Tag Archives: passion

Understanding My Epiphany

I was reading a book a couple of days ago when suddenly, in a clear flash of understanding; I became aware of what propels me most in making choices and decisions. I found that especially shocking since I’m seventy-five years old. One would imagine, by that age, one wouldn’t be surprised at all by anything they might choose or decide. Yet, I was blown away.

The book’s passage had to do with how different people relate to life. Some people are practical and stoic and are led by natural laws following virtue alone, or through reason, fear, boredom, led or indifferent to other’s opinions, passions or emotions. I’ve always considered myself a rather practical person, most of the time, weighing pros and cons to make good logical choices. So I thought.

Instead of reading on in this book, I found myself dwelling on the dialog of one character to the other when he said to her that she was the kind of person who had to have passion when she picked her friends, selected favorite music, decided what to eat, even when decorating her abode. Those choices were what made her, her. But, she thought, if she believed hard enough, could she choose to follow convention or settle for security and not incorporate her passion?

What suddenly hit me was, the choices and decisions that have made me the happiest and most satisfied in my life have been the ones made with passion first, and not necessarily with thoughts of security or convention or so-called common sense. And I’d never really thoroughly thought this out before.

Not long ago, I attended my 55th high school reunion and our former class president asked several of us to each tell the group what we were passionate about now. One classmate said he wasn’t passionate about anything in particular. He was the only one of us who had not retired and when asked about that, he wasn’t sure what he would do when he did retire.

I remember feeling immensely sad for him when he said that. Here was a well-educated man, nice looking, healthy, very comfortable financially, with potentially lots of years left to him. The former class president asked him what he liked to do and the answer was, sail. Later I found out he’d bought a sailboat and I was so happy for him until I learned he was in the process of selling it. Too much trouble keeping it up was his reason why. He was divorced and didn’t have anyone to care about except two grown children. I kept in touch for a while, but the last time I spoke with him on the phone, he told me he wouldn’t want to live if something ever happened to his kids. Gosh!

I have a son, daughter-in-law, grandson and a sister and her family and I look forward to talking on the phone with them and visiting whenever possible. I don’t think about negative things that might happen to them or me. I just enjoy them and look forward to sharing my life with them and vice versa, now and in the future. There still are so many things I want to do, experience and share.

Although I’ve tried to be sensible, passion has made my life more rewarding and fulfilling. My mother taught me to be a “Save for a rainy day, but also enjoy each and every day to the fullest” kind of gal. But, for me, the special ingredient of passion has made “fullest even fuller.”

How about you, have you ever analyzed what drives you in life? I’d love to hear.


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under life, musings

Blumechen Slips in the Window Again, Or, characters who keep coming back

 The character who keeps coming back; most writers have them. The book that can’t or won’t  be finished–those too are endemic. My particular dark horse always returns in the year’s first warm weather, this year occurring in April. She’s here now, sucking up my waking hours. Needless to say, I’m reediting and reimagining scenes and conversations I’ve visited many, many times before. I’ve journeyed to this imaginary world over a period of almost thirty years. Blumechen remains a fascinating young woman, but I’m tired, and age is distancing me from so much of her experience.

This reworking doesn’t take place every year, at least not since the first decade. The gaps between are now closer to biennial. “She” is the first book I ever completed, although a satisfactory ending, I think, still eludes me. Like Constanze of Mozart’s Wife, this heroine insists on speaking in the first person, which both narrows and deepens her POV. It’s like writing from inside the confines of her 18th Century dress.

I’ve heard authors talk about having a “channeling” experience with their characters. There are many tales of automatic writing and spirit dictation, which sound as if they should be taken with handfuls of salt. However, after the experience I’ve had working on this perhaps never-to-be-finished novel, I know it can happen. Ordinarily, for a historical writer, it takes a period of research followed by concentration to make your dolls get up and move independently. In this case, it seems I was the vessel chosen by an actual voice from the past. She’s told me at least a part of her story.

