Category Archives: writing a novel

Hotel Belmar: The Ghost Has the Key

 

HotelBelmar_WhiteDove

Have you ever wished along with me, to know stories about the old hotel with a commanding view of historical Olas Altas Beach, the Hotel Belmar? But who could tell these stories? All around the Hotel, the streets of the Historical Center are named to honor Mexican heroes. Who were they? Two years ago, I decided to find out. But where to start? Who would remember? Who would help me? Did the famous ghosts of the Belmar give interviews?

The words of many Mexican songs tell such tales. Oh to know the significance of which a Nation sings!  Legends and superstitions layer Mexican culture. Unsolved mysteries. Secrets buried with the dead in mysterious graveyards and sunk along with the gold and silver treasures of lost ships in the sands of Mazatlan’s famous harbor.

Hooray. OUR book, Hotel Belmar: The ghost Has the Key, is finished. It contains facts flavored with a plot about real people, spiced with reported ghostly encounters all stirred together into a history soup to savor: delicious, fun, horrifying, touching, profound and nourishing. And the ghosts pictured are not ephemeral mist-shrouded or demonic. See these tellers of untold tales in crystal clear black and white.

Yes, OUR book, like the hotel, is the collaboration of the talent of many nations: a brilliant graphic designer in Bosnia put finishing touches on the illustrations, generous Mexican historians contributed pictures, conjecture and facts, Canadians edited and formatted, and the heroine is as American as apple pie. This is an unconventional effort at communicating history with no political ax to grind. Like the sailors of many nations watching battles at sea along Mexico’s western coast, I was awestruck over the unfolding spectacle. Find it as a paperback here with a free Kindle edition,  or as an ebook here.   

Writing Historical Fiction is like Treasure Hunting

“Sure, ‘historical’ is a great idea, but why fiction?” you ask. For me, it has to be because of the ghosts. You see, I want to tell history from then, but it’s now. How to do that? And while you ponder the riddle of time and space, consider the focus of my next book of historical fiction, the haunted Hotel Belmar in Mazatlan Mexico.
This will be my fourth book. And,  I am excited about writing it. Why? Because  I am learning like crazy about this place.

Angel Flores in 1923

When I look back in time, especially after I have finished something, I see why events have happened.  So,  as I piece together the history of the Belmar in Mazatlan, I can see it alive and young through the eyes of those who experienced it that way, and realize that it is not too late because I have met the people to help me tell the story. A coincidence? And we bought a house on Angel Flores in the historical zone of Old Mazatlan.  The above picture is of our street, several years after the Belmar was up and running as the first Mexican luxury Hotel on the water.  It was taken in 1923 by American Edward Weston who, along with Tina Modotti, his model and a famous photographer herself,  made the  Belmar their home in Mazatlan.

The Great White Cloud in Mazatlán

Weston  wrote: “We found life both gay and sad, but always life — vital, intense, black and white but never gray.” Weston made a historic photo in Mazatlán, a classic called ” The great white cloud in Mazatlán”, labeling it one of his finest and most significant photographs, as it meant an artistic departure from figurative into abstract art, or negatives with intention as opposed to matter-of-fact records. I think about the ghosts in my writing just that way.
I am scribbling every day, reading dozens of books, and searching/translating the Internet for bits and pieces of facts and fancy, What fun. And along the way, I have learned some Spanish. Oh, I do love treasure hunting. Don’t you? Well stay tuned and I will share some gems with you to reflect on.


It will take me a year to complete this book.  In the meantime, order the historical novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, A Soldiers Journey.  Enjoy a sample reading below!


The Way Back. To find it on Amazon Kindle at  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney
Also as an Audiobook at adbl.co/2f0UeOp       Published as a paperback next week!
 And now out as a paperback, Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon. Go to  amzn.to/2nasO9S
Also a Kindle book:

 


On Laureates, the Sungod and Trees!

