At first all he saw were shoes strewn on the street, an elaborate joke, someone playing with the word “cobbled”; but then he looked around noting the empty buildings with broken widow panes that had once been homes, and the dilapidated cyclone fencing now laying in the weeds where once there had been gardens and children playing, and he felt the weight of eminent domain and urban renewal, terms too often associated with “new” and “improved” and not “displacement.”

Did I write that?!?!

Cleaning out files and more files of papers I wrote when earning my degrees in English (B.A. and M.A.) had me exclaiming over and over again—”Did I write that?” I guess expressing surprise at my abilities is better than being disappointed. However, I do wonder where that analytical mind is that compared Gertrude Stein’s “The Gentle Lena” and T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” in regard to how the authors use structure, language and diction to disrupt the conventional illusion of female/male romantic love, illustrating instead relationships where there is coupling like that of boxcars forming a train, separate units pushed together by forces greater than themselves, resulting in a union without a meaningful connection. Yes, I, the student wrote that once upon a time, and more. . . . . Continue reading

Who creates a character’s identity, the author or the reader?

I am currently participating In the Iowa State University International Writing Program, Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction, and one of the fist discussions revolved around creating a character’s identity, and the importance of “showing” and not “telling” to create those identities. But how does an author “show” identity when it comes to race, gender, or sexual orientation without relying on stereotypes or preconceived notions? Continue reading

Information: when is too much, too much?

While at a dinner party and seated at the dinning table, someone asked where Meadow Vista, California was located and everyone whipped out their cell phone and Googled the location, which is forty mikes north/east of Sacramento, California. Information these days is but a Google search away. News is broadcast on multiple television channels all day long; library books are available on line, and so are newspapers and magazines; and copious amounts of opinions permeate Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Myspace, and many more social media sites too numerous to list. So when is too much information too much? When should a person ignore information? When should they act on information received? And what are our responsibilities when disseminating information?

My latest novel Untying the Umbilical Cord grapples with these issues, as the protagonist, Lisa, a fact checker for a local syndicated news program, searches for the identity of the man who pulled her out of the Colorado River on a black, stormy night without a moon or stars—a night when twenty two people drowned in Marble Canyon, including the man who saved her. Or did he?

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