THE WRITE ZONE: “You Have to Kill Your Darlings.” – Stephen King

Stephen King is one of the best story tellers in this Century. Although I’m not into chilling horrors, he has mastered the art of writing.

In my debut novel, Stolen Destiny, I touched on the subject of death when I introduced Dawn Flemming and her husband, Vince Garrett. The reader immediately knew they had been murdered; Wade Peterson’s brother, James, committed suicide.

I’ve read books where the author kills one or more main characters. I get furious! Why? Because I have gotten emotionally attached to them.. No matter how dire the situation appears, I expect the miracle of a ‘SAVE’.

Now I’m wondering if I should limit myself like that. Unfortunately, death is a part of life, right?

Until now, I couldn’t fathom killing any of my characters off.  Most of us have already experienced the journey of grief and pain in losing someone we love. Why would I want to subject my reader to that pain and heartache? Because it makes the story and the characters real. If you think it’s easy for a fictional character to die, remember Message In A Bottle or A Walk To Remember?  I consider  Nicholas Sparks a genius in writing unforgettable romances; sometimes tragic; sometimes bittersweet. Maybe he got Stephen King’s message, because he definitely kills his darlings too.

Losing someone to  murder isn’t as common, but it does happen, especially  if you listen to  the nightly  news. It happens in the best of families and doesn’t discriminate from the rich or poor.  I sometimes wonder if I’m being insensitive to the reader who has lost someone to crime. It’s not something I consciously think about when I create a scene. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

As a writer of romance and mysteries, I will, when the story permits,  “kill my darlings”.  I will test the waters and see if Stephen King is right about his advice.  I hope all of you readers will let me know what you think.

So be prepared for a few surprises in the next series of my Bongo Bay Mysteries.

Until next time, Stay In The Write Zone,

Jeanette Lynn Dundas

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THE WRITE ZONE: Utopia in Bongo Bay Beach

Last week as we  honored Martin Luther King, I remembered some things in my childhood that I  didn’t understand at the time.

African Americans were not called ‘Blacks’. Sometimes they were called ‘Negroes’, and we all know how sometimes people weren’t kind and used the N Word. Sadly, even today, I hear it. I will never understand that kind of cruelty.

Public water fountains were separated by signs: White/Colored. The same with public restrooms. I never questioned it until I was sitting at a counter at Kress’s in downtown Tampa. They had counters for the Whites and one for the Coloreds. That particular day, a black woman holding her daughter’s hand passed by as I was sitting at the counter, eating an ice cream cone. The little girl told her mother she wanted an ice cream and her mother said: “We can’t sit with the whites and the colored counter is closed.” I turned to my mother and asked why that little girl couldn’t sit with us.As I watched that little girl leave with tears in her eyes,  I remember that ice cream cone didn’t taste good anymore.

We were Catholic and attended Sacred Heart Church in Tampa. I remember sitting on a bus bench waiting for my mother to come out after mass. A black woman was seated there and I sat beside her, gave her a smile, and said, “Hello.” She asked me if I was a member of the church. I merely nodded and what she said shocked and disillusioned me.

     “I wanted to go to your church to attend mass, but the priest told me I couldn’t go in the front door and would have to enter through the side door. I also have to sit in the back of the bus.”

I told her I couldn’t imagine a priest doing that. He was a role model; a priest who taught Christianity; one who preached that all men were created equal in the eyes of God. As far as the bus rules, I never paid that much attention or gave it any thought. I always believed it was where they preferred to sit.

When the civil rights movement began in the sixties,  Martin Luther King was a man I admired. He advocated PEACE.  Not to say that riots didn’t happen back then, but those who believed in the movement had faith that we could change the world and make it a better place for everyone.  I was so idealistic. Even though things have gotten better, I was hoping that by now, we wouldn’t have some of the same issues. I wonder if King were still alive, if some of the recent rioting could have been prevented. In my opinion the black leaders now aren’t worthy of followers. Violence can never be the answer to anything. If changes have to be made, there has to be a better and smarter way in which to do it.  Violence doesn’t solve anything; it merely alienates one against the other and destroys the purpose. Again, just my opinion.

