Writing Lessons

“… writers are often the worst judges of what they have written.” ~ Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales

“I became an artist because I wanted to be an active participant in the conversation about art.” ~ Kamand Kojouri

“Ask yourself: Who has the greater influence on you? Is it the people who inspire you, or the people who critique you?” ~ Akiroq Brost

“We write to test life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~ Anaïs Nin

“I don’t know what I think until I write about it.” ~ Joan Didion

I’m in the middle of reading several books, some for myself, some for inclusion in this blog, and some to critique. Since posts about what I’m reading aren’t ready, I have some thoughts about my writing life that I’d like to share with you.

Last Friday I was the featured author at an Open Mic night sponsored by Cochise College Writing Celebration and a couple of other local organizations. I got to talking with a fellow college instructor, who is also an author, about the problems and joys of writing. He’s working on his second or third novel that has multiple story lines and we were commiserating about how to make sure the through lines of each timeline get completed, while at the same time keeping them straight. During our conversation he said he loves the creative process but hates the revision process. We got interrupted before I got to say that I feel the opposite way.

It’s strange to say, but the creative part of writing is sometimes difficult for me. I feel that there is a story there, but sometimes the story is illusive. For example, Time’s Echo came to me while I was finishing my first novel, The Space Between Time. I wrote the opening scenes of both timelines and came to screeching halt. Though I knew where Morgan’s time line would end up, I had no idea about Jenna’s. That was back in 2014. As you might guess, Jenna’s story didn’t emerge until very recently with the birth of the #MeToo movement.

Elizabeth Gilbert tells an amazing story in Big Magic, about getting an idea for a book, which she begins. Then life gets in the way. For two years she has other things she has to take care of. When she gets back to the book, the muse has flown away. Elizabeth thought it was dead, but then she met Ann Patchett.

Their friendship developed through letter writing. But on one occasion they got to meet in person at an event at which they were both to speak. They had breakfast together before their day began. In their letter conversations they shared about Elizabeth’s failed book about the Amazon, the one that got away. Ann had shared in her letters about a new book idea she had about the Amazon. During breakfast, Ann and Elizabeth shared their Amazon stories and low and behold, it turned out that Ann’s story had the same plot, and characters that Elizabeth had originally started. They were essentially the same book with very minor changes. Both women were stopped in their tracks. The muses work in mysterious ways.

Now if the muse can move to a new author if a story just needs to be told, then I believe the muse will sometimes wait for current events to catch up so its chosen author can write the book. That’s what I’ve felt about Time’s Echo. There will be lots of authors who will write about the current women’s movement, but none of them will write about Morgan in the past, involved in the suffrage movement, and how that affects Jenna living in our current circumstances. I’m the one who created, with the help of the muses, Jenna and Morgan. No one else is qualified to write their stories but me, because they are based on my experiences.

But back to my writing process. Once I’ve got all, or most of the pieces of my novel written, I have fun putting the puzzle together. I like rearranging, cutting out the unnecessary parts, and then coming up with new connecting pieces. It’s the most fun part of writing for me. Then, of course, the process of doing the final edits is a real drag. I think I can speak for most authors on this, it’s tedious and feels like it takes forever.

Another aspect of writing that I have a love/hate relationship with is critique groups. I’m in an online group at the moment. Fortunately there are only three of us, which means I don’t have too much reading material to comment on. However, at the moment, I’m reading the entire manuscript for one of the women in the group and that’s on top of the other things I’m reading. It’s times like this that I wish I were a faster reader.

This is the problem I have with critique groups. Neither of the women have read my first novel, so some of their comments don’t apply to where I see the series heading. They don’t know the characters or their past relationships, so they suggest changes that don’t apply to who the characters are at all.

On the other hand, sometimes suggestions they make help me get new ideas for the arduous, for me, process of creating my story. That happened just recently, thank heaven.

I have to say, I prefer to share my manuscript after I have finished the rough draft, or when I’m kind of stuck and need new ideas. Sending pieces that are in progress, bothers me. I feel irritated when my critique partners make suggestions of changes that I have already planned, or know that need to be made. I guess that’s just human nature. We don’t want to hear about the changes in our manuscripts or our lives that we know we need to make. Once the initial irritation is over, however, I can go back to the comments my partners have made and consider them less emotionally.

