Saturday, February 18, 2017

Why I WILL be seeing The Shack

Everyone loves a good inspirational movie. You know the kind... the ones that make you forget, even just for a little while about a bad situation or gives you hope that all is not lost in life or humanity.

In 1993, I lost my brother to an illness. Up until that point, I'd always had a hardcore belief in God and the Bible, but the years following his death left me with a lot of questions and a lot of anger, which had me raging more than I'd like to admit at our Supreme Creator.

In 1998 on my birthday, the movie What Dreams May Come was released. Five years into my grief and anger at a God who would take a happy, oh-so-health-conscious, good hearted man away from a world that desperately needed more people like him, the last thing I wanted to do was watch a movie about the human experience of death, grief and the afterlife. At that point, I already considered myself way too much of an expert on those things and not in a helpful or constructive way.
A friend at the time who went to see it, stated during the entire length of the film, she couldn't get me out of her head and she felt that it was something I really needed to watch. So, I went even though I didn't think anything could make much of a difference in my life at that point.

I'm not a soft-hearted, sentimental, cry-at-movies type of person (though moving headlong into menapause has actually made me more weepy now than I've ever been) but throughout the entire 1 hour and 56 minutes, I found myself in tears because I understood what Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra's characters felt so intimately it was like watching two different versions of myself on the screen. Watching them go through the stages of grief, the surrender, the anger, the feeling everything is lost and you're profoundly alone in that sorrow, even though there are others right there in the same house who are going through the same emotions you are, the feeling of being unable to go on and the guilt you feel when you do have to start moving on.... But also, the rage when you look around at the outside world and hate them for being able to function when you can't.

As I watched, the message of the movie began to make itself known... Love overcomes everything, even death and love is the one thing we can take with us when we cross over. It also shows us that love transforms the human spirit in ways that nothing else can and how sometimes even when we think something is lost, it's actually right in front of us, we just have to believe enough to see it and to touch it.

I left the movie theater that night an emotional wreck. I cried more in the following days than I had in the five years since my brother had died and I understood because I could never fully let myself grieve his loss before, I now finally had to. I attribute that movie in part to the huge spiritual healing that took place within myself later on and eventually led me to the path and the life I have today. A life that understands the importance of love, compassion, giving and acceptance. A life that understands its fluidity and complexity as well as appreciates its cycles- even the painful ones.

I tell you that to tell you this:
I watched the previews of The Shack before even knowing it was a critically acclaimed book and my first thought was how I hoped it would be as beautiful a representation of love and finding the will to go on for others as What Dreams May Come was for me. It also appeared to be well-done with graphics and story-line.

A little while ago, one of my very best friends and closest companions sent me a blog from Christian book critic Tim Challies about The Shack after we'd both expressed a desire to see the movie. The title of said blog post was "Why I Won't Be Seeing (or Reviewing) The Shack". (http://www.challies.com/articles/why-i-wont-be-seeing-or-reviewing-the-shack)

I read it with an open mind though it was clear that the author didn't write it with one. In fact, the blog was so steeped in the fear-based teaching and narrow-minded views that I've come to abhor and loathe that it actually made my stomach turn.

Look, I get it.... people want to cling to outdated ideas and thoughts on all kind of things including religion. I'm no different. I resisted getting a brand new vehicle even when I knew my truck had been fixed to the point it couldn't be fixed any longer. My old truck suited me. It had carried me half way across the country and back unfailingly and almost seemed to be an extension of my "self". It didn't run well when others drove it, but seemed to run fine when I did, but maybe I was deluding myself or in denial that it had issues or that it was so old and it was time to move on. Who knows but the point is, I clung to it because it was comforting to me and seemed so safe when I drove it.

I get that the Bible has been a corner stone of faith and a security blanket for most of society as a whole for centuries. Governments were built and ruined upon it, houses were united or divided because of it, wars have been raged as well as ended over it. Really, I get it. I get the historical and social impact those pages have had on humanity but it never fails to frighten me to the core when an overzealous religious follower starts spouting fear-based rhetoric while most likely living their own hypocritical existence.

Tim says he won't review or watch the movie because the second commandment forbids any representation of God in any form. And to watch the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit represented on film was sinful. He states, "I am far more sure that watching and reviewing The Shack would be an unwise and even sinful spiritual decision." He goes on to list multiple, biblical inspired reasons why it's bad and even at one point seems to rant a little bit at the indignity of the book and the film. The only thing he didn't list and I was honestly surprised- was his objection that God was portrayed by a woman (Octavia Spencer).

