Thursday, January 15, 2015

A little Spanish practice

Part of an assignment for my Spanish class. It's fiction.

Una vez cerca de la medianoche, yo manejaba en la carretera a Albuquerque. Era vacía y muy tranquila a esa hora. Yo estaba solo, solo y aburrido. Entonces, yo vi un hombre al lado de un coche que se había estrellado en una zanja. <<¡Ayúdanos!>> él grito y agitaba sus brazos. Por supuesto yo paré. <<¡Mi esposa está embarazada y necesita ir al hospital inmediamente!>> <> dije a mí mismo. Pero yo no vi la mujer. En lugar, yo vi la pistola que el hombre apuntó a mí. Él dijo, <> Ninguna buena acción queda sin castigo, yo pensé.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Snow maiden

The Indian maiden kneels with her ewer, dappled in last night’s snow. She is cast in plaster, all that remains of a fountain that once graced our back yard. The young girl’s broken base is long gone with the weekly trash, but she survives. Rosemary and yucca surround her, their mantles of white shrinking as the morning progresses. The plants need little water, and perhaps the droplets of snowmelt will suffice until the next uncommon rainfall. By noon, or certainly by sunset, the snow will vanish from the yard.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Two writing exercises

A couple of writing exercises dashed off at an El Paso Writers' League meeting.

#1. We were to use the words writer, coffee, deal, and seagull.

Imelda sat with me under the cabana as I listened nervously to the caw-caw of a seagull. She's a coffee-drinking writer who's sure to become a bestselling author some day. She wore a bathing suit that showed off her best features. God, I loved that woman, but she'd been avoiding a heart to heart chat with me all week. Finally I took out a little box and handed it to her. It held a diamond ring that set me back six months' pay.

"Marry me," I said.

"Of course not," she said. I was crestfallen. "Here's the deal. I'm having my editor's baby."

#2 We were to use the words impossible, belly, flare, joy, and square.

"This is impossible," I thought, hiding out in the belly of the beast. It had come from far-off Andromeda, millions of light years away. This monster was apparently made from silicon, each side over a mile square. It didn't seem to know or even care that I was inside it, but I felt no joy in discovering there were no exits. I wished for a light, a flare to find my way. Then there was a sudden rush sounding like a flood, and the whole inside began to fill. It was releasing its digestive enzymes, and I was about to become cosmic waste.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

chihuahua desert blues

empty west texas nowhere
creosote everbrowngrass
flatflatflat ground until its notanymore
mountains and tabletopped mesas
asphalt strips slice through ancient limestone
relentless burningsunhaze
skyblue eightymilesanhour
eighteenwheelers rvsuhauls
lonelysolitary travelers
roadside crosses plastic flowers
eastbound freighttrains
doublestacked cargo
graffiti spraypainted containers
drywashes waterless riverbeds
stopat vanhorn pilotstation
nobodys destination
gasup and drivesomemore

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Writing exercise at the El Paso Writers' League

Moderator Julia Duncan asked members to write in 15 minutes about either the best or worst moment of our lives. Here is my effort:

My office phone rang. Almost everyone in my office had left for the day or had one foot out the door. I'd had a productive, satisfying day, and a personal phone call was just the thing to top it off. Ah! My brother Steve's voice. I always enjoyed long-winded chats with him.

"How're you doing, big brother?"

"Not good. Mike died today."

My brain didn't process the blow at first. I had him repeat himself. His son wasn't even 40 yet.

"Oh my God, Steve! I'm so sorry!"

"I am too. And Peg has been crying all afternoon."

My chest heaved in sharp, shallow breaths. This wasn't happening. Not again. We had lost our brother Larry three years before, and now this.

"I haven't cried yet," Steve said. He prided himself on containing his emotions, but how--how could he not cry? My eyes welled up for my nephew. As I hung up, my boss walked by, and I stopped her. I just had to tell someone.

"Kathy." She turned and looked at me. "My nephew just died!"

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meet Holly Michael, author of Crooked Lines

I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Crooked Lines, a novel about an American woman, an Indian man, and the crooked paths that bring them together. With its strong Christian theme, author Holly Michael's debut fits perfectly into that market. It isn't preachy, though, and mainstream readers will enjoy it.

Holly shares some of her thoughts with us:

Author Holly Michael
Why India?

For a Wisconsin farm girl born with wanderlust and big dreams (and tired of looking at black and white cows), I craved the unknown--exotic, colorful, and warm places. Although I wanted to travel the world from a young age, India stuck in my mind as the ultimate place to visit. As destiny would have it, I married a man from India who loved to travel and who had friends all over the world. My husband's background is unique. He entered into a religious community as a teenager.