I am fortunate to have found critique partners who are not only honest, but kind as well. And, if I don’t like their suggestions, I have two local women I plan to share my manuscript with, who have been of great help to me in the past. With the help of all these women, I know this next book will be good. I just have to allow myself to go through the messy process of producing a finished product.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a great hump day.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Razor’s Edge

Gene Tierney and Tyrone Power in The Razor’s Edge

“The sharp edge of the razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to salvation is hard.” ~ Katha-Upanishad

“The enjoyment of art is the only remaining ecstasy that’s neither immoral nor illegal.” ~ Elliot Templeton in The Razor’s Edge

“As long as man sets his ideals on the wrong objects there can be no real happiness. Until men learn it comes from within themselves.” ~ Holy Man in The Razor’s Edge

“If I ever acquire wisdom, I suppose I’ll be wise enough to know what to do with it.” ~ Larry Darrell in The Razor’s Edge

What I first saw the movie The Razor’s Edge, I felt as if the author had written the story just for me. I’m so much like Larry Darrell. Seeking wisdom is so much more important to me than earning money. I know money is important too, but after a while using it to accumulate things gets boring. I mean if I had lots of money, I would like to use it for things I want or need to enhance my search, like books and edifying travel. But mostly I’d like to use it to help people. To me self-improvement, and helping improve the lives of others is the best way I can use this life I have.

I think W. Somerset Maugham poses interesting questions in The Razor’s Edge and the movie follows the outline of Maugham’s story almost to the letter. Is there value in searching for self-knowledge over seeking wealth, and who is happier, the wealthy person or the seeker? Who contributes more to society the artist, philosopher, or mystic, or the consumer? Maugham offers the reader an interesting mix of characters to help us make up our own minds about these questions.

Elliot Templeton is a vain American who has denounced his country in favor of living in Paris and ingratiating himself with the wealthy and titled. He helps them sell their precious artwork to survive economic hard times after WW I. Since he is cultured and quite knowledgeable about art and antiques, he becomes indispensable, and thus builds up vast wealth of his own. He becomes the man everyone invites to their parties. However, though he appears completely self-absorbed, he can be extremely generous and kind at the most surprising times.

His Niece, Isabel on the other hand is rather cold, or maybe practical is a better word for her. She claims to love Larry Darrell, her childhood friend, with a deep and profound love. We discover later, however, that part of why she “loved” him was because she thought she could manipulate him to do what she wanted. When he asks her to share his three thousand dollars a year and travel the world to discover the meaning of life, she refuses to marry him. She wants to have fun and in her mind you can’t do that without lots of money.

So, Isabel marries another childhood friend, Gray Maturin who’s father owns a stock brokerage firm. Contrary to the picture painted of stock brokers today, these two are honorable men. Their goal is to help their clients build a secure future by investing conservatively. Unfortunately they are seduced by the craze that leads to the Great Depression and not only lose everything for their clients, but they lose their personal fortunes as well. Isabel and Gray end up living on about three thousand dollars a year. I love the irony of that little twist. Isabel turns out to be loyal, however, when Gray is so wracked with guilt about losing his client’s fortunes that he suffers from debilitating headaches and is unable to work.

Somerset Maugham uses himself as a connecting character in the story. He’s the outsider and thus observer who ruminates on the various characters, their actions and motivations and whether they learn anything or remain as they were when he first met them.

The main character of Maugham’s story is Larry Darrell. He, Isabel, Gray, and another character who plays a big role in the turning point of the story, Sophie, all grew up together in Chicago part of a rather smart set. But when Larry lies about his age and enlists in the Canadian Air Force to fight in WWI, he’s changed by the experience. Gray tells Somerset at one point that Larry was always a different kind of person. He didn’t care about money, always seemed a little bit detached and would disappear from parties without a word. When he returns from the war, he’s even more of a loner than he was before he enlisted. Even Maugham, who is a keen observer of human nature, can’t quite make him out. But he suspects that Larry is looking for something most people don’t even know exists and that thing can only be found inside himself.

Larry tries to tell Isabel what it is he’s chasing when he proposes she join him on his quest. “The only thing that makes me unhappy is making you unhappy. I don’t think I’ll ever find peace until I make up my mind about things. It’s difficult to put into words. The minute you try, you feel embarrassed. You say to yourself, who am I to bother my head about this, that or the other. Wouldn’t it be better just to follow the beaten path and let what’s coming to you, come? And then I think of the guy I knew, a minute before he was full of life and fun, and then … he was dead. I’ve seen many men die; but, this one was different. It was the last day of the war, almost the last moment. He could have saved himself, but, he didn’t. He saved me, and died. So, he’s gone and I’m here, alive. Why? It’s all so meaningless! You can’t help but ask what life is all about. Whether there’s any sense to it or whether it’s just a stupid blunder!”

Because of that one segment, I loved Larry. I understood his inability to put into words not only his deep need for his quest, but for his hope of finding the answers he was seeking.

And so Larry goes in search of the meaning of it all. And in the end, he finds it. But it’s not something he can tell other people. He has to live the truth of what he’s discovered. He knows every person who asks these same questions must find the great truth for themselves.

