A New Beginning

A blog should be whatever you need it to be, no matter how many times you have to start over.

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New beginningI seem to change my blog as many times as I change clothes. While this one has been live for over a year, I need it to do something different for me – get me through creative inertia. I’ve just read a great book called Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way by Steven Pressfield. It inspired me to stop fighting myself over how to make this blog ingenious and just write about what’s keeping me from writing. Stop making it flowery and just Do The Work! So today’s the start. To boot, I’ve written about 600 words, reworking a chapter that needed to be cut drastically. Hidden, though, deep in the narrative were entrance ways to dialogue that will move the plot along and keep the story from being stalled. So I celebrate a new beginning, because I love beginnings. It’s the middle that drags me down. Wish me luck!

Study: Depression and Agitation Cocktail for Suicide

According to WebMD, a new study suggests that people who are both agitated  and depressed are at higher risk to commit suicide.

Like most studies, it makes a correlation but no causal link that brings us any further to solving the problem or keeping someone with those characteristics from killing themselves.

From my own personal experience, my sister exhibited both those characteristics before she took her life. And there was nothing anyone could do to stop her.

Similarly, the brother of my main character in Win By Defeat exhibits the same signs before he shoots himself, leaving Magna with more questions than answers.

Perhaps if those researchers were to do a biochemical analysis, showing us precisely what’s going on inside, and then offer a way to break the chain or loop thinking, we could get somewhere.

It’s like offering us a siren but no ambulance at a crash scene.

 

 

 

 

 

Doping Top of Mind for New IAAF Chief

The International Association of Athletics Foundation named a new chief this week, Sebastian Coe, British track and field star and former Olympic athlete.
Coe swears he’ll tackle the doping problem pervasive in the sport.
Last week, another 28 athletes were ban from the sport for doping allegations that went back to 2006 and 2007. Most of them have retired, so the ban has no impact on upcoming events.

We define winners as the first to cross the finish line, but these days we seem to confuse winners with those willing to cross the line first.

And what’s left in their dust? Often, the ones who played fair and square, the true winners who are left in obscurity.

We’ll see how this plays out in the 2016 Olympics in Rio with Coe at the helm.

Funny, in my youth I was more interested in following the rule breakers. Now, it’s those who win by following the rules that have captured my heart – and my pen. Those who are willing to win by defeat if necessary.

Their characters are more solid, more durable, and more fun to write about and until now, their story has remained unwritten.

What Does It Take To Be A Winner?

So we’re still a year away from the Olympics in Brazil and already the doping allegations are starting to swirl.

First, Turkish runner Asli Cakir Alptekin, who got a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, agreed to chuck her title, after admitting to doping from July 2010 until October 2012. She’s now banned from competing for eight years.
And in Oregon, where the Olympic trials are held, noted track and field coach Alberto Salazar and his top runner Galen Rupp are under scrutiny for doping.

According to the BBC, former athletes and a coach say that Salazar approved usage of banned drugs, including testosterone and prescription medications, to increase performance. Rupp, a reigning Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000-meter, is accused of using testosterone and testosterone medication in the report.

Currently there are 50 athletes and coaches serving doping suspensions, with seven handed a lifetime ban, according to the USATF website.

Obviously it’s a problem. I don’t know a lot about running, and maybe even less about winning. But It seems to me that to consider myself a winner, I’d want to play by the rules.

It’s hard to get into the mindset of elite athletes who think differently. As a writer, I find them flat as characters. To me, the more intriguing character is the one who sticks to winning by adhering to the rules, even if he or she knows it’s a losing proposition. That’s the head I want to climb into.

Those are the ones who win by defeat.

Why We’re Fascinated By Cecil The Lion and A Dentist From Minnesota

Animal rights issues aside in the recent slaying of Cecil the Lion by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, now on the lam from the fallout, the symbolism of the event isn’t lost on me as a writer

I mean, here’s a white dentist on a hunt in the wilds of Africa, the dark continent, a no-man’s land for an upper middle-class American. On face value, it’s a place where he’s truly out of his league, adrift on an expansive, endless, rogue ocean .

The stark contrast is a bit like the conscious mind  (the dentist) aimlessly wandering the world of the subconscious (the dark continent). And that’s one of the reason I think we’re so intrigued with the story. Two worlds that co-exist for all of us, but in many ways are strangers to each other.

I know the idea fascinates me as a writer. It’s something I’ve struggled with developing in my characters, particularly my main character Magna Laud, who is unwittingly robbed of a victory that derails her life, likewise, setting her adrift.

