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Room to Wonder



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Just playin' with preview.

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 22 June 2016 · 323 views



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Warning! Gays Ahead!

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 20 April 2015 · 181 views

Dark Light is an urban sci-fi thriller. It's not LGBT fiction.  It does, however, have a protagonist who is gay. That, apparently, is cause for flashing red lights.

The book got a nice 4-star review on both Amazon and Goodreads. Goodreads chose to hide the review behind a click saying the review contained spoilers. I expected to read dead give-aways, but no. The spoiler they hid was, well, read it below.

"This book was intriguing... It was kind of a cross between over zealous holy men attempting to take over the town in an invasion of the body snatchers sort of way...
Carter (main character) comes home to help his ill father and help his sister run the family business. He is met by strange occurrences and unexplained accidents/deaths with some of the town residents.
The ghost of the previous owner of the house he's renting helps to guide him and his family on the right path to save themselves, the town and possibly the world.
**Just a note for prospective readers-Carter is gay, there are no overt sex scenes-but it is implied. (Emphasis mine.)
Overall a good book that keeps you intrigued until the end!"

And there you have it. Carter is gay. And, by the way, so is his partner, Robert. I get it. I guess. Or maybe not. How disturbing to get a few chapters into a book, be caught up in it, enjoying it, only to realize that guy you were liking is, gasp, gay! Quelle horreur!

But guess what. That was my intent. A not-purely-gay novel, mainstream even, where a gay person would be simply the protagonist, as if, uhm, it were, like, normal.

So, let's lay cards out, face up, with an excerpt. Carter comes home to find Robert has finally arrived:

Robert walked in and stopped, looked at the foyer, window, living room, and back at Carter standing against the opened door. "Nice house," he said, took Carter's head in his hands and pushed him against the door, fingers buried in his hair. Robert tilted Carter's head, moved close enough to mingle warm breaths, and their mouths and bodies pressed together.

Carter let himself go. For one moment, he didn't have to hold the world together. Like the first time Robert kissed him, the knee-buckling feeling overtook him, and Carter hooked his arms around Robert's shoulders to keep from sliding down the door.



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The Beauty of Damaged Things

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 22 March 2015 · 153 views



How often we toss away broken, cracked treasures.

I inherited from my grandfather, brought home from his years as a missionary in Korea, a Korean celadon bowl. It had been cracked and chipped, but thought beautiful enough to have been mended. 

With gold.

I don't know its history. But in the veins of gold, I see the value someone placed on this lovely bowl with its clouds and cranes.

What a more beautiful world if we placed such value on damaged beautiful things. And people.

Ourselves, to start.

And everyone else. No one isn't cracked, chipped, injured, broken.

Instead of tossing, why not do what we can, if only with a smile, to mend them with gold. A smile, a hello, a nod of recognition, can be gold.

Let's don't toss away, pass by the damaged. We have gold to give.


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Pre-Opening Jitters

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 15 March 2015 · 204 views

Curtain up! Light the lights!

You'd think, having performed on stage many times, one would get over those jitters, but no. Ask any actor or musician. I'm a bundle of nerves. I could pull a Madonna. The sound of the big thud.

If there's anything I have a hard time with, it's self-promotion.

That said, here's a longer blurb about the show about to open next Saturday:

DARK LIGHT

A frantic phone call from his sister brings Hollywood actor Carter Collins home to Avebury, Ohio. Their father's had a stroke. Or was it? The quiet riverside town is falling under the sway of a new evangelist and his dark form of salvation. No one will stand in his way. Carter's father tried, and now Carter must step in and lead the resistance.

Avebury protects an ancient mystery, a secret Carter has only days to uncover before malicious forces not of this world take control. He finds allies to fight the invasion, but no one is to be trusted. The cost to secure what the town has guarded will be steep, might demand great sacrifice of those closest to him, but failure could plunge Earth itself into darkness.

As the Reverend's tabernacle nears completion, Carter must accept the unbelievable and the role he was destined for. Friends turn against him. Danger stalks family, friends, his life-partner, all dragged into his nightmare, their lives threatened.  The planet teeters on the edge. Carter holds the keys. Can he pay the price of using them?




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Coming in One Week!

