Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My interview with WOW - Women on Writing 8/25/15


Meet Flash Fiction Runner Up, Linda McMann

Linda McMann is a 60-something retired pharmacist who spent most of her working life in pharmacy management at a large Portland hospital where she wrote many newsletters, evaluations, and memos. Her move to creative writing started with a retirement goal of writing a short story for each of her eight grandchildren. After multiple on-line writing courses, conferences, and seminars, she now posts short stories, poems, bits about daily living in Warren, Oregon, and chapters from her current work in progress on her writing blog http://Parrot-Writes.blogspot.com. Please stop by for a visit and leave a comment.

She is currently marketing her second novel, Counterfeit Chemistry, a contemporary romantic suspense story about a young divorced woman who uncovers a counterfeit drug operation in her small town, and when she tries to identify and expose the people involved, finds her life and her son’s life in danger. Her WOW entry winner is the prologue to this novel. She is three-quarters of the way through its sequel, When We’re High, about a family dealing with meth addiction and its connection to identity theft.

When she’s not writing she can be found working with her husband in their small vineyard, taking care of the gardens around their two-acre lot, traveling to Northwest car shows in her husband’s latest hot rod project, or enjoying the company of her eight grandchildren.

She thanks the organizers of the WOW contest and agent Stacy Testa for choosing her story as an award winner this quarter.


WOW: Congratulations on placing in the top ten in our Winter 2015 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Linda: I was introduced to the WOW blog and writing contests by another writer friend and have been a devoted follower ever since. I've submitted multiple contest entries over the past several years and I appreciate getting helpful feedback for a few dollars more. My entry for the Fall 2013 contest ("Hank's Reveal") made it to the honorable mention list, so I've kept submitting stories. I'm excited to have placed in the top ten this time. Next goal: in the top three!

WOW: Keep submitting! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Counterfeit Chemistry,” which is also the prologue to your novel?

Linda: I combined two pieces of advice I've received about writing in this novel: write what you know and write what you like to read. I'm a retired pharmacist who enjoys reading romantic suspense novels (Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Jude Deveraux.)

I'm concerned about the rise of counterfeit drugs being sold to the public. I was inspired to write this novel to show the dangers of purchasing drugs off unknown internet sites. The counterfeit drug industry is a $40 Billion international criminal enterprise and growing. I've found no other novel with this story line and am hoping the people who read this novel will wonder if this could happen to them and be more diligent about their medication purchases.

WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Linda: I share a home office with my husband and find mornings are my best time to write. I'm also learning to use Scrivener (writing software for novelists) which seems to help me stay organized. I enjoy participating in NaNoWriMo; it's the perfect motivator to get me back in the seat, writing daily, after a busy summertime of off-and-on writing. The goal of 50,000 words in a month requires me to set daily goals and this carries on after the month is over. I've started three novels and finished/revised two of them during NaNo, and will be at it again this November finishing the last quarter of my third novel.

WOW: You mention that you’ve taken multiple online courses as part of your writing education. What were the main benefits of the classes you took, and how did they help your writing?

Linda: I've taken nine online writing courses through our local community college. The content of the courses has been extremely helpful and the relationships built through the classes have provided a great network of like-minded writing friends who help with critique and commiseration. The first class, "Beginning Writers Workshop" was a perfect starting point and instilled the enthusiasm and excitement I still feel as I write today. Other courses have been specific to romance writing, mystery writing, children's writing, and descriptive writing, editing, and publishing.

Another person who has been extremely valuable to me is Larry Brooks, author of Story Engineering, Story Physics, and www.storyfix.com. I've attended several of his workshops and follow his principles of story structure, which help with the evolution of the story. He's shown me how to identify the concept, theme, premise and to find the core story which guides me as I write.

WOW: You've inspired us to keep up our writing education! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Linda! Before you go, can you share your favorite writing tip or advice with our readers?

Linda: When I sit down to write, I read the last two chapters to get me back into the time and place of the story (and I try not to revise them.) If I'm having trouble with dialogue, I read it out loud. It's amazing what you can pick up by hearing it spoken. Probably the best advice is to find a teacher that resonates with you (via books or lectures), read and learn as much as you can from them, and then sit down and do it: write, write, write!

