Friday, September 13, 2013

In The Footsteps Of Dracula, Part One

When I got almost to the top I could see the seat and the white figure, for I was now close enough to distinguish it even through the spells of shadow.  There was undoubtedly something, long and black, bending over the half-reclining white figure.  I called in fright, “Lucy! Lucy!” and something raised a head, and from where I was I could see a white face and red, gleaming eyes.

-Bram Stoker, Dracula



            Written by Bram Stoker in 1897, Dracula has become without a doubt one of my most beloved books.  In my youth, I had always shyed away from stories which touted the more frightening topics, recognizing that my own mind had the tendency to carry my imagination far beyond the words on the page.  Eventually, I convinced myself that it probably wouldn’t be overly frightening, having been written so long ago.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When reading old literature, it helps to understand the times that the author lived in.  In childhood, Bram learned about blood sucking fairies through his mother’s bedtime stories.  I could never imagine telling my children something as horrific as that, be it day or night.  My shock propelled me to further investigation.

            My love of history took over and as best as I could, I attempted to take my self out of my own times.  Dracula was written in the Victorian era when human mortality was very high, especially for children.  I believe that Bram Stoker used vampires as a way to explain the constant companion that death was to their everyday lives.  So why would a mother tell a child something as frightening as that?  Death was such a common reality, that there was probably no need to state the obvious.  And like any society in history, stories have a way of moving deeper into the human condition, transforming the obvious into fantasy.

            I always loved fantasy and science fiction but admittedly, I had not read any classic horror novels.  My reading of fantasy had been restricted, as white fangs salivated with immortal desire to penetrate my imagination further.  My imagination was indeed awakened to new depths, and presently I have read this book numerous times.  Of course, I prefer to read it during in the day and when I read it at night, I keep the hallway light on!

            Dracula was the beginning of vampire legends, inspiring many after it.  Imagination is endless in its immortality.  In this way, one never ages, never truly dies, and the human condition of death is free to move beyond the decay of this world, even beyond the grave.  In a wakening of consciousness, I did not see drops of blood flowing down my neck after the fangs struck, but drops of blackened ink as my mind shot open into boundless immortal fantasy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Arc of Change

In the past two months I lost my uncle and aunt, each siblings of my father who passed away in 1988.  In the midst of the two losses, I sent off my literary characters with my blessing and loads of tears into the big unknown of potential publication.  I’m cheering them on as they try to get a job.  The remaining patriarch and matriarch of my family having passed into the light of innocence are with their Creator for all eternity. 

I was emotionally raw from the death of my uncle, a man who was a great story teller (more on that later) when with celebration and prayer, I held my breath and pushed send.  With both joy and sadness, I sobbed onto the shoulder of Jenni Nelson, my editor, who I have been so blessed to have with me on this long journey.  The emotions were euphoric joy, relief, sadness, fear and overall… really strange!  Within two hours, I received the phone call from one of my cousins that my aunt was failing.  Unfortunately, she passed away early the next morning, peacefully, thank God.  Once again, my husband sat at the computer booking another flight and hotel, for another sad occasion.  In that whirlwind, I had no time to fully process emotionally or personally the fact that my characters had left the nest.

My aunt had never said a bad word in her life, she was a virtual saint.  Nobody and I mean nobody could ever say a mean thing about her.  She was a real angel in the flesh, and I found myself lost!  I was so used to creating and working with my angel of an editor, and I dreadfully missed it.  I didn’t know what to do with myself, with my newfound time.  I was so used to sending Jenni chapters, re-working them, receiving them back until finally seeing a final version.  When that process ended, it was like the brakes were applied so suddenly that the inertia of my body wanted to keep going, but it smacked against the laws of gravity, stopping me cold.

For weeks I wanted to write another long overdue post, but quite frankly, I couldn’t!  I was trying to come to grips with all of the life changes I was going through.  I tried to let myself jot something down but it was nothing more than a bunch of mish mosh hibble jibble.  I had often wondered how I would feel when my characters left the nest.  Well, it feels lonely, practically like an empty nester.

It is interesting though, how the deaths of my patriarchs and matriarch helped me.  For one thing I learned was that many of my family members are story tellers.  Those who have passed have a story with a forever-after happy ending.  With that reality, I see my characters moving along the same arc of change.  Like family members who have passed over from this world to the next, so too did my characters.  All of them have been created, nurtured and loved into eternal hope.  My uncle and aunt are both experiencing the best reunion imaginable and seeing their creator face to face.  Their aging human skin has been transformed into ageless youth, and my uncle has all the time in the world to tell his stories (I’m still not sure if they are real or based in fact!)  Yes, I will still shed many tears, but I now see my tears as apart of a natural and necessary grieving process.  Their future is more secure than ever, because they are holding hands with their Creator. 