As a writer, I want to address conflict; give my characters depth and substance. With my debut novel, Stolen Destiny, I introduced Bongo Bay Beach, but so far the residents have all been white. I have made a decision to create one or more characters of different races, cultures and religions in the near future. Bongo Bay is supposed to be a paradise; a heaven on earth. God doesn’t discriminate and neither will I.

Until next time, stay in The Write Zone.

Jeanette Lynn Dundas

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THE WRITE ZONE: Procrastination Queen

January is the time for New Resolutions and of course I have my list:

1. Blog more on my website.

2. Keep up with my Social Media Accounts and use my Author Facebook Page.

3. Learn More about my Craft and Share.

4. Write diligently everyday on my Work In Progress (CAGED).

5. Deliver my best book in my 2nd Series of my Bongo Bay Mysteries.

It sounds simple, but I’ve told myself most of my life that I am disorganized and the queen of procrastination.  By affirming these statements, others in my life have affirmed it too. The end result is: I became what I believed. I can’t believe I did that to myself, knowing what I think, I am; What I believe about myself, will be.

If I’ve learned anything in 2014 it is to believe in myself.

Once I did that, others started believing in me too.  Things started to happen and my first novel, Stolen Destiny, was published and available on Amazon in July.  In October, I had a successful book launch and since then, I’ve heard great reviews.

So now I welcome 2015 with open arms.  I have control to make it a productive year and to get rid of old habits and negative thoughts.

All of us have the same number of hours in a day and no matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.

Begin now to affirm your goals.

Don’t be afraid.

Believe in yourself and never give up your dream.

You can make it happen.

So, join me my friends and fellow writers by making your tomorrow begin NOW.

Until then, Stay in The Write Zone

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THE WRITE ZONE: A Paranormal Adventure

old jail

HAMILTON COUNTY’S OLD JAIL IN JASPER FLORIDA

Over a month ago, in an attempt to do as much research as possible in the paranormal field, I spent a weekend in Jail. Luckily I did not have to spend the night there. But believe it or not, some of the paranormal Investigators, did indeed spend the night hoping to connect with old spirits still haunting the jail. The next morning at breakfast, their escapades were shared with the rest of the group. Some heard jail doors banging in the middle of the night and one of the girls thought she saw translucent shadows moving throughout the building.

You may laugh or shake your head in disbelief, but many people experience this phenomenon first hand. They claim they can connect with a spirit who either just hangs around in limbo ( I would think that to be a hell in itself). Some can be in transition, or still be in a coma.

One of the psychics at this fund raising event, to restore the historical jail, is a forensic medium who has been utilized by the police when they have a suspect, but can’t find the body. She is able to communicate with that spirit, so that the body can be found to obtain more evidence.

On this adventurous evening, that same medium  was able to connect to a male spirit who was jailed as early as the early 1900′s. He was sentenced to life for murder, but claimed it had been in self-defense. When the medium asked him why he didn’t move on; or why he chose to stay incarcerated in his cell, he explained that he was afraid. He didn’t know what would be waiting for him on the other side. His fear kept him there. Some spirits have unfinished business. They may want revenge or may want justice. I was told that most are harmless, friendly, and like to play practical jokes.  Some have a powerful energy and can be dangerous. This is not an avenue I would want to pursue.

In Stolen Destiny, Dawn Flemming chose to stay in this kind of limbo in order to protect her daughter, Carolina Starr. from a murderer.  Dawn also wanted justice. My story is totally fictional, but research was needed to make it as authentic as possible to those who have experienced these kind of things.

For those of you who really don’t believe any of this, I will honestly tell you that I have had a personal experience of a similar nature. It’s where a spirit will contact you through your senses. Of course I didn’t know this at the time, but soon after my Nanna passed away, I was driving my car and all of a sudden I smelled her powder. She loved Cody. The scent was coming from the back seat. I didn’t think much about it, but it brought a smile to my face and somehow I did feel her presence.