Counterfeit Chemistry
By Linda McMann

Beverly clenched her teeth to keep from crying out and waking James, but a moan escaped her lips nonetheless. The pain was especially intense after her Epogen injection yesterday. Leg cramps and nausea wracked her body. The doctor said she needed the Epogen in addition to her chemotherapy, yet he brushed aside her complaints of pain.
She rolled over quietly and reached into the top drawer of the bedside table, fingers searching for the smooth, round bottle promising relief. She clenched the container and opened it slowly to diminish the rattle of the pills.
Sitting up carefully, she released the lid and eased two oblong tablets from the vial into her hand. Popping them into her mouth, she grasped the glass at the back of the table and washed the pills down with cool water.
After recapping the bottle, the anxiety set in. James would be furious if he found out she’d been buying these pills off the Internet from an unknown supplier. He owned Martin’s Pharmacy and did everything by the book. But since her doctor wouldn’t authorize enough Vicodin refills, she had no choice.
Beverly glanced over at James’ sleeping form and quietly returned the bottle to the back of the drawer. She dreaded the trips to the clinic for the weekly injections she received to boost her red blood cells and combat fatigue—the leg cramps and the nausea laid her low for the next three days. Nothing helped. Her legs felt like lead weights and each movement sent shooting pain to her back and waves of nausea to her gut. At least she was saving money by purchasing the drug through Martin’s Pharmacy, and taking it to her appointments.
The iridescent numbers on the bedside clock glowed mockingly in the dark. In a few hours she would drag herself out of bed, put on a smile, and try to be there for her staff and customers.
Sarah, her lead chef, suggested she call her daughter to come home and help with the restaurant. But Beverly wouldn’t bother Jessie, who had enough to deal with on her own. She’d handle it and try to maintain the fa├žade of the strong capable woman she’d always been.
When the alarm brought her out of an uneasy sleep, Beverly stumbled into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Letting the warm water wash over her, she leaned a shoulder against the shower wall, struggling not to let her frustration bring her to tears. But her resolve crumbled, and she hiccupped back a sob as she watched the tears fuse with the water and flow down the drain.
Everything she did now took twice as long. She didn’t even have time to read the newspaper that morning as she rushed to her car, bleary-eyed and already half-an-hour late. If she had, she might have seen the story buried on page eight about a young man from New York who experienced intense pain and seizures from his weekly Epogen injections. The drug was found to be counterfeit and it nearly killed him.  


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pacific City Family Time

The Annual Beach Trip week included the fourth of July this year. We enjoyed copious displays of fireworks in all sizes, shapes and noise levels. The enjoyment was dulled, however, when we saw the obscene amount of spent fireworks left on the beach the next morning. We also saw a large number of people with the same characteristics who left just as much garbage behind. The city of Long Beach, Washington has the right idea. They declare the day after the fourth as Beach Clean Up Day and all visitors are asked to help.

We lucked out on the weather for our week! All three families were able to escape the 90 to100 degree temps at home for high 60's to low 70's at the coast. Morning clouds gave way to sun throughout the week with some days windier than others.

 Mornings started with our traditional 6:30AM walk to the coffee shop. We were joined every morning by most of the kids. They enjoyed hot chocolate, cookies, and the morning walk home on the beach. We watched the dory boats (and a kayak) take off and return, walked out to observe the tide pools (it was always low tide), climbed on the rocks, and collected shells. Bob the Bubble Man was a big hit!

 Beach time included the sand dune hill climb, playing in the water, digging in the sand, making sand castles, flying kites, tossing the ring for the dogs, and enjoying the day.




 Relaxing time for the adults - kicking back, chillin', and catching up.


A birthday party for four of the kids plus night time campfires with s'mores added more sugar to the super-charged bunch!

Sunsets were gorgeous!

A great time - we're already planning for next year!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mountain Cruise in Joseph, Oregon

I've never been to Wallowa Lake, so when the opportunity arose for Cris and I to attend the Mountain Cruise car event in Joseph, I was on board. Cris loaded our '32 Ford Three Window into the trailer and we followed our friends, Linda and Larry, with their trailer (containing a '57 Thunderbird) on the eight hour drive to the northeast corner of Oregon.

We drove into Joseph and immediately noticed all the bronze sculptures adorning every corner and tucked into the landscaping along the main street of town. These are real life-size sculptures! The blue, blue sky and lightly snow-dusted Wallowa Mountains in the background added to the beauty.

Once through the town, we found our home-way-from-home for the next five days with a driveway long enough for both of our trucks and trailers AND our two cars.

When we turned around, this was our view. Wallowa Lake straight ahead, mountains surrounding it, with the moraines along side.

Our rental house came with our very own buck! We actually had two sleeping each afternoon in the shade of the trees behind our house. The other one was camera-shy.

Friday we took a 14 minute tram ride up the side of the mountain and hiked the trails at the top (8200 feet elevation - we could notice some shortness of breath) The view was gorgeous! We were happy tram-riders.

That's Wallowa Lake in the at the bottom.

 Here is the explanation of the moraines we saw. Click on the picture to enlarge it so you can read it.

A new, curious friend posing for a picture.

The car show drew 250 cars from all around the area. The entire main street of town was blocked off for the 10am to 3pm event on Saturday. There were food vendors, Joseph's Saturday Market, and a live band along main street, in addition to the unique shops and restaurants open for business. Some of my favorites:

Well, I'm biased. But Cris won third place in the Hot Rod section! All entrants and attendees voted for their favorite, so it wasn't just me.

We took some time to stage a photo shoot down by the lake.

Sunday we took a rail ride. The unique railrider unit has four wheels that ride the rails, two recumbent adjustable seats, and pedals that propel the unit at your speed. Guess who was better at this than I was! The trip takes about 2 hours to complete, with the ride from Joseph to Enterprise requiring only easy pedaling. The return trip, however, had a 1.5% grade, which  required a little (no, a lot) more energy to pedal back to Joseph. This is the young couple ahead of us

  and this is our travel buddies bringing up the rear.

 This is the only picture I took of myself!

The old railroad from Joseph to Enterprise runs through lush farmland.

We even caught this llama's attention (sort of in the center.) I think it was our panting on the return trip!

A beautiful time in a beautiful place. We'll be back!