Using the Flashback Literary Technique in Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

Using the Flashback Literary Technique in Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

Since this technique is such an important element in Water Signs, in terms of creating intrigue, I decided to devote an entire post to the topic. Given that readers know the ending of the story the moment they read the Prologue, I had to employ every possible literary tool at my disposal to build suspense and maintain a good pace throughout the novel. I’ve noted most of them previously, but wanted to delve into the flashback technique in greater detail, since the entire work of fiction is, in essence, a series of smaller flashbacks within the context of one big 16-year flashback.

Part One begins in 1992, with Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey (i.e. Greater Philadelphia area) as the setting. The Prologue, set in Deerfield Beach in 2008 at St. Ambrose Catholic Church (a place where I regularly attend Mass), has just alerted readers to the significance of the nuptials about to take place between Ken Lockheart and Madeline Rose, “by the grace and mercy of God” and “at the end of a long, arduous and oftentimes broken road.” Considering I’ve now piqued their interest in the long journey leading to this momentous occasion for my two main characters, I next had to focus on crafting an interesting, page-turning tale worthy of the intrigue generated from the outset.

Of course, it helps that so much of Water Signs is based on real life, proving the maxim “write what you know”. And in spite of a well-meaning editor/friend’s advice, I declined to change the geographic locations of the story from Southeastern Pennsylvania to Illinois, and from South Florida to Southern California, for this reason (along with a few others). I didn’t want to agonize over describing unfamiliar locations, or researching the local culture and traditions of unknown parts of the country, and then trying to infuse them into the makeup of my characters.

Easter Sunday in Ocean City, New Jersey, circa 1970.

I know what constitutes a Philly girl versus a suburban Philly girl versus a Boca Babe, and a South Jersey guy versus a South Florida guy. I feel passionate about Philly sports, food, culture and history. I spent countless summers at the Jersey Shore during my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. I’ve lived in South Florida most of my adult life. Therefore, immortalizing these characters and settings was effortless. And the result is an authentic work of fiction that simultaneously uplifts, instructs and and tugs at the heartstrings.

However, I still had to make many necessary adjustments and/or embellishments to certain plot points because — let’s face it — sometimes actual events do not quite have the same dramatic flourish required for compelling fiction. Case in point: the night Maddy and Ken peruse his old US Navy photo albums while hanging out at his house (Chapters 4 and 5). While this is a true-to-life occurrence, it took place in “Ken’s” living room, while we were both seated on the couch in broad daylight, not in his bedroom in the late-evening, as is the case in Water Signs. I changed the locale from living room to bedroom, and time period from afternoon to the almost wee-hours of the morning, to increase the sexual tension between the characters, as well as to test Ken’s ability to respect his new love’s clearly articulated boundaries, and in turn, her willingness to trust in his sincerity.

This incident is also a great example of the flashback technique. Although the scene begins in Chapter 4 and continues into Chapter 5, it’s not until later in Chapter 5, when Madeline is cruising along the highways of suburban Philly conducting sales calls for her job that we learn the full extent of what transpired during the previous night’s intimate moments. Prompted by the song, Just Another Day, she reminisces back to Ken’s recounting of his broken engagement, complete with raw emotional betrayal and visceral heartbreak. This gives readers another insight into Ken’s history, and his motivation in wanting to marry and settle down with his true love. It also offers a window into Maddy’s soul and the extent to which her lingering insecurities — exacerbated by a previous relationship — will cause problems in her nascent romance with Ken.

Much later in Chapter 31, an older, wiser and recently reunited couple are cruising down Camino Real on the way to Ken’s parents’ home in the Royal Oak Hills section of Boca Raton, Maddy embarks upon a silent remembrance celebrating the history of her family. This provides readers yet another new insight into her character and conveniently (for the author) lays the groundwork for future prequels featuring the entire Rose clan.

Look for the strategic use of flashback throughout the novel.

Preview and/or purchase Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal on Amazon.com.

Share

Republican hopeful works to earn “The People’s Seat” in Florida’s District 19

Published by Parcbench on January 28, 2010:

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Edward Lynch, congressional candidate for Congress in Florida’s District 19. Lynch is running as a Republican in the special election primary scheduled for Tuesday, February 2, against opponents Curt Price and Joe Budd. The Democrat side pits Ted Deutsch against Ben Graber.

As is typical of most primary contests, this race has not been devoid of rampant mudslinging on the part of an opponent – in this case, primary rival Joe Budd, whose accusations of Lynch’s alleged, nefarious business dealings involving the IRS and unpaid contractors were noted by The Palm Beach Post.

