Friday Fiction: The Test

I wish I could say I wrote this lovely piece, but I found it shared on Karen Lang’s blog, Healing Your Life.

Stepping into the unknown, takes courage and strength to move out of our comfort zone. But sometimes we can be left believing it was not worth it;  Be patient. In time, you will discover, you receive exactly what you need.

The Test

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.

In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name, Miss Holly Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond.

The two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting – 7.00 p.m. at the Grand Central Station in New York.

“You’ll recognize me,” she wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” So at 7.00 p.m. he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen.

Mr Blanchard describes the scene: “A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim in a green suit. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small provocative smile curved her lips. “Going my way, sailor?” she murmured.

Almost uncontrollably, I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Holly Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly inspired me.

And there she stood. Her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her.

This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever by grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. “I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?” The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!”

~ Paulo Coelho

Jennifer’s Friday Fiction

Blog Hop: Born in a Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray

FYI: Sunday Snap will be back as usual next week.

Today, I’m delighted to welcome author and tech teacher Jacqui Murray from over at WordDreams. She has a brand new release out now in an unusual and fascinating genre.

Book Info:

Title: Born in a Treacherous Time
Series: Book 1 in the Man vs. Nature series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Cover by: Damonza 
Available at: Kindle

Jennifer: Good morning, Jacqui. Born in a Treacherous Time sounds intriguing! Can you tell me a bit about it?

Jacqui: Thank you for having me, Jennifer. Here’s a short summary:

Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive in the harsh reality of a world where nature rules, survival is a daily challenge, and a violent band threatens to destroy everything Lucy thinks she understands.

If you like Man vs. Wild, you’ll love this book. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. It will bring that world – East Africa 1.8 million years ago – to life in a way never seen before.

Jennifer: I can’t wait to read it. I’ve never read prehistoric fiction before, but it has been of interest to me ever since I saw the movie Quest For Fire. What prompted you to write the book, and your switch to this niche genre?

Jacqui: Born in a Treacherous Time is a spin-off of my previous book, To Hunt a Sub.
More specifically, it is a spin-off of Lucy, the ancient female who mentored Kali Delamagente, the female protagonist of that series.

Jennifer: Lucy was such an interesting part of that story. But why did you write a book in such a tiny niche?

Jacqui: Born in a Treacherous Time is written in the sub-genre of historic fiction called prehistoric fiction, a time before recorded history. There aren’t a lot of readers in this genre but they are devoted!
Because the only records are rocks, world building has proven difficult but Lucy (the heroine) really didn’t give me a choice. She nagged me to tell her story from my first page twenty years ago to my final draft. Now maybe Lucy will leave me alone!

Jennifer: You have a couple of noteworthy reviews you’d like to share with our readers, including a Kirkus review. Here they are:

Kirkus review: “Murray’s lean prose is steeped in the characters’ brutal worldview, which lends a delightful otherness to the narration …The book’s plot is similar in key ways to other works in the genre, particularly Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear. However, Murray weaves a taut, compelling narrative, building her story on timeless human concerns of survival, acceptance, and fear of the unknown. Even if readers have a general sense of where the plot is going, they’ll still find the specific twists and revelations to be highly entertaining throughout.
A well-executed tale of early man.”  (Click here for the entire review)

 An early reader’s review: Born in a Treacherous Time sheds light on a period of time that gave birth to the human race, and allow us to bear witness to the harshness and tenacious spirit that is uniquely human—to survive and endure. Readers with a thirst for knowledge and who enjoy historical fiction, this is a must read. I am looking forward to reading book 2 when it is published. I devoured the book in 2 sittings.”Luciana Cavallaro, author of Servant of the Gods series and webmaster of Eternal Atlantis

Jennifer: Those are wonderful reviews. I love that this book has a strong and unique female lead. Thank you so much for this, Jacqui!

To learn more about my guest today, check out the following:

Author Bio: Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature seriesShe is also the author of over a hundred books on integrating technology into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Social media links:
http://twitter.com/worddreams
http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray
https://worddreams.wordpress.com
https://jacquimurray.net

Friday Fiction: Reunion*

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– Reunion –

He sees her
at the edge

of the crowded soiree
and knows her instantly.

