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And that’s the way it was, June 15, 1984

I would be an excellent liar. Not of the small, occasional-lie type, but of the grand, that-story-is-so-amazing-she-couldn’t-possibly-have-made-it-up type. After all, intricate plots and multi-faceted characters are my strength as a writer, and if you wanted to turn a small country’s propaganda machine over to me, I know I could do you proud.

That is why I almost never lie. Falsehoods scare me. And, in the way of those who abhor people who flaunt the very faults they work so hard to control, I hate liars. I am particularity outraged by grandiose, habitual liars who create a make-believe world and foist it on others as truth. How dare they?

You probably already know what I think of our president, so I won’t go there.

Yet, there are two areas where lies and reality do blur for me. One is one right here in my blogs. The other is in my books.

I write my blogs under my own name and in first person, as though I am presenting you with hard facts. And I often am. But I view my posts as a creative endeavor, too, and I allow myself a little poetic license to make a point. Particulars can be omitted, events can be exaggerated, and timing can be altered to provide a narrative that is more succinct and entertaining. I want you start the post, I want you to finish it, and I want you to understand what I am trying to say. So reality gets a little air brushing. I figure that you are fine with it.

I write my books as fiction, and they mostly are. Like many writers, though, I have used my own experiences to craft parts of my stories. The Zeitman family looks a lot like my own, at least on the surface, and some odd details, like the family’s favorite meal of eggplant parmesan, were lifted directly out of my own life. I mean, why bother making up another entree?

I’m now finishing my first rewrite of book six (and last) in the Zeitman family stories, and am having to revisit some of the events I borrowed from my own life and then bent and shaped to meet the needs of my novels. I’m discovering something interesting. My own real memories have become shaded by the altered version that I’ve told so many times in my books. Yikes.

So here is the truth.

June 15, 1984 at 4:17 a.m. I gave birth to my first child.

About a month earlier (not the night before), I had a strange experience while falling asleep. I felt and kind of heard what appeared to be my baby’s thoughts. It lasted a few seconds. It was very odd. I have never experienced anything like it again. I have no way of knowing whether it was real or imagined.

I did make my first presentation to the president of my company the day I went into labor, and he did make an uncomfortable joke about how having sex sets off childbirth. He was right, sexual arousal releases oxytocin, a hormone that does a lot of things, including induce labor. I knew what he was talking about at the time he said it, but was willing to bet that most of the men in the room did not, even though of course they laughed like they did.

There was no gathering in the break room after the presentation, and no horrible joke told about how a busload of children of color going off a bridge “was a start”. That joke was told by a geologist at another function some months later. I was every bit as stunned and horrified as my character, and made the same attempt at an objection that she did. I got the same reaction. Everyone acted like I’d farted loudly and looked away and said nothing. This was 1984.

Thirty-three years ago I experienced one of the most significant days in my life. Yet the events of it now blend into the day Lola Zeitman gave birth to Zane. I feel like I have lost something of my own, and telling you the truth is my way of trying to regain it.

I also have a better understanding of why lies scare me and why I work so hard to avoid them. Our memories are tied to the truth. The liar, and those who hear the lie, find their recollections begin to blur, and after awhile, there is no true memory. What a horrible thing to lose.

Unless, of course, there are tapes. I used to think that the idea of having videotapes of anything and everything was the very definition of an Orwellian nightmare. Now, I wonder if a recording of an event isn’t the only way to preserve it, unshaded by forgetfulness and wishful thinking and pride.

Maybe the universe is keeping a video of my whole life; the good and bad and the embarrassing and the exhilarating. Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe I could get to watch those tapes some day, and relive each moment the way it really happened.

I like the idea. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.

(For more segments about June days from long ago, see That’s the Way It Was June 10, 1947, June 18, 1972, June 28, 1888, and June 30, 1940.)

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in telepathy, writing

 

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Wise and quiet

Days aren’t what they used to be. About a year ago, I did the math and decided that If really wanted to, I could retire. I was a little young to do so, and of course one can always use the extra money from working longer. But my husband, who is a few years older, was a retired teacher already and I was discovering that being employed is harder when your spouse no longer is. Besides, I have this crazy dream of writing more speculative fiction, much more speculative fiction in fact, and I was beginning to realize that was only going to happen if I didn’t have to go into an office every day and try to figure out seismic signals bouncing up from the earth. I was ready to be an early retiree.

Psychedelic 13So I gave my notice at work, and we sold our house and moved, and I woke up in a strange new place with boxes everywhere and spent about a whole month unpacking and tying to get my arms around what sort of life I now had. All my reference points were gone, and I was far too discombobulated to post a blog, much less to write fiction. Hell, I could hardly sleep or eat. In spite of a fair amount of careful planning, this was not the dream life for which I had hoped. Nothing, other than the slowly shrinking mess of boxes, was wrong. But nothing was right either and I didn’t even know why.

Something deep inside us knows what we need. Apparently, I needed yoga. I already have a little daily qigong routine I do, and that practice helped keep me grounded through the house sale and the move. But once I arrived in a strange place and found myself with no job and no schedule, I seem to have overloaded my circuits well beyond what my solitary qigong sessions could handle. So I spontaneously signed up for a monthly all-the-yoga-classes-you-care-to-attend program in the small town that is my new home, and it probably saved my sanity.

wise and quietIt got me to breathe slowly. It got me to sit with other people who were breathing slowly. It gave me a reason to bathe and go into town and know what time it was. And, thanks to several wonderful instructors, it gave me bits of wisdom to ponder.

