Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Idea Generators

Someone recently asked me how I center myself for writing. It's a good question. Actually I spend way too much time dinking around with Facebook and emails. So by the time I get around to working, I simply kick myself in the bum and tell myself to quit wasting time and get to work. Myself sounds a whole lot like my dad...;o) 
Seriously, I generally play a game or two of Beleaguered Castles or Solitaire to loosen up my brain and then I'm good to go. Actually sitting down and opening the program works wonders.

I get most of my ideas and inspiration when I'm lying in bed in the morning. I rarely get to do that, however, because I'm incredibly busy. So the stories have to unfold while I'm doing other mindless things. I also rumble through scenarios while hanging clothes, especially at night. (I have six kids and several volunteer jobs. Lots of mindless jobs in there.)
I read like a freak--almost anything I can get my hands on. I take a book or my Kindle everywhere. I even read while I walk. Mostly I don't bump into things unless it's dark and I'm reading with a flashlight while walking. If you're looking to generate ideas, you've got to read a great deal. Stuff the time you don't spend writing, with reading.
I try to keep current on information as much as I can. All kinds of scientific breakthroughs catch my fancy (Bucky balls, Aerogel, polymers, etc). The list is endless.

At any given time there's usually a traffic jam of ideas in my head. Scenes and ideas for new novels are all backed up at a light and waiting for me to bring them to the public. It's the editing that takes me the longest.

I come up with ideas several different ways:
*Sometimes I come up with a kickin' character first. People like Vari Faro or Larkin will bang at the inside of my head and beg me to let them out. Then I plunge that character into as much trouble as they can stand. Sometimes it's more than they can stand. At times they've revolted and made me change the story. 
I recently tried to kill off one of my characters at the end of the book and she came and kicked me and told me she wasn't dying. So I let her live.
*Sometimes it's a story that unfolds. I have one I haven't written yet about a brother and sister who live under London Bridge and pick through the mud for abandoned or lost goodies. That story nearly sprang full-fledged from my head. I'm pretty much waiting until I make enough so I can actually go to London to do research for this book. Sigh.....
*At times it's just an idea that begins like a little seed and takes over. My WATCHERS series grew from my latent rebel tendencies. It ended up being a five-book series, which I'm still polishing between writing three other books.
*I like to take two disparate ideas and crash them together and see what emerges alive. FIRETHORN was like that. I wanted a character that was wildly out-of-the-ordinary without being the same old vampire or werewolf. Kerry was born in all her woodiness. Then I stuck her in high school with all the regular witchy cheerleaders and geeks. I'm hoping it'll appeal to teens and tweens by the bus-load.
*I've gotten ideas from dreams. I have a picture book I haven't written yet, that was such a vivid and color-splashed dream, that it's indelibly ingrained in my mind. I will write that book when I can scrape up time to paint the pictures. It's going to be breath-taking. Someday.
*My first published book SMALL DECEPTIONS grew out of a wish for more books like Jane Austen's. I'd run out of hers and most of the good spin-offs and wanted something more. I'm always looking for a well-researched historical romance with some meat to it. SUMMERHOUSE was another book like that. It's a paranormal Regency romance.
*It also helps to do a loose outline. I plug things into that outline and keep fleshing it out. That helps me keep the book on track so it doesn't stray off into murky byways.
*Write something every day, whether it's on your W.I.P. or a limerick about lawn gnomes. Keep the generator primed and oiled.

My main goal is not to swipe from anybody. Ever. If it's already been done, why write it? Same with movies. Why all the re-dos when there are perfectly good brand new stories out there screaming to hit the big screen? It annoys me that publishers look for books that are current but they also want fresh. That's a knife-edged line. I write what I want to and hope.

My main trouble is in getting books sent to publishers. I never feel they're polished enough. I do have one in submission (PIVOT POINT is the title so far) and A TERRIBLE MAJESTY is nearly out of the polishing stage. FIRETHORN is going to Beta today (thank you Courtney).

That said, it's time to get back to editing. Cheers!

Monday, May 27, 2013



We went to the graveyard today to care for my husband's little sister's grave. She drowned in their pool when she was a year and a half old. We honor her every year at this time, as well as our other friends who sleep nearby.

I took my tin whistle this year and played taps on the hill overlooking the site. It was a truly powerful moment when I remembered why that song has such significance.

Their sun has set. The light of the old day has flown, and the stars come out, the moon with them. I see the moon as a promise of another day. The dead, too, have another day. They are eternal beings, everlasting, though we cannot comprehend their existence.