I therefore continue on the journey that my Creator set me on.  He has been more faithful than my mortal mind can comprehend.  When I think of the arc of change my uncle and aunt are on, and the youthful reality they will always have, I see not so much an empty nest, but a full one.  Full of hope, I wait as my characters go out into the unknown.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Silence is Golden

Sometimes silence is beneficial, in order to listen for that still, small voice. Maybe it’s for creativity to move deeper into the soul, maybe it’s for reflection and introspection. What ever it is, there are times when silence is needed, to stop and not just smell the roses, but to ponder on their beautiful creation, to examine the petals in all of their complexity. Roses are in bloom all around us, in every season, even though humanity frequently looks right passed the source of their potent beauty.

My silence on my blog is attributed to a much needed time of silence in my life, to enjoy the rich bountiful rose garden I have been blessed with, namely my family and friends. They have all labored in understanding and friendship during the many years it has taken me to ink this creation, Abyss of the Fallen.

Even in silence, I was not gone from the muse of my mind, for during the drought of my blog, I found myself tackling re-writes, which admittedly I had felt that I would never have to do. I long since have chalked this up to naivety, to not fully understanding a craft which will take me a lifetime to perfect, if even then.

It was only in silence that I was able to hear the voices of my literary children better. Removing my thoughts to allow theirs to move in the freedom they sought, their voices rang truer in my mind, and I was able to hear their story in the way it should be told. It was only in my solitude that my characters found a solace for their existence. Speaking as a fantasy writer, they were pleased when I gave them full reign of their own story, without interjecting my own course for their direction.

I once heard, ‘if your characters do not become family to you, then you are not writing.’ This is very much true for me, and like all families, each person is unique and should have the freedom to live the life they were meant to live. It is in my quiet times of prayer, that the gift of silence is more potent, when the rose garden smells the most poignant, for my mind goes to each of the miracles in my life, my children. In silence I sit, and I think of their own course of life and how little I can interject or should interject upon them the direction that I want for their lives. In silence I listen, in silence I wait, and in silence I feel stronger in Who is guiding, leading, and directing the course of their lives.

While I claim authorship for my characters, I do not claim authorship for the gift of silence, for the gift of the rose garden, whose petals I have been blessed to hold in my hands, but the biggest blessing is knowing in Whose hand everything is held. I know like the ink which flows out of my pen, like my fingers which tap the keys, I am here to guide and correct my characters' story onto the page, as well as guide and correct my children with their lives. I will continue to let silence be golden, listen to that still small voice, and let creativity shine through onto their paths, while praying that the Creator who holds everything will move deeper into their souls.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Season of Youth

Sitting in my writing chair, my eyes focus out the window to several thin branches of trees, a mere memory of summer.  Only a few staunch stubborn leaves remain.  Slowly, these fighters shake back and forth still holding on, while most of their comrades have long since fallen.   The fallen have been raked up, sacked up, or burnt up.  Still, some of them have the glorious honor of having children jump and scream into their gathered piles, as these fallen heroes give up their seasonal life for the carefree season of youth.


As the children leave for home, or on to some new idea of play, the leaves may waft in the breeze, or lay still in silence, still in waiting, as the days push the season further and further along.  As the days move on, more leaves fall from the trees, only to meet their end by the rake, by the sack, or by the fires of time.  Still, some leaves remain on the ground, as the days of laughter become shortened by the awakening of the moon.  Soon, the season of youth will walk through the night, knocking on doors for candied treasures.  The fallen heroes who gave up their life for piles of glory guide them from house to house as their backs reflect silver moon rays.


Sitting in my writing chair, the season of youth still clings to my memory like the leaves that still cling to the branches.  In misty recollection, a girl dressed up like batman walks across a yard full of leaves, kicking them aside for a knock on a door, as candy falls into an orange bag: spoils of the season.  Soon the memory is gone, replaced by the scraping of a rake, as the pile of leaves that propelled me down memory lane is placed into a paper sack.   With joy, I know that more feet will trod over silver dipped leaves, more laughter will fill the evening air.  Candied treasures will fall into decorated bags, the spoils of yet another season.  This will be mere mist and shadow for this season of youth to gaze upon one day in adulthood.    

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What took you so long?

As my first novel continues on its journey of completion, my mind doesn’t just drift back to the beginning, it is pulled back.  I was a young girl with a vivid imagination, a girl who would dialogue the scenes which freely moved in my mind.  I was curious about science, space and nature.  In my need to explore, my parents bought a subscription to National Geographic, and I loved it.  My imagination soared as my younger brother and I made countless forts, explored vast worlds known and unknown, all in our own backyard.  I even imagined that I was Dr. Leaky, off to find some ancient fossil.  A purple bike with a white daisy basket was my time machine on wheels, and I was off, rarely to come home again before the streetlights came on.  I wish that my children could have this kind of carefree childhood!


