Saturday, March 10, 2018

Now that you’re gone, too

Gina Giovanni
I’m sorry for abandoning you - I still cry when I think about it. I know it’s useless, I guess it’s just  hard to know what to say after the mountaintop we shared crumbled. I’m sorry for being less than you deserve.

C. Glacier
You’re running after a love I know is sinking. It will drown you if you let it, but my best efforts to warn you are ignored. I hope I’m wrong. I hope you survive.

Fiona Smythe
I killed you, didn’t I? I didn’t intend to, but somehow it seemed so much easier than telling you the truth. Maybe someday the silence that replaced you will become comfortable.  I’m sorry I lost the right to care about you. Just so you know, I still do.

I got in the car with you last night - late. You told me where to go and together we drove up that mountain. It was cold but you kept me warm with hot tears - reminding me of that day. Of the stage I stood on, the part I played. You told me I should be grateful for the memories and for you. After all, you never left me

Saturday, March 3, 2018


I didn’t invite Nightmare into my home, but he snuck in this week. I let my hair down for the night, climbed into a cold bed and turned out the light, thinking I was alone.

I read the news and suddenly Nightmare had slid from his hiding place and was breathing down the back of my neck. He whispered, “look how you failed, look at the pain and know that it’s your fault.” He made me cry - hard like when I was little, but mom’s not here anymore to tell me it isn’t real.

And even if she was, I couldn’t believe her this time.

Finally, exhausted, I slid my knife of truth across his neck and silenced him with a sentence: “Don’t lie to me - there’s nothing I could’ve done.”  Nightmare didn’t die, but crept back under my bed and kept quite long enough for me to fall asleep a few hours before dawn.

He was there the next night though, and he’d grown. This time I had to tell him to move over just so I could fit in the bed. 

Before he could start, I insisted it wasn’t my fault. He said that’s right my dear - you couldn’t keep her safe just like you can’t keep anyone safe.  No one is truly safe with Nightmare on the loose.

I finally realized that Nightmare was in my bed because I had opened the door and let him in willingly. So I tossed the blankets aside, went to my knees and talked to the good Shepherd. I didn’t have much to say, but I cried to him and asked him to take Nightmare from me. I thanked him for being the only good part of this - for providing comfort and a warm welcome for lost little children.

Nightmare sits outside my house now, curled up beneath my porch. He follows me to work sometimes, and visits me in the night. But he’s not in power for much longer, and I know someone much stronger.

Friday, February 23, 2018


“Meant to be.”

This is a concept that’s hard for me to get on board with. 

What does that mean, meant to be? Does it mean that God wants it happen? Or is it just something that we say to make ourselves feel better? 

I still think about the little boy we almost had. I was watching a television show and this family had a foster kid living with them.  It showed them bonding, learning about one another, and settling into their new life together.  Then, after a few episodes, the foster girl's mother (who they thought was gone for good) came back into the picture and they said had to say goodbye to the girl. All of their dreams of having her in their life forever were suddenly ripped away. 

I cried and cried about it, it bothered me so much.  I couldn’t figure out why, and then I wondered if maybe it was because my parents struggled with the same thing.   

I know God has a plan, and maybe that’s what we’re talking about when we say that something is meant to be or not. But so often humans act outside of God’s plan, sin gets in the way, so I think in the end it’s difficult to tell whether or not something is meant to be. Whether something was within God‘s perfect will or whether it happened as a result of someone’s mistake.

Maybe he ended up with a family that cares deeply about him. Maybe this experience was meant to happen so that my siblings and I would have an example of love from my parents.  Maybe that little boy didn't need our family, but another child will need a loving home and one of us will provide the home he or she needs.  I’m not really sure but I hope that little boy, who must be a little man by now, is alright. I’m praying for him tonight.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


