Giving Thanks for Writing

I like to think I’m always thankful for all the blessings in my life, but this time of year, I tend to be more conscious of it. I’m fortunate to have many things to be thankful for – a husband who truly loves me and is supportive of all my harebrained ideas, a daughter I’m close to and is mostly healthy, 3 happy healthy grandsons, a stepfather who makes my mother truly happy, a mother who’s still healthy, a couple of really good friends, and that we all have enough to eat and good shelter.

My health isn’t all that great, but even that I’m kinda grateful for. It could be, and has been, much worse. And it forces me to slow down and appreciate the good things in life. Most people don’t get that in their early 40s, busy with family and career and social stuff. I get to focus on spending all my time on things that make me happy, like my grandsons and husband, and writing.

When I first got sick, it looked like I would never be able to write, or do anything really meaningful again. Over the years, thanks to a fantastic group of doctors, I’ve recovered enough that, with hard work, I can write again. Probably won’t ride horses or do any serious hiking again, but I can write.

Before I got sick, in the midst of a career that I loved, I still wanted to write. That’s all I ever really wanted to do, from very early in childhood. When real life kicked in and I had to help pay the bills, I turned to something with a steady paycheck. While I dabbled around with short stories, in the back of my mind, dozens of novels sat unwritten because I didn’t have the time.

Now, life has forced me to have the time to write, and I’m enjoying it to the fullest. So, that’s why I’m thankful for writing.

Is there something special about your journey as a writer that makes you especially grateful for it?

 

Rule of Three Blogfest Part Three

This week is Part Three of the Rule Of Three Blogfest. Each Wednesday in October, I, and the other participants, will post a portion of a story set in a shared world called Renaissance. Other than the shared world, there are only a couple of other rules: there must be 3 characters, there is a 600 word limit for each part, each week’s entry must be based on one of several writing prompts from the organizers, and the entries go up each Wednesday or Thursday.

If you haven’t already, check out my Part One and Part Two.

Please take the time to visit the organizers’ blogs: Damyanti, JC Martin, Lisa Vooght, and Stuart Nager. Check out the rules, and visit the other participants’ blogs.

Participants were given the following prompts for Part Three:
• The impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it.
• Betrayal is in the air.
• Relationships unravel or strengthen.
• A long-kept secret is revealed.

The Storm: Part Three

I chose the first prompt: The impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it.
When the ferocious storm abated near mid-morning, Londehen left the only stone building in Renaissance. It housed the jail and Constable’s office, and as Constable, he kept living quarters in it.

Navigating through heavy storm debris, he headed for the Post. He rounded the corner and stopped. The Post, the old tavern his father ran Renaissance from, had sustained serious damage.

Inside, fragments of the roof and one wall haphazardly covered the floor. Finally, he spotted the old bastard slumped against the heavy wood bar. Dead? His father’s body was cold to the touch. Dead.

Renaissance belonged to him! First, a tax to increase his salary. After that, he had a list.

Still smiling, he turned to leave, and tripped over another body. Well, now, imagine that! Robehr, Eriahne’s father. She belonged to him now, too!

Riding to inform Eriahne of her good fortune, Londehen encountered a few citizens, out surveying damage. The short distance, less than a mile to the other side of town, didn’t justify using the horse, but Londehen liked the sense of power.

At the little farmstead, a moment of apprehension assailed him. Only the hearth remained to mark the presence of the shack. Had Eriahne perished in the storm?

“Stop right there, mister,” a disembodied voice growled.

“Show yourself, coward.” Londehen searched, but didn’t see the speaker.

Just feet away, a man melted from the background of sodden soil, a boulder, and a downed locust tree. “What do you want?” The handgun pointed at Londehen’s chest didn’t waver.

Shit! His gun sat useless in his desk drawer. Annoyance clenched Londehen’s fists. “Put the weapon down before I arrest you!”

“Try.”

“No, Teguere.” Eriahne’s voice sounded weak from behind the outlaw, where she reclined against the boulder, a large bandage on her head.

“Eriahne, what did this man do to you?” He’d kill the son-of-a-bitch if he’d touched her.

“He saved my life.” Her eyes closed for a moment. “You can go now.”

Had she dismissed him? “Thought you might want to know, Robehr died in the Post, with my father, during the storm. We’ll be married later today, after you’ve rested.”

“No.”

“You don’t have a choice. No one will take care of you. You don’t have the money Robehr owed my father. Our marriage will settle the debt.” Satisfied with his victory, Londehen dismounted.

“Stop right there.” The stranger took a step. “Move, and I’ll kill you with my bare hands.”

“I’m taking what’s mine.” A blow from nowhere staggered Londehen, though the stranger hadn’t moved.

“Speak of my wife like that again, and I will geld you. Now leave before I change my mind.”

Wife? “She isn’t married.”

“She and I wed a month ago.” The man’s unreadable expression gave nothing away.

“She would have told me.” Panic edged Londehen’s voice.

“The priest came with me. No one knew.”

“Bullshit. Prove it.”

The man took a sheaf of parchments from inside his coat, and extended them to Londehen.

The official seal looked authentic. Even with careful scrutiny, the marriage contract and record seemed legitimate. Defeat soured Londehen’s stomach. Eliminating the stranger would make Eriahne his, but it wouldn’t work. Another man had already possessed her.

As the only virgin of marriageable age in Renaissance, Eriahne had been key to the spell Londehen planned to ensure his absolute power over the town. He would have to find another way.

