So, I didn’t mean ‘express’ in this way but…hey it got your attention no?
In the peace of the morning,
In the peace of the woods,
Earliest birds start the chorus,
The gentle, jingle of crickets,
The back drop until the sun,
says they are done.
Wind through trees, through leaves,
The soothing, cleansing air,
That whispers breath, life, voice, prayer.
If I could hide in you morning,
I would never leave,
Never allow the cacophony of day,
To lead me astray.
Stay with me, sink into me,
Absorb into my deepest subconscious,
And I promise,
I will return to you,
play back your song,
of awakening calm.
I heard a story, not sure if it’s true about a man, let’s call him Hal, who at the beginning of 2020 wanted to find a way to deal with the lockdown. He was a regular guy with a few kids, I’m guessing three. Like so many others at that time, he decided to invest in a fifth wheel trailer. This kind of trailer has an overhang sleeping loft and usually is towed with a huge hitch in the bed of a powerful pickup truck.
He bought the truck. He bought the trailer. The family went on one camping trip and everyone loved it. Why wouldn’t they? The trailer had all the modern amenities. A full kitchen with granite counters, deep sink, residential sized fridge. There were three televisions, a mid bunk room, a bath and a half, the works. They stayed at a private resort campground and although they couldn’t swim in the pool, couldn’t hang out in the game room or playground, there was an ice cream stand that delivered door to door.
After that one trip however, there was a problem with the air conditioning. Something came loose, maybe it was a screw on a blower, but the end result was the AC didn’t work right. It had to go in to the dealer for a warranty covered repair. This is not the sad part of the story.
The dealership was super busy as everyone and their grandmother was either buying an RV that needed to be prepped or was bringing in their ancient RV to be repaired as it had now become their most valuable possession.
Any rig being brought in was parked in the overflow lot next to the dealership. Hal brought in his nearly brand new rig, handed the keys to the receptionist at the office and was told, “we’ll have her fixed and back to you end of day.”
The day ended with no call. Nest day came, and again Hal didn’t get the call to come pick up his trailer. He waited until late afternoon but then got a message that the office closed at four. It was understandable that the repair might take longer than a day. It would have been nice to get a phone call. Again he put aside his complaint in favor of being reasonable. It was a crazy time. Customer service was the first thing to go in crazy times.
Finally late the next day he got a phone call. There was a delay it would be a few days more. Hal held back the few choice words he had to say and accepted the circumstances. They didn’t have another camp trip for three weeks. There was time.
Time flew by. Into the second week, Hal was a little less agreeable.
“What’s the problem? I don’t understand. You said you had the part. It was a quick job.”
“Yes, we’re very sorry but we’ll take care of it today.”
“If it doesn’t happen, I’m going to come by, get the part and get my trailer.”
“That won’t be necessary.”
“Great, thank you.”
The end of the day, there was another call.
“Your trailer is ready. Come by any time during office hours.”
He took off from work early, pulled into the dealership, picked up his keys and headed for the lot where his trailer was parked. Only thing was, the trailer was not where he parked it. Then he realized, of course it would have been moved. He searched every row but could not find it. He made the assumption that it was in the main business lot, maybe still being prepped. They were supposed to wash the rig after every service call. The person at reception was the same but he noticed he didn’t see any of the sales people he dealt with when they bought the rig. He had spent nearly a full day and a few hours over a week debating which one to purchase. Now that he thought of it, the décor was different too. They must have remodeled in the past thirty days. He ignored the red flags flying and went up to the desk.
“I’m sorry, I should have asked. Where is my rig parked?”
She smiled. “Sure, I’ll look it up.”
Hal gave her his name, the type of rig and waited. She typed away on a keyboard, scrolled through screens with the zippy clicking of a mouse. Then she looked up. “Just one minute,” she stammered. “I’m having an access problem.” She gave him a shaky smile then disappeared into an office.
Hal stood there for five minutes. Another customer came up next to him. The receptionist returned.
“Can I help you?” She asked the woman standing next to Hal.
“Hey, not meaning to interrupt, but weren’t you taking care of me?” Hal said trying really hard to keep his tone even. His wife aways told him, “if you feel that vein at your temple throbbing, it’s probably a good idea to take a deep breath and step away from the situation’. Well he couldn’t step away. That was part of the problem. He had kept his distance way too long. “Can I please see your manager?”
The woman next to him backed away from the counter.