It seems to me that when life cheats us, our subconscious knows it and seeks its retribution or at the very least to right the wrong that’s been done to us. But it also speaks its own language, which to our conscious mind can sound a lot like sabotage.

I’ve tried to sprinkle those subconscious motives into odd acts or turns of phrases that seem glaring to those around Magna (including readers) but that she’s oblivious to.

A bit like the dentist who saw no harm in his guide luring an extinct lion named Cecil off the reserve so he could kill it for his pleasure and now is floating in an unknown sea of angry public sentiment and facing the cruel justice of his own subconscious no man’s land.

Two + Two = More

British cyclist Chris Froome made an impressive showing last week in the 14th stage of the Tour de France, leading to accusations of doping.

So sure are some fans, that at least one of them threw urine in his face during Saturday’s leg.

“Times have changed, everyone knows that, ” Froome said when questioned. “This isn’t the Wild West that it was 10 to 15 years ago. Of course there are always going to be riders who take risks in this day and age but they are the minority. It was all the other way around 10 to 15 years ago. There is no reason for that suspicion to continue.”

Funny, wasn’t that sort of what Lance Armstrong said a few years ago? Armstrong won seven Tour titles between 1999-2005 but was stripped of them after proof of his doping became irrefutable. He finally admitted it, following years of denials.

What’s worse, doping was so pervasive in the sport, that the Tour de France refused to name a winner for any of those races.

That got me to wondering. What if you were the person who did play be all the rules, who truly did win the race on merit and never saw that day of glory? What would that do to your life and how would it develop your character?

That’s the premise of my novel Win By Defeat, which follows Magna Laud, a runner who is an Olympic hopeful favored to win a Gold, but robbed of the chance when a dark horse beats her. It later comes to light that the dark horse is guilty of doping and Magna, who has chosen another field to make her Blue Ribbon mark, must decide what lengths she’ll go to win.

I promise, though, no one throws urine on her.

Feelings. Are. Bullshit.

A post from Matt’s Must Be This Tall To Ride blog and an article I read about writing flash fiction led to my first attempt at flash fiction. And Matt, if you’re reading this, in time I hope this blog finds the mojo yours has, which I’ll gladly send your way. Thanks for being such a great inspiration! OK here goes:

Feelings Are Bullshit

The envelop on his desk was unexpected. Absent-mindedly he opened it, sending a chill down his spine.

A month since they argued. What was it about? He couldn’t recall. She said something in that tone. He slammed. She threw. He yelled. Threw something else.

“Bullshit,” he stammered. She stormed out. Where? He didn’t ask. 

A few days passed. They made up. She decked out in a killer pair of heels and form-fitting dress. There was a dinner out, then make up sex. All was healed.

And now, this bill. His face flushed. He knew how she’d felt.

How I Became a Best-Selling Author

Hello My New Literary Agent.

Don’t be taken aback by what you see here. This is just me in the beginning, before you’ve discovered me. Back when I was a bit unsure of myself. Back when my novel was a dream idea I had, a life-long goal I decided to act on. Back when my chapters were scattered among a group of friends whom I knew I could count on for honest feedback to get it going, to keep me going. Back when I didn’t have a platform, or an audience, or even a Facebook page, let alone Twitter. Back when the most visual thing I had was a book cover concept. Well actually two. One I did, that I made the horrific mistake of falling in love with. And the other done by a professional graphic artist whom I bartered with for editing a novel he’d written. By now, though, we both know that I’ve forgone favors from friends and moved into the realm of “whatever a publisher wants in return for a big fat advance.” Still, there was a certain homespun appeal to the old days and just starting out on a dream project.

winbydefeat cover
This cover was designed by William Miller, a professional graphic designer.

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winbydefeat cover
This is the cover I did that I had the bad sense to fall in love with and now use as a screen saver to motivate me to finish

Why am I here?

Good question. Because, a seven-year-old kid who was sick and bored decided after reading her Richard Scary dictionary that becoming a writer was a good idea. She took out a pencil and a yellow-lined notepad and wrote about rabbits. Her mother “oohed” and “aahed” over it and the girl was sure that becoming an author was a destiny written in the stars. So, fast forward a few decades, she gets sick again. One of those life-threatening illnesses that makes one question whether there’s any one thing in life left to accomplish and ponder the age-old theme “Why am I here?” And so a writer is reborn and a novel springs forth. It’s called Win By Defeat, at least at the moment. And this is the story of how it began.