Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kachina Riley – Getting Started & Finding Your Voice

Getting Started and Finding Your Voice: Writing in First (or Third person)

By Kachina Riley

Actually, getting started with committing my words into written form was the greatest barrier and most difficult part to writing my first manuscript.

Following years of consideration and procrastination of writing my memoir, I finally determined to “set my hand to the pen” so to speak. But all of my years of writing had been in academics, and I realized I had a learning curve to bridge the gulf into personal manuscript writing.

My Son, Daryl was working for Barnes and Nobel at the time and he graciously supplied me with several books for beginning writers. I was very acquainted with research into a topic from my many years in academic pursuit. This seemed a reasonable place to start.

I read these books and devoured many more similar books from the library over the next several months. Six months into my new project I was thoroughly overwhelmed and confused! No two authors on the subject seemed to be on the same page as to the best method to begin writing memoirs.

While one author advocated making an outline of the book I envisioned, another insisted that listing all of the important life events and organizing them chronologically would certainly start me off on the right foot.

Some authors indicated that memoirs should be written in the third person in order to give the writer more latitude in filling in the blanks of forgotten memory details. Others insisted that first person was the only legitimate method of writing a memoir.

For about a year I struggled with starts, and more starts, trying this method then changing to another method. I even consulted with two editors who gave me their input as well. They all gave good reasons why a beginning author should do it their way. But nothing meshed or seemed to fit perfectly for me. In frustration I discarded all of them and was ready to give up my memoir writing project.

In one last ditch effort I asked my son to read some of my beginning efforts. He did and he encouraged me not to throw in the towel before I tried one last idea he had.

He suggested that I begin in the first chapter by sharing the most traumatic event in my childhood. He said that writing in the first person may bring out the passion of the event and jump start my writing efforts. Then follow with the years and months that led up to that event. He pointed out that I had already spent over a year of my time and effort in trying to write my manuscript and that this one last try was a reasonable effort.

My mother’s first psychotic breakdown was the event I set my hand and heart to write about. I began fresh with chapter one and was immediately swept up in this most emotional, heart-rending event in my life! The feelings and emotions captured my mind and heart as the details flooded back to my memory, as if the event were happening to me again in that instant. The words flowed out of my mind and into my manuscript like a rushing brook that couldn’t be halted. I was at that moment the nine-year-old child experiencing that event again.

This chapter set the tone for the remainder of my memoir and it was definitely in the first person. As I wrote from my childhood into adulthood my first person voice matured along with my age advancement in the book.

My experience in getting started leads me to recommend (for first time writers) that you not get bogged down trying to figure out what method is correct. Although reading a variety of viewpoints may be helpful in the end you must follow your gut reactions as to what will work for you.

The trick is to trust your own instincts and begin writing, even if you go through a number of re-writes, each re-write will serve to hone your writing skills to produce a more readable and professional manuscript.


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Genre – Memoir

Rating – PG13

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Connect with Kachina Riley on her website


Jack Canon’s American Destiny by Greg Sandora


I’ll never forget the look on my dad's face. We were stopped at a checkpoint by dangerous looking men in military uniforms. Soldiers hollering back and forth waiving weapons, searching through our things, taking anything they wanted. One guerilla was approached by an emaciated little boy with skin so thin it strained to cover his veins. Crying out, eyes bulging from hollow sockets, the child’s spindly arms grasped for the soldier’s leg. The helpless act was answered with the butt end of a rifle, sending the child violently to the ground. Semi convulsing, blood gushing from his head, the boy curled up in a tiny brown ball and went to sleep. At least that's what my mom told me.

That scene played over and over in my head growing up. It made me sad, but mostly furious, that life could be so unfair. Our family missionary trip to Africa meant to teach us love, compassion and understanding had burned a fire in my belly so intense it stayed with me throughout my life. Even at the tender age of ten, I knew someday I’d change this cruel and unjust world. That was forty years ago.

A long recession has brought desperate times. Many in the working middle class are unemployed or have fallen below the poverty line, millions have lost their homes. People lucky enough to have jobs are doing triple the load, working every day with a lump in their throat, feeling disposable, fearing they’re next. In a sick twist, Big Business and Big Banks got bailed out, but the government screwed the people. Honest Americans are feeling anxiety, shame and hopelessness as suicides, domestic violence, and homicides are climbing to an all time high.