Years later, in 2005, my beloved mother was in Hospice. I remember sharing shifts with my children. I wasn’t supposed to go back until around 4PM that day. I was supposed to rest and sleep in. Of course, I couldn’t. I went in and took a shower and when I got out, the entire bathroom smelled like my mother’s perfume. I smelled the towels, thinking that was where the scent was coming from and there was nothing on them. I smelled my own skin and smelled the soap, but the entire room was engulfed with her essence. I started weeping, knowing she was there to say good-bye. She came to me subtly, without any threat, so I had no fear. That same year, while in Mexico, I heard my mother’s voice. No, I swear I am not crazy.

So if you think Stolen Destiny is a little too far out for your taste, know in your heart, that I am sincere in my writing. I love creating a little bit of truth with a little bit of fiction in my stories. I think it makes each of my characters interesting and unique. I hope you will find Stolen Destiny enchanting.

Until next time, Stay in The Write Zone.

 

 

Interior Jail Cell  As a female, I would be mortified not having any privacy.

 

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T HE WRITE ZONE: Meet Wade Peterson In Stolen Destiny

Wade Peterson is living every man’s dream in an upscale Manhattan apartment and dating a beautiful International model. His success as a non-fiction author has zoomed him into a jet set circle with the rich and famous. Then a phone call threatens to destroy everything he’s done to build a new life for himself.

His father is ill and needs him to return to Florida and salvage his small town newspaper.

What would you do if you were faced with this situation?

Whether you are a male or female, I’m sure most of us have at one time or another, sought approval from our fathers. But what if your father never praised you? What if, whatever you did, wasn’t good enough? What if you never felt loved? Would you feel justified in refusing to help him?

His father’s plea for help has opened a well of deep resentments that he thought he’d buried a long time ago.

These are the questions I asked myself when I created Wade’s character. When should we draw the line and think only of ourselves?

I hope when you read Stolen Destiny that you will be able to identify with his inner battles and admire his strength when faced with a difficult decision.

And maybe we’ll discover that sometimes, we need to go back in order for us to move forward.

Happy Reading,
Jeanette

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The Write Zone: Stolen Destiny

whiskey  AN INTRODUCTION TO CAROLINA STARR

My first novel, Stolen Destiny, will soon be released this spring. It’s a mystery, with a paranormal twist and also a sweet romance. That’s the simple definition.

There are a lot of layers in this story with a complex character who experienced a childhood trauma and domestic violence from an alcoholic father.

#Domestic #violence is the use of physical, sexual, threatening or emotional force to frighten, intimidate and control. This type of abuse usually escalates and becomes worse with time.

WHY DID I WRITE ABOUT THIS?

When I was 14 years old, I had a friend who lived with her grandmother and her uncle. The uncle owned the house where they lived and they were totally dependent on him for the roof over their heads.

We’ll call this friend, Fran. Fran’s mother would give sexual favors in return for money. So her grandmother’s house was supposed to be her safe haven. But in reality, her uncle, when he became intoxicated, would sexually abuse her. Often, to escape his advances, she’d sleep out on the porch with a blanket wrapped around her. Finally, when it became intolerable, she confided her secret to her grandmother.

Fran got a hard slap in the face. “Don’t ever open your mouth about this. If anyone believes your lies, we’ll be living on the street.”

It wasn’t until we were adults that Fran confided in me. This horrifying experience, affected her self-esteem, even though she had done nothing wrong and none of it was her fault.

This abuse describes what happened to Fran; not who she was. She may have been a victim, but she was far from weak. Fran survived and became a stronger person, just like the character I created in Carolina Starr.

This novel is dedicated to women who have suffered abuse. It was through hours of research that I became aware of the horrible statistics.

1 in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

1.3 million Women are survivors of domestic violence each year.