I questioned Edward Lynch about these recycled charges involving unpaid tax liens and money owed to five subcontractors, along with his stand on issues directly affecting the voters of District 19, including illegal immigration, offshore drilling and taxes.

Let’s begin by addressing the latest round of attacks by your opponentWhat would you like your constituents to know?

“Well first, I’d like to state that the IRS issue is fully addressed on my website, where I’ve rebutted the accusations leveled against me. As I mention on the site, there is an enormous difference between a business that fails due to the fault of the owner, and one that fails because the federal government intentionally reneges on its financial obligations. Under Florida law, a business is not required to pay its subcontractors until they themselves are compensated – something the government has failed to do in my case.

“So I understand what small businesses endure when government fails to live up to its obligations. I know from experience what it is like as a small business owner to deal with the bureaucratic red tape; it’s one of the reasons I’m running for Congress. To put it succinctly, the federal government delayed payment to my company, DeLeon Industries, because I refused to sit idly by and watch the V.A. Medical Center in Miami’s corrupt administration continue to put our veterans’ lives at risk at the expense of taxpayers.

I invite anyone who has valid concerns about this matter to call me directly at my campaign office at (561) 245-8295.

“Having said that, I also believe we should be focusing on real problems – the things that matter to the voters of District 19. Instead of rehashing old accusations, we should be discussing who is the most qualified to represent the people in Washington. But when my opponents have no experience, no background and no meaningful endorsements, they’ve got to talk about something. I’d much rather talk about the economy, national security, illegal immigration and other issues that directly affect the voters in this district.”

It’s interesting because you’ve acted as a representative for this district in spite of the fact you haven’t officially been elected to office. What is the motivation behind some of the things you’ve done on behalf of the people who live in Florida 19?

“Again, it began with the deplorable conditions and widespread corruption I saw at the V.A., which led to a meeting with my congressman [Democrat Robert Wexler], who was unable to get anything accomplished in terms of helping to rectify the situation. Soon I began bumping into other residents of the district who expressed the same frustration – they were also unable to get any of their concerns resolved through their elected representative.

“That’s when I decided to help out. For example, a while back I was approached by a guy asking for my help in shutting down a travel scam that was taking advantage of seniors. We (the Lynch volunteer team) did the research, determined it was indeed a scam and then got to work. Within two weeks, we shut the company down permanently.

“In another example, I called Probation and Immigration Services about a dangerous guy who was released from jail after only four months, for attempting to kill his wife. This man is here illegally and we are trying to get him deported because he threatens her life daily. This is a classic case of a criminal illegal alien who doesn’t belong in this country. They let him out of jail and as a result, he’s now threatening legal citizens and costing taxpayers money. It’s just insane.”

Speaking of illegal immigration, where do you stand on the issue?

Understanding that half of my family is comprised of Hispanics who all came here legally I believe we first must secure our borders. This first point is also critical for our national security. While there are many good people who want to come to the United States for a better life, there are also a lot of bad people seeking to exploit our porous borders in order to inflict grave harm on our country. We need to know who they are and what their intentions are; further, we need to allow our intelligence agencies to work together. Let’s not forget that 9/11 was caused in part because of the walls erected between agencies, thus making it impossible for them to share valuable information on suspected terrorists. So securing the borders is job one.

Secondly, we must empty our prisons of all criminal illegal aliens. It’s far less expensive for a one-way ticket back to their home country than it is to house and entertain illegal immigrant prisoners on the backs of hardworking American taxpayers and legal citizens. Why are we doing that? It makes no sense.

Next, we should enforce our existing laws, penalize employers who knowingly hire illegals, and cut off all federal aid to sanctuary cities. On that last point, I would also add that states within which sanctuary cities operate should also be denied federal aid.

Would you have voted for sanctions on Iran as Congress did last December?

“I am all for meaningful sanctions that work; not these willy-nilly things that simply pay lip-service to the idea of sanctions, just to appease the world. All that does is create pity for other rogue nations, instead of setting an example of the serious consequences that will ensue if these regimes continue to threaten international security.”

Should the United States support Israel?

“I believe in a hands-off approach to Israel, meaning we should let them determine how they want to defend their country, and then let the rest of the world know the United States is going to back their decision. Nations seeking to harm Israel would definitely take notice.”

Tell me about your position on domestic drilling.

“I am all for drilling – it’s political, economic and energy suicide not to do it. The number of jobs we could create is absolutely huge; imagine what a real stimulus to the economy that would be. We have a trillion barrels of oil of the west coast of Florida, just waiting to be drilled, and there’s another trillion cubic feet of natural gas off our state’s east coast. Everything we need to help get over our dependence on foreign oil is right here.

