new inspiration can be found buried deep in the hope of each dawning day...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Excerpts from my current writing project , Reality in Retail

There are some customer that stand out and make you smile. They are what make the mundane tasks worth all the countless hours of mutinous work us associates put in. One of these customers shuffled into our store and into my heart on a rather chilly fall day, 4 years ago. Maybe it was the threadbare sweater he was wearing for a ridiculous excuse of a jacket, or the fact he was young, yet hunched over, walking with evident pain and the glasses he looked through seemed as thick as my hand.
“I need a coat.” He announced with confidence, “a good coat, a warm coat!”
I cringed inside as I watched his reaction to several of the jackets I showed him. We had good jackets, warm jackets, just not jackets with a comfortable price tag for someone living on a low fixed income. “Well…” He hesitated, looking around the store hopefully, “Do you ever have ones that go on sale, like, really really on sale?”
I knew what he was asking. I nodded, but was hesitant to get his hopes up, “Occasionally, we do get the odd coat in from a retail return, it would be 50 to 70% off.” I informed him but was careful to warn, “But those are few and far between.” That didn’t daunt his courageous spirit, “I will be back!” and with that, he left. Honestly, I didn’t think he would be back. I was pretty sure we had scared him off forever with our price tags. But about a week later, here he was again, and after fingering several coats longingly and checking the clearance wall, he waved to me with a smile on his face and the ever resounding phrase, “I will be back!”
That weekend, I came into work and there, on the 50% off rack was a beautiful, lush, thick, warm suede leather jacket. I pushed the other clothes away and studied it. It might be his size, I thought, but that price, even 50% off, would be a challenge for him. I hoped he would pop back into the store before the coat was gone. A jacket of that caliber and size wouldn’t last long, not with our customers who knew good quality when they saw it.

But, amazingly the coat remained untouched for an entire week or so when he finally came back in. To me, his sweater seemingly got thinner each time I talked to him. At first, I was afraid to show him the jacket, it felt almost as if I was dangling a bone in front of a starving dog. His face lit up as he grabbed the coat enthusiastically, stuttering in his excitement, “This, THIS is a coat yyyyou wait, yyyou wait a lifetime to buy! Right? I mean, people are so, are so fortunate to get a jacket like this, ever…like, seriously, ever!”
I bit my lip as I watched his animated reaction. Slipping it on, the jacket seemed to be custom made to fit his challenged and twisted physical frame. “How much?” He looked me squarely in the eyes, “How much for this?”
“Well...” I led off with the regular price but quickly quoted the sale price as I saw his face drop.
He gently removed the jacket and handed it back to me, slowly adding, “It might take me a lifetime to get that…” I could see the wheels turning in his mind, “But I could do it, you know?” He looked at me and hope seeped back into his eyes, “Yes, I can do it!” He smiled resiliently, “I will be back because THAT is my coat!”
I sighed as I hung it back on the rounder. It won’t take a lifetime to sell this leather beauty, I thought, he doesn't have much time.

Slowly, my co-workers caught on to the soap opera that was unfolding before our eyes as he came in, day after day to keep his hopes up and finger the elusive prize. His excitement was palpable about a week and a half later when he once more walked through our store doors. My co-worker handed him off to me with a smile: “Your coat boy is here!”

“I can get it…” Was his greeting, “Just a couple more dollars and I am there!” It was an attempted whisper, “Just a few more days and its going to be all mine.” I smiled at his drive. At this point, with coat still on that rack, I started to believe that this was really going to happen for him.
The next day, a lady walked in with a retail return. As she pulled it out of the bag, I wanted to gasp. My hands were trembling with excitment as I turned the suede leather slouch hat over in my hands, “was anything wrong with it?” I asked, returning the woman her money back. “No, it just didn’t look right with my husband’s sports jacket.” She replied, “Men are so picky, you know?” I nodded to her but was thinking the exact opposite. I knew one young man that hat would make very happy when he came in to get his coat. I rushed back to the rack and held up the hat against the coat, it was a matching set. I imagined the joy on his face when I would show it to him. Then it hit me like a sickening thud, if he only had enough money scrapped together for the coat…it might just be mean to show him the hat.