It is a blow.

The first time
in thirteen years
Fate has brought them
together
years for her
he’d heard
were far from kind.

He thinks
how dramatic
change can be from
Life’s random cruelties
and how no one
can prepare.

A nervous voyeur
he peeks into her eyes
smudged windows
at the brink
of unimaginable pain.

It frightens him
makes him wish
he hadn’t heard the rumors
the images evoked
and now the proof.

Her face
the same yet injured
from the inside of her trauma
haunted eyes far too mature
for her years
aspect stamped with the hurt
she tries to hide.

And he wonders
when she finds his broken smile
how it was ever possible
that once
she swarmed his secret dreams.

She turns away.

It occurs to him
she read it in his heart
and knows
the Muse has passed.

***

*First published here.

Jennifer’s Friday Fiction

Thanks for reading!

Friday Fiction appears on random Fridays as a place to share my writing in the form of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and vignettes.

The Marathon of Novel-Writing

I’m guest-posting on A Writer’s Path today, sharing my experiences as a novelist.

Come on over for a visit and check it out!

The Marathon of Novel-Writing

Calmer Girls is Pre-Listed!

Quicker than I had anticipated, Calmer Girls has been prelisted and is now available to pre-order on Amazon

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After moving to the city of St. John’s, sixteen-year-old Samantha Cross meets a boy with beautiful brown eyes—eyes that focus on her sister, Veronica. As Samantha falls in love with her sister’s boyfriend, one
thing becomes clear: One of the Cross sisters is in for a broken heart.

Please note: At this time, the book is available for pre-order in e-book form only. When the book is officially released on March 24th, the paperback will then become available.

Some of you have expressed an interest in the origins of the cover art.
Award-winning Fiona Jayde Media did the beautiful artwork for Calmer Girls. I couldn’t be more pleased with my publisher for acquiring the artist, along with everything they’ve done and are still doing in working with me to bring my book to light.

And of course, many thanks again to all who gave me the moral support through this blog to continue on my writing journey. Before the book’s release, I’ll return to this topic to provide a bit more background to the setting of Calmer Girls.

Things are a little hectic here for me at the moment and I will be away from my blog for a few days, so I have closed comments for this post. And next time? There are a few new photos I’m looking forward to sharing with you. 🙂

Links where you can find the book:

Amazon Canada

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Australia

Calmer Girls

In Praise of Young Adult Fiction

I used to think I was a bit of a dork for liking Young Adult literature, even though my years as a young adult are long gone.

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Not so anymore. Although some may be too shy to admit to it or call it a guilty pleasure, YA fiction has a huge fan base among grownups; in fact, a recent study states that 55% of its readers are actually adults. And while I also choose from a variety of other genres and often crave the more literary and classic offerings as well, I particularly enjoy writing Young Adult fiction, as two of my upcoming novels will attest.

Why do I and so many others love reading YA novels? I don’t believe it implies immaturity, but rather suggests a more “young at heart” sensibility of the reader. And I am careful about not lumping all of them together; as in every genre there is great writing and not-so-great writing. With that in mind, here is what I find appealing about most of the YA and coming-of-age literature I have read:

  • It draws you in and hooks you on the first page.
  • It is usually light on the exposition and heavy on the action and dialogue.
  • The drama isn’t contrived. The teenage years, with all of its growing pains, can be filled with turmoil. Ordinary situations often feel emotional, and even catastrophic.
  • Teens are well-known to be impetuous and curious, therefore their actions are often unexpected. This opens up all sorts of drama which may include acting on violence, sexuality, and other previously uncharacteristic behaviours.
  • We’ve all been there, so we can identify with many of the common conflicts that arise. Other times, we might enjoy reading YA as an escape into wish-fulfillment: a way of righting the wrongs in our own experience.

Still not convinced to give Young Adult a try? Peruse these quotes taken from bestselling YA fiction:

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What do you think of the Young Adult genre?
Do you have any favourite YA quotes to share?

Friday Bouquet #7

 

I follow quite a few blogs by writers, and Moon In Gemini: Debbie’s Blog about Writing and Pop Culture is one of my favourites.

