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Beneath the Willows – Chapter 1

Hello Lovely Readers!!

As promised, I am honored and proud to present my first novel, “Beneath the Willows” for your reading enjoyment. It’s been revised to the point of presentation, yet has NOT been professionally edited. Therefore, if you find a typo, or misplaced word…. well, that’s the way it is. Comments are welcomed and encouraged, an please LIKE and Share with others. Tales are meant to be shared, and I hope you find this one worthy of such an endeavor.

Beneath the Willows was inspired by an envelope, a family artifact left over from a passed down, now lost stamp collection I once had in my possession. The physical address simply states, “The Willows – Port Gibson, Mississippi.”

The Louisiana portion comes from the father’s side of the family, where a strong French connection with New Orleans continues from the 1700’s until this very day. Laiche` is my grandmothers maiden name, and while I’d always know it, I never realized the depth until doing research with Ancestry.

Finally, while family names are used in this story, this is a work of complete fiction, and all references to said families are fantasy and not to be considered real. Where possible, I used historically accurate places and people not associated with the characters. Also, this work is protected by Copyright © 2016 by Stephen R. Gann. No portion of this story may be used without the expressed, written consent by myself, the author.

Madame Olympe, for instance, was a real shop keeper in New Orleans, selling hats (chapeaux) to the wealthy elite of the city.  I give credit for this information (and many of the historical references and dialect) to the book, “Social Life in Old New Orleans, Being Recollections of my Girlhood: Ripley, Eliza Moore Chinn McHatton, 1832-1912.”

There are many people I wish to thank and express gratitude for helping to bring this story into our reality, so I’ll simply say THANK YOU to everyone all at once. You know who you are, and when this book is officially published, I’ll put your names in the credits.

This book is dedicated to my son, Carson. You dared me to walk the walk, do as I preached and write a book. Without your challenge, I would have never felt inspired to complete this novel. Thank you.

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Therefore, without further adieu, I present:

BENEATH THE WILLOWS  – A Historical Romance by Stephen R. Gann

CHAPTER ONE

Beside still, dark waters of a lily pad pond, Tomas Laiche hid beneath the Willows. It wasn’t exactly hiding, because everyone knew he was there; more like avoiding the situation into which he’d been tossed. His mother played an important part, pulling him from the freedom he relished running his New Orleans shipping company and back into the plantation life from which he’d fled.

His father was dead, supposedly from heart failure, but Tomas knew better. No one found floating in a backwater bayou died from something so benign. His family plantation was on the brink of bankruptcy, both from bad luck and bad decisions. This left his aging mother to manage the vast holdings alone.

And Tomas?

Well, he was about to tether his soul to a Louisiana sugar baron named Bourgeois. And while he might not be hiding, he damned sure was avoiding.

“Marse Tomas?” a woman called out from the direction of the Big House. Less than one hundred yards away, his mammy’s voice boomed as if she were right behind him.

“Damn that woman,” he muttered, leaning forward from the hand-made bench upon which he sat. Lovingly crafted by his father from the fallen boughs of an ancient cypress tree, it had always been his favorite thinking place since he was a child.

An equally ancient Willow tree draped its spindly limbs around Tomas and his bench like yellow-green hair from a wood sprite. Depending upon the season, the locks either sheltered the chair in cool, delightful shade, or highlighted it with colorful ribbons of leafy, free-spirited fronds.

“Marse Tomassss!”

He bent over and dug a moist, year-blackened pecan from the spongy soil beneath his feet. Rolling the nut in his hand, he tossed it toward the closest lily pad. It thumped and slid across the pads green surface, plopping into the water at the end of its journey.

The pond reflected truth, revealing the bench and Willow for what they were: a requirement of each, one defining the other; shared sentiments of both the bench and the Willow. Rarely clear enough to see into the depths, the pond waters soothed its visitors with soft ripples, croaking frogs and the occasional plopping splash of a hungry fish.

Azaleas, clematis, monkey grass and rushes enveloped the pond, holding it close like a protective mother. Three pecan trees draped their arching limbs over the water’s edge, dipping the trailing tips of Spanish moss into the darkened waters.

“Marse Tomas!” The voice was closer. “I knows you in there!”

Above it all was the song of the Cicada. An effervescent composition of buzzing – rising to a crescendo, then softening into silence. At times, the winds through the Willow branches was all that was heard, filling the pond with feelings of place and purpose. Then there would be silence, and all was quiet; only the shimmering of willow leaves – certainly not the bellowing of Mammies.

