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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Russia: Uncensored

Russian writers, the great storytellers of the “Golden Age” of literature (18th & 19th century), were masters of observation. Their world was changing; rapidly and permanently. Western influence introduced to them during times of war provided them freedom of thought for the first time in their long history as a monarchy. In a matter of a few years the Russian intelligentsia absorbed the knowledge of over three hundred years of Enlightenment thought, innovations, and art. They became the catalyst for conversations on the rights of man and the role of church and state in the lives of their citizens. Suddenly, a feudal society’s eyes popped open from a deep sleep and they realized their dreams of freedom were real and within reach. It was a dyamic time, and a confusing one.

The great Russian writers of the “Golden Age”. Top row (from left): Leo Tolstoy, Dmitry Grigorovich, Bottom row (from left): Ivan Goncharov, Ivan Turgenev, Alexander Druzhinin, and Alexander Ostrovsky

Because of their late arrival the Russian people were in a position to expand their knowledge base exponentially and soon conversations heard in the salons and receiving rooms of St. Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia at the time, had become passionate with talk of the “rights of man”. Influence the church and state had over the middle class decreased and, as it did, their power went with it. The common man gained the ability to ask his own questions and decide his own beliefs for the first time in Russian history, and as they sipped their vodka they began to speak of revolution. They began to seek their freedom.

And a few wrote.

Government censors, focused solely on traditional news sources, weren’t quick enough to pick up the messages behind the storylines and this gave writers of fiction a way to move the conversations they were having privately forward into the mainstream. As a result, Russian literature stands to this day as some of the most important to our society, regardless of where your origins lie. By examining the human condition with compelling narratives these great Russian writers succeeded in questioning the way we live our lives. Questions that are still with us today.

In this Age of Information we’re facing another sweeping change to our culture, and this time its on a world-wide scale. The struggle governments are facing around the world are proof the status quo is changing once again. Think Arab Spring or the recent struggles in India and Turkey. It’s the same story but now a new element has been added; Globalization.

As a way to improve my own writing I’m reading and learning about these great Russian writers. The characters, plots, rhythms, styles and themes of Tolstoy, Checkov, Doestoevsky, Pushkin, and others. A side effect of this is a sideways glance into my own world through their eyes.

This Blog and the Next

A great gift has been bestowed upon me.

A non-profit organization has asked me to be their Stateside Blogger-in-Chief. It is a great honor to me and I am very proud of the fact they came to me because of the writing I have done on this blog.

Over the past year this blog has been a wonderful indulgence; a place to celebrate, to mourn, to learn, and to play, and it’s been fun! Now, it’s turned into a catalyst for me to become part of an organization that helps people in the most desparate of circumstances halfway around the world.

I invite you to visit the blog at Sister Somalia,, where Ann Shannon has posted an interview she conducted with me to discuss my new role within the organization. I will be posting to the Sister Somalia blog every Friday, beginning August 17. I hope what I write inspires you as much as the honor of writing for them has inspired me.

And thank you for reading this blog over the past year and into the future!

Cooking Up A Tale

Recently, I overheard a conversation in a bookstore and since then I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Two people standing in the bestseller section were looking for the same book. One had read it, one hadn’t. The one who had was retelling the plot in general terms, starting with chapter one.

This got me thinking. I knew this specific book had a prologue and it was an interesting one. It had added to the story, setting up the feel of the book and laying some of the groundwork for the back story. So, why didn’t he even mention it?

My novel has a prologue. An indulgent, mystical, magical tour that adds flavor and vital information to the entire story to follow. Within my prologue you’ll learn the plot contains a historical back story full of grandeur and intrigue. It creates a sense of mysticism through an ancient, nearly unknown religion where long forgotten information comes in jarring contact with the realities of man. A reader will find out the key focal point of the novel has a dynamic story all its own, which essentially makes it a secondary character within the plot. Most importantly, you can instantly identify me as an author through the style I create in my prologue.

Some may say the prologue is a self-indulgent waste of words that only the writer enjoys, but I disagree. The prologue acts as the spice of your story, creating subtle flavors and delicately revealing complexities hidden within its lines, only to be fully realized later in the plot twists and depth of your characters. It flavors your plot, characters, atmosphere, tone and feel of your novel, adding the color that brews throughout the storyline and places the reader in another place and time.

So, read the prologue and savor its flavors.

