Interlock Excerpt

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PrePaid Orders for the scary anthology “The Box Under the Bed” are available at Amazon.

With 19 other authors, I will have a short story in that paperback book. My story is titled “Interlock”, and it was written as a short story taken from a novelette I wrote after challenging myself to create some kind of scary story in the vein of the work done by the extremely scary Stephen King!

As an exercise in economic writing, I shortened “Interlock”, a novella, to “Interlocked”, a novelette, then to the short story of the original name which will appear in the anthology.

To learn more about the stories included in the coming scary anthology, visit Dan Alatorre’s writing blog:

http://www.danalatorre.com/2017/09/02/34540/

Look for an excerpt of “Interlock” (abridged edition, “Interlocked”) at my Fans and Gamers blog, here, at WordPress.com:

http://www.fansandgamers.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/interlocked-excerpts-1/

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Credit:
Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

 

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It Will Not Be Long

WRITERS wanted for Dan Alatorre’s blog: If you’re interested in writing contests, and, or, anthology writing, check with Dan!

Source: It Will Not Be Long

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Finishing and Beginning…

As I was finishing my correspondence course in Fiction Writing with the Famous Writers School out of Westport, Connecticut, I also was working on the opening chapters for “Seawind”, the immediate title I’d given my life-sustaining novel. Seawind simply was the “Lady Seawind”, a cruise ship upon which the first portion of my novel took place. And after the ship’s characters disembarked, the story kept growing further into what it had started with, a sprawling love triangle and thriller which I could not put down!

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Where I came from — Henry County, Ohio

But in the beginning, after I had viewed the inspiring movie Ship of Fools many times over (see last post, dated October 26, 2016), what would be my novel’s first chapter was undecided.

After the immediate name for it came to me, I was buried in how to get my first character, a farm town doctor, aboard the cruiser ship. My limited knowledge called a quick halt to moving my story forward. And I had a fictitious American woman in mind who had been visiting Venezuela, where she had an aunt and uncle, and who was going to be the focal point of the love triangle that also involved my doctor and the Seawind captain. What did I know about the country of Venezuela?

The problem of geography and knowledge were solved by visits to the library on campus at Ohio State University, where I continued to work at the College of Education in 1966. Thus, I got a quick insight into the importance of research when one begins to write a novel. I already was a library-lover, so it followed that I enjoyed the research in the library’s powerful atmosphere.

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Where I spent seven years before moving to Vermont

In the meantime, I was finishing the correspondence course, with an extension of time allowed, and received my completion certificate in 1968. Is my certificate still hanging above my home work desk? Of course, it is! It represented my “license to write”, so to speak, at the time, and it gave me great pleasure to announce to my Ohio State college friends that I had received it.

Another OSU tidbit concerning my writing is the fact that I still possess some hand-written pages of my various novels, and some skeletal story and chapter ideas, all scratched on the backsides of scrap office paper from the College of Education, circa 1960s.

Unfortunately, my correspondence course paperwork and assignments all were lost in one of my life’s numerous moves from one location in Ohio and Vermont to another. However, I do still have the important four-volume book series and some other lesson and teaching material from the course, which I very much value.

Writing continued to consume me, and the novel was my passion, my life, in the middle of big city living. I didn’t earn much at my job, so options to explore Columbus were few, at any rate. The dog I had adopted from a local shelter I named Mick. He was supposed to be part Irish Setter. Tones of reddish brown did dominate his handsome coat. My silent and faithful partner, he accompanied me everywhere on campus during good weather, non-working hours, when I often chose a campus spot to sit and write.

Of course, there came a time when real life attraction to the opposite sex occurred for me. My writing slowed, but there was passion of another sort.

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My Great American Life-Sustaining Novel Influenced by the Film Ship of Fools Is Born

Of course, when one is in Columbus, Ohio, and is an Ohio native, one goes as The Ohio State University Buckeyes go!

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Students walk the Oval on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio, 1966.

When I decided to start my after-high school life in Columbus, I had a brother attending The Ohio State University, so I was assured of help to adjust to city life if I needed it.

Actually, I did, a few weeks into my first apartment. I had adopted a dog from an area rescue shelter, and he became unwelcomed, so to speak, where I lived in sort of an OSU student housing building off campus.

I bunked with brother and his wife for about a week until I found another, single apartment to move into. It was at 1 East Lane Avenue, at the northeast corner across from the north end of campus, close to where I had quickly found employment as a Clerk-Typist II at the OSU College of Education. The apartment, half of a duplex, has long since become the location for a gas station.

However, before I left the duplex, something very important happened in my writing life. There was a movie theatre just down the block from 1 East Lane Avenue. The theatre, too, is long gone. But it was easy to walk to the theatre, then, in 1966, and the price was right.

