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Blogging By the Sea
Saturday, June 25 2016
Getting emotionally involved in a book

June Round Robin Blog Hop: How emotionally involved are you in reading or writing some scenes?

As a reader, the answer to this question varies, but the books I found myself the most deeply involved in emotionally are the ones I remember years and years later. To be honest, I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime and remember very few of them. They were fun while I was reading them and most of them left me satisfied, but they don’t stay with me. Ironically, while I don’t recall all of the story, one book that I will never forget was recommended to me by a friend. Set in England I think in the 1600s, the book, Forever Amber left me so disappointed I wanted to throw it at something - probably my friend if she'd been at hand. I so wanted things to work out for the heroine and there was a good man who loved her, but she kept making other choices, bad choices, unfixable choices until he finally left her. Through the whole book, scene after promising scene, I kept rooting for her to see the goodness in this one man who really loved her rather than chasing after something else that was never going to last. Right up to the end, she never learned, and never redeemed herself. I was totally emotionally involved in that even though the HEA never happened for her and I wished I’d never read the book in the first place. But I think that kind of emotional involvement and the author’s ability to make us feel that strongly is what makes a great book.


As a listening reader – now that so many great stories are available on audible, I enjoy them while I listen, but soon forget – perhaps it’s not having seen the written word – I don’t know. But one thing I have to say for audible is that you are there – I mean really THERE. If the hero or heroine is being stalked your hair is standing on end. If two lovers are getting it on, if it’s really well done, you can’t help feeling aroused. When something really sad happens you can’t stop the tears either.  Recently, I was driving to a meeting in Jacksonville, a little over an hour from my home so I always leave plenty of time in case of traffic or other unforeseen holdups. On this trip I was listening to a suspense story  about a covert, super dangerous mission. When I pulled into the library parking lot, I felt like I was in a rush. Like I was running late. I gathered up my stuff and hurried inside only to discover I was early, no need for the rush. I sat down and suddenly felt drained. I had been so emotionally invested in that story I was physically reacting as if it was me that was fighting for my life and desperate to get to safety before it was too late. Good writing and excellent reading on the part of the actor. It took me as long to recover from that adrenalin rush and the following let down as it would have had I experienced the action myself. The entire book was not that edge of the seat, but those scenes surely were.


As a writer, I am mostly always emotionally involved. I don’t write well if I’m not. As Steve Jobs said: "If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you."  This applies to writing, too. If I am emotionally invested and excited about what’s happening to my characters I don’t have to struggle to find the words – the words will race along at a furious place, and I’ll be breathlessly trying to keep up. Often I'll get caught up in activity or family stuff that takes me away from writing for a few days or even a week or more. When I come back, I open my manuscript, stare at the last thing I wrote and even with an outline or comments on post-its about where I’m supposed to go next, I find myself dragging the words out, desperate to get the action going, frustrated by my non-involvement. I always have to go back at least a chapter or more and just read what was happening before the interruption to get myself emotionally back into the story, back to feeling what my characters are feeling and being urged on by their needs and wants. So, for me as a writer, YES, I most definitely have to be emotionally involved in every scene – otherwise the book would never happen. There’s a downside to this kind of involvement though. When you get to the end you feel this incredible letdown. It’s like my BFF just moved to the other side of the planet and I miss my characters dreadfully. They’ve been in my head and heart for weeks, or months, and now they are gone. I wander around the house wondering what to do with myself. There’s always housework, and probably a maintenance project or two I’ve been putting off while chasing after the story, but they don’t have the emotional pull my story did, and I feel a little empty for awhile. And then I start a new book and get excited all over again.


Check out how these authors feel about emotional involvement:

Anne Stenhouse
Marci Baun
Heather Haven
Victoria Chatham
Dr. Bob Rich
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Rachael Kosinski
Margaret Fieland
Connie Vines
Rhobin Courtright

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 14 2016


The other day a friend of mine posted this meme on Facebook.  Quite a few people echoed the sentiment, but one woman said she didn’t miss it at all. She made good points. In her words: “Girls were given too few career options. Women were expected to stay with abusive husbands rather than seek help. Lunch counters in the South served only white patrons. Segregated schools provided an education unequal to what white students received. We have made great progress, let's not go backwards.”

But I still miss the America I grew up in. I miss that children could be allowed to go out to play from breakfast until the streetlights came on at night without being hovered over by a parent. That we were allowed to fall down and learn from our mistakes, pick ourselves up and try again, instead of having a parent “fixing” it for us. When children grow up learning from their mistakes and taking responsibility for their choices, they grow into adults who take responsibility.


I miss the America I grew up in because there was a very clear moral compass to our lives. Not everyone was Christian, but the same moral code seemed to be pretty much ingrained in our society. We had a reverence for life, our own and everyone else’s. I’m not claiming that there was no lawlessness, because certainly there was. Before my time the government decided that alcohol was an evil that could be legislated away and prohibition became the law of the land. Obviously this “law” didn’t work, rum running became a profession and crime families thrived. But somehow, we’ve forgotten this lesson and have come to believe that all we have to do is pass a law and the problem will go away.

But the lack of “civility” in our civil society, and the continuous efforts to remove any hint of morality (because it might feel too much like religion) have taken their toll on the America I grew up in. When I was a child, men and older boys had rifles carried in gun racks against the back window of their trucks. And the trucks were not locked. But how often did those totally unrestricted guns get used as they have been in recent years? As I came of age, sit-ins were popular forms of dissent, first for equal treatment for African Americans and desegregation, and later in protest of the Vietnam War. Those were true protests and eventually the voices of those who protested were heard. But today, far too often, what is hailed as a protest is a riot, with intent to hurt, maim, kill, burn and loot. And our leaders have come to call these riots protests and the behavior as acceptable. Not only that, we turned on the very people who put their lives on the line every day to maintain law and order. So far this year alone, 25 law enforcement officers have been deliberately killed on duty, targeted and ambushed just because they were officers of the law, not for anything they have done wrong. I am not defending police brutality, but rather the idea that if you are pissed off with the status quo as you see it, a legitimate way to address your anger is to kill other cops, firefighters and EMTs who are responding to calls.