To him, I say: That's cool, Tim. You're certainly entitled to your opinion and since I strongly believe in freedom of religion as well as freedom of speech, I can even get behind the rationalization of why you wouldn't want to subject yourself to something you believe is a contradiction of your beliefs. I'll even go as far to say if your right to belief and practice were challenged, I'd defend it. Because it's yours and you have a right to it. But you don't really have a right to forcefully try to sway others to the same side.

All of my life I've been drawn to, fascinated and studied various aspects of religion. In my early years, I'd have told you I was Christian. Today, because of my studies (not necessarily my practices) I identify as Pagan, which means a person who believes and worships anything outside the realm of accepted main world religious beliefs and practice.

I've dissected, picked apart, turned around and upended religious texts, most known and some so obscure you have to scour and scrounge for the information. As a result, my beliefs have changed widely since those days when I identified as a Christian. That said, I do wholly believe in a Supreme Deity or Creator (as I call it) and I enjoy exploring thoughts and opinions on what Something or Someone of that magnitude means not only to myself, but to others as well. What I don't enjoy is forced indoctrination, again on myself or others, especially when it appears to be done with little to no outside study to support claims or any regard to the fact that media in all forms is a way of life in this day and age. It'd be nearly impossible to watch, listen to or research (you're not supposed to question, right?) anything if you're going to go down the list of things the Bible forbids and adhere to that code in the day to day.
This applies to all manner of things:
1. Do you make your woman live outside of your presence during her menstrual cycle?
2. Do you like pig?
3. Are you willing to sell your daughter into marriage to her rapist?
4. If your neighbor buys a big, beautiful 72 inch flat-screen, do you covet it?
5. Since men aren't supposed to ejaculate outside of a woman's body or waste their seed in any way, ever... (See where I'm going here?)
6. Do you like lobster, crab and shrimp?
7. Do you really want to marry or bring into your house, your brother's wife if he dies? Would your wife be OK with that?

Just curious.


I've said it before and I'll say it again... Practice. What. You. Preach. The shirt in your profile picture is obviously a denim and lycra blend.

I hope once you realize you're wearing blended clothing, you burn that shirt in shame for going against Leviticus, because that'd be about as in keeping with telling people not to watch a movie because it gives a sinful human representation of Divinity, benign and loving though that representation may be.


The fact of the matter is that a large part of the Old Testament, specifically Genesis and Exodus, outside of the Do's and Don'ts and commandments (which were actually taken from the Egyptian Book of the Dead), was borrowed from the Sumerian Creation Texts (SCT) which predate the Bible by 2500 years and is the oldest known written account. (Remember, the Sumerians were the first humans to use a written language.) The Enuma Elish, aka The Epic of Creation explains that while there was one supreme deity, there were also hundreds of other lesser gods as well. This might explain why in Genesis it says "man was created in OUR image" rather than "in MY (a singular God) image".

The creation texts also go on to say that in order for man to be created, one god had to be sacrificed and his blood was mixed with the clay of the earth to become the first human whom today, we refer to as "Adam", though in the SCT, the first man was named Adapa (See Mesopotamia Story of the Fall of Man). There are parallels drawn between Adapa and Adam, though clearly Genesis took some liberties in the story as all retellings often do. So, to put that part in perspective... if we were created in ONE god's image and that god had to die to create us then wouldn't we technically be worshipping a dead god?
To go even further, Sumerian Liturgies (compiled by Stephen Langdon) as well as the SCT, speak that the supreme god of what later became our Old Testament and the god of the New Testament are actually two different beings as there was a war in Heaven over the dominance of humanity and who had the right of ownership so to speak of mankind.

If you believe these ancient texts and I'm not entirely sure that I do in totality, it'd make sense of the changes between part one (Old Testament) and part two (New Testament) in "God's" personality... you know, going from a wrathful, vengeful and admittedly jealous god, to a benevolent, loving and more temperate version.
Then again if God is omni-potent as well as omni-present as Tim points out in his blog, I guess God can also have a change of mind or attitude as well as maintain his right as Tim also said, "to remain invisible".
Although, myself personally, don't see God as invisible. I think God is represented in every thing and everyone around us that breathes with the flow of life. We humans, in my opinion are a direct manifestation of God; so are the flowers, the trees, the neighbor's cats and so on. It's my job as a worshipper of that entity to appreciate and respect all aspects of IT in all ITs various forms. I think (and I don't know for sure) that God would hate the idea of never being seen or appreciated for all the beauty that Being has been capable of creating. Everything around us is God-like if we open our eyes wide enough to see the divinity within it.

