It’s Arrived!

The anthology that includes my short story, Summer Memories (written in 2015), arrived today!  I am very excited to see, for the first time, my words published in a book!  Here are a few pictures I took of the cover, first page of my story, and the back cover. 🙂

mind trip anthology cover
first page of summer memories in anthology   back cover of anthology with my story!

Yea!

What did it feel like for you when your work was first published?

 

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Guest Blog Post on Dialogue

Writing the past few days has been quite painful.  Not emotionally or physically, but creatively.  Nothing good is formulating in my head to my fingers to the pencil onto the paper.  The text is wooden, mechanical.  Heck, reading a car manual is probably more exciting than what I’ve put together lately.  I think the culprit is my inner critic butting into my creativity and writing abilities.  Oy!  So, while I’m feeling like what Hemingway says,

hemingway quote 1

I’m sharing a blog post from WOW! Women On Writing Blog. A piece by Sue Bradford called, “Dialogue: 5 Tips for Dazzling Dialogue,” because we can all use a little help, I think, in writing dialogue and all things pertaining to writing fiction.

As I work through the pre-writing on my mystery and get closer to actually writing, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to fiction. Truth be told, mostly, I’m obsessing because I’m getting really worried about writing dialogue for my characters. Because of that, I’ve taken a brief class on dialogue and been doing a…

via Dialogue: 5 Tips for Dazzling Dialogue — WOW! Women On Writing Blog

 

**I wrote the above post in the middle of last week but am posting it today.  My writing has improved a bit since then, as I continue to work on shedding my loud inner critic who doesn’t belong anywhere near me while I’m scrawling down my WIP’s first draft.

 

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What You Learn When Writing About Yourself

finding peace

When I began to write again in September 2014, the first story I attempted to write and did not finish was a fictional piece where the main character was loosely based on me and my life experiences.  In doing this, I found that some of the events from my dating and romantic relationships in my early twenties weren’t what I’d always thought they were.

As I wrote scenes in which my main character reacted to the boyfriends and men in which she had crushes, this became apparent to me, especially for one intense relationship I had.  I’d spent twenty-five years seeing it all through my perspective and believing I’d been wronged and the guy was a jerk.  As if everything I did was wonderfully good and considerate and his was absolutely bad and apathetic.  Not so.

This narrow view expanded to a more balanced and clearer picture.  It was a bit of an epiphany . . . a painful and stunning discovery, mixed with regret and shame, in which I’d been so self-absorbed only caring about my own feelings and never considering or understanding his.  Now, it’s true this one boyfriend didn’t volunteer any of his deep, personal feelings with me, so I wouldn’t, couldn’t have known.  But twenty-five years later, it’s quite evident that there were problems that neither of us knew how to deal with and didn’t have the knowledge and relationship tools in which to figure it all out.

This first writing endeavor truly turned the mirror on me and my behavior in my early twenties, for which I’d been selfish, naive, and clueless.  But writing what I did brought about a catharsis for which my past hurts and whatever disgruntled feelings or misunderstandings and frustrations I’d felt so strongly then dissipated and resolved four years ago, leaving me with a sense of understanding and peace within me.

Having experienced this, I wonder if this happens to other writers, especially those who write memoirs.  Writing truly is an outlet to self-discovery and catharsis.

 

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Holy Pascha

Christ's Resurrection

Let God Arise!  Let His enemies be scattered!

When you take the journey with Christ from His entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey, praised and honored through the laying down of palms, through the grueling walk to Golgotha, wailing with His Mother, to experiencing the thunderous, earth-trembling from His death, His descent into Hades, breaking the chains and releasing those waiting in the tombs, preaching to those who did not know Him, to witnessing His glorious Resurrection, told to us by an angel at His Tomb, your body, mind, and soul are greatly and positively affected.

Your body aches from the hours of services, for which three quarters of the time you’re standing.  Your mind is filled with the readings of his journey and what it all means.  Your heart is torn into pieces listening, watching, and reading of the scourging, mockings, spitting, and especially the words “His blood be on us and on our children.” Lord, have mercy.  *doing the sign of the cross*  That line always gets you.

swinging censor

You take in the sweet smell of incense that reminds you of the realm of God’s Kingdom, the prayers of the Saints, and that you and your brothers and sisters in the nave of His Church are with Him through all of it.  You’ve heard these passages hundreds of times, but something new and profound hits you every year this is read aloud.  This time, you’re wishing you were the thief on the cross, hoping, praying, pleading, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” and you’re dying to hear Him say, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

You weep when you hear His Mother, the Theotokos, wail and say to Him as He plods to His voluntary crucifixion, “”Where are you going, my Child? Why do you travel along so fast? Would there perhaps be another wedding in Cana, and you hurry there, to turn for them water into wine? Can I not come with You, my Child? Or tarry with you? Speak to me a word; You, Who are the Word. Pass me not by in silence, You, Who kept me pure. For You are my Son and my God.”  In your humanity and being a mother of two sons, the words slice through you, cutting you deeply, and you feel Mary’s pain.