“I’m not coming out, May,” he said, calling back over his shoulder toward the approaching housekeeper.

“And I’m not hiding!” He pushed reddish brown bangs from the front of his eyes and tucked them under the brim of his gray, felt planters hat.

The willow branches rustled as May pushed her large body through, taking up position behind and to the side of Tomas. She crossed her arms across her white ruffled blouse and scowled.

“I ain’t never said you was.”

“Sure sounded like it,” Tomas said. He picked up another pecan lying at the toe of his black riding boots. He heaved the nut toward the farthest lily pad and missed – finding one of the dozen or so red-blossomed azaleas surrounding the pond. Two mockingbirds burst from the bush, crackling in protest as they sought shelter in a nearby tree.

“Them’s your words, not mine,” May said, watching the birds fly toward freedom.

Tomas shrugged and leaned back against the fan-shaped spokes of the cypress bench – feeling the hard, aged wood press against his spine. Nestled beneath the umbrella-like cascade of Willow fronds, the bench provided Tomas a perfect view of the oasis spread before him.

“Sides, Miss Mammie’s fit to be tied,” she said, shaking her head. Multi-colored beads dangling from her dark blue, turban-like tignon clicked together like rattling dice.

“You supposed to be dressed for Miss Marg’rite’s arrival.” She placed her hands on her hips, forcing her ankle-length blue skirt to billow outwards. Tomas grunted.

“Why you lurkin’ like some scared child? Ain’t like she gone bite-cha.”

“She might,” Tomas said, tossing another nut. The Pecan trees scattered around the plantation created a never ending supply for the squirrels, who deposited them in the grass beneath the bench.

“Besides,” he continued. “Who said I wanted to see Marguerite, anyway? Don’t I have a choice in the matter?”

He heard the beads rattle again, as the massive May shook her head. “Nope,” she stated. “You ain’t got no say atall, Marse Tomas. If Miss Mammie’s invited em, you gone be there.”

The rhythmic buzzing of Cicada’s filled the trees, urgently building, then fading into quiet. Tomas imagined the winged locusts descending upon May and carrying her off, perhaps dropping her into the nearby Mississippi River.

Faint hope in that happening, he thought. They’re probably scared of her, too. That made him laugh

He turned, scowling at the Negro housekeeper. She’d earned her freedom almost ten years ago, yet ever since he was a little boy, she’d ruled over him like HE was the slave and she the master. Well, mothered was more truthful. She treated Tomas like he was her own.

“May,” he said. “I’m twenty-nine-years old. One might think I could choose what I did with my life without being told.”

“What gaves you that idea?” She chuckled. “Since Marse Francois up an died, you ain’t got no choice.”

“You gotsta do whats good for tha Willows.”

Tomas sighed and looked toward an algae-stained marble statue across the small pond. Tucked between two blossoming azalea bushes, the stone boy held a tipped bucket streaming water into a marble, birdbath basin. Red petals from fallen blossoms floated in the water, bobbing over ripples formed by the tiny waterfall.

“I reckon,” he said, seeing his life trickle away like the bucket’s water. “That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

How does it refill? He ran his fingers through his reddish brown bangs, lifting his wide brimmed hat as he did. He’d come to the pond for as long as he could remember, and not once had he asked that question of the fountain.

“Now I don’t blames ya,” May said. “The Willows ain’t New Orleans.” She brightened.

“But miss Marg’rite? She’s a gorgeous girl. All the folks say so.”

“She’s a witch,” Tomas said, turning to toss his final pecan. He aimed for the farthest pad and missed, landing it next to a partially submerged turtle, who ducked and swam into the depths of the pond. “I’m sure she hasn’t changed since the last time.”

“I don’t know ‘bout dat” May said, shaking her head, eyes watching where the pecan landed. “But your momma’s right fond of her.” May nodded. “Says she’s a God-fearin woman.”

“I’m sure it’s the other way around,” Tomas said, muttering under his breath.

May frowned and crossed her arms. “Now I ain’t gone hear no more lip from you, Marse Tomas.”

“You get yourself up to tha house and get ready, you hear me?”

Tomas grinned, his eyes twinkling like he’d heard a joke that no one else had. He stood and wiped his hands on the bright, green pantaloons he wore tucked into knee-high, black leather boots.

“Yes’um, massah,” he said, dipping his head like one of the field hands cutting sugar cane. “I’za be a comin right now!”

