Thursday, March 24, 2016

Writing Contest Submission

Everyone wish me luck! I'm submitting at least one of my books (if not both) in the Writer's Digest Self-published Book Awards contest!

Also, I'm back to working on the sequel to Falling Over the Finish Line. I was a bit distracted last year with all the wedding planning, but I'm back at it and excited to take this next book in a different direction than originally intended when I started writing it.

Friday, January 31, 2014

SEQUEL to "Falling Over the Finish Line" (Actual title TBD) - Sample Chapters!

Even though it doesn't have a title yet, the sequel to Falling Over the Finish Line is almost completely written. Here are two sample chapters, which will be subject to further editing, but I wanted to share a small portion of the work in progress with all of you who have been so supportive. Thank you so much! I look forward to any notes or feedback you have after reading them.

Also, SPOILER ALERT: Don't read the following sample chapters if you have not yet read Falling Over the Finish Line.


            “Earl! Earl, come quick!”
            Gloria felt another sharp cramp in her stomach. Everything in her body tightened and she started to panic.
            “Gloria, what is it? What’s the matter with you. Why are you yelling like that? Holy crap on a stick! What the hell is that?”
            Gloria looked down at the mess on the floor and then quickly looked up at Earl. “Don’t you dare faint!”
“I ain’t gonna faint Gloria, but… but… did you piss yourself?”
“Earl, it’s happening. My water broke. I think it’s time.”
            “You mean you’re gonna have the baby? Now? Here? But Ben ain’t here. I thought the baby wasn’t coming for another two weeks. Gloria, you gotta at least wait until Ben gets home!”
            “Earl, I can’t just wait! You have to drive me to the hospital!”
“How am I supposed to do that? Ben has the truck and he’s over at Churchill Downs for the races.”
“I forgot. We’ll have to borrow Jack’s car. Go and check to see if the keys are in it. And quick call Ed Maxon and tell him to go to Churchill and find Ben.”
“Well, which do you want me to do first?”
“Check for the keys. Then call Ed. Tell Ed to let Ben know that I’m in labor and to get to the hospital.”
          As Earl ran out the front door, Gloria picked up her hand bag and started to make her way to the door, but stopped just two feet shy of it as another contraction snuck up on her. She leaned over and braced herself on the couch’s armrest. As the contraction subsided, she was able to sit on the couch. Earl came running back into the house.
            “The keys are in the car. Gloria, don’t go pissin yourself on the couch next! That’s where I take my naps!”
            Gloria was losing her patience and as the next contraction started to come over her, her voice grew louder. “Earl, go call Ed!”
            Earl ran into the kitchen in a panic. Gloria tried to listen to what was going on, but Earl wasn’t saying anything.
            “Earl, what are you doing? Are you calling Ed?”
            “Gloria, I’m calling, but he ain’t picking up the phone!”
“Try calling Mr. Quincy!”
            Gloria held her stomach and tried to stand up again. For the past month she felt so big that when she stood for too long she feared her legs would give out. She decided to stay on the couch until Earl came back out to help her.
            “Gloria, he ain’t pickin up neither!” Earl came through the swinging kitchen door; walked through the dining room and into the living room. Gloria was sitting and waiting for the next contraction to come.
            “Earl, could you hand me one of those sheets of paper on the desk over there and a pen?”
            Gloria quickly scribbled a note to Ben telling him she was going to the hospital to have the baby. He would see it if he arrived home before Earl could get word to him. Then Earl ran over and helped her as she slowly and carefully stood up from the couch.
            Earl helped her out to the car and got her into the passenger seat just as another contraction started. Earl climbed into the driver’s side and started the ignition. Within a few seconds he was pulling out of the dirt driveway onto the small back road.
            “Earl, I’m scared.”
            “Gloria, there ain’t nothing to be scared of. You and me, we’ve seen lots of births before, there’s nothing to it.”
            “They were horses! I’m not a mare giving birth to a foal!”   
            “Well, I reckon it ain’t much different!”
            “It is to different that’s why you have to get me to the hospital!”
            “Don’t yell at me. I’m drivin as fast as I can!”
            “I’m sorry.”
            After a few seconds of silence, Earl mumbled, “The mares don’t go yelling at everybody neither.”
            Gloria rested her elbow on the passenger’s door of the truck and leaned over to let the warm air blow in her face as she closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. It was unseasonably warm for the fall, but Gloria leaned on the door and enjoyed the feel of the breeze. She tried to let her mind wander to distract herself from the pain and then the frustration.
            She loved her cousin Earl, but the pain was making her easily aggravated. He had been her best friend ever since her parents took him in. Eight years ago Earl’s parents died and he came to live on Gloria’s parents’ farm. Her father, who was the most prestigious man in horse racing at that time, gave Earl a job as a stable boy and had him live in the small shack-like house next to the stable.
            It was fitting that the house was used as slaves’ quarters in the early eighteen hundreds, since that’s how Gloria’s father treated him. Earl never questioned it though. He didn’t know any better and was thankful to have somewhere to live. Gloria knew that Earl was much happier now though working for her husband Ben and living with them in their house. He finally saw the proper way in which employees should be treated if they worked as hard as he did.
            1947 was a heck of a year up until then. In the winter and spring, Gloria and Ben fell in love and got pregnant. By late spring, just as the horse racing season was about to kick off, they had a falling out with Gloria’s abusive parents, moved in together, and got married.  
Ben became the biggest name in horse racing that year. He was the first horse owner in history to run two horses in The Bluegrass Stakes. To top it all off, his horses came in first and second place. However, winning throughout the rest of the season wasn’t easy for Ben. He had an excellent showing at The Kentucky Derby, but after that he struggled for the only wins he had.
Gloria wondered if the immensity of everything that happened weighed on Ben. He was under a lot of pressure all summer and it was going to build even more with The Pimlico Futurity coming up. Gloria hoped that together they could get through it like everything else as long as they had each other. And soon they would have another member of the family.
The pain in Gloria’s stomach brought her back to the present. All she could do was hold her stomach and groan. She tried to breathe, but it was hard.
            “Gloria, we’re gonna be there in a few minutes. Are you alright?”
            “Yes, but I’ll feel better when we get there and when Ben gets there.”
            “As soon as I get you inside and settled, I’ll go myself and fetch Ben.”
       “You don’t even have to wait until they get me in a bed. Just take me inside and then get to Churchill Downs as quickly as you can.”

