A young woman. A calculated act. The close knit bond of extraordinary women leading ordinary lives. True is a stunning tale, which beautifully weaves these dynamic characters and their pristine wild environment, their families and the animals they love, into what undoubtedly becomes a story one will never forget. “A lesson in healing, strength and courage, and above all, the magnificence of true friendship."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Great Braid of our Being...One Writer's Lament on the Unraveling of the Natural World

October 2015

As a human being I have lived in the rural mountainous wilderness of far far northern California for 45 years. As a writer of stories that take place herein, living in the midst of this tragic decline observing and feeling its impact daily has become a difficult practice of juggling fear and hope. For one who has always been drawn to, taken solace in and deeply respected the elements in their bewitching, elegant systematic and magical perfection, this unraveling of the interwoven connection between humans and nature hits home, literally.

Whether it be Terra Forming,  Solar Radiation Management, GeoEngineering, Fracking or Weather Modification, the natural rhythms and cycles of planet earth have been forever changed. Since the Industrial Revolution, humankind has progressively reached a level of technology that allows for the manipulation and mindless destruction of nature as we have known it. All in the name of greed.

 We have ravished the earth, raped and gouged its surface, or dug into her to mine or extract the black blood that oils the machinations of modern societies. We can microwave deep into her belly to create fissures and earthquakes or shoot these beams into the sky causing hurricanes typhoons, floods and other destructive weather patterns. The seeds of her bounty are genetically modified breaking the ancient chain of abundance that mirrors the cycles of birth, life death and rebirth.

The fires of intentionally engineered droughts wreck havoc, incinerating trees, animals, people and their homes. That first flame that rose and bloomed between two flinted stones now ignites endless wars. These plumes pouring forth from weapons, bombs, rockets, nuclear explosions and airborne chemicals are executed for one reason only, to kill. Our blessed sun no longer an ally, shines forth without its protective layers, burning, blistering, scorching. The fire in our bellies have been squelched with pharmaceutical drugs made to tamp down passion, creativity and curiosity.

The waters on our earthship have either been diminished by man-made drought or poisoned by chemical spills or nuclear contamination. The giant pines and cedars that tower above my little writing cabin are dying from a drought like no other in the last 2000 years. My body of water aches for the oceans, the sea creatures that have disappeared from my beloved beach that was once prolific and rich with scarlet starfish, chartreuse anemones and swaying seaweeds. The dead bodies of seabirds and seals and whales litter a swath of coastline from Canada to Mexico. Fukushima. The terrible unutterable word that is all but absent from our vocabulary or media.

No longer can I write a poem about a robin's egg blue sky complete with wind currents that call in the miracle of cumulus or cirrus clouds. My skies are now criss crossed by unmarked planes spewing skeins of poison. What or whom has given permission to these few people who play God, with this, our necessary air, our health, our very breath? These aerosol sprays happen worldwide without our knowledge, approval, or any testing on flora, fauna or humans. This dance of destruction and its choreography of insanity is spinning the earth into extinction.

Still, the Autumn afternoon light leaks through the leaves in amber, persimmon, rose. A tribute to the occasional beauty of death. Slender threads of spider webs float on currents of warm air. Pale green rosettes of mullein cluster underfoot, their spear shaped petals furred with down. A grey squirrel traverses the limbs of a cedar, his tail a feathered prayer flag. Birdsong although diminished, still rings with life's wild force. I take it all in...in sadness and remembered joy, grateful for my time in this place on this earth, that is sacred, mysterious and irreplaceable...

                                                               ~Melinda

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spring 2015 ~ WITHOUT READERS, WE WRITERS DON'T EXIST

     We are having an early spring in the mountains of far far northern California. Time to tidy up and plan for the garden. As I sit upstairs in my writing room looking out across the greening fields, I ponder what strange creatures we writers are. We literally lock ourselves away to make up stories from our overactive imaginations. We give up life to do this! We dive to the depths of our own personal being, dredging up our emotional insecurities, unhealed issues, bravely, but often with great fear. We create these characters that "are us" and "are not us". They become so real that these creations wake us up at night, have meetings without us and rebel if they don't like the way we present them. We labor away in spite of the fact that we will meet, maybe only ten percent of our readers. Words, smoke and mirrors, rampant imaginations, invisible readers, made up stories, and entertaining lies are the tools of this trade. We do so care what readers think and feel about our work and we are so curious about the many different ways one story can be perceived. 