It may seem as if I'm being disrespectful, but honestly, that's not my intention. My intention is to point out that Tim's belief in the second commandment as reason enough not to see this movie might be just a tad hypocritical as well as full of conjecture.

God is represented in Exodus when he appeared to Moses as a burning bush and then represented in the latest movie based on that book of the Bible as both a burning bush and a young boy. Did Tim boycott that as well? I mean, I'm NOT a Christian Bale fan, but even I watched Exodus: God and Kings because again, I genuinely do love religion and have no bias against any particular one. A good story is a good story (insert shrugging shoulders here). I also watched the original Ten Commandments with Charleston Heston for exactly same the reason, years ago. Well, that and I AM a fan of Heston.

And even though I don't practice Christianity, movies like the Passion of the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth are beautifully told, heart-wrenching stories that appeal to my humanity as well as my compassionate side when it comes to the torture Jesus sustained at the hands of narrow-minded, ignorant masses. I don't have to be Christian or identify as one to want to throw myself over his body and take the whipping for him. I don't celebrate Easter, but I do watch those movies when they come on to a point it's more traditional for me than an Easter Bunny. In this day and age where visual media is legitimately a huge part of our lives, the best way to pull someone closer to an idea or concept of God, would be to have a human representation of that entity. Let's face it, very few people have the time or the inclination to sit down and read the Bible from cover to cover, let alone absorb the meanings or the content of its passages, but they will sit down for two hours and watch a movie.

I'd never dream of telling my fellow Pagans or anyone else for that matter, not to watch those movies because I believe that aside from some historical significance, the Bible is one big book of plagiarism. Whether it is, or it isn't, that's not really my place to say. I might say, "I won't watch the movie because..." but I wouldn't say, "YOU shouldn't watch it because...."

Furthermore, based on Tim's statement that any representation in human form of the Holy Trinity is sinful, that means that churches should remove stained glass windows depicting the Son and my grandma was wrong for having that beautiful picture of Jesus on her wall. And since people use the crucifix or cross as symbols of their faith, having those on your person, praying on it or to it as you call out to God or whomever, would also classify as sinful... Right? Correct me if I'm wrong or taking Tim's blog out of context. Seriously, feel free.

It's not that I take exception with the idea that Tim or anyone else might actually believe this, it's more to the point that I take exception with the idea that Tim attempts to make the reader feel ashamed for their interest in a movie based on his opinions and the second commandment. Tim appears to want others to feed into the fear of sin and damnation over a movie... Come on, man... really? Unfortunately, there are people out there who are too lazy to do their own homework and will allow themselves to be spoon-fed someone else's interpretation and take it as gospel. Literally. I guess Tim might also have an issue with words like Free Will... or Free Thinking...

Maybe this movie holds a message that some grieving parent needs to hear in order to find their peace through the anger and pain of loss? Perhaps seeing those Divine representations portrayed as compassionate humans will lead the viewer back to a sense of faith they might have lost and desperately need to regain in order to move forward with their lives? Why would anyone want to discourage another from viewing our Supreme Creator in a loving and understanding light? Perhaps that's the most perplexing thing of all for me. I really just don't understand where Tim was coming from and what Tim was really trying to get at, because I'm fairly certain he (like everyone else) falls short of following every codicil and commandment in the Bible as well.

There are so many other things out in the world today we can legitimately view as sinful rather than put that mantle on the shoulders of a movie. War, disease, homelessness, famine, child pornography, sex trafficking to name a few. Just sayin'. Tim's a good writer. He seems to be articulate, I just wish he'd use his powers for the positive rather than spreading fire and brimstone over a fictitious storyline.

And I'm sorry, but that blog post puts me in mind of those men who have sex with their wives through a sheet and then berates the woman for making him fornicate because her devil vagina wove a spell of lust around him.

I don't claim to know God, but I do believe in my heart of hearts that He/She/It wouldn't mind a representation of Self being displayed if it meant that a person who had lost their way previously, finds grace and hope in said image. I don't think the Creator really cares how we come into the light of Christ Consciousness as long as we eventually get there.





Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dolph Lundgren, the Pirate

The other day I was running errands around my small North Georgia town and chatting via my car's bluetooth (drive responsibly, people) with my best guy pal, Viktor. You've heard me mention Viktor before and if you haven't, you should check out an earlier post on my blog page titled, Dolph Lundgren in a Field...
Anyway- so there I am, on my way to the bank, navigating traffic that well exceeds the amount of people in this town and wondering does anyone around this place even work like a standard 9-5 job.... Apparently, no. They do not.
Viktor and I are talking about my latest book, Diesel and the fact that pending edits, it's finished. (It's Christmas Miracle)
As I've said before, Viktor is an extremely talented story teller and can always be relied upon for help when I get stuck or write myself into a corner with my own work.
As he's always apt to do, in the middle of our conversation, he starts telling this fantastic tale centered around how awesome it would be if we co-wrote a romance novel featuring, none other than Dolph Lundgren, who some of you know I've adored since I discovered the difference between boys and girls.
Viktor regaled me with how this epic love story would begin by Dolph's character discovering a shipwrecked damsel who had been enroute to the new world to marry a man she'd never met. Swept away by the dashing pirate Dolph, she agrees to accompany him to Nassau where he's determined to return her to her family and she develops alternative plans that lead to steamy romance and wild adventures.
Our conversation lasted through the banking experience and on to the post office, which is located on the complete opposite side of town; so approximately 15 minutes but with the holiday traffic, it became more like 30. As we continued batting around story ideas in jest, a real story line began to form in my head though I didn't confess this to Viktor. I went home later that day and fleshed out the first chapter just to see what would happen. The next day, I wrote another chapter and now we're up to four, almost completed.
Most of Viktor and I's conversations usually end up in some form or fashion centering around Dolph and I wonder occasionally if Dolph would appreciate being the focus of so many wild tales. Probably not. For instance, a few weeks ago, Viktor and I were again discussing my favorite celebrity and he asks me:
Viktor: "If Dolph showed up at your door and asked you to run away with him, would you leave everything behind and go?"
Me: Resoundingly, no. I would not. For a few reasons.
Viktor: Which are?
Me: 1. If Dolph Lundgren showed up at my house professing his undying love for me I'd have no choice but assume he's out of his ever-loving mind. He'd have to be crazy. I'm cute, but I'm also 4'11, chubby and poor. Why would he want a hobbit when he can have supermodels and hot actresses? I already have enough crazy in my life and I don't need more. Even if it does come wrapped up in a smoking hot dude who is every thing I ever found attractive in a man.
Viktor: What's the other reason?
Me: Well, I've been married for a long time and while penises do come in all shapes and sizes, they also come with exact same attachments... dirty socks, an inability to accept that the 'little woman' might be right when she tells you to read the directions, and a ingrained belief that the washing machine has a terminal contagious illness attached to it which he'll contract if he washes his own underwear.
Viktor had no response for my answers because well... he's a guy.

That said, while this story is not so effortless as Diesel has been and has required some hardcore research on my part, it's shaping up nicely and I'm loving the ease of its flow.
The male lead's name is not Dolph in the story, just in case you're wondering but he does bear a striking resemblance to the rugged Swede, who is more than just a pretty face, but a brilliant mind as well.

Once again, if you'd like to follow me on face book you can do so by visiting https://www.facebook.com/caribbeandreaming/
Twitter- @LucyMagilicutt2
Instagram: dailgneachd
Or, you know, you could just subscribe to this blog. <3

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Smell of Diesel...

There's something to be said about a strong heroine and her strong male counterpart. There's also something to be said about a book that practically writes itself. For the last month, since the conclusion of my daughter's wedding, which had taken up all my free time for the last six months, I've been writing non-stop. From the time I get out of bed until I get back in it. In all my years of writing both professionally and then later, as a hobby (I still don't consider myself an actual author), I've never felt the drive or the need to bang out a story the way I have with this latest.
The idea for Diesel, both the title of the book as well as the main character, came to me earlier this year after meeting a particular woman named Liesel. Something about that name called to me and I began to think; what if she were rough around the edges, street savvy and capable of surviving on her own but also, refined and intelligent? What if she worked in a blue-collar predominately male field but there was this wealth of knowledge outside of that realm? What if you threw her into a relationship with a man who was living the exact life she was, but in reverse? A Harvard educated attorney with a privileged life and a secret bad boy streak? Before i knew it, I had the first three chapters written on the memo app of my phone.
I wish that I could accurately describe the colorful characters in this book without giving too much away, but I can't. I am so excited for the edits to wrap up on this book because it's killing me not to share it. I've loved each and every book I've written as well as the characters they contained- some more than others, but I fell in love hardcore with the entire crew of Diesel.
To write successfully, I believe you need to become immersed in the lives of the characters you create. You need to feel them, emote with them and identify with them in some form or fashion as well as make sure each one has its own identity and I won't lie, that's something I've struggled with in the past. For this project though, it was as if they were begging to be brought to life; to be born in the creative context in which they developed their own personalities and habits that really had little to do with writing ability on my part. They just suddenly were. There was no forcing them to become.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Diesel will be released early 2017 but you can be sure I'll keep you posted the minute it happens.

