Tag Archives: Fate

Lightning Strikes/Happy Accidents by Ginger King

Sometimes lightning strikes. When it does we all take notice. Sometimes it’s just the sound and sometimes it’s the entire package. Lights, crash and boom! Recently I had a happy strike. It causes us to pause and take account of everything around us.

We call these happy accidents usually. Do you believe these are accidents, or fate, destiny? Today I am not so much focused on the source as I am the blessing. Talking to people about their “happy accidents” always gives me goosebumps. These are some of the jewels of life.

A vintner recently described his latest lightning strike to me. His new barrels had come in, and upon opening them, he found that two of them had obviously been used for transporting or curing fresh red peppers. Being an optimist, he proceeded to use the barrels thinking, ” What am I doing, there’s a mistake about to come out of his experiment. ”

A good lightning strike happened instead. The wine that was produced is currently his number one seller. It is a jammy full red with lots of punch from both the fruit and the peppers, whose only presence in the process was the essence it left in the vessel. A small part one could argue, but one that imparted that definitive quality (the lightning strike). If you like pepper jelly, you would love this wine.

Note to self…never forget to be a little spicy. You never know what happy lightning strike may be headed your way because of it.

***

Ginger King is the author of Carolina Wine Country Cooking, published by Second Wind Publishing.

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Is There Something . . .

Saturday, December 18th, found me sitting in a comfortable chair in the Center Bar at the Hard Rock Casino listening to my friend Alan’s band play amid, above and around the noise from the slot machines and the hubbub of a multitude of people.

I watch situations and reactions, and on Saturday night I was in my element. I was in the middle of a people buffet. What I saw ran the gamut from average to bizarre to just plain sad.

What were their stories? I like to hear about the lives of others, but a good deal of the time the facts are highly glossed. People typically want you to think everything is hunky dory and will give you the impression their life is spent in a ray of sunshine.

I tried to avoid talking directly to a guy wearing Don Johnson’s Miami Vice, but even as  I kept easing away, I was sizing him up as a character in a future book. I did the same with the trench coat-wearing, fiftyish Nicolas Cage look-alike who was hanging all over a girl who was half his size and looked barely twenty-one.

The women and men who were dressed to the nines for a night out on the town were interesting, too, but not as much as the craggy folks mindlessly playing the slots. These were the real people as they wore who they were and what they were about for the entire casino to see. They were the “regulars.”

In the three hours we were at the Hard Rock, I noticed several people who did not move from their allotted slot seats. Now, while I like the slots and love Vegas, I don’t have a problem walking away from Wild Cherry whether I’m up or down. You can tell the ones who do have a problem – they have an invisible name etched on the back of their seats.

Alan’s band, Five Star Iris, played “Is There Something I Can Do,” the song that introduced us to each other back when I was in a black pit of grief. This song is about the helplessness the singer feels toward a grieving friend, but I realized it is more than that: it’s a song about hope amid the chaos of life. It’s Alan’s creed and a lesson he teaches by words and example: we’re all here to help each other.

The people I observed wore masks (except the “regulars”). They looked, for the most part, happy and upbeat and ranged from tipsy to drunk. These people hanging around Center Bar were the fakes, yet, in my opinion, they were in more need of help than the gambling addicts.

After Alan sang my grief song, I wondered how a person could help a total stranger when said stranger is unaware he needs help. How do you help a drowning man when he believes he’s a fish? It was an unusual question to ponder in the middle of a night of music and gambling.

We are all writers of our own fate and the fate of others. Our stories are written by our actions and interactions with the people around us. Our words don’t have to be put down on paper; they can be sung or spoken out loud or whispered quietly into the ear of a grieving friend.

Alan Schaefer’s band
Five Star Iris

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Character As Fate by Pat Bertram

Heraclitus believed that a person’s character is their fate. Character — the sum total of a person’s traits — influences the choices a person makes, and the consequences of those choices ultimately become that person’s destiny. Or not. Much of life is luck, happenstance, and totally out of our control, though we tend to believe we have much more control over our lives than we really do. But that’s not an issue here because this is a writing discussion, and in our story worlds everything is under our control, and what our characters do determine their own fate.

