Forest

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Forest. [More info]

“No traveler, whether a tree lover or not, will ever forget his first walk in a sugar-pine forest. The majestic crowns approaching one another make a glorious canopy, through the feathery arches of which the sunbeams pour, silvering the needles and gilding the stately columns and the ground into a scene of enchantment.” ~ John Muir

Photo by Tobias Tullius

Tradition

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Tradition. [More info]

Photo by Tim Bish

Relaxed Friday 9

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Catalin Sandru

With permission from the author, we’re again eavesdropping on Will and Domo to start off our theme-free Friday. The author, by the way, is Chicago-born and raised Arthur Daigle and the fun exchange below is from William Bradshaw and War Unending.

“You’re up early,” Domo said to Will.
“Blame Vial. The boys said you had some mail for me?”
Domo held up the stack of letters. “I was just finishing with it. Let’s see…hate mail, hate mail, you may already be a winner, death threats. The University of Eastwich granted you an honorary expulsion. You got an anti-invitation from Kervol Ket.”
Will stopped in front of Domo. “I know I’m going to regret asking, but what’s that?”
“You know how good old Kervol got married?” Domo asked.
“He married Princess Marisa Brandywine?” Will didn’t try to hide his surprise. He’d once held the princess prisoner. He didn’t want her, and his attempts to return her to Kervol had been rebuffed. Brandywine was the most annoying person Will had ever met, which considering he was surrounded by thousands of goblins was saying something. It amazed him that someone even as stupid as Kervol would marry her.
“Shocking, I know,” Domo said. “Anyway, the lady’s expecting their first child, and Kervol sent out invitations to celebrate the birth. He sent you an anti-invitation. You’re not supposed to attend the festivities, and the only gift he’d like is to hear you died in a horrible accident involving a potato peeler. Basically he’s rubbing it in your face that you’re a social pariah.”
“Charming.”

How about a little more eavesdropping? This time from the opening scene of Scott R. Rezer‘s Shadow of the Mountain: A Novel of the Flood. Not to worry, we always get the author’s permission before spying on their characters.

The sudden cry of a woman in travail rent the stillness of the air. At the sound, Noach tensed and stood uncertainly, turning towards the tents of their small settlement. The waiting had grown agonizingly long; the birth of children often did so—especially with firstborns. His nerves frayed with the waiting, his body as taut as a drawn bowstring. Death was too often an unwelcome shadow at the miracle of birth.
Soon, he thought. It will be very soon now.
—And then what, old man, whispered the voice of his own nagging doubts. This one will be born, and then there will be others. Men will multiply upon the earth. In time, there will once more be rebellion and bloodshed and wars. Sin will have its due.
“No,” he breathed vehemently. “There will be peace and harmony at last in the earth.” It was a familiar argument he had often waged against himself in the past nine months. The outcome was always the same.
—Is that what you think? Have you learned nothing? Men are incapable of such nobility: only of evil and more evil.
“This time it will be different—it must be,” he said. His hands balled into fists at his side. “The errors of the old world cannot be repeated. They cannot; they will not.”
—Oh, but they will, his own malevolent thoughts whispered, mocking him with laughter. Open your eyes, fool, and look around you. The errors of the lost world are but beginning anew. Death hovers, eager to devour the sinful. Watch; and wait. Listen for the cry of this child for which you await so desperately. It will be the lustful cry of sin being reborn into the world. And there is none born of men who can ever change it.
“Of men… no,” Noach whispered, smiling, remembering another, far older, promise. “But of a woman…”

Air

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Air. [More info]

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Writers Research

Photo by Michael Brandl

There is a strong tendency among readers to want to stay in the story once they begin reading. Writers tend to want the readers to stay there as well. After all, if readers put a book down, there’s no guarantee they’ll ever return to reading it, enjoy it to the utmost, and leave a glowing five-star review.