Oh yeah, there are still plenty of guys buying Ferrari's, but the disparity between rich and poor has become obscene. The wealthy have become fatter, picking off the laboring carcass of a foreclosed middle class. The underlying greed is unconscionable.

I’m the Senior Democratic Senator from Kentucky. My name is John Canon; people call me Jack. Though my once brown hair has turned a little gray, I can’t complain, having served nearly three terms in the most powerful city on earth. I’ve gotten a bit softer around the middle, but I’ve learned good clothes can hide it. The biggest eye opener of my political career so far: an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency. It was a major shock to find out--what it’s really going to take--to fulfill my destiny:

To someday have the power, to dedicate the highest office in the land, to make things right. This time I’m all in.

Sandy Collins, my assistant, sticks her head in, peeking around the door, "Morning Jack, how you doing?”

“I’m alright, just working on some lines for my stump speech.” Sandy’s my right hand and more importantly my best friend. It only makes sense though, even at eight years old my best friend was a little girl, I just loved holding her hand.

Men are hard-wired to want women like Sandy. She’s a drop-dead knockout. She likes her high heels, which put her about five-nine, and wears her blonde hair straight, pulling it into a ponytail at least part of the day. Her only negative, she’s a bit na├»ve for someone turning thirty-seven.

“Jack, did you want me to do all your Christmas shopping again this year?” Sandy had great taste in gifts. She put a lot of thought into her choices, usually hitting a home run with my family, especially the kids. It’s like she was tuned in to what my girls would want.

Ignoring her question, “Listen to this,” speaking my notes as I’m writing, “this country is being run by elitists who could care less about ordinary Americans.”

I’d actually written, couldn’t give one sweet shit, but adjusted it for a broader audience.

“The system is badly broken, the wealthiest Americans have profited unfairly, taking advantage of an increasingly helpless public.”

Bud, my campaign manager, chief of staff, and close friend for the past 15 years, enters the office listening, mid-sentence.

“Devastated by the economy, the rich have gamed the system, bought everything up on the cheap. Greed threatens our way of life.”

Sandy commented, “It sounds so bleak Jack.”

“Jack, I’ve arranged for the transfers.”

Bud was being careful with Sandy in the room. He’d gotten me elected to the senate, but despite several tries going all the way back to McGovern he’d never won a presidential campaign.

“Bud, just say it straight, if we can’t trust Sandy we’re done already.”

“Alright Jack.” Bud turned to Sandy, “We got our asses handed to us the first time around cause Jack here didn’t want to break the law. This time I’m funneling huge donations into Super Pac’s that we’ll control. ”

“Bud, Sandy’s in the thick of this with us. Honey, you know we aren’t supposed to be getting the money for them. Let alone this crazy kind of money. If anyone finds out we’re all going to jail.”

Sandy said, “Give me some credit boys, I get it. Besides you’re only doing what everybody else does already.”

Bud cautioned, "Never before to this degree. When the Republicans are coming after us we’re gonna need every dime to fight off the attack.”


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Genre – Political Thriller

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.gregsandora.com/

The Granite Key by NS Wikarski

Chapter 9 – Lost In Translation

The morning after he acquired the key, Abraham was waiting for a visitor in his prayer closet. He called it a closet but the dimensions were the size of an average living room. It was the space where he conversed directly with God. Heavy drapes barred the passage of sunlight through the room’s two tall windows. Abraham liked cloaking the closet in shadow. It helped his concentration. There was an oak stand between the windows which supported a heavy leather-bound Bible.  The wall to the right of the windows consisted of a series of built-in cabinets with locked doors. They contained sacred documents that were intended for his eyes only. A prie-dieu occupied the corner to the left of the windows. In a rare concession to comfort, the kneeler was padded. On another wall hung the portrait of an elderly man with a white beard. He bore a strong resemblance to Abraham but the cut of his suit hadn’t been in fashion for at least fifty years. His eyes stared down on the room. They were humorless and disapproving. A plaque embedded in the bottom of the picture frame announced that he was Joshua Metcalf—Diviner. Positioned directly below the picture was a small round table and two hard-bottomed chairs.

