The Drowning of Minnie Brogan at Spirit Pond!

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The Indian summer began like any other when I was twelve years old growing up in the small colonial era farming community of Granby, Connecticut. The last fields of the summer harvest had been shorn of their corn, alfalfa, hay, and tobacco. The wet smell of fresh cut hay filled the air as well as the mingling aroma of tobacco fields that now lay bare of their crops. The large tobacco leafs would hang neatly from wooden poles to dry underneath white-sheeted tents. The smell of tobacco, sweet and pungent, hung in the air. It was a grown-up smell, a smell of intimacy and secret goings-on. My cousin Garrett and I would sometimes sneak up behind the white-sheeted tents and listen. Giggles, laugher, and strange noises were not unfamiliar sounds to our ears as we listened. More than tobacco leafs nestled under the white-sheeted tents.

Not far from the tobacco field was an ancient apple orchard that looked like something out of a wicked fairy tale. Walking through its darkly gnarled wood was a rite-of-passage experience for anyone under the age of twelve. To this day memories of Canton road, where I grew up, float across my senses.  I envision its tar paved darkness as it crosses over Salmon Brook, cuts through McLean’s game preserve, wanders by weird old Stewart Duncan’s farm, and the said-to-be-haunted Sperry colonial homestead. Canton Road weaves it way over-laying the swell of land occupied for ten thousand years by the indigenous people like the Massaco Indians who were a part of the Algonquian tribes. Evidence of their inhabitation is still visible by those who know what to look for.

Spirit Pond is one of those places. There are sightings by the locals of ghost warriors that still drink the dark cold waters of Spirit Pond and are not as rare as one would like to believe. Spirit Pond is a large spring fed body of water surrounded by tall reeds and weeping willows. Its dark cold water and deep recesses still hold untold secrets as well as the body of Minnie Brogan. My rather strange cousin Garrett was drawn to the story of Minnie Brogan and I followed suit. Young Minnie Brogan lived in a small dwelling at the edge of Spirit Pond in 1680 not far from our home in the Salmon Brook Settlement.  She was said to have met with a ghastly end. It is a haunting legend of sorts and the story appears in the town’s tourist pamphlets as a way of advertising its colonial history to visitors.

It was said that young Minnie Brogan lived a solitary existence in her meager dwelling on the edge of Spirit Pond and tended a few chickens and a vegetable garden. She also grew medicinal herbs. In colonial times, a female living alone who also concocted remedies was sure to raise suspicions of witchcraft. Yet, Garrett and I doubted this explanation and we would often sit by the edge of Spirit Pond trying to envision that long ago crime. Minnie Brogan was dragged from her thatched hut. She was bound by her hands and feet and thrown into the spring fed pond. We wondered how scared she must have been as she slowly sank into Spirit Pond’s cold dark waters. I personally believe there was more to it than just medicinal herbs. Minnie was young, alone, and was said to be hauntingly beautiful. She was accused of conjugating with evil forces. As a six grader, I had no idea someone could actually be murdered for not knowing how to conjugate a verb (although there were times I was sure by teacher at thought of it).

So, it was in winter when Spirit Pond was frozen-over that Garrett and I would go ice skating and just as often we would look to see if Minnie Brogan’s ghostly apparition would rise up from the ice. Although we never actually saw her ghostly-self rise from the pond, we imagined what she would look like if she did. I wonder about Minnie Brogan’s secret hopes and dreams that vanished into the dark cold waters of Spirit Pond one nefarious moonless night long ago. Sometimes I even imagine I can feel her presence as I dip by fingers into the waters of Spirit Pond. It is though the earth remembers her and still holds her secret longings. I, too, will always remember Minnie Brogan.

**** A short, short story by K. D. Dowdall

Delphi Altair – A Review

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A Great Adventure with a Charming Heroine!

By Kirstin Lenane

Simply put: this ageless novel is beautifully done and should be picked up by any fan of epic fantasy stories. I am very impressed by K. D. Dowdall’s ability to weave together so many characters and story-lines into a cohesive whole (it reminded me of the way Dickens and Tolkien are so deftly able to do this). The story takes place mostly in three settings: in a briny, seaside town sometime in the past, in a beautifully evocative land called Janji, and then in a familiar-seeming town sometime in the present day (where McDonald’s and Diet coke and movies exist). Whether K. D. Dowdall is evoking an other-worldly one (filled with magical creatures, such as Snagettes and Tittlecrests) or an earthly one (with clam chowder boiling on the stove and nasty schoolteachers pounding paddles on their desks), her scenes are drawn with such detail that they will pull you in, time and time again.  I really can’t recommend this book enough. Try it! You’ll be hooked and waiting for the next one.

****Kirsten Lenane is a professor of English Literature and Creative Writing. She is also the author of several wonderful children’s books: http://kirstinlenane.com

 

 

 

FANFICTION: ALL ABOUT DIALOGUE

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(Being not very familiar with Fan Fiction I decided to take a look at what makes fan fiction popular and well, writing is writing so I had to read about it. One website in particular caught my attention because it seemed to be a good place to start. I am always willing to read about dialogue and everything else about improving my writing.)     https://www.howtowritefanfiction.com

The following is an excerpt from the above linked site:

Dialogue is one of your primary story telling tools; it is how you move the story forward and how you reveal things about your character. If you write your story dialogue the way you talk every day, your reader will be bored in no time flat.