Let’s consider for a moment things that might cause a reader to stop reading. There are things writers can’t do anything about—a hungry pet or child begging the reader’s attention comes to mind as does a spouse who urgently needs to know how to operate a computer or cell phone. Perhaps a police chase comes to an end in the reader’s yard and a shootout commences. But there are also distractions an author can easily avoid through research. Authors of historical fiction, for example, choosing to describe a library of 1869 in great detail might not want to mention Melvil Dewey’s classification system. Most readers might skim past the error without concern, but readers who know his system was first published in 1876, might head over to their favorite social network to start a boycott or petition.

Obviously, we’re trying to be funny here. Or maybe it wasn’t obvious. Either way, the point is that most authors research, even if only briefly and even if they’re writing fiction, to help make their stories enjoyable, interesting, and believable—and to avoid losing readers to glaring errors. Lying is tolerated quite well in fiction—errors not so much.

So we asked authors “What is something you needed to research because of your writing that you had never given much thought before?”

Margaret Skea – I had to research 16th century amputation techniques, the best instruments to use, how to stop the bleeding and about tying off blood vessels etc.

M. L. Farb – I researched animal senses for a shape-shifting character. This was my favorite fact: “Eagles have the ability to see colors more vividly than humans can. They can even see ultraviolet light and pick out more shades of one color. Their ability to even see the UV light allows them to see the bodily traces left by their prey. Mice’s and other small prey’s urine is visible to the eagles in the ultraviolet range, making them easy targets even a few hundred feet above the ground.”

Laurean Brooks – I had always wanted to write Westerns, but the idea of the extensive research involved held me back. I wanted the descriptions of everything from buckboards, dress, to ranch living, make the story authentic.
My first book was set in the Abilene, Texas-Buffalo Gap area. Browsing led me a library in Abilene. Calling got me connected to a man who worked in the basement. Dennis Miller was there to answer historical questions about Taylor County, Texas We corresponded for a couple of months. In that time I was given rich accounts of historical events in Taylor County Texas in 1883, plus a list of the businesses in Abilene and Buffalo Gap. Dennis Miller’s eagerness to help encouraged me. When my book was published, I wanted to thank him for the trouble he’d put into researching. But lo, and behold, Mr. Miller had retired, and the library would not give me his contact information. I’m now on my second Abilene setting, and wish I could ask Dennis Miller tons of question. Thank you, Mr. Dennis Miller, in case you happen to read this.

Scott R. Rezer – Are you kidding?! Every book I write, I end up researching the most diverse, amazing, and odd things—things I never thought I’d research! For my current WIP, The Haberdasher’s Wife (Spring 2020), in addition to learning a thing or two about womens’ fashion in 1800 Germany (I always wanted to know that!), I researched a house still standing in Überlingen, Germany once owned by the noble family of my main character who also happens to be my 6th great grandmother! I was amazed to actually find a few pictures of the house (now a clothing boutique) to recreate a realistic setting.

Irene Onorato – The main male character in More Than a Soldier was wounded in an RPG attack. As a result, he lost an eye and the hearing in one ear. I had to research all sorts of interesting things about ocular prosthesis (artificial or “glass” eyes) and single-sided hearing loss. Also, to fully understand my soldier, I had to study PTSD and survivor’s guilt. Admittedly, I did a lot of crying while researching and writing the story. I came away from the project with more understanding, pride, and gratitude for the men and women who serve in our armed forces. And here I go, getting teary-eyed all over again…

Jessica Marie Holt – I was surprised by the rabbit hole of unusual details that was the Victorian era. It started off innocently enough, with general questions like, what were the funeral and mourning customs? How did day-to-day life change after the war? What were the travel options? What was the culture like at the time? But then, because I love incorporating lots of authentic details, it quickly spiraled out of control, for four reasons: 1) The nineteenth century was an era of complex customs, formalities and social interactions, which were rigidly followed, and learning them was a challenge 2) It was a time of rapid change, and details differed from decade to decade, so I had to specifically research the 1870s 3) The Victorian culture in, say, uptight London, was very different than it was in laid-back rural North Carolina, which is where my books take place, so it was harder to find information that applied to my specific setting 4) Everything about Victorian fashion and home décor was ornate and highly detailed.
So, fast forward a little, and you have me banging my head on the computer screen as I try to figure out what year crepe myrtles were brought to North Carolina, what fabrics were in bustles, where people kept matches for their bedside lanterns so they didn’t fumble around for them in the dark (surprise! in special containers attached to the wall), whether water pumps were common in rural areas, and whether the trend of having an entire bird on one’s hat started before 1871 or after.
Fortunately, each book gets easier, as you learn enough to write comfortably about the era, and you don’t have to stop to research as much!
And don’t get me started on drafting procedures for the Civil War, or war injuries severe enough to get you sent home, but not so severe that they kill you! It’s a finer line than you think—they’d patch you up and keep you fighting if they could get any use out of you at all.

