Monday, June 29, 2015

Phase Four

Here we are, phase four.  After three months -- at least -- of reading, researching, studying and comparing, of jotting down notes and dates, I finally reached the goal line, the one with the huge FINISH banner above and the rope across. Once I stepped through and broke that damned, taunting string I could resume my writing.  I was scant feet away, I could almost smell the sweet scent of accomplishment when I realized something was definitely still missing, and everything came to a screeching halt.

At this point, some of my characters were half crazed.  The voices accumulated and grew louder, demanding action and release.  Xavi and Emilio jumped in the fray with Matthew, and as we all know, men's voices, especially deep voices can drown just about any other noise, and I thought I would lose my mind.

This went back and forth for several days until we all agreed to a compromise.  A truce of sorts. I could advance in parts of the story that took place in the US while I completed what I believed was the key component of the war aspect.  The final touch, the icing on the cake, the last decoration on the Christmas tree: personal experiences.  A writer can research a past era, maybe speak with experts who studied the field diligently, but nothing beats interviewing folks who lived, breathed, and ate in it.  

As it turned out, I have the unbelievable fortune of living two houses away from Mr. José Meléndez-Pérez.  For those who don't know, Mr. Meléndez-Pérez is a true national hero.  Instinct, written by Michael Smerconish accounts how on August 04, 2001 Mr. Meléndez-Pérez -- a US immigration officer stationed at Orlando International Airport -- refused Mohammed Al-Qahtani entry into the US.  Despite incredible pressure, Mr. Melendez-Perez remained steadfast in his certainty.  Al-Qahtani was coming to the US to do harm.  Some folks may now remember, the aircraft that went down in Pennsylvania had four hijackers.  One short thanks to Meléndez-Pérez.  If they'd had a full complement of terrorists on board, who knows which other horrors they might have perpetrated.  Members of the 9/11 commission, such as Richard Ben-Veniste speculate the Capitol might've been their target. 

 For those who'd like to learn more about Mr. Meléndez-Pérez, heroic resistance to political and diplomatic pressure, Instinct can be purchased through your regular book retailers.  This is a fantastic article as well: The Pulse: Hero again. 

Of course I wanted Mr. Meléndez-Pérez' perspective, and he was kind enough to grant me an interview about a period, which he called, "one of the most difficult times in my life, Vietnam."   He served two tour duties, one in1965-1966 and in 1969-1970.  

How lucky can a girl get?!!  Even though Destiny's Plan's scenes take place in 1967-1968 and Mr. Mélendez-Pérez did not serve in Special Forces, his personal experiences are extremely relevant and right on point.  I can watch Platoon, a remarkable movie based on Oliver Stone's recollection a million times, but it's not the same as when the man you are interviewing tells you, 

"The nights in the jungle were so dark, I couldn't see my hand." And then, he'd go on to explain how.  
"When the monsoons came, we thought we would drown.  We were wet, always wet, foot rot the most common ailment, mosquitoes our most unrelenting pests."  

I have several other comments in my "book-bible" from the conversation, but there is no point in repeating the misery.  It's enough to say there is no such thing as a little inferno.  Hell is hell.  And he lived it, breathed it, and suffered it.  Matthew and Brian were bound for Gehenna.  

Destiny's Plan is not a book about war, I've said that before. But when war is your background music, the constant noise of an era, and you wish to call yourself a passable writer, you just can't ignore it like our nation did to these men when they came home.  When they returned PTSD'd to the max, suffering of untold diseases, exposed to life-altering chemicals and seeking a comfort that was nowhere to be found.  

That's why the book is dedicated to them, maybe a little late in coming, but better late than never.   On that note, may I express my sincerest gratitude for the unmeasurable sacrifice. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Outstanding Quotes.