On her About Page:

I have very eclectic tastes in fiction, movies and TV.  I love genre fiction of all kinds, and am just as likely to have fantasy, horror, YA, historical fiction, sci-fi or romance residing on my Kindle.”

“… Gemini is a sign associated with writing and communication.  It’s also a sign associated with people who can’t make up their minds about anything, so don’t be surprised by the variety of subjects that may appear in this blog.”

I am highlighting the following post because I agree with her opinion on strong female characters. For that matter, we think all strong characters are intriguing because of their flaws as well as their strengths. Their faults are what make them human and real.

The Strong Female Character: I Do Not Think That Means What Some People Think It Means

If you love fiction of any kind, I think you’ll like Moon in Gemini as much as I do.

Comments are closed here. I invite you to comment on Debbie’s blog.

Have a great weekend, everyone. 🙂

Why Do I Blog?

Why does an individual like me keep a blog? I have been asked this on a few occasions, and at times it makes me stop and think, and even reassess what my intention is.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts and on my About Me page, the origin of this journal came to me as a way to create consistently, in the form of a poem, a musing, or a small gallery of my personal photography. Usually the subject of these posts focused on something or someone I love, a topic I feel strongly about, or a place I have visited and wanted to share through pictures.

I also reported from time to time on my work in progress, a coming of age novel, Calmer Girls. (This is my working title and may or may not be the ultimate one.) My hope was by mentioning it in my blog and simply putting it out there, I would become more accountable and motivated to see it through to its completion.

I can say, without a doubt, my plan has been effective. This is not to say my blog is wonderful or the novel is going to be commercially successful. But what I can say, is that I took on a challenge, didn’t quit, and tried my best. Yes, due to the very nature of life and all it entails, there have been some weeks where I have found it difficult to produce anything, but thankfully those weeks have been in the minority. To a large extent I am pleased with my efforts, and the direction my blog and my new novel have taken.

I am expecting the novel will be ready for its first critique by the end of January. And I have no intentions of ending my blogging life any time soon! This is due in large part to the pleasure I derive from keeping it going each week, and connecting with so many other bloggers and readers all over the world. A number of my followers have been a Godsend, checking in and commenting regularly on my posts and encouraging me all along the way. You know who you are. 🙂 In the very near future I am planning to highlight my most faithful and prolific commenters and give their wonderful blogs the shout-outs they deserve. They are the ones that help make blogging for me so rewarding.

This joy of discovery is real, and it is one of our rewards. So too is the approval of our work by our peers. ~ Henry Taube

What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. ~ Bob Dylan

Keep on being good to one another!

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“…Then You Must Write It”

 

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~ Toni Morrison

I have recently begun a new adventure, dear readers and fellow bloggers.

No longer can I ignore the voice inside me that is clamouring to be heard, so I have started to write a novel.  I am a little nervous, but mostly I am excited to be on this new journey I have destined for myself.

When I told a friend a little while ago about my plan to write a book, she said, “Gee, I’m the one with the English degree.  I should write a book!”  Well, I don’t have a degree, but I’ve always had a passion for stories, fictional or otherwise, and a desire to tell some stories of my own.

Heck, I wrote a teen novel when I was still in school, at the grand old age of fifteen.  So diplomas and degrees or lack thereof won’t hinder me now either.

It has been a rewarding experience keeping this blog that I started back in December.  The original purpose of Jennifer’s Journal had been to get into the habit of creating and writing something on a regular basis, in order to better prepare me for the demands of writing a novel.  But now that I have taken on this ambitious new project, I will have less of that precious commodity of time to devote to blogging.

But abandoning my blog seems unthinkable to me..  Have you ever nurtured a child?  Cared for a pet?  Or even tended a garden?  And then, stopped?  No, I will keep my blog, adding thoughts, inspirations, and a photograph or two, as often and as regularly as I can.  I would also like to keep you updated on my novel’s progress.

Life is going to get busier, that’s all.

I leave you with another favourite quote of mine:

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”  ~ Gloria Steinem

How about you?  Have you ever written a book, or do you see yourself writing one someday?  Do you have advice for someone taking on a creative project?