The receptionist gave him a thin smile. “I escalated your situation. He’ll be right out.”
“Please it will only be moments. There are others that need help.” A line of two more people had formed. “Can you step aside and wait over there?” She pointed to one of the chairs with a potted plant next to it and a rack of brochures about the joys of RV ownership.
“I’m going to stay right here, thank you.”
It was another twenty minutes before a man dressed in khakis and a golf shirt sporting a logo of a teardrop trailer with speed lines under its wheels on a winding road. It caught Hal’s attention. Wasn’t the logo CW with a mountain behind it?
“You like the logo?” the man said. “We had to ditch the CW since we are no longer “Camping World”. We’re “Camp Universe”and we’ve got so much more to offer. Name is George, how can I help you?”
“You can give me my trailer back.”
George laughed. “Of course!” George went to the keyboard. The receptionist glanced sideways at George.
“What did you say the make and model was?”
Hal repeated it.
“When did you bring it on?”
“I told her all this already,” Hal said pointing to the receptionist.
“I’m sorry just double checking your information.”
Hal noted beads of sweat forming on George’s brow. A full minute of silence went by then George looked up. “Mr.Weis, we don’t have any record of your trailer coming in for repair. Are you sure you’re at the right location?”
After throwing his wife’s advice aside and making sure everyone in ear shot knew he was a very unhappy customer, it was explained that the dealership had changed hands. His trailer was not in the roster waiting for repairs. The new owners had no knowledge that it existed. When Hal asked how could he get a call that it was repaired. That was the receptionist’s error. She had his name and trailer type on a notepad. There was another fifth wheel, same make and model that completed repair when she saw the note, she thought he was the owner. She was an employee of the previous owners and claimed she was so busy she kept a list of what she needed to do. She didn’t notice that she had out an old notebook and list.
“But we can provide you with the contact information of the previous owners so you can bring the matter up with them.” He took back the keys.
That led to getting a lawyer and listening to the legalese that said that the lot where he parked his trailer had a sign, “park at your own risk”and even though the dealership ran out of space and had promised to fix the AC the same day, they were not responsible for maintaining the security of the trailers.
Because the trailer was likely gone for more than thirty days, Hal had a tough time convincing the insurance company he managed his asset diligently.
In the end, Hal did not get back the money he invested in the trailer. He could not afford another trailer. The family’s camping fun was over. He was bitter and angry. A news story ran locally that painted the dealership as heartless, greedy and uncaring.
Note- this is a dramatized version of my recollection of a story in the news, ninety percent fiction.
I’m sharing this story because something comical and unexpected happened to me that made the news story a part of my reality. The individual who had the experience of his trailer stolen while parked in a “park at your own risk” lot, erected a big sign that blasted “Camping World” as not being a reputable business. I drove past this every day for months. I considered how disappointed and sad it was for this man to have envisioned happy memories with his family in a new trailer, and then be robbed, left without recompense and his only outlet was to share his anger with the public. A little further up the road there was even a sign on a front lawn, a little hidden in bushes that said, “Camping World for sale $5”. At least that’s what I thought it said. Recently, another sign was added round the bend, “Camp Wood $5”. It was only after the context of the new sign, that I looked at the other more carefully (mind you this is going by at fifty-five miles and hour)and noted the other sign said “Camping Wood”. I really still can’t believe that for a year, I saw “Camping World” and pondered that it was a strange joke to make a sign that it was for sale at a bargain price. It never made sense to me except that he was that upset. But it’s all about context (and speed!) which totally relates to writing.
Context cues have to be clear and they usually work best with a little reinforcement. It was the second sign about Camp Wood that allowed me to see the first sign in a new light. So if you’re writing a scene that a conversation is leading up to an explosion of emotion, be sure to have context cues that say things are going down hill. For example, the sky darkening from a storm on the way, a cloud blocking the sun, a crow or hawk screeching, black smoke belching from a truck, you get the idea. Without the proper cues, the reader may not be prepared for the next scene which may lead to some head scratching.
Sorry couldn’t come up with a better example than that. Point is, humans easily read things wrong, so don’t be surprised when people miss something about your story that you thought was obvious. Just learn, add some context cues, see if that doesn’t help.
Write on! Camp on too, but maybe set up a security camera if you have to leave a camper unattended.
We enter an arched door, into a snug vestibule,
Where shoes line up in a neat row,
And hooks have cloaks hanging.
Rose pulls off her shoes and slides into slippers.