When I wrote x0 four years ago, I had very little idea about how to write a novel. I only knew that I was compelled to tell this story, the tale of two women who shared a special gift. In the world of x0, everyone broadcasts their emotions all the time. Only the gifted can receive that information. Only the very gifted become telepaths, because they are the ones who have the rare ability to listen well. My two heroes were gifted because they knew how to listen.

During a yoga class last week, the instructor encouraged us to be wise enough to listen to our inner selves, and to let our minds be quiet enough to hear. I decided right there on my yoga mat that this advice needed to be carried further. I needed to be wise enough to listen in general, and quiet enough to hear that which was worth hearing. I was overcome with believing that this wonderful advice was good for writers, good for would-be telepaths, good for yogis and very good for newly retired people. In fact, it is probably wonderful advice for everyone.

For one thing, if you listen, you will hear what you need to hear. Like in my case, when I heard that I needed to listen more.

(For more thoughts on retiring early and pursuing a dream, see my posts If you’re going to be an old car, Am I a Shape Shifter Now? and Greener Grass.)

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in telepathy, writing

 

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Writing about Superpowers

hippiepeace2I write speculative fiction, in a genre known as magical realism. In my worlds, fantasy-type things happen as part of normal reality and you, the reader, are hopefully convinced that neither magic nor yet-to-be-invented science are involved.

Each of my books concerns a character with a different superpower, and each time I have struggled to invent ways in which the power doesn’t work. It turns out that the abnormal abilities are fun, but it’s those limitations that make for a good story. In x0, my first protagonist discovers that she is a telepath. I could tell early on that if I let her powers go wild, by halfway through the book she’d pretty much run the world. That’s not much of a story.

One solution was to create villains with equal or greater powers, but this yielded a sort of comic book cosmos that wasn’t what I was after. I wanted a believable lady in a universe that looked like my own, in which she dealt with dangerous but real people. So, she could read minds, but obviously not easily or at a distance or all of the time.

In my second book, y1, my main character is a real life shape shifter. Once again, if he could turn himself into anything and he had even a little imagination, he ought to be in charge of everything before the plot really gets going. Luckily, I developed his powers as being rooted in his amazing fine muscle control and certain chameleon-like color alteration abilities. That left him limited by his hair, his clothes and his approximate size. No turning into wolves or refrigerators or flies on the wall for him. His limitations helped me craft a plot that involved the fanciful but didn’t spin out of control before it even got started.

My hero in z2 can slow down the passage of time to the point where it almost stands still. Once again I was challenged to limit his capabilities. He begins the book thinking that his unique talent only shows itself when he is playing sports. As he finds himself in a variety of physical emergencies, he figures out that he is more versatile than he realized. Fortunately it takes him to the end of the novel before he learns to dependably control and use this power. This lack of knowledge about how and when his superpower can be called upon allowed him to occasionally save the day without becoming too powerful.

I am now finishing up final edits on c3, and beginning my fifth book d4 and both introduce new superpowers developed in the other family members. I’m enjoying playing with these new plot lines, and working my hardest to keep my remaining super people from becoming entirely too invincible. I want them to ultimately save the day, but not until they  have had adventures that my readers will enjoy.

Thanks to Hippie Peace Freaks for the wise saying.  Please like their Facebook page.

(Note: I originally wrote this as part of a blog tour with Orangberry Book Tours and this content has appeared at Bunny’s Review, Me, You & Books, High Class Books, Reading the Dream Life and at Imagination in Books. )

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in telepathy, writing

 

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and then you bleed …

blood2I’ve just handed my fourth novel off to the first of my beta readers and I’m taking a little time to reflect, not to mention time to do a few loads of towels and go through the “where the hell did this junk come from” pile on my dresser. I’ll be starting d4 in October, and it now looks like I will in fact write a collection of six books. Wow.

I’m thinking of Ernest Hemingway today. It’s somewhat embarrassing that I’ve never read one of his novels even though I love many of his quotes. Recently I found this one. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Five years ago I would have found that silly and overly dramatic. Today it strikes me as the most succinct and accurate description of writing fiction that I have ever read.  Not that I write as well as Hemingway. He wasn’t talking about good or bad writing, just about the act of pouring yourself intotypewriter a story. No matter how overblown it seems, the truth is that I have pretty much gotten up for three days a week for the last seven months and picked up my lovely new ultralight computer, taken it out to my porch, and bled all over it. And found it fun.

Now that I’m handing the bloody mess off to friends and strangers alike, I have to wonder what motivates such odd behavior. I’m a very private person, yet I’m incapable of creating a story that isn’t filled with my most personal dreams and fears. I’m also incapable of not creating stories. I am aware that this didn’t end well for Hemingway, or for a lot of other writers that I admire. Others seemed to have navigated those same waters and survived and even thrived. What makes the difference?

Maybe while I’m on break I’ll skim a few writer’s biographies and try to figure out how others bandaged up their open wounds in between books. Maybe I’ll even finally read “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. I mean, how can I be writing a collection of stories that starts off with the premise that we are all one, and not have read a book that takes its title from a 1624 quote that says

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

Words worth considering as our world contemplates one more outbreak of war, and as each one of us sits on our porch and tries to bandage our own wounds from the previous day.

injury sign

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in writing

 

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