Jessica L. Elliott – A couple of things actually. In Holly and Mister Ivy, Holly is a dog who also is trained as a matchmaker. I wanted her to be red setter mix (because setters are gorgeous) with blue eyes. I then had to do some quick research to see if this was even genetically possible. Turns out with the right breeds, it could be.
Then for my most recent book, Of Bows and Cinnamon, the female lead Elena announced to me that she was a breast cancer survivor. While I’d already known that younger women can and do develop breast cancer, the research stage was heartbreaking as I learned just how high those mortality rates are. Doing that research made me cry more than once, but it also made Elena’s character richer as I understood more clearly her fears and reservations.

Arthur Daigle – I do a sort of reverse research for my books. I have bizarre reading and TV viewing habits, where I read strange history and biology books and watch lots of history and science shows. When I see something that interests me, I add it into one of my stories.

Charmain Zimmerman Brackett – I have one of those google histories that you hope no one ever reads. I spend a lot of time researching, not only for my novels, but for the newspaper articles I write in my day job. Some of my newspaper research is tons of fun. I write arts and entertainment stories. I spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos of performers who I will be interviewing. It’s great to get paid to watch comedians and singers. For my novels, the research has been grimmer at times. Some of my more gruesome searches have included – what’s involved in cleaning up the scene of a violent death; what happens when you are shot; what type of gunshot could you receive and still live—fun stuff like that. I never covered crime in my 30 years at the newspaper I write for so those subjects were things I never wanted to think about.

Space

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Space. [More info]

“It’s a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.” ~ Alan Shepard

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU)

Rail

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Rail. [More info]

Photo by Antoine Beauvillain

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Cocoa with my Dad

By Patty Wiseman

[This article is also available as a podcast on several channels.]

Do you ever wonder how your personality developed? Why you have some of the beliefs you have? What makes you so rigid in thought and deed? What makes you a softy with a big heart? I certainly do. I often wonder how I came to write the books I do. But, really, I do know where it comes from. My past, my childhood, and events that changed my life forever. I understand what shaped me into the person and writer I am. We all have a story and I want to share one of mine. Got your coffee?

My father. In my eyes, he stood seven feet tall, with curly black hair & piercing blue eyes. I feared him when I was small. He had the look of a pirate. He was fierce, unyielding. My child eyes saw him larger than life, but he was just 5 feet 11. As I look back on it now, I realize certain things are magnified in childhood. I did have the inflexible part correct, though.

I’m talking about this today because my husband and I went to see the movie Midway about a week ago. I highly recommend it. The movie opened with the attack on Pearl Harbor. I was thrown into an emotional upheaval. Tears streamed down my face during the 1st quarter of that movie. Why? My father was on the U.S.S. Raleigh during the attack. He survived it, but I really don’t know how he did.

He was a gunners mate. He was 17. His mother had to sign him into the Navy because he wasn’t of age. But that’s not all. When they arrived at the recruiter’s office they turned him down because his last name didn’t match what was on his Social Security Card. His mom stood beside him. He questioned her. She had to admit to him the father who raised him was not his real father. Think of how that made him reel in shock. He was never formally adopted by his step-father. She thought she got away with changing his name.