     Reviews are a way to tap into the minds of the people who read our work. If we can stay open and chain down our egos, momentarily, these impressions become a valuable tool to help us be better storytellers. And yes we also learn from the bad reviews. Those crazy-making ones where we are sure the person reviewing our work could not have possibly really read it! And we wonder why other people take the time to write five paragraphs after declaring the book is bad. So... here are my two latest five star Amazon reviews. I wish I could sit and have tea with these two ladies but I am grateful to read their words, thoughts, and feelings. Without readers, we writers don't exist. 

                                                               ~Melinda

Melinda Field weaves a wonderful connection between a group of women...
"After becoming familiar with each character in the novel, Melinda Field weaves a wonderful connection between a group of women that embody the spirit of friendship and all the complexities we experience in human relationships. You begin to identify the commonalities of human frailties, the joy of communion with friends, the fears, courage, prejudices, and love that we find in the people we as readers know and love. I came to feel I knew each of these characters and began to long to be a part of such close relationships. There are twists and turns that surprise and move the reader, that draw the reader into the story. Make no mistake. There are dramatic moments that take the reader by surprise and make this book a worthy read; an emotional read. I loved it." ~Linda Bishop


These women form Bedrock together: that which cannot be moved, destroyed, lost, or stolen.

"You're at least 40% through this book before she uses the word 'true', and its sudden appearance rings like a bell, leaving your nerve ends tingling, leaving you savoring how that one word rose like a bubble from the deep, to become the title of this story.

A group of women has formed long before the story begins, and one suspects, long before they were born, one by one, into the highly engaging world of this book. What is fragile and rigorous in their personalities runs side by side. Somehow they keep up with each other in ways we all long for, wishing we had as strong a bond, as deep a knowing of themselves and each other, as they do.

No matter what sudden storms rage in their lives, in their families and communities, and across the land, these women form Bedrock together: that which cannot be moved, destroyed, lost, or stolen.

My favorite part of the book is the deep connection with animals, nature, the landscape, the seasons. As the horses surge across valleys and up mountain trails, these women surge through their lives, creating havoc and splendor, love and tears, facing the trials and seasons of life and land.

Before you start to read, be sure to look at the author's photograph. It's the best I've ever seen. Before you read one word, you can tell this woman has really lived, and really has something to say. Thanks, Melinda Field, I love this book." ~Denise Schultz



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wild Autumn

     It was a wild summer here in the high mountains of Northern California. We had over sixteen wildfires..homes were lost, thousands of acres burned, some that will not revive in mine or my children's lifetime. Life is tenuous to say the least and the animals have lost much of their habitat. Our property has become a refuge for deer families, raccoons, skunks, bears and even mountain lions. The fact that we don't have a dog is also a draw, but not as much as the luscious apples in the orchard and the water we provide in this time of extreme drought. I absolutely love the fact that I live in such a wild place. In my regional novel True, animals and the their connections to people play a most important part. I was inspired to write about a human/mountain lion encounter after I had crossed paths with one on a hike near my home. Here is an excerpt from True where a woman is taken by a lion.

