DNA

Clara Friddle and husbandEarlier in the year, I had my DNA analyzed by ancestry.com and received my results within a few weeks.  It was so amazing to see all the areas of the world where my ancestry began, and how those early relatives scattered and connected, and where we have all established ourselves today.  I now have the confirmation that my family tree connections were correct, even generations back. If you haven’t researched your ancestry, you should.  The kits are not that expensive.  Our son and daughter-in-law gifted my husband and me with ours last Christmas, and it was exciting for the whole family to see the results.  My husband is adopted, so it has a special meaning for him to connect with birth relatives, most of whom he was unaware. Continue reading DNA

If Only

john lennon quote

I just watched La La Land, and loved it.  I had heard the negative reviews so sloughed it off, not worth the time to watch.  Just more Hollywood fluff, a glitzy attempt at contrived song and dance routines by actors who are neither singers nor dancers.  So it won at the Academy Awards, but that doesn’t prove anything. Continue reading If Only

Best Laid Plans

worthkeepcollage

I came across this piece I wrote over ten years ago and decided to post it.  Reading through it I thought, oh my, what a difference a decade makes!  I am not as audacious now as then, for sure.  I know I TRULY have no more time to waste, not to mention money to spend!

Since I wrote the following piece,  I have fallen as much in love with jewelry making, acrylic painting, and decorating hat boxes (not at the same time) as with all the other creative endeavors preceding them.  Those things naturally ran their course the same as did the others I wrote about back then.  Always I come back to my writing.  It patiently waits for me, my old, most faithful, long-suffering friend.  I will never say never, but for now, I believe my addiction to dabbling in various distractions and dalliances, has truly lost its passion, I really do.  The years have gotten away from me, and now the time has come to settle down and seriously focus.  I have two books to finish.  But again, the best laid plans. . . .  Continue reading Best Laid Plans

Real or Fiction?

25-books-wallpaper-books-to-read-09072013-162739I write mostly fiction.  The best stories in my opinion are about some kind of friction. Friction between characters, friction between elements, friction between the internal  and the external.  Too often my fiction is mistaken by friends, family, or casual acquaintances as autobiographical. Or if not that, then as a true account about actual people and actual events. Too often the friction is perceived as factual, and sometimes taken personally. Continue reading Real or Fiction?

Women and Children in Need

living in poverty
Photograph by Steve Liss

When my husband was a little boy, according to court documents, his mother, a widow, left him and his sister in the care of “vicious and immoral people, without proper food or sanitation.”  Due to her neglect, the county removed her youngest two children—my husband and his sister—from the residence and she lost all parental rights.  The older daughter, thirteen-years-old and pregnant, was sent to a state school for girls, where her baby was born and placed for adoption.  An older son, age sixteen, joined the army.  My husband and his sister were ultimately separated from each other.  When he was two and a half and she was five, they were adopted by different families.  They never saw their mother again. Continue reading Women and Children in Need

Verisimilitude: Sometimes a Four-Letter Word

creative-writingI know verisimilitude is a long word but it is the perfect word for what it means. Sometimes one word, and none other, will do. I came across the word, verisimilitude, for the very first time in a creative writing class. It had been scribbled in the margin of one of my short stories by the professor. “Good verisimilitude,” she had said. It happened to be a short story set during the Depression, with a lot of dialogue. The characters spoke in good ol’ rural East Texas vernacular.

Now, I know that lingo very well, in all its shades and off-colors. I was taught early on to write what I know, and apparently, the teaching stuck, for the particular jargon common to this area surfaces often in my writing. The East Texas culture seems to dominate the gene pool from which most of my bucolic (I have always wanted to use that word!) characters evolve. I know that a fictitious person, of any particular ethnicity, using uncharacteristic words, speech patterns, or body language, would finish me off before I even get started, discrediting me completely as a writer of true-to-life fiction.

I have to admit, the nature of the language and the acts of some of my characters, which is most definitely the case in my novel, The Velvet Bridge, often conflict with my own inhibitions. However, verisimilitude in my work must prevail. Any reflection of real life must portray events as vividly and believably as if the reader was actually witnessing them. Whether or not the reader approves of the reality being witnessed, or of the language being spoken, is a moot point. However, I have been subjected to some criticism, for the use of a few “bad” words, which sometimes a character insists upon using. I suspect this is a common problem among writers, one with which we must come to terms in our own way.

It has been said you cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, and that is so true. Some things just cannot be prettied up and some characters absolutely refuse to speak and behave politely! The character says what she says, and he does what he does, pure and simple. As a character-driven writer, dedicated to verisimilitude by creating honest and mature fiction—work that is believable and true to itself—I will never censor my characters in order to appease my own hang-ups, or the folks back home.

Roots, Trees, Facts, and Fiction

cropped-untold-story.jpgAlex Haley’s book, Roots, first sparked my interest in the study of family history. It fostered an acute awareness in me of the strength, the pure willpower of each of our fore-bearers, to survive. The legacy we all share, regardless of our biological beginnings, is that we are all descendants of survivors—generation after generation of survivors. That book gave me a better understanding of the miracle that each one—in his or her own place and time—survived at least long enough to produce what would become us! You know, that is an astounding thing when you think about it. Continue reading Roots, Trees, Facts, and Fiction

The Spirit of Poetry

bluebird sings
E. M. Forster, the English novelist, short story writer, and essayist whose work was one of my earliest inspirations, remains one of my favorite English authors. Forster’s creed of life can be summed up in two words, “only connect”, taken from the epigraph to his novel, Howard’s End.

The first of Edward Morris Forster’s work I read was his essay, What I Believe, and his words had a very personal affect on me.  It seemed as though I had met a new friend with whom I shared a “secret understanding” and felt reassured about my own beliefs. Continue reading The Spirit of Poetry

Reflections of Real Life in Fiction

write bravelyMy greatest challenge in writing the Velvet Bridge was to tell the tale in such a way to expose the flaws in my protagonist, Mattie Featherstone, and not leave the reader disliking her. Even though the behavior and life decisions Mattie makes in the beginning are below the standard of acceptable behavior and decency, particularly for a mother, my job is to make sure the reader loves her anyway. Continue reading Reflections of Real Life in Fiction