So began this year’s tulip-time April, and now we’re into green May, and Blumechen is here, imperiously calling for rewrites and far more stringent editing. She insists I do my best work, despite the fact that her story might be classified as  “romance.” I hasten to add that it’s “romance” in the truest sense, in the same way that Romeo & Juliet is “romance,” not the modern mass market meaning. In this case, “romance” means the old-fashioned bloody insanity of passion, which can so easily end in tragedy. It’s the true nature of the beast, and it makes completing Blumechen’s story so difficult. I don’t really want to experience the end.

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Filed under books, fiction, writing

How to Write Like a Bestselling Author

I’ve been reading the works of a bestselling novelist, trying to pinpoint why she’s been so popular for the past two decades. It’s hard work. Her writing style is surprisingly amateurish, her characters are not well drawn, she tells and explains instead of showing, and she repeats herself as if she can’t remember from page to page what she’s already said.

So, why do people keep reading her books?

Passion. Her characters never like or dislike anything. They love and hate, but mostly love. “She ate a piece of cherry pie, and she loved it.” “They had sex, and they loved it.”

Identifiable characters. She gives her characters tags that readers can identify with (mother, prosecuting attorney, abused child, wronged wife) and lets the reader fill in the blanks.

Issues. She picks an issue people are passionate about, and wraps her story around that.

And most of all, she gives readers someone to love and someone to hate, and makes her character choose between them. And, brilliantly, the character chooses the one the reader doesn’t want.

Example: a prosecuting attorney, who adores her husband and their young daughter, gets breast cancer, has a mastectomy and chemotherapy. The husband can’t handle it, is mad at her for “pretending” that she’s sicker than she is, is totally unsupportive, and even worse has an affair.  A coworker supplies the support the husband refuses to give her, and she and the coworker fall in love and plan to get married when her divorce goes through. A year after being diagnosed, she is doing well, and the husband comes nosing around again. In the end, they get back together.

See? Passion. Identifiable characters. Issues. Someone to love and someone to hate. And the wrong ending.

Why is the wrong ending the right one? If the author went with the new love, who would remember? By having the character go back to her husband, the author is manipulating us into thinking about the story. Would we go back to a husband (or wife) who treated us like garbage just so we can uphold the sanctity of marriage?

As you can see, even though I hated the book, she got me. After all, I am blogging about it.

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


Filed under books, fiction, musings, Pat Bertram, writing

Rowing Against the Current

When I was a teenager, my best friend dreamed of singing in a band. She dedicated many, many hours to exploring the music she loved. She was so full of melody that she would burst into song at the drop of a piano chord. The only thing holding her back was her inability to carry a tune.

She overcame this little problem by devoting a few years of her life to singing lessons. Although she has yet to achieve international stardom in the rock ‘n roll band of her dreams, she is now an accomplished singer and is in demand at many local and regional functions.

I think of her often as I begin working on a novel that is outside my typical venue of graphically violent suspense. To be quite honest, what I am trying to write is the direct opposite of my typical mystery/thriller stories. I am undertaking a literary journey along unfamiliar trails.

Yes, this is all new territory to me, but it stems from a goal I set for myself a few years ago. My objective is to write novels within the genres of mystery/thriller/action (two novels completed), science fiction (working on it as we speak), western (I have an outline), horror (several works have been started), realistic fiction (halfway finished), fantasy (outlined and first two chapters written), humor (outline with a first chapter), and romance.

Romance is the jarring discord in the quest for my Writer’s Grail. As a woman, you would think it would be easy for me to write about relationships, love, and passion. I certainly thought writing romance would be a breeze.

I was wrong. It is not.

I truly admire all of my fellow authors who are romance writers. The nuances needed in a well-written romance are different from anything I have written. I struggle to create a tale of love that does not read like a Flintstones’ episode or a Debbie Does Dallas script.

Although I am sometimes clueless about how to make my romantic novel tick, I think I am going in the right direction. A decent tale of romance needs a spoonful of passion, a dash of conflict, a sprinkling of mystery, and a pinch of optimism.

I am excited and nervous about this venture. Even though romance is not my forte, I know that I will be able to overcome that tiny problem. After all, my tuneless friend now sings like a rock star.

J J Dare is the author of “False Positive,”
the first novel in the Joe Daniels’ trilogy



Filed under books, fiction, life, writing