The Presentation on Dialogue

Last summer I was given a wonderful opportunity to give a presentation on dialogue. I will give another presentation on dialogue this Wednesday at Montgomery College.

 

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Am I Losing This Country I love so Dearly?

What’s happening to this country? There seems to be so much violence in the news lately where people get into fights and take the life of another; where people are angry and shoot a group of people in a theater and other places; where  innocent children playing outside their homes are shot; where a parent takes the lives of their family members and then turns the gun on themselves. What’s happening to us? Why do we feel the need to hurt others?

On Friday, I was out biking and taking this long steep hill hoping that I would have the hill all to myself until I reached the top.  From the top of the hill, a man in a big black pick-up truck with lawn mowers and lawn equipment attached to the back on a long bed, turned onto the street. The street is not a narrow one and is also two-way. The man in the black pick up truck refused to move over. I rode on the edge of the asphalt balancing myself between that and the gutter. When we passed, he yelled out the window to me to get out of the street. If I had not held my bike steady as we passed, I would have hit up against his truck. What would make a person do anything like that? Are people like that made of pure evil? Yesterday, Saturday, I decided to take another short ride this time and as I was leaving my development, a man decided to turn his beige SUV around as I approached. He had come down too far and needed to make a U-turn. He looked up and saw me and instead of waiting for me to pass, as most people ordinarily do, he decided to back up and start again and back up and start again in front of me. I shrugged as if to say, “Go ahead. Take your time,” and when he saw that, he started with a bunch of other signs that I guess he thought I understood, all the while, his car blocked the intersection. Then he tried pulling up a little and when he did, I started out of the street in back of his SUV.  I was afraid to go in front of him. This very angry man would have taken my life, I’m sure of it.

So I ask again. What’s happening to this country? Why are people so angry? Both times, these were “men.” I have to put that in quotes because here was one man in a big black pick-up-type truck and I’m on a little bike; the other man in an SUV and I’m on a little bike. If you aim your car at someone, as the man in the pick up truck did, does that make it attempted murder? I’ll bet this man’s mother or wife (really? a wife?) would say that he is a “good person.” But good people don’t have evil thoughts and that man’s thought was to run me down, teach me a lesson.

I think that the question: “What’s happening in this country?” needs answering. What are we doing that is causing people to be so angry and violence oriented? Should we have more restrictions? We certainly need more gun control laws. Even if you are pro guns, you’ve got to see that we need more laws about who can buy a gun and how. We may even need to raise the price of guns, but that just may cause other problems. I think one thing that makes people angry where I live is the number of condos and apartments going up in the area making an already over crowded area, more congested. This is certainly frustrating to me. But I would never aim my car at anyone and try to run them down, either.

I must say that over the years, and I’ve been riding for about fifteen years, most people are thoughtful and kind. I make it a habit of following all the laws when I ride the streets. I stop at stop lights, and signs, and take my turn at stop signs. When people allow me to go first, I give a wave of “thank you,” and a smile or I say it aloud when I’m not able to take my hands off the handle bars. When I smile at people they smile back and this kind of thing makes me feel good about people. It helps me see that not all people have an evil heart. After this week, I really need to hold on to all those who waited on me, were patient with me, smiled back at me and who were overall kind and thoughtful people. And after fifteen years of biking in the area, I can tell you for certain that people are basically kind-hearted.

But there is something happening that is causing people to be angry, that’s causing people who were good-hearted to turn with angry hearts and aim their cars and trucks at people with the intent to take a life.

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The Rockville Writers Group

My Rockville Writers Group is in the process of putting together our very own anthology.  This is a project that I have had in mind for the group for quite sometime. I had the idea, and everyone thought it was a great idea. After everyone agreed, we also agreed to submit a short story at the next meeting. No one ever submitted anything. We did that three times, at least. The first time, I had something, but I never said I did. I learned that people have to be ready for steps in life and the group was just not ready. But now, we are. Or at least we think we are. Everyone submitted something for the anthology this time. I have to admit that one member really pushed for it this time, which started the ball rolling.

We started by selecting a theme:

“An unexpected package arrives at your doorstep.”

I am absolutely amazed that the seven of us came up with seven very different  stories. Something that I didn’t think would happen. None of the stories are alike in any way. They are all very creative very captivating and overall extremely good.