My favorite scenes in the movie are after Larry has had his profound experience in the Himalayas. The light in his face is extraordinary. You know he’s been touched by something deeply profound and personal. Tyrone Power plays the part of Larry and his performance riveted me to the film.

Now that I’ve read the book, I find that the screen play follows the text of the book most carefully except that it is Larry who does a few things at the end, like confronting Isabel with what she did to break up his upcoming marriage to Sophie, that are done by Maugham in the book. I think Larry making these discoveries himself strengthens his character, which I like very much. But perhaps in the end it doesn’t matter. This book is about people like Larry who hunger to find something meaningful beyond themselves and that is accomplished in both versions. That’s why this is one of my favorite stories of all time. I’m on a similar journey. It’s comforting to know that an author the caliber of W. Somerset Maugham has noticed and written about people like Larry and me.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Quick Post

Columbia River Gorge

“How beautiful it is to do nothing and then to rest afterward.” ~ Spanish proverb

“A cheerful frame of mind, reinforced by relaxation … is the medicine that puts all ghosts of fear on the run.” ~ George Matthew Adams

“It is good idea always to do something relaxing prior to making an important decision in your life.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage

I’m finishing reading The Razor’s Edge, a novel by W. Somerset Maugham. I won’t write much about the book and movie at this time. I want to finish reading first. However, I will write this. Every once in a while there are books, movies, songs, or other artistic expression where when you come across them, you feel like the artist had you in mind when they created their piece. The Razor’s Edge is that kind of book/movie for me, even though this book was published in 1944 nine years before I was born.

Larry, one of the main characters, has survived WW I. He has a driving need to explore the meaning of life, particularly his own. He does this going against popular conventions of getting a job, marrying and having children. Some of his acquaintances think he’s crazy. To me everything that happens to Larry is poignant, and full of meaning. He is seeking something not many other people even know exists. Because this is true, I’m going to need to think about what his story means for me before I can write anything meaningful about the themes Maugham was trying to get across.

In the mean time, I’m getting some selections from my book, The Space Between Time ready for an open mic night in my home town this coming Friday. I am the featured author at this event. Choosing just the right selections, then cutting them down to fit the allotted time given me is a new experience. The part I love best is practicing reading the selections. It kind of takes me back to my acting days and I’m finding it a fun exercise. It’s good practice since I am planning on doing the reading for the audio version of my book.

In other personal news, I’ve gone back to work on my second novel, Time’s Echo and getting ideas for a couple of other projects. I’m doing this leisurely. I don’t want to be in a yank to get all the projects in my head finished. That always stresses me out. I’m in the mood to take it easy and allow the creative muses to whisper to me when they feel like it. Summer is a time for being lazy and recharging one’s internal batteries. That’s where I am today. I feel like enjoying having time to read, and relax after a very busy spring semester.

I hope you are having a relaxing summer and are catching up on some things you were putting off during the winter months.

Have a lovely hump day. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Shack

The Shack

“Pain robs you of joy, and the capacity to love.” ~ Papa in The Shack

“I can have peace of mind only when I forgive rather than judge.” ~ Gerald Jampolsky

“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~ Marianne Williamson

I’ve had some pretty fantastic, unexplainable spiritual experiences happen to me, things many people would think are crazy. Because that’s true, I see the world just a little bit differently than most people. For most of my life I’ve hidden this fact because what I believe about life and the divine isn’t the norm. And when I state my point of view, people look at me as if I had two heads.

The Shack, by William Paul Young almost perfectly expresses my belief system so, of course, I loved every page of it. If you haven’t read this one, you have to know that it begins with heart wrenching tragedy and as Mac, the main character, goes through his personal darkness toward forgiveness and healing, we get to go along for the ride. All I can say is, don’t give up on the story. It gets more joyful as it goes along.

In general, I like to watch a movie first then read the book, but in the case of The Shack, I did it the other way around because the movie was yet to be made. But perhaps that doesn’t matter much because for the most part, the movie is just like the book.

The basic story is this. Mackenzie Allen Phillips had a traumatic beginning in life but he finds happiness with a wonderful woman named Nan, and their three children, Josh, Kate, and Missy. It seems as if his past is forgotten, but though his wife Nan talks to Papa (God) every day, Mac can’t bring himself to forgive Papa for what his father did to him. Mac asks that pervasive question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”

His life gets worse when on a camping trip alone with his children, Missy is kidnapped. Her blood stained dress is found in a broken down shack not far away. The entire family is plunged into the deepest despair. They are barely able to function, but Mac is in the darkest hole of all.