I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen, heard, understood, and touched by them.  The greatest gift I can give is to see, hear, understand, and touch another person.
~Virginia Satir

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has the remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
~George Orwell

It's like, at the end, there's this surprise quiz:  Am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now.  Was it worth what I paid?
~Richard Bach

Him that I love, I wish to be free -- even from me.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with.
~ John Locke

Content thyself to be obscurely good.  When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway, the post of honor is a private station.
~ Joseph Addison

Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you.
~ Annie Dillard

A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.
~Jerry Seinfeld.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Phase Three

Phase three of my investigation/research seemed easier than the first two, and it was, but it also became a History addict's paradise.  (By the way, if anyone is wondering what happened to phases one and two, you've read them already.  I changed the title of this last installment because after two weeks I was growing tired of the same heading.  No other reason.)

At this point, I had finished reading Stanton's and Moore's books, but I still hadn't found a specific area or battle in Vietnam.  "The Event".  In fact, at one point I almost backed out of the Green Berets, because their training was too long, close to six months.  Thanksgiving 1967 was around the corner and although Matthew and Brian were near the end of their training, they were still in American soil.  However, Matthew didn't care about my troubles, this was his outfit, he had volunteered to serve in the Special Forces and it was up to me to figure out the details. Unlike today, men of draft age in the 1960's didn't have many choices.  Without a military deferment, which lasted until the men were out of school, they either waited to be called, enlisted or flee the country. Matthew was absolutely correct, I had to respect his choice.

Let's face it History is an unforgiving elephant  And if you are focused on one fact, detail, or key moment you can't see the forest, for the proverbial trees. I was obsessed with the infamous Tet Offensive at the end of January—the one catastrophic, deal breaker event, I really wanted to stay away from and I kept panicking.

 If interested, there is a plethora of articles on the internet regarding Tet and the violation of the cease-fire.  I would recommend watching the History channel's excellent documentaries.

But Matthew insisted, he continued with his nonstop whispers, "the right skirmish will appear" he promised.  To the non-writers, this phase can also be titled "Confessions of a Schizophrenic".  The worrying looks I got from my husband indicated I might be suffering from such an ailment. Someone was looking out for me, and on a fortuitous day, something unexpected happened, I chanced upon an article written by a very popular writer (who will remain anonymous), explaining how her characters, one, in particular, spoke to her and dictated the direction of the story.  Eureka!

My relief was boundless.  That also meant I might have missed something.  I went back, flipping like a maniac through the dogeared pages in Stanton's book, unfortunately, the battles were either too early, too late or in the wrong location.  So I went back to Amazon.   This time I ran into Hans Halberstadt's War Stories of the Green Berets.  Unlike Robin Moore, Mr. Halberstadt did not train with the Special Forces, he did serve as a helicopter door gunner in Vietnam. In my humble opinion, a terribly dangerous position. Sure the gunner has the upper advantage, but he's also a sitting duck of sorts, all of which, I'm sure, imparted Mr. Halberstadt with a fantastic sense of humor.

In his collection of stories, I found the missing puzzle pieces to Destiny's Plan.  It began with Moore's book.  In a chapter that resonated and moved me beyond words, a distinction had been made between serving up North or fighting in the Delta.  In his book, Halberstadt discusses submerged bridges and defective LAW's  (light, antitank, weapons), along with the most incredible practices, such as northern patrols going on classified missions without any, zip, nil, nada, rien American identifying signs.  If taken by the enemy these men were left without any recourse.

Finally, I found in Stanton's book one section dedicated to the "Tragedy at Lang Vei" — the pages must have stuck together or something because I didn't see it during the first and second pass.  Lang Vei was a small camp a few miles away from the Laos border and just as close to the Marine base in Khe Sanh. The bombardment of Khe Sanh began January 21, the Tet offensive exploded Jan 30, and Lang Vei was overrun on Feb 6, 1968.  Three events back to back and the least known would be crucial to Matthew and Brian story. I'd found the mother lode.

