Tag Archives: non-fiction

Moving On…

This…..

cayseenotes

I was finally able to take this down after having it taped to my kitchen/garage door for this past year and a half!  They are my notes from my newest release, “Caysee Rides, A Story of Freedom and Friendship,” a work spurred by my sister’s comment of “Do you know how hard it is to find teenage books with strong female characters?”

Caysee Rides is an adventurous tale of just such a young female who is stuck in an area where she has few choices as a fourteen year old orphan.  An escape to a more free area of the former US is planned at the same time Caysee meets an unlikely friend who has his own desire for liberty, and a history that makes Caysee’s orphan status seem mild.   The story blends modern technology, current political/social trends, and transgender issues for a read that is satisfying but challenges the reader to think as well.   Working on final editing and awaiting patiently for my talented book cover artist to render something spectacular.   I am officially aiming for an ebook release date of February 1st.    (By the way, I strongly suggest investing in a good cover artist. This is a place where an author can’t afford to pinch pennies.   I simply placed an ad on my local Craigslist, asking for samples of their work in a response.  This was a quick way to get a good feel for a person’s ability and talent, and I could weed through their work and find what suited my needs.  Follow your instincts!  And don’t make a final decision without a meeting or two.   In my very limited experience, I’ve found that giving them complete freedom over the book cover allows for more creativity than giving them some predisposed ideas.   Things can always be tweaked but I find its better to leave them with the ability to openly interpret the text and apply that to the cover without my influence.  I feel as if I get a more objective work that way.)

So what’s next?   Replacing the notes for “Caysee Rides” are notes for “Twenty First Century Treatise”  a nonfiction work that examines the impact of nature’s laws upon human civilization.  For example, nature always strives for balance and I demonstrate that our societal structures, bound as they are to nature’s laws, seek balance as well. Originally perceived as a book, I will be releasing this work one chapter at a time per month beginning in January….look for the Introduction as well as a first chapter with a provocative angle at economics in just a few weeks.   This work has been ‘percolating’ for some six years now, I look forward to sharing it; my hope, as always, is that I give us some talking points with which we can better our future.

Other things going on:  A winter solstice children’s book, aiming for release for next holiday season.   I’ve managed to get a great artist to team with me on this project, I know it will go places.  I also have another web site that gets regular posts from me, The Unseen Revolution.  It is solely dedicated to American economics and politics from the perspective of the Financialization Revolution.  I invite you to peruse the site here if those kinds of issues float yer boat, so to speak.   Annnnnd, finally, the beginnings of another full-fledged manuscript.   A teenage boy is forced to hide a crucial secret from his parents, discovery of it would tear his family apart, how does Brandon resolve the conflict?  Brandon’s Diary tackles modern social issues with an empathetic voice, stay tuned for its projected release date.

It’s quite satisfying ending the year at the same time as ending a project to which I’ve dedicated two years of my life.  It’s more satisfying to have fresh ideas to work with, new challenges to meet, and an entire year to meet them with.   Here’s to writing kids!  The road is long, the work is heartbreaking, the success is always worth it.    May 2016 greet you with new ideas and creative energy…

Yours,

Frankie

 

 

 

 

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Planking and Editing: Discipline Through Exercise

Who knew that planking and editing have their similarities?

I didn’t, at least not until I added the former to my exercise regime.   After four babies wreaked havoc on my lower lumbar system, I’m always on the lookout for anything to keep my back muscles strong.  Enter planking, that horrible exercise invented by the devil himself (after he thought up wall sits).  If anyone has been able to do a plank for a full two minutes their very first time, they have my undying respect (as it is, three weeks in, I am up to a minute thirty).  Planking is work, it’s grueling, but it’s definitely effective.   Within just a few days I noticed a sense of overall physical strength and – bonus! – the arms I inherited from my grandma have never looked better.

If planking was invented by the devil, then I’m pretty sure editing was invented by his archangel.  Editing is work, it’s grueling, but it’s definitely effective. The discipline involved is not unlike the focus it takes to keep upright on arms and toes for one hundred twenty seconds. It takes focus.  It takes a will of mind that can only be activated by one’s own choosing.  Think of those beautiful passages, full of poetic prose, close to your writer’s heart because, damn, who have you ever read that compares the sunrise to the opening of a sunflower with color descriptions that would make Robert Frost cry?  During the editing process, its those precious paragraphs that must be excised.  Taken out.  Highlight, ctrl x. They don’t belong no matter how many minutes you spent finding the terms for differing shades of yellow and orange.  This is the kind of discipline editing requires (similar to planking) where focus is paramount for a successful outcome, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.   That lean, streamlined, strong manuscript you submit to your publisher is the reward – not to mention the overall strength you’ll acquire as a writer (bonus!).

