Category Archives: (FDMFTR) Meanderings

(FDMFTR) Meanderings: Is Anyone Listening?

Is Anyone Listening?

By Jill Samantha Behe

One

Inside I’m screaming,

Can anybody hear?

Life rolls on, never ceasing,

Waves upon the sea.

Storms surge and crash all around.

And I’m drowning.

 

Inside I’m screaming,

Does anybody hear?

Heartache hides behind a mask,

Fake smiles and foolish laughter.

No one looks beyond the surface.

And I’m dying.

 

Inside I’m screaming,

One is listening.

Heart and soul cry out:

Please, help.

Mercy, grace, and peace full-measure.

Now, I’m singing.

 

I wrote this a year or so ago (poems are not a usual thing for me as I prefer short stories, or novels), but the words in my head wouldn’t go away, and they were LOUD!

Truth be known, at various times in my life, these same words have depicted my state of mind. But not anymore, at least not to this extent. And I’ve learned how to shut them up, mostly.

After sweating over how to present the words on paper, and laboring over the conclusion, I realized how they had opened my eyes. These words made me aware that there are probably many others hearing the same thing, but don’t know how to turn it off. If these people were anything like me, their true feelings were hidden behind laughter, or some form of everything-is-fine, or they’ve retreated from interacting with other people altogether.

When the news of Robin Williams’s suicide hit the airwaves not long ago, people were stunned. He made hundreds of thousands laugh, had seemed so jovial and on top of the world. I heard the questions, “Why?” and “How could this have happened?” many times over the next few weeks.

Robin’s mask was very much in place—maybe not to all, but to the vast majority. Great actor that he was, he was able to hide the pain, the sadness, the fear, the discontent.

Look around at your co-workers, friends, even family. Are you close enough to know? Do they let you see what’s really going on? Or do they keep you in the dark? Let them know you care.

Are you the one wearing the mask?

Is there one you’re close to who can hear you? The real you? One you can trust, who won’t judge, or ridicule, or wave you away when you drop your shield?

I turned to God. He’s always there, waiting, wanting to help … everyone.

You may not know Him, but He knows you, and He hears you screaming.

All you have to do is reach out.

 

Profitez de votre journée,

The Rebel

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(FDMFTR) Meanderings: Pens – the Good, the Bad, and the Blah

Pens – the Good, the Bad, and the Blah

By Jill Serendipity Behe

I am a pen collector.

But I’m not alone at that Pen-aholics meeting, and the majority of attendees are writers.

It doesn’t matter what kind of pen (fountain, ballpoint, gel, and all the other gotta-haves), only that it has ink. Pencils are okay, but they’re not as … attractive. Any trip to any store requires a stop in the stationery aisle, where the writing implements hang in silent invitation—command?—to take them home.

This, I’m sure, doesn’t apply to everyone who loves to collect pens, but I’ve gone overboard. Not sure when I became aware that this was a problem—and it was a problem–because I justified every purchase as acquiring necessary tools for my craft.

I need a lot of pens.

I’m a writer.

Writers need pens.

From the time I remember starting to write, I’ve always written every story, novel, blog post, out in longhand. Well, duh, can’t do that without a pen. I could type it up on the computer (which I do for the final phase), but it just doesn’t feel right, if I don’t put pen to paper, literally.

But this obsession with buying pens? It’s like an addiction. Is there a medical term/scientific name for the fear of running out of ink?

Purchasing paper (notebook paper, tablets) used to be a problem, too. I never seemed to have enough. And, oh man, when the back-to-school sales flyers came out … woo-hoo! I was in heaven!

But,

Recently I moved abodes, and in preparing for that event, I had to downsize; a box of pens surfaced that I’d forgotten about. Each one was tested. About a third (gasp) had to be thrown out because the ink had dried. (A sad state, indeed, to have so many unused pens go to waste). I separated the remaining bunch into LIKE and DISLIKE piles. Of course, they were all likes, at one time. Still, the amount of pens destined for the yard sale made my heart beat faster. (Pathetic. Really.) It was hard, but I didn’t back down. Even those in the ‘to keep’ box will need to be sorted again.

Some day.

The compulsion to re-stock my stash has since been tempered, almost to the point of non-existence. I have favorites, but since becoming aware of the fixation, I can, and DO, resist the urge to pick up a pack any time I’m in a store.

The weirdest thing is that when I’ve used one from my preferred pens pen-holder, so long that it’s about to run out of ink, an imp in the back of my mind starts jumping, screaming, “Stop Stop Stop, you idiot! If it goes dry, you’ll have to throw it away, and then you won’t have it anymore. It’s your favorite, and nobody makes that kind anymore.”