Ben Reed

            Ben watched the horses come around the last turn. His horse Golden Girl was in third place. Ben’s faithful jockey, Francis Quinlan was pushing her to break out of the pack as the horses began their charge down the home stretch.
            Jack shifted in his seat next to Ben. “Do you think she’s got enough to catch Irish Luck?”
            “He should have kept her on the outside. I told him to keep her on the outside before the race started. She might still have enough though.”
            Ben watched as Golden Girl’s pace quickened. She was gaining on Duchess in second place.
            “She might be able to get in front of Duchess. Come on, Golden Girl. That’s it.” Ben said under his breath.
            Golden Girl moved up alongside of Duchess who was only a head length in front of her with 400 yards to go. Then with 200 yards to go they were neck and neck.
Their heads bobbed next to each other in an opposing rhythm and they were both gaining fast on Irish Luck in the lead. With 100 yards to go Golden Girl and Duchess moved up to only a half length behind Irish Luck. It was going to be close as they came down to the wire. Ben held his breath.
            Suddenly the people around him started to jump out of their seats as the horses were about to take their last strides to the finish line. Everyone in the crowd either cheered in celebration or yelled in frustration as Irish Luck crossed the finish line. A split second later both Duchess and Golden Girl crossed the finish line at the same time making it too close to tell who took second place.
Ben watched the other four horses cross and then stood up from his seat. He began making his way down to the track with Jack close behind him.
            It was late September and the stands were only sparsely filled. The crowd was the usual size, especially since it wasn’t a graded stakes race day.
            “I think she might have taken second place. She still ran a good race, Mr. Reed.”
“Jack, I told you before that you can call me Ben. You don’t have to call me Mr. Reed. And you’re right. She ran a good race, especially since I wasn’t racing her for the purse. I just need her to get competitive practice before November when I run her in the Pimlico Futurity.”
“She’s going to have some tough competition there. You think she can keep up with those horses?”
“She’s got the potential, but she’s going to need intense training until then. I’ve been so focused on FlashbyBoy this season that I haven’t been training her as hard as I should have.”
Ben walked away from the grandstands and made his way toward the gate that led onto the track. “Jack, can you go and pack the gear and the trailer while I get Golden Girl?”
“Sure thing, Mr… Uh, sure thing, Ben. We’re not going to stay for the other races?”
“I probably should, but I need to get home to Gloria. She’s getting close to having the baby and I don’t like being away from her for too long. Go ahead and get everything ready.”
“Yep, right away.”
Ben watched as Jack went to do what he was told as always. He was a good kid and a hard worker. Every day since Ben hired Jack, he became more sure that he made the right decision. He needed the extra help. The stable had become too much for only he and Earl to handle, even with Quinlan’s help.
He needed to hire another trainer as well, but that would have to wait. It wasn’t a lack of money holding him back. He did well for himself this past season, even with everything that happened, but he was just too busy to find the right person to help him train.
Jack was a guy who just moved to town in the spring and was having a tough time making ends meet. He had been going door to door to see if anyone needed any handyman work to be done around their houses or on their farms. When he knocked on Ben and Gloria’s door, not only did Ben’s heart go out to the poor kid, but he also happened to need some help. He asked Jack to start first thing the following morning.