This is most obvious in a tragedy — a character comes to an unhappy end because of a flaw in his or her own character, though in today’s stories, because readers like a more optimistic ending, that fatal flaw is often balanced by a special strength. But character/fate works for other types of stories, such as a thriller where a character becomes obsessed with finding the truth, and that obsession leads to both the character’s fate and the end of the story.

For example, In Daughter Am I, a young woman is determined to find out the truth of who her grandparents were and why someone wanted them dead. That determination overrides her usual placidity and takes her on a journey that eventually leads her home again, changed forever. She really did find her destiny because of her character.

I wonder if the opposite is more true (if truth has degrees), that destiny is character. Does what happens to us, both the actions under our control and those beyond our control, determine who we are? Determine who our characters are? This was a theme I explored in More Deaths Than One. So much happened to my poor hero Bob that was not under his control, yet what was under his control — how he handled his fate — made him the man he became.

Any discussion about fate and writing would also have to include the question: does the writer’s fate affect the character’s fate? None of my books have totally happy endings. There is always a pinprick of unease in the background, but the book I am now contemplating — the story of a woman going through grief — is going to have even less of a happy ending. Perhaps because I know the ending of my own love story? Not my story, obviously, since I’m still here, but the story I shared with another. Except for my work in progress (the one that’s been stalled all these years) the stories I’m thinking about writing now all end up with the characters alone.

When I wrote the first draft of my novel More Deaths Than One (and the second draft and the third) I had the hero Bob meandering around his world trying to unravel his past all by himself, and it was boring. Did I say boring? It was moribund. The story went nowhere because there was no one for Bob to butt heads with.

In the fourth draft of More Deaths Than One, I gave Bob a love interest, a waitress he met at a coffee shop. (Hey, so it’s been done before. The poor guy spent eighteen years in Southeast Asia, and didn’t know anybody stateside. How else was he supposed to meet someone?) That’s when the story took off. He had someone to butt heads with, someone to ooh and aah over his achievements, someone to be horrified at what had been done to him.

From that, I learned the importance of writing scenes with more than one character. And yet here I am, once more falling into the black hole of writing a character alone.

Which leads me to my final question: could the fate of the character also influence the writer’s fate? If so, maybe I should decide where I want to go from here, and write my destiny.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.  At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!

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Conflict: Where a Story Begins

Sometimes it seems as if most books and movies today are glorified comic books, epic battles between the good and the impossibly evil. Conflicts in which there are no shades of gray must be satisfying for many people, but I like a little more subtlety in my conflicts, a little more reality.

In a world that seems to be run by the major corporations, the stories where a lone hero takes on a megalithic corporation, brings down the owner of the company, and saves the world just are not plausible. Though I’m sure the presidents of the major corporations think they are indispensable, they are not. If they are eliminated, there will always be others to take their place, and the corporations will go on doing whatever it is that they do.

Because I know this and cannot escape it even in a world of my own creation, the conflicts in my books tend to be less clearly defined. Of course I have heroes and villains, but the villains are not always dastardly ones, though my other characters may perceive them as such. The villains are the heroes of their own story, and though a corporation is often the villains’ vehicle, my heroes don’t bring it down.

I like my heroes to find a romantic partner, a co-protagonist. It seems to dissipate the energy of the story if the two are always in conflict. I prefer it when they bond together in their struggle against fate (or an employee of a corporation as the personification of fate). To me, the biggest villain around is fate. What is more unfair, more murderous, more disastrous than fate?

My heroes never bring on their fate. Perhaps my books would be more dramatic if they did, but I cannot sympathize with characters who are the cause of their own problems. And why do they have to when life itself is always ready to cause problems for them?

When fate comes knocking on the door, everything changes. And that’s when a real story, not a comic book, begins.

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One,  and A Spark of Heavenly Fire now available from Second Wind Publishing, LLC.

