Diane Sawyer Newsletter/Blog #19 October 2014

 

Diane Sawyer Portrait

Hello to all my loyal newsletter readers. Welcome to my new readers, including John from my home town of Greenport, Long Island, who recently visited the wonderful Floyd Memorial Library. Welcome also to Kathleen, the talented artist from Tallahassee, my neighbor Laura’s friend. I hope all of you enjoy this October 2014 edition.

Fondly,

Diane Sawyer

Writing News

Montauk Mystery Montauk Steps Tomoka Mystery Cinderella Murders Montauk Cave

 

The big news is that I now have a web site. The address is http://dianewsawyer.com

Please note the letter w between diane and sawyer. My namesake, the famous newscaster, chose the domain name before I did, so I needed something slightly different. I hope that when you visit the site, you will share my enthusiasm for my friend Roy Baker and his expertise in setting up everything and including his gorgeous photo of a sunset at Lake Maggiore, near my home in St. Petersburg. Early response has been that the web site is user-friendly, packed with information, and very pretty. Thank you, Roy.

My collection of 18 newsletters will be available to you and for those people discovering me on the Internet. On my web site they are called Newsletter Blog. This one, #19, will join that collection soon. As I have done since November, 2012, I will continue to email my newsletters to you, my little group of family and friends and travel buddies that has grown to 500 + readers. As always I look forward to your comments in person or via email. Many of you were delighted to read the original last chapter of The Montauk Mystery, included in the last newsletter, and some of you said you were tempted to go back and read the more romantic ending that made it into print. (It had less about the hero and heroine’s careers and more about their love.) Thank you! Every writer should have readers like you. You are a fun group and apparently sentimental romantics too.

Another bit of good news. Amazon just launched KU (Kindle Unlimited) in Germany and all five of my novels are now available there. Hooray!

The hardcover, paperback and e-book editions are available on Amazon and other on-line sites—and you can even get to them directly via my web site by clicking on the photo of the book cover. That Roy, my web designer, is so clever. Happy Reading!

 

This and That

I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I belong to a local writer’s group here in St. Pete. Months ago, my friend Cindy invited me to visit them, discuss my novels and the process of writing, and offer them a writing workshop. I loved the group and eventually joined, just to spend time with talented writers, relax, and hear their stories. Our wonderful teacher, Norma, gives us a take-home assignment, a title actually, like A Memorable Picnic, or Everybody Needs a Tribe. The following week we go around the room reading our stories out loud. Would you believe that in our group of about 12, we have a tremendous mix of genres and styles: poetry, essay, comedy, tales from rural Florida, memoir, mystery, and romance. We comment on each other’s work, usually praising it because, well, it is so incredibly praise-worthy.

Then we do a 10-minute timed-writing. What fun and what work. Plots, characters, settings, philosophical musings, whimsy, humor, pathos, and anecdotes furiously emerge on paper or electronic devices as the clock ticks away until we hear Norma say, “One more minute please, and then pens down.”

Several weeks ago, our take-home assignment was called Holding On. I need to mention that during that week, a super moon appeared in the sky. According to Wikipedia, a super moon is “the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth.” Let’s just say it’s a really large moon. As the moon amazed us, sales brochures focused on Halloween which was quickly approaching. Think goblins, witches, and the scary shape-changing villainous creature the Bogeyman, infamous for scaring young children in cultures all around the world. The following week when we read our Holding On stories in class, our usual styles had taken a vacation. Weird stuff took over. We called this bizarre happening The One-Flew-Over-The-Cuckoo’s-Nest Phenomenon. To give you one sampling, I have included, with my apologies, my essay.

 

Holding On

When problems pile up and troubles fly from every direction, many of us say, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” and convince ourselves that there’s always a tiny bit of hope.

I had been holding on to my pillow and that tunnel-image in the middle of the night for as long as I can remember. As time passed, that image became my solace when relatives and friends passed away, when disappointments multiplied, and when random violence threatened the power of reason. But when I was a child, holding on didn’t help at all. Back then the Bogey Man frequently haunted my dreams and threatened to steal into my waking hours. I panicked and admitted my fears about the Bogey Man to an older and much wiser friend. He told me how to break the Bogey Man’s power. “Turn your back on him and he’ll disappear in a puff of smoke,” my friend said and added, “I read that in a book.” He was bluffing. He was as scared as I was and just as powerless.