            She moved along the path, breathing in the pure air. Arrow was still far ahead, darting in and out of sight. After scanning the sky, she decided there was enough light left to stay a little longer. She turned up the mountain, weaving between giant manzanitas, stopping to stroke the smooth burgundy skin of a twisted trunk. Her small, muscular body climbed the steep incline without much effort. She knew that the dog would find her. As she moved up into a treed cleft, she felt her strong calf muscles flexing inside her blue jeans. She reached the plateau and paused. This was a favorite place. Light slanted through the grove of trees in pale silver bars. She could hear Arrow crashing through the brush. A gray squirrel sprinted, levitating to the top of a pine, while the dog flew in quivering pursuit. They sang to each other; Arrow’s yelping and the squirrel’s raucous scolding reached a pitch so frantic that she laughed out loud. After a few minutes, the dog lost interest and began nosing the ground.
            The circle of oaks was perfectly placed, as if by a landscape architect. She sat down, her back against a tree. The deep quiet and fading light lulled her. Arrow lay nearby in his nest of leaves, taking her in with quiet dog calm. The air was still and cool. Finally, knowing her time here was up, she stood and zipped her sweatshirt, then bent over to tie the undone lace of her boot.
            It hit her from behind. The powerful force of its streamlined body knocked the wind out of her, ramming her face hard into the ground. Her knee shattered in pain; she scrambled on all fours like a crab. Arrow was barking and whimpering. Turning her head in panic, she caught a flash of tawny fur. She screamed as the cat lunged again, its claws slicing, cleaving into the skin of her lower back, while its teeth simultaneously hooked the fanny pack strap and one belt loop of her jeans.
            The lion bounded through the oak circle in a graceful lope, then paused and raised his head. Clare dangled in mid-air, limp and unconscious. Engulfed in the lavender glow of twilight, he moved slowly up the mountain.
            The lion patiently made his way up through the steep cliffs. Night had fallen; above him arced a filigree of stars and an almost-full moon. Sometimes in his exhaustion he dragged her over brush and boulders. The top of the mountain was in sight, but the closer he was to the ledge, the weaker he became. It was midnight by the time he dropped her into his lair. He struggled, loosening the fanny pack strap and belt from his teeth. He didn’t bother to inspect the motionless prey. His legs crumpled under him, and he surrendered to sleep. 
          Clare woke at first light, wondering if she had died. The landscape was eerily unfamiliar. She lay on a rock ledge that jutted out over a small canyon. Above her was an overhanging stone that seemed like the opening of a cave but only provided a small shallow shelter. The lion was nowhere in sight. She could not move. She had never known such extreme pain. Even in childbirth there were moments of reprieve. This was a tight, hot cocoon of constant pain. Besides the crushed knee and clawed back, she was covered with wounds, scratches, bruises and welts. Her clothes were torn, her hair tangled. She wore only one hiking boot. Infection bloomed pinkly in her body, and the oncoming fever made her eyes sting.
            She heard a distant rustling across the canyon, then saw the lion weaving his way back to the ledge. She felt her bladder let go, and a stream of tears slid down her face, landing in soft puffs of dirt. Her heart pounded inside her small chest. She could not slow down her breathing. She managed to move herself, curling inward to protect the soft inner part of her body, even though she knew she was going to die. Instinct and adrenaline running deep in her brain bent her into a
womblike position, waiting.
           The lion moved towards the ledge, lingering at a stream. He paused, enjoying the sun on his back.  More and more, his old bones needed warmth. He drank the clear, cold water and stretched. 
                                                                     ~Melinda

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spring 2014~ It Happens Every Minute...


   A very important part of the story of TRUE involves a brutal high school gang rape, the sad fact that the boys get off without a trial and the consequences the victim, Cat, will face for the rest of her life. Luckily, Cat finds a support system that consists of a group of eccentric, authentic women. Perhaps not so for the women and girls who become a statistic in the global rape epidemic. These thoughts were triggered recently by an ad that appeared in social media. I was warned by friends and editors not to write about rape as a blog post, as it might be, negative, hopeless and controversial or worse that angry men might harass me online far into the next century. CHALLENGE MET! Especially since
 Saturday, March 8th is International Women's Day.
   Rape happens every minute around the world. It happens in cities, small towns, in rural and urban areas. It happens to children, teens, women of all ages, even grandmothers. Why?  Basically females are considered lesser and weaker and therefore fair game. Researching the statistics was shocking. In England and Wales 69,000 women were rape victims last year. In S. Africa 66,000 women were raped. In the U.S. it was 89,246 cases that were reported. These statistics should be doubled or tripled as rape is grossly under reported.

   An ad for Anti Rape Wear..Wearable Protection for When Things Go Wrong...popped up on one of my pages. AR Wear is the brainchild of two women from New York who supposedly received $50,000 for developing and marketing their line on a popular crowd funding site. The ad shows models wearing cute boy cut, colorful underwear. The blurb goes something like "Worried  about your daughter jogging after dark? Are you a woman traveling alone in a foreign country? Staying in a big city on business?" These underwear are made of a material that can't be cut..they will not slip off easily and have a small lock at the waist band..The very fact that this product is being offered is such a pathetic reminder of the global sexual assault epidemic yet it all seems so very casual..  "Are you a woman or girl, Protect yourself now." There are other inventions. A medical worker in S. Africa (the rape capital of the world) has designed a female condom with teeth. The contraption bites down on the abductor's penis and then must be surgically removed. A group of engineering students in India have marketed a chastity type belt that gives off a hard shock, is equipped with a GPS device and dials the victim's home phone number. Want to be unattractive to potential male attackers? You can buy "hairy legs" panty hose that might turn off a would be rapist. And maybe the most outrageous, The Republican Party's new ploy, Rape Insurance..in case a woman conceives after an assault.