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Interview with Doug from the novel Fate and Destiny

Castanedo: Doug, I’ve been told you are a quiet person, so I’m going to be gentle in my questions. Let’s start with you telling me your story?

 

Doug: I dunno if I have a story. I did some bad things and I had to make them right. I didn’t really want to hurt anybody.

 

Castanedo: Okay, so let’s start with who you are?

 

Doug: My name is Douglas Mancuso. Everybody just calls me Doug, except my cousin Lenny. He calls me Dummy all the time.

 

Castanedo: Lenny doesn’t sound very nice.

 

Doug: Lenny ain’t nice at all. He’s been mean and pushed me around since we were kids.

 

Castanedo: Why do you hang around him?

 

Doug: Oh, I don’t anymore. I got Nancy now. But I was lonely as a kid. Nobody wanted me around except Mama and Lenny.

 

Castanedo: I saw a twinkle in your eye when you mentioned Nancy. Who’s she?

 

Doug: Nancy owns the diner in town. She makes the best meatloaf and mashed taters I’ve ever had. And her pie.. uh, well there’s just nothing like her pie.

 

 Castanedo: How’d you meet Nancy?

 

Doug: Well, Sheriff Parker and his sister Doreen left me at Nancy’s when they went up the mountain at the end of town to check on Andrew and Destiny.

 

Castanedo:  Yes, Destiny and Andrew. They said you’re kind of a hero around here. What do you think of that?

 

Doug: Shucks. I really ain’t no hero. It was all my fault to start with. I just made it right. Destiny was the real hero. She came out strong and she trusted me when she probably shoulda shot me instead.

 

Castanedo: What did you do so wrong?

 

Doug: Well, I kinda shoved her out of a moving truck. But I swear, I thought she was dead when I did it.

 

Castanedo: Why did you think she was dead?

 

Doug: Cause I tried to kill her. Lenny made me do it. I didn’t want to.

 

Castanedo: So how did you make things right?

 

Doug: Sheriff Parker told me I can’t answer that. It’s classy filed information.

 

Castanedo: Classy fi- oh, you mean classified?

 

Castanedo: The recorder can’t hear you nodding Doug. Please answer so I can write it all out later.

 

Doug: Yeah, classy-fied. Sheriff Parker told me I can’t tell you some things ‘cause there’s another writer who talked to all of us. I think her name was Clara. No, that’s not it. Claire. Yeah, Claire Collins came up here and she’s taking the whole story to make it into a book. You gotta get her book to find out the rest.

 

Castanedo: Well thank you for talking to me Doug. I will see if I can get a copy of it. What’s it called?

 

Doug: She called it “Fate and Destiny”. She tried to explain why she didn’t call it Andrew and Destiny, but I didn’t really get it.

 

 

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Interview with Shadow from the novel Fate and Destiny

Collins: I wanted to give the readers of “Fate and Destiny” a little more insight into the characters, so today, I am here with Shadow. He is a black lab mix owned by Andrew Greer.

 

 

Collins: Hey, Shadow.

Shadow: (Puts his paw up to shake)

 

Collins: You’re a good boy.

Shadow: (Tail wags)

 

Collins: I heard you found an unconcious, half-dead woman in the woods.

Shadow: Barks (runs in circles)

 

Collins: What did you think of her?

Shadow: (Head and shoulders down on the ground, back end wiggling happily. His tail goes crazy)

 

Collins: You like Destiny, huh? She must be a good person.

Shadow: (Rolls over to have his tummy scratched)

 

Collins: But didn’t she shoot you?

Shadow: Whimpers (Rolls over and plays dead)

 

Collins: That’s how you were, and you still like her?

Shadow: (Jumps up, barks, and wags the tail more)

 

Collins: What did you think of Charles DeMont?

Shadow: Snarls then growls

 

Collins: Down boy. We won’t talk about him anymore.

Shadow: (Raises one eyebrow and cocks his head)

 

Collins: Thanks for coming today Shadow. It’s always a pleasure rubbing your tummy.

Shadow: (Puts up paw to shake)

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