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"Life by Fire" the Novel

Act of courage. Bold experiment. Novel in progress.

Step out of your prison; it is self-imposed.
Leave it to burn behind you, igniting the fire of your imagination, and life will follow.

The Novel "Life by Fire"

The First Dimension: A Novel in Progress

This multi-dimensional novel intermingles two stories, entitled “Life by Drowning” and “Death by Water”. Read the novel as it progresses.

The Novel "Life by Fire" Commentary

The Second Dimension: Contextual Details

Read contextual and historical details, as well as the author’s insights as the novel takes shape behind-the-scenes.

Forward: Act of Courage

What’s on your bucket list? I contemplated my life from my funeral backward: sobering. What do I aspire to accomplish before I die? My bucket list is short. At the top? Write a novel. I value words, appreciate literature, relish a good book, revel in a beautiful poem....

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Preface: Birth of a Story

Saturday, July 25, 2009: I lay face forward, sprawled across a pile of pillows, eyes shut, as another wave of contraction shudders through my core. My mouth opens wide into an O and I feel a deep long loud “ooooohhhhh” pass over my lips. Deep breath in, deep breath...

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Phoenix Dreaming

Monday, February 12, 2007: Death by fire. I dream of dying in a burst of flames. Searing heat traveling from my feet, up my legs, swirling around me. Hot, dry, release. My soul purified by fire—a quick, dramatic death, nothing left but ash. The antithesis of my life.

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Phoenix Slouching

Tuesday, February 13, 2007: I awaken to the offensively chipper chatter of morning show hosts from the clock radio at my husband’s bedside. Pulling up my knees, I withdraw deeper into the dark, warm covers and lift them over the back of my head, relieved when he hits “snooze” and heads to the bathroom. A ten-minute reprieve.

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Phoenix Delivered

Phoenix Delivered

Thursday, July 16, 2009: The year transpires much the same, one distraction to the next. By day, I split myself in two—half domesticated mom, half professional businesswoman—accomplishing neither whole-heartedly. Perpetually fatigued and scattered.

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Phoenix Rising

Wednesday, July 22, 2009: My curiosity over the letter’s origin turns to obsession. Who could have written such a letter and under what circumstances? The question rests on my pillow, and the letter under it, as I drift off to sleep that night.

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Forethought

Forethought

Gisa Catarina Gärtner was born at sea on October 5, 1933, halfway between the province of Tirol, Austria, and the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, thereby becoming the youngest of 91 Catholic Austrian emigrants headed to found a new colony in the New World.

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Foundations Laid

Foundations Laid

1933 – 1939: Dreizehnlinden, Santa Catarina, Brazil: By the time Gisa grew old enough to go to school, the rudimentary communal barracks had transformed into small neat houses and productive farms, and the settlement of Dreizehnlinden into a community complete with a church and a store, as well as a school.

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Foundations Shifted

Foundations Shifted

1942: Dreizehnlinden / Papuan, Santa Catarina, Brazil: In August 1942, a single German submarine sunk five Brazilian vessels in two days, causing more than six hundred deaths and leading Brazil to declare war on the Axis on August 22, 1942. That’s when the war truly reached Dreizehnlinden, forever shifting its foundations.

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And So It Began

And So It Began

The post “Forethought” marks the beginning of the story “Death by Water”, within the story “Life by Drowning”, to which I alluded when I called this a “multi-dimensional novel”. Although Gisa Catarina Gärtner and the Gärtner family is fictional, the setting is real and the historical details are accurate to the best of my knowledge. Here are some background details.

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The Devil & The Details

The Devil & The Details

Or “The Distractions & The Research”: Have I made any progress on my book since my last digest, you ask? Yes, despite the distractions, I have! Life By Fire will soon branch out into a couple of directions that require accurate historical details. To that end, I have been diligently Googling, emailing, calling and haunting various libraries and universities. Here are some highlights.

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Romantic Evenings Circa 1954

Romantic Evenings Circa 1954

My writing focus has flitted from scene to scene, era to era, based on my mood and interest at any given moment, as well as the accessibility of information required for historical accuracy. I’m currently focusing on a section that takes place in Kitchener in the spring of 1954. Here, I’ve outlined some of the legwork that has gone into defining it.

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Interval Writing

Interval Writing

I’ve read a great deal about the value of Interval Training in exercise and highly recommend it (despite rarely doing it). For instance, if one runs (which I don’t, if I can help it), interval training would involve alternating between short, intense, full-out sprints, and slow, steady recovery jogs in one training session. I’ve realized that the same habits that I’ve applied (or haven’t but should) to exercise also apply to writing.

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