Friday, March 11, 2011

Shaking it up

I'd planned to write about another aspect of fiction writing but this is not a day for that. The major earthquake in Japanl, with its accompanying tsunami, is the talk of the day. For good reason.
Again, we are reminded just how puny we humans are as we cling to the globe we were fated to populate. My prayers go out to those who found themselves in the path of nataure's fury this day. Nobody planned for this to happen, nobody wanted this to happen, and nobody is to blame for it. We sometimes forget that we are survivors here; that, no matter what we'd like to believe, we survive or succumb at the whim of natural forces so great we can do nothing about them.
Perhaps that is over-reaching the point. We have done something that helps a bit. Our devices that warn us of impending disaster are able now to help some avoid the worst of a natural disaster, and I'm thankful for that. But my point is that we can do nothing to avoid the event itself and can only stand prepared to take shelter or evasive action.
Let me attempt to focus this on our writing. We can and should learn everything about our craft. We can and should strive for excellence in each and every page we allow others to see. We can and should edit, rewrite, remove, revisit, and edit some more before we call our effort complete. Even then, we must be ready to accept a good editor's criticism in order for our 'baby' to be born with any chance of survival.
Then, when it's out there, we have to stand by with prayer in our heart for it to find traction and live on its own. That is the hardesst part, especially when the new book is only one of many 'babies' born at a given moment. There are things we can do to help it along, but for the most part, it has to take root in the hearts of readers before it has any chance for longevity. Some will die, stillborn. Others will expire of whatever dread disease we could not have forseen or, even if we could, we could not avoid.
So, today, I'm offering up a prayer that your best literary efforts are successful. And we would be remiss if we did not offer any help we can give to those on our planet who just suffered once again from natural disaster (I refuse to call this 'mother' nature.)
The second in the series of excerpts from my upcoming novel SLEEPING WITH HER ENEMY is below. Be sure to read my previous blog for details of my contest. Cheers from sunny mid-Missouri.
Pat Dale


“Mr. Morrison, you got a visitor, a Sue Stansworth. Says she’s your sister, down from Chadron.”
“Sue’s here?” Dan stared at the deputy and grimaced. His family must have learned of his problem. Well, sure they did since he’d asked for them to be contacted to take care of Sherry. “Can I see her?”
“Yep. We have a visitor’s room and I’ll put her in there. The guard’ll bring you in and you two can make whatever plans you need to.” The guard added with a grin, “Other than breaking out of here.”
When he was led into the room, he found his sister nursing a cup of coffee. “Hi, Sue. Sorry to cause you to come all the way out here.”
“Dan? What in hell has happened to you?”
“It’s all a big mix-up. Peg’s car somehow got used in a hit and run accident that killed a little boy and they think I was the driver.”
“Good grief! That’s awful. Were you?”
“What do you mean, was I? Of course not! Sue, you know I could never do anything like that. If I had hit someone, don’t you think I’d at least stop to do what I could for them?”
She smiled sadly. “The brother I knew would have. Unless you’ve become a different person, I don’t see how you could possibly have done this.”
He scowled. “Well, thank you for small favors, sister of mine. I haven’t changed. But they have blood evidence that Peg’s convertible was the one that did it.”
She took his hand and squeezed it. “Sounds like you need a good lawyer.”
“Now that’s something I have. His name is Patrick and he’s the best around these parts. It’ll take some time, though, and that’s why I need to talk to you. Sherry needs a home until I can get out of here.”
“How is she taking it?”
“Not well, if I know my daughter. Can you believe she actually wanted to stay with the woman who blew the whistle on me?”
“You’re kidding. Who is the woman?”
He hesitated. It would be trickier explaining his romantic entanglement to his sister than he’d thought in advance. Maybe if he skirted the issue it would work. “The nurse who attended Sherry when she was in the hospital.”
Sue said, “Whoa! Sherry was in the hospital? What happened to her?”
“She got an infection and was running a fever. I panicked and took her in, but they got her back on her feet in a couple of days. In the process, I met Ana Henry, her nurse, and we spent some time together.” His flaming face was a dead giveaway.
“Ana, huh? Sounds pretty uppity to me.” Sue smirked. “Quality time, Dan, or sack time? Sounds like the nurse did a little more than just be a professional caregiver.”
Blushing, he admitted, “A little more.” He didn’t want to confess how much more, at least not yet. Sue was his closest ally right now, but even she might balk at his taking a new lover. “Uh, she came up to the house to help Sherry learn how to clean her feminine area. That’s what caused the infection that made her sick.”
“Oh. I see.” It was clear to him that she didn’t see.
“There’s a little more to it than that, but for now that’s enough. Anyway, while Ana and Sherry were walking around up there, Ana found the car in the old shed. When she looked at it, she realized it had been in an accident.”
“So how does that make a friendly nurse suspect that your car hurt someone?”
“Not hurt. Killed. The little boy died.”
“Oh my God! They’re accusing you of killing an innocent child?”
He dropped his head. “In a nutshell, you could say that.”
“Dan, this may be a real mess before it’s over.”
“Tell me about it. Now you know why I need a place for Sherry to stay. It may go into the school year and I don’t want her living with strangers.”
“I can understand that. And yes, she can stay with me while you unravel this thing.”
Sue was married, but she and her husband had never had children. In her forties, his sister had given up on motherhood. Maybe this could at least give her a chance to develop mothering skills. Dan hoped so.
Sue frowned at him. “You still didn’t answer my question. How did this Ana figure into the scheme of things? Enough to call in the law?”
He groaned. This was the tough part. “It was her son that got killed.”
She stared at him, unbelieving. “The nurse your daughter was assigned at the hospital, had a son killed by a hit and run driver. Turned out, it was your car that hit him. And you took her to your home to help your daughter. Lord, have mercy!”

Be sure to log in next week for the third excerpt. Please let me know what you think.


  1. I love your heart and acknowledgement and sensitivity with what's going on. Your book blurb looks disturbing as well and I will tune in next time. Thanks for sharing. I'm from Missouri and my family has been calling this morning to check on me (I'm now in CA). I guess I'm glad to reach out to someone else there in Missouri. A fellow muse from my home state...I'm not surprise at your obvious

  2. Nice excerpt, Pat.

    I visited Japan once and the people were very nice, my heart goes out to them

  3. Wonderful post and so true. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature's power. It is time we learned to respect her. As for our writing? We are in this ecause we love what we do. There is no American Idol for us, no X Factor, only patience, hard work and an unfailing belief in our ability.


  4. The tsunami video from Japan is astounding. So tragic. Puts a little New England blizzard in serious perspective. Enjoyed your latest excerpt, Pat. Tangles and tension, what more could a reader want?