Long story short, they fixed the problem and my dad entered the Navy, but never resolved the issue with his paternity. Then, Pearl Harbor happened. I grew up hearing the horror stories of that day over and over again. I truly believe the war and my dad’s confusion over his identity changed him forever. This was back in the day before anyone knew or understood what PTSD was. He stayed in the Navy for 6 years. Married while in the service and started a family. I was second born. The war was long over. But a lifetime of pain festered in my dad all his life, spilling over on me and my siblings. Now, some of them have different memories of our childhood. I can’t speak for them, all I can do is share the pain I suffered as a result of my dad being bombed at Pearl Harbor.

Second born, I remained the runt of the litter of four siblings and the youngest girl.

By the time dad left the Navy, he’d tired of the water, the ocean. So he retreated to the mountains. Backpacking in particular. I was tiny and a little sickly, but a twenty-pound backpack rested on my skinny shoulders, anyway. He told me it was good for my health. Maybe it was, cause here I am healthy and happy. My father led the troop of six with a swagger up the mountain trail. The only thing missing was the eye-patch and cutlass. Seven long miles up hill. Dad’s version of summer vacation. I hated every minute of it. Mt. Rainier was cold, slippery, and forbidding.

But up we went.

The trail was treacherous. We walked along the edge of the switchback mountain. One slip and you could go over the edge. No one spoke. We held our place in line. Seven and a half miles we marched.

We didn’t complain, didn’t let tears come to the surface, we knew it was useless.

There’s no crying in camping.

I remember the hollow vacuum in the pit of my stomach, the raw emotion searching for a place to go. Instead, agony and despair found the entrance to the black hole and disappeared inside. Nothing existed now except determination to focus on the trail, and the weight on my back.

Long ago I learned not to ask why father ran the family like a military operation. Mother was no help, she stayed in survival mode; her own. Father remained an enigma – his Navy experience at Pearl Harbor forever changed him.

It’s painful to look back at my eight-year-old self and realize, in that short time, I’d developed a sophisticated method of survival. Alone within a family of six, the only thing TO do was endure.

Eventually, we arrived at the lake tired, hungry. The trip had ended. Tents to erect, fires to build; no one eats until camp is set up. My job was to hold the tent pole while dad pounded the stakes into the ground.

Weariness and hunger took their toll on my undersized body, and I let the pole lean too far to the right.

“Hold that pole!” he yelled. It’s a memory I will never forget. He didn’t care about my tired body, only that stupid pole.

Father stopped the hammer in midair when the smell of pancakes drifted into our range. Darkness fell, and father delivered the last blow to the plastic spike. “Time to eat,” he announced.

Grateful for the warm fire my brothers assembled, we surrounded the flames and ate in silence. The pancakes tasted like Thanksgiving dinner. Tomorrow – a raft to build, and fish to catch and clean. Mother cooked, my sister cleaned the trout, and the rest of us took our watch at the fishing poles.

Father taught us to brandish a pole, and fortunately for me, I’d learned my lesson well. I could cast like a pro and usually brought in as much as my dad. But time enough to worry about fish tomorrow. His orders sent us scrambling to our tents and a night’s sleep on the cold, hard ground.

Finally, in the dark camp, I snuggled into the warm, downy sleeping bag, and drifted off into my dream world. Disney Land, a cruise, perhaps, or a road trip to grandma’s farm. Riding horses, swimming in the lake, carefree and joyful. Anything but this.

I’m not sure what time I woke up, but the sound of the crackling fire alarmed me. I saw the shadow of a man at the tall flames through the tent canvass. Still numb from sleep, I couldn’t tell who it was. I crawled out of my cocoon and inched on my stomach to the door of the tent to peek through the hole at the zippered entryway.

Father!

The fire raged high, and I could feel the heat from inside the tent.

Why isn’t he asleep? He must be exhausted.

He sat down on a stump near the fire and cupped a steaming tin cup with both hands.

I watched him. He looked sad, forlorn, and tortured. The shadows danced across his face in the firelight. This candid look at my father stirred something deep within the neglected regions of my hardened heart.

Why is he so sad? He loves camping . . .

I had a sudden shot of courage. I put my shoes and jacket on, unzipped the tent, and ventured out.

He looked surprised, and then a miracle happened. He smiled.

