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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Author habitats

 I always found it interesting to learn the habitats of authors as they are writing their novels. John Steinbeck, my favorite author, wrote his novels on a typewriter as he faced a blank, white wall. He didn't want any outside interference to interrupt his thoughts. Samuel Clemens liked to work from home on his porch. Each day he would take a 2 hour walk about town in his famous white suit to get exercise for a body that was sedentary most of the time. J.K. Rowling scripted her Harry Potter series in a local coffee shop, seated casually at a table while she rocked her baby girl back and forth with her foot as she lay napping in the stroller. J.K. Rowling was financially destitute then. That cafe and her story creation kept her grounded.

I like to write at a table on my deck. When I'm searching for a thought, I have the habit of gazing around at my gardens that surround the property. These gardens help to instill peace into my soul. As I look at them, it is as if they are sending a message back to me that all is well with the world. Yes, all is well with THEM! I take good care of my gardens, which requires a lot of time on my part. My gardening time takes away from my writing. It is only for this reason that I somewhat welcome the winter season. This season gives me a lot of time to write because of the respite from gardening.

The completion of Native Hope is behind schedule! Yet, I don't want to panic and force the creative process. Good writing comes from a mind at peace. I'm looking forward to reentering my world in ancient Fiji.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Each New Day Beckons You to be a Better Person

Each New Day Beckons You to be a Better Person

1. Lift someone up today: emotionally, intellectually, financially or spiritually.
2. Take time to review your day: improve yourself when you've fallen short; 
     congratulate yourself on a job well-done.
3. Keep up to date on the daily news: world, national and local. Your life may depend 
    upon that knowledge you've gained.
4. Increase your knowledge base.
5. Repair your house.
6. Beautify your world: plant a tree or flower.
7. Plan for the future: try to minimize disasters!
8. Try to get along with humans; it's tough sometimes, but usually worth it.
9. Improve your health: don't let your body be a drag on living life to its fullest.
10. Seek adventure: calculated risks are stimulating.
11. ADD YOUR OWN...........      

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Everybody is fair game to be a character in my stories!

Today I biked the Little Miami trail and stopped off at my favorite restaurant, called The Little River Cafe,  along the trail in Oregonia, OH. Over the last 20 years, I've seen it grow from a reconverted small frame house with the original wrap around porch dotted with wrought iron tables and chairs, along with an 'add-on' rough plank wood deck that had a few umbrella tables. Now the Little River Cafe is a big operation! They've doubled their size by adding a concrete platform covered with a wood trellis and decorated with exquisite floral baskets that seem to compliment the river fauna nearby.

I'll never forget the first time I ate there. I was with my two children in the late afternoon and WE WERE STARVING! I couldn't believe our good fortune when I remembered that I put my credit card in the zippered luggage attached to my bike.

"Hey, kids, do you want to eat here?" I asked.

"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" they shouted in unison. 

At that time, my family was on a tight budget -a seemingly endless one- and eating out was a luxury. I will never forget how juicy and delicious that hamburger tasted! I highly recommend that if you ever want to get a full-flavor taste out of a hamburger, bike the trail for several hours. You will be low on protein, carbs, fats and calories and hamburger will taste like prime rib steak!

What I liked so much about this restaurant is that there was such a mixture of people. It is the same today! You always have the bicycling families, each with their own unique bicycles. You can tell a lot about a person by the bicycle they ride. Then there's the town folk who stop in to get a bite to eat because, well, that's the only place in town to dine out. What is most fascinating to me are the motorcyclists! One moment you're having a nice quiet and scenic meal, and the next moment the peace is broken with the loud, ear popping drone of Harleys, Yamahas, Honda's and choppers pulling into the gravel parking lot mounted with  motorcycle men and their motorcycle mommas on the back of their 'hogs'. It's a sight to see. Everyone stops eating when this happens and looks at the parade of tricked out cycles with riders in their best leathers and tattoos. 

Writers are usually keen observers of people in their element. Eating at the Little River Cafe is a mecca for writers who want to add characters into their stories who are of the cycling kind, motorized and non-motorized. Although the patrons of this little restaurant are diverse, they all seem to mingle well. The motorcyclists seem to be business professionals who want to get out of the corporate world and walk on the wild side on the weekends. Most of the men wear colorful bandannas knotted at the nape of the neck, leather boots, tight jeans with metal studs here and there, a few tattoos on the arms -not really too obvious-, denim shirts unbuttoned lower than usual, a few hoop or stud earrings and leather hand gloves that they pull off as soon as they dismount their rides. The passenger women, to my surprise, are dressed modestly and have complimentary styles of clothing to their men, however they don't have tattoos -at least not in visible areas. The first thing they do when they dismount their bike is to pull out that ponytail and let their hair flow like Godiva. Not many of the motorcycle mommas have short, coiffed hair. The men seem to be losing their hair, but their ladies have an abundance of it. The motorcycle couples enter the bar with greater strides than most people. I don't know if it's the boots or just the swagger they've all adopted. Once seated, they project a polite manner like the rest of us. The rest of the diners breath a sigh of relief when they realize that these bikers are the upper crust of the motorcycle world: They have no guns, no bats, no Chinese stars, no brass knuckles, no numchucks, no drugs and no cigarettes. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The easy life = depression in Fiji

Fiji is a beautiful country of over 300 islands. It is naturally surrounded by ocean reefs and the soothing, rolling ocean waves. The interior of the two largest islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, have an abundance of mountainous freshwater streams and rivers due to the westerly winds that dump their precipitation on the mountains as they pass over the archipelago. The land in Fiji has a rich soil, too. You would be hard-pressed to find yourself starving in Fiji because many fruits, nuts and vegetables grow wild there. The weather is also mild. Occasionally a hurricane will hit the island group,

To be living in such a paradise, one would wonder if there were any mental health issues in their people, such as depression. Yet, in the later 1800's, when Fiji seceded its lands to Great Britain, the natives found themselves without a reason to live. There were no more tribal wars; there were no more fears. They didn't have to work because land owners rented out their land to Europeans for cultivation. All they did was collect rent, drink kava and talk about the good old days when human flesh was the main meal.