The process we used was first, we each had to think of something to write about. We discussed an estimated cost (mostly from experience) and decided that we each could handle what it would cost to print the anthology. We realized that  since it was an estimated amount that the actual cost could be greater. No one was deterred. Since there are seven of us, three of us had to submit our first draft for a group critique and the following month, the other four had to submit their first draft. Then we submitted our work a second time, still three one month and four the following month. After we all submitted, we then hired an editor to do development, line and copy editing on each story.  When we all receive our stories back, (this hasn’t happened yet because I just sent the stories off to her) we will have about a week to send the story back a second time. We plan to self-publish and one member will ask his cover designer to work with us on the cover for the book.  We want something that represents the theme. We would like to have our anthology ready by September in time for the Baltimore Book Festival. At this point that may not be likely. Even if we don’t have it ready by that time, we will have put together our first  group anthology. This leaves the way for more to come. I would also like us to host a conference, but first thing’s first.

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Blessings and Curses

Blessings and Curses may be the title of my new novel. When you read or hear Blessings and Curses what comes to your mind? Let me know please.

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A Loving Character

I did  an interview a few weeks ago about my novel, That Ever Died So Young. In discussing my characters, I identified one whom I really liked. Martin Milner, Kathryn’s father, was one of my favorite characters because of the loving relationship that he and his daughter had. I really enjoyed writing about those two. My greatest pleasure was when I wrote the dialogue between them. There was something precious about their relationship and I wanted to express that in my book.  Martin made some mistakes with his daughter, the biggest one he thought harmful to Kathryn. He spent the years after making up for that by protecting his daughter. While I wrote Martin, I thought about the relationship I had with my father. Though our circumstances were different, and my father didn’t suffer a loss, we were very close. I think about my father often and find myself giving advice to others that he gave to me.

I have given a lot of thought about Martin and developing a story around him. One question I would answer is why he chose Sylvia. All I can say is that when we are suffering, we do things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do.

I am finishing up the next novel. I continue to go back and forth on the title, but as soon as I find a suitable one, I will include it in the blog.

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Tent City

In my novel, That Ever Died So Young, the idea of the home for run-away teens came from heart breaking news that a student told me when I asked about another student. There was an area in Reston called “Tent City.” Tent City was a huge parking area and also the place where students would go when a parent or parents asked them to leave the home. They would pitch their tent in Tent City – an eye opener for me. I was told that teens had taken over the entire area. For me, no matter how badly my son behaved, I never wanted to kick him out of the house. One evening I went with a friend to look at Tent City, but this was just before Reston planned to put up apartments and condos and stores, so the area was dug up in some places and all the tents were gone. As we stood there looking out, she said that when she came for the first time all she could see were tents that spanned about a quarter mile square. Unimagineable, huh? I stood thinking about how things could happen that would drive a family that far. Yes, the teens were no doubt on drugs and difficult to handle, but wasn’t there some way to bring them back? Now that the city wanted to use the space for apartments, condos and stores what would happen to the teens? Not only were these teens kicked out of their homes, but they were also kicked out of Tent City. My friend said that there were just as many girls (if not more) as there were guys living in Tent City. I don’t know where they all went and I never saw that one student again. But everytime I go to Reston, I look for him.

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The Bike and Walk Trail

The other day I had an ocassion to take a walk along the bike and walk trail that is mentioned in my novel, That Ever Died So Young. Being a big bicyclist, I don’t often get to walk the trails much anymore, unless, I’m running. But this time, I decided to just enjoy the day. I had to pause at the entrance to the trail because it is now different. If you go to my Facebook page (Judy Kelly) you will see the picture. When I wrote the novel, the water fountain was almost hidden in the trees and bushes, but now the fountain is out in the open and a trail has been created on both sides of it. After I came to grips with the entrance, I entered the trail. You can’t imagine the beauty and the feeling I had inside the canopy of the trees and overgrown (in some places) bushes. Hidden inside this wonderland were streams and brooks that gave off the most calming sounds. I crossed some of the streams on footbridges that gave me the feeling that I was in a magical land of some kind where I was safe. I saw fallen trees on both sides of the trail and birds flying between the trees so quickly, I couldn’t see what kind they were. The most interesting thing was that the people on the trail smiled and/or gave a “Good morning,” or a “Hello” as they passed by. This was most certainly a welcoming place where people actually saw you and acknowledged you. That was the best walk I have ever had and all on the trail that is mentioned in my novel That Ever Died So Young.

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