“What’s the matter, girl? Can’t sleep?” he asked.

I…I heard the fire roar. I guess it woke me. What are you doing up?”

“Someone’s got to make sure the fire stays lit. The flames keep the animals away, AND mother needs it to cook breakfast in the morning. Won’t do to have a cold breakfast to start our first day of fishing. It gets breezy on the lake.”

I looked at him square in the face for the first time. “Oh, I guess I never thought about it.”

“Time you did. Camp doesn’t make itself. Want some cocoa? I’ve got hot water boiling. You’re shivering.”

“Sure, cocoa sounds good. Is that coffee you’re drinking?”

He reached for the pot and mixed the dry powder mix into the tin cup, all the while, shooting glances at me and smiling. “Here ya go. That’ll warm you up. No, not coffee. I like cocoa, too.”

I was stunned. Dad drinks cocoa. I thought he’d be too tough for anything but coffee.

We fell into silence, staring at the fire, and sipping our hot liquid. The cocoa warmed more than my body. Something akin to life filtered into my long forsaken heart.

“So, how do you like it out here in the wilderness in the middle of the night? Peaceful isn’t it,” he said.

“It’s different, but yeah, I guess it is peaceful.”

“You can smile. I won’t bite you.”

I looked at him and forced my lips to curve into a smile. When he grinned back, my lips parted and a full-blown laugh exploded from my body. It felt good.

“That’s more like it. I wondered which of my kids would be the first.”

“The first what?”

“The first to want to get to know me.”

So many things impact our lives. For me, it was my dad. For better or not, he is still the main character in my childhood. Was he a model dad after that? No way. I continued to have a love/hate relationship with him. Well, maybe not hate, but surely fear.

It wasn’t until I was grown & had kids of my own that I decided to know him better. We lived states away by this time. I called, asked him why he raised us so coldly. His answer reminded me of the time camping when I saw into the window of his pain. We talked about his own childhood and how the pain of never knowing his real father affected him. We cried, laughed, cried some more.

I had my dad for 2 more years and then his heart gave out. He was gone. The last time I saw him, he hugged me so tight before we left their house. He didn’t want to let me go. The first real affection I got from him. 6 months later he was gone.

That was 25 years ago and I still cry at movies about Pearl Harbor, trying to put myself in his shoes, trying to understand the emotional pain he must have endured his whole life. Betrayed by his mother, shoved into war. How could it not affect him and then affect me? I have 2 beautiful memories to hang on to. My eight year old self having cocoa by the fire and my adult self, savoring that long awaited hug.

I always put something of myself into the books I write. In my book That One Moment, I take my character to the mountains of a survival camp after a devastating break up. I draw from my experiences in the mountains to give a sense of reality to the scenes. All my books are on Amazon and you can see them on my website, www.pattywiseman.com.

I’ve enjoyed talking with you today. I hope this gives you a little insight into my soul. Remember, someone said, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Don’t let the past rob you. Use those experiences to shape the life you want. I never understood all the facets of my father’s complex personality, but I can use my experiences with him to understand me.

Connect with the author: Patty Wiseman

Website/Blog: https://www.pattywiseman.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PattyWisemanAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PattyWG
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005OTXOE6

CleanWIP Magazine has obtained from the author non-exclusive right to publish or republish this content. The author retains copyright.

Road

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Road. [More info]

Photo by kalacreative of Pixabay

“The road to success just might be your driveway.” ~ Joey Reiman

Earl Chinnici ~ Her phone streamed to a large screen in the studio providing us with a clear view of her right shoulder and part of the rear window. We watched as she veered left, apparently to miss a dark-blue sedan that was entering the highway. She then pushed hard on the accelerator and swerved back to the right, the distance separating her vehicle from the sedan increasing far too quickly.
“Hi Rita. This is Rachel of the Write Connections morning show. I’m here with Jenny Foster, author of…” ~ https://twitter.com/earlshelpdesk/status/1201516544024567808

Travel

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Travel. [More info]

Photo by Dariusz Sankowski

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ~ Helen Keller