"Life by Fire" the NovelAct of courage. Bold experiment. Novel in progress.
Step out of your prison; it is self-imposed.
Leave it to burn behind you, igniting the fire of your imagination, and life will follow.
The Novel "Life by Fire"
The First Dimension: A Novel in Progress
This multi-dimensional novel intermingles two stories, entitled “Life by Drowning” and “Death by Water”. Read the novel as it progresses.
The Novel "Life by Fire" Commentary
The Second Dimension: Contextual Details
Read contextual and historical details, as well as the author’s insights as the novel takes shape behind-the-scenes.
Forward: Act of Courage
What’s on your bucket list? I contemplated my life from my funeral backward: sobering. What do I aspire to accomplish before I die? My bucket list is short. At the top? Write a novel. I value words, appreciate literature, relish a good book, revel in a beautiful poem....
Preface: Birth of a Story
Saturday, July 25, 2009: I lay face forward, sprawled across a pile of pillows, eyes shut, as another wave of contraction shudders through my core. My mouth opens wide into an O and I feel a deep long loud “ooooohhhhh” pass over my lips. Deep breath in, deep breath...
Monday, February 12, 2007: Death by fire. I dream of dying in a burst of flames. Searing heat traveling from my feet, up my legs, swirling around me. Hot, dry, release. My soul purified by fire—a quick, dramatic death, nothing left but ash. The antithesis of my life.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007: I awaken to the offensively chipper chatter of morning show hosts from the clock radio at my husband’s bedside. Pulling up my knees, I withdraw deeper into the dark, warm covers and lift them over the back of my head, relieved when he hits “snooze” and heads to the bathroom. A ten-minute reprieve.
Thursday, July 16, 2009: The year transpires much the same, one distraction to the next. By day, I split myself in two—half domesticated mom, half professional businesswoman—accomplishing neither whole-heartedly. Perpetually fatigued and scattered.
Monday, July 20, 2009: In the days that follow, I carry the mysterious letter with me everywhere, pausing often to re-read it and re-examine the envelope.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009: My curiosity over the letter’s origin turns to obsession. Who could have written such a letter and under what circumstances? The question rests on my pillow, and the letter under it, as I drift off to sleep that night.
Gisa Catarina Gärtner was born at sea on October 5, 1933, halfway between the province of Tirol, Austria, and the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, thereby becoming the youngest of 91 Catholic Austrian emigrants headed to found a new colony in the New World.
1933 – 1939: Dreizehnlinden, Santa Catarina, Brazil: By the time Gisa grew old enough to go to school, the rudimentary communal barracks had transformed into small neat houses and productive farms, and the settlement of Dreizehnlinden into a community complete with a church and a store, as well as a school.
1939 – 1942: Dreizehnlinden, Santa Catarina, Brazil: No sooner had the stalwart community of Dreizehnlinden established foundations, than political unrest and natural disaster combined to shake them to the core.
1942: Dreizehnlinden / Papuan, Santa Catarina, Brazil: In August 1942, a single German submarine sunk five Brazilian vessels in two days, causing more than six hundred deaths and leading Brazil to declare war on the Axis on August 22, 1942. That’s when the war truly reached Dreizehnlinden, forever shifting its foundations.
Thank You, Dorothy Shoemaker
Thoughts of gratitude and appreciation upon winning 1st prize in the Adult Division of the Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Awards Contest.
This novel conglomerates and focuses several fascinations of mine, as detailed here.
New Medium, New World
This novel website (pun intended) tests my vision for the Internet as a new compositional medium. Find out how.
Every Word Counts
Lance Armstrong’s Motto: Every second counts. My Motto: Every word counts. Write once. Edit ad nauseam.
“The Second Coming” William Butler Yeats
In the novel post “Phoenix Slouching”, I reference this poem by William Butler Yeats.
Work in Progress
I commit to working on the progressive realization of this novel daily and publishing something (of the book, about the book, or about my experience with the book) on this website regularly in 2015. I hope you will hold me accountable to doing it.
It’s Magic. Really.
The book post entitled “Phoenix Slouching” introduces the novel’s first reference to an extraordinary event, occurring in an otherwise mundane existence and places it within the genre of Magic Realism.
And So It Began
The post “Forethought” marks the beginning of the story “Death by Water”, within the story “Life by Drowning”, to which I alluded when I called this a “multi-dimensional novel”. Although Gisa Catarina Gärtner and the Gärtner family is fictional, the setting is real and the historical details are accurate to the best of my knowledge. Here are some background details.
My Life: The Short of It
Credit to Portia Nelson for this format. In 1993, she wrote her “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters”. I needed six chapters to complete mine—I’m more verbose.
It’s Not ‘Historical Reality’, It’s ‘Historical Fiction’
What to do when the historical details I need are not readily accessible? Allow my current inability to check historical facts to bring my story to a screeching halt just as it was starting to pick up momentum? Or plough ahead, imaginatively filling in the gaps as best I can, with the intention of editing for accuracy later?
Brazil at War
Propoganda Video: Brazil At War 1943 From the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs. This American video praises Brazil for joining the Allies and declaring war against Germany, endevouring to show Brazil's similarities to America.
The Devil & The Details
Or “The Distractions & The Research”: Have I made any progress on my book since my last digest, you ask? Yes, despite the distractions, I have! Life By Fire will soon branch out into a couple of directions that require accurate historical details. To that end, I have been diligently Googling, emailing, calling and haunting various libraries and universities. Here are some highlights.
What’s in a Name
Names have symbolic power—personally and politically. Here are some interesting details about names as they play out in history and in the novel.
Romantic Evenings Circa 1954
My writing focus has flitted from scene to scene, era to era, based on my mood and interest at any given moment, as well as the accessibility of information required for historical accuracy. I’m currently focusing on a section that takes place in Kitchener in the spring of 1954. Here, I’ve outlined some of the legwork that has gone into defining it.
Occasionally, I half-awaken around 3am and toss-and-turn as my mind churns over creative solutions to my next chapter’s dilemma. Sometimes, the solutions still sound inspired in the morning and sometimes they fall flat.
I’ve read a great deal about the value of Interval Training in exercise and highly recommend it (despite rarely doing it). For instance, if one runs (which I don’t, if I can help it), interval training would involve alternating between short, intense, full-out sprints, and slow, steady recovery jogs in one training session. I’ve realized that the same habits that I’ve applied (or haven’t but should) to exercise also apply to writing.
Have you ever completed a task automatically, with unconscious ease, as if on auto-pilot—as if the information is being fed to you rather than formulated by you?