Well, the imp is wrong, and needs to be ignored. Or kicked to the curb. I have so many pens left in that container, I’ll still be using them when I’m a 104.

All of us make decisions every day, and though buying pens isn’t life-threatening, there are consequences. For myself, I need to ask: Do you really need another pen, or two, or ten?

Pros and cons.

Right and wrong.

Good or bad.

No one can make our choices for us, though some people think they have that right. They only have that power if we give it to them–which is rarely a good thing. Sometimes we’d rather someone else made the executive decision, but ultimately, it’s up to us. We decide which path to take. Not choosing is a choice, too—and again, not usually a good one. We may come out looking selfish; friends and family may shake their heads. But we’re the ones who have to live with the decisions we make, so we might as well make sure they are the best, for us and anyone else involved.

At the top of the page, I ranted about the craving to keep adding to my collection. An innocuous thing, to be sure, but a major skirmish (the little angel on the right vs. the devil on the left) to resist buying packs of pens every time I set foot in a store.

Pens? Seriously?

For me, becoming aware of the pattern was the tipoff, and like any bad habit, it took a whole lot more effort to undo it than it did to begin—especially since I hadn’t even been aware it was something needing to be curbed. By acknowledging the problem, bringing it into perspective, and then making a choice to stop the behavior, I was able to halt—okay, significantly reduce—the irrational compulsion to purchase pens before it gets out of control.

If only it could be that simple for everything we face. But, it can be! YES, my habit may be minor in comparison to some, but still a struggle, and not my only bad habit. Buying pens isn’t a bad thing, but there comes a point where the amount being bought is ridiculous. And it didn’t become that way overnight, so it’s going to take a while to be completely free of its grip.

One moment, one baby step, one day at a time. Set a goal, never lose sight, and reach for it every single day. It’s the only way to cross the finish line.

Profitez de votre journée,

The Rebel

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(FDMFTR) Meanderings: ATTACHED PLEASE FIND OUR CONTRACT

ATTACHED PLEASE FIND OUR CONTRACT
By Jill S. Behe

I’m old.

Yes, I am.

I don’t feel like it, nor do I particularly look like it, but I am. My birth certificate says so. It has that authority and must be believed. That’s beside the point. It took me a long time to get where I am as a writer and as a person, but I’m here now, and don’t intend to quit until I’m cold and in a box. I’ve written a few novels so far (five!), and a whole bunch of short stories—with more of each on the way.

One of the novels was published a few years ago. During the process of writing it, and unbeknownst to me (the author), it decided there was a need for a second. And in the middle of writing said second, I realized there was going to have to be a third, to complete/finalize the happenings in my characters’ lives, to everyone’s—real and imagined—satisfaction.

To be honest, the one in print was only supposed to be an exercise in short story writing. With the writing group I participated with, the facilitator would hand out prompts and each of us would write a three page short, or as much as we could in the 60- to 90-minute time limit.

This night, my prompt … exploded!

Eight pages in, I was still scribbling when she called time. Nowhere near finished, I went home and kept at it, eventually ending it some 40,000 words later. Too long for a short, and too short for a novel. A friend from the writing group offered to edit it for me (Thank you, again!). The revisions added another 10,000 words or so, and Presto Change-o … a novel was birthed.
Pitched it out and it was caught!

Imagine thatheart-racing moment when I played back my editor’s voicemail: “Jill! Jill! Pick up! Pick up the phone! It’s accepted!”

I was in seventh heaven, on cloud nine, and all the other appropriate clichés.

What an odd time. Surreal is about as accurate a word as I can think of to describe that whole accumulation of things. Then to see the e-mails telling me, the bookseller’s site saying so: People unknown to me, and who didn’t know me, were reading my words, my story … my baby. And the really amazing part, they liked it! But even better, they wanted more, were already clamoring for a second book.

Whoa! Head rush!

I’ve been a reader all my life, literally. From the moment I was born, my family read to me (and my sibs), until we were able to read for ourselves. I’ve been a writer since (can’t remember any further back, but might be) about the third or fourth grade. And from that decisive moment, my life goal has been to be a published author.

That was accomplished in 2011. Doesn’t mean the journey’s done. No. The bar’s been raised. There’s another rung on the ladder. Something more to achieve.

NEVER, in all those years did I imagine what it would feel like, to have a book in print. To have people I know come up to me, and tell me how much they enjoyed it, and then add, ‘So when’s the next one coming out?’

Weird, and wonderful.

Is this how my favorite authors felt when their first was published? Is this how their families reacted?

With nonchalance, or a Holy Crap?

For me, it was Holy Crap! And now, with the second of the trilogy accepted and in the final editing stage, it’s about to start all over again. But with added pressure. Will my ‘fans’ like this one as much as they did the first? And if so, they’ll be after me for book three, (maybe with pitchforks to prod me along) because book two is ends with….