Jack was a kid after Ben’s own heart too. He was only two years younger than Ben if even that much. Although for some reason he seemed so much younger to Ben. Every morning Jack walked into the stable two steps behind Ben before the sun came up. He drove to Reed’s Racing Stables every morning in his beat up little car and parked it on the grass just off the side of the driveway.
Once Ben asked Jack where he was from. He said he was from Arkansas, but wasn’t very specific. He said he lived there with his mother until she kicked him out of the house when he told her he was dropping out of high school. Ben wasn’t sure if Jack could read very well, but the jobs Ben hired him for didn’t require reading, so Ben couldn’t tell. And he knew it would be impolite to ask.
Ben walked over and took Golden Girl’s reigns as one of the track workers walked her through the gate. Ben stroked her head and praised her for a great run. Then he looked up at Quinlan.
“What happened? I thought you were going to keep her to the outside.”
Quinlan was still catching his breath as sat up on the horse’s back. “I tried, but she didn’t have a good start and I couldn’t find room to move over.”
Ben thought he saw room for her to move to the outside a lot sooner than she did, but he didn’t feel like arguing the point.
Then the announcer’s voice came over the loud speaker.
“And the winner of race number three is the number five horse, Irish Luck by two lengths. In second place was the number four, Duchess. In third place was the number two, Golden Girl. There are eighteen minutes to post for race number four.”
Ben tried not to be disappointed about Golden Girl coming in third place. Instead, he stroked her head until the announcement was finished. Quinlan dismounted and told Ben he was sorry.
“It’s alright. She still ran a good race. She looked strong at the end too.”
“She felt strong too.”
“Come on, we’ll go help Jack get the equipment packed and get Golden Girl here into her trailer.” Ben said as he led Golden Girl by the reigns in the direction of the stables.
While they were walking, Ben looked up thinking he heard his name being called in the distance, but couldn’t see anyone in the sparse crowd looking at him or trying to get his attention. He continued to walk Golden Girl.
“Ben!” He knew he definitely heard someone calling him that time.
“Ben! Over here!” Ben looked up and saw Earl waving his arms as he ran towards him. Earl finally stopped in front of Ben out of breath. “Ben… I’ve been…looking…all over…”
“Earl catch your breath. Is everything alright? Is Gloria alright? Where is she?”
“I took her…hospital…having the baby.” Earl said as he gasped in and out beginning to catch her breath.
“She’s already at the hospital?”
“I took her there right after she peed on the floor.”
Ben was confused. “She peed on the floor? Oh wait, you mean her water broke?”
“I don’t know. But whatever she broke, I’m gonna have a hell of a time cleaning it up when I get home.”
“Gloria’s having the baby! Earl, I need you to do me a favor. You don’t even need to worry about the mess.”
“Thank goodness. Sure, anything.”
“I need you and Quinlan to find Jack and help him pack up the horses and get them home. He should already be getting everything ready.”
“He is. I saw him when I first got here. He was the one who told me where you was.”
“Great. You go help him get the horses and the gear home and then meet me at the hospital. I’m going straight there right now.”
“Don’t worry, Ben. I’ll take care of it. Don’t you worry.”
“Thanks Earl, I’ll see you soon.” Ben said as he handed Earl Golden Girl’s reigns and ran in the direction of the closest exit.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book Signing!