Until then, here's my author page on facebook https://www.facebook.com/caribbeandreaming/, if you want to give it a follow, or you can find me on twitter @LucyMagilicutt2.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Texan and a new project...

I was finally able to sit down and finish the edits for Texan a few weeks ago. It's been a crazy, but amazingly wonderful year, so it was only fitting that this book wrapped up towards the end of 2016. It published just a few days before Thanksgiving and I was thankful. Thankful that after 20 years, Morgan and Joe's story finally saw the light of day and thankful that I didn't have to look it at anymore.
As good as you may think something you create is (and I think Texan is a great story); you still get sick of seeing it after so many drafts and I was wholly sick of that book. Whether I was sick of it or not though, I was elated and overjoyed with the way it turned out.
There's some books that just seem to write themselves. Texan wasn't one of them. Maybe the first draft back in 1996 flowed easily, but after picking it up again, nearly five years ago, I gotta say, it was slow going. I dedicated it to my daughter and if you read my blogs, you know why.
Kids, man.... (Insert facepalm here)
While Texan was a harder book for me to write, even if I did love the characters and their story- the new project I'm working on is literally pouring out effortlessly. I'm excited about it. More excited than I was for either Bimini book; even to the point that I'm dreaming about this new project- literally.
Writing can sometimes be a bi-polar experience. You get all these thoughts and feelings in your head/heart and you know they're not yours. They belong to the characters you're creating. But, if you're creating the character, doesn't that in some way mean that they're actually YOUR feelings and YOUR thoughts? Maybe writing allows the writer an opportunity to explore those subconscious articles of emotion and emote them in the form of fiction which allows us to deny ownership? I don't know. I just know that these new individuals are coming to life on paper in a way I've never experienced before. It's more personal, somehow. Darker. Grittier. And unlike anything I've ever written or thought I would write.
The momentum to which this project is progressing has me a little surprised. I'm a pretty big procrastinator when it comes to writing because I abhor editing so much. I also hate sitting still. If we're friends on facebook, likely you've seen my mother type-yelling at  me to get a book finished. I've got about a ten page production average under normal circumstances and I'd have told you a few weeks ago that was on a good day. Lately though, because this story has taken on its own life, it's more thirty to forty pages daily, causing me to go without showering, washing dishes, and to ignore texts for fear of distraction or losing the train of thought I'm riding. Yeah, I'm breaking all kinds of personal records over here... Is there a record for how many days one can stay in the same pair of pajama pants? (I'm only sorta kidding when I ask this question.)
With Texan or either Bimini books, it was more of an, "Oh, I wrote two pages... I guess I'll go get a shower and fix my hair..." Which led to doing laundry, playing with dogs, catching up on Netfix, mopping floors and just about any damn thing else except parking my ass in front of my computer.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this new productive streak I've found keeps up. If it does, perhaps I'll be able to release this before the end of 2017. At any rate, wish me luck.
Peace out, my pretties.

You'll find the link for Texan included here. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MTS1MRU
And in the event, you'd like to follow me on facebook, my author page is this: https://www.facebook.com/caribbeandreaming/
Twitter: @LucyMagilicutt2

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I'm notoriously bad at adulting...

