My Characters Shout at 4 A.M.

I had my alarm set for 6. Plenty of time to jump in the shower and put on my yoga clothes for my 7 a.m. class. Perhaps even time to read the local paper or take a quick turn around the garden to see what’s blooming.

But at 4 a.m. the characters in my novel started shouting at me. At 4:30 I gave up and got on my computer. They wanted to tell me a couple of ways my novel could end, and I knew if I didn’t start getting documenting them, the story lines might evaporate. That’s happened before although who knows if those brilliant ideas in the middle of the night are all that brilliant in the light of day.

Now that I have several pages of notes, I’m hoping Yvie, Lissa and Dez will let me sleep until at least ten of six in the morning. Does Dez really need to die? Probably, but won’t Lissa be devastated? Depends on the scenes to be written before those things happen – or not. I’m not planning on writing The French Lieutenant’s Woman with three different endings.

I promised to submit something to my Writers Forum for June 6 so I need to pull together 15 – 25 pages. At this point, the scenes don’t flow seamlessly. This is the first draft, after all.

Note: I didn’t have a picture to go with this blog post, so will use one from my garden. That’s a yellow achillea and a purple ground cover geranium. Notice the three leaf clover that should have been pulled, but it adds a different green to the photo.



My Garden and Writing Process Evolves

Last Sunday was a beautiful day. Saturday’s rains had blown through and my gardens are lush and blooming. I took my iPhone with its wonderful camera out to take some photos. The back yard looks like a park. Although we live in a neighborhood and have houses on three sides of us, the garden I have created over the last ten years now gives us a sense of restful privacy.

None of this was here eleven years ago this August when we moved in. I found a photo I took of the back of the house when we bought it. We had a double lot (almost 2/3 of an acre0, seven wonderful old maple trees and a little landscaping in the front that had been planted through landscaping cloth. I spent many hours removing that.

And this was the shed.

To my gardener’s eye the property was a blank canvas, but it needed some definition and I knew that we needed some place to put compost heaps, unused pots, garden stuff that you don’t need right now, but might in the future. Things you don’t want to see. I installed sheets of wood lattice attached to 4×4 pressure treated posts across the back of the property about 10 feet from the property line. Eight of them. I staggered them to create the beginnings of paths. Along the property line between us and the neighbors I installed three more. One property line has a privacy fence as the next door house was fairly close to our property line and it looked like their backyard was a big chunk of our back yard.

By the shed I installed white plastic lattice to make the shed took more important. We put window boxes on the shed and painted them yellow. This is what it looked like four years later. Unfortunately that gorgeous Golden Shower pillar rose never looked this good again. I’m now trying some alternatives.

A year after we bought the house we did renovations and added a deck out the back of where we had installed french doors flanking the fireplace. Now I could think about some landscaping.

The next year we added benches around the deck, and two years ago some railings by the steps. This is what the back of the house looks like now.

I’m thinking that my gardening process is not unlike my writing process. I spend time in the garden looking at it and thinking, visualizing. Then I plant and sometimes it’s successful and sometimes not. I move things around. A small decorative maple now happily located near the deck was moved three times. It will stay where it is.

I continue to work on book three in the Caribbean series. I spend a lot of time thinking about the characters and the story which is FINALLY revealing itself to me. I had to make a time line because I knew scenes were out of sequence. The story takes place in the summer of 2004 and thanks to the internet I could print out a calendar of those months and even find out when the moon was full. That full moon is important in making one of the bush medicine potions that is part of the plot. What the heck did writers do before Google?

At any rate, my garden evolves as does the story I am writing. The garden will never be finished. I am hopeful the novel will.



Away to the Mountains

Last week my husband and I traveled to Kalispell, Montana where my son and daughter-in-law live. We had two days with them and then we all drove to Spokane for the graduation of our oldest granddaughter from Eastern Washington University. She now has a Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy.  She has two practicums to complete before she can sit for her board exams late this fall. We are so proud of her accomplishment.

The day after we arrived both my son and d-i-l were working so my husband and I went to the movies to see The Zookeeper’s Wife. It was excellent. This is the view from the parking lot at the movie theater. Being in Montana always forces me to raise my eyes to the purple mountains’ majesty.

The graduation was a chance to see some family members. My son, who lives in Aspen, brought his father (my ex) and my daughter-in-law’s mother also came from Ohio. We had two days in Spokane with no rain. My oldest son (father of the graduate) is standing with his hand on his wife’s shoulder. My second son is second from the right. I have tall, blonde sons. 6’4″ and 6’3″.

The graduate’s sister (on the right)  is just completing her Sophmore year at Gonzaga. She’ll be in Florence, Itlay in the fall for her semester abroad. One of those sunny days we were on campus and all the kids were out soaking up the sunshine.

It was nice to get some of the family together. My older brother in California keeps talking about planning a family reunion, but I don’t know how we could possibly get everyone together. It’s a big expense for children and grandchildren, not to mention trying to coordinate schedules.

While in Kalispell we discovered the morel mushrooms had come up in the front yard. We found enough to put in our morning eggs which came from the homestead chickens. Yum!

My Montana son is a builder and this chicken coop is bear proof!

When I got home the backyard was looking like a park. Azaleas and iris blooming and the trees have leaves. The pathetic looking “grass” of February has greened and the bald spots where we put grass seed have sprouted. A lot of our yard is wire grass and lawn ivy, but when it’s green I can pretend it’s lovely turf. Most of the “helicopters” are off the maple trees and we took the tarps off the deck yesterday. It still needs to be cleaned. That’s a next week project.

Tomorrow is the Green Thumb Plant and Garden Treasures Sale at the Woman’s Club. I’ll take some photos. I dug some plants for the sale yesterday. Now I just have to figure out how to get a Victorian plant stand to the club. Somebody will love it and figure out what to do with it. The closest I came was putting empty terracotta pots on it. It needs some love and a couple of cans of black spray paint.

I love visiting with my children and watching my grandchildren grow into adulthood, but after a week away, it was good to get home and sleep in our own bed.