What’s In A Name?

The names of characters in novels has been a topic of discussion among some writers recently, so I decided to give my $0.02 worth, and get yours.

For decades, ever since I started reading romance novels as a kid, the names of heroes and heroines, particularly in romance novels, has been a subject of some derision. Other genres were guilty to a certain extent, but not as pervasively as romance. Historical romances were the worst back then, but the new historicals I’ve read recently have seemed to have more appropriate names for the time period. These days, the odd names are running amuck in paranormal romances.

I’m not beyond guilt myself with the paranormal names. The hero in BLOOD DRAGON is named, Kiellen – not exactly an everyday name for an adult currently, at least to my knowledge, but I know of several children with that name. The heroine’s name is Jaden, which also isn’t exactly common, but not terribly unusual either.

As a vampire, Jaden changes her identity every few years to maintain her secret, and so she chose her name. Kiellen, with an incredibly long lifespan as a weredragon, also changes his identity, but he stubbornly clings to his given name. His father’s name was also Kiellen, and since his father died before he was born, he desperately holds on to that connection with his family.

When odd names are justified – a parent’s obsession, a family name passed down, a name given later in life for a characteristic – I can accept them more easily. I’ve personally known many parents who gave their children names that seemed absolutely insane. Using a word that the parent likes the sound of, regardless of it’s definition, is fairly common. Passing down a name from several generations ago is also fairly common.

I completely revised my opinion about names in historical romances, though, when I began researching my own family history. During the 18th and 19th centuries, I found the following names in my own family: Prudia, Lonia, Honor, Comfort, Obedience, and Zipporah (pronounced Zippry) were all females. Zandle, Carliss, Xeno, and Bater were males. Those are just the ones I can remember  off-hand, so there may have been others. With names like those in my family, I suddenly no longer felt qualified to judge character names too harshly. 🙂

I try not to give my characters terribly unusual names, partly because I want to avoid the stereotype of odd names in romance novels. But I can partly forgive the authors who do use out-of-the-ordinary names. Such names weren’t completely unheard of in the past, and they certainly aren’t uncommon now. If our characters are extra-ordinary, the impulse, maybe instinct, is to give them names as special as they are.

What do you think of the prevalence of unusual names in romance novels? Have you come across any that you particularly loved, or hated? What’s your favorite?

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all those great Dads out there! I was lucky enough to have had one of the best possible, and I’m forever grateful for him. He passed away almost 11 years ago and I still miss him horribly. My mom remarried a couple of years ago, and now I have the best step-dad in the world. He makes my mom happy, which is tremendously important to me, and he doesn’t try to step into my dad’s shoes. He’s just himself, a fantastic dad, step-dad, grandfather and great-grandfather, and a wonderful person.

My daughter and I were recently talking about fatherhood, and what makes a good daddy. She considers herself lucky to have a good one. He still gives her his time, material things when necessary, and shows her daily that he loves her – sometimes by saying “No” and sticking to it. He’s the same with her sons, though he is a bit more lenient with them than he was with her. They’re still babies, the oldest is getting ready to turn 3, and he loves spoiling all 3 of them.

While she and I talked, we tried to list some of the qualities that make a good daddy. We quickly determined that contributing the sperm that fertilizes the egg has nothing to do with fathering, only with biology and genetics. Nothing mind-blowing there.

The things like providing for a child’s physical needs for food, water, shelter, and medical care should be taken for granted, but unfortunately, they aren’t. Providing for the child’s emotional needs for safety, limitations, and affection should also be taken for granted, but again, they aren’t. A child has myriad other needs, too many to list, but these are  just the most apparent ones to me.

Too many children with an embarrassment of physical riches – plenty of high quality food, clean healthy water, a clean safe home, and all their health needs met – are emotionally destitute. They have to live in fear of physical or sexual abuse, are verbally and emotionally abused. Or there are no rules in the home to give them a sense of security or teach them to make appropriate choices. Some children have no idea that the adults in their lives care if they live or die, let alone love them.

Giving a child time and attention can be something a good father does. If a man chooses to be absent from his child’s life, is he necessarily a bad father? What if his presence somehow endangered the child? Maybe he has a tendency to hit first and ask questions later, and removes himself from his child’s life to remove the risk of physical abuse. Does that make him a truly bad father? What if he chooses not to be present in order to work to able to provide for his child’s physical needs? Does that make him a better father than the one who stays away because he’s potentially abusive?

Loving a child of course factors in. Children need to know they are loved, that no matter what, they have someone to turn to. If a man never tells his child he loves  him, never gives a hug or kiss, or even a pat on the head, is he a bad father? How else would the child know? An older child might realize the father is incapable of displaying affection, but what about a young child?

How does a man learn all the elements to being a good father? I used to think it was solely by example, but I know too many good fathers whose own fathers sucked. Perhaps there were other men in their lives who provided good role models of fatherhood. Maybe, realizing what they lacked in their own childhood, they sought information or support to give it to their children. There could even be an instinctive element to fatherhood.

I don’t know the answers to all these questions, but I usually know good fathering when I see it in action. If my father hadn’t been a good one, I might not. I do know that my most important goals in life are to see that my grandsons have a good father – whether that’s their biological parent or not . So far, they do, and I’m grateful. Another of my goals is to see them grow into healthy responsible men who will be good fathers themselves when the time comes.

What about you – what do you think makes a good father? How do they learn to be good fathers?