“As we proved in August, 2008 when President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling, an announcement of our intention to drill for our own oil is all that’s needed. I also want to point out that Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia comprise our top suppliers of oil. Now I ask you, if Canada and Mexico are in the top three, doesn’t it only make sense that the United States has plenty of its own oil, too?

“At a minimum, it’s critical to drill for enough of our own reserves to get rid of Venezuela. I’m proud of the fact that my team was instrumental in getting Citgo removed from the Florida turnpike. We did that by initiating a big campaign that included writing letters to the state and the turnpike authority.”

How far offshore should we drill?

 

“Fifteen miles is out is a good starting place. In terms of the safety issue with rigs, I think the experience with Hurricane Katrina put those fears to rest. And as we know, Mother Nature seeps more oil than all spills combined. And while the horizon line is 12 miles out, in one of the county’s hottest tourist destinations – Miami Beach – the fact that a nuclear power plant is visible hasn’t had a negative impact on attracting vacationers.

“Again, we must go where the oil is. I am open to building some bedrooms into the new rigs for the Green Peace guys so they can make sure it’s all done in an environmentally friendly way. We offer solutions; the problem is that special interests just don’t want to hear them.”

Let’s talk about so-called healthcare reform. What is your position on that?

 

“What’s interesting to me about the current healthcare debate is that again – there are free market solutions, yet the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress won’t accept them. Why? What is the real agenda? As Bolshevik leader Lenin once stated, ‘socialized medicine is the keystone in the arch of a socialized state.’ He knew a thing or two about it.

“Obama keeps trying to push an agenda that is not only wildly unpopular with the American people, it hasn’t worked anywhere it’s been tried. Socialized medicine has never succeeded; on the contrary, based on real-life stories we’ve seen out of Canada and other countries, I’d say it has done more harm than good.

“So what should we do? First, I want to make the distinction between health care and healthinsurance. We have the best healthcare system in the world. Does it need some reform? Absolutely. But the heart of the problem is the affordability of insurance, not the care administered to patients. And there are many ways to reduce costs, beginning with interstate competition.

“Here in Florida, we only have a choice of five out of 1,300 – 1,600 insurance companies nationally. Further, in our state alone there are 52 mandates for services you’ll never use, e.g. prostrate exams for women, acupuncture, and drug and alcohol counseling. And while I am not opposed to any of these things on their merits, I believe insurance plans should be tailored to meet the needs of the individual. If you can personalize a plan that works for you, your costs will come down. People would then have the option to supplement their coverage with a low-cost catastrophic policy that would cover them in the event of an unforeseen calamity, such as a cancer diagnosis or an auto accident.

“I also support tort reform because the cost of frivolous lawsuits also contributes to the high cost of health insurance. In terms of illegal immigrants, the humane thing to do is to treat people when they show up at the emergency room, and send them back to their country once they are fully recuperated.

“These are very simple solutions that would make a dramatic and welcome impact. And they are exactly the solutions I will fight for in Washington.”

How would you “stimulate” the economy?

 

“Because small business is the engine of our economy, I would start by declaring a two-year moratorium on corporate taxes that would allow companies to grow, expand and hire more employees. I would also impose a five-year moratorium on the capital gains tax, which would encourage investment and provide an immediate boost to the economy. This in turn would benefit the ancillary small businesses in the surrounding areas, such as grocery stores, malls and shopping centers. It’s a win-win for big and small businesses, and American workers.”

“We hear a lot of complaints about jobs being outsourced. But when you impose the second-highest corporate taxes of any other nation on the planet, it only makes sense for companies to seek opportunities in more business-friendly countries. We need to change that.

“I would also like mention the negative influence of unions. For the first time in our history, 51.5% of union workers are on the government payroll. There was a time when unions were necessary to protect workers from abusive employers. Unfortunately, we’ve gone from union abuse to union-based employee abuse because once again, the government got too involved.

“Ford – a company that refused to take the bailout – is doing well. Apple, another private company, just saw a 50% increase in net revenues in the midst of a recession. That is huge, and another indication that the free market works when the government acknowledges its rightful place and gets out of the way.”

Do you feel more confident after Scott Brown’s amazing victory in Massachusetts?