It was about 2 days later that he came in. I discovered him next to the clearance rounder, fingering the jacket. “Hey buddy!” I was glad to see him, “How are you today…” As soon as he turned and looked at me, I wished I could have retracted my words.
“I had this bill.” He turned away, his hand stroking the outside of the jacket, forlornly, “I didn’t know I had this bill…but I did.” His shoulders slumped forward in defeat. “I won’t be able to get this coat…” It was barely audible, “I knew it was too good for me.”
I stood beside him, conflicted in my own emotions. How many coats did I own? I glanced at him, it was a good 37 degrees outside and he was still wearing that stupid threadbare sweater I had first seen on him the first time he walked into the store.
“I should have known, this coat is for people who can afford it…people better than me, you know?” He looked away from me.

Not even knowing why I did, I pulled the leather hat off the shelf and laid it onto of the rounder next to the jacket, “This came in….the other day.” I felt instantly dumb. If he couldn’t afford the coat, why was I adding insult to injury?
His eyes locked on the hat and for the life of me, I never expected the reaction I got.
“It matches!” He said, in awe, “It matches that coat!” He picked it up, jammed it on his head and shuffled as fast as he possibly could over to the mirror. Of course it fit, why was I worried?
“I can get it!” He announced after hearing me quote the sale price. “It will remind me of the coat; it will remind me that I CAN get the same nice things other people get.” There was no trace of sadness in his voice now, “I will always remember the coat, but I will have the hat! That ssssilly, that ssssilly bill didn’t keep the best from me.” In his excitement, he was stuttering again as he turned and seemingly raced to the cash register in his halted, shuffling, yet proud walk.

For a moment I stood there like an unintelligent wall of frustrated emotion. My mind struggling to grasp the words he had just spoken, “I CAN get the same nice things other people get.” The thought of him going through the winter in nothing but that threadbare sweater make me sick. Without even thinking, I grabbed that suede leather jacket, pulled the cash out of my pocket, walked up to the register and in a daze, bought that beautiful warm jacket.

He was just reaching for the door when I called to him and handed him the bag with certain but trembling hands, “It’s a gift.” I didn’t know what else to say. For one uncomprehending moment, he stared at me and then reached for the bag with evident hesitation. As he pulled the jacket out, his face paled. I handed him the receipt, “See, it’s yours! Paid for in full. Because you are a very special young man.”

He looked up from the jacket he was clutching so tightly in his shaking hands. Unbelief stood out in his brown eyes, “How?” His head started to go from side to side, “That is tttoo much, tttooo much money for you…”

“No, you have to take it.” I pushed the coat further into his hands, “Please, I want you to have it, you deserve it.” I cleared my throat, trying to lighten the mood, “I mean, let’s be serious, that jacket was made for you!”

Slowly, indescribable joy flooded his features as he turned it over in his hands, “This is mine?!” It was more of a statement than a question. I grabbed a pair of scissors and snipped out the price tags, “Now put it on, it’s freezing outside!” I told him.

He looked up into my eyes and in that moment I experienced the overwhelming, yet humbling feeling of what it was to make someone absolutely and completely speechless.

His smiles threaten to split his face as he loving pulled on his new coat over that ugly nightmare of a sweater.
I turned away, completely overcome with emotion and walked back to the break room.
“Hey,” I turned to see tears in my store manager’s eyes, “What you did back there…” She pulled a $20 out of her pocket and pushed it into my hands, “Take it, please. I have never seen anything that beautiful in my life.” She turned and walked away. I stared down at the $20 in my hands, even without that $20, I felt incredibly and truly blessed.