There’s another pair, grey plaid.
They look my size.
“Go on,” Rose says.
“Never mind, just follow.”
I do as she says.
My feet sing in these slippers,
Supple, cushioned, perfect fit.
Yes, I hear a song.
But the melody is from my lips,
Released without thought by a bird,
Its music travels, through the house
Calling me to rooms within,
Memories unknown, till now.
A spade is a spade,
So call it that,
Don’t call it Queen of Hearts,
Or King of hearts,
Or any kind of hearts.
It’s not just the cards dealt,
But the cards you pick up,
Even so, it’s all just a game,
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you all on the newest revisions to the novel drafted in NaNoWriMo 2020. The changes are drastic. The first chapter is now more like a prologue. I’ve seen it done effectively in other novels but I’d really like some feedback on if it works. Is it cheating to call it a chapter? I’ve started the story even further along than previous new starts. I’ve cut most of the backstory and background story concerning Maisey’s family. I’ve switched from first to third person (still working on that revision). I’m toying with if it should be solely from Maisey’s POV in third or open it up to Tyler’s and any other strong supporting characters. Would love to hear your thoughts on if multiple POV (not head popping) is a plus or a minus. Hope you enjoy the latest version.
Kill Words (Draft first chapter) By Clare Graith ; approximate word count 85,000.
The vial contained the essential ingredient needed to start the next pandemic. So valuable, but only in theory, right? It might as well just contain the letters, F,E,A,R. Something he didn’t worry about, ever. The island was ready, completely self-contained, not only off the grid but having its own grid. Ten years of living a double life; loving husband to his childless wife, his doing, but she didn’t know. Working as a technical writer, not even in the pharma industry anymore, for a cosmetic company. What a laugh. He hated women that wore make-up, hated the whole concept of it.
He was ready to dump Sharon with her make-up, Louis Vuitton handbags and biting sarcasm. All he needed was the right woman, someone unsullied by another man, innocent, trusting, obedient, but not a child. She should be educated so he can have a meaningful conversation. Able to take care of herself, healthy enough to bear children, sweet, yes, most of all sweet and kind, pleasant to be around.
“Find her for me,” he said into his cell phone. He turned the steel canister around in his hand. Inside at minus 80 degree Celsius, the ampule of frozen cells rested dormant, safe, not a threat to anyone. “I’ll not only sell you the vial, I’ll give you the names of experts who can propagate the cells, no questions asked.”
He was like the kings of old, sending out a courier to find the best of the maidens for himself to choose from. What better way to make it happen than to get Henry to do it with his grand network?
“I’ll have the all the handlers on it,” Henry said, his voice gravely and deep. He probably smoked and drank along with eating too much. People just don’t know how to take care of the temple they live in. Not every man could boast the same rock-hard abs he had but to be less than perfectly fit was a prescription for disease. He’d like to say he could reach immortality with his health regime. He wasn’t there yet but he was working on it. No, for now he had to accept that at forty, he was as sharp, strong, and energetic as when he was twenty-five, the perfect age.
Chapter 2 (First paragraphs)
For a split second, Maisey had the opportunity to press the red phone icon, to end it, to back away from the cliff. In those moments of hesitation, the ground of ‘don’t do anything stupid’ crumbled under her feet.
“Hi,” Tyler said.
Read all the posts about this NaNoWriMo novel by choosing “NaNoWriMo” in categories.
© 2021 Clare Graith. All rights reserved.
- Electricity surrounded by water. Everyone knows that water and electricity spells a big shocker. Today I saw the pedestal for our campsite electric hookup surrounded by water. Hmm, that could spell more trouble than a night of torrential downpours.
- A bedraggled, soaking wet squirrel. The morning light brought more than just blessed camp stove percolated coffee. We also had a visitor to our campsite. First time I saw a squirrel looking miserable and hating his life. I always thought the woodland creatures had secret shelters and never got wet in storms. It was a young thing. Maybe he didn’t know the secret yet. I gave him an almond and his countenance changed in just a few bites.
- A top notch, wood fire oven pizza in a town with a population of 502. Never thought we would find real Italian pizza out in the country. There are treasures and successes where you least expect to find them. Maybe right around the corner, a few miles in the direction you never took before. Don’t believe the naysayers, give it your all.