The above picture is a composite of polkadotedflower.deviantart.com and Franceso Albani from 1615.
Hooray! Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon is finally formatted in paper and available on Amazon.com. Whew. It is great to have completed this, my third book and second novel—a daunting task. And now that I have made an audiobook of The Way Back. A Soldier’s Journey, I know I can make Epiphany an audiobook too. I crown myself “Laureate of the Highest Order I Have Reached Yet!”
More crowns ahead.  I want to transform-branch out-radiate! I am not ready “to rest on my luarels.” Like I do when I write, I looked up the meaning of said saying, and found that I want to be like Daphne who originated “the look.” A good look for me! But let me explain. I hope you love stories like I do.
It seems that Apollo, the pre-Christian Greek god, loved the nymph Daphne who turned into a Bay Tree when he reached out to her. Voila! He embraced the plant, cut off a branch to make into a wreath to wear around his head, and declared the tree sacred. Of course such wreaths were given as accolades for lauded deeds like winning an Olympic game. Hence “laureates are recognized for completing some kind of wondrous task—like writing a novel. Resting on your laurels means laying back on what you have accomplished. Laying back does not thrill me.
I am hooked on rising up, Daphne style. Like a tree, I like to branch out.  Yep. It’s a fact that when a tree stops growing it begins to die. So, having tasted some success looking back on my own life, making sense of it and honing the skills to communicate my story, it is time to shift gears and begin again. Why? Because I want to be like Daphne the nymph. As long as the sun god shines on me, I am going to bloom. I like my companions in my writing group-their challenge, their support, and I know I belong because I can still give them something from my experiences to help them grow too. And then there is the excitement of researching my subject and putting together the ideas and stories around me into something new. And what I am not good at—the technology, the social networking, the marketing etc. etc.? Well that just means there is room for growth. And oh the view, the contacts, the heady warmth of Apollo coming close, the rays of the sungod shining through me—embracing me. Oh. What fun to learn.
No, the book is not the destination, but instead it is the funny thing that happens along the way to finishing it. Like the going is the getting there. Got it? Get  growing!
And just for the “lovely of it” here is the whole poem by Joyce Kilmer about a tree. The writer was a Daphne lover!
Trees  
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
 ___________________________________________

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back,
recently released in all e-book stores.

cover of The Way Back
New novel: The Way Back. To find it on Amazon Kindle at  http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney
Also as an Audio book at adbl.co/2f0UeOp      Soon to be Published in paper.
finalist-shiny-web5star-shiny-web

Plum Out of Luck

Write to Catch a Dream in a Bubble That Does Not Break

“If you are dealt a lemon, make lemonade,” they say. Well, Kindle Scout decided not to publish my book, so I decided to can plums. This after the racoons descended on our plum trees. Our poor recently rescued German Shephard is suffering from doggy Post Traumatic Stress after treeing all the coons. The racoon in the picture below got treed in plum tree heaven and munched all night to the dog’s bombastic dismay. Bill, having survived combat in Viet Nam, isn’t big at killing things. You can easily see his confoundment in the picture below, especially since he can’t remember where we hid the key to the gun safe.
coondog and Bill
So, instead of lamenting and beating my chest with disappointment and the despair that is oh too common among those of us #rejected by publishers, I have turned to  every day and needful things. The plums had to be harvested to avoid  tempting all our wildland  varmints who love the sweet and juicy. BiIl and I love sweet and juicy. And isn’t that what writing is all about anyhow? Preserving? Harvesting? Besides, I am working on an audiobook and can’t lose heart.
Hoping to get back to peaceful nights, back to sleep uninterrupted by  barking dogs, back to enjoying a yard uncluttered with fallen fruit,  I have “put by” plums in every fashion and in every glass jar. You know, jams, jellies, conserves, meat sauces, whole in honey. Like writing, it is a sticky and messy business. But when a thought or experience is contained,  writing is like catching a dream in a bubble that will not break! And to take the analogy a step further, in the form of an audiobook, it will be tasty on the tongue!
sideways looksm
 
While I puzzle over how to publish Epiphany. Starting Over in Oregon, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Soon it will be an audiobook as well as an e-book.
Here is a Review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

 
 

Down The Home Stretch

above image at https://www.etsy.com/listing/50873652/home-stretch-horse-racing-print

The Final Kick

Running long races, there is the need to muster a “last surge”. I well remember the end of Grandma’s Marathon– up that last hill in old Duluth and down, painfully down. The knees are gone and going downhill is dreadful, but there ahead, Lake Superior’s waterfront and the finish line is bordered by fans cheering me to cross it “going away.”
There was that time, that euphoric time, when I could catch everyone I could see. Ironically, it came just before what they call “the wall” through which I struggled with pain and flagging energy. Then as now, the shining Bayfront awaits. The end is near, and it is all downhill.
Life is like a horse race: Around the far turn and down the stretch. And that is where it counts. Just do it. Finish the things you have started, and do it with a flourish. With style. With all you’ve got!
I am currently recording an audiobook.  Both of my novels will be available in all formats. I am doing this myself and editing it myself. It is a steep learning curve for me, but it is fun to learn new things. Soon,  Kindle Scout will tell me if they will publish my book, and I thank all of you who thought it might be a good book—good enough to be published. Well, I promise you this. You will laugh and cry and agree that life is about putting it all together for that grand run down the home stretch!
Only 4 days left to nominate Epiphany: Starting Over in Oregon at   https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/113MLKNVIX6T