Lang Vei may not be famous, but it should be required reading for any student of US Contemporary War History.
"A poignant lesson in human courage and military professionalism, this detailed account of the tragic Battle of Lang Vei will make you proud of being an American—and will break your heart."
~ Gary A. Linderer Author of the Eyes of the Eagle.  
I agree with Mr. Linderer. Reading and studying about Lang Vei broke my heart and brought me to the simple conclusion that this tragic loss of life could have been averted.  Unfortunately for us in our nation, and for those in the military, not everyone who's in command should be.  Just because a person has risen through the ranks to a decision-making position, doesn't mean he or she (these days) are qualified, especially when they're opinionated and so full of themselves they're not open to suggestions or sound advice from their underlings. The tragedy at Lang Vei proved it.  No one in Saigon listened to the rumors of tanks traveling south, the pitch, and the Annamese mountainous territory precluded the use of such heavy equipment.

As a placating, shut your whining, gesture, the High Command in Saigon sent to Lang Vei, "untested"— yep read it and weep — anti-tank equipment.  On the night of February 6th, 1968, those non-existent, mythical NVA tanks rolled over Lang Vei, like bullies trampling a children's park with nothing to stop them, except for the sacrifice and valor of the men in camp.

In addition to the books already mentioned, here is a reading list for those who might wish to learn more about Lang Vei.

Night of the Silver Stars, by William R. Phillips
Tanks in the wire: The first use of enemy armor, by David B. Stockwell
War Story - The Magnificent Sacrifice  (article at VG War Story - outstanding and fully detailed)

Well.  In the heat of the Lang Vei discussion, I realized I have gone longer than I expected.  There will be a Phase 4, obviously.  (wink)  Next time the conclusion of Matthew and Brian's jungle scene and the promised "real interview with a distinguished Vietnam vet".   See ya then.

Victoria Saccenti

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thoughts for the Weekend

Silence will save me from being wrong (and foolish), but it will also deprive me of the possibility of being right.
~ Igor Stravinsky

To a father growing old, nothing is dearer than a daughter.

Syllables govern the world.
~ John Selden

No two persons ever read the same book.
~ Edmund Wilson

The sparrow is sorry for the peacock at the burden of his tail.
~ Rabindranath Tagore

The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.
~ Sigmund Freud

When you sell a man a book you just don't sell him twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue -- you sell him a whole new life.
~ Christopher Morley

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.
~ Rene Descartes

The last quote is a personal favorite.  I always learn something new from all these sages. It can be a feeling, a new word, a special thought, or even realize that the challenges, heartaches, and triumphs we experience today, have already happened in the past.  Only the people, the cultures, and the names have changed.

Victoria Saccenti

Monday, June 15, 2015

When Writing Takes a Back Seat. Part 2

In Part One, I wrote about Robin Moore's book, The Green Berets, and how it saved my life, or better yet, saved the life of my manuscript.  Despite the analytical and precise military aspect of its subject, Moore's work contained unexpected emotional undertones my characters' story needed.  This was the extra layer missing from Stanton's resource book. And for me a stroke of luck. Perhaps The Fates intervened after all (wink) so I would find my way to the 1999 edition.

Let me first explain to the men in the room, if any are present, this is not a syrupy or sappy book. The collection of stories are raw, straight to the point, and combat gritty.  In fact, Mr. Moore had to undergo the full,  first generation Special Forces* training before he was allowed to write a single word about the Berets.  
"We don't have any shortcuts in this business... If you really want to understand us, you should be able to go through our training.  Then you'll begin to see what this green beanie means."  The Green Berets, 1999 Skyhorse Publishing.
I was laughing at this point.  Poor Mr. Moore had no choice but to attend Jump School in Ft. Benning. If he passed, his next hurdle was a three-month guerilla warfare course, which included night jumps, swamp exercises, hand-to-hand combat training, and, of course, the obligatory two to three-mile daily run.  In addition, some maneuvers which I erroneously believed were exclusive to the Navy SEALs, such as HALO-SCUBA infiltration and Sky Hook, were also part of the Berets curriculum, and explained to the reader.  The world of the Army's Special Forces slowly opened up.

