Dreams: A Connection to the Cosmos

dali-clockI’ve always paid attention to my dreams. They are like motion movies, in color and sometimes very action packed. Two dreams are what gave me the outline and story concept for the Legends of Green Isle Series. They have also given me insight into problems, and in some instances a brief glance into possible future events. It could almost be said that your dreams are connections to the cosmos. They are often referred to in the Bible as prophetic to those God has chosen to do his work. I’m not saying I’m a chosen messenger or anything, but some dreams, more than others, make me stand up and take notice.

I remember being 19 and living on the base in Alaska when I had a dream like that. I took a nap before my after-school job and had a dream that a little kid ran out in front of me and I couldn’t stop on the road quick enough because of the packed snow. I ran over the kid and killed him in my dream. When I got up to go to work, the images of the dream haunted me. I drove slow on the base roads, the dream still very powerful in my mind. The elementary school was letting out as I turned on the road leading out of the housing area. Had I not been thinking of that dream and going slower than normal, the kid who ran right out in front of my car would have been hit and I most likely would have killed him. Yes, it was a premonition.

With that being said, I refer back to two previous blog posts I did about dreams that referenced some sort of message about an earthquake in the Texas area. This was in March 2012.  I did a follow-up on the same dream in May of 2012. Since then I have had a lot of visitors to these two particular blog post. At the beginning of this month, one of our visitor, Cheryl, sent this message to me:

Read your article,
strange things are happening,
not sure if you would know this but another small earthquake last night here in East Texas.  This happened during a terrible storm coming through.
Here is the link.

http://m.kltv.com/kltv/pm_/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=od:MeaHDyb9

What struck me most about the article that Cheryl sent was that these were earthquakes taking place around an area called Timpson, which is somewhat similar to the name that I couldn’t quite get in the dream. Anyway, I hope these dreams I had weren’t something like the one I had in Alaska. It’s terrifying to think of what I saw in the second dream. Would welcome any new information about this subject.

Editing and Rewriting: profiling your characters.

Chapter OneWriting and editing seems to be a never ending cycle of creation and destruction. I say it this way because when I first wrote “The Forgotten Spell,” the first book of the series, it was over six years ago. Since then I’ve completed undergraduate work and am now in graduate studies at Clemson University, and my writing has improved. I didn’t realize until I got back the first round of edits from my wonderful editor Lisanne, how really horrible the book was. One of the main complaints from Lisanne was characterization and of course mid-book slump – no action. Thus, much of what I created has to be destroyed in order to renew the story. Stories evolve too. You may find that first initiation draft does quite get the point across. Yes, my characters did sound all alike in the first book. Lisanne was right. They were individuals in my head, talking to me, but on paper their personalities didn’t come through. I have to destroy their sameness and create them all over again.

Here was some great advice from a good friend: Have you profiled the characters? Start with name, short physical description, likes and dislikes, family, personal history. Make a sheet for each main character, and maybe make a drawing. You can use images that embody your characters: Garfield, WOW, Marvel, Barbie, friends, etc. Profiles can help you position characters and round out scenes. Why does X carry a broken watch? He set the watch to the hour she died and smashed it to preserve the memory, never to forget the goal of his quest.” Mark Wilkinson was a wonderful friend who I knew at University of Alaska way back when. He is also a fantastic writer. Great advice. It has helped me quite a bit. Thanks Mark!

 

 

The Last Letter: A Reflection on a Soldier’s Letter from WWI

Soldier WWIToday I haven’t been feeling well, so I’ve had the heating pad, pencil and notebook, and research in bed with me today. My Master’s Thesis deals in part with Mitchell Reid’s book, “The Vacant Chair,” and how hand-written letters become a replacement for that vacant chair within the domestic sphere. One of my readings today was a small booklet, not more than 90 pages, of fragments of letters that a young nineteen year old French lad, who had been studying in school to become a missionary, wrote home. {The book was published in 1917 and reprinted in English in 1918. The title is “For France and the Faith.”}

Alfred Evgene Casalis merged his role as a man of faith and as a volunteer soldier, his ideals ardently expressed in his letters home. He believed it to be his duty for country and for his fellow man to stand along side of those who fought at the front, even though he was a pacifist, not only to defend his country but to minister to his fellow comrades.

He took part in the First Battle of Ypres in May 1915, and it is his last letter which touched me:

May 8th

Since Thursday evening I have been back in the trenches, knowing that the big attack is near at hand. And since that time my life has been one tense and anxious watching for the coming hour. But I am at peace, I fear nothing. I shall be able to do my duty with the aid of God.

