I’ve created this section to share short stories from personal experiences. Some are based on writing; some are for fun and some are merely an episode from the many chapters in life. I’ll continue to add content here so make sure to check back often. Cheers!
I’ve been asked where my inspiration for writing comes from. My answer is that it’s all around us in everyday life. People, music, culture, nature, travel, sports, news…a plethora of ideas all waiting to be told or shared through the artists imagination and creativity.
Painting, like writing, tells a story. The picture I’ve posted here is one of my mom’s paintings. She was a self-taught artist and completed quite a few works of art before she died. I know I’ve been inspired by her and I like to think some of my creative drive has been drawn from her. I’m not sure where her inspirations came from with her paintings, but I do know she had a vibrant imagination.
For me, inspiration for fiction writing comes from novels and movies both. With the ideas mentioned above, there’s no shortage of subject matter from which to draw story content from. My genre of choice is mystery, suspense, romance. I’m a huge fan of organized crime/corruption stories, detective/courtroom drama and psychological thrillers.
My thirst for writing was first in the form of screenplays. Having had no formal training or education in the writing process I spent many hours researching and reading up on the subject. Michael Hauge and Syd Field were just a couple of authors I read, and I follow the Live Write Thrive blog by C.S. Lakin. Lots of beneficial and motivating material there. I also attended a weekend class at UCLA for the John Truby’s Anatomy of Story Master Class. I reaped plenty of great information form this class and his teachings work both for screenplay and novel writing. Armed with this knowledge I began applying what I had learned to a screenplay I already had in the works. And so, began the re-writing process. And more and more re-writing.
At the time, I was working full-time with my husband managing our businesses while trying to nurture my writing skills. My passion for penning was always on the back burner, but I managed to dedicate a Saturday or Sunday each week for writing. I also continued to read novels of some of my favorite authors.
After much aggravation and disappointment with the screenplay, (read the next paragraph), I came to realize that novel writing interested me more than screenplays. I’ve always enjoyed reading fiction novels as much as the movie-watching experience. I’m not sure why the screenplay bug bit first instead of novel writing, but that’s what happened.
One of the enjoyments of reading novels is getting to imagine your version of the characters and their surroundings based on the writer’s words. It’s your depiction of the story and its part of what entertains the reader. I think it captivates the reader by involving their imagination. Writing a screenplay doesn’t offer this and that was discouraging for me. Maybe if I was producing and directing movies this might be different, but that wasn’t a career choice for me.
Sure, the movie-goer is entertained by what their watching, but the scale of involvement is much less than what it is with a novel. I think it’s why so many people comment on how the book was better than the movie. It’s because the reader was immersed in the story on a much deeper level. That was a big deal to me and it’s why I switched from writing screenplays to novels. I wanted to entertain my reader’s by engaging them deeply in the story. That inspired me.
Fast forward quite a few years. As a bonus to this process, I’m now retired, so there’s more time for reading and writing…wait…writing and reading! Sure, there’s still plenty of things occupying this writer’s time, (chores, family, friends, cooking, gardening, exercise, travel… basically, life) but writing gets the bigger portion of my attention. It’s important for me to keep all those irons in the fire because I draw writing inspiration from all of it. Life inspires art inspires life, does it not? I’ve found fiction novel writing to be a much more satisfying process for me than screenplays. And in the end, that’s what matters most.
My mom never wanted to show or sell her paintings. She would always say that she created her art for her own pleasure. I respect that; however, we differed in our objectives regarding our art. It’s my greatest hope that someday my words; my stories, will find their way into people’s lives everywhere, entertaining all those who read them. And I’m very sure mom would be my number one fan. Now, there’s an inspirational thought.
What inspires you? Whatever it is, follow your heart and never stop trying.
Painting by Irene DiBernardo
Going about your business you hear a low rumble in the distance. You know what it is before you see it. Gradually growing louder, you turn to look, waiting for its approach. Cresting the rise in the road it appears now. The cluster of headlights shimmering in the heatwave. A group of motorcycles…Harley Davidson’s to be exact. There’s nothing like that sound. The riders thunder past on their steel and chrome horses. A sense of freedom touches you deep within watching them roll by.