For my research, this was invaluable information.  Not that I had planned to include all of the above operations in the manuscript.  Even though war comes right up to the reader, Destiny's Plan is still a story of love, war is the constant background music.  It helped a great to deal to see/feel the setting and hopefully give it authenticity.  Moore invites the reader and I took advantage of his offer to visualize the conditions and training Matthew and his buddy Brian, would experience during Part One of Destiny's Plan.  

I can already hear the question in the air, why didn't you ask permission to visit military bases? Believe me, the thought entered my mind.  For a current story, this is the ideal option.  I know a few writers who accomplished their research at training sites.  But not for a novel that takes place in 1967 through 1969.  How could I possibly replicate or return to that moment?  I couldn't, not without a time machine tucked away in a closet somewhere.  

The 1960's was a crossroads era.  An era when our nation lost its innocence.  It was modern, and not.  It was a whirlpool of social and life changing events for some groups while others clung fiercely to time-honored traditions.  I could not rely on my memory and the slightly one-sided opinions at home.  I was a young person, and when you're young the scope of attention is usually limited to seven feet around you, more or less.  Even if we had a good all-around sense of political awareness, chances are some of us do not remember President Johnson's 1964 address to the nation regarding the Gulf of Tonkin incident, nor do we remember our parents' opinion or the media's reaction and commentaries.

I will go on the record saying I recall the event.  But in no way did I grasp the full ramifications for the U.S. and its citizens, especially what it meant to the men eligible for military service.

 BTW,  this is an excellent  link to  PBS, Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

For all intents and purposes, I missed the early 60's and the events leading up to the war.  This knowledge slapped me squarely in the face a few years ago when purely by luck, or The Fates again—see the pattern here?—  I came across Mel Gibson's film, We Were Soldiers.

The movie is based on the book written by reporter Joe Galloway and Lt. General (Ret) Hal Moore (No relation to Robin Moore of The Green Berets) who led the battle at the valley of Ia Drang in 1965.  Here, at LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany the Army's 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and 8th Battalion, 66th Regiment sustained catastrophic losses.

The movie has received conflicting reviews about the historical accuracy of some events.  But that was not the point for me and I am not going to debate them.  The point was, it happened, it was critical, pivotal, and I didn't know anything about it.  I was ill prepared for Destiny's Plan.  This put the final stopper on the bottle. (cliché but appropriate)

For the technically-minded and history buffs, this is excellent: Article U.S. Army/Infantry Magazine 

And so, except for email and household business, computer and keyboard were set aside.  I am reading, deeply engrossed in Mr. Moore's narrative, I finished the first story, A GreenBeret—All the way.  Then it hit me, the names may have been changed, but these men were not products of anyone's imagination.  They were once flesh and blood, with their problems, their stories, their difficulties at home, and their losses.  Sgt. Kornie, and his conflicts with superiors who didn't understand or approve his Special Forces' ingenuity, was real.  Sgt. Schmelzer died in the attack portrayed in this chapter.   Sgt. Al Stebbins lost his life fighting in the Delta for additional Combat Pay.  I had used the "fiction" category as some form of subconscious protection against the harshness of war and Moore had now torn it down with a light hand.  It had become personal.
 "Mr. McNamara did not want the American people to realize what a disaster we were in."  The Green Berets, 1999 Skyhorse Publishing.
Indeed, the nation had no idea the horror and sacrifice these men, and women, were about to endure. As the physically and spiritually broken-down vets and body bags returned home, they were not received kindly.  An abysmal rift divided our country.  Matthew and Brian were about to engage in a most difficult enterprise. If I were to do them justice I had to learn a lot—quickly—and get my facts straight.

Next week, Part 3. Locations, a new book, and a real life interview.

*First generation Special Forces is the term Robin Moore used to differentiate the Green Berets of the Vietnam War era from subsequent generations.



Friday, June 12, 2015

Thoughts for a Friday afternoon.

The memory of most men is an abandoned cemetery where lie, unsung and unhonored, the dead whom they have ceased to cherish.  ~ Marguerite Yourcenar.