One day four years later, his family goes away for the weekend to seek help for Kate who blames herself for Missy’s abduction and death. As Mac is clearing the driveway of snow, he notices the mailbox door is open. Inside is an envelop with his name on it. The note invites him to come to the shack and is signed, “Papa.” At first Mac thinks his neighbor friend Will, who also attends the same congregation as the Phillips family, has sent the note. He checks with the Post Office, but no one knows where the note came from. Finally, he asks Will if he can borrow his Jeep to take the trip back to the shack where Missy’s dress was found. Will worries the note is from the killer and doesn’t want him to go. Finally unable to change Mac’s mind, he says he’ll go with him. As they are getting ready to leave, Mac tricks Will into going back to his house for fishing poles, then drives off alone.

When Mac gets to the shack, amazing and sometimes disturbing things begin to happen. He meets Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu, or Holy Spirit. Over his visit, he begins to see all the tragic things that have happened not only to him, but others in a new light. For some reason, humans prefer pain to love and joy. We torture ourselves and others because of this pain. The only way to solve this problem is to let go of blame and to forgive. When he does that he’s able to begin the long road to healing.

The movie is almost exactly like the book as I remember it, except that at the end of the book, Mac helps the authorities find the serial killer. We must all face the consequences of our actions after all, but I can see why they didn’t include that in the movie. It’s not the main theme of the story.

The main theme, in my opinion, has to do with all the things we hold onto that cause us so much pain. Our human view of the divine is distorted because we assume the role of God. We hold grudges because we think that’s what God would do. As a result we don’t forgive ourselves or others. Even though I ascribe to all that Mac learns, I fall into those same traps. It takes lots of time and attention to unlearn old conditioning.

I know that esoteric, philosophical movies are sometimes not appreciated. It all depends on how they are packaged. The Matrix, for example, has some of the same themes as The Shack, reality is not what we think it is, but it’s packaged as well done fantasy so it was wildly popular.

The Shack on the other hand, is a story about characters who might live right down the street from us. For some people that brings it a little too close to home for comfort. What if extraordinary, mind bending experiences could really happen to us? That could be a little too weird for some viewers.

One thing for sure about this story is that it shows that spiritual experiences are deeply personal and difficult to convey to others. The only way Nan, Josh, Kate and Will can believe that something significant really did happen to Mac, is by watching him forgive himself and become a completely loving and joyful person. That’s the true evidence of his changed perspective.

If you’re into philosophy, or spirituality, you might be interested in the ideas posited by William Paul Young. I highly recommend both the book and the movie. Neither one is fast paced and I think that’s a good thing. The reader or viewer is given a chance to digest one new concept before moving on to the next.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Arrival/Story of Your Life

Earth from the Moon

“If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” ~ Louise Banks in the movie Arrival

“Science fiction is very well suited to asking philosophical questions; questions about the nature of reality, what it means to be human, how do we know the things that we think we know.” ~ Ted Chiang

“Despite knowing the journey and where it leads, I embrace it and welcome every moment.” ~ Ted Chiang, “Story of Your Life”.

I’m a big fan of science fiction television and movies. Books and short stories not as much. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps it has to do with the science jargon. In a movie, I can read body language and facial expressions to see the underlying meaning of the scientific dialogue, and tune out the stuff I don’t understand. By reading the the physicality of the characters, I can tell if the proposed theory has the possibility to get the characters out of their dire situation, or not. That’s all that matters to me.

That’s not to say I hate science. Some of my favorite documentary series are on NATGO, the Science Channel and PBS. There is something so appealing about the abstract nature of science that I love. On the other hand, I’m terrible at math, so a career in science was not an option for me.

However, the true reason I love science fiction movies is because of what Ted Chiang says in the above quote. Science fiction, and even fantasy, allows us to explore philosophical questions at a safe distance. Asking those questions within the context of an exciting story helps the pill go down easier.

In American society, we’re mostly about getting things done and not so much about exploring why we’re doing them. Questions like “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” aren’t usually addressed on the evening news. Oh, there may be the occasional article, or magazine asking those kinds of questions. But in our Puritan/cowboy culture, doing is prized above following some inner guide and searching for meaning. Philosophical and spiritual pursuits are often considered sissy. At least they were for much of our country’s existence. I think that’s starting to change now.

In the last thirty or forty years lots of teachers and institutes have sprung up around the country and the world that encourage us to dig deep, heal our wounds and discover the above questions for ourselves. These new ideas are trickling down to every day society. I use as evidence the highest rated movies of the last few years that have hidden in their battle scenes that destroy New York, or London, those deeper philosophical questions that can’t be answered by a quarterly report or rating on the New York Stock Exchange. The characters of those movies are dealing with existential questions of who they are and how they fit into the world around them.

The movie Arrival, while not ranked in the top ten movies in terms of income, has a meta score of 81 on Internet Movie Database. The audience grew once the movie was on pay-per-view, or the pay channels, which indicates to me that people are connecting with entertainment that asks, “What does it mean to be human? Are there other ways to view existence? Is time linear? Is it possible to change the past or influence the future?”