4 years later, I was Christmas gift shopping with my husband and glanced up at a red light. To my surprise, there, at the crosswalk was my coat boy. The soft winter snow fell lightly on his frame that was wrapped warmly, to my contented conscience, in a thick suede leather coat, with the matching hat pulled snuggly over his head.
As we pulled away, my husband took my hand in his, “Why are you smiling?”

Why was I smiling? Because some customer you just never, ever forget.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When your life changes...

Sometimes it is easy to smile and keep on...and sometimes it is not. Just a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that effect your nerves from your shoulders, head, neck, back and sometimes legs. Its a deep tissue throbbing that often turns into shooting pain and fatigue, memory/concentration problems, reduced ability to exercise, headaches and a multitude of other symptoms. At times, I feel like a huge brush burn is extending up from my shoulders and cloaks around my head. Other times, i am fighting just to find the energy to finish out my day. Relief is always a 50/50 chance, a massage could either help or create nausea for me. Ibuprofen is scientifically proven that it provides no shelter from the pain. Sleep disturbances happen often and frequently and in turn effects my energy levels. So, for me, it means adjusting my lifestyle.

No one wants to be diagnosed with this, or any other painful syndrome. It took numerous Doctor's visits, tests and MRIs to finally get a diagnoses. In the end, i am left with medical bills and a diagnoses. A diagnoses can give someone comfort, for me, it did just that. For me, the diagnoses meant i wasn't crazy, that the pain and discomfort i was feeling wasn't from an imaginary source, it wasn't some hellish dream i was living through, it meant that I had a reason for why i felt the way i did.

I don't know why God choose me to bear this particular burden. Its been very rough, specially being diagnosed within the first few months of being married. Altho my husband has been nothing but supportive and sensitive, its extremely frustrating to me that it seems like he married an old lady. And lets face it, 26 isn't old. The doctor did tell me that about 70% of younger people that are diagnosed with fybromyalgia have a very good chance of recovering from it within a few years if they take care of themselves, eat healthy, exercise gently but regularly and stay positive. Oh, did i mention that depression goes hand in hand with Fibromyalgia? So at every emotional, physical and mental standpoint, my body is self sabotaging itself. If I don't keep a positive spiritual view, I don't do well at all.

There were times, before i got my diagnoses, that I felt so alone, like no one knew what I was going through. I kept begging God to just heal me...but when the tests came back negative time and time again for anything wrong, I started to panic. Thoughts of anger and frustration boiled over and I was left drowning in the same unanswered question, "what was wrong with me!?!?!!" I wanted it to be something the doctors could fix in one simple operation, but it wasn't that easy.

Talking about it with my Pastor one day, he looked me square in the face and said, "this is something you are going to have to fight against, or die too." Coming from someone who has two immediate family members going through Fibromyalgia, I found what he said profound and powerful. I want to be a fighter, but I will always have those days when it's a struggle just to get my body into motion. I can't can't change the way I feel, and sometimes, I can't even change my metal attitude. But I know that if i keep fighting, I will have a better day soon. The fact that its not as bad as it could be right now does keep me thankful. In more extreme cases, therapy is prescribed and a whole lifestyle change is required. For me, I had to cut my work days from 8.5 hours to 6.5 hours. Nathan does a good job of keeping us on track with healthy eating...and I try to get a walk in every day.

Sometimes, I have to fight through stuff alone, just to realize that in the end, I was't alone at all. My Savior was holding my hand all the way through, and still is. My husband is here, handing my hand too...I didn't recognize it at first because Love doesn't away take the form that I want it too...or even happen the way i think it should. So for now, I am surviving on the Grace of God. Tomorrow, i want to stand by the grace of God, because that is something worth fighting for.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

empty minds...

In front of you is a castle with a 2 walled fortress surrounding it. Battle hardened swords men, coupled with archers lay in strategic wait as catapults are set and oil boiled. The turrets are packed with knife and spear throwing warriors. It's a fortress not easily taken, but one ruled with cruelty and injustice. If taken as prisoner, you will be fed, like a rat, to the sea serpents that occupy the cove, better known as the castle's dungeon.