“Don’t you be sassin’ me, Tomas Jacques Laiche!” May said, her scowl growing deeper along with her voice. He knew that tone well, and when he was younger, it’d been followed by a switch across his backside.

“Go on, now,” she said, pointing a thick, dark finger toward the house. “Get!”

Tomas scurried from the lily pad pond as if he’d been swatted, bursting through the branches and hustling toward the house. Looking over his shoulder, he slowed to a walk. Straightening his dark green, knee-length planter’s coat, he brushed away any leaves that might have clung on his escape.

With a final adjustment to his gray hat, he tucked his bangs beneath the brim, smiled, shook his shoulders and sauntered toward the house.

He was ready.

He’d walked the path to the Big House from the grove so often, he no longer saw the beauty that made up the manicured grounds of the Willows Plantation. Having grown up here, the beauty was now background scenery, nothing more.

He didn’t see the fourteen billowing Willow trees guarding the grassy carriage path flowing from the river to the mansion’s front stairway. Groundskeepers kept the streaming limbs over the path cut high, so as to create a leafy-green tunnel which whispered shimmering welcomes when breezes rustled through the dancing fronds.

He didn’t see the white, Greek Revival mansion rising from the lawn. Three stories were supported by thick, round columns standing atop the roman-arched, brick wall of the first floor. Rose vines clambered up wooden trellises placed between the arches, coloring the foundation in shades of pink and red.  A near perfect square, the house stood like a sparkling gem atop a field of floral green.

He didn’t see the four triangular dormers perched atop the gray slate roof, their green shuttered windows gazing toward the river – winking at riverboats steaming along the Mississippi’s tan, muddy waters.

Tomas noticed none of this these days.

What he did see, was his mother waiting at the top of the sweeping stairway. Her hands pressed firm against her slender waist, forcing her frilly, dark green hoop dress to swirl over the veranda like a French parasol.

A coachman in full green and white livery of the house waited at the base of the stairway, observing Tomas’s approach. Tomas stopped next to the Negro servant and glanced up at his glaring mother.

“How angry is she, Jim?” Tomas asked without looking at the servant. “Dare I venture upwards?”

“If you value your life you will, Marse Tomas,” Jim said, his eyes darting between Tomas and his mother. Tomas nodded, chuckling quietly before making the ascension.

“Glad it ain’t me,” Jim muttered.

Tomas stopped halfway and cocked his head at the comment. Smirking and shaking his head, he completed the climb to his glaring mother.

As Tomas arrived at the veranda, she tilted her head, eyes sweeping toward the distant levee.

“Good morning,” he said, bending down and kissing her on the now exposed cheek. “I hope the day finds you well?”

She pursed her lips and lifted her eyes to Tomas, though not until she offered a slight smile from her only son’s kiss.

“Finds me well?” she said, her tone saying the kiss did nothing to staunch her annoyance. “How well do you THINK I am, Tomas Jacques Laiche?!”

The second time his full name had been used. Was the entire household angry with him? He inspected the wooden decking of the veranda, noting two of the boards were beginning to lift.

“The entire Bourgeois family is coming for lunch,” she said. “Including that lovely daughter of theirs, and you go off to hide.”

Tomas grimaced, wincing at her biting tone. “I wasn’t hiding,” Tomas said, though not as powerfully as he would have liked.

He caught a glimpse of a doorman’s widened eyes. The man looked away when Tomas challenged his look.

“I had to think,” Tomas said, feeling as if he were twelve years old. Her looks were one thing, but the tone of her voice sunk him to childhood in an instant.

“Hopefully about your place at the Willows,” she said, her tone growing more intense; if that were possible. “You spend all of your time in New Orleans while the heart of what your father and I built is wilting away.” She sniffed, as the corners of her eyes filled with moisture.

“Ever since Francois passed, God rest his soul,” she said, crossing herself. “You’ve avoided me like I had the yellow fever.” Moisture turned to tears.

“Even when you DO come to visit, you hide away in some remote part of the property; thinking as you call it.”

Tomas met his mother’s eyes, feeling her anguish wash over him. A ploy to tug at my heart, he thought to himself. She was quite adept at it, and if she intended to make him feel guilty, it was working.

“Do you hate me that much, Tomas?”

Tears turned into all out sobs, and the French powders she used to color her face began running in drizzling streaks of black.

“Oh, mother,” Tomas said, pulling her dainty frame against his chest, her head resting just beneath his chin. Tomas wasn’t a massive man, standing just under five foot six inches. His mother, though, was much smaller at four foot eleven. She was like a child to him, though in stature only – especially now.