    These concepts that are meant to protect women, fail miserably and put the total responsibility for safety on women. Yes, we need to be careful, informed, have studied some martial arts etc. but what is at the root of rape culture? The belief that it is alright to sexually assault women and girls. This primitive idea has existed since the beginning of time and must change Now! We need to educate our young people...father's need to talk to their sons..of course mother's should educate their daughters..and the fear of death or retaliation for reporting must stop. Our male dominated cultures need strong women to stand up in numbers...we deserve political representatives to back us, not take our rights away and attempt to protect the perpetrators. It happens every minute, in cities, small towns, urban areas, in the military and in families. Do what you can in your sphere of influence to change this consciousness. Stand up, speak out, even risk your level of comfort to make this planet a safe place for women now and in the future. Our children are counting on it...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter 2013

Big, fat snowflakes are falling in a slow drift over Star Apple Farm. The old growth cedars and pines are draped in pure white. Woodsmoke spirals from the chimney at all times.Yesterday's temperature was 14 in the early morning. The old farmhouse is warm though and we are grateful. It has been a wonder- full year. The large family is healthy and growing their own little ones..four grandsons in four years, the newest is five weeks old and reminds us that innocence is such a lovely and necessary salve in this crazy old world. My novel True has again passed my expectations reaching more and more readers who have kindly shown their appreciation with five star reviews on Amazon and goodreads. I love it when people write and tell me how it touched them or some aspect of their life... True was chosen as one of the best novels of 2013 by Writer's Path magazine. I am currently working on the sequel and feel honored to "listen in" on these characters who are part of me but also their own beings. Remember this long dark, time nourishes our dreamseeds for the coming year. Love and light to you and yours, Melinda

Below please find a winter excerpt from True… we never know where or when love will find us… passion happens even in church on Christmas Eve…

     Emma walked to the old Catholic church. Built of logs in the 1800’s, it was one of the first buildings constructed in the valley. The town was now deserted, everyone home with their families. There were no cars in the parking lot; midnight mass wouldn’t begin for a few hours. She could see the soft glow of the stained glass windows through the falling snow. She came every Christmas Eve, not because she was a devout Catholic—hardly. She had been the number one doubter in her family. She came to remember her mother and Gran. Her mother had never missed a service and had been part of the League of Catholic Women. She had raised her children with a good deal of love and guilt. Gran, on the other hand, was an old-country Catholic who, along with all the religious holidays, celebrated the solstices and equinoxes and believed in the pre-Christian goddess who had become Mary after centuries of matriarchy. Emma, who was quite the intellectual feminist in her day, liked the fact that a female deity was even included in Catholicism. She didn’t believe literally in the virgin birth, but she loved the story of it. Once she had asked Gran, demanding an absolute in her teenage angst, what was the truth about religion?     “It’s what is in your heart, Emma. If it’s a debate between your mind and your heart, go with the heart.”
     In her heart she knew she believed in the “Great Mystery,” whatever it was, and still she loved the quiet beauty of a church. She took off her coat in the vestibule. How lucky, she thought, to be the only one there. She entered the church and paused, taking in the smell of the damp hymn books and melted wax. Incense lingered in the corners; pine boughs were strung along the pews. She passed by the bowl of holy water and moved to the front near the altar. She slid across one of the polished wooden benches and sat for a moment. She was always grateful that the little church had no crucifix, only a small wooden cross. She vividly remembered the large crucifix in St. Joseph’s cathedral in San Francisco, the statue of Jesus, his face writhing in pain, realistic blood painted on his palms and feet. Here, Emma looked at the Madonna of the Mountain, a simple but delicately carved wooden statue, the compassionate face of Mary gazing down at her baby boy.
     She got up and moved to the side altar, lighting three candles, her own personal ritual. One for the past, and all of the loved ones who had crossed: Mother, Father, Gran, her husband, Ronnie, and their child, Theo. The old pain filled her momentarily. She lit the next candle for the present, asking for peace on earth. Lastly, she lit a candle for the future, hoping for a good outcome for Briar, and asking for guidance in the young heart of Cat.
     She was so lost in thought that she didn’t hear Liam’s quiet footsteps coming down the aisle. But she realized that someone had sat down behind her. She remained facing forward, her eyes closed, then turned to go back to the pew. Liam looked into her face, the warmth of recognition spreading across his mouth.
     “Emma,” he whispered. She started down the aisle, but he signaled her to come to him. Her legs were quivering as she slid in, near him, but far enough away that they weren’t touching. “We have to stop meeting like this,” he laughed quietly, taking her hand. She gently pulled away to brush hair out of her eyes.
     “Merry Christmas, Liam.” Only silence moved between them.     Finally he said, “Did you know that my mother’s uncle carved the Madonna of the Mountain
about a hundred years ago? She’s made of white oak, and the child is cedar. Behind her cloak on the back right side he carved an acorn, a symbol still important to the Green River tribe. Come with me; I’ll show it to you.” She felt light-headed as she followed him around to the back of the Madonna. “Right here, see it? And over here he carved a horse with wings.” She bent to see the cross-hatched design.
     They both stood up. He looked down at her, his eyes serious, questioning. His braid fell over the front of his broad shoulder. “Emma, oh, God forgive me, but...”
     She was torn, ripped down the middle, panicked. Her heart wanted him so badly, but her mind screamed, Don’t! Candlelight flickered a red warning.
     “Emma...please,” he whispered, close to her face, “can’t we just...talk about...”
     Her resistance faltered; her knees went weak; she couldn’t look at him. “I don’t know...it’s been so long and I’m afraid...”
     He smelled of soap and cedar. He took her hand and it burned into her palm. The quiet of the church seemed deafening. Then suddenly she was in his arms, his mouth warm on hers. She pulled back, but the old hunger consumed them as he kissed her neck and moaned, “Oh, God, Emma.” The sweet strength of him wrapped around her as he kissed her forehead and cheeks and her mouth again.
     They heard a car door slam and then another. Father Lawrence’s voice called out, “Michael and Billy, you look festive. Do you think you can remember the words?” As the priest entered the church, Emma was walking up the aisle and Liam was seated in a pew. As she brushed past the priest her eyes were downcast and her face flushed.
     “Merry Christmas, Father,” she murmured.     “Ah, Emma,” said Father Lawrence, “is your annual visit over already...? 
Be True, Be Free, Stay Wild and Hold Fast
           MELINDA

