Sunday, March 9, 2008

God's Creatures

I hope you remembered that today is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time--except Arizona and Hawaii. I don't know about you, but I kinda wonder how you arrange plane trips and so on to those two states. Are their TV stations adjusting to the time change on everyone else's TV program? Just wondering.

Like Jimmy Douglas in my book THE VIOLIN, my dad cared deeply about God's creatures. From his childhood and into his retirement years he banned birds for the USA Fish and Wildlife Service. While he worked as a weatherman for a local TV station, he made films demonstrating how to ban birds for young people. As a conservationist way back in the days before most people even knew what that was, my dad worked for conservation and supported groups that attempted to save the environment and the creatures that abide on planet Earth. So, I just wanted to take a moment to honor his memory and his work to save the planet. I based the character of the boy, Jimmy, in THE VIOLIN on my dad. He actually had a red-tailed hawk named Sky Chief who suffered a broken wing that my dad splinted. When the wing healed, he let it go just as the character, Jimmy, did. He also had a dog named Guess.

I wrote THE VIOLIN with my dad and his brother in mind. In reality my dad's brother died by drowning in two feet of water while fly fishing with his friends back in 1927. My dad missed him for the rest of his life. In THE VIOLIN I brought his brother back to life and gave him a second chance to live the the life he might have had. Here's an excerpt from THE VIOLIN.

THE VIOLIN Unedited Excerpt at Amira Press by Sarah J. McNeal

Chapter One
Genevieve began to dream the familiar dream again. The man was dressed in canvas trousers, a white cotton shirt with no collar and suspenders. He was fly fishing in a picturesque scene with steep banks of forest on either side of the river that hurried past rocks and boulders. The water scrubbed his waders sometimes a few inches below his knees and other times deeper, up to his waist as the man worked the river using a fishing pole and skill.

The man was standing with his back to her. She watched the muscles in his back as he cast his line into the water. The wind ruffled his hair and the sunlight glinted through it. Water gurgled and splashed happily as it bumped along the rocks and boulders. It seemed to be a pleasant scene but something wasn't right.

Genevieve had a feeling deep in her core that something ominous was about to happen. She tensed and her heart went into overdrive. She heard someone scream. Was it her? The man began to turn. She could almost see his face.

Then the dream started to tumble out of control.

She couldn't breathe. She suddenly found herself under the water looking up through it into the clear, blue sky. The man's face was looking down at her but she couldn't make out what he looked like because the water distorted his appearance. He reached toward her as if to help her when everything went black.

She struggled up to the surface of her dream to awaken gasping for breath and feeling confused about where she was. She pulled herself up and leaned against the headboard hugging her knees to keep from shaking. A fine film of perspiration had formed on her upper lip and her heart was still playing a staccato rhythm against her ribs. She reached over and turned on the lamp that rested on the nightstand. She felt as though she'd run a marathon.

What was wrong with her? Why did she keep having these dreams? Always, they occurred back at the turn of the century. It wasn't always this particular dream. There were several of them. Though she never saw his face, she believed it was the same man in all her dreams.

In one of them she was dancing with the dream man. There were lanterns strung on ropes that looped from tree to tree creating a pleasant glow as she was twirled and dipped by the man to the music of a small band. As the dream continued, the music would slow and he would draw her in closer. Amazingly she could smell him and he smelled good like soap and pine trees and open sky. She felt his chest rumble and knew he was laughing. She could even feel his warm breath as it tickled her ear.

Occasionally she dreamed about a violin. It was a well used instrument with softly gleaming wood laying in an old fashioned case.
Something sad happened to it or its owner. She knew this as well as if it could talk to her. Every time she dreamed of the violin, a knot seemed to form in her throat. In the little compartment in the violin's case lay the answer to the melancholy feelings she felt about the violin. Many times her dream would lead her to grasp the ribbon loop that would open the compartment but she always resisted looking inside it. Whatever was in there, she didn't want to see it.

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