“Story of Your Life,” (and Arrival) chooses one of these big questions to explore. If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you make different choices?

The basic story is this: The question of whether there is other intelligent life in the universe is answered when several ships appear around the planet. They don’t appear to be hostile, but just why they showed up is a mystery. Linguists and physicists from all over the world are deployed to each sight, along with a huge military presence as well. The big questions the world governments want answered are these: Why did they come? and What do they want from us? The story version doesn’t answer those questions, which I find appealing. The reader gets to decide what the prolonged encounter means and just what effect it will have on the course of humanity when linguists, like Louise begin to see reality in new ways.

But in the world of movie making there needs to be a clear progression of complications, even threat, and the film makers assume the audience wants to know why the aliens showed up. I like the way the screenwriter, Eric Heisserer, took the main questions asked in the short story and ramped up the urgency for Louise and Gary to find out the purpose for this highly unusual visit. Fear is a huge factor in human existence right now, and that juxtaposed with the way Louise begins to understand the aliens and their mission is a great plot device.

I also like the way Heisserer translated the changes in thinking that happen to Louise as she learns the alien language. In the movie, Louise and Gary have a conversation about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The theory that the language you speak determines how you think, and how you see the world. It’s in Louise’s altered way of seeing all of time happening at once, which is the way the aliens view reality, that helps answer, at least for her the main question. She begins to see all that will happen in her life, and she decides to embrace it. She doesn’t try to change it in any way even though some of it is heart breaking. To show Louise’s experience, the movie is structured in a non-linear way. Another thing I love in books and movies.

I could relate to Louise, because for a very long time, I’ve wanted to learn another language. And just recently, I’ve felt confined by my old patterns of thought. Maybe finally taking the plunge and learning that second language will help me see everything in new ways.

One more thing I love about this movie is that it adds something most alien invasion movies don’t have. The aliens are making contact because thousands of years in what we would call our future, we will help them in some extremely important way. To do that we humans will need to learn to work together. Movies that show a hopeful vision of humanity’s future are always high on my list of favorite stories.

If you haven’t read the story, or seen the movie, I highly recommend both. In my opinion, it’s always good to ask ourselves questions about who we are and what our purpose might be. Sometimes watching movies and reading stories that ask those questions can help us get insights about our lives and the world in which we live.

Thanks so much for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

I’m Back and Ready for a Change

Ashley Pond Park in Los Alamos, NM

“The thing I love most about going on vacation is that I get to leave behind any kind of schedule. My entire life is scheduled from morning to night, and when I’m on vacation, there is no schedule.” ~ Kelly Clarkson

“Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun.” ~ Randy Pausch

My husband and I got back from Los Alamos, NM the day after Memorial Day. We’ve been wanting to visit that city for a long time, and the cosmic tumblers finally fell into place so we could go. It was fabulous! But our trip was much too short.

I have been feeling restless and ready for a change for quite some time. Since returning from New Mexico, I’ve been having all kinds of aha moments. Well, actually the first aha came before leaving. I was listening to a video and the message was, it’s important to have as much fun as possible. I forget that one all the time. I think life has to be hard that I have to struggle. I believe that because that’s what I was taught. But it’s not true. I can find fun no matter what’s happening. Or I can leave and go someplace that IS fun.

When Barry and I got to Albuquerque, we wanted to stop at DQ for some ice cream. Barry set the GPS on his phone and Siri gave us great directions, until we hit some construction on the street right outside the entrance to the small shopping area where the store was located. Barry followed his nose and we took this circuitous route through a residential area and finally got to the entrance to the parking lot on the opposite side of the little shopping area. It took us fifteen minutes longer than necessary. Barry was a little frazzled. I would be too if I was driving, but I chose to see it as an adventure. That’s what going on vacation is all about, the unexpected, discovering new places, having fun. Soon Barry was laughing too as we told the customer service woman about our adventure and she told us how she had to do the same thing getting to work. We all had a good laugh.

After that, we chose to laugh at seemingly little set backs. For example, we accidentally made a mistake on the reservations for one day less at the B&B than we intended. We could have gone home one day earlier, but we decided to go see the sites we wanted to see that day and then stay in Albuquerque that last night in order to shorten our drive home on Tuesday.

When we got back, I was tempted to stress out again because I am teaching an independent study class this summer. There were lots of things to do to begin the semester. But then I said to myself, I can have fun going back to my daily routine while creating something new. I told myself to follow the fun and stay away from life killing stressful situations. I mean, in this class I’m teaching we watch movies and discuss them. What could be more fun than that?

Finding fun is sometimes as simple as changing the way I look at things. Every time I choose to see a situation as fun, or leave a situation that’s not good, I create more joy in my life.