Riding amongst them is another level altogether. Feeling that freedom first-hand. All I can say is there’s an awesomeness to riding your own bike. Your senses are heightened ten-fold. Temperatures vary constantly as the wind rushes against you. Scenery unfolds around you making you one with nature and the elements surrounding you. Smells are vivid and prominent, some good…some not so good. And the asphalt rushes past just inches from your boots. As city limits reflect in your rear-view mirrors, the real enjoyment settles in.
And as you settle in, all those responsibilities that make up your life…control your life, begin to fade with each passing mile. This is where your mind frees up to think about anything other than life’s complications and barriers. It’s a time to let your mind wander, maybe tap into your creative inspirations or reflect on accomplishments and things yet to be accomplished. For me it’s somewhat of a meditative outlet. It’s just you on your bike with a stretch of highway ahead of you asking yourself, what lies ahead? And looking forward to that journey.
It was a big deal for me when I got my motorcycle endorsement. I never imagined I would have the chutzpah to go through with it let alone buy a Harley for myself. I rode a lot of years with my husband on the back of his Softail and during those years a friend of ours, Cindy, rode her own Softail. Every time our group went for a ride I always wondered if I could do it to. Ride my own bike. Needless to say, Cindy was my inspiration for following through with it. Thanks, Cin.
Taking the weekend riding class was an experience I won’t forget. I had a blast. We…had a blast. Two of my girlfriend’s joined me. All three of us pulled it off together. It was liberating. So was going to the Harley Davidson dealership and purchasing my new bike. I rode out of there proud of my undertaking. My two friends didn’t follow my path as they continued to ride with their husbands. And that was fine. We all still rode as a group and the bigger take-away was that we had taken the class together which meant a great deal to me.
My husband and I are fortunate to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends, many of which ride motorcycles. Over the years we’ve been on a lot of rides together. Some just for the day and some for up to a week or better. But for me, the one that stands out above the rest was my first solo ride where we would be gone for a week. It would be the farthest that I had ever ridden solo. I guess it goes without saying that there was plenty of anxiety coursing through me up until the day we rolled out and even once we were on the road.
Departing from Phoenix, Arizona, we were headed to the annual Four Corners Rally in Durango, Colorado. There was eleven of us going, eight bikes and one chase truck. (You never know. Shit happens. Plus, a chase truck comes in handy when you’re thirsty or hungry riding across the reservation.) I remembered thinking thirty minutes into the ride as we cruised down the highway, “there’s no turning back now.” And I wouldn’t have wanted to. I was committed. Soon after, thankfully, that meditative mood enveloped me, and my anxiety was left by the wayside.
Our first night was spent in Mexican Hat, Utah at the Mexican Hat Lodge which sits right off highway 163. And I mean literally right off the highway. Having done this ride before, the overnight at this place was a “must.” It’s a family run operation and a few of them are musicians that treat their guests to a one-of-a-kind experience. I now had the first leg of the trip under my belt. Three-hundred-plus miles. Having collected my fair share of bug splats, I was tired and excited and proud of myself all at once. I remembered how refreshing the ice-cold beer tasted when we arrived.
Later that night we feasted on their claim to fame cowboy steak dinner from the swingin’ steak grill. Bellies full and cocktails in hand, a garage door was rolled up revealing the stage. The three-part band entertained us late into the night. Mind you, all of this is taking place less than fifty feet from highway 163. The occasional semi-truck thundered past blasting its horn during their performance. (Unfortunately, upon a recent visit to their website they’re no longer the home of the swingin’ steak dinner, but the motel is still in operation. And it doesn’t appear the family plays music anymore and may be under new ownership, which is a bummer.)
From Mexican Hat we rode to Durango, Colorado. We rented cabins at the O-Bar-O which is located right on the Florida River. This is where we called home for the next five nights. From there we ventured out on day rides to Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgeway, Telluride, Delores, and Mancos. This loop is known as the million-dollar highway and for good reason. The remaining days included rides to Lake Vallecito, out to Pegosa Springs, up to Wolf Creek Pass and back and a loop down to Chama, New Mexico. I put over eighteen hundred miles on my bike by the time we arrived back home in Phoenix. Whew!
Colorado has some of the most scenic highways and byways and is still my favorite riding destination. Unfortunately, it rains there a lot too in the summer months. Riding in the rain just plain sucks, but it’s all part of the experience. And that first solo ride is an experience I will never forget. The best part was taking this trip with our friends. I have no doubt they made the journey exceptional.
