Author Archives: teresafannin

Six pages….

We all know it’s hard to write. No, that’s not true.  It is hard to write well! I can write anytime, but I can’t write well anytime. I need to be able to get into the story, remember the characters, know where I want to go.

This year has been hard. With Tom an hour away since December of last year, getting the nursing he needs [certainly not on this planet or any other would anyone consider me to be a good nursing caretaker] and the rehab he requires to live a good daily life! For me it has been making sure I eat and sleep, take care of the puppies, the laundry, the bills, and any other part of our lives until he gets back home.

I have always written, not a good speller, and my grammar can be challenged by just about anyone, anytime, anyplace. But I’ve always been a writer. I like putting words into thoughts and ideas and having them come together and make sense, well, sense to me.

I have not been writing and I can feel the twitch in my hand and the itch in my brain to write. I have assuaged it by writing in the comments section of magazines, newspapers, articles, but it is not moving me forward. Our spring retreat is upcoming and I wanted to submit. Ten pages is not a lot to deal with, and I had comments from an agent and beta readers to consider. So I did. I considered. I re-read. I revised. I thought about wants, needs, what the resolution would be with what I had. I pulled out the synopsis. I read. Re-read. Revised.

I’m still driving that hour each way. Spending time with Tom. Getting him to stand. Walk. Talk. Having lunch. That open wound right at his tailbone is a mind numbing pain! And a second has opened! Not infected, thank God~ and yes, I mean it as a prayer~ months it will be until he is whole again. But it will happen. Yes, I could use this as an excuse. It is a good one! But no.

New year resolutions can happen any time. This is mine. Every day print off six pages. That’s doable. And while Tom is on a pressure release, or at therapy, I read and make notes. I revise. Six pages. It’s not fast. But it is what I can do. Getting it done is what counts.

Six pages at a time!


Think on it: Ireland in the mid 1800’s ruled by English overlords as British plantations assaulting the Catholic religion and Irish culture. Congo, at the turn of the century, the personal fiefdom of the despot Leopold II thoughtlessly annihilating  the native civilizations that already existed. The economic and cultural failure of the Weimar Republic giving rise to the totalitarianism of the National Socialist Party and almost consuming western Europe in death and destruction. The rise of communism enveloping eastern European countries oppressively almost wiping out previously thriving nations. The dictatorships of Idi Amin and Joseph Mubuto in Africa. Today, the dysfunctional government of Yemen, the civil war in Syria, the socialistic driven collapse of the Venezuelan economy, the drug cartels of Mexico, the graft and corruption in Haiti.   And, none of this includes the impact of the sometimes unnamed apartheid systems western civilization imposed during the Empire Era and continued to impose  on countries that provided them with goods and wealth.

Are you saying, wait, what, Ireland? I know, I know,  rolling green country side, lovely castles, quaint villages. Not a country you would think of as awful, but it was.  My family is from Co. Mayo, which was a British stronghold.  I like to think of it as a ‘rebel’ county. My greats and grands, like many of our ancestors, immigrated to the US because they were denied their basic freedoms; individually, culturally, religiously, ethnically. America looked like a place they could be Irish and more, or for others, be Jewish and more, or be Indian and more. Mine came during the Great Potato Famine, no history lesson here. One million died, one million emigrated.

I love that I am an American. I am grateful that my ancestors sought a different place that would provide a different outcome than the one they faced in Ireland. I have always hoped that I would be that brave. That I could, would, leave behind the gawd-awful aspects of my home country and forge a new life under a new set of rules, one that provided more of, well, of just about everything I cherish about being human. And I am proud that I still love my Irish heritage. My heritage is different from the country, think of it as its soul!

I want this sort of realism to imbue my writing. Middle grade should be a time to understand charity. Not the charity of gifting, donating either time or money. The charity that is love, a love of a better future. That’s what our ancestors did, in love they left behind all they had known for the unknown. All that was familiar for the unfamiliar. Maybe they had to learn a new language. Maybe they were discriminated against when they came here. The Irish certainly were! But they held on. They made it better. I want it to ring true as much for me as for readers. 


At mass last night, Father Sheridan stated this is a good time to make resolutions for the coming year. [Father said he makes the same one every year, ‘to clean out his refrigerator’, yep, a good laugh for the congregation]  Well.  Maybe.  Liturgically we’ve already started our year. In some cultures the new year began in spring, which makes a lot of sense. I guess we can thank the Gregorian Calendar, and Julius Caesar, for straightening the way we pay attention to how our small ‘blue marble’ goes around our star, Sol.

I think if we could vote, I’d vote for new year in spring. First off, it would be warmer for all the parades. You would not have to wear your entire closet in order to go outside. I’d like that. Okay, I admit it. Cold is not my friend, especially these fifteen and twenty degree temps we are seeing even in NC. A temperature of at least 60? All right, today I’d take 50 degrees.

But here’s the thing, cold does not inspire me to run out and work at anything. I’d be happy to be warm, under a lovely blanket, next to a nice fire, with a brandy or maybe a whiskey, yeah, even a hot chocolate! This is hibernation time. This is bundle up time.

