Where book characters are born or ♪ ♫ “Who’s that girl?” ♫ ♪

THIS...is one person!

THIS…is one person!

Regardless of genré, all fictional book characters are born in the writer’s mind. Whether historical fiction, scifi, metaphysical, visionary fiction or any other genré, the character is either a faithfully reproduced version or a conglomerate of individuals the author has known or seen. How many times have friends, acquaintances, family members…or anyone who reads a book…quoted, in essence, the old song – “Who’s that girl?” – when they find that they can relate to the protagonist. Or antagonist?

My sister was (and still is) one of my heroes, as are my mother, father (may they rest in peace) and children, in some way or another. They are, or were, not perfect. Everyone has their bad sides, no matter how easy it is to forget when they are such awesome and admirable human beings 98% of the time! It is worth it to bear in mind, however, that there are two or more sides to every single person who has been born on this planet, and any writer worth his salt will be able to objectively access these when creating a book’s characters. Of course, this is only my opinion.

Let’s be perfectly honest; how do we define certain adjectives or adverbs as they might apply to a protagonist or antagonist – if only to ourselves? As for me, all of you who follow this blog or have corresponded with me have often heard or seen me say, “Mama always said…”, usually followed by some tidbit of wisdom. Elsewhere, I also relate stories and memories of my childhood, experiences with my own children, strangers, hospitals, employers and even my own attitudes and beliefs as an adult when describing something.

For example: “That character is like one of the people I used to work for; he has a good heart, but unlike my granny, he lacks the strength of character to do the right thing.” The character in question is built on memories of my boss and my granny, and probably with a few other character traits from others I have known.

Now read my books. You will find all of the above in the personalities and experiences of the characters I have given birth to. Sometimes those characters are patched together as though I was the long lost great-great-granddaughter of Frankenstein, only not so evil…usually!

The human mind is like a computer: data is never completely lost no matter how many times you delete and “Empty Recycle Bin”. It is from all the data that has ever been entered into the writer’s brain that the characters in their books, short stories or poetry and prose are born. Experience is how we learn and experience is what fuels our imaginations.

“Who’s that girl?” Well, that’s my sister and her compassion, my mother and her wisdom, my granny and her strength of faith, and my father and his boardroom persona. When I state in the Disclaimer at the beginning of my books, that “the characters in this book are fictional and created strictly from the mind and imagination of the author”, it is true. Mostly. But then, so it goes with other authors.

Just sayin’.

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Mama always said, ” ‘Tis better to give than to receive.” (Amazon & Goodreads Giveaways!)

Yes, this is really my Mama...but this book is still a WIP!

Yes, this is really my Mama…but this book is still a WIP!

People will often hear me say, “Mama always said, […enter her wise quotable here…].” That’s because my mama, probably just like yours, was wise…like her mama before her and hers before her, etc., (x) infinity.

My kids have heard me say this all their lives, especially when I couldn’t think of an original thought to pass on when advice was required. “My mama always said…” filled the bill so well that 7 of my 10+2 children have reported that they’ve said it to their kids as well.

I miss Mama. A lot.

Well, Mama’s birthday is coming up. She would be 85 on August 27th and I wanted to do something to commemorate her day. I wracked my brain to figure out a way to share her with everyone…then I heard her say clearly in my ear:

“What did I tell you all your life?”

“That all you want is for me to behave for just one day?” I thought back at her.

“No, you nincompoop! About giving and receiving!”

“Ohhh, yeah…riiight”

“Don’t ‘yeah’ me, young lady!”

“Ohhh, riiight!” (The title of this post was the correct answer, by the way 😀)

And so a couple of Giveaways are in order:

“But wait! There’s more!!”

  • My next Goodreads Giveaway will also begin on Mama’s birthday, this coming Saturday, August 27th, when you can enter to win 1 of 10 print copies of Folded Dreams- the Beginning.(see book details and reviews here). The final drawing for that Giveaway will be held on October 20th.

I think she’d approve.

After all, Mama always said, ” ’tis better to give than to receive.”!

On Folded Dreams, Waking Up Dead…because Mama always said, “I wish you’d stop being so morbid.”

If you have read “Folded Dreams – the Beginning”, you will have seen those words. That’s because the protagonist, “The Child”, and “Mother” are loosely based on me and my own mother. I suppose Mama would consider my unusual interest in death and the ‘hereafter’ from such a young and tender age, as being morbid. After all, children should be all about life and the future and giving their parents a hard time, right?

Mama was more full of life than most people I’ve ever known. She was filled to the brim with passion…her smiles and laughter were a joy to behold and could tame the most angry beast that could take up residence in a person’s heart…and her indignant, righteous rages (for 99% of her blow-ups were due to righteous wrath) could still the heart of a murderer and make him run for the nearest church, recognizing a dire and immediate need for sanctuary!