“It’s okay,” he said, patting the top of her head. “It’s okay. I’m here. I’ll be ready for their arrival.” She sniffed and nodded, glancing up with water-filled eyes.

“Thank you,” she sniffled. “I’m so glad. You’ve no idea how difficult it’s been with your father gone.” She sniffed three times, as if trying to stop the rain.

Pulling away, she gazed into his eyes as his hands rested atop her shoulders.

“The Willows is failing, Tomas,” Mammie said, sadness and sincerity filling her face. “I’m getting old, and with the two years of ruined crops, I can’t see it surviving much longer.” He nodded and sighed, cocking his head as she spoke.

“If we don’t keep up, we’ll lose everything we’ve worked so hard to build.”

“I know,” Tomas said.

“Do you?” She said, searching his eyes. “Do you, really?” Tomas looked toward the river, allowing the Willow trees to guide his view. “Your father and I built this plantation from cypress swamps more than thirty years ago.”

“This is our life’s work. You were born here, raised here.” She gently poked his chest, right atop his heart.

“You’re a part of the Willows, Tomas. It’s time you came home.”

“More and more companies are hiring us to ship their goods,” he said, gasping her hands in his as he turned to face her full on.

“We’re not just transporting our own sugar these days” he said. “We’re shipping cotton, timber, textiles. It’s 1853, and the South is blossoming.” He sighed and shook her head.

“We’re positioned to bloom with it, mother.”

“Riley Mac can run the Company,” she stated, shaking free from his grasp. For as far back as he could remember, his mother could change moods faster than a Gulf storm appeared from clear, blue skies.

“I need you here.”

He sighed again and shook his head. He loved the land, yet loved New Orleans more. The vibrancy of the growing city was like a cultural gumbo, filled with flavors, scents and tastes pouring into him like breath itself.

It was a delicate balance he walked, and if not for his father’s death, he’d not have come back to the plantation. For him, the Willows felt like the past, like chaining himself to an old, never-changing ideal. New Orleans was the ocean – open and free, even a little dangerous. It was dynamic.

“I’m here now,” Tomas said, turning his mother toward the door by placing a hand at her waist. “That will have to do.” She nodded.

“I suppose,” she said. She looked at him as they passed through the opened pair of green, cypress-wood doors and into the mansion’s foyer.

“Marguerite’s coming, so look your best for her, dear. She’s always adored you so.”

“Ah, so the truth of the matter comes out,” Tomas said, laughing. “Marry me off to Marguerite so I can be settled down, is that it?”

His mother gasped, as if she’d been caught in a monumental lie. She placed her hand over her heart.

“Why, Tomas!” she said, drawling the words like a young, Georgia Belle. “What-evah do you mean?” Laughing, Tomas kissed her cheek, then left to get changed.

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Meaning of the Sounds of Silence Inside Social Media

Hello Lovely Readers!

Yup! I’m busy scratching out a synopsis of my novel, Beneath the Willows. It’s going well, and should be completed in a week or so. THEN, maybe, I can query those wonderful agents who’ve lined up to represent me and my novel. If I believe, it’s true.

However.

This post is about  Silence

There are those that say silence is golden. In my profession (coaching), it’s a skill to master in order to LISTEN to your client, wholly and completely. One needs the art of silence, in order for your client to process everything they say within the conversation, so they can discover the answers they seek.

In writing, one might prefer silence. Personally, I listen to music or sit within a busy cafe, or a busy street corner to write. For me, what I DON’T want is for my characters to be silent. If they are, there’ll be nothing to write about!

But in social media, especially the book of faces many of us love, adore and loathe, what does silence mean?

A shared quote from said f-bomb book spoke to me today, stating: “I don’t like forced conversations, forced friendships, forced interactions. I do not force things. If we don’t vibe we don’t vibe.”

I scratched my head, thinking about the social media aspect of these questions, “who determines if a conversation is forced? who determines if a friendship is forced? Who determines if an interaction is forced?”

Isn’t that like determining the answer to the chicken/egg paradox?

For a conversation to exist, there must be two. Without it, there is silence.

For a friendship to exist, there must be two. Ayup. Silence.

For an interaction to exist, there must be two. Silence again.

Which side forces the other inside social media?

OR  (and this just came to me)

Perhaps the SILENCE determines. O-O  Yea, that makes sense. If there is silence, then none of those three things can exist.