Hello Everyone! I have very exciting news... I'm doing my very own book signing at Bargain Book Warehouse in Cherry Hill, NJ! I'll be there November 2nd from 11:00am - 3:00pm, so while you're out and about, stop by and see me.
Even if you already have my books, come out anyway. The book store has great deals and discounts for military, teachers, and seniors!

I can't wait to see you all next week! Here is the link to Bargain Book Warehouse's Facebook page:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My book is being featured on Indie Author News!

My book Falling Over the Finish Line is being featured today on Indie Author News' website! Check it out by clicking the link:

And don't forget to like my page on Facebook!

Sample Chapters - Falling Over the Finish Line

Falling Over the Finish Line

(Sample - Chapters 6 & 7)

Chapter 6: Gloria

“What in the hell took you so long?” Raymond shouted across the stable as Earl and Gloria walked in. “Didn’t you bring Dr. Maxon?”
“He’s right behind us, Uncle Ray. He’s just getting his things out of the truck.”
“Daddy, why aren’t you in there with Shore? Is she ok?”
“Gloria, I just looked in on her and the last time I checked, I don’t answer to you. You need to learn how to hold your tongue. Now go back up to the house and get your mother out of bed.”
“Ok, but I’ll be right back and then I’m staying here until the foal is born.” Gloria tried to sound defiant, but her father was intimidating and she knew that she was only shortening his temper.
Ray’s eyes fixed on hers with pupils resembling coals turning from black to red hot. He walked over, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her out of the stable.
“Daddy, stop. You’re hurting me!”
“Then next time you remember your place and don’t you dare sass me like that again! Now go back up to the house. I ain’t going to tell you again!”
Gloria started to trek up to the house through the cold air. She knew she wouldn’t be able to get her mother up this early. The sun had only just risen. It would be a few hours at least before her mother got up.
Gloria prepared some coffee and was finally able to wake up her mother around nine o’clock. As her mother followed her downstairs, Gloria let her know that ShoretoDream was in labor.
“Daddy probably won’t come back up to the house until after the birth.”
“Is Doctor Maxon out there too?”
“Yes, he’s there.”
“In a little while I’ll prepare some lunch for you to take out to them. If your daddy had his way though, that horse would stay in labor for two and a half more weeks.” Faye said as she poured a bit of whiskey in a mug before she poured her coffee.
Having paid close attention to the business of her family’s stable in past years, Gloria knew why her father was so upset. He had taken a chance when he decided to put ShoretoDream with King Duke to breed and it had probably cost him a lot of money. ShoretoDream had already given birth to several foals. The last foal she had given birth to was Snow Angel when she was bred with Fists of Fury. It was a difficult birth for her and Gloria’s father had only been able to race Snow Angel a handful of times.
Snow Angel was a great runner, but he was the most temperamental horse her father had ever had in his stable. He also got spooked very easily. When he was calm though, he made the Earth spin a little faster underneath his hooves. He was something. They named him Snow Angel because of his beautiful pale coloring when he was born. As an adult his coat was a shiny silver color, so the name was still very fitting.
“It’s no wonder the foal is going to be born prematurely. It’s Daddy’s own fault. Shore’s a champion racehorse, but she already had trouble with Snow Angel’s birth. He took a chance breeding her again. He got greedy.”
“Gloria, don’t you dare question your father! I won’t have it! Your father is a smart man. He’s the reason you live in luxury and don’t you forget it.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Although Gloria knew she was right.
As a young girl, every day after school and in the long daylight summer days, her life was horses. She spent her childhood mucking out stables, brushing manes, and learning everything she possibly could from her father, no matter how reluctant he was for her to learn any of it. He was not only the sole owner of Weldon Farms Stables, but he had also started and built the family’s farm from the ground up. He had expanded the business so much that they had to move several years ago from their small, modest house and farm into the mansion they now occupied that sat on many acres of land. He was a very wise horseman, businessman, and trainer.
