I was having a conversation with my friend Tom, a new writer still working on the first draft of his novel. He emailed me to say that he was beginning to get some ideas for a new story. He asked me what I thought about writing a sequel to his first novel and extending the tale of his current characters. Since I’m a series writer, my first instinct is to say, go for it. But with some caveats. Of course it gave me the idea for this post.
Writing a series is really a lot of fun. A series writer creates the world they would like to live in. There is a great deal of satisfaction in making your fictional universe just the way you want it. However, there is also a great deal of meticulous planning and record keeping that must be done to make sure that your world…
If a positive life,
Is really true,
If someone could really,
Have that view,
But still go through,
Facts and opinions,
And still understand,
Even feel empathy,
While still being positive,
Not being attracted,
Towards the dark,
Not be affected,
Or being effected,
By life experiences.
To a person like this,
I cannot understand,
Nor feel hope,
From the very idea,
Of this lifestyle,
But I have a want or wonder if you are real,
And I feel the need,
To know you are,
That may give me a seed,
A temporary hope,
A nice mirage,
That will help temporarily cope,
With my existence,
For a little while.
There are some things in this life that are absolutely beautiful. Some are alluring, some are natural while others are man-made. They might catch our eye or arouse our senses. They may seem entirely harmless… and they might be good in and of themselves…
…but they can be deadly.
Take this gorgeous tiger for instance, God outdid Himself in the design, it’s simply beautiful, but I don’t think I’d want to walk up and pat him on the head.
Kitty, kitty, kitty!
That beautiful creature just happens to be a killing machine…
More often, we become entranced by things of beauty and make them more important than they are in our lives. I really enjoy old Victorian architecture; it is beautiful. Every little detail can be a work of art, and nobody can say it’s immoral. The question is how important will…
“What are they?” Helen stared at the strange cookies in front of her on the table.
“I found them when I went into town to get some groceries. They’re called animal crackers.” Helen’s mother kissed her daughter’s cheek and took the bag of groceries to the table next to the sink.
Helen picked up the box and frowned at them. She opened it and nibbled on one. “They don’t taste like crackers, more like cookies.”
Her mother shrugged, her back to her daughter as she washed potatoes. “You’d best put them away in your room somewhere before your father gets home. You know he won’t take kindly to you eating sweets before dinner.”
A shiver shot up Helen’s spine. At twelve years old, she thought herself too old in many ways to be treated like the little girl her mom still thought she was. “When do you expect him home? Isn’t he supposed to be visiting old Mr. Hopper today?”
“Mr. Hopper passed away last night, dear. Your father was busy meeting with the family for most of the day to go over the details of the funeral. The whole town is expected to turn out for it on Saturday. He was mayor back in his prime, a name Hurston was built on.”
Helen made a face. “I don’t want to attend some stupid funeral of a man I don’t know.”
“That’ll be quite enough, young lady. To you room with your treats. Now.”
Helen sighed as she stood. She pushed in the chair, the legs scraping over the wooden floor. Her mother cringed at the sound, but kept working at the sink. The girl exited the kitchen and took the stairs as quietly as a mouse. That was how her mother liked her, after all: as quiet as can be.
When she arrived in her room, she knelt beside her bed as if to pray, but reached under the bed and pulled away a loose floorboard. She hid the box of animal crackers in the secret spot and replaced the board.
She avoided the bed and sat at her desk instead, staring out the window at the branches of the large oak next to the house. She watched a couple of robins flit around each other, as if in a dance, and she longed to be that free, to fly like in her dreams. She kept her eyes on the world outside, anywhere but on the bed.
There are other dreams, too. She smiled. She sometimes imagined she was walking around in someone else’s body, usually as other children in town. While she had no control over where her dreams might take her, her favorites were when she was someone rich like Matilda Forkins or Robert Jenkins. Matilda had all the best dresses and had two porcelain dolls, not just one. Robert was a year older than Helen and had the eyes of every girl in town on him.
But they end, like all dreams. They’re so quick, like a blink. “In the end, I still have to wake up and return here,” she whispered, whisking her gaze from the window and staring at her bed.
The haze of the summer rested heavy on Helen as she sat there, waiting for her father to return home. He would walk in the back door and comment on how wonderful dinner smelled, would kiss his wife, and would straighten his clerical collar. Her mother would make some remark about how proud she was of him for doing God’s work. And Helen would sit there, her mouth shut until she was spoken to by the man.
Helen rested her elbows on the surface of the desk and cradled her face in her hands as she returned her gaze to the window. Her eyelids grew heavy, and she drifted asleep.
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My novel, Lorna versus Laura, is available for $4.99 here.
My novel, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, is available for $5.99 here.
We stood in the basement of my grandma’s old house, the place I visited every Sunday afternoon as a child. I was now an adult. While I knew she had passed away years ago, as had the man with me, the moment felt so real.
The security of his arms around me, the steady rise and fall of his chest, his breath warm in my ear as he whispered, “I know you never knew me, but I wanted to tell you I love you.”
He wasn’t much taller than me, if at all. His voice was kind, gentle…grandfatherly.
I woke in awe, a tear in my eye. I never knew my grandfather, yet he had spoken to me through a dream.