So, yes – I miss the America I grew up in. I miss that we could find a way to settle arguments and differences of opinion without anything more violent than a bloody nose. I miss that we have lost our respect for life – every life – and for each other regardless of our differences. We fill our children’s growing, learning brains with murder and mayhem in the form of violence on TV and video games that score the kills. We fail to teach our sons how women should be treated and expect the courts to be lenient when they make a “mistake” and rape an unconscious woman.  Our schools, all the way up and through college must be “safe” places where no student must ever hear or see something that they find uncomfortable, and when they get out into the world they haven’t learned how to accept others who are different than they are with tolerance.


I am proud to be an American. I am proud to represent what America has historically stood for and I am proud to be part of some of the best things that America still is. But I am ashamed of what American society has become. And I fear that the pendulum will not begin to swing the other way until we accept the fact that a moral underpinning is absolutely required for a civil society to exist. The United States is the most philanthropic country in the world and yet – we still have not learned tolerance and acceptance and respect for life – all lives matter.


Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Tuesday, June 07 2016


 Have you ever come across something unexpectedly? Something you haven't seen in years? Something that jerked you back without warning to a time you'd done your best to forget?  And been overwhelmed with emotions you never wanted to remember?
That's what happens to Matt Steele, in the middle of a hotly contested race for the White House and it's going to change everything he thought he knew about himself.

Available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  and Kobo

Here's an excerpt:

He gaped at the tattered photograph that had just been slipped into his hand. His heart raced, and Senator Matt Steele, Democratic candidate for president, halted so abruptly his Secret Service agent bumped into him.

“Keep moving, sir.” Joe Venuto urged. Matt barely heard the warning.

“Senator Steele!” A lilting, accented voice shouted above the noise of the crowd. “I must speak with you.”

Matt curled his fingers around the photograph as if to protect it. He raised his gaze to search for the voice. A man’s face with high Asian cheekbones and uncharacteristically blue eyes appeared over Joe’s shoulder. The man fought the jostling crowds to stay close to the rope that separated Matt and his entourage from the press of people who had come to the rally.

“Please, sir! It’s important.”

Matt took another look at the dog-eared snapshot, and then turned to Joe. “Bring him to the bus.”

“Sir, that’s not a good idea. We don’t even know who he is.”

“Pat him down. Run a check on him with that phone of yours, or whatever you want, but I need to see him. In my bus. Now.” Matt turned and strode toward the campaign bus, heedless of the crowd still hoping for their brief moment of his time. Joe hustled to keep up. Matt heard him speak to another man in the detail. He tuned Joe out. Tuned out his chief of staff and his press secretary who were probably confused by Matt’s sudden departure from the planned handshaking opportunity. He tuned out everything, except the photograph in his hand.

As Matt approached, the driver of his campaign bus opened the door, and Matt took all three steps in one leap. “Wait outside, please.”

The driver looked at him in surprise, but then rose to his feet and climbed down out of the bus.  

Matt sank onto the soft faux-leather recliner of his mobile headquarters and opened his hand. The photograph remained curled so he set it on the coffee table and pressed it flat.

A group of laughing Marines dressed in fatigues stared up at him. His much younger self among them. Matt raked thoughtless fingers through his carefully groomed hair, dislodging the difficult lock of bangs that immediately fell onto his brow. He pushed them aside and studied the photo.

His cousin Sam Davis stood in the center of the group grinning broadly. He had one arm draped across Matt’s shoulders, and the other around a slender young Vietnamese woman. Sam had been his best friend and the closest thing he’d ever had to a brother. Matt remembered the day the photograph was taken. More than thirty years ago. A week before Sam had been killed.

The door swished open, and Joe stepped up into the stairwell. “Sir, this man is not a voter. He’s not even an- - ”

“Let him in.”

The Secret Service agent frowned but stepped aside to let the visitor pass by him in the narrow stairway.

“You can leave, Joe.”

“But, sir!”

“Out. Please.”

Joe’s expression said he wasn’t happy about any of it, but with a brief salute, he turned and left. When Joe was gone, Matt invited his guest to come up the stairs and join him.

“I will only take a moment of your time, sir.”

The stranger stopped on the other side of the coffee table, and Matt found himself looking up into an eerily familiar pair of sky-blue eyes. He felt as if he’d met the man before, but he couldn’t think where or when. An emotion he couldn’t identify squeezed into his chest. He rose slowly. Fought to ignore the intense feeling of disorienting familiarity, and extended his hand.

“How may I help you?”

His guest smiled and accepted Matt’s hand. “It is good of you to see me, sir.” His precise English held a trace of the singsong accent of Southeast Asia. He was several inches shorter than Matt’s six feet four inches, had straight black hair, and those blue eyes that were so unexpected in an Asian face.

Matt gestured for the man to sit and resumed his own seat.

“I am Thanh Davis”

The surname added to Matt’s confusion and jangled emotions. “Davis?”

“Yes, but please, you may call me Thanh.” He perched gingerly on the edge of the couch that matched Matt’s chair. “We met. Sort of…” Thanh continued.

I have met this guy. No wonder he seems familiar. Matt pointed to the photograph lying, still slightly curled at the edges, on the table between them. “W-Where,” Matt cleared his throat, “did you get this?”

Posted by: Skye AT 11:15 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida

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