We continued to ride quite a bit over the years while we lived in Arizona. Some were extended trips like the Colorado ride, but most were day rides to a lunch destination or around town. All of them a great time. There’s a camaraderie like no other when you ride. And I must add that one of my friends that took the riding class with me eventually followed through with getting a bike of her own. Way to go Linda!
I have to say, there’s a lot that you miss being cooped up in a car. There’s even something lacking driving in a convertible. It’s just not the same. I feel fortunate and grateful for my riding experiences. I’ve put over ten-thousand miles on my bike since I bought it. Maybe that’s not a lot to the avid rider but it’s been quite an accomplishment for this rider.
Cheers and safe travels to all you riders out there!
Photo by Cathy Wilson
Sitting in the middle of the carpeted pen, my littermates frolic and tumble around me. I join in pouncing on two of them. We tumble and chew and paw at one another…wait…what’s that? I jump up. People are here again. When this happens one of us gets carried away never to return. My littermates tune in with me now. We study the people, they study us. There seems to be lots to discuss with our current human.
It’s my turn. I’m plucked from the pen. Coddled and wooed by these new strangers. This isn’t so bad. Will they put me back and choose another? Nope. I’m their choice. I’m carried off leaving my littermates behind. Wait…I squirm in the arms of my new human. She needs to take all of us, doesn’t she know that? Apparently not. She holds me tight and scratches my ears as I’m carried outside. I’ll miss you guys, I think, as I’m…
Score! My people own a Jeep. All cool pups ride in Jeeps. My new people are the best! I can’t wait to hang my head out the side and feel the rush of wind in my face while my tongue laps in the wind. But I need to grow a little taller first. On the ride home I check out all the bags of puppy paraphernalia my people have purchased. I smell treats.
New to my digs and people. It’s an adjustment period with lots to learn. I’m not happy about spending the night behind bars. They’ve enclosed my cushy bed with some sort of fencing. My people take long naps in the middle of the night. I’m bored. I paw at the fencing. Nothing. I begin to climb the fencing…oh shit…I’m stuck. High-centered on the top of it with all four paws flailing. I can’t get traction on anything. I yelp and howl. The light flicks on. My people rush to my aid. It worked. They’re up. Someone to play with. Nope. I’m placed back in the pen and it’s lights out once more. I’m bored. I miss my littermates. I chew on my bed. Hey look…something’s stuffed inside. I chew and chew and chew. There’s all this white fluffy stuff inside. This keeps me entertained for a while then I sleep. In the morning, my people seem upset. They’re not happy with my redecorating efforts.
New discoveries are endless along with rules. So many rules. I didn’t sign up for this. I nap a lot. There’s also obedience training, part of which I mastered the doggie door my first week. This seemed to impress my people. Now I can come and go as I please. There’s a big backyard to roam in and I have run of the doghouse. Whoever said staying in the doghouse was a bad thing never stayed in this doghouse. I like that my people share it with me.
They’ve bought me lots of toys too. The squeaky one’s are the best. There’s a token inside. The squeak device. Some of my toys have more than one so it creates a challenge. My other favorite toy I’ve discovered is attached to my rear end. Chase the tail, chase the tail, chase the tail, chase the tail, chase the, chase the, chase, chase…got it. I fall over. Whew! Dizzy. Dizzy. Oh look, mom’s shoelaces…catch ‘em. She doesn’t like when I do this. I growl. Then I bark. Hey…what’s that? I bark again. I like that sound. Bark, Bark, Bark! I start to do this a lot. It seems to annoy my people more times than not. But I love the sound of my bark. Bark, Bark, Bark!
More rules are introduced. Resisting chewing. This is a tough one. Shoes are out. Darn it, I like those a lot. Furniture, carpets, books, bedding and throw pillows too? WOW! This sucks. Oh wait…I have flavored chew sticks. All better now. Nom, nom, nom, nom.
After nappy time I venture out to explore the backyard. The sprinklers turn on. What fun! I grab the end of the line with my mouth and tug. It starts to come loose. I pull and chew working it free from the ground. I run with it until the line comes tight. Water sprays in all directions. It makes the dirt soft for digging too. I dig and dig and dig in lots of different places. I run back into the doghouse proud of my accomplishment. Uh-Oh! My people aren’t happy with this. I’m scolded and now must endure the dreaded bath time. I didn’t plan on that. Warning…I shake involuntarily. The sprinkler line gets re-buried. I don’t understand this. How can I play with them if they’re buried? I dig up the sprinklers again the next day. This ritual goes on for almost a week. I get bored and finally leave the sprinklers alone.
