patlawrencemusings

Author of Suspense Thrillers talks writing & stuff

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

YOU SAY POTATO I SAY PO-tah-to

I believe that my writing partner and I “work” because we are truly a living, breathing (and, in the case of at least one of us, sometimes snoring) embodiment of Yin & Yang. Yin and Yang is one of the most fundamental concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine, as it is the foundation of diagnosis and treatment. According to the Sacred Lotus Arts, there are four main aspects of The Yin and Yang relationship:

1. They are opposites.

They are either on the opposite ends of a cycle, like the seasons of the year, or, opposites on a continuum of energy or matter. For example: Water is Yin relative to steam but Yang relative to ice. Yin and Yang are never static but in a constantly changing balance.

2. They are Interdependent.

They cannot exist without each other. They constantly transform into each other. For Example: no energy without matter, no day without night.

3. Mutual consumption of Yin and Yang

Relative levels of Yin Yang are continuously changing. Normally this is a harmonious change, but when Yin or Yang are out of balance they affect each other, and too much of one can eventually weaken (consume) the other.

4. Inter-transformation of Yin and Yang

One can change into the other, but it is not a random event, happening only when the time is right. For example: Spring only comes when winter is finished.

Relationships can be very complicated, and ours is a prime example. We have been asked so many times to explain how a husband and wife writing team can live and work together as we do without major conflict. While our has been something that I have simply taken for granted all these years, the queries prompted me to analyze what makes us successful. I am convinced that the Yin & Yang principle is what makes “Pat Lawrence” work. Rather than put you, the reader, into a deep slumber, I’ll start with a list of a few examples illustrating the most obvious of the four – opposites attract. (can you guess who is which?)

One of us is:                                              While the other is:

Slow & methodical                                      fast – “get this job done!”

Long distance                                             Sprinter

(neither one of us is a runner, this how we approach writing)

Extroverted                                                 Introverted

Optimistic                                                    Pessimistic

Impatient                                                     Patient

A Misanthrope                                             A Humanitarian

Active                                                          Sedentary

A “Multi-tasker”                                           Single task focused

Through it all, Yin and Yang are never static but in a constantly changing balance. That last word, “balance” is the key to our success. The opposites that exist between us are the easiest to identify, but without the other three aspects Pat Lawrence would never have been born. I’ll save those for another day.

 

 

 

 

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JESSICA IS 3 TODAY!

Diesel told Emmett a secret.

He whispered it in his ear.

Our Jessica is growing up,

she’s older by a year!

 

“Turning three is really special,”

said Emmett right out loud.

“We’d better find a present

of which we can be proud!”

 

So they hopped right into action

And jumped into the backseat.

They begged Nana and Grandpa

To take them someplace neat.

 

Now, doggies can’t go shopping

Like all us humans do,

So they walked around the dogpark

to find a gift for you.

 

They looked high…

They looked low…

 

But nowhere in that dog park

Was there a present to be had

That was good enough for Jessica.

Those Bullies sure were sad.

 

They went home all discouraged,

Both wore a Bullie frown.

There was no gift, what could they do?

They had let their “Plumpkin” down.

 

Those Bullies didn’t fail,

So don’t be sad, and don’t be blue,

While they were outside playing…

“Someone else” found gifts for you!!!

OUR RECENT INTERVIEW

Q: Who or what inspired you to become an author?

A: We were inspired by great storytellers like Charles Dickens, Ayn Rand, Ken Follett, and Agatha Christie.

Q: What was the turning point in your life when you decided to start writing?

A: We have always written. Ever since we had the ability to arrange and rearranged A,B,Cs into words, then sentences, then paragraphs, we have enjoyed creating.

Q: What is or are the genres of your book or books?

A: We write suspense thrillers designed to keep readers guessing and glued to the edge of their chairs until they reach ‘the end.’

Q: What made you decide to write in your particular genre?

A: We write in the suspense genre because it is the genre we most enjoy reading ourselves.

Q: Who is your favorite author, and how did they inspire you to write?

A: Ken Follett is our favorite author to read – and we read aloud to each other – and he always inspires us to “tell a great story.”

Q: When you write do you take notes, organize your characters and plot, or you write freely as you go?

A: We write freely as we go and continually trade our excerpts electronically with each other until we have our final, finished version.

Q: Where does your inspiration come from?