Editing is one of those things that we don’t necessarily dream about when first committing to a writing career.  We envision our name on the best seller list or at the bottom of a book cover.  We are excited to get that story out of our heads, give it life, and make it breath for our readers. But few of us realize the discipline involved with the editing process until the first work is done and we begin to cut, paste, and delete. It’s tempting to be generous to ourselves and our cherished prose, but we must enforce strict self-control in order to achieve the strongest possible outcome.

Have a great week kids, write something, and here’s to discipline – on and off the page.

Yours, Frankie


Note to Chelsea/Bradley: Your Prison Survival Guide

So yur gonna do time.  Take this note, from one convict to another.  Make it your bible.  God knows you’ll go friggin’ nuts in this place if ya don’t.

Yur probably in shock right now kid.  Probably wondering what the hell your future’s going to be, spendin’  the next few decades behind prison bars.  Stop right there.  Your brain will explode if you try to think about it. Get off that merry go round and don’t think about yur life doin’ time till you hear those cell doors close behind you.  First things first, kid, you gotta go through processing .

Now when you go through processing, you focus only on what yur doin’ at the moment.  On the bus to a new joint?  You focus on that bus ride kid, you pay attention to every little detail out yur window.  You check out the markings on the back of the seat in front of you and ponder them like they’re the very words of christ almighty.  You get to that new joint kid?  You focus on each and every little step.  You do this ’cause you gotta block out all that leerin’ and jeerin’ and catcalls coming from the cells around you, you do this ’cause you gotta tune out those sons a bitches calling you a “fucking traitor” and threaten’ your life, you gotta watch yur feet as if they’re the only thing in your world that exist, ’cause even the guards’ll talk shit to your scrawny ass.  If you let them in, they’ll eat you up. Tune ’em out, kid.  Tune ’em out even when you gotta lift yur nuts and spread yur ass cheeks, you stare HARD at that fucking speck on the floor as if it’s the Mona Lisa.  “Stand up and turn around pussies!”  You get yur issue, that’s yur clothes, you get yur blanket and yur pillow and then they walk you to yur cell.

I’m sorry I gotta be the one to tell ya this kid, but yur gonna be stuck doin’ a lot of time in the hole.  That’s solitary confinement kid.  Yur special you see.  You got fame, you got notoriety, people gonna wanna hit ya just to get the braggin’ rights.  It’s a helluva game I know, but that’s the straw you draw.

Now.  Here’s the thing about the hole, kid.  It gets boring real quick.  You gotta get yurself a routine just like they taught ya in boot camp.  You keep that routine religiously kid.  You live by that routine, that routine becomes the one way to survive.  You got alotta time kid, the trick is to milk everything for time.  That way you stay busy. That way, before ya know it, ten years have passed.  Here’s what I mean.

I knew a kid, sat down to eat his lunch.  Never saw somebody take his sweet ass time makin’ such a pitiful excuse for a sandwich as this prick.  He had what we all had:  two slices of white bread, each wrapped in plastic, a little packet of peanut butter, a little packet of jelly, a five inch piece of carrot, and a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips.  This little punk unwraps each piece of bread and places each one in jus’ the right place on his napkin.  Then he squeezes his peanut butter onto the bread, making sure to cover every damn square inch of that slice of bread.  Then he proceeds to do the same thing with his jelly.  I’m not kiddin’ here.  He squeezes every bit o’ jelly outta that packet and then, all smart and sassy like, takes his time to spreeeaaad it around, making sure that every bit of bread is covered.  Then, you won’t believe what this jerk-off does next.  I about had a coronary just watchin’ ‘im. He took out his little knife.  Now this isn’t any kind of knife you ever saw kid, this is the kind you get in the fed’s house, this knife is really a jacked razor blade.  This puny ass kid had smuggled the single blade we get in the disposable razors they issue us.  Everyone’s got one, by the way kid. Necessity is the mother of invention when yur in the slog. He takes his blade and begins to slice his carrot into looonnnng thin, slices.  Takes him five goddamn minutes to slice that poor little carrot into paper thin slices. Then he places those carrot slices on top of his carefully spread peanut butter.  He opens up the bag o’ chips.  All tender-like, as if their eggs, this little asshole takes out the whole chips and places them separately on a napkin.  He saves them to eat later, one at a time. He crumbles up the rest of those chips and dumps them on top of the carrots, puts the jelly slice on top of the mound of puke he just made for himself and has his sannwich. Takes him twenty, sometimes twenty-five minutes to build that thing.  First time he saw it, my friend Casper flipped his lid.  “Boy, what the fuck’s the matter wit you you gotta take your sweet ass time makin’ your samich?”  Casper had a short ass fuse, but the rest of us knew what that idiot kid meant when he yelled back, “Fuck you, asshole!  I got fifteen years to go in this pig house, I’ll take my sweet ass time makin’ my sand-wich!”