Her father and Doctor Maxon would be spending the day with ShoretoDream. Gloria had chores to do, but she knew the horses needed their workouts as well. Since she could walk, she followed her father watching him closely as he trained thoroughbreds. He was one of the best in the business until the past two years. Since the start of the season in 1944, the Weldons still had horses in the Triple Crown races, but only a few had managed to place. What was worse was that the Reeds had come in second place in the derby that past summer and were ready for their first big win.
Faye filled a coffee urn and put it on a matching silver tray with two coffee cups. “Take this down to your father and Dr. Maxon. You do your chores and then you come straight back up here to get their lunch and take it down to them.”
“Yes, Ma’am.”
“I’m going to finish sewing your dress this morning too, so you can try it on this afternoon.”
“Thank you.”
The tray was heavy and Gloria had to concentrate on keeping it steady all of the way down to the stable. She walked in and set it down on the desk in the office where her father and Dr. Maxon were sitting.
“May I pour you a cup of coffee, Dr. Maxon?”
“Please don’t trouble yourself. I’ll have a cup in just a little while.”
Gloria nodded and smiled to him as she poured her father a cup adding a touch of sweet cream and a lump of sugar exactly the way he liked it.
“Here you are, Daddy.”
Dr. Maxon smiled, “Raymond, you and Faye are raising quite the proper young lady. My compliments to you both.”
“Thanks, Doc. I hope you and Wendy received your invitation to Gloria’s birthday party this Saturday.”
“We wouldn’t miss it for anything. It’s all anyone is talking about.”
“I hope so. We’ve invited the most elite families from three counties, especially the ones with eligible young sons. If we can have Gloria find a well-to-do young man, we won’t have to waste money sending her to college.”
Gloria couldn’t stand when her father spoke about her as if she wasn’t standing in the room. She hated even more that instead of celebrating her birthday, her parents were throwing her an elegant party to give themselves an opportunity to find a rich son-in-law. She wouldn’t be surprised if there was an auction block in the middle of their dining room for her to stand on all evening.
“I have no doubt that Gloria won’t have any trouble finding a suitable young man.”
“Thank you, Dr. Maxon. If you’ll please excuse me though, I have chores to start before I bring out lunch.”
Gloria wanted so much to ask Dr. Maxon about Shore’s progress that he must have seen it written all over her face and also that she was holding back so as not to upset her father. She was relieved when he offered the information without any prompting before she left the office.
“Gloria, you’ll be happy to know that ShoretoDream is doing very well. You will have a new foal by supper time most likely.”
“Thank you, Doctor Maxon.” She smiled. “I’m comforted in knowing she is in the very capable hands of you and Daddy.”
Gloria walked out of the office and let herself relax. Just those brief moments in the office of acting so proper exhausted her. She wasn’t sure how she would survive an entire party. Gloria stopped and thought for a moment. Her father was preoccupied with Shore and her mother would be busy sewing her dress. She decided that no one would notice if she didn’t go back up to the house or if her chores didn’t get done that day. She went to the last stall by the doors of the stable, furthest away from the office.
She took the saddle off of the wall and started to put it on Snow Angel, but he started to fight her from putting it on. She held his saddle and took him by the reigns and led him as quietly as she could out of his stall and out of the stable doors. She walked him around to the other side of Earl’s tiny house and began to put his saddle on there. He didn’t seem to mind it as much after she took him outside.
“What are you doing?”
Gloria spun around. “Earl, you nearly scared me half to death! And keep quiet,” she whispered. “I’m taking Snow Angel for a walk out in the woods.”
“If Uncle Ray finds out, he is going to ring your neck.”
“So don’t tell him. He won’t notice we’re gone. We’ll only be an hour. If Sam or any of the grooms come before we’re back, tell them not to say anything either.”
“Don’t wander too far. You know if Uncle Ray asks me anything that I’m no good at lying to him.”
“I have to be back in time to bring down lunch from the house, so I won’t go far.”
Gloria had the saddle securely on Snow Angel, so she put her foot in the stirrup and hopped up. She guided Snow Angel into the woods. She looked behind her and saw Earl watching her with a worried look on his face. She smiled and winked at her cousin to reassure him, but he just shook his head and got back to work.