But then the Panagia tells Him to hurry and rise on the third day so that she can see Him glorified:  “O my Son, where has the beauty of Your form vanished?  I cannot bear to see You unjustly crucified; hasten, therefore, and rise up, that I too may behold Your Resurrection from the dead on the third day.”  You realize that the Theotokos knew and understood immediately what Christ had been saying before His crucifixion that He’d rise on the third day, whereas all but one of the Apostles fled in confusion, fear, and sorrow.  Beloved Apostle John stood by the Cross with Christ’s Mother and the other women.

Pictured below:

Christ crucified.  Holy Thursday evening is the Twelve Gospels Service that follows Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion.  Our bishop was present for this service, so instead of being three hours, it was four.  This night’s service is the longest, but this was the longest I’ve ever encountered, but it didn’t matter.  When you experience such profound, glorious, and heart-wrenching events, you’re undone, heart, soul, body, mind, but in a good way.

Christ crucified Annunciation GOC

This is the kouvouklion — Christ’s Tomb — that the ladies of my church decorate each year ( took this picture personally on Friday.  It is from my church).  Gorgeous.  It is carried around the church Friday evenings for the Lamentations service, where we join Joseph of Arimathea in carrying Christ’s body to the new Tomb.

kouvouklion Annunciation GOC Holy Week 2018

Video taken by me at our “home” parish back in Colorado Springs, Colorado, (2011) that gives you a glimpse into Holy Saturday morning’s Divine Liturgy where Christ descends into Hades and destroys its chains and gates and opens the tombs.  The pounding we made (and wish all Orthodox Churches did this) is to symbolize the breaking open of the gates and chains and the tombs.  The priest throws basil leaves and flowers symbolizing Christ’s victory and that He is King and Lord. (It isn’t unusual that after the two and a half hour service the night before that this service is less attended, which is unfortunate because it’s such a beautiful and joyous experience).

Holy Saturday evening’s Resurrection Service is held around midnight with a vigil and then the Divine Liturgy.

Here’s a video from an Orthodox Church of a few years ago that shows what happens around midnight when the priest announces, “Come receive the Light,” which the candle represents Christ’s descent into Hades and darkness and through His Resurrection, the Light has come into the world and has trampled down Death by His death.  After His entrance, you, along with your brothers and sisters in Christ, say joyously and triumphantly, “Christ is Risen!” and will chant this verse over and over again that early Sunday morning and the next several Sundays:

Christ is risen from the dead,

trampling down death by death, 

and upon those in the tombs,

bestowing Life.

The Holy Fire descends on the Tomb of Christ inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem every Holy Saturday.  The Greek Orthodox Patriarch receives the Holy Fire that miraculously lights his bundle of thirty-three candles each year).  Here’s a video of this mystical and miraculous event from today:

At the end of the liturgy, you receive a red egg that symbolizes the blood of Christ, and Life.  You gather with your family and brethren in the hall for some food and drink, and crack eggs with them.  The cracking of the eggs symbolizes the cracking open of the tombs.  If your egg survives the cracking contest, you are blessed.

cracking red eggs Orthodox Pascha.jpg

It’s a blessing to return home each night smelling of sweet, heavenly incense, and body wrought from worshiping Christ God in body and spirit.

On Pascha Sunday, you attend the Agape Vespers Service where the proclamation of Christ’s Resurrection is read in several different languages.  The most common languages spoken are English, Greek, Arabic, Latin, Albanian, Spanish, German, French, and sometimes Japanese and Swahili.  Others also may be said if there are parishioners who know that language or come from the country that speaks that particular language.  You enjoy hearing the Good News in many tongues, showing this message is universal.

You enjoy a Paschal picnic of lamb and all other types of meat, etc., and Pascha sweet bread, called Tsoureki in Greek.  We got one this year from the women’s monastery a few hours away:

Greek Pascha sweet bread.jpg

 

Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen!

 

 

 

Writing Away From Home

waiting room

I’m a creature of habit and tend to do the same things every day.  Spontaneity visits me on rare occasions.  With regard to writing, I prefer to write in the morning hours.  But sometimes I write in the evenings.