Basil Thompson, author of The Fijians, did a study of the decay of custom in Fiji after the governance by Great Britain. He found ( along with many other people in the know) that the indigenous population was in a free-fall decline. The communal units just stopped reproducing despite huge leaps in health care. Basil's reasoning is simple:

" Having never known the struggle for existence that prevails in the crowded communities of the old world, he (Fijian native) was spurred into activity by the fear of annihilation, for upon his alertness his existence depended."

That annihilation referenced was the capture by a competing tribe and eaten. Their whole incentive for building moats, manufacturing poison arrows, carving that favorite war club and producing offspring to replenish their army of warriors was the way to protect their tribe from others. When the fear factor was eliminated - the British said, ' no more eating of humans'- , the Fijian native just didn't know what to do! Lethargy set in, the sex drive diminished and the sight of young mothers with their babies was hard to find.

Last night, I watched an episode of 48 hours about a young couple who made many millions in the stock market. They were so rich that they quit everything and built a house in Costa Rica high atop one of the mountains in the rain forest. Eventually, both of them went nuts, resulting in the murder or suicide of the husband. That case is still in the courts. They think the crazy wife did it. I couldn't help but wonder if their downward spiral towards depression was the result of having it all with no future goals. They were isolated, rich and just watched the birds and other wildlife all day from their glass walls.

I think there is a lot of good will in 'the chase', when you've set a goal and work hard to achieve it. Or, you could be overcoming some serious illness or financial hardship. Once you've made it through the gauntlet, you feel pretty good as if maybe you have a new purpose for living. 'The struggle' can have some redeeming qualities. Sometimes 'having it all' can be disastrous.

Here's the link to watch 'Paradise Lost', the 48 hour episode that profiled the couple that had it all:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Don't visit me when I'm in Fiji

My mother dropped by and came around the back of the house to find my kitchen door
open, my feet propped up on a kitchen chair and my fingers typing on my laptop. I looked up at her in a daze. I didn't really comprehend what she said because, you see, I was in Fiji. When I write, and maybe many other writers feel this way, I am immersed in the story to a point where I'm not really present in this world.  My eyes are observing what is happening in the story or what dialogue is taking place. I'm all in and recording on my computer everything I see.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The use of Latin to thinly veil an atrocity

I'm reading a book that was published in 1908 that studies Fijian customs before and after the arrival of the white man. When I was totally engrossed in the readings, I came upon a succeeding paragraph that was written in Latin.  Since many words are derived from Latin words, I could get a slight understanding of what was said.

Curiosity got the better of me. I typed in the words into 'Google translate' and couldn't believe what I was reading of the English translation! It described the most ghoulish abuse of corpses in a sexual manner. You can fill in the blanks. As you know, the ancient Fijians were cannibals and made war upon neighboring tribes. No one was immune to the Fijian roasting ovens and 3-pronged organ extracting forks. Not only were captured warriors filleted and grilled, but women, children, old and young were also captured and served up for dinner. The terrible concern is that before baking, the corpses were celebrated in the most licentious ways. The author of the book just couldn't bring himself to express this information in the English language, so he chose Latin to maintain the comprehensive academic study of the subject at hand. Later in the chapter, it happened again!. This translation was equally as gruesome.

I find myself with the same dilemma. Native Hope is classified as historical fiction, which means that the events closely resemble what really occurred in the targeted historical period. Should I include such disturbing events in my novel? If customs like this one are left out, then the story becomes a diluted silhouette of tribal life in the ancient days. I've always been an advocate for telling the truth at all costs. So, strap on your seat belts for this story!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Eureka! Thakombau - King of Mbau, Fiji

Delving into the history of Fiji for the last 2 years has born much fruit to my understanding of Fijian culture. When I visited Fiji for two summers, I couldn't understand this island nation's system of employment and the required connection to the land. I am finishing my last two books on Fijian history and customs. I have hit a 'eureka !' moment: I get it.

 I'm so excited to begin writing the first book in the trilogy Native Hope : Ancient. I've always been fascinated with people and what motivates them to action. The Fijian culture is rich in tradition, although very bloody most of the time. Already, I've mapped out the structure of the story and given the main characters their physical attributes, personalities, weaknesses and strengths. My mission is to be very correct in presenting historical periods within the context of the story. That takes a lot of research! It's been fun, though. I see where James Michener, author of Hawaii, gained his knowledge of Polynesian history. I've run into the same information!

The fellow above is a real pencil drawing of Thakombau, King of Mbau/Fiji during the mid to late 1800's. He was the most influential king of all the kings inhabiting eastern Fiji. He was instrumental in negotiating with other kings to allow Fiji to become a territory of Great Britain when it was inevitable that some national superpower would claim Fiji as their own. Although a cannibal most of his life, Thakombau became a Christian in his sunset years through the advice of a Tongan King.

You will be reading a lot about him in the second book of the trilogy: Native Hope - Colonial  !