85% of domestic violence survivors are women.

Sexual assault or forced sex occurs in approximately 40-45% of abusive relationships.

There are options available to these women. If you or anyone you know is in an abusive situation, please contact, Women Helping Women on their 24 hour crisis line: 513-381-5610 or Toll Free: 1-877-889-5610. Women Helping Women works with thousands of community members and professionals every year to educate and prevent domestic violence. For more information go to: www.womenhelpingwomen.org.

And if you like Stolen Destiny, please look for the sequel, presently in progress, where women are abducted and sold to a human trafficking sex ring located in Florida. It will take Carolina Starr’s investigative skills and her psychic visions to save her best friend Marla Mooreland from the hands of a sexual monster. Although this is a novel of fiction, my research indicates that Florida is the 3rd largest city in human sex trafficking. Kind of scary, isn’t it?

Until we meet again, stay in THE WRITE ZONE.

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THE WRITE ZONE: Dylan Thomas

A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.” - Dylan Thomas

Have you ever read a great book like that? Have you ever been involved in a story that’s so compelling it begins to breathe a life of its own. And it possesses you. Long after you’ve finished the story, you’ll remember it.The characters became so real, you wanted them to remain in your life. Instead you were left with a hollow void until you found another book. But that one didn’t capture your soul, so you tossed it aside and searched for another one. There’s always that hope the author will write a sequel so that all those characters live again.

I had that experience with the early writings of Jude Deveraux when she created the Montgomery clan. I’d finish one story and could hardly wait to read about another Montgomery. Jude made me laugh out loud with their antics. As an author, her words jumped out and stirred my emotions. I fell in love with all of her characters.

There’s always a fire in my own soul as my fingers touch the keyboard. I want to believe I’m creating something as magical and as profound as some of the books I’ve read in my lifetime. I tell myself, even if it’s only one page; one page that my readers will find inspirational and unforgettable, I’ll be happy. But I’m deluding myself. One page isn’t good enough.

The truth is, the story I created and spent sleepless nights over wasn’t perfect. My heart was in the right place, but the words staring back at me on paper were silent. I couldn’t hear them.

The initial creation of the plot may have come easily but having my character come to life took a lot longer. I had to become the heroine, feel her pain, walk with her through her nightmares and fall in-love with the man she was afraid to trust. I had to see her visions and understand how she believed she was going insane. I had to feel the world I created was as real as my own.

All writers will strive for the same perfection.  But soon you’ll  recognize that your passion for writing isn’t enough. There won’t be just one draft or even 5. You’ll lose count. Then, you’ll feel like tearing them all up and start over again. Learn this lesson now. It will never be perfect in your own eyes. If you’re lucky enough to find a publisher, you can lose what little confidence you had in the story when you see all the comments and changes. Especially if there’s more red than black on the page. I felt like a child when the publisher held my hand and walked me through it. Then I  became an adult again.

And the good news is that no matter how many times you’ll feel insecure, you’ll never stop writing. You couldn’t even if you tried.  It’s what makes us a special breed. No matter how many rejections, you’ll keep at it until one magical day, you’ll see your book in print. I’m waiting for that myself.

Until next time, Stay in the Write Zone.

 

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THE WRITE ZONE: A Writers’ World

“A writer never has a vacation.  For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” – Eugene Ionesco.

I wake up in the morning and all I want to do is write. Before I fall asleep I think about what I’ve written or what I want to write about next. Even when I’m away from home, I notice people and wonder what kind of character he or she’d  make for my next story. Places I visit are recreated into magical kingdoms.

All my life I’ve existed in that kind of world and sometimes it made it difficult for me to fit into the real one You know, the one where non-writers live. But one day I realized I didn’t have to fit into anyone else’s world. They’d merely have to fit into mine.

I surround myself with great, loving and supportive friends. I also hang out with Elvis fanatics, like myself. Who else could understand that kind of passion for the man and his music? I’ve even connected with other Elvis lovers on Pinterest. Once  I start pinning pictures of Elvis on my board, I can’t seem to stop. I’ll tell you now, it’s very addicting.