While I wait to see if Kindle Scout will publish Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Soon it will be an audiobook as well as an e-book.

Here is a Review:

The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

 
 

Shedding the Long Shadow of Abuse

Above image: hope_for_the_future_by_eddiecalz-d60f44i

Purpose

Epiphany is not just a pretty face. Sure it is classified by Kindle Scout as a “Romance,” and an “Action Adventure” but it is really a story about struggling out of the shadows toward the light. Please go to Kindle Scout, and nominate Epiphany to be published. Only 16 days left.                https://kindlescout.amazon.com/category/158566011?page=2
Birch in the Canyon 1
Years ago I took this picture of a birch tree in a canyon. Because it was so dark deep down, the birch tree grew up—up and—UP to reach the sun. It turned into this remarkable tree. It is an outstanding specimen among birch trees that usually mature at 40-50 feet in height. To me, this tree symbolizes people who live in difficult situations. Like trees, our purpose is to grow toward the sun. Thus enlightened by wisdom, we inspire others to overcome the shadows.



While I wait to see if Kindle Scout will publish Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

You Have the Power

Above image: http://www.gettyimages.fr/gi-resources/images/Homepage/Featured/FR/FR_39_2Pack_158259920.jpg
Today, and for one month, you have the power, as a reader, to nominate Epiphany to Kindle Scouts. Your vote and the judgement of the Kindle editors comprises “Reader Powered Publishing,” an idea whose time has come. Only new, never before published books are eligible. Please go here https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/113MLKNVIX6T
This link takes you to the page where you can read about the book and sample 5000 words of the novel. If Epiphany is nominated, you will get a free copy of it, and the author will get an advance and a contract. Below is the book cover and a few words describing the story. Please use this link and send it on to your friends. Your power can work magic!

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/113MLKNVIX6T

Epiphany Starting Oversm

Epiphany

Starting Over in Oregon

What if the price of her desire is her life?

Lori Moyer drives westward, white knuckled and sick at heart over her losses. When her vehicle slides into a death-defying spin on Montana black ice, she knows not to touch the brakes and lands by luck, safe alongside a Western Star truck. With the help of Oregon’s colorful characters, she continues to spare the brakes on her midlife quest for a meaningful life, helping the children of Lucky Strike Oregon while steering by starlight through a romance as treacherous as black ice.
Categories:

  • Romance Action & Adventure
  • _____________________________________________________________
  • While this one month campaign to publish Epiphany runs, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
    Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

     

Metaphors and Layers

Above image from:  http://www.themeshack.net/2010downloads/201001/0110/irene/blowingbubbleswp.jpg

The Audacity of Expression

The onion has many layers on the way to the juicy white heart of the thing. I heard that heaven had seven stories (give or take a few). Multilayering is found in  relationships, a piece of writing, dressing for the cold, meditation, and the metaphor. An oil painting done by a master will have layers of paint rich with colors shining through each other making for translucent opulence. Indeed, if a single flat color is set next to such layering, it might look unfinished but for the shimmer of the paper through it like a hole in a silk stocking. Pulsing. Vital. When one reads a love poem like “How Do I Love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/how-do-i-love-thee-sonnet-43 we discover the layers again. Each layer is important to the overall effect. Even words themselves carry multiple meanings as a dictionary can prove. Rich writing can be appreciated on different levels. An example is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. http://www.angelfire.com/hi/littleprince/frames.html
Life is layered. We can go deeper and deeper into the physical thing, and into the conceptual realm, digging for—digging for—what. Meaning? The essence? Reality beneath illusion? Something solid to have or believe in? And consider the metaphor, the meaning will be on several levels. Is life itself a metaphor?
And so I wrote a poem about my writing/digging/painting. It is a metaphor about the audacity of putting one’s self out there in the hope that, for a precious moment, we can catch a ride on the ebullience that transcends layers. I will remember along with Chief Seattle, that “All things share the same breath.”