One evening, after work, I went to the theatre and became mesmerized by the German actor Oskar Werner in the 1965 film “Ship of Fools”. Also in the cast were Lee Marvin, Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, Jose Ferrer, Elizabeth Ashley, George Segal, all stars of the era. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and was based on the book by the same name written by Katherine Anne Porter.

I walked home, under stars, with ships and doctors and captains and lovers on my mind. Pencil and paper, with my typewriter nearby, were at once in my hand when I arrived back at my apartment. I barely took time to let Mick relieve himself outside.

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Mick, my Columbus companion, a ballplayer like his owner, enjoys time near Mirror Lake, his favorite water-fetching source at The Ohio State University.

In “Ship of Fools”, Werner plays the ship’s doctor on a German ocean liner. He has a life-threatening illness. His best friend is the ship’s captain, and the woman who becomes the doctor’s lover is an addicted Countess who boards with the fate of a deportee.

As my life-long sustaining, Great American novel was being born, influenced by the themes of “Ship of Fools”, I returned to see the movie night after night until it was no longer running at that theatre.

“Ship of Fools” had a number of other provoking storylines born of and important to the times — 1930s Nazi Germany — played out by the other stars. The entire story took place on board the ship, from boarding to debarkation at Boston Harbor.

My fascination, however, was with the doctor’s easy, legitimate friendship with the captain and his relationship (as a married man) with the Countess (Signoret.) The doctor had a wife and two teenage sons waiting for him in Boston.

I hadn’t arrived in Columbus with first-hand knowledge of married men taking lovers, even though, of course, it was already a world-wide practice. I was the farm girl daughter of a faithful family couple.

My erupting novel centered on a ship’s doctor and captain friendship, but my non-Countess woman became a lover of both men at different times, and my story began to evolve into espionage and double-crossing on dry land, as well. As time went on, I ran through the alphabet with it, from Venezuela to Boston, to murder and mayhem, from sky’s the limit to known villains, to surprise hero, enjoying every inventive moment.

And as time goes on, here, at “My Writing Life Xposed”, you’ll hear more about it, as well!

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Credit:
Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg (LAST picture is of my third and final Columbus apartment — two side windows, bottom floor — at 100 West Oakland Avenue.)

 

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Second Chances

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In the Summer months before my Senior year in high school, after gaining my parents’ confidence to paint my own room upstairs by myself (trim and all!) and while painting away for several days and contemplating my Senior year and our class boys entering their final year of playing varsity basketball, I came up with the little gem below. (It’s presented in its original — 1964/’65 and final-edited, 1995 form — page by page as final typed.)

SECOND HALF, By Barbara Anne Helberg:

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Basketball at Holgate High was important to its small, farm town community — still is! “Second Chance” was my only extended attempt at writing a fictional sports short story during my high school days. Although singular, it led to a growing and more serious, wider interest in sports and the sports-writing genre.

More detailed and complicated sports stories followed, leading my imagination to wonder if I could make a career in sports. Unfortunately, the “times” weren’t right. The story didn’t lead me anywhere special. Upon reflection, though, I know sports was an arena in which I (hind-sightedly) think would have been ideal for me. At the time, the middle 1960s, becoming independent enough as a young female to leave home was in itself my burning priority.

However, portions of “Second Chance” that I later used in a Famous Writers School assignment did receive good reviews, and my instructor told me, “Of course, you (as a female) can write about sports!”

That instructor was one of several who encouraged me along my way in life to pursue my own desires. And my Mother always told me, “Follow your dreams”. I believe I have, in part, accomplished that, but distractions in life as you plan other things are many and varied.

 

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*****Credits:
Top Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg
Bottom Photo courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com

 

 

 

 

 

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School Bases Covered

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After high school graduation, I worked at several area jobs — including one year at the city newspaper, The Northwest-Signal — before moving to Columbus, Ohio, to explore my independence from Mom and Dad and seven siblings and to begin to experience the twists and turns we call “life”.

I also had signed on for a correspondence course in “Fiction Writing” with the Famous Writers School of Westport, Connecticut, rather than go to college. On the FWS board of directors at that time were such greats as Rod Serling, Red Smith, Mignon G. Eberhart, Max Schulman, Bruce Catton, Bennett Cerf, and others.

My year at the newspaper didn’t turn into a permanent, can’t-leave-this-opportunity situation because there was no appropriate position for me to grow into and from which to launch a wider career. The Sports Editor, who had become a fixture at the Signal, did give me opportunities to cover sports events and write some fun articles on county events. However, I soon learned that local sports were a hot-bed of who supported who and for what reasons, none of which I wanted to add to my resume.

The best thing that came from my newspaper work was my discovery that Fiction — without a doubt — forever and always would be my first love.