Behind you is a young army, willing and ready for your command to charge. It's tired, worn, weary and knowingly has to cross a mile of open meadow before even the 1st wall of the fortress is reached.

This is your last battle in this bloody war, the troops behind you are loyal to the death, but some never, till yesterday, had seen the horrors of hand to hand combat.

Your duty is to say words that will incite the courage and passion necessary, to fire the adrenaline thru their veins, enabling them to spur on and overcome the incredible and horrible odds that face them.

Hum, do you grasp the desperation of this situation? Well, Mansur (the dragon king) is in this very position, ready to lead his army to what could be a glorious victory, but feels like a horrible mistake which very well could lead everyone to their deaths.

Mansur, for the life of him, has a senior moment, which isn't fair because he's not that old for a dragon. But his mind is blank at this very crucial second when all eyes are on him to deliver that blood boiling cry of the pep yell before the charge.

So.... He needs YOUR help. actually, I need your help. I'm the one with the blank mind. I need you to share with me your favorite speech... or cry of passion. When, in history, did great men share words of passion that inspired loyalty and action? What were they? It can be a short sentence or a paragraph. you can share a tidbit or a link, I just need your thoughts!

Remember, Mansur needs to think of something quick, his whole army is counting on it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

vampire bat pitted against a Bald eagle...wait a minute!

Up until now, the "bad guy" in my book was a Vampire Bat and the ultimate "Good Guy" is a Bald Eagle. As it stands now, I am tossing around the idea of changing the Vampire bat to something more challenging for a Bald Eagle... such as perhaps a vulture/turkey buzzard or a yellow headed vulture. That, of course is helping with the whole "bad guy" feel of things since picking a vulture would be obviously a good fit for the overall appearance of a bad guy.

So, i set out to find pictures of vultures and stumbled across a fantastic picture of a King Vulture. To tell you the truth, i don't know that i had ever seen a picture, let alone even know there was such a thing as a King Vulture. With a wing span of 4 to 6.5 feet, the King vulture is the largest of all New World Vultures. Here is the link for Wikipedia... so you can see just what he looks like!

I think, in all my wanderings, i have found the perfect guy to fill the shoes of my bad guy character: The King Vulture. He's actually slightly handsome, yet you still want to say, "Yuck" or "Blah" when you see him because you know what he is, a vulture that feasts on rotting carrion.

I will still retain, Gaster, the Vampire bat as the general of the vampire bat army, who quite possibly will be the right hand of our King Vulture. Now, this lead me to another question: What is a good name for the King Vulture?

oh, decisions, decisions... why do i do this to myself?! lol...

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Drafts...

First Drafts are always rough. For me, they end up having a plot with as many holes in it as a piece of Swiss cheese. But my characters... i fall in love with my characters. They push me, encourage me to go forward with that second draft because i know they are worth it.

That's where i am right now... working on the second draft of my novel. I would call it "The Silver shore" But I'm pretty sure that isn't going to be it's title. I don't know what will...but I'm still working on that. I'm pretty excited about my book.

In my last post, i introduced you to the two Griffon Brothers. Jasper and Montoya. Today, I want to introduce you to Basil. He is a dwarf, fully trained and versed in the art of medicinal herbs. His people may be simple, small minded, but have big hearts and knowledge of healing. Some could even say they have magical powers of healing. But ever humble, Basil will tell you that tho they find the right mixture of herbs to bring about the proper was the Eagle himself who planted the herbs.

Yes... "the Eagle" is still nameless. I haven't come across an amazing name yet. I think it will be a quest of a lifetime to find the right mixture of letters that pronounce such a magical name that will give the creature the justice he deserves.

I'm still waiting for ideas... so if you have one or several... let me know!! I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, June 25, 2010

the world of creatures...

