Helplessly Hoping

So, most of the time when I put something in Kabobbles Sing Along, it’s something that has inspired me in some way, not something I gave as a prompt to someone else.

I can’t say I didn’t think this song had a relevance to any of my characters or stories. It does.

This song reminds me pointedly of Alec Forsythe and Lady Stasia from The Lady in Black and Back in Black.

The first part of the song, of course, reminds me of Alec and the way he watched over her before she’d even acknowledge that he was helping her.

Helplessly hoping
Her harlequin hovers nearby
Awaiting a word
Gasping at glimpses
Of gentle true spirit

This part, of course, is her:

Love isn’t lying
It’s loose in a lady who lingers
Saying she is lost
And choking on hello

However, part of the reason I wanted to post something about this song was that I took this section, here:

He waits by the window
And wonders
At the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams
He worries

and gave it as a prompt, leading to this piece from Liana Mir, Abyss Looking Back.

Of course, I do like the chorus, too.

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Old Friends Want New Sequels

Recently, I had to correct the mistake I made in leaving the notes I’d complied while rereading my stories ignored for up to five months. These are my editing notes: typos, poor word choice, missing words or explanations, those sorts of things. All of that I try and pay attention to when I’m reading so that I can help the editing process along. Rereading and editing is my process.

The danger in that, of course, is getting caught up in the stories again. I reintroduce myself to old friends, and the longer it’s been since the last time I read the story, the more I miss the characters.

Now I would love to tell more stories with all those old friends. It’s been too long, though, and I don’t mean just in the sense of how long it’s been since I’ve read the story.

I have this distressing feeling that I would not be able to capture the true essence of the characters after this long away.

Last time I tried to do something with Frankie and Rico from In the Family, Frankie was nothing like herself. Attempts at sequels for The Geek and the Fed and Tearing Down the Pedestals left me with two stories at the same time that were out of character.

On the other hand, I was able to pick up The Lady in Black, The Consultant and the Cat, and Criss-Crossed Paths after years of abandonment and finish them. I think the difference there may be that I had started them by hand, and I had to type them before continuing them, so the flow was still there, the mindset and understanding of the characters.

Starting the sequel to Tearing Down the Pedestals almost immediately after finishing it did not keep Chel and Tremayne in character, though.

So I’m not sure. I don’t know what that elusive quality is that would allow me to pick up where I left off with the characters (or even jumping ahead a little) and keep going.

I want to find it, though. I miss my old friends. I want to continue having adventures with them.


This is another one of those songs that pretty much every lyric fits the character.

This song is Stasia. After all she went through, she got closed off, afraid, and right near the conclusion, she sounds very much like this, with sentiments almost the same as these:

I can’t decide if I’ll let you save my life, or if I’ll drown.


I tried my best to never let you in to see the truth, and I’ve never opened up…

The world is coming down on me, and I can’t find a reason to be loved.

Some of those thoughts carry into the second novel to feature her.

Admittedly, the video doesn’t suggest anything like the book, but the lyrics are what matters.

This might fit the sequel I’m working on.

I hope that you see right through my walls
I hope that you catch me, ’cause I’m already falling
I’ll never let a love get so close

It might fit more stories, too. 😛

Okay, yeah, it fits the sequel but also the first one. Funny how that goes.

And this part is just a wonderful sentiment, really:

You put your arms around me, and I’m home.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

I Wanna Get Married

So lately, I’ve been working on a lot of historical fiction.

It has been a process that is teaching me better ways of researching and put me in contact with my local museum and got me volunteering, all of that fun. It has also forced me to look at traditional roles.

People who listen to this song are going to laugh, as it is a spoof, and it’s a good one. The thing is, though, that this type of attitude was common, expected, and encouraged back in the times that I’ve been dealing with. To go against it would have invited considerable censure and ostracism. Today if the woman was to think this way, we’d mock her just like the song does.

Yet, this is the role that women like Tillie, Mena, and to a degree even Lady Nichols would have been expected to fill and enjoy. It’s hard to find that balance between what was and what we would like to see today.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Back in Black

Periodically, I use what I call “working titles” in order to save the file for the story that I happen to be working on. Some are better than others. Some stay. Some don’t.

It amused me to no end, really, to use this particular working title. And yes, I did pick this one almost solely because of the song. I did use black in the title on the first one, so it seemed perfect to use “Back in Black” as the working title for its sequel.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Live to Tell

In doing a particular series, I couldn’t help noticing how much of a part secrets played in the whole thing. The first book hinges on one secret, and the second book on another, and the two characters go through a lot in trying to keep these secrets, first hers and then his.

I have a tale to tell
Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well

Their path is full of lies and evasions and pain from the past.

A man can tell a thousand lies
I’ve learned my lesson well

At times, they want to run. At times, they’d give anything not to be alone.

If I ran away, I’d never have the strength to go very far
How would they hear the beating of my heart?
Will it grow cold, the secret that I hide?
Will I grow old?
How will they hear?
When will they learn?
How will they know?

Hope I live to tell the secret I have learned, ’til then it will burn inside of me.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

So, in writing the historical fiction that I have done lately, I came back to what seems to be nearly a brick wall.