Now we’re getting somewhere. In face to face interaction, it’s actual silence. “I’m not going to answer your phone calls, talk to you should I see you, turn away should you approach.”  If you continue, I’ll tell you flat out, either with words or physicality, to BACK OFF. I will break the silence to SHOW you.

Us writers like Showiness.

Silence within social media, however, means no response to any or all ATTEMPTS at conversation, friendship, interaction. It’s as if one party never received the information from the other party. In essence, it’s ignoring the other person attempting to connect wholly and completely.

Which is worse for the human psyche, I wonder?

To me, the SM silence is worse, as it renders the person making the attempt non-relevant. A type of thing where, “I will not be forced into conversation with you, therefore I will act as if you do not exist.” Since we live in reality, where one thing/person exists relative to another, non-existence means not real to the other. Therefore, SM silence is the true void.

I banish you from existence!

Even if the other person comes back and says, “Yea, but I was busy and simply forgot.”  Uh huh. What this really means is, “You’re not important enough in my reality to warrant a response, even if it were simply to say, ‘go away’. If I do not respond, you do not exist. Have a nice day.”

No wonder social media is helping the world of therapy, psychology and psychiatry. To be rendered non-existent is rather horrifying.

So, my lovely readers. When considering whether to engage someone on social media, put some thought into what silence means and act accordingly.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, my lovely reader, wherever your horizons beckon…

Stephen R. Gann

 

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The END is Just the Beginning

This is the end… as sung by The Doors. I have done it! Blammo! Pow! Thwack! Smack! After 100 days, 113,634 words and 347 pages, I completed my first novel.

2 weeks ago, on November 30th, I wrote the words: THE END

Frank sent his congratulations from the Caribbean, Francine raised her glass of French Bordeaux in toast from a wine bar in Vancouver,  and myself?

I cracked open a crock of 18 year old scotch, poured it into an antique, crystal glass and savoured its smokey, smooth taste in contemplation of what I’d truly accomplished.

Since high school, I’ve dreamed of writing a novel. A horror, or a fantasy of some sort – building a world to rival that of Tolkien, or characters that would make Stephen King proud.  Here’s the thing:

Writing a novel takes work. It takes time. And it takes desire. (And a wee bit of creativity, as well as a bunch of other things). All of these were missing for the past millions of years since I graduated.

But then, something clicked, the stars aligned and in a explosion of brilliance, I wrote a novel. And a historical romance novel at that.

Yes, needless to say that I was surprised. Not only the genre, but how well the story flowed. In fact, it worked so well, the ending is what I wrote immediately after the outline.

And that was just the beginning.

You see, endings are beginnings for new things. Or more of the same SORT of things, just different flavors. I may have written the words, The End, but that just opens the door for the next novel, the 2nd draft of the first novel, the query, the agent, the publisher, a snack here and there, and yes:

A swig ‘o the good stuff.

So to all of my lovely readers, here now and in days to come, I lift my glass to endings, may they be the start of an entirely new adventure!

Fair Winds and Following Seas, lovely reader, wherever your horizons beckon…

Stephen R. Gann

 

 

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What IS Romance, Anyway? Curious Minds Want To Know…

Good evening, lovely reader!

Yes, I’ve been a bit remiss in posting. I think it’s been fourteen days since I last put something to the boards. Yikes! I’ll be better, promise.

Frank’s still away in the Bahamas and yet to send me a postcard. Ah well, he deserves a vacation.

In the meantime, Francine and I have been getting to know one another. Which is why I’ve not written a description. I will soon, but for now, updates will have to do until I have a more clear picture. She’s pretty awesome, I can tell you that much.

I crossed the 60K word mark today, something I’m quite proud of. The story is solid, the pieces falling into place and now it’s into transitions and more of the sensual parts. I’ve saved those for last, leaving markers where they should appear in text. Francine’s really interested to see what comes from those, seeing that is why she took the job. Now that we’ve met and begun writing together, they should fit quite nicely.

Okay, to the main event: Romance. Oooh lala!

Have you ever looked it up the word Romance in wiki or some other dictionary? Rather disappointing if you ask me: “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.” OR “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.”

Seriously? A feeling or a quality? Seems a bit too tiny if you ask me.

So, while walking with a friend of mine through autumn-stained forests  here in British Columbia, we discussed what Romance meant to me, how I would describe it and why that was so important to define.