Hitchhiking

I am blowing bubbles,
irridescent, and transparent,
trusting the air
to float them up
Rounded moonbeams,
rainbows spinning,
bursting, falling
I try again.
For like the Century Plant,
blooming before it dies,
It is the way for fools like me,
To hitchhike  on a breeze.
But see,
my bubbles catch the light.
That’s my breath
up there
trying to reach beyond myself.
 
All the way


While I chip away at the rock of editing and revising Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

Follow The River Out: A Metaphor

Above Image: courtesy of Mark Chadwick on Flickr.

Have you ever been lost and “followed a river out?”
My new novel, Epiphany  is being edited at present, and will be published later this year.  This post is one of several about themes, metaphors, and story structure. Lori our protagonist,  writes poetry filled with metaphors, to bring clarity to her life. What follows is an excerpt using the “Western Star” and “the river” as a metaphor.
Lori has interviewed for a job as a school counselor in the Oregon Cascades. As she waits, hoping to be hired, she writes a poem about leaving Wisconsin and driving West.  The trip, just before Christmas was terrifying. She remembers how frightened she was.
Too heavy my load
Of doubt and disgrace
Too late for me
Fear lines my face
I am a wave
Without a tide
Dust in the wind
Hitching a ride
I sail the seas
Without a tac
Can’t find the wind
That takes me back
Lori had wanted to turn around.  The face of the blizzard at her heels scared her less than going forward into the unknown.  But then her car and trailer spins full circle out of control on Montana black ice.  Panic. The reality is, she can’t go back.
I CAN’T GO BACK
There’s no way back
There’s no home base
I’m out of time
I’m out of place
Lost in the dark!
Which way to run?
Where is my map?
Where is my sun?
How will I live?
Without a man?
Lean on myself?
Make my own plan?
A teamster drives his big Western Star truck up alongside and leans out to congratulate Lori on surviving. “Santa put Lady Luck in yer sock.”
She drives on to Eugene, Oregon, where she walks along the Willamette River, listening to the music of the river and making friends of like-minded strangers. Lori knows she has been granted a second chance at life.
If Lori is hired, she can build this new life in Lucky Strike, Oregon. Her dream is happening. She goes to sit by the river, letting the restorative water wash away her fear of moving on. She thinks about what her father had told her, “when lost, follow the river out.”The last two stanzas of her poem reflect the role of a river as a metaphor for finding her way.
Across the prairies
Ore mountains-crest
Follow the river
On her sea quest
The pioneer spirit
Like Oregon’s rain
Refreshes my courage
To start over again


While I chip away at the rock of editing and revising Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest
Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

Out of Place: Starting Over in Oregon

Place is a major character in many books-certainly in my book, Epiphany. As I look at the themes, the plot and the characters I have written into this book, I discover that the place where it all happens, Oregon, is the melody around which I am fashioning the words. It is the essence of the experience. Here resides excitement, fear, passion, romance, pain, majesty and the stuff dreams are made of. With that in mind, what would a cover for this book, set in Oregon, look like?
Since the book is about a modern day pioneer, I thought the image of where the Lewis and Clark expedition, and also the Oregon Trail,  ran smack into the Pacific Ocean—trails end for “Westward Ho” —was perfect for a cover!
A good cover for Epiphany would depict an insurmountable challenge. Aah, like a huge rock? And also, this cover needs a recognizable symbol of Oregon. How about the heft of Haystack Rock at Canon Beach?
The cover would suggest passion and mystery. How about lightening over the Pacific Ocean? Such a scene would feel wet and wooly and wild.  Aah yes. Western Oregon in all its glory!
Remember, “no matter where you go, there you are. “ Starting over  can be daunting. No wonder the lettering for “Starting Over in Oregon looks shaky, jagged and is obscured by dark clouds in places. Indeed, the font is called “Quake.”
Starting Over in Oregon
And with her back to us, we have our protagonist dressed in a flimsy, old fashioned, straight-laced dress looking at all of this drama. She is out of place! How perfect. And so, here is the cover I envision. I am finishing a review of each chapter, and then it will be edited.
Small Epiphany Book
Are you ready to feel the conflict, the pain of letting go, the fear of the unknown, the romance of the far west? Clearly, if our heroine, out of place as she is, can survive, she will need an Epiphany!
While I chip away at the rock of editing and revising Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest


Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.