Chapter 7: Ben

“Benjamin? Are you out here?”
“I’m in the stable, Pop!” Ben called to his father.
“Do you know where your brother is?”
“He’s not in his bed? That’s where I saw him last. I was up before the sun this morning, so I came straight out here to start today’s work.”
“Well at least we know he came home last night.”
            His father’s tone made Ben realize that Pop was just as fed up with David’s escapades as he was. It relieved Ben a little since his father usually made excuses for David. Ben had begun putting the saddle on FlashbyBoy.
“Pop, I’m saddling up Flash, but he doesn’t seem to want to run today. David pushed him pretty hard yesterday. He ran him too hard in my opinion. I think you should just let him walk and trot around today.”
            At that point Ben heard the truck pull up outside. The truck door slammed shut and David came walking briskly through the double doors. “Morning, Pop. I found out that the Weldons’ horse ShoretoDream is giving birth today. You know the one they matched with King Duke? What everyone has been saying is right: Raymond Weldon is going to run his farm into the ground. With this early birth, he doesn’t have a chance next year.”
“If the horse hasn’t even delivered yet, how could you possibly know that?”
“Oh I uh… I overheard it in town. That’s where I went after I woke up this morning. Ben, you make sure that horse is properly saddled today. It started to come loose yesterday.”
            Ben knew there had been nothing wrong with the saddle, but David needed something to criticize him about in front of their father. Ben started to respond, but Pop jumped in first.
            “Flash is taking today off from training.”
            “Taking off? Pop, I’m the one who has been training him and I know what he needs, not you. We have stakes races to enter him in before The Bluegrass Stakes and the Derby. If he doesn’t run well, we’re going to lose our shot at it.”
            “I know you’ve been working hard on training him, but boy don’t you forget who runs this farm. If you don’t want your ass and your suitcase to be thrown out onto that dirt road at the end of the driveway, then it will do you well to remember that.”
            “Sorry, Pop. But we can’t let him just stand in the stable all day.”
            “Ben is taking him out today. After you work out Golden Girl and Free Runner, get all these stables cleaned out. I’m giving both FlashbyBoy and Ben the day off.” Pop walked away before David could respond.
            David glared at Ben. “Make sure you get Golden Girl and Free Runner saddled before you take Flash out. And I don’t care what Pop said, you run that horse today.”
            “No problem.” Ben replied simply to appease his brother.
            “I mean it, Ben. That old man is losing his senses when it comes to training horses.”
            Ben and David heard Pop’s voice from outside of the stable. “I haven’t lost a single sense, especially not my hearing! And saddle up your own damn horses!”
            David turned and walked into the equipment room and Ben heard the loud bang of something being thrown at the wall. He stroked Flash’s head to make sure the sound hadn’t bothered him and then walked him out of the stall.
            Ben mounted Flash and walked him out of the stable. “Well Flash, we both have the day to ourselves. Let’s go for a walk. You lead the way.”
            They walked along the edge of the woods that lined their farm. After about a half of a mile, Flash turned and walked on the trail through the trees leading away from the property. Ben knew where Flash was going. He wanted to walk through the woods because about another mile through the trails was a clearing, a creek where Ben had walked Flash to before. In the summer time, Ben would go there and swim at night to cool off after a long day, but on that December morning, it was going to be much too cold for that. He would just enjoy the beautiful view while Flash wandered around and drank from the stream.

To read the full book, get it now on Amazon! Just click the following link. Kindle version only $3.99! Leave me a comment to let me know what you think of these sample chapters or write a customer review on Amazon.

