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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Meet Sara

Excerpt from
 I Believe
A ghost story for the holidays
By Valerie Woods
Copyright © 2012

Introducing Sara...the third spirit attempting an intervention with a living human...

There was another entity now in the café.  Her face was sad and anxious. 
“She’s new isn’t she?”
Gabriel now noticed her, too.  “I’d say.  That’s her, Sara Wilson.”
Sara had paused upon entering.  It was her first trip back.  Death was still so fresh. She had worked at Jasper’s Café and, to her surprise, found a refuge.  Yes, she had baked scones, but Mark and Randy had given her something she couldn’t get in her own home -- a tiny studio behind the kitchen where she could paint.
Part of her arrangement at Jasper’s was that her paintings would grace the walls of the café.  But in the two years she worked there, she hadn’t completed a single painting.  There were stacks of unfinished visions stored behind the kitchen. And then they had discovered the cancer.  It had come quickly and with a pitiless ferocity.  Now Sara felt the regret of so much left undone. 
She didn’t recognize Trevor and Gabriel for what they were right away.  She was still having difficulty distinguishing the living from the dead.  It had all happened so quickly.  But once she realized that the two men in the corner booth were actually looking at her, she crossed to them. Her progress was halted by the all too familiar sound of her husband’s knife-edged voice.
“Why would I want them?” He was speaking to Mark, the stack of Sara’s paintings leaning against the counter. Ramsey knocked back his double macchiato, looked dispassionately at the paintings and shrugged.  “You can burn them for all I care,” and headed to the exit.
Sara’s form skittered like the jagged lines of a video transmission gone off track, but only for a moment.  She pulled it together and turned to her fellow wanderers.
Without the need for much conversation, Trevor and Gabriel, with one accord, agreed to welcome Sara on the team.  And so it was, the wandering duo became a very determined, light seeking trinity.
* * * * *

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Meet Gabriel

Excerpt from
I Believe
A ghost story for the holidays
By Valerie Woods
Copyright © 2012
Introducing Gabriel...the second spirit in our story attempting an intervention with a living human...

For those who had the vision to see such things, they would have seen the portly gentleman occupying a corner booth at Jasper's Cafe.  The late afternoon sun filtered through the plantation blinds so that this spectral gentleman appeared as a shimmering silhouette.  Trevor recognized him immediately, and wasn’t all that thrilled.
The late Gabriel F. Templeton had spent the past eleven years of his afterlife feeling incredibly betrayed.  For starters, but for one tiny blood clot, Gabriel had been one day away from signing a ridiculously lucrative network television contract.  Second of all, the man who had made angels a national phenomenon discovered, upon his death, that his television series run of a decade had gotten the whole angel concept wrong.  Angels actually weren’t born-again dead people.   ‘No, Bobby, Grandma isn’t an angel after all.  She might be a wandering spirit, or possibly a resident in light, but sorry, no bells, no wings, no halos, no trumpets.  Those belong to the real deal angels the Almighty created at the beginning of time.’ 
But what really pissed Gabriel F. Templeton off was that, come on…he was named after a major, A-list angel!  He should have been a natural for a resident in light.  Gabriel F. Templeton!  Okay, granted he’d added the Templeton bit, but let’s face it, Gabe Fitch didn’t quite resonate for the man Gabriel F. Templeton felt he should be.   
As he was entering his twelfth year as a wanderer, Gabriel felt it was time to finally close this deal.  Who knew Simon would be so difficult to reach?  But then Simon had been the mentee to the great Gabriel F. Templeton’s mentor.  He’d shaped, nurtured and molded Simon after his own image.  And naturally, Simon was just as arrogant and heartless as his mentor.
Competitive as ever, Gabriel F. Templeton would be damned…well let’s say he’d be very put out…if Trevor managed residency in light before himself. 
He remembered when Trevor first joined the host.  Ever the mentor, Gabriel was willing to take him under his…damn it, no wings!...Gabriel was willing to take him in hand.  In life, though they had never met, both men had lived and prospered in the City of Angels (hello!)… Los Angeles.  Hollywood.  El Pueblo de los Angeles.  It only seemed right that he should support a former Angeleno, especially since it had proven so difficult to find authentic angels anywhere near Hollywood.  At least that had been Gabriel’s experience.  Was he just a bit bitter?  What do you think?
Naturally, when he’d been alive, Trevor had heard of the great Gabriel F. Templeton.  And, feeling expansive, Gabriel acknowledged that he had known of Trevor’s existence while on earth.  After all, there was a growing breed of Hollywood types who flocked to Trevor's 'Le Soleil Yoga.' 
However, Trevor was not in the mood to feel patronized by Gabriel.  He was intent on his sister.  Yet, as usual, Gabriel felt the need to give unwanted advice.
As with all spirits, Gabriel had discovered, in death, the light he’d carried throughout his life.  It emanated from his solar plexis.  He noticed, unfortunately after life,  that when he was generous enough to reach out to others, that light could actually spread up into his heart.  So, he had been thinking that maybe, together, he and Trevor could support each other.  Especially since Trevor's sister opened a yoga studio across the street from Jasper’s Café,  co-owned by Simon’s brother.  And although Gabriel had tried in every way he could to intercede on Simon's behalf, Simon remained closed to the light. But things were about to change.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

I Believe...

-->I Believe
A ghost story for the holidays
By Valerie Woods
Copyright © 2012

Was Marley & Scrooge the only ghost-to-human intervention ever?

This is what I wonder.
Marley’s haunting, and the arrangement he made for Scrooge had a far-reaching and beneficial effect. 
Surely, poor Jacob Marley’s ghost found some peace for being such a compassionate medium.
 I like to believe so. 
I would also like to believe that attempts at intercessions such as this occur with some frequency among unfulfilled spirits. Even now.
Even in Los Angeles.
I Believe.