It was not until the year before she passed away that I found out Mama had her own particular spiritual belief system, regardless of what her church taught. Oh, she was a true believer…a true Christian…one of those few, rare souls who actually strove to live the way Christ taught, even in the face of the cruelties, meanness of spirit and spitefulness of mankind. But even though she respected and honoured her denomination, in her heart she also had her own understanding of the deepest mysteries of life.

I would not have known this, except that we had a very short conversation about the…odd things…that I had witnessed in my nearly half century (at the time) of life. In one indirect sentence, she told me that she hadn’t really thought I was as strange as she had led me to believe, all those years. She didn’t say, “I do wish you’d stop being so melodramatic and morbid. Why must you always be so  facetious?” No, during this conversation…one of the last we ever had…she merely clicked her tongue, cocked her head sideways and said, “Stranger things have happened to more people than you could ever know….to people you would never imagine.”

I think that writing the “Folded Dreams…” books (and basing “Mother” on her), and “Waking Up Dead!”, is my way of thanking Mama for finally letting me know that ‘pooh poohing’ my oddities as a child was simply her way of protecting me from a world that wouldn’t understand, and rarely acknowledges that there is more to life than those things that are visible. It made it much easier to let her go, once I knew we held the same faith.

(Thanks, Anne, for nudging my memories…)

“Dedication: To God. I get it.” – Waking Up Dead…An Update

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I decided last week that I needed a few days break from “Folded Dreams”, the novel, so “Waking Up Dead” has had my undivided attention…beginning with the Dedication of this project, “To God.” because, indeed, “I get it.”

Many of the choices we make in life are done so without the least regard to our own particular “end of days”. We always seem to think, “I’ve got plenty of time.”

We neither think about, and nor do we care, how those decisions will affect us on our deathbed…a time when all of us, without exception, will be forced to ponder what we actually believe. And sometimes that day comes a lot sooner than later.

Sadly, not even children, teenagers, young adults and perfectly healthy adults are immune.

I’ve always said, “If the atheists are right and the Judeo-Christians are wrong, I have nothing to worry about. But if atheists are wrong and Judeo-Christians are right…well…I have nothing to worry about.”

I freely admit, with pleasure, that I am a believer in Jesus as the Christ and all which that entails. I came to that decision very early…and I don’t think I would be remiss in crediting my mother for such an early pondering of the question.

Which brings me to the Acknowledgement of the book. The primary acknowledgement page reads thus (and you will see the connection!):

“Whenever Mama witnessed or heard about anyone taking unnecessary or stupid, life-threatening chances, or making really poor choices, her inevitable comment went something like, “He’d better be careful. One of these days he’s going to wake up dead and there won’t be any more chances to make mistakes…or restitution.

Your mouth to God’s ear, Mama. Your mouth to God’s ear.”

Believe it or not, “Waking Up Dead” isn’t some dark, religious, hellfire and damnation book. It’s full of stupid, life-affecting choices, questioning…and understanding…faith, discernment of right vs wrong and second…sometimes third…chances.

There is humour and probably those moments when the reader will admit, perhaps with an inward, embarrassed groan, “Oh, jeeze…been there, done that.”

But there is redemption and hope that, in the end, when you eventually “wake up dead”, you, too, will be able to face your Maker and say, “I get it. I was almost too late, but I get it.”

I hope you will enjoy my next project, “Waking Up Dead!”

Mrs. Secrist, 5th Grade & the English Language…vs. Mama

Mama was a stickler for correct grammar and clear and concise…nay, precise…annunciation and pronunciation. According to my fifth grade teacher, this was not quite the case.

Miz Mrs. Secrist was a very matter-of-fact, upper crust, “properly” educated matron from New England.

Emphasis on “England”. Forget the “New”.

She was strict, but fair. She was also determined to “properly” educate we poorly taught youngsters from the disadvantaged county of Pinellas, in the backwards state of Florida.

Mama’s rant, not mine. I liked Miz Mrs. Secrist.

Mama was indeed a stickler for grammar, spelling, correct pronunciation…and etiquette. She did not, however, accept criticism in those areas gracefully. Or graciously. Very un-etiquettely (did you see that new word I just made up?😀).

On day one of our fifth year, Miz Mrs. Secrist had each of us stand and introduce ourselves with a short bio – name, parent’s names and careers, siblings, pets, etc. Oh, and date and place of birth.

All were approved until it was my turn, and even I was doing well until I stated I was born in Natchez, Miss’ssippi, at which point she stopped me in order to teach the class the difference between proper (The Queen’s) English and “lazy American talk”.

“What state, again?”

“Miss’ssippi.”

“And do you know how to spell Mississippi?”

“Yes ma’am…M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I.”

“And do you know how to count syllables?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Come up to the blackboard,” she instructed, “and write it in syllables. Separate each syllable with a hyphen.”

‘Miss-iss-ipp-i’, I wrote, then added, ‘or: Mis-sis-sip-pi’.

“And how many syllables is that?”

“Four.”

Miz Mrs. Secrist nodded (albeit with a frown against the first example) and said, “Now pronounce it.”

“Miss’ssippi”.