After we met and married (in our late 30s), my husband and I travelled around the United States and also abroad, meeting friends from his seminary days. They shared amazing stories about coming of age and maturing in a strict religious order in the late 70s and through the 1990s. These young men worked in orphanages, in "untouchable" villages where those considered born from the foot of God could not drink from the same well as others born from a higher part of God. They met Mother Teresa, slogged through the slums of India, spent time in leper colonies. Fascinating stories! So, having visited many of the places in India where my husband and their friends lived, I began to craft Crooked Lines, creating Sagai-a teenager from South India, embracing a call from God.

Then there's Rebecca, a farm girl from Wisconsin. Though living in a completely different culture form Sagai, her experiences parallel his. The two lives are connected through a mutual friend, a priest from India who visits the United States.

Who's your prime audience, and what do you hope they'll get out of Crooked Lines?

At first I thought Crooked Lines would fit more in the mainstream fiction market because it's not typical Christian Fiction as it explores the good and not so good of religion. But it also works in the Christian fiction market because while it shines light on religious inconsistencies, ultimately it doesn't dishonor God. Though characters experience dark moments and tough issues are tackled, Crooked Lines is really an inspirational novel.

Once Rebecca and Sagai meet, what then? Are their problems over, or do you plan a sequel?

You'll have to read Crooked Lines to find out when they actually meet, but yes, there is a sequel. It will be released in January and Rebecca and Sagai will have to make big decisions about their lives and futures. I guarantee there will be drama.

Who plays them in the movie?

Allu Arjun is a Tamil Nadu actor from South India, where my husband is from. He's got a really sweet face.  And Rebecca...hmmm...maybe Emma Roberts because she has to play a younger and an a little bit older Rebecca and she also has the sweetness quality. Hollywood meets Bollywood!

What are the differences between you and Rebecca? 

I haven't yet talked about this anywhere, but first, allow me to share the first two lines in Crooked Lines. "It didn’t occur to me at the edge of the pond that I’d broken the sixth commandment, actually committed murder. I was busy working out a deal with God, swearing to Jesus I’d become a nun if He helped me breathe life back into my baby sister’s limp body."

That was me at age fifteen. It also didn't really occur to me, until years later, that maybe the death of my little sister wasn't an accident. But, I'll leave it at that. A theory of what happened to Kara comes out in the book, toward the end, and it's close to what I believed might have happened that day.

How well do Christians fit into Indian society?

Yes, let's go back to India! Although Christianity is only about 2% in India, large pockets of Christianity exist, especially in South India. St. Thomas the Apostle was martyred in India and his body is entombed in St Tomas Cathedral in Chennai. Also, my husband's hometown is a Tamil Nadu hill station that the British founded as a retreat center, full of monasteries and churches (picture). India is so diverse, and Crooked Lines offers a taste of the mix of religion and culture across India.

Read the great Amazon reviews and buy your copy of Crooked Lines.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Meet Clay Webster, P.I.

Not Clay Webster, 
Private Investigator,
but his stunt double
My cyberfriend Marian Allen invited me to her blog hop, wherein we introduce the main character in our latest novel or work in progress. So today I'm chatting with private investigator Clay Webster, who'll star in my upcoming novel Death and the Maiden.

Yo, Clay. Sup?
Sup yourself. When are you going to finish telling my story?

I thought so. You can stop procrastinating anytime you want, right? Hey, I'm kidding.

Tell me about the case you're working on, the murder in Concord.
That's an odd way to put it, since murders are state police business. My official cases are run-of-the-mill--missing persons, cheating spouses, that sort of thing.

But the murder is a puzzler. Who'd kill a woman and leave a business card, especially mine? That's an obvious setup, but it drags me into a case that should have nothing to do with me. An upper middle-class Chinese immigrant who's a recent Harvard grad and a talented violinist--she calls me--why me? Then minutes later, she dies.

Lowell, Massachusetts is your bailiwick. What's it like?
It's a gritty old mill burg with lots of character. And characters. Two rivers run through it, feeding a network of canals that once floated barges bringing cotton bales in and cloth bolts out.

You bought a winning lottery ticket, so why aren't you rich?
For her birthday I bought my girlfriend Hope a dozen roses, and a lottery ticket as an afterthought. The forty million is hers, but she knows how to show gratitude.

Describe yourself.
Former high school athlete, former cop, former husband. Six feet tall, 190 pounds--a slimmer version of you, by the way. Fifty-five years old. Not averse to good books, good music, and good women, though Hope has the last one covered. Just one true-blue male friend. Mostly tell the truth. Prefer laughing to crying, but have done both in my life.

To keep the cyberflame burning, I am tagging Lynne Hinkey and Holly Michael, two talented and recently published authors.