Abraham was leafing through some pages of the Bible when he heard a gentle knock on the door. He absently said, “Enter,” without looking up from the page he was reading.

A man of about thirty came in. He was of medium height. Although his hair was cropped short, it insisted on asserting its curliness. No amount of combing could straighten it out completely. His eyes were dark brown behind horn-rimmed glasses, his complexion sallow. He wore the usual white dress shirt, black tie and black trousers but the clothes didn’t seem to fit him properly. They seemed too big for his slight frame and rumpled even though they had been newly pressed. His shoulders sagged.

“Good morning, Father,” he said tentatively. “You wanted to see me?”

Abraham turned toward his guest. “Yes, that’s right. Sit down, Daniel.” He indicated one of the two chairs.

The visitor glanced up briefly at the portrait before he slid into his chair. He sat forward anxiously, his hands grasping the seat.

Abraham remained standing near the windows. “Daniel, remind me again which of my sons you are.”

The younger man didn’t seem to consider the question odd. “I am your twentieth son, Father,” he answered readily.

“And which of my wives is your mother?”

“My mother is Deborah, your fifth wife,” Daniel looked down, “though she has passed from this life.”

The older man’s expression was vague. “Hmmm, yes, I do seem to recall now. She’s been departed, what is it, nearly two years? Never mind boy. She has gone to wait for me in the next world.  We will be reunited there. How many wives do you have now?”

Daniel cleared his throat uncomfortably. “You have blessed me with three wives, Father.”

Abraham looked pleased with himself. “That’s a good start though some of your brothers at the same age have collected more.” He paused to consider. “Still it’s a good start. And how many children?”

Daniel seemed to be fighting the urge to squirm in his chair. “Three so far.”

“Three?” Abraham registered shock. “Are any of your wives barren?”

“N…no, I don’t think so, Father.” Daniel stared hard at the table.

Abraham took a pace or two forward. “And when did I give you your first wife?”

“When I was twenty,” Daniel mumbled.

“Ten years,” Abraham mused. “In ten years your wives have only produced three children. That’s unheard of!”

Daniel shifted his position slightly. “I’m sorry, Fa—”

The old man cut him off. “We are charged with the obligation to be fruitful and multiply—to extend His dominion over the earth. We must increase our numbers. You cannot hope to claim a place of glory in His kingdom otherwise. Surely, you don’t wish to bring shame on your family.”

Daniel shrunk back in his seat.

Abraham was standing above his son now. “Remember who is watching.” He gestured toward the portrait. “Your grandfather is watching you even now from heaven. God, himself, is watching you.” He paused for effect. “He is watching us all. He sees the secret sins of our innermost hearts, Daniel. He sees all and he will punish all!”

Daniel gulped and nodded. “Yes, sir. I understand. I will pray for more issue.”

“And instruct your wives to pray as well!” Abraham observed his son silently for a few moments. He seemed satisfied that he had made his point. “Good, that’s settled then.”

Metcalf walked to the wall cabinets. He took a brass key out of his pocket. “I am told you are quite the scholar. You have distinguished yourself above your brothers in the study of ancient languages.”

Daniel seemed to puff up a bit at the encouragement. “Yes, it is the subject I love above all others. Translating the word of God.”

“That shows a proper spirit,” Metcalf nodded approvingly. “Come here, I have something to show you.”

Daniel obediently walked over to join him.

Abraham unlocked one of the cabinets and withdrew the stone ruler. “What can you make of this?” the old man inquired, handing the object to his son.

Daniel held it up to the meager light coming through the windows. He examined the markings with great intensity. When he looked up again, his expression was one of dismay. “The script isn’t Aramaic, or Hebrew, or Greek, or Latin. Not even Egyptian judging by the pictograms.” Daniel now seemed a bit afraid of the ruler. He held it out toward his father as if he thought it was contaminated. “This is some heathen relic.”

Abraham made no move to take the object back. He stood with his arms folded across his chest. “Yes I know, Daniel, but the Lord has charged me with the task of finding out its secrets. And now I charge you with the task of translating these strange markings into some language that a Christian can understand.”

The young man scrutinized the pictures and lines and loops again. “Do we know where it comes from?” he asked tentatively.

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Genre – Archaeology / Thriller

Rating – PG

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