More of my newspaper career, which came in two different eras of my life, may be followed at —
http://www.joeeandme.wordpress.com
where I intertwine my life with that of Hollywood comedian Joe E. Brown, who was born in my hometown, Holgate, Ohio, 54 years ahead of me.

During this period, I didn’t write anything of importance that stayed with me other than my correspondence course assignments. The “Fiction Writing” course showed me the errors I needed to fix in the few short stories I had written in my elementary and high school years. Those stories had been left in a notebook. Some of them formed the basis of FWS homework and helped me shape my writing skills.

I had a lot to learn about writing and about living life.

Now that I’m on the down hill side of life at the age of 70, I’ve come to think of writing as my wonderful hobby that allowed me to create projects and that sustained me through everything. It really did, and it still does.

I’ve added two new blogs to my WordPress endeavors; one complains —
http://www.randomcomplaintdept.wordpress.com
and one praises —
http://www.linesofgratitudeblog.wordpress.com

and together they will continue to be a place where my life sort of wraps itself, a place of purge, so to speak, that reveals much of what life means to me and expresses the blessings I’ve had along the way.

Here, at “My Writing Life Xposed”, I’ll continue my story of the Great American Novel that began in Columbus and how it kept me going through…well, every single day.

(P.S. — My little pal in the top picture, Cee-Cee, is still with me!)

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Big Written Production on JFK

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By the time I was a senior in high school, I knew my part in life would involve writing, and when that Fall my President was murdered before the eyes of thousands in Dallas, Texas, I was inspired to write of him. I didn’t know him personally, but I was full of passion and in shock concerning the crime that took him from us.

For our school newspaper, The Tatler, I wrote an impassioned, four page “Tribute to JFK”, the longest work I’d done to that date. My English teacher approved our The Tatler articles, as our newspaper advisor, and he pointed out to me that my article was written from an emotional viewpoint, that it was based on facts I stated but didn’t know about JFK, the President I’d never met.

I later realized the article also was a wonderful example of the writing truism, “Less Shall Be More”, for it was grossly redundant and ran on to unnecessary lengths with biographical material. However, recognizing my unstoppable passion and grief over JFK’s demise, my English teacher approved the article for The Tatler and it ran as written. It is the most out-of-control piece of writing that I ever produced, but it allowed me to spiel my emotional shock over the assassination. Adding to my distress over the murder was the fact that he would have been the front-running candidate in my first political voting experience, something I’d been relishing.

Here’s the opening paragraph of “Tribute to JFK”:
“When America lost John Fitzgerald Kennedy, it lost not only its President and great leader, but also a man who feared God and loved his country; a man who was faithfully devoted to family and friends; a man who recognized and challenged his many responsibilities; a man who figured it was too easy to quit and go home when the waters got rough; a man who was an ardent supporter of sports and physical fitness; a man who, although the first Roman Catholic ever elected to the Presidency, was not hesitant about speaking of his religion — which was a deep and faithful one — because of political involvements; a man who despised hatred and bigotry, fought against them, but in the end lost because he was himself struck down by one who cared nothing for these very things.”

Can you imagine three more pages like this beginning? Well… as I said, I was in shock.

The Tribute ended like this:
“Will America’s peoples now learn a lesson? Will we throw off our cloak of complacency, resetting our goals and once again putting our shoulders to the task of keeping American great, a land of freedom and equality for all? Or will we, after the initial shock of this underhanded act and national grief, allow America to return to her state of listlessness and Americans to their state of unjustified complacency? Our President, “a great and good man,” is dead, but our nation is not dead and it must not play dead. However sadly, however morosely, our nation must move on now more than ever. Let us do take heed.
“The best way we can memorialize John Kennedy is to continue to strive for the values and objectives which he began and for which he fought so valiantly and vigorously. To make and keep America greater in every aspect is what he wanted. That is what we, behind our new capable President, must do.”

I don’t at this point in time belittle my passion of 1963, for JFK’s horrific demise became part of who I became, and I still loathe that day in Dallas. But, of course, my wise English teacher was correct in his assessment of my Tribute. Probably, the article would have been better effective with the first paragraph revised to facts; then the last two paragraphs of plea would have been enough added to it to complete the Tribute written from my viewpoint.

Through passion, I learned. “Tribute to JFK” was my last written production of note before I graduated high school in the Spring of 1964. Our class trip included a tour of New York City and Washington, D.C., and the original gravesite of JFK.

In 1968, I traveled to D.C. with a friend, and we visited the Eternal Flame (right). In the left-hand photo is the JFK permanent gravesite which I took from the hill above it.

Later in 1968, JFK’s brother, Bobby, and the Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. were also assassinated.

My grief never has ended…

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