At home, I usually listen to some music quietly in the background.  The music often is instrumental relaxing piano or jazz.  Sometimes it’s just old pop rock favorites from my youth.  Whatever the music, it’s set at a low decibel so that I can concentrate on my story and what scenes and words are formulating in my mind to be transcribed by my hand scribbling with a pencil onto paper.

Last Wednesday, I did something I’d never done before.  I took my notebook to the waiting room of the dentist while my son had his teeth cleaned and a couple tiny baby teeth removed for the start of upcoming orthodontic work.  My iPhone was dragging at a low battery level, so I’d left it in the car to charge (I don’t think it really charged much, though…unfortunately, it’s just about time to upgrade my phone).  I brought my notebook and a positive attitude of putting down words in sentences for my next chapter, but when I got into the office and checked in, I wasn’t sure I could do it.  There were three people sitting kitty corner to where my son and I sat, and were chattering up a storm, at a loud volume, and the country music (not a fan, by the way) practically blaring through the speakers in the room challenged my ability to concentrate.

Nevertheless, I immediately opened up my spiral book where I’d left off with my last notes and started writing two or three words, and it took off from there.  The talking, the music all faded away as I delved into my characters’ lives and the conversations they were having and the thoughts they were mulling over.  Three times–twice by the hygienist and once by the dentist himself–said my name, which brought me out of my fictional world to answer them and discuss my son’s cleaning and then the extractions.  In that hour and twenty or so minutes, I managed to write up a chapter and a half.  I had to close up my notebook when my son’s dental work was done and head home.

writing on the grass

I am amazed by the amount of writing I got done in such din and in a spot I hadn’t thought I’d be able to focus to write anything.  On the contrary!  I accomplished more, it seems, at a waiting office than I have on average in the comfort of my own home! I need to do that more often!  Maybe next time I’ll go to Barnes and Noble, find a cozy spot, and write to my heart’s content.  I can’t imagine what glorious dialogue, scenes, etc. I’d write at a beautiful vacation spot!

I’m guessing you’ve already written outside, or in other places than your home.  I’m just late to the party.  Questions:

1) Where do you usually write?

2) Do you write outside of your home?

3) Where do you write outside of your home?

4) Do you feel the outside atmosphere a good creative writing space?

5) What have been your experiences?

If by some odd chance you’ve not ventured outside your home to write in some other building or out in nature, do give it a try!

What a fabulous discovery! You learn something every day. 🙂

 

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Happy Easter to My Christian Friends and a Blessed Palm Sunday to My Orthodox Christian Brethren

palm sunday icon 1

Today is Western Christian Easter, and I wish all my Christian friends celebrating Christ’s Resurrection today a Blessed and Happy Easter.

Today is Palm Sunday for us Orthodox Christians.

palm cross 2

We Eastern Christians are on the Julian Calendar, whereas Western Christians follow the Gregorian Calendar.  If you are interested in learning a little more about this, click on this link.

Tonight (I think technically last night) starts Orthodox Christian Holy Week in which we participate and follow Christ through his Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.  It’s the greatest feast and holiday of the year for us.  It’s also a very focused, holy, and busy week for us.  Reading my church’s bulletin, there are around sixteen services for Holy Week.

We call this celebration of Christ’s Resurrection on Sunday not Easter but Pascha.  This is the term that’s been used from the beginning, which follows the Jewish Passover (Pesach).  Here’s a couple excerpts of info on Orthodox Pascha and where the word originates from:

Pascha (Greek: Πάσχα), also called Easter, is the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord. Pascha is a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Aramaic pascha, from the Hebrew pesach meaning Passover.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the center of the Orthodox Christian faith. Twelve weeks of preparation precede it. This is made up of pre-lenten Sundays, Great Lent, and Holy Week. The faithful try to make this long journey with repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and study. When the feast finally arrives, it is celebrated with a collection of services combined as one.

One of the hymns we sing on Palm Sunday:

Apolytikion: First Tone

By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, You did confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the palms of victory, we cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!

I’ll try to write a midweek post and one on Pascha to share the absolutely moving, beautiful, and profound services to give you a glimpse into what this week is like for us Orthodox.

Again, Happy Easter to all my friends celebrating today!

 

Summer Memories in April

love of books pic

Last November 2017, I entered three writing contests FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, and was selected one of twelve finalists in one of them.  I am very excited and proud to have one of my short stories published in Scribes Valley Publishing’s anthology.  I can’t wait to see my story in their anthology! It comes out next month. Here’s the link to their website that shows the cover of the book in which my story will be printed, and the list of twelve winners. I, a newbie, am among seasoned, professional writers! What an honor!

 

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