Still. Not a bad time to move forward. I’ve been reading a lot. I picked up Hallie Ephron’s book at the suggestion of a beta reader. And I’m glad I did. It’s not new stuff. I’ve seen it before. I belong to Sisters in Crime. A wonderful organization for the fan as well as for the writer. And through my local chapter of Murder We Write I have had the honor and privilege of knowing Chris Roerden. Actually, one of my stories is cited in this version.

Besides reading about writing a great mystery, I’ve been reading a number of mysteries, just to see how they go through the mystery.  As an aside, I use the North Carolina Digital Library and I use Book Bub to get books for the kindle. One that I recently read was interesting. The mystery was thought out, the settings were realistic, the dialogue was good when it worked. This was an independently published book, the author is Canadian and this matters. Why? Because while the initial setting is in Ottawa and the Canadian aspect of character development is good, [this was published in 2014] there were inconsistencies that took me out of the story. Additionally, the book needed serious editing. One whole chapter was repeated in the first book. The same phrase for emotion was used for three characters, and there were whole sections of the story that gave it length, but added nothing to advance the mystery, the thrill or the suspense. For something written in 2014 there was no use of a cell phone [do they not have them in Canada :)?]

You can learn from the good and the not so good. I already have comments from one beta reader and awaiting from the second. Yay, revision! Good times!



It has been a different and traumatic new year than the one I envisioned in the most recent post. While it looked pretty ordinary it has turned into something extraordinary.

Tom’s neck trauma has changed our life. I am now proposing only one car, building ramps, engaging home help, buying new beds, and remodeling our bathroom. Some of this was already on my list, most definitely some was not.  Admittedly I am not the best person to be a caregiver; I am impatient. And while I will be Tom’s primary caregiver, I am also his other half, he is my better half.  The impatience is not a result of the speed of our times, this is me, just ask the girls. While I do understand pain, I don’t understand how you don’t just plow through it. Sigh. Yes, I know there are pains you can not plow through.

This makes me think about my writing, the fragility of  emotions,  values and wants of a character. Many of us of, ahem! a certain age do not understand letting feeling rule. For me it is about reason, order, making the best of a situation and always trying to be the best. It is not about what my flaws and failings are, god knows [small g, of course] that they are legion! Yep. I am pretty sure I know them all, and probably a few no one even had an inkling about.

But what about my character? Feelings are important. Yes. But sometimes I feel like I am in a stage drama when I read a story where the wants and needs of the character are insistently on display. Yes, I find it annoying. I get it, but still it is annoying.  A recent quote in the WSJ on Theater states that theater is the act of pretending. True, this article is more about the ‘theater’ of political discourse,  linguist, John McWhorter states, “Nobody is hurt in that immediate, lasting and intolerable way by some words that a person stands up and addresses…to an audience at a microphone.” 

Writing a novel about a character is also an act of pretending. So why do we allow our feelings and that of our characters to be so fragile. Feelings are not hurt by a punch in the stomach, the stomach is. Feelings are not impacted by a fall, nope, it is the bones or in Tom’s case the neck and the spinal cord. We humans are fragile. We can not be pounded, beaten, shot, fall without some damage and that increases as we get older. Yet our feelings probably should not be so fragile if we want to exist in this world, make this whole thing work, this civilization~ laws, government, discourse. We must allow our characters to be themselves, some may emote like a Sarah Bernhardt, and some may be stoic like a, hmmm, this is hard, who recently is stoic?

So, where am I going with this? Hmm. I think I want to be somewhere in-between, with a character that has both feelings and is willing to keep them in, not on display and not emoting.

I think in someways that is Emily Pouverain Delaqua in Becoming the Only. Raised by a grandmother because her mother died when she was three, she is content with being reasonable and rational until her grandmother suddenly dies and her father is arrested for the murder. She is able to keep her emotions in check because she is able to confide in a journal and an imaginary friend, Star Ann. And with those emotions in check she can concentrate on saving her inheritance and finding the real murderer.

Ah, but will it sell.

New Year

On Sunday we enter a new liturgical year. For me this is a better time than the calendar new year to sit and contemplate my goals and objectives, my faith and fortune, my needs and wants. Not really resolution time, more like assessment time.  Assessments are evaluations. Assessments work to estimate the quality, quantity, nature, ability of the something.  So this is more than just my writing. It is my everything.

For purposes of this blog, we will still with the ‘what I do’ not ‘how I live my life’ assessment. It is a common statement ‘do what you love and you will never work a day in your life’. And I was privileged and loved and cherished so that in essence that is how I have spent most of my life. That’s not to say that there was not turmoil~ there was. Or that it was all smooth sailing~ it wasn’t. Or that every second of every day it was butterflies and roses~no!

What is means is that I was always given the option to find my own path, and while I am grateful, I’m not exactly sure if that was a reflection of my early boomer status~ there were few in front of us, or my own personality~ I was really a ‘what me worry?’, or that I was actually that accomplished and aware.  LOL, accomplished maybe, unawareness was a sort of hallmark trait.

So. assessment.

I’m doing more to advance my own writing than ever before. Spending time on it. Attending webinars, programs, conferences. I’m using beta readers to get a sense of how my story is perceived outside of my critique group. And lastly, I am not rushing off to submit. I get that I have submitted too early [although in my defense, it ‘yea, it felt’ right].

It’s hard for me, not to rush in.  I do it well. I solve problems. I am a command person But #amthinking is where I am right now. And as I think forward to 2018, that is a great assessment.