I asked my sister if I could tell the story of what happened to her this week. She and her husband have been struggling financially for a few years. A few months back my sister renewed her massage license so she could bring in more money. She got a job and thought their lives were going to improve, but no. The owner of the salon, who is very controlling, was making sure Celeste did not get enough clients in a week to make much more than she was making at her previous job. She didn’t want to pay Celeste what her skills are worth. So, after a month or so, Celeste decided to find a new job, which she did easily.

Her first day of work at the new place was this past Tuesday, the day she was supposed to learn all the ins and outs of scheduling clients, writing the reports, and doing the billing. It was an abusive disaster. The receptionist and owner yelled at her for not understanding how to use the computer program after only a two times through the procedures. Well, after getting out of an abusive marriage, and two or three abusive work situations, she was not having it.

I talked to Celeste on the phone later that day. She was able to process what had happened that day with me, a friend and her husband. By Wednesday, Celeste had decided to leave that abusive place and look for a new job. By the end of the day Wednesday, she had a new job at a fabulous chiropractic office. Every time I’ve talked with her since, she has more wonderful things to say about her new place of employment. She’s found her “people” and I’m so happy for her. It was a long haul for her to figure out exactly what she wanted but she just kept looking for a better situation. And now she’s found a fun place to work.

My life has not been as stressful as my sister’s, but I too am ready to make some changes to find more joy in my life. Barry and I have dreamed about living in Los Alamos for a long time. Now that we’ve visited, I know it’s the place for us. We made a friend there, I can’t wait to see how things will unfold for us to be able to move. I’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and today is the one year anniversary of publishing the ebook version of my novel, The Space Between Time. I’m celebrating by being the featured author at the Cochise Writer’s Celebration at the open mic event on June 15 to read from and sell copies of my book. It’s going to be fun.

Thanks for reading, commenting and liking. Have a fun filled weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

First Break in Five Years

Blue Grosbeak

“As you grow older, you learn a few things. One of them is to actually take the time you’ve allotted for vacation.” ~ John Battle

“The purpose of a vacation is to have the time to rest. But many of us, even when we go on vacation, don’t know how to rest. We may even come back more tired than before we left.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Cardinal

I started this blog five years ago this spring, and I think it’s time to take a little break. Coming up with things to write once a week, then twice a week wasn’t hard until just a few days ago. I know it’s been two weeks since my semester ended, but I’m still tired. I want to sit and watch the birds in our back yard and at the bird feeder, not to mention all the other wildlife that wanders past our windows. I want to read books and watch movies. I want to take walks with my husband. I want to sit and have quiet conversations.

My husband and I are taking a little vacation over Memorial Day weekend and I think I’ll give this blog a little rest too. It’s not that I’ve run out of ideas, it’s that I need to take time to just be for awhile.

In the meantime, here is the link for the video of Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare that I directed this spring. The students did a fantastic job of making Shakespeare come to life, even though we didn’t have nearly enough rehearsal time. I hope you will take a look. The themes are surprisingly contemporary.

I’ll see you in a week or two with new movie/book posts as well as things I learned while letting my mind take a vacation.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. There are plenty of past posts archived if you want something to read. But, I hope you take time to recharge your internal batteries as well.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Valley of Decision

Greer Garson, Gregory Peck in The Valley of Decision

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” ~ Dr. Seuss

“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” ~ John Green, Looking for Alaska

“Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things.” ~ Kenneth Branagh

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get so set on certain ways of thinking that I block the good things that could be coming my way. The movie The Valley of Decision (1945), book by Marcia Davenport, is a story about people who get caught up in that kind of thinking and every time I see the movie, I want the main character, Mary, to make different decisions so she and Paul can live happily ever after. But if she did that, I might not be reminded to recheck my own thinking.

I know, I’m bit of a harpy writing all the time about stories that teach me something, or stories from which I learn important lessons. I do enjoy stories that are just fun for fun sake, like Mama Mia!. I’ll try to write about those kinds of stories more often, but today, The Valley of Decision is on my mind because I was confronted with some of my own intractable thinking recently.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it for a number of reasons. First, Gregory Peck and Greer Garson play the lead characters. It’s sad they didn’t do more movies together, because they have fantastic chemistry. Second, the story is a little bit of a history lesson about the steel industry in the late 1800s Pittsburg. In a way it’s a story about ingenuity and the love of creating the best product possible to help America grow. That’s the kind of story many Americans like. That kind of story comes in lots of different packages, from the people who invented computers, or cars, or a new movement in art, and we never get tired of them. This story happens to be about steel and for that reason, it’s a little bit nostalgic. Third, all of the secondary and supporting actors are fantastic which helps the audience become emotionally involved in their on screen lives.