Have you ever had a heated discussion with someone, and then hours later, upon reflection, thought of the perfect witty retort?  The best way to describe written dialogue is what you wish you’d said in the heat of the moment. It’s clever, witty, and sometimes misleading.

Dialogue Defined

Speaker Attributions tell the reader who is speaking. He said and she said are the most common variety.

A Beat is a description of physical action that can be used to indicate the speaker instead of an attribution.

How to Write Dialogue

Don’t explain your dialogue.  When you follow dialogue with phrases like “he said angrily” or “she said harshly” you are explaining how the character feels. Instead, their feeling should be obvious by the words they say as well as their actions.  Use of an adverb (ly) almost always catches you in the act of explaining dialogue. Instead of an adverb, use a beat of action to convey your characters feelings.

When you are writing speaker attributions, said is always the right choice.  Do not saddle your characters with impossible actions; you cannot beam, smirk or grin a line of dialogue.  Said is akin to punctuation. It disappears on the page. For the sake of variety, you can use beats of action in place of said.

Always place the character’s name or pronoun first in a speaker attribution. Use ‘Sam said’ instead of ‘said Sam’. This is the professional standard for dialogue.

Choose one way to refer to a character in a scene and stick with it.  Don’t use “Detective” the first time and “Jane” a few paragraphs later.  This is one case where shaking it up for the sake of variety can be confusing.  Please note that this is within the confines of single scene, not the entire story.

Avoid ping ponging dialogue by having your characters refer to each other by name in order to eliminate speaker attributions.  This is just plain awkward. Use the speaker attribution or a beat of action.

Use sentence fragments and contractions to make your dialogue sound real.  Dialogue is the one place you can play fast and loose with grammar.

Do not use dialogue to data dump. Having your characters speak like an entry in Wikipedia is not natural. If you have a chunk of background information to reveal, do it piece by piece through both dialogue and exposition.

Let your characters lie to each other, argue and misunderstand each other. Allow your characters to be suspicious of each other, to wonder what the truth is. Real life is never wrapped up in a neat package, so give your characters the chance to disagree and they’ll sound more human.

Do This:

Read your dialogue out loud. Listen to see if it sounds natural, and if you can differentiate the characters in your scene by the words they say. As you listen, you should be able to find places where you stumble over words or places where you need beats of action. If your dialogue sounds stiff, make sure it isn’t announcing information that could be imparted through exposition.

My take on this short informative writing about dialogue:

Well, yes, a couple of good reminder points for the absolute beginning writer (oh wait – that’s me) with two books written and a third being written as I speak, I still consider myself a total beginner. I have actually found a few of the writing lessons interesting. For instance, the Seven Point Story Structure, All About Dialogue, and Revision. I found I was actually committing a few sins in my dialogue that I was not even aware I was doing.  I found this site very to the point with few flourishes of dialogue because, frankly, I need to write.

SHE

 

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She,

A being unfolding in the light of knowledge,

A child of life forever opening windows,

To the world,

And lighting candles in dark passages,

She,

Searches in clouds of gray for the color of truth,

And the touch of truth upon her soul,

She,

A glistening aura, a tremble with wonder,

At all there is to learn,

To be,

To embrace in the universe.

 

Ecstatic Moments!

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Life has two ecstatic moments,

One when the spirit catches,

The sight of truth,

The other is when it recognizes,

A kindred spirit…

Perhaps it is only in the land of truth

That spirits may,

Discern each other; as it is when they

Are helping each other on,

That they may best hope to arrive.

Guesses at Truth

Dying to Live

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She is weak,

She is strong,

Her  heart beats wildly,

It no longer beats at all,

She can stand tall,

She has no feet at all,

Her tears run rivers,

Her rivers run dry,

She thinks she can live forever,

She knows she going to die,

She  lost all hope,

She  believed in all,

She never not believed,

In what she could have been.

 

SUMMER TANS

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In time I’m going back,

Into waves of memories,

And, suddenly I find,

The Summer sands,

Like a pulse,

Beating out a Summer heat,

And into my senses I breathe,

The frothy, salty air,

And the Sun,

Like a yellow glaze,

Browns my Summer skin,

That mixes well,

With Turquoise seas,

Flowing deep,

And the feeling,

Oh so sweet,

A blend of oceans, sands,

And Summer Tans!

 

MISTY ROSES

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I can walk down garden paths,

And wander through the misty roses,

Until I find a resting place,

Where my love can find me.

I can sit on velvet skirts,

Upon a mossy knoll,

And ponder on the changing skies,

Until my love can find me there.

I can listen to a whip-her-will,

Cry her mournful tune,

And wonder if she lost her love,

As mine was lost to me.

I can lay me down on fragrant beds,

And watch as posies toss their sleepy heads,

Until I dream my heart away,

And wait until my love can find the way.

 

FREE AT LAST

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FREE AT LAST

I am free at last,

My spirit rushes through me,

Like whistling wisps of air,

Swirling through the trees.

And as I leave the earth,

Spiraling so high,

I reach out to touch the sky.

As I blend into a windy world,

Brushed with blue-lit hues,

The timeless winds, rush to me,

To breeze my fears away.

And I find to my surprise,

My spirit’s restless wanderings,

Like a windstorm running through me.

Until, at last it gathers force,

Like a rolling thunder moves,

The heavens to explode,

Into electric rhythms,

Beating in mid-air.