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 14 March 2015 · 225 views

Actor Carter Collins returns to quiet Avebury, Ohio to find his father's stroke may not have been a stroke at all. A new evangelist is spreading a dark kind of salvation and silencing those who oppose him. The town holds an ancient secret, a power that nefarious forces not of this world want to control. Now Carter must find his place as leader of the resistance to this invasion. The cost may be steep and demand great sacrifice, but failure could plunge the whole earth into darkness.



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Coming Out . . . of Hibernation

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 27 February 2015 · 200 views

It's been another long, cold winter. I'm so ready to come out of hibernation. Today, though it won't, again, get above freezing, I went looking for signs of Spring.

What I found outside my door perfectly showed, to me, the essence of this season. Snow in retreat. Warming earth pushing back the white blanket. Abstract yin and yang. And in the center, emerging leaves of new life, damaged, burned by the cold, promise of blooms that will rise from the wreckage.

When all the snow has gone and Spring has come, with the leafing out of trees and shrubs, I will, no doubt, discover what more damage the bitter cold has wreaked. Last year, I lost limbs from two prized plantings: an azalea and a Japanese maple. Yet the plants survived, and the damage resulted in a reshaping, of new form. In the maple, more open spaces, the killed branches  pruned away, left a more spare and possibly more beautiful tree.

Somehow the damage done enhances the value, the beauty of what remains, of what survives. The golden daffodil that rises above burnt leaves.


If only we could remember, more often than we do: such is our lives. 


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Are You That Person at the Back of the Room?

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 01 October 2014 · 200 views


That guy at the back of the room, the one at the edge of the party, the one in the bar who only talks to people who approach him? That guy isn't aloof. He isn't unfriendly.

That guy is me. I have been accused of being aloof and standoffish.

Could be you, too. Right? (Guy or gal, this is NOT gender-specific.)

I am shy. Most people don't guess that. I'm pretty much an introvert, although after a drink or three, you might beg to differ.

I don't like rejection (who does?) so I avoid putting myself out there.

At a party, I'll zero in on the person or two I know and hang with them all night. I don't work a room. Never could. I've no doubt missed interesting folk.

So have a set myself up for failure? Actually, no. I don't stay home and entirely avoid the situation.

Approach me, say hello, even toss a slight nod my way, and I'm ready to chat. A smile given gets a smile returned.

Know what?

Many, many people are the same. Just like us. Oh, they look friendly and outgoing in their immediate group. Remember what I said about zeroing in on the ones you know? Comfort zone. So you, we, look at them and think what a clique, bunch of snobs, stuck-up.

Of course, sometimes that is true. We do run the terrible risk of putting ourselves out there, saying hello first, introducing ourselves, whatever, only to find no interest, a down-the-nose glance, and a turn away.

It's happened. I didn't die. Sometimes you win.

My point?

Let me relate it to writing. I'm not convinced my stories or my book are great. Sometimes, not even really good. But I kinda do, and other people have thought so. When it came to the publishing world, the odds kept me from participating with serious intent for most of my younger life. Oh, I wrote. Plenty. Stories. A novel. I queried, some, not a lot. I expected rejection and got it, and it didn't kill me. I got a solid bite from an agent who rejected the manuscript. And a small publisher, when I decided I really didn't care about landing an agent and a deal with one of the Big Five, where I'd no doubt be buried alive, anyway. But I didn't stay home from the party.

Then someone said yes.

Sometimes you go to the bar and nurse a beer and go home alone. Sometimes you nod back when someone nods your way, and you go home with a hottie who may a great one-night toss, or may be a forever real thing.

Don't assume you won't win. Maybe you won't. But maybe you will. Maybe you'll be misunderstood, your reticence taken for arrogance. But maybe you'll connect. Don't be afraid.

One thing is sure. You never will if you don't go out and try. As "they" say, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Oh, and that other person, the one not talking, across the room, at the bar, the party, the one who looks so up-in-the-air? That person may be just like you. Like me. Smile.



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For the Mass Grave of My Darlings

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 01 August 2014 · 177 views

How far will you go, what will you kill for your story?

I can be a ruthless murderer of darlings. Or so I thought. Ha. Not so fast, bucko!

I've killed off beloved characters, hacked away paragraphs of lyricism, dumped whole sections if they didn't earn their keep. Sure, I've had moments of remorse. I've even resurrected a couple of characters, only to have to re-kill them. Nothing was too sacred for my killing fields.