No one has ever become poor by giving.   ~Anne Frank

I never saw an ugly thing in my life; for let the form of an object be what it may, — light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.  ~Jon Constable

The ideal scientist thinks like a poet and only later works like a bookkeeper. ~ E.O. Wilson.

While language is forming, writers are applauded for extending its limits; when established for restricting themselves to them.  ~Isaac Disraeli.

If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you've got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience.  Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not in the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.  ~Robert Fulghum

The business of the poet and the novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things and the grandeur of the sorriest things. ~Thomas Hardy

In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker. ~Plutarch

How simple life becomes when things like mirrors are forgotten. ~ Daphne du Maurier

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence. ~Hal Borland.

For those of us who write, the last sentiment is particularly on point.

Monday, June 8, 2015

When Writing Takes a Back Seat. Part I

Last week a dear friend and colleague blogged about the wonders of the Internet for easy research, "The World At Your Fingertips".  I agree.  With a good connection, anyone can find just about anything on the Internet as long as one keeps one caveat in mind, “patience, ingenuity, and tenacity required”. Out of the three, patience comes in at #1, followed closely by ingenuity.   

As I said in an earlier blog, my work required research.  I broke it in three parts.  First was the 1960's way of life, dresses, and customs.  Although I have some recollection of the era - I will not reveal how much - I still had to peruse through pages of information.  As my friend mentioned it was all there, easy and accessible, articles, photographs, and trends, at my fingertips.  In fact, my research supported my friend's argument.  In the 1960's I would've spent $$ and time traveling to the sources or spending hours at a library.   Today, I love my computer.

But part two, the Vietnam War, turned out to be a different beast.   Dozens of entries are listed on Google regarding uniforms, weapons, and equipment.  Most of the information pages refer to the recent conflicts in the Middle East.  What applies to today’s strategies, training, and weaponry, did not apply to the 60's.  Matthew Buchanan, of Destiny’s Plan, volunteered to serve in the Army’s Special Forces, the 1967 Green Berets out of Fort Bragg.  My first stumbling block.

In today’s parlance, we use the term Special Forces across the board for any military group that is highly trained and specialized in unconventional techniques. The Navy SEAls, Green Berets and Rangers most certainly fall in that category.  This is quoted from
"The Navy SEAL training program will stress you beyond your limits to make sure you're worthy to serve withe the world's best fighting force.  Be prepared, stayed focused, make mature choices, and understand what you are volunteering for."
From the same website regarding the Green Berets:
"If you want to wear the green beret of the Army Special Forces, be warned, it takes more than the ability to do hundreds of push-ups. To make it in the Special Forces of any branch of the U.S. military, you need intelligence, an outstanding record of prior military service (at least three years), and high motivation - very high."  
Army Rangers:
"Ever wanted to put on the Ranger Tab on your Army uniform? As with any of the Special Operations units in the U.S. military,to become a Ranger takes endurance, stamina, intelligence and mental toughness."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  However, the more I searched, the more I realized I couldn't group them under one umbrella because during the Vietnam War era, differences, no matter how small, existed.  The obvious distinction between SEAL's and Green Berets was/is the scope of operations - SEAL's operate underwater - and age - SEAL's were established in 1962.  The much older Green Berets operate on land and with the local inhabitants.

I could not wander about wasting time. The story was related to the Green Berets only.  To do these specialized groups justice, I had to refocus.  I had to read, read, read  books and ask questions, research old fashioned style.  By force, writing took a back seat.   My first real find was Green Berets At War, by Shelby Stanton - military historian, Green Beret, and Vietnam vet, an excellent resource book, with detailed background history, battles, maps, and a plethora of events.

The book opens with the vast presence of the U.S. in the Pacific, circa 1956.  A huge area that covered from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and from California to India.  To meet any needs and respond quickly to possible Sino-Soviet escalating tensions, highly classified Pacific-based Army Special Forces units were being formed. These units were charged with using unconventional warfare.  More or less translated, this meant selecting and training local resisting forces to fight instead of regular U.S. forces = we teach, you fight.