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Autumn 2013

With a fat harvest moon and the passing of the equinox, autumn flung a cloak of frost over the mountains and valley. Usually subtle, creeping into summer's warmth day by day, the transition was unexpected and abrupt. We are "putting away" canning soup and juices, spreading out potatoes and onions, hanging herbs on the old kitchen beams to dry. There is wood to be cut, hay to be stacked and just before thanksgiving a new baby will come into our fold...I continue to work on the sequel to True. It is five years later in the Green Valley and the women (and men) are telling me their stories...It is slow going but I am listening intently...
I found a great blog post titled "Why it is good to go slow" here is the link... 
Maybe it will calm down all of us writers with high expectations of ourselves...and following is an excerpt from True...

             Be True, Be Free, Stay Wild and Hold Fast

           MELINDA

     Emma sat in the dining room sipping the bliss of French roast, grateful that it was Saturday, a day with no patients to see. She gazed at the garden beyond the big window. A strong wind blew the branches of the plum tree, and the old window chattered in its frame.
     After coffee, she put on her hooded flannel jacket and went out to the pasture. Mav was inside his little barn, head down, obviously asleep. “Hey, buddy, come and get your flake.” He looked up with a low nicker. “Here, have some horse granola too. It’s going to storm, don’t you think?” she asked, pouring oats over his hay. She leaned into him and he returned the weight of her affection, then began to chew.
     She walked to the garden and steadied the gate banging in the wind. Putting the garden to bed was always such a sad day. The winter garden seemed almost a graveyard, holding memories of the season’s yields and its idiosyncrasies—the volunteer cilantro that had pushed up in all the corners, and the weird-looking hard green squash with little frowning frog faces. She’d thought that the seed packet said “Patty Pan.”
     Zipping up her jacket and putting the hood over her bed-messed hair, she walked the rows, saying goodbye. The rosemary looked as if it wanted to spend the winter on a sunny Greek island. The sunflowers bowed low on their spindly stalks, their hearts an empty geometry of brown disks. The green beans, now a deadened rust, slumped over the trellis as if admitting defeat. The sky darkened even more. An unclaimed melancholy swept over her as she stared at the tomatoes, withered and pleated, deflated like the shriveled balls of old men.
     Above the farm the storm gathered, as wind spiraled inward, circled by warm humid air. Moist clouds rose and cooled; frozen particles found one another and merged. She looked upward as snow fell softly on her face.