NWW Photo Prompt: Palm Fronds

My second attempt at a photo prompt. Since it worked so well last time, I decided to write another vignette that can easily be converted into a scene in my WIP, The Winds of Morning. Kills two birds … (on the other hand, why kill them at all?) Enjoy!


As the small ship sailed into port, he heard his wife humming. It took him a moment to pick out the tune, but then John Patrick smiled and began to sing. His whiskey-flavored baritone seemed to float on the waves into shore.

The palm trees wave on high all along the fertile shore.
Adieu the hills of Kerry, I ne’er will see you more.

The hills of Ireland were so far away, but Savannah was right there before them.  Warm and golden under the sun, with lush greenery and tall, tall trees.  The city looked clean and crisp in the early morning light, and he hoped it would be better for them than Philadelphia.

Philadelphia – where every single “Help Wanted” sign said also “No Irish Need Apply.”  Philadelphia — a putrid, reeking city where people threw their garbage out onto the streets and walkways, and unleashed hundreds of hogs to forage through it at night.  He’d been disgusted, though Molly had said simply, “’Tis better than waste.”  He’d agreed to a point, but he’d also heard her screeching like the fish-monger’s wife when some of that refuse landed on her good walking shoes.

His song continued, the words coming without thought.  His heart was heavy and hopeful at once.  Savannah would give them more than Philadelphia.  How could it give them less?

If you’d like to hear The Kerry Hills in its entirety, you’ll find it here.

UPDATE: Part 1 is Done!

It’s been awhile since I talked about where I stand in terms of my manuscripts.  My first completed novel, DONOVAN, is being queried, and the second, THE WOODSMAN’S ROSE, has gone through my edits and is now with my extremely helpful critique partners.  I’m also just finishing up my final edit of the third manuscript, entitled RAINBOW MAN.  It’s not quite ready for the beta readers yet.

But the good GREAT news is with my fourth novel in the Donovan Family Saga.  THE WINDS OF MORNING is actually a “pre-quel”, and tells the story of Molly and John Patrick’s emigration to America just after the Potato Famine of 1847-1851.  It’s told in four parts: their meeting and marriage in Ireland; their trip across the sea to Philadelphia; and their journey first south to Terminus (now Atlanta), then west to Texas.


This is a huge accomplishment for me.  I started writing this story about two years ago and I got to a certain point and simply could not decide where to go from there. I knew I had to get the Donovans to America, but I also knew that if I followed them every step of the way, I’d have a 1,000-page book.  That’s where I broke it off and started working on revising and re-editing the first two books (which at that time were one book, but that’s another story!)

The problem wasn’t writer’s block, per se.  I was fully capable of writing new scenes in the other 3 books, and even some scenes for the book after this one, as well as the book that will, someday, close the series out.  I even wrote a couple of scenes that will appear later in THE WINDS OF MORNING.  In short, I just suffered from a lack of direction for this particular situation.

I finally solved it by a stroke of luck.  I was reading another historical family saga and the author simply skipped over a few years.  That’s right, just skipped them.  The first part was labeled 1697, the second part 1705.  As soon as I saw that second date, I had my answer.  I could simply skip over the years when nothing (or almost nothing) changes in Molly and John Patrick’s lives.

My conclusion?  Those who say the best way to write better is to read more are absolutely right!  If I hadn’t been reading another author’s novel, I could have been stuck for even longer.

How about you?  Did another writer’s work ever influence your work-in-progress?  ever give you an idea that you had searched high and low for?  ever pulled you out of the blue funk of not knowing what to do next?  I’d love to know I’m not alone in this, so feel free to share your stories with me …