So, you can pretty much let your imagination rule while you are writing a fantasy. The characters can have any power you want them too, providing it's believable;)
For me, the biggest challenge for me is remembering every little thing each of my characters can do, on top of creating a personality to fit them. Some creatures can fly, like the griffon for instance. Actually, I LOVE griffons. They are the cross of an eagle and lion, the combination of the king of the beast and the king of the sky. The stand for the protection of the divine. In my book, there are 2 griffons that you meet, face to face. The happen to be the body guards of the respected Mansur, who, as it turns out, is of royal dragon blood.

Meet our Griffons: Jasper, is a jester, laid back, but loyal and protective. On the other hand, his older brother, Montoya, is much more serious, uptight with the same amount of, if not a little more, loyalty and protectiveness.

The other day, I went to the library and got some books out. I was pretty excited to rent a novel about a dragon family. I've been reading it and some things are interesting... but at the same time, it's a book of love and treachery. I almost could envision it as a Jane Austen, only with dragons who eat their deceased relatives. I think i was shocked when the Father died and the parson picked his eyes out, eating them as the allotted fare of the blessed parson. Even more shocking was the fact that his family was hovering in the rooms above, waiting to devour his flesh as soon as his life was gone from his body. The book is named :Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton. I am not sure that i will finish it. But it has been interesting in the least. The image that all dragons are horrid, blood thirsty creatures was reversed in the latest DreamWorks film, How to train your Dragon. My favorite character in the animation is Toothless, the Night Fury. The whole portrayal of the dragon was endearing. Drawing from the inspiration abound me in the world of fantasy, I hope to create something new. Something fun, exciting and fascinating. A book where fairies and dragons meet, griffins and Wolgars clash, and where ultimately, right triumphs over evil.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Introduction to my new book...

I'm not sure where I'm going with this fantastic story that has rumbled around my head for years, but I figured I would blog about it. I kind of hit a wall in my writing... they call it writer's block, but I must be the queen of writer's block because my brain is just not skipping past it.

The Silver Shore novel is a twist off of several situations in my life as well as, strange as it seems, several dreams as well.

Somewhere in the distance, there lay a country called, Silver Shore. The crystal, mint-blue waters of the rivers and sea lap on shores of silver sand. In this land of life and harmony, there entered creatures of the wasteland, Devil's pit, whose leader, a cruel and powerful vampire bat, sought after the blood of the purest creatures in the forest. The kingdom was overthrown and the animals and creatures went into hiding, until one day, a very special fairy was attacked. From then on, things began to change...

Here is where my book begins. It's perhaps, by far, the biggest book I have attempted to write and altho I only have 15, 000 words written of it, I am not even half way there. I honestly would like to get the 1st draft written by the end of this year and submit it to my publisher by Christmas of next year.

But, until i submit it to my publisher, I'm going to work on it...and you can feel free to offer any ideas or thoughts you have about it! On the bottom of my blog is the lists of the main characters, with the exception of the most important One. He's the one that I need YOUR help on!! He's a beautiful, majestic Bald Eagle...and he is the One that will ultimately right the wrong and restore peace back to the kingdom of Silver Shore.

However, he has no name. C.S. Lewis took the Turkish word for lion, Aslan and created an amazing character in his series of the Chronicles of Narnia. Using his idea, I searched for "Eagle" in several different languages. Here's a list of what I came up with:
Old Norse for Eagle: Arkell
Polish for eagle: Orzel
Turkish for eagle: Kartal
Arabic for Eagle: Nasr

Straying from the actual word "eagle" I searched for other ideas like: Norwegian word for strength "Styrke" or Hungarian word for warrior "Andor".

So far these are the best candidates, but if you're looking at them and saying, "None of them even come close to fitting a Bald Eagle!" then you are in the same boat as me. So, I would love to hear from you on what you think is a good name for an Eagle!