You know? It took a few minutes (okay, several minutes) to come up with something deep and meaningful. Sure, it’s easy to say, ‘love,’ but after writing more than 60% of a novel about it, I felt I should have a more complete grasp; something with substance. One I could describe to Oprah or to Ellen when I’m invited onto their shows to talk about my not-yet-published but absolutely fabulous romance novel.

Here are some of the words that came out. Unabridged, unedited and completely from memory.

Energy between two people. Connection. Connective, reflective energy that builds as people move closer to one another. Emotional energy of connection creating passion for life, for self and one another – reflected back and forth until the two become one.

The list went on and on, but one thing was clear. The word connection & energy appeared to be the ties that bound them all together. My friend agreed, though she added many more words as she often does.

Think about what Romance means to you.

I would guess that for every person who answers, each will have their own definition. It’s a huge genre, that’s for sure. As large as the word LOVE, in fact – conceptual with multiple, possibly an infinite number of meanings.

FOR ME, whether it be between people or a person & place – connection is key. And it must be shared, reflected if you will, like a mirror shows you for you. Except in romance, the mirror is the other person and YOU are seen through them. The energy created in that reflection builds a bond; a connection. And, as that energy intensifies, the connection becomes the stronger and the two move closer.  Finally, the energy builds, intensifies until the two become one.

So there you have it, romance fans! My very own definition in less than one hundred words. If that is too many for you, then might I offer this: “Emotional energy of connection, creating passion for life, for self and another – reflected back and forth until the two become one.”

I can live with that. Someone call Ellen. I’ll be ready by the end of November, when I expect to finish first draft.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, my lovely readers, Wherever your horizons beckon…

Stephen R. Gann

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Frank, My Ideal Reader, Takes a Holiday. What Now?

Hello Lovely Reader!

Frank, my ideal reader, has left for the Bahamas, taking a holiday after reaching the halfway point of our novel. I’ve moved well beyond 50K words and plowing toward 60. It took sixty four days to reach the halfway point, though only portions of that was spent writing. I fully expect to finish by the end of November, if not before.

So why did Frank go? Why did he give up the free coffee and head for the beach just when we’d crossed the downslope?

I found out yesterday while I prepared to write at my little corner table inside Steveston’s fabulous coffee and bookstore: Village Books.

“Stephen, my boy,” he said, offering me a bag of Kicking Horse coffee beans, the dark roasted variety called, 454.

“I’ve done all I can for you in this romance novel of ours.”

“What?” I said, mouth dropping open in shock. I took the beans, noting that a card was attached with a red, silk ribbon. If I’d know he was leaving, I’d brought a gift, too.

“What do you mean? We’re just getting to the good stuff!”

“That’s the point, kiddo,” he replied, kicking his booted feet atop my table at Village Books. Fortunately, no one noticed. “The good stuff’ll need a different ideal reader if you want it to connect.”

“Ah,” I said, nodding. I had wondered if this might be the case. Apparently, I was correct. I took a sip of my maple macchiato.

“Please, continue.”

He smiled, hoisting his mug of dark roast. “I talked to a friend of mine,” he said. “And she’s willing to sit in for me, so you don’t feel so alone.”

“Willing to meet her?”

“Hell yea!” I said, leaning forward. “What’s her name?”

“Francine,” he said, sipping his coffee and smiling at me over the top of the mug. “She’ll be here in a few moments.”

“You’re going to introduce me, right?” I mean, I’m sort of shy. I don’t just walk up to random women and invite them to be my ideal reader. Surely he understood that.

He shook his head. “Nope,” he said. “I can’t be seen here, or she’ll get suspicious.”

Oooh, I thought. That sounds intriguing. What did he mean by suspicious? My mind went to thoughts of a hot, torrid affair that Frank might be a part of. That sly…

“Ah,” I said, choosing not to ask.

“She knows who you are,” he said. “She’s accepted the job and will meet you here.” He took a final sip, then placed his mug on the table.

“Well, lad,” he said, pushing his chair away from the table with a screech.

“I’m off for sunnier climates. Keep going, work with Francine, and I’ll catch up when you’re done.”

Tears formed in the corner of my eye as I watched him stand.

“You’re really going?”

He nodded, hoisting his courier bag atop his shoulder as he pushed the chair back under the square, wooden café table.

“Not for good,” he said. “Just for now.”

“Connect with Francine. She’ll give you what you need.” As he walked toward the door, he turned and tipped his hat.

“Adios, amigo!” he exclaimed. “Write on, brother! Right on!”

He vanished through the door as I stared, watching him fade into the setting sun of sugar white sands and green, rolling waves. But not alone, I noticed, smiling to myself.

