Raleigh Area Women Writers Televised

I am breaking my temporary blogging silence for one exciting post.

Raleigh Area Women Writers (RAWW) will be on television! This is a thrilling first for me.

I am happy to share that three members of my writing group, (including me of course), were interviewed for the Raleigh Television Network about the process and workings of creating and maintaining a writing group. The interview will air on “The Artist’s Craft” segment the first and second weeks in January, on Sunday at 8:30, and on Tuesday and Thursday of both weeks. For those of you local to Raleigh, that is channel 10.

Or, you can watch the interview now on YouTube in 3 parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

When Stacey Cochran first e-mailed me to see if I was interested in being interviewed, I was both flattered and apprehensive. See my post from October. I wondered if anyone would really want to watch a half-hour segment of me talking, so I suggested he interview the members of RAWW and he liked the idea. After watching the interview, I think anyone interested in starting a writing group or writing fiction may actually learn something about the writing process.

I have been making good progress on my YA novel in progress, THE MAGIC QUILT. The daily journal has helped me focus. I think I may just finish by year end.

As therapy for my father’s recent passing, I allowed myself to take a break from THE MAGIC QUILT to write a short story this week titled Good Game, about a man who is visited by his dead father every morning. I had planned the story to be titled, Into the third and fourth generations, about the personality disorders inherited by a young girl in a psychiatric hospital. But once I started writing, the young woman turned out to be the sister of the main character. I think it may shape up into a nice piece once I have time to polish it.

Creative cussing

Insert your own cuss word here! I used every one that I knew last night.

Driving home from Burlington from my appointment with my therapist — Yes I Have a Therapist–and I Believe Everyone Should — my car started vibrating and the steering was off. I was in the second from the left lane of the four lanes of highway 40, driving way too fast. Thinking that the timing belt, water pump, something mechanical must be malfunctioning, I swerved over two lanes of traffic and onto the shoulder of the highway with my heart pounding. The acrid smell of burned rubber made me think one of the belts had melted. My heart went in my throat when I realized that I didn’t have my cell phone. I had discovered it missing from my purse when I tried to call Harry yesterday afternoon.

I got out of the car and literally kicked the tire. The front left tire was flat. I was in Chapel Hill, twenty miles from home. The exit sign said 1 1/2 miles to exit 273. What does a person do when they are stranded on the highway with no phone. Having lived in the age of cell phones for nearly a decade, I didn’t know how to function without it. It was 6:30, but it was dark and already getting cold. I could walk the mile and a half to the exit, but then I’d be leaving the car and didn’t know what I’d find at the exit. I could have changed tire myself, but the lug wrench was missing from the trunk. Talk about poor planning on my part.

I spent the next few minutes searching the interior of the car for the phone. Still not sure what to do, I decided to stay with the car thinking that a state trouper would pass by and help. After a few minutes of that, getting impatient I stood by my car waving my hands in the cold. I do not recommend this. It is dangerous. Cars were whizzing by about a foot away from me, at upwards of 70 mph, and the wind from their passing was cold. Still, I swallowed my fear and waved my arms for a half hour, letting passersby know I was in trouble. No one stopped, which didn’t surprise me. I probably wouldn’t have stopped for some mad woman waving her arms by a stalled car. But, I did think one of the drivers would have called 911 and a state trouper would have stopped.

Finally a man who worked for AAA, but was off duty, actually stopped. He didn’t give me his contact information, so I can’t thank him properly, but thank you kind stranger. He called AAA for me. A tow truck came within minutes and ten minutes later I was driving home on the donut.

This morning I discovered that had I left my phone in my coat pocket, which was at home. I could have used both the coat and the phone last night. I will never again drive without my cell phone.

Developing characters through experience

Yesterday, after I went for a morning swim, I locked my keys in the car, followed by a comedy of events that made me an hour late for work. After getting grease and dirt on the front of my new white, wool pant suit while trying to find the magnetized set of keys that I keep under the car, I drove onto Interstate 440 going the wrong way. (The interstate is not known as the baffling beltline for nothing). Signs are labeled inner and outer beltline, north or south, which doesn’t help me to know which will take me east to Durham. So I pulled off 440 and got back on only to be funneled in the same wrong direction away from Durham. I took the next exit trying for an alternate route on 70, but instead got lost in Durham. But that’s not the reason that I added this category to my blog (Life Comes at me Hard).

Yesterday, life slammed me hard. Wham! Right into my past. I haven’t seen my father in ten years. During that time I’ve talked with him only twice on the phone, once two months ago and once yesterday. When people ask me if I’m close to my father, I say no. I never expand upon that unless someone asks. Usually they don’t, and when they do I almost never tell the whole truth. It has taken me years of therapy to reach the level of denial I thought I had achieved. See my essay: Yes I Have a Therapist–and I Believe Everyone Should.

I thought I had worked through my sadness and anger toward my father. I didn’t think I had any feelings for him left. Then I got the following e-mail from my aunt, my father’s sister.

I just talked with him (my father) on the phone. He does not have email because he is not able to use it. He has a walker with a seat on it and a wheel chair. He went to the doctor again. The doctor said the radiation killed 20% of his nerves. He is like a very old man. He has not been out of the house for 2 months. They simply cannot get him into the car. He is very helpless. He sleeps in his chair. He would like to hear from you girls. He says he can’t get well unless God heals him.


After reading the e-mail I found myself crying while driving to the swimming pool. Hence my confusion while driving around in circles after swimming. My father has recovered from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But after the tumors were removed from his spine and he endured the chemo and radiation that was necessary to treat the cancer, his muscles have atrophied from lack of use.

I pictured my father, the man who raised me, the man who abused me, now in a wheel chair unable to leave the house. Maybe he deserved it. Be he was also the man who took me on 30 mile bike rides as a little girl, who played endless card games with my sisters and me, never tiring of our games, who played softball with us in our backyard. That active, energetic, youthful man was sleeping in a wheelchair.


That blast from the past could be the key to my writing success. As a writer I can use my bad relationship with my father to develop the new women characters that I create. Because girls model our male romantic ideal on our relationship with our father, he teaches us how we should expect to be treated by males when we get older. He teaches us by the way he speaks and acts toward us and the women in his life. It is from our fathers that girls learn lessons about the world of males. From her father a woman gains first-hand knowledge of how ordinary men think, act and speak.

Fiction writers must create imperfect, flawed characters because that is the way people are.

Most of the women characters I relate to in the books that I love to read are flawed, like myself, many due to their childhoods. In David Baldacci’s Simple Genius the lead female’s personality changed due to an event from her childhood. I can’t spoil the book to say what it was. In Kathy Reich’s series of books that the TV show Bones is based on, the lead character, Tempe, is a divorced recovering alcoholic who has trouble with relationships.

So, I can create a woman character who does not have a loving dependable father. This imaginary person may actually seek men who deny her needs or reject her. She may always be haunted by the thought that she is unlovable. To compensate, she may become sexually active prematurely or she may fear intimacy. She will be imperfect and readers will be able to empathize with her.

When she drives onto the baffling beltline going the wrong direction, or locks her keys in her car because her sick father is on her mind, readers will believe in her. When she looks in her rearview window, readers may see themselves.