No, I’m not talking about research or the difficulty involved in doing it. No, I am speaking of the traditional roles of men and women and even children in those historical times.


It seems, and I know this is a generalization, but if you don’t have a strong female character, if she’s not liberated and challenging all the boundaries and roles of the times and even modern times, you’ve written a poor character.


Actually, no. I disagree. You’ve written a realistic character of the time. If you have a liberated woman of today there, you’ve just created a huge anachronism and have failed at the very idea of historical fiction.


Sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it? I’m not going to say that women back then weren’t strong, didn’t have minds of their own. They did. But there’s a reason for the saying “well behaved women rarely make history.”


While today we have debunked and rejected “the cult of true womanhood” as I have heard it described, that does not mean that it didn’t prevail in the days that many historical fictions are set in. Moral standards were more “strict.” Reputations meant everything. No one wanted scandals. Repression, of people and of opinions, was the norm.


Today we’re liberated, or at least, we think we are. (I’m now thinking of Working Class Hero by John Lennon, though I put a different song in the Sing Along section.) Back then, though, such liberation would have made you an outcast and not fit for normal society.


One of my more recent characters, Mena, she had no idea that there was anything outside the life she’d been raised to, one of near complete obedience. Her husband, Merritt, ended up opening her eyes a bit, and she took that much further, but she’s still aware of her limits.


Another character, Tillie, knew that she was “unnatural” and considered wrong for her times as well. She bit back her opinions and observations and was cross about it the entire time, even if she thought she was fooling people. Her life changed with a rural teaching assignment that gave her freedom and introduced her to people willing to acknowledge and even accept the way she was, but she and everyone around her know that they are not the norm as well. Their understanding is rare and forces them to build a community of their own after the town they were a part of more or less casts them out.


Lady Nichols, in some sense, had more freedom, living twenty years after Mena who was twenty years after Tillie. She also doesn’t. Even with the roaring twenties gaining steam, Lady Nichols walks a fine line between the changing times, the realizations she’s made of her position and role in society, but also propriety. She’s a chaperone in her first story, a role model and someone held to a higher standard. She tries, she fails, and she acknowledges that her actions are not what a woman of her class and age should be doing.


I doubt my balance between liberation and the time period is perfect, but my biggest pet peeve about historical fictions is when they fail to at least acknowledge the fact that the character is acting against the social standards of the times. You want a strong female character? That’s great. I support it.


Just remember: the people around her wouldn’t.


In Merritt’s case, he grew up watching his mother suffer after his father’s death, and he didn’t want his wife to do the same. Makade has, for the most part, rejected society after the way he and his family were treated. And Forsythe is just… abnormal himself. He prides himself on being a “black sheep.” There are others besides the men in the women’s life who see the value of some liberation, but it’s not something everyone appreciates.


That’s the part to remember: those old roles were not the ones we have now. People’s opinions were different. They were biased, they were sexist, and they were racist. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking today’s political correctness makes for believable historical fiction.


Our past is not always something we should be proud of.

Working Titles

I was preparing a little entry for the Kabobbles Sing Along section about the song that inspired my choice for the working title for The Lady in Black’s sequel. Working titles are what I call the story while I’m writing it. Not all of them come with the right title instantly. Some do. Others refuse to be pinned down right away.


Some titles were easy. In the Family was always In the Family from the moment it was begun on my phone. Any Other Reality was that from the beginning as well. I don’t know what else The Monster in My Garden Shed or The Memory Collector could be. The same goes for The Not-So-Super Superhero. He is that. His story could be told under no other name. As soon as I started typing it, I had the title for The Consultant and the Cat. The Lady in Black had a working title years ago that was abandoned before typing began.


On the other hand, other titles have not come so readily. Some don’t even feel right now. That would be the case with The Geek and the Fed and Unexpected Gifts. Each of them took on a new name from their working title, “Geek” and “Obligation” respectively, but they haven’t entirely settled on them. Criss-Crossed Paths started out using its first chapter title, and then it became “Tempest and Lonely Hearts” after the nicknames of two of the characters. The new title is still being debated.


Other titles come along as the story progress.


Just a Whim, believe it or not, started out as “The Crankening,” owing to the other half of Kabobbles Publishing’s daughter, who was extremely cranky when I began the story. Matched Set started out as “Favor,” but once the figurine set started to feature so heavily in it, the matched set made perfect sense.


All the Men in My Life began as “Old Love Best Unseen” which completely doesn’t fit it. The new title owes from a line that Franklin says to Mira, “All the men in your life piss me off.” She responds with, “Franklin, you’re one of the men in my life.”


The series that starts with Nickel and Dime each had their own working title. Nickel and Dime was “Change Your Identity.” Until the end of it, Variety Store was just “Nickel and Dime the Second.” The third one, however, was Five and Ten from the beginning. The secondhand store owned by Effie Lincoln could be called a “nickel and dime” or “five and ten” or even “variety store,” so all the stories have that theme to their titles.


Last night, I named a story “Lollipop.” Funny how names go, right?