A: Life. Human beings are fascinating and if you pay attention to the headlines and your own daily life the story ideas are, literally, limitless. Everyone has a story.

Q: Do you write about your personal life experiences in your stories?

A: Some elements of our personal life find their way into our books, but it is not something we emphasize.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?

A: Eva Lange, the strong, courageous heroine in “Jarred Into Being.” In “An Illegal President: A Novel” our favorite character is Wendy Garrett, the wife of the Congressman. In both cases we admire strong, intelligent independent women who determine their own destinies.

Q: What is your favorite scene in your story?

A: In “Jarred Into Being” Eva is harassed by two college boys when she first arrives is LasVegas, and they find that taunting Eva was a huge mistake. In “An Illegal President: A Novel” our favorite scene is the final scene, but – spoiler alert – we can’t tell you what it is. Readers will find out for themselves when they finish the book.

Q: Do you write about your personal experiences in your books?

A: The physical settings of our stories are frequently drawn from personal experience.

Q: Are the characters in your story based on people you know?

A: Most characters are inspired by someone we know or know about, but our characters become their own people.

Q: Is there any part in writing you don’t like?

A: Editing can be tedious, and marketing can be infuriating.

Q: Do you have any online sites where people can read more about your books?

A: Our website is: www.patlawrence.net and our blog is www.patlawrencemusings.wordpress.com

Q: Do you have any books in the works?

A: Our next project – another suspense novel – is tentatively titled “Long Shadows” – a fascinating intertwining of lives that lead to horrific, unforeseen consequences.

Q: When you read, what is your favorite genre?

A: Suspense and Historical Fiction.

Q: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Serving Diesel and Emmett, our two English Bulldogs, requires most of our free time. However, we do manage an occasional walk or dinner out in a nice restaurant. Classical music is virtually always playing in our home.

Q: If you would have time travel abilities and could meet anyone from any time, who would you like to meet?

A: Jesus Christ and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

WORDS TO WRITE BY

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.” William Strunk, Jr.

A writer’s tool box should include not only the dictionary and the thesaurus, but also The Elements of Style by William Stunk, Jr. and E.B. White. This gem of a little book is an indispensable reference for every serious writer.

What are your favorite writing resources? Are you interested in being a guest blogger on our site? Email us at pat@patlawrence.net

 

 

BULLDOG DODGING: NOT FOR AMATEURS

“Bulldog Dodging And Circumvention” really should be an indoor Olympic event. Dexterity, precision, balance and coordination skills must be honed to perfection if one is to successfully move from location A to location B in a home blessed with one or more bullies. In our household, which is basically run by the bulldog tag team of Diesel and Emmett, a particularly precarious, daily pursuit is navigating from our kitchen, through the living room and up the stairs that lead to our office without tripping over or, alternately, being mowed down by one or the other. These capricious canines, while known for their low level of energy, have an uncanny knack of positioning themselves directly under the next place your foot is about to step – just seconds before you even know you’re going in that direction. The result can be, at the very least extremely inconvenient  or, at its worse a potential fatality for either him or you! This is especially true if the human’s activity is focused on a food preparation activity.

Diesel, the senior member of the pair, weighing in at a solid 67 pounds, is most likely to be found, in very close proximity to my partner, who is head chef of the family. In his more advanced years, Diesel has learned that, by planting himself close to the chef as the meal is being prepared, he will most likely be in the perfect spot to lap up any “oopses” that fall from the cutting board to the floor. Now, an adoring bulldog at the master’s feet makes a wonderful “Kodak Moment.” I would argue, however, that it’s not so wonderful for the chef who unsuspectingly makes a quick maneuver to the stove and must perform a perfect capriole in order to avoid stepping on the dog and possibly breaking one or the other’s neck! No, friends, this sport is definitely not for the mere amateur.

Emmett, on the other hand, is 38 pounds of puppy who has been known to move stealthily from his crouch under the kitchen table in a millisecond to the spot where a munchable morsel has just hit the floor. His approach, while much less subtle than that of  older, wiser bulldog brother, is equally as hazardous. The capriole cannot be executed without certain injury this time. As a matter of fact, there is not much defense to his charge other than to wait for the dust to settle and accept the fact that there will be no retrieving of the “oops.” Game over.

Then there are the “blessings,”…but, that is for another day.