Sometimes even the greatest friends won’t be able to relate to you, the writer. So isn’t it wonderful that we have writers groups, book clubs and writers conferences? Life itself is a never ending learning process. And we can never stop learning from each other. Every book I read, fictional or non-fictional, is a tool to help make me a better writer. All the time invested in social media will also help in this ever changing craft. Hopefully, all that time and effort will make a difference in selling your book. It’s all going to be so time consuming that you’ll want to skip it all.

It’s so much easier for us to live in our own little world behind our computer creating fictional characters. So much easier for us not to accept that movie or dinner invitation. So what if we miss the next club house dance?  But in the end, it’s all a learning experience and more importantly, a priceless new memory of times you’ve shared with those friends that were kind enough to ”remember you exist” despite your preference for solitude. Savor that experience and that joy you had with them. Why  limit ourselves to only one world? Be brave and experience both. Learn from all of it.

Until next time, stay in the Write Zone.

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THE WRITE ZONE: Doubt Kills More Dreams Than Failure Ever Will

When I first joined Florida Writers Association I was a closet writer in the worst way anyone can imagine. I wouldn’t allow anyone to read my writing and was deathly afraid of rejection, ridicule, and failure..

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to throw my hands up in the air and just give up. What’s wrong with just writing for my own pleasure? So what if I’ve had cases full of stories that I’ve never submitted? What if I’m not good enough? WHAT IF?

And then when I found FWA and connected with some great people, I was inspired by them, by their creativity and most of all by their perseverance. They suffered through the same doubts, but they didn’t allow that to stop them from moving ahead.

My first breakthrough was starting a personal blog: www.dundaswriter.blogspot.com. Although I had only a handful of followers, it didn’t matter.  I actually felt more comfortable knowing only a few people would get a peek at the other side of my soul. Again, I was writing for myself more than for an audience. Then I abruptly stopped it. Truthfully, I’m surprised Google didn’t close me down. It’s still there.

Now with my novel, “A Stolen Destiny” launching in April of this year, I sometimes wish I could revamp it, change the plot; anything to keep it out of the general public’s scrutiny. What if nobody likes it? What if I’m not a good enough? What if it’s a failure?

The truth is not everyone will like my first book, but there’s always a chance they’ll like my second or my third. I can’t allow myself to stop writing or learning more about my craft.

At the end of 2013 I created this website and blog. I feel as if I’ve jumped over the moon. I’m so excited about this new journey.Yes, I will shamefully promote my books on it, but I hope it can also be used as a tool for novice writers as well as an inspiration for them.

So if there are any new writers out there, contact me if you’d like to be a guest blogger and share some of your own writing tips or writing experiences. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

STAY IN THE WRITE ZONE

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THE WRITE ZONE: Those Who Don’t Believe In Magic Will Never Find It.

“Those Who Don’t Believe In Magic Will Never Find It.”

                       -Roald Dahl

Do any of you still believe in Santa Clause? And what about the tradition of St. Thomas for all of you single ladies out there? Or making a wish on the first star you see?

As a writer, my whole world is magical. I create the angels who sit on someone’s shoulder ; I make my characters see visions of spirits to help them through a trauma. And I hope to create a lot more of magical things in my novels to come.

But there’s also that real part of me who really believes in the magic of our own spirit  Maybe it’s because around Christmas, I see a difference in the human spirit. We’re more eager to help those in need; we want to give more than we receive. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to carry this through all year long?

I also believe it’s God’s magic that’s really at work and if I create anything that’s worthwhile, I believe it’s the magic that He’s given me; A magic to believe in myself and to bring the right people into my life at the right time.

So no matter how old you are or what obstacles you’re facing at the moment, take a deep breath and BELIEVE in a Higher Spirit. That’s when you truly find the magic in real life.

Until then my friends, Love and Light to all.

 

 

 

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