Two kids, a bikini-clad woman and a fluffy, black dog joined him on the beach, gathering together to wave back at me.

“Thank you,” the voices whispered from the fading scene, and even the dog barked a farewell. For now.

“Thank you, Frank,” I whispered, daubing my eyes with a paper napkin. “Thank you for everything.”

Sighing, I flipped open my Surface and opened to the document about Simone, imagining the scene as I stepped forth into the writing. She was about to experience tragedy, and I really needed to connect with the horror in order for you, my lovely reader, to experience it.

Bells jingled from the Village Book’s door, drawing my eyes toward the sound – hearing the click of thin, spiked boot heels upon the concrete floor.

“Hello,” a raven haired woman said to me, standing by the chair that Frank had recently vacated.

“I’m Francine. Mind if I join you?”

Fair Winds and Following Seas my lovely reader, wherever your horizons beckon.

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Milestones, Millstones and Markers

Hello Lovely Reader!

I find this hard to believe, but I am 4K words away from the midway point of my 100K goal for completion. That’s right: I sit at 46K words on the novel I started in early August. So, if all goes as planned, completion should be at the end of November, if not earlier. I’ve discovered as I progress deeper into the story, my pace of writing picks up speed as well.

Instead of 5-800 words, I’m hitting 3K words a session. In addition to that, I am touching up portions as I catch back up with the story. I know: no editing while writing. However, in this case it helps with MY flow into the story, making the portal even stronger.

It’s working, and when something is working well, don’t change.

Frank has become a permanent fixture beside me, no matter where that place is. Coffee, cranberry and vodka, wine – he likes it all and has become absolutely fascinated with the story. I’ve never felt more connected to my work as a writer than I do right now. Frank is, too: hence his own chair beside me.

The cat even likes him (it must be the kitty treats).

Am I obsessed? I hope so, as it’s been a dream long time coming. The difference between obsession and passion is a vague boundary, and probably defined by the intention. Is it destructive or creative?

Fantasy writing provided the opportunity to create something completely from scratch, imagining places and people that had never been seen before. However, the task of creation became a millstone in a way, as if the task was so huge it held me back from the passion of connection. I always felt the weight of trying to bring that world to the light, breathing life into it in a way that the people and world would be honored.

Romance is freedom.

I am plugged into the story wholly and completely, to the point that it is all I think about. I zone into space and see, hear and taste the world in which I’ve opened. Passion ignited, made real through my words of what I’ve experienced. I feel no weight, only energy. I feel the power of what I see and feel how it moves from mind to word to page. Like a river of golden soul-love, pouring forth from the open portal into the world of reality.

Word counts are mere markers along the highway toward completion. Yet they give witness to the journey. For indeed, it is a journey. Maybe much more than a thousand pages, and hopefully so. They mark time, they mark progress, they mark freedom. For as long as I remain on the road, I am free.

Writing is freedom, shared experiences from those I write about to those who read. Walls cannot contain, relationships cannot bind – freedom is the soul singing it’s song and I’m singing for you, lovely reader.

Enjoy and IN Joy.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, my lovely reader, Wherever your horizons beckon…

Stephen R, Gann

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Perceptual Projections of Being…

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Perceptual Projections of Being…

Hello Lovely Readers!

Salutations and good even-ink!

Ahem.

Update on the Romance novel: Today, at 3:32 PM PST, inside Village Books in Steveston, BC Canada, Frank and I surpassed the 40K word milestone on the highway to completion. in celebration, we hoisted a cup of 49th Parallel Dark Roast (go bold or go home, I always say), drank a toast, smiled out the window at a sexy, dark-haired angel walking her pug (ignored by both) and motored on toward 41.

One can’t stop and ogle the signs when on the highway to completion! If you do, you might get run down by a random ice-road trucker texting updates from the Writer’s Circle onto Facebook. Not that “I” would do that!

Double Ahem.

So, what’s up with the metaphysical title? Well. Let me tell you: it’s a warning and a clue to life.

Have you ever made friends with someone and then, for some rather odd and unknown reason, pushed them away? Have you ever been really excited about a new job, then had it crash and burn around your feet? That’s the dark side of this rule, “What we perceive, we project.”

The Light side, where the Jedi Knight live, uses it to their advantage. They PERCEIVE a state from their audience and PROJECT it back in the manner they wish it exist. They project what they want the audience to perceive, thus intensifying the wholesome goodness of it. The audience sends it back – A Fine flow of the Force, would you not say?