One night, when I was a teenager and the Bogey Man continued to torment me, I sat up in bed, threw my pillow at the wall, and quit holding on to that speck of light. I didn’t stop believing and trusting in hope. But a speck is too small and simply holding on is too weak a response.

Action is the answer. I stamped my foot and shouted “No!” into the dark night.

But you can do better than that. You know where to find light. Open the curtains, raise the blinds, and let the sunshine flood through the house. Light candles, flick on a flashlight, and turn on all four burners. Stoke the furnace. Throw another log on the fire. Do whatever it takes, but don’t settle for a speck of light. As for that tunnel where the light is coming from, grab a shovel and widen the opening. Better yet, pick up a sledge hammer and break through the walls. Come on! Grab hold of a power drill and blast the roof and flooring to smithereens. Do whatever it takes, but don’t limit the light to one single source.

Two words say it all: Take control.

Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures, way beyond the passive gesture of turning your back to evil. So as the midnight hour approaches, when the night is blackest, when the moon hides behind mists and clouds, when the stars have all gone to sleep, when owls hoot their question, and when bats flap their wings against your bedroom window, don’t blink and whatever you do, don’t let down your guard.

Wait. Wait. Here it comes…Slowly. And then Gong! Midnight strikes.

On the twelfth gong, the Bogey Man crawls out from under your bed and breathes his cold slimy breath on you. He climbs into bed and plunks down his head on your pillow. Turn your back on him? Impossible. He digs his claws into your flesh, holding you prisoner, and says, “What now, my little sweetie-pie? Do you still believe you control your life?”

Wait. Wait. Wait patiently.

“Give me a kiss and tell me all about it,” the Bogey Man says and turns his hideous face toward you. His bloodshot eyes bore their way toward your heart and your very soul.

Now is your time to act.

Wrench yourself free from his claws. Grab that blowtorch you hid beneath the mattress in preparation for this very moment. Grip it tightly, face him, and show Ole Mister Bogey Man a different light coming from a different tunnel! Show him that yes, oh yes indeed, you do have more control over your life than you ever believed possible.

*****

Travel

My friend Madeleine, who now lives in Pennsylvania, sent me the 1994 Florida Literary Map, a beautiful document which points out that Florida is truly a “Paradise for the Written Word.” I’d like to share some of the information with you from this project, funded by The Florida Center for the Book, the Florida Humanities Council and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund.

I’m not surprised at the long list of credentials since the document, folded like a travel map and containing a map of Florida, offers a huge amount of information, including a list of authors, the “Florida Artists Hall of Fame,” and the place famously associated with each of them. Among the many are: George Abbott, Miami Beach.  Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Miami.  Ernest Hemingway, Key West.  Zora Neale Hurston, Eatonville.  John D. MacDonald, Sarasota.  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek.  Tennessee Williams, Key West.  What a great list of authors for all book-lovers, regardless of the state where you live.

Photos and information about authors fill out both sides of the map. Dozens of Florida prize-winning authors (who lived here, were born here, or wrote here), won coveted prizes, such as the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, the Newbery Medal, and the National Book Award. Among the many winners are James Michener, Tales of the South Pacific, St. Pete Beach. Edward Albee, Three Tall Women, Coconut Grove.  Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver, Sanibel. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, Orange Park. Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard, Naples.  Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, St. Augustine Beach.  Several of the authors, such as Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost, and James Merrill won a coveted prize more than once. This is only a sampling of the authors. Maybe next month, I’ll add more.

I hope the authors inspire your reading…and writing!

 

Cooking Delights

No recipe this time, just some advice. Everyone’s talking about the nutritional advantage of wheat pasta over white pasta. No one bothered to mention that the taste of wheat pasta is great too. So, all I’m saying is that last night my husband and I enjoyed WHEAT penne, sausage and peppers, sautéed eggplant slices, and sliced raw veggies.

Whether you choose white or wheat, Bon appétit!

Stay well and Happy Halloween!

Diane

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