What’s Stopping You????

I am sitting at my small desk, quite a departure from my previous “office” of my last house. I now live on the second floor of a three story condo. Two bedrooms, two and a half baths. Small in comparison to the four bedroom, two car garage home I left behind. This past year, life has changed once more and it gave me an excuse to put down my pen for awhile. Too busy with the move and the changes that have come hurling at me as fast as a wayward hockey puck. have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll.

Before, in my large office, my windows faced a sprawling, peaceful field of gold. Rarely did I notice anything more than a fleeting butterfly or bird. Now, I have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a tightly coiled spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll. To say I am distracted would be an understatement. Another excuse.

I close my eyes and say a little prayer for the wisdom and guidance I need to push myself   into the world I love. Suddenly, the words and thoughts start to flow! My fingers rattle over my keyboard and my words begin to come to life!

So it goes as a writer. One moment we are empty and giving ourselves a thousand reasons why we “can’t” write today. Then the next moment our minds are so full of stories, characters, and endings that we cannot be dragged from our desk for hours.

It is then I realize that the biggest enemy to my writing is ME! I am the one making excuses! I am the one putting my work out there! I am the one scared of rejection!

And so I pull down the shades on my windows and plod on. How about

How about you? What’s stopping you?

 

Advertisements

Things Like This Are Happening…

A short excerpt from my new manuscript..The Bequest.

The engine of the 767 roared as the departing plane raced down the runway. Juicer Alexis’ white shirt was drenched in sweat, half-hidden beneath the wrinkled linen jacket. Surrounded by sick Syrian refugees, he pushed his hand through his rumpled hair and tried to steady his shaking limbs before blowing a sigh of relief. He’d remained hidden for several weeks in the house of an art lover in Dumayr before the invitation from Tyler College arrived via the sporadic email system inviting him to review and appraise a large collection of donated artifacts looking strikingly like others Jucar once housed in his museum.

He stared out the window of the humanitarian plane, one of the few allowed to enter and exit, and surveyed the beautiful city. A vast arid plateau lay below him, fingers of streams spidering into the Barada, the river responsible for the creating the fertile Al Gutah Oasis, site of his beloved city, Damascus. Just an hour earlier, he’d barely escaped detection at a terrorist roadblock on the way to the airport.

“Don’t even breathe when they stop me,” his friend whispered from the front seat. Jucar hoped the hidden compartment beneath the back seat of the man’s car could contain his fear. The opening was small as Jucar tried to endure the cramps rising in his extremities. He clutched his computer to his chest, praying the reputation for hating the West his friend was known for, would be the decoy they needed to get Jucar out of the country. He felt the vehicle slow and then slam to a stop. The tires slid on the gravel, sending dust seeping into the hiding place, nearly choking him. He closed his eyes and felt the sweat trail down his face and drop onto the laptop encased in his balled form.

Voices outside rose and fell. He heard the slap of a man’s hand across someone’s face before gunshots ripped through the trunk just behind him. He jerked suddenly, stilled himself and held his breath. A moment later he heard a gun bang on the trunk and an unfamiliar voice screaming at his friend to open it. Finding a pair of jumper cables and three gallons of water, the trunk slammed shut.

“Search what you will!” his friend’s voice was calm and certain. “If there is anyone to be found in my car, I shall kill them for you!”

The door behind the passenger seat creaked open. A man kneeled on the seat above him, crushing his full weight onto the hidden man, forcing a wheeze of air from Jucar’s mouth. He could see the fingers of someone brushing inside the seat inches from his face. He hoped they could not smell his fear or the stench of the sweat rising from his body.

Shortly after the door closed, the car started and pulled away, the gravel again spitting behind them. He remained quiet for several minutes before he heard a voice.

“We did it, Jucar!” His friend whispered, as though someone might still hear. “They took my old computer and my wallet, as we suspected, but they knew of me, which is why I am not dead at this time.” He laughed, but Jucar was well aware of the attack his friend had just been spared. He’d witnessed the brutality boldly broadcast on the networks of the television stations now controlled by terrorist groups across Syria. “We must hurry, as they said the refugee plane will be gone by nightfall.”

Jucar’s lungs expanded and then deflated in gratitude. Outside the airport terminal entrance, Jucar said a bittersweet goodbye. He held his friend closely, knowing he might never see him again should one of them be discovered before his return. If he returned.

A Gift of Time…A Residency

I did something out of the ordinary for me today. I stretched myself. I just completed my first suspense manuscript about stolen Syrian art, a new genre for me. Although typing THE END is, for any writer, exciting, but we also understand that once the work is “completed,” doesn’t mean we don’t have more to do.