I have seen many pictures of my grandfather. He passed away four years before I was born. Being nearly 11 years older than my grandmother, he would have been well into his seventies by the time I came along. My grandparents were older than most in that generation, she at 28 and he at 39 when they married in 1942. My uncle was born in ‘46 and my mom in ‘49, so my grandfather was 46 when my mom came into this world. With my grandparents being older, especially my grandfather, I don’t suppose chances were favorable that even if he had lived longer, I would have remembered him much or known him long… But I digress. It’s a sad reality, but true, and I cannot undo the past.
So, that dream held and holds significance for me, seeing as my grandfather was just a man I knew from pictures and from my grandma and mom’s memories of him. He was among the tallest in his extended family. All of the Grundmans were short, so at 5 feet 9 inches, he was a veritable giant! His mother passed away from breast cancer shortly before my grandparents married, and his father was never in his life. His parents divorced when he was a baby because his father was an alcoholic. His mother remarried a man named Samuel Winhold when my grandfather was seven. Samuel must have passed away some 20 years later, as he no longer showed up in pictures.
My grandfather was Howard Grundman. That’s a good, strong German name, isn’t it? In fact, my mother’s side of the family is completely German, although they have been living in the United States (on both sides) since the 1880s. What’s funny is that when growing up, I often referred to my grandfather as “Howard” when talking about him with my mom or grandma. We visited my grandma every Sunday afternoon for many years, and one of the things we often did was get out all the old pictures and look at them at her dining room table. I had an interest in my heritage from an early age, asking my parents and grandmas to tell me the names of their direct ancestors, so I could write them down. I had a family tree going back to my great-great-grandparents when I was eight, and since then, I have done extensive genealogy research, but that is another topic.
Getting back to my grandfather, or Howard, I feel the need to make the distinction of personalizing him. He will be Grandpa going forward, as it has been in my head and in my writing that I have remembered him in a roundabout way.
I was fortunate to know my grandma, Emma Grundman, until I was 15, when she passed away. I was close to her, as we saw her weekly. When she died, a void opened in my heart that I spent years (and still do) trying to fill. How can you replace a loved one? You can’t, of course, but you can help them live on by remembering them, by sharing stories, writing down memories, looking at pictures. I am a writer, and writing a story based on my late grandma’s life was inside me. I didn’t know it until 11 year later, when at age 26, I woke with a fictional character’s name on my lips: Hannah Rechthart. Hannah would become my grandma in the story, and her husband would be Edward (Howard).
I wrote a couple of chapters and then a couple more over the next few years, but nothing came of that story until March 2015. I was tired of waiting: waiting for inspiration to strike, waiting to achieve my dream of writing the story and maybe even publishing it. So, I sat down with the intention of writing for at least fifteen minutes a day. That’s it, I told myself, 15 minutes. And do it every day.
I stuck to that, and in the process, the fictional name of Edward Grunner became a character who seemed to breathe and walk off the page. He shared a lot in common with my grandpa: being raised mostly by his mother, being an only child, working in accounting, marrying later in life, being drafted during World War II but only serving for three months, and in love with his dear wife. Edward was an admirable man in many ways. He was kind, patient, and supportive. He was a hard worker and went to church with his family every Sunday. But doubts of being a good father figure plagued him because of his own lack of a good fatherly role model. He questioned his ability to be the type of dad his children needed, especially where his son was concerned.
For the first time, the ache of not actually knowing Grandpa hit me. I looked at the old pictures of him with my grandma and their kids as if for the first time. I wondered what he sounded like. What was his laugh like? There’s a picture of my grandparents sitting on the couch laughing, and the sound almost escapes. It’s like a phantom room right next door, but I just can’t enter.
What was his favorite food? Did he enjoy Grandma’s pork chops as much as the rest of the family? Did he play that old Monopoly set from the 1930s that Grandma had, the one where I only wanted to play the banker because I didn’t want to lose? Did he sit in the pew and listen to his wife play the organ in church like Edward did in my story? What did he think of his in-laws? Were his grandparents really as stern as they looked in their pictures?
So many questions and only my imagination to answer them!
I mourned Grandpa as if he had just died in 2015 instead of 40 years earlier. For me, by making him alive in my story, I felt that loss penetrate me in a way I never had before. I remember setting an extra place at the table at times when I was a child and we’d be at my grandma’s. It was for my grandpa. Now I have set a place in my heart for him.
I remember him in this way. It’s all I’ve really got.
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The book I refer to in this post, Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful, is available for $5.99 here.
My other book, Lorna versus Laura, is available for $4.99 here.
Also, don’t forget my next book, A Laughing Matter of Pain, is now available for pre-order here.
This post is the forty-sixth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.
When putting your e-book online, you will need to pick a genre/category and keywords to help categorize and market your novel.
Every book is categorized by its genre to help readers locate the type of book they enjoy reading. Mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, suspense and western are just a few examples of fiction genres.
And then there are subcategories of genres such as epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, dark fantasy, paranormal and more. It will help you to know your subgenre to pick the category you want your novel to appear under.
On Amazon, you can initially pick two categories for your book. You should be as specific as possible.
Don’t just say fiction > Fantasy. Go deeper. Fiction >…