Fathers come in all shapes and sizes and their parenting styles run the gamut. My dad was strict, but always fair and never dull. I was okay with his rules because at least I knew what to expect. With the trials and tribulations, confusion, and drama of adolescence I found comfort in having consistency in this major aspect of my life, no guess work involved when it came to my parents. I knew I could count on them and I knew how far I could push them, so I wasted no time in this pointless youthful exploration. Certain restrictions were also a vital part of growing up in the country. Many of the rules were instituted to keep us safe from poisonous snakes, horses, power tools, irrigation canals, etc., but having limits never stifled our fun or creativity. We were free to explore on motorbike and horseback within realistic parameters and the most outrageous adventures we undertook together. Without his unique idea of recreation and family vacations I wouldn’t have been able to write Big Horn Storm. Though the book is pure fiction, many of the scenes would have been difficult to create without a few real-life experiences to draw upon. I’ll be forever grateful to my Dad for being a parent, first and foremost, and encouraging outdoor adventures which have created enough story ideas to last a lifetime.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I was recently interviewed on Carlene Havel’s Blog (http://goo.gl/B10ha). She asked me, “Do you ever frighten yourself when you’re deeply involved in writing a suspenseful story?”
My answer was, “No. Most of my adventures are really out there, set in the mountains, jungles, deserts or other exotic locals, many of which I’ve visited with no crisis or unpleasant experiences. What I couldn’t write are serial killer or psychological thrillers. Those types of stories show up on the news often enough that they are too entrenched in reality. I like my adventures to be a little less likely to happen in real life. Stories can be incredibly suspenseful using the “what if” scenario.”
What if America was invaded by an unlikely coalition of enemies? What if the approximately 500 missile silos scattered across the West were deemed too dangerous to leave unsecured? What if the control facilities happen to be in the vicinity of your serene mountain retreat? How far would you go to survive and protect those you love? Big Horn Storm
What if we unwittingly relinquished most of our rights resulting in an authoritarian government? What if in the attempt to avoid conflict among the citizens we were stripped of basic rights, including the option to choose our own mates and fall in love? Would the desire to regain control of your life push you to challenge a formidable foe and attempt an escape through an inhospitable desert landscape? Desperate Dreams
What if a seemingly perfect life is turned upside down during a simple vacation at a common destination? Could you persevere in the face of tragedy, terror and the formidable natural obstacles of a wild jungle? Would you put your trust in the hands of a handsome stranger? Marked in Mexico
When creating suspense there are many mechanisms to accomplish this, but in order to allow me to sleep at night I think I’ll stick with the, “what if,” scenarios. I hope my readers enjoy the tension and adventures associated with the endless possibilities in our complex world.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Sandra Calbrin flies to Africa after a military coups to check on the orphans she sponsors and to collect shea nuts for beauty creams in her health spa. Urged by the pastor, she agrees to vaccinate infants.
Shocked by the often dangerous practices that parents in the region engage in, she struggles to prevent them from harming their children. To prove she can care for a child, Sandy takes in an abandoned baby and names her Blessing, hoping to break the child’s curse.
Unfamiliar with obscure customs, Sandy breaks local taboos, is accused of prostitution, and of having an illegitimate child.
Blessing’s father demands money in exchange for his daughter. Selling children is illegal but returning Blessing to her father almost guarantees the infant’s death.
Military officers harass Sandy and refuse to renew her visa unless she consents to their unscrupulous ultimatums. Blessing’s relatives and the police officers pursue her with threats and immoral demands. They come after her like a pack of lions preying on a wildebeest.
When rebel soldiers take up arms and gunfire erupts in the village, Sandy and her baby Blessing are in danger. Since military officials and immigration authorities continue to terrorize her, who can help her and will she keep her Blessing?
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Writer’s conferences are great ways to learn about the craft, meet agents and editors, network with other writers and just have a good time with like-minded people. Here are a few upcoming conferences to check out.
Pacific Northwest Writers Association Writer’s Conference
Where: Seattle, Washington
When: July 25 -28, 2013.
For more information: http://pnwa.org/conference
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers 2013 Colorado Gold Conference
Where: Denver, Colorado
When: September 20 - 22, 2013.
For more information: http://rmfw.org
Saturday, June 1, 2013
I hope you’ve been enjoying the “Sparks” posts. These small nuggets from successful authors are intended to give readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the thoughts that go into a story and encourage writers to not overlook even the smallest of life experiences when crafting a scene. Gay N. Lewis highlighted the value of research, Bonnie McCune noted the importance of not only looking at your own experiences, but considering those around you. This week Carlene discusses traditions, family stories and childhood memories.
Carlene Havel: My family has a tradition of story-telling. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve nestling in a relative’s lap, trying to stay awake while someone spun a yarn from times past. During the 2012 holidays, I was thinking about the hardships my grandparents faced during the Great Depression. Wouldn’t it be interesting to incorporate some of these wonderful treasures into a book? This kernel of an idea grew into a short novel to be entitled “A Sharecropper’s Christmas”. It’s mainly about my paternal grandmother, based loosely on her experiences as a farm wife during the 1930s. I admit to changing names and locations, along with invoking some literary license. For the most part, I drew on my own recollections of family stories, and my mother helped by providing additional details. While “A Sharecropper’s Christmas” won’t be classified as an adventure novel per se, the story is about life—the greatest adventure of all!