Oh, I probably shouldn’t say.

But, geez-Louise! My characters better start talking to me, or there won’t be a third. It’s maddening! Me, the reader, wants to know what’s going to happen, too. Me, the writer, wants to be in the thick of it, in the middle of the book where I know where the storyline is headed. That’s when the characters are the most vocal; at least that’s what I’ve found to be true.

As of this moment? Pfft! I’ve got a bunch of notes, and three skimpy scenes.

ARGH!

Fists are raised and I’m yelling (in my brain, because that’s where they live), “Come on, you guys, tell me what’s going on! The Rebel’s rooters want to know. I want to know. I can’t tell your story, if you don’t start talking!”

Writing is hard work. It might not put muscles on our bodies, but I’m sure our brains have more … muscle-mass, from all the straining and stretching we do. But when our work gets that ultimate demand of: ‘We want your manuscript,’ all the sweat, and pacing, and hair-pulling, and screaming at the monitor we did to get to this point, is worth it.

Then we have to hand over that baby we labored to bring forth. It’s like sending a child off to kindergarten by themselves for the first time, or sending a high school graduate off to a faraway college. It’s hard to let go, and hurts some, but not for long, and the results are way beyond measure.

So, whatever the level of writing, we can’t stop. Even if it’s (in our minds) a piece of trash when it’s finished, we did something very few people can. We created something, from nothing more than a thought.

Pretty awesome!

Profitez de votre journée,

 

The Rebel

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(FDMFTR) Meanderings: There are writers and then there are writers!

THERE ARE WRITERS AND THEN THERE ARE WRITERS!
By Jill S. Behe

There is no best word processing program. It’s all about which one is the easiest to use, and the one we’re most comfortable with. For that reason I use MS Word, but when I write, almost one hundred percent of every project is written out longhand. Typing it into WORD.doc, keeps me on track, and at the same time, lets me do a sort offirst edit. Some people type everything out exclusively, and can’t be bothered with pen and paper. There are even writers who still use typewriters.

While typing, inevitably, a word will come up that the MS WORD dictionary doesn’t recognize. One of my ‘go to’ online sites is Dictionary.com. It not only gives definitions, but a also a thesaurus, and for foreign words, a translator tab. I also have (what feels like) a twenty pound dictionary, and a super thesaurus that I use quite often.

Another good practice, besides looking up words with questionable spelling or meaning, is to remember proper punctuation. Run-on sentences are tiring to readers, especially if the writer wasn’t intending such a long drawn out line. Check, for, comma, placement, and, most, definitely, periods……..and question marks.

Exclamation points should be reserved for very, very special occasions. The less the better, because overuse can deflate the power of the sentence. Besides!!!!!!! They tend to stab a reader’s eyes.

There are any number of self-help books on the how-tos of writing. A good writing handbook should be on the shelf of every writer, but especially one with ambitions of publication. All sentences (according to English class) need a subject and predicate (a what?) … that’s a verb. If VERB is an alien word, a good Basic English textbook may be needed.

But….

Yes, fragments are very commonly used by writers. Use them myself quite often. But not ALL sentences in the work should be fragmented. The basic rules of English should be religiously followed in every piece of writing we allow the public to see. Not only because it makes us look smart, and the story sound right, it ratchets up our integrity in the eyes of editors, publishers, and ultimately, our audience.

Profitez de votre journée
,

The Rebel

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(FDMFTR) Meanderings: When the people stop talking.

WHEN THE PEOPLE STOP TALKING
By Jill S. Behe

Today is Friday the 13th, and also a full moon. Tomorrow (as I’m writing this) is Flag Day. Last Friday was D-Day. In a couple more, it’ll be Father’s Day.

Where am I going with this?

Give me a minute.

Obviously someone felt these days were significant enough to want them celebrated. But each is just a day on the calendar. One where we get to fly the flag and be thankful for the sacrifices made, or an opportunity to stare off into the night sky to marvel at nature, or to honor our fathers (or not, depending).

My point?

Um, at this point I don’t really have one.

But … for those of us who write—because to NOT write is not an option—the four days mentioned above provides us with a multitude of story ideas. Some more prolific than others.

Writers are/can be a strange breed. We have characters (we call them people) living in our heads, usually all talking at once. ALL wanting their story told, RIGHT NOW! Our job, as the real human element (though that may be questionable) in this mishmash, is to isolate that one single solitary voice whose story is the most intriguing, and forcibly shutting the others up in the closet … until next time. Unfortunately, the confinement does tend to break open and allow a character, or more, to escape.

Then the fun begins.