 

 

 

 

HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I must have lived one of my previous lives as a member of some ancient tribe of sun worshipers. I say this because there are few things that make me feel better than to sit out in the sun, with arms, legs, and all those areas of exposed skin that I can still reach lathered up with sun block, thermos of ice water by my side, and my Kindle in my hands (or on the ground below my head, if I choose to lie face down on my favorite, ergonomic lounger). Coming in a close second (it’s really a tight race) is my daily walk.

That being said, even sun worshipers must have had a boiling point, a temperature above which only minimal exposure to nature can be tolerated for more than a few minutes. The temperatures here in the prairie have been dancing around the 100 degree mark for over a week now and the weatherman is predicting that there is no real relief in sight for the near future. But, as I always say with my tongue planted solidly in my cheek, at least it’s humid!

So, in spite of the heat and humidity, once again I grab my insulated water bottle filled to the top with 22 ounces of good old Lake Michigan and ice, strap on my fanny pack loaded with iPhone, gum and iPod (yes, I take both because I don’t want to be disturbed by constant email updates but do want to have a lifeline just in case I reach that boiling point) and begin the journey. The Weight Watcher walking music has a great beat and keeps me going, but the “coach” keeps telling me to picture myself in my new outfit and how great I look. I don’t have a new outfit, but maybe I should get one!

Three days later and the thermometer is bursting at the seams. The whole country seems to be in the hottest, driest state since the big dust storm of the 1930’s. But that is not going to stop this sun worshipper/warrior! Water bottle in hand, fanny pack loaded, walking shoes tied and out the door. Perhaps it’s the heat, perhaps it’s the full moon, perhaps it’s just “one of those days,” but whatever the reason, thoughts seem to be playing tag in my head. I managed to catch a few:

** Why is it that other walkers and bicyclists will acknowledge you with a friendly smile and/or a wave, and sometimes a quick “hello,” but motorists almost never do?

** Queen Anne’s Lace, which we consider a weed, produces the most beautiful flower. I just had to pick some to carry home and put them into water with red food coloring as I had done so many years ago when the kids were little. Still amazing to see how those delicate white blooms start to take on a pink hue. It’s sad how we take so many amazing things for granted.

**  It’s the fourth of July and the corn in the field is definitely knee high, but not quite as high as an elephant’s eye. I wonder if it will make it if we don’t get some rain pretty soon?

 

A PICTURE IS WORTH 1k WORDS, BUT MOMENTS ARE WORTH 1k PICTURES

Note to self: Carry camera or iPhone with you at all times! Why? You never know when a thing of beauty, amazement or amusement will present itself. At 5:00 AM, as I accompanied our royal canines, Diesel and Emmett, outside for their morning constitutional, the most beautiful picture appeared before my eyes. Pressing against a crystal clear, Wisconsin summer, blue sky was a patch of fiery red as the sun was just beginning to peak over the trees behind our neighbors’ house. And, above the crimson crescent floated puffs of cottony clouds that looked as if they had been drawn there by our five year old granddaughter: definitely a “Kodak moment.” And there I was with no camera!

*****

I am sitting here at 6:30 AM trying to decide whether I am more amused or annoyed by our two Bullies. Diesel, the senior of the pair, is lying on his back, all four legs straight up – playing ” dead dog,” I presume – while Emmett, the rambunctious five month old puppy is rallying around him barking, jumping and dancing around like a whirling dervish. He’s desperately trying to get the old guy to play, which is just not going to happen. An occasional “Oh No!!!” rings out from the plush Mr. Bill toy as one of them either rolls on it or, in Emmett’s case, bites it. Losing his cool and obviously tired of being badgered, Diesel responds to Emmett’s playful pleas with a growl and a nip, which is then, of course, followed by a puppy yelp and 10 seconds of momentary peace. In the middle of the chaos sits my partner, patience slowly draining away, trying to focus on the computer screen. Life is good…just wish I would have had my camera handy!

*****

The heat has been pretty intense this week. But as I sit here on our front porch this evening, watching Emmett cool down after our evening walk, the sun is making its way down past the homes behind us.  And, thankfully, along with the sun, the temperature is dropping. It is so peaceful. Just the sound of my little Bully chewing on a stick accompanied by a chorus of robins, finches and probably a half dozen other species I can’t name. The serenity is broken only by an occasional truck or motorcycle on the highway nearby. I have my iPhone with me this time, but I’m not going to take a picture. No photograph could begin to do justice to the moment. All is well. Moments like this are worth a thousand pictures.

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