At the beginning, Mary Rafferty has just graduated from Catholic School. She and her family live “on the flats” in Pittsburg where most of the steel workers live. Her father, Patrick, once worked in the Scott mills, but was seriously injured and is now in a wheelchair. Mary needs a job, because her widowed sister has just come home with her baby.

One interesting thing about this story is, though this is before the formation of unions, William Scott pays Patrick a monthly salary because he was injured on the job. We get the feeling this is an unusual situation and that William Scott is an honorable man. In spite of this, Patrick has turned his mind to hating the Scott family, so when Mary announces that she has just secured a job as housemaid in the their household, he’s furious with the nuns for sending her there, and with her for taking the job. She defies him, however, because they need the money.

It turns out that Mary falls in love with the entire Scott family and they with her, but most especially Paul. He is the only one of the three boys and one daughter who is interested in working in the mill. The others just want the money they get as shareholders.

Paul arrives home, the day Mary is hired to work in the house. He’s been to Europe studying different types of steel made there and is particularly interested in the open hearth method used in Germany. Over the next year or so, he and Jim Brennan, a friend of the Rafferty family, experiment with this new method. As Mary watches Paul work late hours and eventually become discouraged, the two fall in love. But when Paul asks her to marry him, two things stand in the way of her saying yes. She knows her father would not approve, and she’s a servant of the household. In her mind, she’s not of the same class, even though Paul and his mother, Clarissa, tell her that doesn’t matter in the least. They live in America after all.

In the end, after many years, Mary saves Paul and the mill when his mother bequeaths her shares to her. He finally finds the courage to get rid of his shrewish wife and he and Mary are able to be together.

The book continues on from that ending of the movie. Mary and Paul never marry, because she’s convinced the curse her father put on their union is real. But she becomes his housekeeper taking charge of his household affairs and raising his children when his wife dies. Every night they discuss plans for the mill, and his sons. Their relationship lasts until Paul’s death. Mary continues to live in the house which Paul left her until her death many years later.

Even though Mary and Paul find a measure of happiness in the end, their lives could have been so much richer if she had been able to see that it was her beliefs that kept them from having the full relationship they might have had.

Every time I watch the movie, and as I read the book, I compare Mary to myself. How have I blocked the happiness I might have had because I don’t think I deserved it. Watching it makes me want to stop being like Mary Rafferty and embrace all the wonderful things waiting for me to experience.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a fun weekend and maybe take time to watch The Valley of Decision.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

More Books I’d Like to See as Movies

“It took a tremendous amount of courage to write this book … Its portrayal of biblical characters is hauntingly, disturbingly real. I will be forever grateful to Kathleen McGowan for giving me a huge push forward on my spiritual journey by opening me up to a deeper vision of the Divine.” ~ Reverend Jeffrey J. Bütz, Author of The Brother of Jesus and The Lost Teachings of Christianity, writing about The Expected One

Let me say that I loved The Da Vinci Code. However I think enough time has passed since the movie, based on the book, was made that we could stand to see another film using a similar story line. I’d like to suggest that someone translate The Expected One and it’s sequels into films.

As a religious studies graduate, I find reading any novelization of religious history fun. I read The Da Vinci Code first and thought the film was as good as the book. I mean how can you go wrong with Tom Hanks in the lead.

The Da Vinci Code is told from a man’s point of view. It is, for the most part, a murder mystery, action story with two of the three main characters being men. The details of the biblical Jesus are what Alfred Hitchcock would call, “the MacGuffin,” the thing the characters are focused upon but the audience doesn’t necessarily care about. The real center of Brown’s story has to do with the murder of The Louvre curator and why Robert Langdon, a college professor specializing in symbology has been framed for it. Sophie Neveu, a cryptologist for the Paris police, enters to help Robert escape and to solve the mysterious death. She tells Robert that the dead curator was her grandfather and soon they discover that he was a member of a secret society whose mission it is to protect the living descents of Jesus. It’s a compact story taking place within a mere 48 hours.

The Expected One, on the other hand, is told from a woman’s point of view. The story begins when Maureen, vacationing in Jerusalem, has the first of many extraordinary experiences. During these experiences, she glimpses Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist and their relationships to each other that set in motion the events in Maureen’s present day. The book gives more detail about what may have really happened during Jesus lifetime. It asks the question, what if everything we thought we knew about Jesus and his disciples is wrong? Kathleen McGowan takes us not only on a historical adventure, but on a spiritual journey as well. Through her main character, Maureen Pascal, we get a glimpse into the world Jesus and his disciples lived in. Maureen, it turns out, is the The Expected One, foretold in prophecy to find and reveal the long lost gospel of Mary Magdalene. In this book, what is contained in Mary’s gospel drives the action. That is not to say there aren’t deaths and action sequences. But the bulk of the story has to do with Mary Magdalene, and Maureen’s deeply personal spiritual journeys as Maureen follows the clues to find Mary’s gospel. Maureen discovers there are opposing secret societies trying to protect or destroy Mary’s legacy. And included in the story is some interesting history of the Cathars, a mostly forgotten Christian religious sect in France that had a great deal to do with Mary and her children.