The bombardment is becoming more and more violent. Today, particularly, the artillery is firing without a stop and one can hear only the noise of the shells. They whistle through the air, on a level with the trench, like a great heart-rending sob. Then they explode over yonder with a dry crash, and everything flies – earth, wood, and iron. Finally come the shell splinters, reaching up to where we are and falling on all sides. And to think that it is scarcely the fiftieth part of the artillery surrounding us which is firing! What will it be like when all belch forth at once? Therefore I am hopeful. The attack can not fail to succeed. There will be some wounded, some killed, but we shall go forward and far—–

This letter was incomplete. A footnote made at the very end noted “The letter was unfinished and was found in the pocket of the capote when he was buried.” 

Sent back to his mother and father, the last letter found its way home as a material reminder of its author in the visual image of the vacant chair at the dinner table. Alfred’s life was cut short, his last hours filled with the sounds of guns and death. Within the exploration of my thesis, I discuss how families during the early twentieth century coped with the lost of a loved one during WWI, especially if they could not even perform the ritual of normal grieving and burial. How important were those letters to the family?  In the case of Alfred, the Major of his company, wrote his parents that his body was not recovered, it was learned later that he was placed “in a common grave dug on the battlefield near the place where he fell.” It is not a wonder then, that his family published this small booklet of certain parts of Alfred’s letters. These were the last material memories they had of him, a symbolic representation of their son, which they wished to share with the rest of the world. This is how they finalized the grieving for the son who would not come home to fill his vacant chair.

The Next Chapter…

Chapter One

It has been an exciting week for us here in Green Isle land. The series has been added to the GMTA Publishing family, all nine books, and the contract was signed and delivered yesterday. (Six books in Legends of Green Isle and three others, which will feature a prequel story of Green Isle’s beginnings.) Our wonderful cover artist, Sandip, will be hard at work helping with a revision of book one’s cover, along with creating book three’s design.

What a blessing to have met Kitty Bullard and her publishing firm. Everyone in Green Isle is doing a happy dance. After the celebration, we’ll be back at work on book three – “Revenge of the Salamander King.”  Join the adventure by following us on Twitter @GreenIsleAuthor or our Facebook Fan Page at https://www.facebook.com/LegendsOfGreenIsle

Happy Friday everyone!

Reflections of a Graduate Student – Year One.

imagesCA20KNSZWell the first year of graduate studies are completed. I have discovered quite a few things about graduate school. I will list my top ten as follows:

1. Having the department head as your Historiography professor the first semester is scary, especially when he looks at you during seminar with a look that says: “Why are you here?”

2. My office is in the basement and I see no sunlight for a good part of the day. I’m happy summer is here.

3. Students, whose papers you grade, feel like you are out to get them, when in fact, you are only trying to help, and they look at you with a look that says: “Why are you here?”

4. Grading 80 finals in two days is torture, especially when they are all essays and answer the same 5 questions. I applaud the professors who do this for 4 classes at the end of the semester.

5. Your “Statement of Purpose” really doesn’t have a purpose for getting you into the Masters’ programs. They don’t even look at that until you apply to Phd school.

6. You can change your thesis at least a hundred times before you get something cohesive.

7. I have lost weight hoofing from the commuter parking area at the very back of Clemson with my numerous bags of books. If you don’t phone the meter maid at the campus police that you’re dropping off books before you park your car in BFE, you will get a ticket if she sees you doing it, and will give you a look that says: “Why are you here?”

8.  There’s never enough research.

9. Russian literature is actually pretty fascinating.

10. Writing a 25-30 page research paper becomes second nature. I remember when I used to whine about 10 pages.

Any way, summer is here, so I’ll be posting a bit more. Lots of great things happening this year. Happy writing!

Searching for Primary Documents – The obsession with World War I

all-quiet-on-the-western-front-2As I begin the task of constructing my Master’s Thesis, I have found myself occupied with the search for World War I primary documents. I was happy to find a collection of 88 letters and assorted other materials from Ohio. Waiting to get them in the mail is hard: I’m impatient sometimes. Putting together the chapters and researching is going to be a great joy. This subject is near and dear to my heart.

Memory and commemoration of those who served and died in war, and the ways that people on the home front dealt with healing and piecing together their lives during this period is particularly interesting to me. The type of trauma associated with this war appears to be entirely different from any other war before it. This is what I’m discussing in my thesis. If anyone out there has a collection of letters from either the first or second war, and would be willing to let this graduate student have a moment with studying them, I would love to hear from you. I’m on a quest to discover something that’s never been discovered before. Guess that’s why I’m so obsessed with letters and memory.