Today, I had to make some phone calls... Sounds like a trivial thing but holding "business" conversations for me, is pretty much like having a root canal. Aside from that, I hate talking on the phone.
I live a pretty great life. It's weird, but it's great. I try really hard not to take anything for granted, but I'm also notoriously bad at "adulting". It's nothing new. I've always struggled with the complexities of being a grown-up. I attribute a lot of this to the fact that in my head, I'm still pretty much 13 and giggling over words like "penis".  People have used words like "cock" and "penis" in my presence and when I laugh, they say, "My God, you write romance novels. Can you be just a little bit grown up about this?" No. No, I can't. Yes, I write romance novels, which sometimes contain graphic sex scenes, but no one is here when I write those scenes. If they were, they'd see me stop typing and start giggling. It's just who I am. Maturity never caught up with me and I hope it never does. I don't do serious. Not well, anyway. The day you grow up is the day you stop playing. The day you stop playing, is the day you get old. I don't want to be old. I don't mind raising in age number wise, because age is just that... a number. But I refuse to grow up. Life's too short.
I look at people younger than me and see how hard they're trying to be mature and I'm kinda perplexed at the need they have to prove their adult status.
That's not to say I can't adult when I have to... I mean, I raised a child who is now fully grown (she'll be 21 this year) and did it without any major catastrophes or upsets. She's healthy, she's happy, she's as well adjusted as she could possibly be after living 20 years with me as her mother. Parenting was the easiest part of adulthood, now that I think about it. On the list of adulting duties I hate most, it doesn't even register, but then- I got lucky with my kid. Somehow, I managed to avoid the curse that all mothers (mine) place on their unruliest of children (me). You know the one... "I hope you have a kid who is exactly like you..." I lucked out. My daughter made parenting a breeze, so I adulted really well, in my opinion for the 18 years that she was under my care. Obviously, I was able to keep her alive.
I successfully adulted at my places of employment as well. Most of the time... though I hated every minute of every time I had to put on my "serious" face and handle something. I hated it, but I still did it and did it for years on end until I'd raised my kid and finally decided that along with the responsibility of raising a child, which was now over, my responsibility of working LONG, grueling hours to feed said child, were also at an end. I didn't have to pretend to hold politicians and local community leaders in positions of reverence anymore. I was free to finally be me, which is decidedly irreverent about damn near everything.
I've spent the last few years since leaving the work force, happily coasting on a minimal responsibility wave, that occasionally crashed to shore when things like taxes or a broken air conditioner happened. For the most part, however, my minimal responsibilty wave has pretty much ebbed and flowed out in the free, open ocean of "I don't have to do anything I don't want to." And I like it that way just fine, thanks.
I've had a few people ask me when I plan on going back to work. It's crossed my mind a few times in moments of what I like to call insanity. I'll have flash of conscience that says, "Jeez, Lori... Maybe you should just go back to work." But then, clarity returns, and I laugh at the idea. I work for myself. I do freelance graphics, I'm licensed clergy which allows me to perform weddings (my favorite thing to do) as well as provide spiritual counseling for those who need it. I'm also a Reiki practitioner, and of course, those those trashy romance novels I write... None of those jobs pay really well, but I decidedly chose a life of low income in exchange for the life of stress I lived when I worked for others. It was an exchange I don't regret. I don't miss adulting on a daily basis, either. I love being able to sit out on my back deck with a book in the middle of the day, if I want. I love having the option of composing these blogs or working on a new story in my underwear or pajamas. My life is great. I can't complain about a single damn thing. I'm poor, but I'm happy. I'm out of work, but I'm busy.




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dolph Lundren in a field...

So, I have this friend.... And while everyone in my circle is pretty damned talented in their own right, again, I say... I have this friend.
We'll just call him Viktor.
In the 40 (almost 41) years I've been alive, I've known some colorful characters, but Viktor wins the award for the MOST colorful and the MOST creative person I've ever known.
Some would say there's not much difference in being a storyteller or a writer. I disagree. Most of us writers need a blank screen and a keyboard to get our thoughts out. We think better with our fingers. A storyteller doesn't need any of that. The talent of verbal storytelling is a dying art and even more dying is the ability to create these stories on the fly, inventing complex characters and backgrounds. Viktor doesn't "re-tell" a story. He comes up with his own tales off the cuff and once he's on a roll, there's little to no stopping him.
I keep telling him to write them down, but he doesn't.
Last April, Viktor came and stayed at my house for a week. We had a fantastic time exploring North Georgia, visiting the Guidestones and various other places. It's one of those friendships where there's just an ease and an understanding, as well as a mutual love of coffee. So, every morning during his stay, as I stumbled from my bedroom, I'd find Viktor sitting at my bar, coffee already made. I'd pour myself a cup and he'd open his mouth to speak. Before I even knew it, it was noon and in my estimation, he'd verbally written about 300 pages of the most fantastic story I'd ever heard, complete with voices for each character. Sometimes, he'd be well into Volume 2 of the same story before I'd realize the time.
But... Just for me, Viktor always includes one main character; Dolph Lundren. Some of you might remember him. He played Ivan Drago in Rocky IV (one of my all time favorite movies). He was also He-Man in the live action movie. I've had a thing for Dolph since I was around 10, I guess. I mean, come on.... Ivan Drago was pretty damn hot and while I wanted Rocky to win because you know, it was Rocky... There was a part of me that was just waking up to the fact that I liked boys and that newly formed pre-pubescent part of my brain really, really liked Dolph. A lot. I liked Dolph so much and watched Rocky IV so many times, I could sing the Russian National Anthem. Yeah.... true story.
I've only shared this with a handful of people, until just now. But Viktor knows and so, Dolph always factors into whatever story he creates, complete with the Russian accent, which Viktor does beautifully.  He always places Dolph in the same position though... working... shirtless... in the field of a commune during the fall of civilization. The sun glints off his sweaty pectorals as he runs a hand through his damp, blonde hair. Suddenly, our eyes meet across said field. Dolph stops working, strides up to me and announces that he's been looking for me all his life.
I really should record Viktor when he starts storytelling. It's amazing. 
I haven't blogged since May. Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn't, but if you look at the last entry, Viktor commented. I was surprised to know he read my blogs so when he commented on one of them and I inquired about his reading them; he said and I quote "I'm not reading your stupid romance novels... but I do like hearing about your everyday life..."
His comment on the blog however, was that I should write about Dolph... so here you go, Viktor. But I couldn't write about Dolph, without including him because he really is a gigantic part of my life and when I don't feel like writing, I get a text from Viktor that says, "You have stuff in your soul that you need to get out. Write, sister."
I'd like to thank Viktor for being an inspiration to me. He doesn't know that he is, but his stories and his knowledge of me does inspire me a lot. I'm not so good at always saying what's in my heart or on my mind, but somehow, he always knows. Even from almost a thousand miles away.
And thanks also to Dolph. I still think you're hot.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Going Way Back....