Both books challenge what we think we know about the formation of, and teachings of Christianity, and the roles the various historical characters played. In my opinion it’s a good thing to continue to examine our belief systems and try to learn as new information is discovered.

The Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient documents that have been uncovered in recent decades have added to and even challenged what we thought we knew about the times in which Jesus lived. Maybe wrapping up some of that new information into a fictional package makes it more palatable to consider.

All I know is that when I read the quote above by Reverend Jeffrey J. Bütz on the back cover of The Expected One, I was intrigued enough to buy the book and read it. And as I finished the last page, I too felt a shift in my spiritual beliefs. That’s the reason I’d like to see The Expected One and it’s sequels, The Book of Love, and The Poet Prince turned into movies.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Books I’d Make into Movies

Naomi Novik at Phoenix Comicon, 2014

“I have often thought it was very arrogant to suppose you could make a film for anybody but yourself.” ~ Peter Greenway

“Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They are both fruit, but taste completely different.” ~ Stephen King

“The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader. That’s why we go to the movies and say, ‘Oh, the book is better.’” ~ Paulo Coelho

Maybe it’s because I’m a visual learner, but, in general, I like to see the movie first, then read the book after. Once I’ve seen the movie, I can use images from the film and translate them to the book. I know, most people will think I’m crazy.

Most of the time, descriptions of characters and environments in books are things that don’t create clear pictures in my head. I don’t dream in clear pictures, or color either. What I connect with are the emotions of the characters. If I’m not connected to the characters emotionally, I don’t continue to read the book, or watch the movie, or TV show.

Having written that, there are books I’ve read that I would love to see made into movies, or a series, because I want to SEE the countryside, or what someone else thinks the characters look like. It’s probably my many years doing theatre that makes me want to turn my favorite books into a visual representation.

Some years ago, I read a wonderful book titled, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. Novik is a historian, and the book, which is the first in a series, takes place during the Napoleonic Wars. Most of the events are historical with a little twist. The combatants each have an aerial corps made up of dragons, and the captains they choose to bond with.

In fact, that is what happens in the first pages of the first book. An unusual dragon egg has been confiscated from a French frigate by the British ship, Reliant. When it begins to hatch, the Captain, William Laurence, asks for a volunteer from among his officers to bond with the dragon. But, in inscrutable dragon fashion, the hatchling Temeraire, chooses Laurence as his companion and captain. This thrusts Laurence into a completely unfamiliar world. The aerial corps is not a particularly prestigious posting, nor do the airmen and women, like interlopers. Most of them have been part of the air corps most of their lives and some are part of long generational lines in the service. The dragons live very long lives and not only bond with a single person, but their captain’s children as well. Having been chosen, though, Laurence can not refuse and dragon and man begin a fascinating journey together.

His Majesty’s Dragon is the beginning of a nine book series. There are book series that I’ve started and after three or four books, I get bored, but I was hooked on these books. They are extremely well written, Laurence and Temeraire travel the world, betray Britain in order to save French Dragons from a plague, win their country’s trust back, begrudgingly, when it is discovered that Temeraire is a rare Imperial dragon from China. This later requires the Chinese Royal family to adopt Laurence as a Chinese prince since Temeraire will have no other companion. This does gain the Britain a valuable ally to help fight against Napoleon. In the end, Temeraire and Laurence play a major part in winning the war.

Another thing I love about the series is that Novik has elevated certain women to be part of the aerial corps. They are intelligent, strong, capable, and do not adhere to the standard roles other women were supposed to fill during the time period. In fact, the Admiral over all of Britain’s aerial corps is a strong woman who’s daughter is part of Laurence’s crew, and who has an intimate relationship with Laurence when they can manage to be on the same continent, or hemisphere.

Mostly, I’d love to see this series made for TV or movies because of the enduring relationship that develops between Temeraire and Laurence. Novik has created dragons who are intelligent, for the most part have extensive educations, and who have very distinct personalities. They help strategize for battles, and maneuver through difficult political situations. And, the British dragons at least, must also overcome fear and prejudice. I think these books would add to the interesting array of series like Game of Thrones, Outlander, Vikings, and the like.

I’d like to know what books you’d like to see turned into movies. I’m always interested in authors and books I’ve never heard of. My TBR list is very long, but I’m willing to add to it.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a fun filled weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.