There’ve been articles, stories and, I think, even a movie, about that dreaded disease writers get every once in a while called: WRITER’S BLOCK. Makes me shudder to think of it. And, don’t get me wrong, it’s a legitimate malady—depending on who you talk to. But writers ALWAYS have something to write about. We may not always be so inclined as to take advantage of all that potential. (That’s a whole different mindset). But there is as much of an unlimited source of material available to the artist with a pen, as there is to an artist with a brush.

Take the examples above:

D-Day is just such a tear-jerkingly horrifically awesome Holy Crap memorial day (for me), it’s hard to know what to say about this one. Watching all the documentaries that are available I can’t, as a U.S. citizen, be thankful enough for the selfless sacrifice those men and women made. A friend recently mentioned how it reminded him of the Bible verse (St. John 15:13KJV): Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Except that, these people laid down their lives for their entire country, and though (I’m sure) some grumbled about it, they did it without a second thought.
Okay, back on track.

Flag Day.

Do you know why we have a special day, just for the flag? Why we even have a flag? How did it come to be? How did they come up with the design? All manner of questions come to mind, jerking on the ‘idea chain’ in our minds. Could aliens have had a hand in that?

Did you know that on June 14, 1777 the flag was adopted, by resolution, by the Second Continental Congress? Did you also know that June 14, 1775 is the U.S. Army’s birthday? (Just thought I’d throw that in there).

How about Friday the 13th? What hasn’t been written about this day? But what if it all hasn’t been written? (Obviously not). There’s all kinds of weird and wonderful beings associated with the 13th of anything.

Talk about endless possibilities.

A full moon? Yeah—wow—see above.

And Father’s Day? Another subject with an infinite number of options.

I know it sounds like a history lesson, but it isn’t, not really. It’s all about finding an idea, having a notion, getting a niggle about something, and writing it down, then expanding and expounding.

Next time that ‘person’ stops talking in your head, or starts to whisper too low to hear clearly—and the story just sits and spins its proverbial wheels—stick it in a drawer, or save it to a file, and then go write something else for that day, hour, minute, until the creative juices start flowing again, in the right direction. Taking a walk not only does wonders for the stress levels, but can enlighten, and sometimes even jiggle loose that one fragment of a line that opens up the whole rest of the story.

I understand the qualms.

It may not always work (sometimes nothing seems to), but it can’t hurt to give it a try, right? And, obviously, there are more potential idea makers out there than just those four days I mentioned. Fiction, or not.

Hmm, I guess I do have a point, after all.

Don’t let the trepidation of the blank page—or of having that loud aggravating disruptive person messing with your gray matter suddenly go silent—dissuade you from moving forward. Every word counts. Every thought put on paper counts. They may not be for the work at hand, but perhaps the next story, novel, article, etc., will benefit.

Take it, or leave it.

So,

Don’t walk backwards—you never get anywhere that way. Persevere. March onward and upward, into the fray of the unknown piece of writing that only you can write. Take the … pen by the quill (nib?), and make something great happen.

Profitez de votre journée,

The Rebel

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(FDMFTR) Meanderings From the Rebel

FIRST DRAFT MEANDERINGS FROM THE REBEL

Welcome!

Thinking about the subject of the first blog on my new site, I had to go back to the beginning. When my editor first suggested I should think about creating a Website, I … rebelled (imagine that). The thought of flaunting my work seemed vain. Exposing myself, to whomever clicked on the link to bring up my site, felt invasive. But his–strongly persistent–reasoning over the next few months gradually began to make more sense.

Don’t you want your fans to know something of yours has been published?

I don’t have any fans.

And you won’t get any, if they don’t know you have something in print. With a Website, they’ll have links to the places offering your work.

I can do that? Cool.

You like to know more about your favorite authors, don’t you?

Of course.

But how do you do that? Call them on the phone?

(Eye roll.)

No, you visit their sites. If you don’t have one of your own, you’re limiting your fans’ access to you. Think of a Website as your personal advertisement.

So, okay. I finally gave in and created a site … and it died a slow painful death. It took a while to decide where I wanted to set up a new one. This one gave me headaches, trying to figure out how to build it. So much so, I almost gave up. But with the help (about 95-percent) of a friend, it’s now starting to look pretty cool. Don’t you think? The goal is to have more and more ‘stuff’ to add to it, all the time.

For now, though, I’m happy with the progress. How about you? Did you find what you were looking for? Is there something in particular you would like to see? Let me know on the Guest Book page and, if it’s a feasible request or suggestion, I’ll try to incorporate it into the site.

That’s it, for this time.

To all my fans (current and future), THANK YOU:
For your support,
For liking my work,
For helping make my lifelong dream come true,
and for all the ‘nudges’ about when the next book is due out. (By the way, it’s close! Just be patient a bit longer, please.)

Til next time,

Hugs,

The Rebel

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