Chapter One

The fact that Trevor was dead never got in the way of interfering in his sister’s life.  Since the incident with the bus seven years previous, Trevor had been trying, in vain, to contact her.  He had managed to make his presence known with a number of spectral visits, but Vivian, the sister in question, had dismissed those occasions as by-products of stress, drunkenness or just her imagination.  Nothing to really take seriously.
            In life, Trevor had been an elegant, cold-hearted, selfish human being. Those who knew him well felt it was a judgment on him when he and that bus had met. But not Vivian. She herself was as self-centered and cold-hearted as they came, exactly like the parents who spawned them. That was the Blake family way. Dysfunctional didn’t even register for them.
            But Trevor never gave up hope.  Besides, what else had he to do in the afterlife?  And, truth be told, he owed her.  Vivian had no idea she was forging the same desolate afterlife in which Trevor existed. 
            You see, Trevor was among that host of spirits who, when death had come, discovered the grave and dust-to-dust were not the end.  It had been quite a shock.  The first shock being he really was dead and second, that even in death, he still had work to do.  Who knew?  The third, and most amazing shock was that he and all souls, both on earth and on other planes of existence, were beings of light.  The degree to which a soul allowed that light to expand and encompass their lives was the goal of the soul’s journey.  There was, literally, a light within, sometimes a tiny flicker, sometimes a more expansive glow in various areas of the body. In rare cases, at least on the earth plane, there were those who experienced a complete immersion of light in every cell of the body.  It was no coincidence these rare beings were called “enlightened.”  
It wasn’t until his final encounter with an L.A. city bus that Trevor became conscious of his own light, a tiny flicker about the size of a grain of rice.   He’d carried this grain of rice-sized light throughout his sojourn in life, never allowing it to expand more than was comfortable for him.  And so, he was destined to wander in death, a witness to the light and joys he could have shared, as a more loving and charitable citizen of the planet.
            The only good news was that un-enlightened spirits, like Trevor, had the option to escape this transitional limbo.  All that was necessary was to effect a change of heart in one living soul.  A successful spirit-to-human intervention not only saved the living soul from eternal wandering upon death, it also transformed the spirit from Wanderer of the Dark to Resident in Light.  And there was one more human heart inspired to make the world a better paradise.
            There were some who had been trying for centuries to make contact with the living; others, just a few months.  And the competition was fierce, especially at this time of year.  In the northern hemisphere, the period marked by the Gregorian calendar leading up to the winter solstice in December, has been a time of thanksgiving and celebration for millennia. During this time, the human heart, which had been sealed shut with the pressures of survival and anxiety with the lessening, life-giving rays of the sun, was ripe for flowering into bloom. The solstice in December signaled the return of the sun.  It was the season of light on the earth and goodwill toward all.
            In the realm above the earthly plane, Trevor was determined to be a Resident in Light before New Year’s.  Before Christmas, if he could manage it.
* * * * *
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Characters Talking Back...

"If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats."
Richard Bach(Author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions, and lots more)

These words from Mr. Bach confirmed for me that I wasn't the only writer who might be having conversations with the fictional characters in their brains.

Katrin's Chronicles is a middle grade novel I'm writing.  Although it looked like it was finished, something kept telling me it wasn't finished.  It was Katrin.  She was talking back.  I couldn't quite catch what she was saying but then it came out loud and clear.  A gifted friend who has the ability to slice through to the heart of any scenario recommended a major edit.  In the process, Katrin decided to raise her voice.

Katrin: Why can't I just be eleven going on twelve?  Why do you keep trying to age me up?

Me: Well, people keep saing you're too smart for your age.  You don't sound like you're eleven.

Katrin: I get that all the time.  And now, even from you, too?

Me: I thought, maybe if I introduced you as a teen writing in a retrospective voice about when you were a child, it would explain why your vocabulary was a little advanced.

Katrin: I read alot, ok?  Way above my grade level.  Like high school level, even.  What's wrong with that?

Me: Most kids your age aren't so...well, articulate.

Katrin: I'm not "most" kids, alright?  I'm me.  When I first introduced my self to you, was I thirteen?  No, I was eleven.  I told you the story when I was eleven.  I lived the story when I was eleven.  I'm still eleven, now going on twelve and that's just the way it is.  Don't make me grow up so fast.

And then Katrin went on a rant.

Katrin: I am so tired of people always trying to tell me who I am or who I'm supposed to be. I'm not what people expect and they try and put me in a little acceptable box.  Well, get over it.  My father told me once that he expected me to be smart because I had three older siblings to observe and learn from.  Well, I listened to him and I've been watching.  You can pick up a lot when you're paying attention.  So, yeah, maybe I don't sound like I'm eleven, but I am and if that scares you, then too bad.  So there.

Me: Fine, I won't impose the 13 year old retrospective voice.  It will be your eleven year old narrative self.  Happy?


Katrin: You haven't done it yet.  You're just talking about it.

Me: Tomorrow, ok?  I'm going to bed.  I'm exhausted.

Katrin: I'll keep bugging you...

Me: I know. I know. 

Well, it's now in process.  I cut the pages, though I saved them to another document.  Just in case.  But don't tell Katrin.  She's gonna have to grow up sooner or later.

Have any of you had a character who talked back?  Do tell...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Under Construction

Over the next few days, this writer.blogue will be host to conversations with writers across the spectrum about what we do...why we do it, how we do it, how often and where.  Sometimes we'll have conversations with the people who inhabit our creations, both fictional and non.  Because when writers aren't writing, we're talking about writing (and not writing), which really is part of the writing process, now isn't it?

Stay tuned...