I've written before how, to be a good gardener, one must learn to be ruthless. In writing fiction (in any writing), it's a given. We bleed and vomit all over our first drafts, only to go back with scalpel, hatchet, or blunderbuss.

But eventually we get to an end point. Or so we think. I'd finished a first full edit with my editor, sent it back, got suggestions for the second and final edit, and, piece o' cake, bushed it up, polished the few bumps, and sent it back. One final step before proofing hard copy: beta readers.

First response from a new (to me) but experienced reader: one paragraph where she had no clue, after several readings, what I was trying to say, and several "too big" words. Only 27, out of over 91K words, but still.

I balked. I talked to my editor/publisher, who said I needed to really get that our audience for genre fiction reads at an 8th grade level. 8th Grade! No, says I, not possible. But I'm not writing literary fiction here, so why argue. Why not meet the challenge of "dumbing down" the vocabulary while conveying the same sense?

Because it goes against my nature. We should be smartening up, not dumbing down. Right?

Or do I accept that I'm not writing to teach, but to tell a good story well.

So I run my frustration past another who's read the book and has a good ear and eye. Surely, with the same background, he'll see that many of these words we learned in grade school.

Wrong.

Yeah, he said, but...

So I began going over the words with him. Simple words. Subjugate. Tenuous. Edifice.

Nope, he says. Most wouldn't know those words. I think of a recent discussion thread in an online writers' group about just this. Do we write down or not? Or is it writing down to cut out "showoff" words (and none, I thought, were showing off.) A highly regarded author has said if you're tempted to use a multisyllabic word and there's a simple, little word you can use instead, use it.

So, now it's time to murder those darlings. I didn't even know they were. I'll see them for what they are next time!

What's your take on this? I'd love to hear.

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Bathing in Greens

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 15 July 2014 · 227 views

What do you do when, despite your best efforts to stay above the fray, someone manages to get to the part of you that makes you want to tear flesh (and not your own)? When you've done well for someone who, in turn, questions your intention and integrity? It happens, right?

Being a Scorpio, my baser instincts put my stinger at the ready. Luckily, Scorpio is also characterized by the eagle. So, breathe deeply, absorb the harmony in shades of green, a tapestry of peace. As all things do, it passes. Meanwhile, try to fly above it. Yeah, that's it. And bathe in greens.








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Perseverance Furthers

  Posted by Rick Pieters , 27 June 2014 · 145 views

April passed and left behind a fair amount of destruction from the brutal winter she ended. Ended not without one last nasty screw-you moment. Just to make sure the damage done was done well.

Still, a few frozen branches on a beloved Japanese maple and a treasured azalea? Nature's red ink. And lo, after looking at the bare branches of the severely pruned azalea for a month, signs of life. Tiny buds forming on the branches I feared had given up. There will be leaves. Possibly few blossoms next Spring, but there will be life. The Great Editor forced my hand.

May brought warm weather, and with it, the manuscript of my novel. First full edit. Oh, and  the garden cleanup, and the annuals and patio pots needing planting. But get that full edit done and returned. And the month was gone. Passed. Zip. Yeah, it all got done. When it all needs to happen, somehow it does.

Now, as I wait for the return of that manuscript for the second edit (what plot holes will she have found?) I go into the garden and trim off more winter damage, but relish the life that survived the wrath of Madame Nature's wicked long cold spell. If half the lavender died, half lived, came inside to perfume the air, and now spices a jar of herbes de provence.

Just keep moving forward.

One foot, other foot. Always  beginning the next step. Nature does. Can we do less?

Of course a dumbass rhetoric question begs a facetious answer. Of course we can do less. We can do nothing. But, I'd posit, doing nothing consciously is doing something. Even when it's pure procrastination, because the goals, the next post, story, edit, is in there, cooking. You know you'll get to it. You will because it's where you're going. It's what you do.

If I must catch the newest episode of whatever twisted mystery has me in its thrall, or if I must, again, attack the relentless growth of thistle and vine, it's all fodder. We gnash our teeth, we could do more, write more, pull more weeds, plant more seeds. And we do.

The I Ching, ancient book of Chinese wisdom, repeatedly says "perseverance furthers." Today is the first day of the rest... oh, never mind. Start again. Keep going.

To my friends who feel stalled, stymied, blocked, take it as conscious down time. Keep on truckin'.

Perseverance furthers.

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