We read. We revise. We edit. We send the manuscript to beta readers or other writers to tear it apart, so that we can put it back together again. We usually don’t include close friends or family members as readers, because they love us and would never want to hurt our feelings. Then, when we have the work back in our hands, we go back it again to be sure it is the best it can be before we “shop” it around to editors and publishers. This all takes uninterrupted time, time that we usually cannot find in the midst of our busy lives.

So, because of Hope Clark’s wonderful website, Funds for Writers, I decided, on a whim, to apply for a residency. Now don’t get all excited, as I just completed the application. If you do not understand what a residency is, here is a quick run-down.

Residencies are available all over the world. Most include a free or low-cost place to stay. Some have all meals paid for in addition to a studio. Some include transportation. Very competitive residencies may offer a stipend.

Timing is year-round, though most residencies have set times with set dates of submission. Residencies can be from a few days to a year or more. Many are four to six weeks of interrupted time. Most are for single people and families are left behind. As a writer’s life is lonely, that kind of solitude is exactly what is necessary when completing a project.

Days at the residencies are self-directed. Usually there is a group of various artists, including painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, as well as writers. Most groups are small, from four to twelve people, each usually having a separate space in which to live and work. What is great about residencies is that the artist gets to work in uninterrupted space and engage with others only as they need a break. Everyone is there to focus on their work. It is challenging and expectations of each artists is high. Competition is also fierce, and filled with necessary documentation that takes days and days to get just right.

But today, I threw it all to the wind and pressed the “submit” button for my first attempt at winning a residency. My expectations are high because I am committed to writing and the difficult learning process I know I must go through to make my writing better. I am lucky to have the support to even think about this, as it was not always so.

I will never win if I never try. You might want to think about that, too!

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never thought you’d ever have the time, the money or support to do it? It doesn’t have to be writing. Maybe it is helping someone else fulfill there dream. Maybe it is giving to a cause that supports something you love. Maybe it is as simple as stopping to make a phone call to an old friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.

Whatever your dream might be, is now your time to try?

 

 

 

Theft in the Middle East

Back in 2013, the National Museum of Jakarta, Indonesia, reported the theft of some ancient treasures just weeks after beefing up the museum’s security.

Knowing that art is a link between present and past, I was amazed at how little some countries ignore it’s value. For instance, in this situation and according to the Jakarta Post newspaper, this was the third such a loss for the museum with the other two thefts found to have involved employees. All four of the items were enshrined in the same glass case. After the theft, it was found that the security system had not been working at the time of the theft.

Listed below are the items as reported by the news outlet.

1. Item: Crouching dragon-shaped golden plaque
Characteristics: Found in the ruins of Jalatunda royal kingdom bath at Mojokerto, East Java, in 10 B.C. The dragon is still in good condition with a clear shape to its mouth, teeth and tongue.

2. Item: Scripted crescent-shaped golden plaque
Characteristics: Found in the ruins of Jalatunda royal kingdom bath at Mojokerto, East Java, in 10 B.C. The crescent has triangles on the tip of both sides, which look like claws.

3. Item: Small round golden box
Characteristics: Found in the ruins of Jalatunda royal kingdom bath at Mojokerto, East Java, in 10 B.C. The box is small with an uneven surface and is made of a thin gold piece.

4. Item: Harihara golden plaque
Characteristics: Found in Penanggungan temple at Mojokerto, East Java, in 10 B.C. The plaque has a Harihara god relief and a blossoming flower decoration.

More than likely these pieces were immediately sold off to private collectors through the black market. It is just as likely that either an employee or the government had something to do with the loss of the precious works. How sad that this continues to happen as it robs all people of our world’s rich treasures.

Might make a good story, don’t you think?

When Art Disappears….

Americans know we are under attack. The hate mongers from the Middle East are bent on the destruction of our people and our land. As a threatened people, we find ourselves taking a hard line against “those” people without remembering that their are some, who value their land, their lives and their history. I, for one, well understand that we must be vigilant without hate, and tolerant without judgment, as well as smart and armed with preparedness. With that in mind, I thought about the arts.

Over the past few years, I have been disheartened to watch the destruction of art, artifacts and historical buildings being lost in Syria. In 2014, a mosque, or what we might know as a church, was destroyed by insurgents as they burned thousands of rare religious documents before destroying the site.

In the coming weeks, I will share stories of the art and architecture that has been lost to historians in an effort to reveal what the loss may mean to our world. As a Christian, I know these material things are just “things.” Yet, as an art lover, I also know the richness I have gained in viewing beautiful works and the understanding I have experienced of various cultures through art as I have travelled around the world.

Maybe, in the greater scheme of things, we all will seek to support the recovery and return of stolen works of art around the world.