Now, I just dig. I figure this is ok since my people do this in the yard a lot. But I get in trouble for doing that. Apparently, they don’t want my help. I’m not sure I’ll be able to overcome this one. I love to dig. Plus, it’s the only way I can hide my stash of flavored chew toys. My people are just going to have to adjust to my digging.
I have to respect the open gate, too? This rule doesn’t make sense. If it’s open, I’m bolting through it. Nope. Think again. My people discipline me. But I figure it out. Don’t run out the open gate. Instead, just snoop and sniff casually and push the boundary. This seems to work. There’s a whole new world to explore in the front yard. And new people to see as they walk past our doghouse. I’m so excited! But I’m scolded for jumping on visitors. How else am I supposed to express my sheer bliss and joy of seeing them? And obviously, they’re just as excited to see me. OK, OK…I’ll work on this one…maybe.
This next one baffles me. Whenever I enter the room of my doghouse called the kitchen, my humans are always making things that smell yummy, but they don’t share. Instead, they fill my bowl with the same old kibble and water. This is apparently for my well-being. I explore this room when my people aren’t around. I tip the kitchen trash can over and rummage through the contents. Busted! I can tell my people are mad. It’s not fair. Look, you can’t leave remnants from dinner sitting out in the can for me to sniff out. That’s just, plain torture. I lick the floor after they’ve cleaned up the mess. Mmm, there was steak and potatoes in there.
Accepting the leash. Let’s just say that I’m not thrilled about this one. I have control issues that…oooh, a butterfly. Chase it…ugh! I’m tugged back by the leash. See? Anytime I want to go sniff the grass, chase down some new humans or go run off to play with another dog, I’m pulled back by the leash. It’s impeding on my socializing skills. I think of a new strategy. I run circles around mom’s feet tangling her in the leash. There! Now, I sit and look cute, proud of my handiwork. Wrong again. At first, she’s agitated but my cuteness wins her over. I lick her face giving her a whiff of my puppy breath. All is forgiven.
In between all the rules, obedience training and scolding I’m learning new tricks. My people seem to enjoy this interactive process. There are treats involved, so I roll with it. I’m bonding with my people. I won’t lie…I’m enjoying the interactive process too. I get lots of pets and tummy rubs.
I’ve also learned the differences in the doghouse furniture. Apparently, I don’t lounge on my people’s couches and chairs and they don’t lounge on my doggie bed. That’s ok. They’ve invested in the ultra-plush faux-lamb fur-lined deluxe bed for me. I circle three times before plopping down and curling up on it now, content with my people and new digs. I’ll dream about frolicking with my littermates and hope that they’ve been lucky enough to find people as great as mine.
"Kaylee" - Photo by Cathy Wilson
10 FRIDAY, AUGUST 8, 2014| Ahwatukee Foothills News| Ahwatukee.com
Kudos to Sgt. Tranter for rescuing dog
Kudos to Phoenix police Sgt. Joel Tranter for his tenacious response in rescuing a 15-year-old Shiba Inu pooch named Saki from certain danger in the morning hours of July 28. This Ahwatukee resident had witnessed an already over-heated, confused and exhausted Saki as she wondered in the street on Equestrian Drive near the Warner-Elliot Loop, unable to stop because of traffic. But thanks to this officer, while patrolling the streets of Ahwatukee, he spotted Saki and with the help of a neighborhood Good Samaritan, Tranter was able to coax scared little Saki into his air-conditioned patrol vehicle and whisk her off to a local veterinary hospital where they supplied her with water and scanned for a micro-chip, which she in fact had. This enabled officer Tranter to locate a frantic but very relieved and thankful owner and reunited the two.
I realize this isn’t headline grabbing news for most people but to dog owners and lovers such as myself this officer’s actions revealed the true meaning of community support and dedication. I just want to say “thank you” to Sgt. Tranter for rescuing this pooch and making my day (and I’m sure that of Saki’s owner) so much better. With the summer temperatures we’ve been experiencing it could have been a much worse situation for Saki. Hopefully, she’s back to enjoying dog treats in the comforts of home and I’m sure will think twice before walking out that open gate.
Photo by Cathy Wilson