“Based on last fall’s gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, and on Brown’s senatorial election victory in Massachusetts, I feel pretty good. I can’t wait to get to Washington D.C. to represent the people of my district. What happened in the Bay State proves there is no such thing as a “safe seat,” nor should there ever be. Scott Brown said it best when he corrected David Gergen in that now-famous debate, “With all due respect, it’s not the Kennedy’s seat, it’s not the Democrats’ seat – it’s the people’s seat.” That message resonated with voters, and it is one that will stay with me, should the people of my district choose to send me to D.C. to represent them.

“Assuming I am victorious in the upcoming primary, voters will have a clear-cut choice: they can vote for more of the same with candidates like Democrat Ted Deutsch, another attorney who’s been endorsed by Robert Wexler, SEIU and the AFL-CIO, a candidate who has clearly stated his intention to advance the Obama agenda if elected to congress. Or, they can send a principled representative who will use his vote to limit the reach of the federal government, enact free-market reforms and fight for the best interests of his constituents.”

Lastly, what would you say to Hugo Chavez and even some Americans who have accused the United States of “occupying” Haiti?

“All I can say from my own recent experience in Haiti, is that I am incredibly proud of the American people and our military. It was awe-inspiring to witness such an outpouring of help, including American soldiers acting as air-traffic controllers, and C-130s arriving with supplies to aid the victims, while simultaneously acting as the vehicle to transport legal Haitians back to the United States. It reconfirmed the things I’ve always believed about the resiliency of the human spirit, and the generosity of Americans.

“The Haitians greeted us warmly, knowing instinctively we were there to help. And the trip was illustrative for me as I realized that though we’ve sent billions of dollars to Haiti since 1993, very little – if any – has actually gotten to the people who need it. This demonstrates what happens when government is in control of everything, and it should serve as a warning for all of us.

“Another amazing thing I noticed amid all of the destruction was that the American Embassy remained completely unscathed and inexplicably lit-up, in spite of the fact that the rest of the country was mostly enveloped in darkness. I saw that as a metaphor of America as the shining city on a hill, the one beacon of hope in the midst of utter devastation. And I think the long lines of Haitians I witnessed waiting to get into the embassy in order to begin the process of immigrating to the United States, proves they feel the same way, too. As for dictators like Hugo Chavez, let’s remember this is the same man who shut down a television station in his own country for daring to disagree with him. That tells us a lot about his motivation and character.”

Note: This piece can be read in its entirety on BrowardNETOnline.

Share

Ron Paul’s Campaign for Lunacy

Published by Parcbench on January 22, 2010:

Just when you thought he couldn’t possibly test the limits of rational Americans any further, Ron Paul comes out with yet another absurd and treacherous statement — this time advising his followers at a Campaign for Liberty event in Atlanta that “the CIA must be taken out”. The Congressman’s latest in a series of harmful diatribes that aids our enemies condemns the Central Intelligence Agency as somehow “harmful” to the United States and informs his enthusiastic audience that the US Military’s “morale is down” even as (presumably) the US government is “looking for a few more wars to fight”.

Earth to Ron Paul: What exactly has the CIA done that is “harmful”? Using harsh interrogation techniques richly deserved by enemy combatants to prevent further attacks against the United States, including the plot to blow up the Library Tower in Los Angeles? If that’s the “harm” to which you are referring, I say waterboard away!

Assuming there is some truth to Paul’s declaration that the US Military is demoralized, could that have something to do with the politically correct way our out-of-touch bureaucrats are forcing them to fight a war against extremists who don’t play by any rules? When US Navy Seals are punished instead of lauded for capturing a high-value terrorist target for the “crime” of giving the guy a fat lip, I’d agree that is demoralizing. So is the story of Army Ranger 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna, serving a 25-year prison sentence for shooting an Al-Qaeda operative. Isn’t killing the bad guys before they can harm more innocent people an objective of going to war?

Regardless, I suspect that’s not the type of demoralization to which Ron Paul refers. After all, one day after a suicide bomber attempted to blow up an airliner on approach to Detroit on Christmas Day, he represented the “Republican” side of the aisle on CNN by falsely blaming the event on “US occupation of Yemen and Nigeria.” No wonder CNN enjoys hosting him on their unfair and unbalanced network!

As for the claim from his avid supporters that Paul’s economic policies and staunch exhortations to audit the Federal Reserve justify his perilous foreign policy, according to Open Secrets.org, the Texas Congressman sponsored 23 earmarks totaling over $80 million, ranking 33rd out of 435 representatives.  Doesn’t sound very fiscally responsible to me.

Still, even if the Texas congressman actually practiced what he preached economically, the fact remains that there is a Global Jihad raging, replete with ideological zealots with no regard for human life and an insatiable desire to kill all infidels — Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, Atheist, Agnostic, Deist and every other belief system that refuses to submit to Allah. And no amount of denial is going to change that.

