to the gym and did my work out and now am in fact writing a short blog as well.  Yeah me!  Go Deana!  Ha ha.

And I still have some day left to boot!  I’m proud of this accomplishment.  It’s just one day, but that’s a start in the right direction.  I just have to come to terms with the fact that life is indeed full of little interruptions to our set schedules no matter how well I try to plan.  Instead of just giving up on the plan, I’m just going to go with the flow and make myself still do things for myself rather than living my life all for others.  After all, I can’t be much good for others if I’m not taking care of myself, right?  Exercise  is the physical part that I need and Writing is the mental part so I am just going to make myself do them.  Let’s see where this road takes me.

That’s the beauty in my life today.  If I’m on the wrong road, I just need to make my own detour to get back on track.  It’s not rocket science so I should be able to do it!

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