“You invented me.”
The frozen dirt crunched beneath our feet and I studied the path, seeking out the best way forward.
“What do you mean?”
“Do we really have to go over this again?” She stopped and turned to face me. The brisk air stung my nose. “You don’t live in the real world, Eric.  You don’t face problems, and every time I turn around I’m hearing you tell me something new about myself.”
“Like what?”
“Like... well I don’t know.”  She turned to continue down the trail.
We kept on in the relative silence of the mountain path for a while before she said, “I don’t like tomatoes.”
“What? Yes you do.”
I regretted the words as soon as they left my mouth.
“See?” She laughed bitterly. “This is exactly what I’m talking about. I’m so sick of those sandwiches you make me try every day and all their tomatoe. It’s so squishy and acidic. I’ve told you four times that I don’t like them but you’re always off in another world. You don’t see me and you don’t care.”
“Jovi, that’s hardly fair.”
“Isn’t it?”
“I love you, Jovi.”
“You’re doing it again!”
“Avoiding. Avoiding your problems, avoiding this conversation, avoiding real life!”
Our pace had quickened and we barely noticed. I shoved my hands in my pockets to try to warm my fingers. They were so cold they felt wooden.
“I’m not avoiding, I just-”
“Call her then,” she interrupted.
It took me a moment to realize what she was talking about, and when I did, my stomach dropped.
“Call who?”
“Don’t pretend like you don’t know.”
“Babe,” I said quietly, the frustration gone from my voice.  “That’s different.”
“No it isn’t.”
She stepped over a log and continued on at our brisk pace.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
My left foot made it over the log, but the tip of my right boot (a size too large for me) hooked under the log and down I fell. My hands were in my pockets, so I turned a shoulder to the ground in the half second of realization I had before I landed with a sickening crack.
For half a second I thought it was a branch breaking, but then lightning shot up my leg and I stifled a moan.
Jovi walked on, still talking, while I laid there for seconds unmoving, trying to figure out what to do.

Friday, November 17, 2017


I love you is how we sign off with the people we love. It’s the last thing we say at night to our spouses or children, it’s how we end phone calls.  I love you is how we say goodbye.

So I suppose it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Winding Road

So. I want to write a great twist.  Maybe even a double twist.  I love them to death, some of my favorite parts of my favorite books are when I come upon something I didn’t see coming and all of a sudden the game is changed. It’s like magic, the way authors can lay down the hints and wrap every thread of a book together so that one twist suddenly makes everything fall into place like a giant puzzle who’s picture was a mystery without that final piece.

But I have this teacher, one of the best personal authorities I have when it comes to literature, who has said before that he doesn’t like twist endings the likes of O Henry and such.  Now, a twist for its own sake, or one that doesn’t improve the story is to be avoided.  And I think he was talking about turning literature into a gimmick - 

“Hey look, I can trick you into thinking one thing and slam you into a brick wall at the end by doing something completely different!  Wasn’t that fun?”  

Yeah, not the type of twist ending I want to write. Instead I want to write something so good it makes me feel like an all-out genius.  My, we authors are a presumptuous crowd, but it's true.

Twists are tough, though.  They can be done so wrong that they ruin the entire book.  So how do you write a good twist?  I’m not trying to plan out an entire book in advance, but twists do generally work best if you know the twist is coming (as the author).  So.  What are my favorite twists and why do they work?  (I'll limit this to twists within the genre I'm writing, so as not to make this post 150 pages long)
*Spoiler alert!

The Fault in Our Stars
Two kids with cancer fall in love.  The girl is in bad shape, the guy dies.  When I found out that it was Augustus that was dying, it completely wrecked me.  I was so sure it was Hazel that was in worse shape, he was in remission, it wasn’t fair. I’ll never forget the line “my scans lit up like a Christmas tree, Hazel Grace.”  Or some such.  I think what really made the twist hard to see coming was the misdirection (like any great magic trick).  I thought I was supposed to be gearing up for the death of Hazel.  I was looking right where the author wanted me to be looking: at the distraction.  So what makes this twist great?  The misdirection, the tragedy of death and young love coming to an end, I wasn’t unwarned – he said at the very beginning that his cancer could come back, and it was the very same thing I was so afraid would happen – to someone else.

We Were Liars

Okay, this twist was great because I knew something was wrong the whole time but I kept ignoring it.  Nothing made sense but I kept ignoring the obvious conclusion – she had a head injury and was seeing things.  The unreliable narrator is sort of a controversial thing – are you cheating?  Are you lying to your audience?  Personally, in this case I think it works because you know she's injured and you know that things aren't lining up.  But a main character outright lying, for instance, would not work for me.  So if a narrator isn’t reliable, but mostly because they aren’t in possession of all the facts, that can work.  Plus it was just so tragic and startling – her best friends were dead and we just loved them all by the time we understood.  So much possibility came crashing down, and suddenly everything made sense.  If a twist can somehow make everything make sense, that’s an accomplishment.  

So misdirection, staying honest, characters not being aware of all the facts of the story are all good ingredients.  But it's still a tricky recipe to get right.  Thoughts?  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Line #1

If we allowed ourselves to crack, I’m sure we would crumble beneath the weight of it all.  Perhaps it is better to keep this cold brick wall between our heart and the world around us, perhaps it is how we survive.