catalyst1

Catalyst – WIP – First Page

The third book in The Field family is Catalyst. It’s written from Eric’s younger sister, Marcie’s perspective when she is 17 years old and Eric is 19 – two years older than in The Field. In Indian Summer, the first book chronologically, Marcie is 12 and experiences visions of a Native American girl guiding her as well as premonitions and synchronicities.

Here’s the first page of Catalyst. It went through about a dozen re-writes and this may not even be the final iteration. What do you think? Does it grab your attention and draw you in?

Catalyst

Chapter 1

I’ve had glimpses of something beyond my five senses. Usually it’s premonitions and intuition, but four years ago when I was in middle school I communicated with the spirit of a Native American girl. I want to experience that again, but I don’t know how. Sometimes she inhabits my dreams and I wake up wishing I could connect with her while I’m awake and wondering if I imagined it all in the first place. It feels like a door that was once open to me is shut and I don’t have the key. Thinking about it gives me a vague, unsettled feeling. It’s like something is missing from my life.

I give myself a mental shake and pull the door handle to get out of the car, determined not to give in to anxious thoughts. Hopefully the next few weeks will keep my mind occupied with other things.

We arrive at the Angel Mounds archaeological dig site in time for dinner. That’s when all the students in the field study are supposed to arrive for orientation and a ‘meet-and greet’ evening as my mom refers to it. It’s her dig. She’s an archaeologist at the University and I’ve been to several of her sites over the years, but this is my first time actually working on a site. Not bad for a summer job – at least that’s what I’m hoping. It’s unpaid, but still great experience. She was able to get all three of us – me, my bother Eric and his girlfriend, Renee – spots on the dig team.

 I’m checking out the people milling around the clearing when I see them. Their presence immediately commands my attention.

Most of the others are probably college students from the University, archaeology or anthropology students, doing a summer field study course, but these two are different.

The man suddenly turns and looks me straight in the eye. It’s as if he senses me looking at him, or thinking about him. Because that’s how it feels. Like he’s reaching out and touching my thoughts. I hear him say, ‘hello, Marcie’, not audibly, but inside my mind. I take a slight step back, startled, but hold his gaze and the connection between us. In my previous experiences I’d never heard words spoken. Just thoughts and feelings. He inclines his head toward me and touches the brim of his hat before returning to talk to his blond companion. I’m a little disturbed by the whole exchange. Something about him makes me uneasy. My skin shivers and I rub my arms to dispel the feeling. Who is this guy and how had he communicated with me?

I shift my gaze to the woman. Her caramel-colored hair is braided into a heavy rope hanging down her back and she’s gesturing in smooth, fluid motions as she talks. She gives the impression of being both still and animated, reminding me of a cat stalking its prey, immobile save for the twitching of its tail. Contained is the word that comes to mind. The way her eyes roam over the other waiting people, stopping only briefly to look at me, enhances the feline resemblance.

Indian Summer

Indian Summer Revisions – Mystical Trees

I’m working on revisions to Indian Summer, the prequel to The Field – adding more conflict and more mystical experiences. The story revolves around Eric’s younger sister, Marcie, trying to save an old growth forest from development, so I decided to give the trees a leading role. Here’s a short excerpt that I recently added.

The cool dimness beneath the canopy envelops me when I step into the woods. My footfalls are muffled by the carpet of leaves beneath my feet as I make my way between closely packed trunks and over fallen logs deeper into the filtered light. I’m not sure what I’m looking for or if I’m looking for anything at all, but I feel welcomed into this place by the trees. I place my palms on the trunks as I pass in a sort-of greeting or acknowledgement, I don’t know which.

            When I’ve gone about fifty yards, I come to a massive maple tree. The one we call Grandmother tree.  The kids use it for home base in our games of kick-the-can and sardines. Its branches extend far into the sky arching outward to create a protective shelter above me. I stand in front of it, or her, as I think of it, for a while and then feel compelled to walk up to her and place my palms on her rough bark. The whispering I heard in Jamison bay is strong here. Are the trees communicating with me?

            I put my arms around Grandmother tree and place my cheek against her bark. These woods and this tree are like old friends. They’re a part of my childhood. I don’t hear any words, but I imagine that Grandmother tree knows how I feel.

Butt In Chair

People are always telling me they want to be a writer or they have an idea for a book. They want to know how to do it. There’s a saying among writers – BIC – Butt In Chair. To be a writer you have to actually write! Obvious, right?!?! Those same people often come back to me again and again and say the same thing. The answer is always the same. Sit your fanny down and write!

I recently visited Creekside Middle School to talk with aspiring writers about What It Takes to Be a Writer.

Here are some highlights from the talk.

~Read – anything and everything.

~Observe – get ideas from people and places around you.

~Exercise your imagination – Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge.

~Create a Good Story Arc and a Memorable Hero

~Write – obvious, right?

~Revise – Your first draft is never your last draft. It probably sucks!

The most important thing, though, is to get started. Revising is a lot easier that writing the first draft, but you can’t revise a blank page.

Choose Your Big Rocks

Choose Your Big Rocks First

See the source image
Do you ever waste time doing unimportant things and find there’s no time left for what you really want to accomplish? Remember the analogy we learned in that class about setting our priorities and managing our time? It pays to revisit it.
Put your big rocks in your container first then fill it up with sand and water. Your big rocks are your goals and priorities. The container is your life. If you focus on your goals first you’re more likely to accomplish them and the rest will fill up around them.

Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

People are often told to work on improving areas where they are “weakest’ to better themselves. That never made sense to me. Focus on your strengths, accentuate the positive, grow to your highest potential.

Wishing that you achieve your highest goals.

Writer’s Block and Beer

A friend recently sent me this picture –

writers block beer

I can see sharing a beer with Mr. Shakespeare to help alleviate writer’s block! Or several beers! 😉 At least we’d have a good time. ***I just realized this is Pinot Noir, NOT beer. Oh, well, it has the same effect.

Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from true writer’s block. There have been times when I’m not sure how a scene will unfold or what direction the plot will go, but I find that if I approach it from another direction, the way will become clear. Usually that means working on another part of the novel where I’m sure of the way, or reviewing what I’ve already written to get a sense of what comes next.

My subconscious or higher self is where my ideas germinate. Thinking about the plot doesn’t generally produce great insights. I find that if I mull it over and spend some time brainstorming, researching and writing down ideas and go off to do something else – or go to sleep – and let things percolate, at some point ideas will start popping into my head. I always have a notebook with me so I can jot them down, but once the path of the plot unfolds, it becomes ‘real’ and I don’t forget it.

Many writers will tell you the book ‘writes itself’ or characters will do things that surprise you and change the trajectory of the plot. I find that’s true for me. When I get into the creative writing ‘zone’, it just flows out of me. I know what’s going to happen next and what the characters are going to do and say. Sometimes it’s not what I’d planned or expected, but it’s almost always better.

Right now I am revising Indian Summer, the first novel chronologically of the three companion books, which will be published after The Field as a prequel. I’m getting good feedback from my writers’ group and I can see how much I’ve progressed as a fiction writer since I started writing it about 13 years ago. I’m excited about the new, polished result.

I’m also starting to get ideas for the fourth novel of the quartet, which will provide what I hope is a satisfactory conclusion. More to come on that later!

Keep being creative!

Brown Books to Publish My Novels

I’m very excited to share that Brown Books Publishing Group is publishing my novels!

The Field is scheduled to release in Spring 2019. Indian Summer will be released next as a prequel followed by Catalyst. I’ve started work on the fourth book which is a sequel to Catalyst and the conclusion of the series. The first three books are not sequels, but companion books.

Brown Books is working on the marketing strategy and requesting endorsements from authors. I’m beyond pleased to share this news!

It’s Been a While and First Pages of WIP

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last post! A LOT happened in the past year. I moved, changed jobs AND totally revised Catalyst, my work in progress. It has now been through numerous rewrites and beta readers and I’m ready to send it out to agents and publishers. Here are the first few pages to give you a taste.

Chapter 1

I’ve had glimpses of something beyond my five senses. Usually it’s premonitions and intuition, but four years ago when I was in middle school I communicated with the spirit of a Native American girl. I want to experience that again, but I don’t know how. Sometimes she inhabits my dreams and I wake up wishing I could connect with her while I’m awake and wondering if I imagined it all in the first place. It feels like a door that was once open to me is shut and I don’t have the key. Thinking about it gives me a vague, unsettled feeling. It’s like something is missing from my life.

I give myself a mental shake and pull the door handle to get out of the car, determined not to give in to anxious thoughts. Hopefully the next few weeks will keep my mind occupied with other things.

We arrive at the Angel Mounds archaeological dig site in time for dinner. That’s when all the students in the field study are supposed to arrive for orientation and a ‘meet-and greet’ evening as my mom refers to it. It’s her dig. She’s an archaeologist at the University and I’ve been to several of her sites over the years, but this is my first time actually working on a site. Not bad for a summer job – at least that’s what I’m hoping. It’s unpaid, but still great experience. She was able to get all three of us – me, Eric and his girlfriend, Renee – spots on the dig team.

I’m checking out the people milling around the clearing when I see them. Their presence immediately commands my attention.

Most of the others are probably college students from the University, archaeology or anthropology students, doing a summer field study course, but these two are different.

The man suddenly turns and looks me straight in the eye. It’s as if he senses me looking at him, or thinking about him. Because that’s how it feels. Like he’s reaching out and touching my thoughts. I hear him say, ‘hello, Marcie’, not audibly, but inside my mind. I take a slight step back, startled, but hold his gaze and the connection between us. In my previous experiences I’d never heard words spoken. Just thoughts and feelings. He inclines his head toward me and touches the brim of his hat before returning to talk to his blond companion. I’m a little disturbed by the whole exchange. Something about him makes me uneasy. My skin shivers and I rub my arms to dispel the feeling. Who is this guy and how had he communicated with me?

I shift my gaze to the woman. Her caramel-colored hair is braided into a heavy rope hanging down her back and she’s gesturing in smooth, fluid motions as she talks. She gives the impression of being both still and animated, reminding me of a cat stalking its prey, immobile save for the twitching of its tail. Contained is the word that comes to mind. The way her eyes roam over the other waiting people, stopping only briefly to look at me, enhances the feline resemblance.

They’re standing off to one side of the shelter with their heads together and holding clipboards, deep in conversation. Both are dressed like everyone else in shorts and t-shirts with beat-up boots and hats. The guy has his back to me, talking to the girl, or woman, as they are obviously older, probably graduate students. His hair is black and smooth, held back by a leather tie. It isn’t that they look any different from anyone else. They feel different. They have a palpable energy about them.

Wish me luck on my submissions!