So instead of playing the role of “useful idiot” for Al-Qaeda, perhaps Congressman Paul could do something truly revolutionary by supporting the West’s efforts to stop Islamofascism, tepid as they may be. He could start by apologizing to the brave men and women of the CIA and the United States Military, before thanking them for giving him the freedom to promulgate his kooky theories to his own brand of Kool-Aid drinkers.

Share

Yes We Did!

Published by Parcbench on January 21, 2010:

The title of my post comes from a popular Facebook profile photo that began showing up everywhere in the exhilarating aftermath of Scott Brown’s incredible victory last night. Along with many other South Florida conservative activists, I cheered the election returns at Wings Plus in Coral Springs, where we took over an entire room and greeted every election update with the same kind of uproarious exuberance I recall from childhood and adolescence — whether watching Ronald Reagan give a speech, or the Philadelphia Eagles score a touchdown.

That Brown’s Rocky-style victory in the final round occurred on the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration, and as a result of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy earlier this year only intensifies the satisfaction and excitement among tea party activists across the country. It is also quite fitting that Massachusetts — site of the original Boston Tea Party — would fire the opening shot in a crucial mid-term election year.

Building on the momentum of New Jersey and Virginia’s gubernatorial races last fall, the second American Revolution ushered in 2010 by electing a candidate who believes in cutting taxes, limiting the size and scope of government, defeating Obamacare, and keeping the USA on offense against radical Islamic terrorism (even going so far as to defend waterboarding) — in the most liberal state in the country!

Who’d have thunk it?

Now I understand that many of us are to the right of Scott Brown on some significant issues. Like the majority of my tea party friends on Facebook, I too wish he held a pro-life stance, although he opposes partial-birth abortion and supports parental consent for minors. However, given the perilous circumstances we as a nation find ourselves in as a result of “hope and change”, it is even more critical to judge each race on its own merits.

A special-election senatorial race in liberal Massachusetts is quite different from a special-election congressional race in upstate New York. In the latter case, Republican party bosses — not the people — hand-picked a candidate who was at least as far to the left as her Democratic opponent. The situation was further exacerbated when Newt Gingrich inexplicably endorsed Dede Scozzafava for simply having an “R” after her name, but otherwise supporting odious legislation like Card Check, among other affronts to American freedom.

In that particular situation, supporting a true conservative like Doug Hoffman, the man the Republican establishment should have coalesced around, sent a clear and necessary message to the GOP elites in Washington that their conservative base was no longer willing to go along to get along. And they’ve further crystallized that message by refusing to donate to the RNC, in favor of donating their hard-earned money directly to conservative candidates.

But with the USA on the precipice, quibbling with Scott Brown for not being an ideologically pure candidate in a northeastern state where “unaffiliated voters” (i.e. Independents) and Democrats far outnumber registered Republicans would’ve been counter-productive and self-defeating. Aside from the fact that abortion is a states’ rights issue, in an age of radical Islamic terror, out-of-control deficit spending, government takeovers of private industry, Cap and Trade, Obamacare, milquetoast foreign policy and disturbingly weakened national security, it is but one of many in a long list of evils.

As the cliche goes, battles must be chosen wisely, and in politics, strategy sometimes trumps ideology. In the areas that matter in terms of defeating the Dems’ statist agenda — strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and limited government — Scott Brown is in alignment with conservatives. And the fact that grass-roots conservatives have mastered the internet (a medium previously utilized almost exclusively by the left), is a testament to the power and determination of everyday Americans when they recognize the urgent need to fight like hell for their freedom. If we didn’t see it before, we now know for certain that no matter where the race is run, its outcome affects us all.

Will Scott Brown possibly disappoint conservatives at some point in the future? Given the fact that, like everyone else in public office, he is also a politician, chances of that are pretty high. There are no perfect human beings, and therefore, no perfect candidates.

However, with Obama and the Dems in meltdown mode, Obamacare on the ropes and the rest of the administration’s radical plans for America in jeopardy as a result of a principled guy in a pick-up truck who didn’t consider it beneath him to shake hands with his fellow citizens outside in the cold at Fenway Park (and otherwise work his tail off to actually earn their votes), any future disappointment will be tempered by the euphoria of the moment they called the race for Brown.

Between that and the fact that the “truthers” on Facebook are having hysterical fits over Brown’s “we win, they lose” approach to Global Jihad, it’s a richly satisfying victory, indeed.

 I can hardly wait for November.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share