- A swarm of birds all bent on fighting me to the death. Okay so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but here’s how it went. Sitting under a pavilion built like the open frame of a barn, I noticed a pair of swallows and a mud nest. Looking a little closer I saw a few more nests. These birds have beautiful contrasting browns, creams, and orange shades. They are proud little birds that fly like ace fighter pilots dipping and skimming close to the ground, swooping up with their characteristic scalloped, tails. They were a joy to watch. Another pair came under the pavilion and busied themselves at their nest. I looked up, then walked around realizing there were at least ten nests hidden in the eaves, plastered against the electric conduit, on top of the light fixture. I saw a head bobbing in one of the nests so I stepped up on a picnic table to get a better look. Mind you the ceiling is twenty or thirty feet high. In a split second, a swarm of swallows came swooping in like a cloud, whistling and scolding me, surrounding the one nest that seemed to have hatchlings in it. It was surprising and wonderful how they knew a threat was there and they all responded. Very cool community going on in that bird population.
- People laughing and excited in the middle of a mud swamped campsite. It’s amazing how if people are bent on having fun, no amount of rain, mud and altered circumstances will stop that from happening. Taking an evening walk around the campground just after a day of downpours, we passed a site with four canopies put together making a huge shelter. Underneath adults and kids were lounging on chairs or running around, a movie was playing on an outdoor screen, popcorn was popping some where in the midst of the melee. We passed a dad (had to be a dad, he had bags of cotton candy in his hands) sloshing over muddy grass, catching himself before he slipped but never losing that big contented smile that comes with truly good times. We camp as a couple. No big party going on at our site but that dad smile was contagious and I’m thankful to witness this family’s undeterred joy.
There are so many things to see around us, good, amazing, inspiring, humbling things. All the stuff of a good story! Go out and find one. Get up and write one!
The storm is over,
The earth rests under our feet as it should.
“You must come with us and have dinner.”
Rose hangs on my arm, leading me out the door
Up the dirt path.
Chloe runs ahead, kicking ice balls as she goes.
“I’ll get things ready,” she says.
“She means she’ll hide our secrets,” Rose smiles,
her eyes glinting with mischief.
The cat trails at our heels.
“Do you mind?” I ask.
“She doesn’t eat butterflies does she?”
“That’s good then. She’ll have a saucer of cream.”
Then I see the pouch snagged on the cat’s collar.
The StormWeaver series is a fantasy story told in 100 word increments. Read from the beginning by choosing StormWeaver in categories.
Has anyone watched the Netflix series “Sweet Tooth”? It’s a show plotted like so many these days: some event happens, some people (in this case children) are endowed with special characteristics, people are out to get them but they are the future, the hope, the salvation for the earth. It’s crazy how this theme is repeated over and over only made entertaining by how creative the setting or inciting event is.
But that’s not what this blog post is about.
In the first episode of Sweet Tooth, and this is not a spoiler, so no worries, there’s a man with a baby strapped to his chest and a huge awkward pack on his back. He is walking through the woods and comes upon a log cabin partially hidden by trees and overgrown plants. The next scene, the man and baby are moved in and have all they need for a happy life.
My literal, realist self jumped on that with a complaint. Old, dirty, abandoned cabin turns into a homestead without showing any of the transition, really? How did he do that with a baby to take care of? What about windows? They couldn’t all be not broken. What about food until that garden started producing? Questions, questions, questions. Yes, there was a part of me that wanted all the logistics worked out, explained, made plausible (plausibility is greatly lacking in these copy cat plots). But then there was the part of me that really just wanted to get on with the show.
Did I really need any of those details? No. In fact sometimes I wish life could sail past the boring stuff of, “and then”, “and then”, “and then”.
Well, guess what? Good writing, especially fiction, not only can depict lives sailing past the mundane details of life, it should. Jumping to the next place or circumstance without explaining how everything got to that point is a tool to keep the reader focused on what’s important.
Look through your latest work. Do you get too deep in the details and call it world building? Do you feel the need for events to be clearly chronological? Have you used words to answer questions that really have nothing to do with the plot?
Seriously, I may have had my doubts about how that cabin became so perfect, but I can assure you the plot moved right on and I didn’t miss it because I was drawn into the story.
Write on, but don’t sweat the details or gaps.
Fragile on the edge,
A feather touch,
To push me,
Don’t do it,
Don’t believe it
Don’t try and see.
Where I’ll go,
Where I’m going,
Losing grip now,
Slipping, in the air,
No where to land,
Pull me back,
Catch my line,
So close to nothing,
So little between,