Do they linger to watch over us? Do they go straight to the judgment bench to await their fate? Do they have time to regret their past actions and inactions before they go? Or is it spirit prison or paradise for them immediately, to wait out the time before resurrection? Does time mean anything to them then?

Perhaps after we die, time no longer seems to run linearly and we can finally perceive its pond-like nature.

I wrote this to add to my Poetry Year offerings (Yes, I am bowing to the slippage of time and admitting that the poems are not flying off my pen due to frantic activity of another nature):

The mark of a man, of a truly great man
Is the work that he leaves behind.
When the chips are down
And the journey ends
He takes with him his acts and his mind.

Gone are the gold and the pow'r and the 'things'
And all of the trappings of life.
What then remains
Are important things
Like Actions and Children and Wife.

Lay not away what matters most
To grab for treasure and power
Leaving behind
The love you once had
For what makes you glad in the hour.

For riches are fleeting and power is gone
In the twinkling of an eye
But what will last
To eternity
Is the love God showers down from on high.

Gather ye now while you still have time
The gems which bear actual price
What you hold in your hand
Will be lost on the way
And your treasure is gone in a trice.

Hold to your family, loved ones, and friends
For they are the jewels; not the other
Their love is reward
Beyond grave, beyond death
Your father, son, sister, and mother.

Lay ye now down at the end of your days
With your loved ones hovering 'round.
And know with faith
They'll be there at last
When their bodies join yours in the ground.

The image at the top of the page is of a circle of rocks with another in the middle, which is the hiker's way of telling others that he or she has gone home. I think when I go, that is something I want marking my grave.

We'll see you later, M.

H. Linn Murphy

Monday, May 20, 2013

To Russia With Love


I'm sending you a gift, Mother Russia. He's sweet and outgoing and hilariously funny. He has a firm testimony of Christ's love for His children. He also has a love for your language and people. Most of all, he has gifts to dispense to those who will listen.

He'll already be frozen solid, and homesick, bone-weary and confused when he gets there. But he'll be working like a freak to figure it all out. I hope there'll be a mother who will take my boy into her heart and keep him safe and fed. I hope she'll get his strange sense of humor and his penchant for practical jokes, though I've told him he has to toe the mark in every way if he wants the aid of the Father whom he serves.

I'm hoping you'll be patient with his lack of understanding. Two years of high school Russian won't go very far. He's a quick learner, though, so it should be not too bad.

Please don't send him your adorable girls. He's got plenty of distractions already. Just send people who want to learn the Gospel and embrace the Gift of the Savior. Send him opportunities to serve you willingly.

At the end of two years, please send him home chock-full of stories and wonderful memories and a greater love for your people. I'd prefer it if you could make sure he's in good health after all that walking and biking.

Your sincerely,
A Weepy Mom Who Loves Her Stellar Son

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Numbers Nineteen and 20

April is over and I ran out of time, but I'm going to finish my commitment to myself to do thirty poems. So here are numbers nineteen and twenty:

Glistening and golden
The orb of the morning
Scales the firmament
To spread its glory
Over a bright new day. 
Silken flags
And fill my being
With a gift
Of light

Most Beloved Friend

My Master sat down in the kitchen
His feet were all battered and sore
I washed them and lovingly dried them
While His stories He told, and much more.

He spoke of the publican sinner,
Of the harlot, the leper, the lame
He spun tales of the sewer of seedlings
Of the vinyarder's cleansing with flame.

When our brother was sick unto dying
Jesus tardily came to our aid
I thought him too late with his visit
On his deathbed our brother was laid.

He stetched forth His hand unto Laz'rus
And lifted him from his death bed
The grave clothes He lay from off him
And then Jesus anointed his head.

We stood at the cross with His mother
Our eyes now were swimming with tears   
Though He fainted with pain he was careful
Of His loved ones. He assuaged all our fears.          

I went to the garden to mourn him
I knelt at his stony tomb
The flowers ran riot around me
The air smelled of jasmine in bloom.

The mirrh I would use to anoint him
Lay still near my bended knee
For He was not there where we'd put him
He was gone to His Father, you see.

I wept that He'd left me behind him
This Man who had been my friend
His voice softly whispered, "Dear Mary
My going is in no way the end."

And now I must go on without Him
Finding my way home some day
He'll be waiting with arms out to hold me
I can't wait for his dear voice to say

"Mary, my well lov'ed sister
Your feet, bruised and battered and sore
You've walked dusty roads to find me
Welcome home from your travels once more."