The Sunshine Award

Recently, I was honored by Catnip of Life with the Sunshine Award. Catnip of Life is a poet with a wonderful blog where she features a selection of her verse. Be sure to visit her blog:  for her 10 nominations for this award. All are inspiring and who knows which one might tug at your heartstrings:>)

Now, it is I who get to GIVE the award by paying it forward again to bloggers who inspire me and bring Sunshine into my  blogging life:

Jen Owenby

The Oregon College of Art and Craft

Maddeline Poetry

Know The Sphere

Chad Everett


Dianne Willson

Kemi and the Boy

OOA Revo


Thank you again to Catnip of Life and all the bloggers who’s thoughts I love to read!

The Beautiful Blogger Award

To my surprise, I found another writer had nominated my blog for this award. It’s grown so much recently, and I’m meeting so many wonderful people!

Jen Owenby nominated me, so please, show her some blogging love and support and visit her at: Thanks Jen! You rock!

Part of the award is to nominate seven others. It’s a wonderful way to network and give a thumbs up to those that you enjoy. I’m subscribed to several, so this isn’t easy. However, here are my seven choices:

Inspiration Import  – A wonderful blog that focuses on sending out good messages through poetry and prose.

Tina Mattern – Tina’s published  in  several “Chicken Soup For the Soul” books, and she is working on an amazing memoir concerning her fight with breast cancer. Tina’s strength and humor will lift your spirits!

Carol Di Tostie – Carol writes about weight issues, how they shape our ideas of ourselves and talks about real women’s lives and battle with weight. She brings a fresh and vibrant voice to the issue.

The Silver Poet – I’ve only recently gotten into poetry and I’ve become an admirer of The Silver Poet’s style.

Julie McKay Covert – Great photography.

Hear In Aid – I love finding new music and this sight features an ecclectic group of new artists.

Carly Larson – Carly is a travel writer and photographer who decided to live the life she wanted instead of the dictated by a boss in a stuffy office. I love it when people break out and break free!

Words of Honest Unwisdom – A fun blog with nice ‘slice of life’ stories.

If you choose seven to accept this award, copy and paste the award icon to your blog, provide a link to the one who nominated you, then nominate seven blogs that you would like to recognize, and let them know that you nominated them.

I hope all of you enjoy these blogs. Thank each of you for visiting and sharing your thoughts with me. I’m learning so much from everyone.

It’s Official!

An article I submitted to has been accepted and published today. I’m so excited about the new turn in my writing career!! You can check it out here:

Thank You!

Thanks to all who’ve viewed, subscribed, and commented on my blog this year!

My writing goals for the upcoming year are:

1) Post an entry to this blog every week.

2) Once a month post a chapter to my new Sci-Fi blog.

3) Continue to work on The Byzantine Cross and submit a portion to a professional critic for review.

4) Continue to pursue professional growth through writing association events, writing groups, and from other aspiring writers.

May 2012 bring you much happiness and many blessings!!

Mom’s Music

I’m listening to classical music right now.

I listen to all kinds of music while I’m writing, often picking particular styles that set the mood for whatever I’m working on at the time. I don’t know why I picked classical today but it just so happens the first piece to come up features a pianist.

As I’m trying to concentrate there is a thing deep inside me that makes itself known. Not a voice, although it certainly speaks to me. Not even a feeling, really. Just a knowing…

It’s my mother.

My mom passed away almost ten years ago and for those who knew her personally I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the sound of a piano instantly brings her back to life in my mind. Music was a big part of her life. As was I. If only two things could be said about my mom they would be, above all else, she loved her kids and she loved music.

Thank you, Mom.

Now that I’m writing I can understand why she felt so connected to her music. Just like putting pen to paper is for me, playing music transferred her to a different world…heart and soul. When she heard the notes rolling gently along, building then receding, they spoke to her in a language only she could understand. It is the most intimate thing in the world. It was her poetry.

The image of her at the piano keeps popping up in my head. Her back is to me, her hands fanned out across the keys. They move with the grace of someone who is part of the music…not the clumsy, clunking poking at them like I do. She felt each and every note she played.

In a way, I see her music in my writing. The ebb and flow of the story, the pace and tone…it’s there. The way a sentence reads, letting it lead to the next thing. The images. For me, I must feel what my characters are feeling. I have to experience their emotions myself in order to express them in my writing. Sometimes that’s a bit scary…like right now.

I see her finishing now…just as I’m about to. She lifts her fingers from the keys gently, letting the music fade off into nothingness…

Just as she does…

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