Dreaming of Deliverance

Recently I’ve been amazed how people enter my life. I know that’s a pretty big statement, but it’s true.  My yoga teacher, my acupuncturist, work colleges that have become friends, parents of my son’s friends, and virtual strangers who have become huge supporters of me and my writing. I feel very fortunate to have these people in my life.

One person in particular, R.E. Chambliss, I met on a committee we both belong to at our children’s school. After hearing her great ideas and witnessing her willingness to donate her time, I learned she is a published author. Naturally, my ears perked up. After the meeting adjourned, I cornered her and forced her to tell me all about her book and how she became published. That conversation led to numerous coffee dates, discussions about writing, and of course, an exchange of books.

I dove into Dreaming of Deliverance last spring. It was the first book I read on my Kindle, which was an experience itself. (Yes, I love my Kindle.) But, back to Dreaming of Deliverance.

It takes place in modern-day California. A college-age girl, Lindsay makes a bad decision and finds herself serving time at a women’s prison. While asleep one night, she slips into a dream world that is so real she finds evidence of it when she wakes. Night after night she continues her adventure, finding in it new challenges and emotions. As time passes, each morning brings sadness that she has returned and each evening brings excitement that she will see her new friends again.

R.E. Chambliss has a truly limitless imagination that finds its way to the page effortlessly. This story pushes the limits of what we consider to be science fiction.  It’s touching, fun, frustrating, desperate and dark at times.  Her characters are full of life and her setting is perfectly depicted. But watch out! With every good story there are twists and turns that surprise the reader. And Dreaming of Deliverance is no exception. Pick it up at amazon.com.

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Character Introduction #7: Christian

My final character introduction for the first book, Call Me Emily is Christian. He is a phantom character in Call Me Emily, but important none-the-less. Christian is by far the most interesting character to talk about. At least I think so. And probably not for the reasons you’d assume. He is Emily’s first love.  She meets him the summer before she leaves for college. Just when she’s mentally dismissed her home town and is ready for a new life, Christian enters bringing love and wonder. He’s articulate, sweet, well traveled and passionate.  And behind his eyes lives a world of possibility she never knew existed.

So, who is Christian to me? What’s most interesting  is that Christian represents a place. A place that has, and always will live inside me. A place that fills me with something I can’t really even describe. But, then again, can be perfectly described with one word – love.

I refer to Emily’s home town as  “Two Rivers.” I describe it in Call Me Emily “I grew up here.  In this small northern California valley, where the livestock and grape vine counts exceeded the population by thousands.” I absolutely base Two Rivers on my home town Potter Valley. When I lived there, from the time I was in second grade through high school, I  accepted it as the jail that kept me limited and behind the times. I longed for the day when I would see the welcome sign in my rear view mirror for the last time. To get out and experience life, that’s what I wished for.

When I left, The Valley didn’t take offense or even hiccup. It stayed, just as it had been, perfect and magical simply waiting for my return. It never judged me, nor did it try to lead me in a direction it thought best for me. Instead, it observed my trials and tribulations hoping that someday I’d find myself and consequently find it again.

During my personal journey of thirty nine years I have fallen in love with my home town again. It happened recently at my reunion. I always knew it was a beautiful place, but I never remembered its beauty the way I do now.  I don’t hang my hat there anymore, but I know when I visit it welcomes me with open arms and reserves a place on the coat rack for whatever I choose to leave there.

Emily stays away from her home town for years, returning in the final book, Meet Emily. Upon that return she feels a new connection with her town and the memories of the time she spent there take on a new light. And we wonder after such an up and down journey, has she found love? A true love without conditions and judgments. And who is that love?

Here is an excerpt from Meet Emily:

I was impressed, but he brushed it off as if it was no great feat. We laughed and talked about so many things, yet really nothing at all. When we reached the water’s edge we both dipped and scooped a handful of rocks as if we knew the others plans. He skipped one across the surface and I looked on surprised because it was my intention to do the same all along. I counted my skips under my breath and he heard me. His crooked smile said it. He pointed toward the water with a handful of rocks still rattling around in his palm.

“So these are two separate rivers?”
“Yeah. See over there?” I pointed. “See where they come together?”
He leaned in closer to me and looked down my arm. “Oh, yeah.” he replied stepping back just a half step. “But then …?” His eyes narrowed.
I looked over my shoulder at him knowing what he was seeing. “Then they separate again. I know.” My words were laced with sadness and I didn’t really know why.
“So they don’t meet up again?” he asked.
“No, they only come together here.” I dusted my hands off against my legs and moved away from the water’s edge. I sat back against a near tree and crossed my legs. He moved in beside me.

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Sensory Detail vs. Small Action

Recently I learned the difference between sensory detail and small action. And that statement makes me a little sad since I am in the process of writing a series of books. (Meaning, I should already know this.)

When asked about sensory detail I thought, “Of course I have plenty of detail.” Then I reviewed my manuscript again, only to find I had no idea what I was talking about.  To put it out there, sensory detail is defined by answers.com as “sensory details are ways of describing things using the 5 senses.”

I’ve italicized an example from Call Me Emily below:

The morning light was orange and yellow as it cast through the trees and onto the sidewalk.  As I ran, I watched sunlight dance across my feet as I tried to keep the pace and avoid the expansion joints in the sidewalk. I know, it’s a little obsessive compulsive, but it’s a fun game  to keep my mind off the fatigue of running.  Making a turn to go up the hill, I spotted another apartment complex I hadn’t seen before; or was it condos? I couldn’t really tell because everything kind of looks the same around here: beige stucco buildings with white molded trim. The fresh cut grass and the sound of  Rainbird sprinklers ticking was a nice addition to my run. I looped around and followed the sidewalk back to my apartment complex. The sun was further up in the sky now, and  streams of light were beginning to warm up. Yep: it was going to be another hot day.

This paragraph has quite a bit of description to bring the reader on that run with Emily,  but it’s the scents and sounds that pull it together. See? Sensory details rule!

***

Small action is just that; action that is small. It doesn’t contribute to the story but instead slows the reader down. It’s bad and you don’t need it (to keep it simple.)  See the passage from Call Me Emily below:

“Where’s the bookstore?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s in the next building. I can show you after pictures if you want.”

“Sure, that would be great.” When I got to the front of the line I handed the photographer my paperwork.

“Emily Parker,” he said reading it aloud. “OK dear, have a seat.”

I didn’t say anything and tried my best smile. I knew it wouldn’t look great since none of the muscles in my face would relax at all. Whatever.

The card went into the laminator and popped out the other side with a loud thump. I picked it up as the photographer handed my paperwork back to me. I was, officially a college student. What a trip. I waited for Allison as she went through the same routine, then we headed out of the library to the bookstore.

Allison led the way to the bookstore. We went out of the library, down the ramp that led right to the bookstore. From the outside it looked the same age as the library but had wood siding instead of stone. It was far more rustic and smaller. We walked up the steps, went inside, and were immediately surrounded by the buzz of voices and cash registers.

You see the repetitive and unnecessary nature of the last paragraph? Good, because I didn’t. This is why I read things many times and sweet friends and family point out potentially disastrous bad habits.

Isn’t learning a wonderful thing?

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