O-o. Whaaaaat?

Here is how it works:

Let’s say you’re having a conversation with one of those sexy, shapely, blue female aliens from Star Trek and all is well, you’re really enjoying where it’s leading – hopefully to infinity and beyond. Then, all of a sudden, you PERCEIVE a disturbance in the Force. ‘She’ frowns, crosses her arms, says something that maybe hints at the Dark Side (and not the ‘good’ dark side, either).

Using your Jedi mind powers, you PROJECT them back. I mean, you don’t want to go over to the dark side. Don’t hit ME with your dark Jedi Mind tricks, you think. I’m on to you! Hand up, reflect! ::whew!::

However! She’s a master, too! And now, you PERCEIVE an even greater disturbance as she does the same thing, and in order to save yourself, you PROJECT it back!  Jedi Master Ping Pong. And before you know it, the possibility of exploring her Nebulae has gone where no man will ever return from – complete isolation; Exile!

Makes sense, does it not?

I didn’t think so. It’s not like it does, really. Who truly knows the emotional mind of sexy, blue Star Trek aliens? I mean, I’m a romance writer, and even I have no clue!

Triple Ahem

So, Stephen, tell me: what the hell does this have to do with writing and your journey of a thousand pages?

It has EVERYTHING!

Because.

What you perceive you project, even onto paper (or pixel). Perceive your character as you truly want them to be, wholly and completely, and you will KNOW exactly what it is you need to write.

Perceive your scene exactly how you wish, and you will project it into the right words at the right time.

PERCEIVE your story from an empowered, emotional state, and it will appear on the pages before you – as if it were always there. The more you do this, the stronger the Force and the greater master you become; maybe even Yoda, though that ‘might’ be pushing it a bit.

See? Jedi Mind Tricks at work.

What about the Light side, you ask? Same thing, just reverse it. Perceive what it is you want, then project it to the pages. Or onto sexy, blue Star Trek aliens. In fact…. if she does the same thing back, then nebulae are only the beginning!  We’re talking final frontiers here! O-O   ::fans self::

Okay. enough of that for tonight. More of this, and I’ll need another bottle of red wine.

Cheers and as always…

Fair Winds and Following Seas, lovely readers, wherever your horizons beckon you!

-Stephen R. Gann

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The Mission of Each True Writer…

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The Mission of Each True Writer…

Good Evening Lovely Reader!

When I am inspired, I feel energized. When I feel energized, I become empowered. When I become empowered, I embody PASSION.

The Impossible Dream is a song that bubbles up from time to time whenever I feel inspired to create something really amazing. Frank loves it, and HAS been known to march around my deck as if he were Don Quixote himself – lance held high and armor shining (even though it wasn’t in the musical).

“Pancho! Bring my armour and MY SWORD!”

So the other day, while I was moving toward 35K words writing the scene where Tomas meets his future wife, the song echoed between my ears and I suddenly burst into song (in private, of course).

Then, after queuing up the youtube video, I heard the opening line to that song:

“The mission of each true knight is duty. Nay, it’s privilege.” – The Impossible Dream – Man of La Mancha

Like a lance to the shield, my brain shattered into brilliance:

“The Mission of each true Writer is Story; nay, it’s Passion.”

That’s my take on it, and therefore the theme today.

So, in honor of my amazingly not-so-special singing voice, I have re-written that song into the Mission of Each True Writer  Feel free to sing along, as if you were Don Quixote singing to his lovely Dulcenea. If you care to add music, please feel free to load Impossible Dream – Man of La Mancha

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“The Passionate Tale”  by Stephen R. Gann

“The Mission of each true Writer is Story; nay, it’s Passion.

“To write – such a passionate tale. That your read-er lives in your heart.

To hold, a space filled with your power. To build, a link into your love!

To write – with description and joy. To hear – what it’s like to sing pain.

To feel, what your character dreams for, to fly into arms of your Soul!

This is your quest! To follow that Love!

No matter the stories, just write what you know.

To draw from your heart, without question or pause.

To be willing to show and not tell so your readers will care

And I know – if you’ll only be true – to this glorious quest.

That your words – will show passion and truth, when we open your book.

And the world – will be better for this:

That your tale, filled with feeling and song – will sing with it’s full breadth of courage –

To FLY.  Into arms   of     your      SOULLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!”

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Fly into the arms of your souls, lovely reader and soar to heights unknown.

Stephen R. Gann

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