I blogged in March about the struggles of non-creativity and about finally getting back to where I wanted to be, somewhat. I'm happy to report that this is still true.
Maybe I needed that creative break to allow the stories to build up once again in my head, or maybe they were there all along, waiting for the nothingness to recede so that they could come to life. I don't know. What I do know is that my head is full of new ideas, new characters and new plots, all waiting to be fleshed out and given form.
In order for me to do this, though, I have to finally wrap up the one project I've been dragging my feet on. Since Sunday, I've forced myself to finish the editing work on "Texan", which will HOPEFULLY be released no later than mid-June- though I've continually pushed the release date back.
Texan is an old story for me. A long-term project that has spanned the last 18 years, it has spent the majority of that time in a old, (now crumbling) plastic grocery bag... so much for those things being non-biodegradable. I spent two years solid working on it, originally; beginning in the Spring of 1996. My daughter was roughly a year old when I started writing it, and since she pretty much refused to sleep at all for the first three years of her life, I had plenty of time in the middle of the night while she was happily laughing and playing- wide awake- to work on the story. So that's what I did.
In January of 1998, with only three chapters left to complete the book, I took a chance and sent out a query letter, just to see if I could generate any interest. This was before everything became electronic and you had to print out your submissions, take it to the post office and mail off the gigantic packet. I sent my letter and the first three chapters of the book, thinking it might be a long shot, but worth a try. Seven weeks later, I received a letter in the mail from the publishing company I'd sent it to, asking for the completed manuscript because they liked what they'd read so far. I was ecstatic. I could barely believe it.
Over the course of the next few days, I worked furiously on finishing the book. On the final night, I set the pages to print, making sure there was plenty of paper in the tray and fresh ink in the machine and went to bed to the sound of my old dot-matrix printer doing its thing. I was so proud and pleased with myself. Here I was, 23 years old and may very well have a book published. Every time I thought about it, I'd get teary-eyed.
I got up the next morning, excited to package the manuscript. I walked into the spare room that doubled as my office to find that the computer had shut down and only a few chapters had printed.
I tried to turn the computer on. Nothing. I tried unplugging and plugging it back. Nothing. I called the store where I'd bought it and they suggested I bring it in for them to have a look.
"It's fried, ma'am," the technician told me when he finally came up from the back.
"What do you mean, it's fried?" I asked in horror.
"I mean that it's destroyed. There's no way to fix it. I can't even retrieve any data from it."
"How could that happen? It's only a few years old? You guys built it." I accused.
He scratched his head, his cheeks going a little red. "Do you have children?"
"What does that have to do with anything?" I was so angry and decided it was all his fault.
"It would explain a lot. Like how a half of a green crayon got shoved in the floppy drive."
"Huh?" I asked, adding confusion the mix.
He nodded. "Yeah. There was a green crayon in the floppy drive. When the computer heated up last night, it melted the crayon, which dripped onto the motherboard, frying the whole system."
"You've got to be kidding me..."
"I wish I were," he said. "But it's totally destroyed. I can't do anything for it."
I'd like to tell you I handled that news with grace. That I put my chin up and accepted the profound loss of not only the computer dying but all that hard work dying right a long beside it. But I can't. I cried. I cried hard and I cried loud. It's probably one of few times I've ever allowed myself such an overt display of emotion in public or in private. I'm not a crier. I never have been. But that day, I was a sobbing, emotional wreck. Unable to continue a conversation with the man, largely because I was incoherent by this point, I went out to the parking lot, sat down in my '79 Firebird and cried some more. I cried the entire way home... I cried after I got home, well into the night and the next day. I had to call the publishing company that was interested in the book and tell them I wouldn't be sending them a completed manuscript because the book died with the computer and there was no retrieving it. I didn't even have the funds to replace the unit.