Repeat after me kid:  The secret to doing time is staying busy.  There’s the usual, you read, you write letters, you workout, you jerk-off.  You get obsessed with yur clothes and yur bed.  When yur laundry comes ’round, you might spend an hour folding seven pieces of clothes, but you made sure every fold was just right, every wrinkle smoothed out after every fold.  I mean ya get obsessed over folding, it has to be precise in either halves or thirds or quarters. You focus on brushing each tooth.  You savor every bite of food there is to eat.  You listen to any sound available.   The idea is to be focused on something all the time, kid, even if it’s the smallest little detail.  You make sure you don’t own any watch, or calendar, or anything that you can see like that.  That shit will torture you.  You just stay busy kid, that way, you lose sense of time, and before you know it, ten years have passed.  Shit, I been in fer thirty years so far kid, ain’t nothin’.

Here’s the real snag, kid. Inside the hole is a dull, blank, bland world. Its lifeless and colorless.   Yur brain’s gonna need stimulation and so you start daydreaming.  You let yur imagination get wild kid, colorful, detailed. It’s the one thing that’ll keep you sane.  Hell, you can probably imagine entire episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race and before ya know it five years have flown by.

Yur lookin’ at a long time in the slammer kid.  Remember, the secret to doing time is staying busy.

Good luck kid, god knows you’ll need it.

 

 

author’s note:  this is actual advice, taken from my husband who was sentenced to one of the worst prisons in california at the young age of 16…he did 15 years, at one point serving eighteen consecutive months in the hole.   we were discussing chelsea/bradley manning and the sentencing she got, this is his sage advice.  i know its graphic, but what good am i as a writer if i don’t include the reality?   be well…frankie


Book is coming out this week: Here’s an excerpt

From “Maslow’s Triangle: Short Tales of a Homeless Chick”

 

Chapter 3:  A day in the life of…..

The beginning of each day had to begin before seven or so.  Sleeping until eight meant that I stood the chance of being discovered by an early morning hiker or local law enforcement. I usually woke up fresh and proud of myself in some sick way for having made it through another night.

Starting a new day meant rearranging my sleeping quarters back into a drivable vehicle (my truck was a Transformer!).  The back seats were made upright since I put them down at night to stretch out completely.  All the blankets got folded and stashed neatly in a corner.  Buck knife was re-instilled in its sheath, having spent the night under my pillow. Last night’s dirty clothes made their way into the corresponding pillow-case-hamper.  Bags of makeup, computer, and clothes were relocated – again – from the front seats to the very back.

Using leftover water from the night before, I would brush my teeth and wash my face.  One of a few favorite ball caps kept my hair out of the way and I was off to start my day, Tank positioned nobly in the passenger seat.  He always smiled as we rode along; I couldn’t help but smile as well.

The first errand of my day consisted of taking my boys to school (they stayed at their dad’s during my homeless stint, they have a good daddy).  A couple of times a week I had a house to clean, but when I didn’t the mornings would drag on.  I found myself sleeping a lot.  The sheer exhaustion of being homeless surprised me.  Being on the move all the time zaps one entirely of their strength. Now I knew why I would see homeless people sleeping all day long.  It’s not because we’re lazy, but because we are weary to our very soul from shuffling around.  Like a bird with no nest, we are unable to relax and feel safe within the warm confines of carefully constructed twigs and feathers.  Homelessness is an un-natural state of being, and as such it is relentlessly tiresome.

Afternoons were filled with tutoring and picking up the boys from school. This was my favorite time of day.  My boys are everything to me and amid the brokenness of my life they were my anchor, all that was sane and balanced.  It was hard sometimes, not to feel like an absolute failure around them. I never once shared with the two younger ones that I was homeless.  I didn’t want them to be ashamed. Or disappointed.  Mostly I felt frustration with myself because I wasn’t providing for them in the way I wanted to – I had no home to offer them.

I always had a mother’s love to offer them and so every afternoon was ours together.  Homework, snack, and car time from school.  I savored each minute until I knew their dad would be arriving from work, at which point I vacated the premises. (Their dad and I got along okay; mostly we kept to the business of the boys, avoiding any unnecessary chit-chat, thus my punctual exodus from his house each afternoon.)