She was getting aggravated and I couldn’t understand why.

She took up her pointer stick and tapped (unnecessarily hard, in my 11 year old opinion) each syllable for me to pronounce.

(tap)…Miss…(tap)…Iss…(tap)…Ipp…(tap)…I”

“Now…”, she slid the pointer across the word and indicated that I should read…

“Miss’ssippi.”

It took that poor woman a half hour to get through to me just what she expected. Or maybe I was doing all that 3 syllable “Miss’ssippi” on purpose. Can’t rightly recall 😀

And then there was the dictionary work, where she made us write the definitions of ‘ant’ and ‘aunt’…combined with comparisons of the pronunciation of tAUght, AUght (plus definition) and frAUght.

She informed us that she would not only be ashamed to claim family members who lived in tunnels, but also that it was genetically impossible for such a relationship to occur.

We kill ants. We’re related to AUnts.

Mama was neither happy, nor amused. She was, on the other hand, quite adept , in her own right, at teaching and proceded to educate the teacher about dialects.

She picked up a piece of chalk and told Miz Mrs. Secrist, “Here in St. Petersburg, Florida, we say… (and she wrote) ‘A’nt’…the ‘u’ is, shall we say, silent.”

We were fortunate that Miz Mrs. Secrist didn’t mark our spelling tests wrong for not adding “u” to words like “favourite” and “humour”!

I consider myself immensely blessed to have two such strong willed and determined women around when I was growing up and that I understood how important proper use of any language is.

Props to Mama for her demand for absolute adherence to the rules of English and etiquette! Without her influence, I would certainly be no writer.

But a real Shout Out to Miz Mrs. Secrist. I happen to see the logic of her teaching in that 5th grade classroom so long ago.

But I’m going to be me, no matter what. I speak and spell my own brand of English…both lazy American and the Queen’s.

My name is Pearl Kirkby. I am an old fossil, a mama/stepmom, grand/great-grandmother, sister and AUnt, who was born in a neighbourhood hospital in Natchez, Miss’ssippi!

“Waking Up Dead!” – Work in Progress

Here is the working cover for "Waking Up Dead!", by Pearl Kirkby...coming in Winter 2016!

Here is the working cover for “Waking Up Dead!”, by Pearl Kirkby…coming in Winter 2016!

During the process of bringing Folded Dreams (both precursor and follow-up novel) into reality, there occurred a conversation between my husband and myself, about the old Bible story concerning the rich man and the object of his ridicule, the poor man, Lazarus. “This,” I told him, “was where Mama got the saying ‘be careful about the decisions you make in this life, ‘cos you just never know when you’re going to wake up dead.”

“Waking Up Dead” means that, when you close your eyes in that final slumber in this life, you will wake up in the hereafter…at least for those of us who believe in such things. The biggest problem with waking up dead? If all you were doing in your physical life was to pay lip service to your faith, you’re pretty well doomed to an eternal nightmare.

In the Bible story, both the rich man and Lazarus died, pretty much at the same time. The rich man was sentenced to the fires of hell…and he started feeling a mighty big thirst before he even passed through the gates. He pleaded with God to give him one more chance, if not for his own sake, then for the sake of his brothers and family members, so that he could warn them of a “lukewarm” faith. God was not impressed, and the rich man had to watch, as Lazarus was borne to heaven and an eternity of peace, “…in the bosom of Abraham.”

In our story, Charles and Fan (names in progress) don’t worry about eternity. One is a self-professed atheist and therefore believes that “death is nothing more than learning how to be worm food!” and the other is a self-proclaimed Christian who, even so, is “…confident that God has a sense of humour!” Each thinks they have all the answers. Each believes “there’s still time to decide…” After all, they have youth on their side…”It can’t happen to me!”

It turns out that God does, indeed, have a sense of humour. But you have to remember: EVERYthing about God is a whole lot bigger than we poor humans can understand. Practical jokes, while funny to the human instigator, can be downright embarassing, painful and humiliating to the human recipients…so, well, like I said…putting practical jokes in the Hand of the Big Guy, the Big Guy’s Spirit and the Big Guy’s Son…not to mention the those warrior angels….

“WHOMP…there it is!”

“Waking Up Dead!” is just such a story as that of the rich man and Lazarus, with one critical difference. Our protagonists are given, not only a second chance, but a third and fourth chance, to learn faith, hope, charity and personal strength, straighten out their lives, set a good example to their friends and loved ones and, above all, to understand how deceit is second nature…no more than child’s play…to the devil.

Oh…you don’t believe in the devil?

See how simple that was!

“Waking Up Dead!”[1] is a new novel-in-progress, by Pearl Kirkby. The anticipated release will be Winter 2016!

(You can read a bit more about this book’s description on the Projects Page

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[1] “Waking Up Dead!” copyright © December 2015 by PL Pearl Kirkby

ISBN 10: 1530067103  || ISBN 13: 978-1530067107

Cover Design by Cover Creator, CreateSpace.