Essay: Writing is My Mind Dreaming on Paper

 Writing is My Mind Dreaming on Paper

There have been more times than I can remember when I woke up in the middle of the night and had one of two reactions. The first, and more frequent reaction, is that I wanted to try to fall back to sleep as fast as I could because I was hoping that if I fell immediately back to sleep, I wouldn’t miss what was continuing to happen in the pleasant dream I was having. It would pick up exactly where it had left off and my subconscious could give me the mysterious happy ending it was building towards. The second reaction would be one that was panicked and would make me sit up in bed with my heart racing. I had woken up just before something terrible was about to happen in a nightmare. But if I had seen what happened next, it may not have been scary at all.
            Whether I have pleasant reveries or intense nightmares, I love to dream. The feeling of being totally out of control as to where and when my mind will take me is exciting and anything is possible. For me, writing is like dreaming. Both allow me to release all of my inner thoughts and let my imagination run wild. When I lie down and fall asleep, and when I sit down and start writing, the possibilities are endless.
This is why a dreamless sleep is just as disappointing as not having the time to write. If my mind doesn’t explore its farthest corners while I sleep, in the morning with the feeling of refreshment also comes slight disappointment. What had happened that I missed? What was it that I didn’t see? The same feeling of loss and wasted time also overwhelms me if I look back over a period (a couple days, a week, or even a month), during which I put nothing on a page. Sometimes writer’s block can strike, I might be too tired, or I might just not have the time to write. There are times when I justify not allowing myself to write because I was working two jobs or my mind is constantly bombarded by school work.
Other times I look back and realize there was no excuse for that wasted period of time. I often ask myself, why did I spend that time watching TV or playing video games? Did I miss having ideas because I was being mindlessly entertained? The answer to these questions isn’t as important as the fact that I just wasn’t as happy doing those things as I usually am when I spend my time writing.
            There are many other ways in which dreaming and writing are so similar within my mind. Dreams can have specific plot lines or series of scenes, much like a piece of writing. They also may be flashes of images. In our dreams, our minds don’t always work in a linear way. There is no direct, linear relation between a ring worn on a finger and the ring of a telephone, but in a dream two homophones can easily lead to one another. This can also happen in writing. A technique for writing creative fiction is adding motifs to connect ideas or communicate underlying themes of a story. For example, a ring is a line connected to itself in a round or circular shape. An engagement ring is a piece of jewelry that shows connection between two people who are committed to one another. A telephone rings because one person is trying to connect with another person verbally. The repetition of these things in a work of fiction (if used affectively), can create a motif of connection.
Dreams and writing are also similar because dreams can combine unrelated events, people, or things I’ve encountered. This is how ideas come to me to write as well. Often, like Stephen King (although I am not presumptuous enough to imply that I am or ever will be a legendary writer like Stephen King), I have two separate ideas or events that are combined and inspire a story. The ideas or events could have been from experiences I had or things I observed. They may even come from something I might have looked at one time, but didn’t really see. No matter how the ideas came to me, I can’t explain why my brain decided to present them to me at that point in time.
            If I have a story idea that comes from two different things I’ve experienced, what is it that makes me combine those two events, especially if they are unrelated? For example, this past semester I wrote a creative fiction story for another class about two rebellious teens that got in trouble for drinking from an old bottle of brandy. It sounds like a boring story idea doesn’t it? Rebellious teenagers, underage drinking…It’s been done! But then for some reason I connected this event to the time of the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts. It makes sense that the idea of starring rebellious teenagers in my story came to me. A week prior to writing the story, my aunt told me that she caught my little cousin drinking underage. I also love the city of Boston and visited Massachusetts, but I was only there once and that was six years ago.
What was it that made me connect these two completely separate ideas? Why do two unrelated things collide in my mind and jump start my imagination? Even if I have a dream or writing idea that is completely fictional, where does that come from? I’m posing all of these questions in this essay because I can’t answer them.
Some of these questions could be answered if it was known how ideas come to be. Neurologists can pinpoint the locations and parts of the brain that produce the different cognitive actions. Psychiatrists can analyze why we think certain ways or why we think the way we do, but if you can find me one that can definitively say why thoughts appear in our conscious or unconscious minds at particular times (or just why in general), please give me his or her name because I won’t believe that such a person exists until I shake his or her hand.
This is why I remind myself that when a story idea comes to me, I shouldn’t waste time questioning how or why it came to be. I should sit down and start my writing process, in which I take my notebook or laptop to my comfortable recliner placed in the quietest room of the house. I keep the TV turned off. I close my eyes for a moment and take a deep breath. Then I open my eyes and let myself write freely.
When I write, sometimes I have to clear my head and let my imagination and the pen take me where they want to go. If I do this, it will keep me from over thinking or over analyzing a first draft. I will be able to let the idea put itself on the page and unfold in a natural way. I should do this in the same way that I let myself fall back to sleep in the middle of the night and let my imagination finish the dream for me.

 Carrie Watson - May 2012