It was an eternity from when I’d leave them till bedtime.  Roughly seven hours lay ahead of me, nearly one third of my day, looming before me, leering at me, daring me to buckle. Work at the hotel would keep me busy about half the time.  The other half, Tank and I would drive.  Pearl Jam, U2, and Godsmack supplied the soundtrack while I roamed the rural roads of Shasta County, (it occurred to me once that my vehicle was aptly named; I certainly was Exploring, not just physically, but in a psychological and emotional way that I never dreamed of).  I had Lassen Peak to the east, Mt. Shasta to the north, and the Trinity Mountains to the west, each offering solace to my tired eyes and soul.  I meditated a lot as I watched them from the hills Tank and I hiked.

Eventually we would end up at Barnes and Noble, or the lobby of the hotel I worked at, mostly because both places provided free wi-fi.  Occasionally I would go see a movie.  Sometimes I would park in the lot of a store somewhere and watch people come and go, thinking what lucky bastards they all were because they presumably had a bed waiting for them at home.  (Did they take it for granted, I wondered?  Didn’t I take it for granted once?)  Whatever Tank and I did though, it was only something to pass the time ‘til the inevitable when I would have to decide where I was going to camp for the night and then meander my way there.

The most dreadful of emotions, loneliness, crept up on me during these hours.  I was grateful for Tank; he was the only other pack member I had, the one thing that provided me a sense of belonging.  If not for him, I surely would have crumbled because I knew that within the intimate cell of a roof and four walls, evening time was golden. As always, it was the small things that I missed, causing real physical pangs of ache.  The small things that evoke comfort and security by providing a familiar routine:  the consistency of everyone coming home from work in the afternoon; family members adjusting their moods to each other, the smells of supper blending with the chatter of everyone vying for attention.  T.V., music, cell phones and pets add to the cacophony as households begin to settle in for the evening.  Homework, reading, playing, perhaps arguing, ignoring, outright hostility; however the form, they are part of the finely tuned rituals that create permanence, security, and a sense of belonging; those crucial elements that make up the first two levels of Maslow’s triangle.

Without them  I was floundering.  Without that sense of belonging it became difficult to keep a semblance of self-worth and esteem.  I had no pack to be a part of, I was a lone wolf.  As a coping mechanism, I could somewhat pretend and ignore my plight during the day when I was going about my usual gig with work. But as time passed, homelessness became lonelier and more arduous.  And at night more than any other time, missing the details and the sense of belonging, the struggle to remain rational was greatest.

I found it was best to wait until as late as possible to “go to bed”.  A late arrival meant I could slip into my chosen camping spot without drawing attention to myself.   Our local sheriff is sticky about seeing vehicles in weird places at awkward hours so one had to be stealth.

I had a few favorite spots to park, but the safest was on some Bureau of Land Management property a few miles out of town.  There was a small trail to a stream where the salmon ran and at the head of it was a large parking area.  It was situated well below the road and I could tuck my Exploder up next to the hill that banked it and be nearly invisible.  Certainly I was inconspicuous.  There was also a boat ramp lot next to the Sacramento River where I would camp as well.  I loved it here.  I had a beautiful view of the river from inside my Transformer den and I would watch it for hours at a time, especially when the moon was full and reflecting off the water – eternally a peaceful sight.

So I managed.  My savings was growing and I was pursuing possible residences doggedly.  “Just a few more weeks,” I would think as I laid my head to rest and wrapped my body around Tank’s.  I willed away the dementors of loneliness and fear with a patronus charm of hope, and pure desire to survive.


one of my favorite books….

coming-age-in-milky-way-timothy-ferris-hardcover-cover-art

you’ll notice i’ve taken a quote out of this work for this weeks widget space.

this is one of my all time favorite books ever for many reasons:

1.  i like mr. ferris’ writing style, ’tis a lot of information he covers, yet he keeps it light and interesting.

2.  it reminds me to be grateful for the time that i live in…the ability to look back on our history and development the way mr. ferris has AND be able to draw out some lessons for today is a cherished commodity.

3. the depth and breadth of the book makes an admirable synthesis of our quest to understand our earth-home and our place within the universe.  mr. ferris deftly weaves together the marriage of physics and astronomy as they team up to find answers to our never-ending questions.

4. it’s one of those books that is best read a few times over….so much information and such a beautiful story of us humans as well. as a writer and a historian, mr. ferris’ attention to detail is also a treasure trove of information.

5. the work leaves me in awe, once again, at us amazing humans.  our ability to observe and deduce, question and patiently wait for an answer, makes me proud to be one of us…

happy reading! and be well,

frankie