I wanted to be mad at my kid, but I couldn't. She was too cute, too sweet and too innocent for me to blame, so I blamed myself for leaving that office door open and giving her access to that room. I should have known better.
About a year later, I was finally able to replace the unit, but when I tried to recreate the story off of the few chapters I had (the publishing company returned the original first three chapters)- I couldn't seem to get my head back in the game. I put those pitiful remaining chapters in a bag, stuck them in my closet and forgot about it and writing entirely for the next couple of years.
In 2001, I landed a job at a small newspaper in Georgia, so we packed up our house in North Carolina and moved. It was pretty fantastical to me that I'd gotten a job as a journalist when I'd spent the last few years chasing dogs and feral cats for the county animal shelter. Time passed by and I started working on the first Bimini book. Every once in a while, I'd think about the work I'd lost on that first project and my heart would sink all over again. Bimini took five years from start to finish. I was working two jobs, plus raising my child, so writing for pleasure was reserved for late at night or on days when I was able to eek out some spare time. I became so consumed over the first in the Caribbean Crime series, that I once again forgot entirely about the dead book from long ago. It's chapters still in the same plastic bag, now in a box down in the basement of our home, labled "CLOSET JUNK".
I was 35, my daughter was 15.
It was shortly after Bimini became published that she had been down in the basement going through some things, when she came to me and held up the plastic bag.
"What's this?" She asked.
I laughed. "That is a tragedy. You can throw it out. I'm never going to finish it anyway."
"Can I read it?"
I remember groaning. "Trust me, don't waste your time. It's not worth it."
"I'm going to read it," she stated.
"Whatevs... Do what you want," I replied, going back to cooking supper for the evening.
The next day, I got home from work. I was tired, irritable and so over my job, I physically got sick every time I thought about walking through the door of the paper where I worked.
She met me at the door, those first three chapters, now yellow and curled at the edges, flopping in her hand.
"Why have you not finished this?" she demanded.
I shrugged. "I did finish it, it just didn't survive the printing process."
I told her the story about the green crayon.
"I thought you said having me didn't wreck your life..."
"It didn't," I laughed. "You were and still are the best thing I ever did."
"I'd have put me up for adoption. That was your life's work."
"No," I said. "You are my life's work. Much better than any words on paper and probably a much better return on my investment; especially if you pull that math grade up."
She waved that idea way. "Seriously, Mom. You have to finish this. You have to. Promise me you will."
"I tried to rewrite it, babe." I told her. "I couldn't. It's a dead story."
"Do it." She slapped the pages down on our bar in the kitchen and stomped to her room.
Later that night as I sat there eating my dinner, I leafed through the pages, rereading what I'd written all those years ago. The more I read, the more my mind conjured ways to change and develop the story and before I knew it, I was sitting at my laptop, transcribing those first three chapters with revisions. With in a week, I had more than half of it done. I let her read what I'd gotten down so far and she grinned from ear to ear.
"This is even better than before," she said. "Keep going. You need to do this."
And I think she was right. My daughter has always possessed a wisdom far beyond her years, constantly surprising me with her insight.
Here and there, I continued to work on what I now began to call "Texan" but I had people asking for a second Bimini novel as well, so I began to work on them together; alternating from one story to other on different days. The second Bimini began to consume me as much as the first had and pretty soon, Texan was once again on the back burner. The day that Bimini: Blood on the Sand was published, I forced myself to write the final pages to conclude Texan, even staying up all night until it was finished.
I emailed the completed manuscript to one of my best friends and spirit sister. She's a master at editing and giving me ideas in a story line. Three editions later, I'm finishing up my own rewrites to the story and have finally designed my cover for a book that is nearly twenty years old. The story is completely different than it was when it started; but then again, so am I.