My parents were always supportive and helpful, but I could spin a tall yarn, and with my constant dialoging, my parents weren’t sure what to do with me.  It used to bother me when my parents would tell me that this or that never happened or didn’t exist.  I knew that they were right, but yet they weren’t.  The way my imagination worked and still works, these places and people do exist.  I used to think that everyone was like me, that everyone creates stories.  My parents began seeing something in me, something creative, and so they always told me that I should be an author.  My dad always wanted me to write a story of how he and my mother met.  Their story was quite romantic, and defied odds on many emotional and personal levels.  Maybe one day I will write their story.  I say maybe, for what I have discovered through the last three years is that stories find you!  It is the characters who chase the author, beckoning, and sometimes yelling, until the author is thoroughly harassed to the submission of the pen.   Sadly, my dad is not alive to see the journey which began so long ago come to fruition, but I can tell you what he would say, if he were still alive.  “What took you so long?”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Arc of Life

My office seems a little strange to me these days, with all the emotional changes I’m going through.  But this is just another stage of my development, the arc of my life.

I still find myself vacillating from joy to sadness.  I am realizing that this process I’m currently in must be something like being an “empty nester.”  I am emerging from the genesis of my characters to their exodus.  They are leaving my care and moving into the wide open unknown of the real world.  I have brought them into being, cared for them, and nurtured them.  I had to give a soul to them, so as to give their voices resonance.  Having done my part as their parent, I gladly set my children free to fly on their own.   

I can’t pretend that I am eager to see my creative offspring leave me.   Not because they aren’t ready, but because I don’t really want to see them go.


The temptation when creating characters, like raising children, is to mold them the way you want them to be molded.  You try at first to live vicariously through them, but the characters fight back.  Eventually, you see that they have their own voice, with their own personalities and destinies.  In the days, months and years of chronicling these characters, I found myself frustrated and sometimes wished that they would grow up enough to be somewhat self-sufficient.  Of course, now that they are, I wish that I could freeze them in time.      


At first, I tried forcing them into my mold, and then I tried charming them, and eventually tried guiding them, until at last I allowed them to guide me.  I watched as their natural personalities came out.  Once they were formed, I could not change them any more than I could change a real person.   I can merely watch and write as the arc of their life unfolds, refining them.


They were created to live in the open, to live freely with no chains.  We too, have a Creator.  The only way for us to live a life of freedom is to acknowledge that we are His wondrous creation and allow our Creator to guide the arc of our lives.  How are you allowing HIM to refine YOU?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Writing Chair

Many emotions are moving through my mind, as I sit here in my “writing chair.”  The first draft of my first novel is complete.  With this milestone fading on the horizon, I am now working with my editor, who is steadily fine-tuning my first creative offspring.  It has taken me three emotional years to write this book, Abyss of the Fallen.

It is with determination that I sit here in this chair, the same spot which I have sat in over the past three years, pondering, praying, writing, thinking and weaving the characters of my book.  The emotions of these characters bore over my own, flooding my mind and my heart, until the only thing that I could do, was to write.  The emotions poured through my mind and into my hand, and I began to write.  I often found that I could not place my fingers onto the keyboard.  Trusting my words to a computer, whose brain would store my thoughts, just would not suffice.  The emotions were too raw, too new, and only my trusty gel pen would do.  Not just any old pen and definitely not a pencil!  As my mind was wrapping itself around new ideas of ancient and current truths, I was surprised to find that there was poetry to the words.   I have no explanation for this, other than the paths of the imagination have many hidden routes. 

I can see now in vivid clarity that which was once incredibly obscured.   The vast beginning stages of my journey seemed at the time to be randomly placed threads, but I can now see a tapestry of words forming into a completed work.  This first book could not have been written any second, minute, hour, day, month or year sooner or later than it was.  As always, the Creator’s timing was perfect, although I didn’t quite realize how perfect throughout my journey.  I needed the perspective that time allows, to clearly write what my mind was seeing.  It is overwhelming at times, to witness how the joys and pains of my life would so saturate the words which I labored to deliver.

This milestone brings with it so many feelings which mere words can barely do justice.   In the end, having only two pages separating me from the completion of a three year labor of love, I had great difficulty getting the final words onto paper.  I had invested so much time in creating my characters, which I grew to love and despise in thankfully not so equal measure.  I knew that the end needed to come, yet I didn’t want it to.   But end it did, and yet the journey is truly just beginning. 

Now I find myself sitting in this well used writing chair, sometimes staring out my window, sadly wishing that I could wrestle and creatively hug these characters yet again.  Over the past three years, I would sit here daily and work on research or write.  Quite frankly, I’m used to it.

As with everything, life moves on, and so does the life of my characters.  This phase of the process produces emotions of apprehension for my creative offspring.  What kind of life they will have out in the real world?   But I know that the Creator, who gave me this story to tell, will see me through to completion, and I know that He has all of this in the palm of his immortal hands.