I learned a lot from Stanton's book, not just about procedures and U.S. support of its troops (a future discussion).  But also about lesser known battles and conflicts in Vietnam.  In fact, Stanton's book led me to Lang Vei.  This small, Special Forces camp near the Laos border and the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail, had been overrun by NVA forces.  The tragedy drowned by the lengthy, newsworthy  siege of Khe Sanh in 1968, the nearby Marines base.  Here was a story I could use. I didn't wish to focus on huge battles, like Tet, Hue City, or Tong Le Chong.  In my eyes, Lang Vei had a mystery, less exposure, and yet it was rich with details as I found out.

But, for all its interesting facts and dates, like most resource books, it had a certain dry quality.  I needed more. I needed the warmth and angst of the human factor, the vicissitudes, and the struggle.  How folks at home fared, the thoughts and reactions of the men in distant FOB's (forward operating bases).  Just a quick aside, unless specified fob military, Google will show everything else under the sun, including derogatory terms for Asians (insert confused).

 I returned to Amazon for more reading material.  Of course, there it was, staring at me in the face, The Green Berets, by the late Robin Moore.  The writer who underwent training with Special Forces in Fort Bragg and was later stationed in Vietnam. This is the book that inspired the John Wayne movie I had seen years ago.  With all due respect to the late John Wayne, "The Duke", I found the film a bit hokey and tongue in cheek.

My finger hesitated, before hitting the enter key.

In the end, I figured if the book written by the author of The French Connection turned out to be a total bust, I could afford to lose a few dollars.  Decision made I hit enter.  I could not have been more mistaken!  And lucky!!!!!   I had my treasure.  This particular edition included a chapter edited out of the original publication.  It's one of Moore's favorite chapters, and now it's mine as well.  "Combat Pay" is bittersweet, poignant, and realistic.  Quintessentially human and warm.  I will remember it for as long as I live.  Thank you, Robin Moore.  And so, I put aside my computer and began to read.

More on Moore's real life Green Berets next week.  Writing Takes A Back Seat. Part II 



Monday, June 1, 2015

Musings on a core theme

Do you believe in Fate?  I’m not talking about fate as the abstract concept of destiny, the events in a man’s life, but The Fates, those ancient beings who visited a home three days after the birth of a child to determine the length of his/her life.

Of course not, should be the overall response. This is the 21st century, the age of reason, science, and stunning technology.  We have satellites orbiting our planet constantly. If gods inhabited the clouds over Mount Olympus we would have seen them by now.  Hades, that dark realm between Underworld Rivers doesn’t exist either, with all the fracking going on we would've run into them already, at the very least tumbled a few of their temples along the way.

I find fascinating how most folks don't know anything about them or that ages ago, ancient civilizations feared them, prayed to them, and barely whispered their names to avoid their attention.  And yet, ever since the day my father placed a book of Greek mythology in my hands, The Fates, Fortune, and Destiny and their effect on humanity have riveted my imagination.  They were the most prominent divinities in several pantheons. They ruled gods and mortals alike; only almighty Zeus—according to some experts—was exempt.

Depending on the culture, Greek, Roman, or Nordic, the terrible threesome was addressed with different names, Moirae, Parcae, Fata, and Norns.  No matter which name the three were fully recognized.  Clotho (spinner) the one who spun the yarn of life, Lachesis (allotter) the one who measure the length, and Atropos (unturnable) the most feared, the one who, with a snip of her terrible shears, ended it all.  This Goya representation of Atropos, the fastest, is truly frightening.

Man's preoccupation with the unknown future and what waits ahead gave birth to even more theories. The concept of the wheel of fortune, which is quite old, possibly originated with classic thinkers and writers such as Cicero.  Imagine a huge wheel, somewhere in some mythical abode, conducting the course of Man's Destiny. 

Some sources indicate that the roman philosopher Boethius was responsible for the Fifteenth Century resurgence of the wheel of fortune. Queen Elizabeth — who consulted with the famous Astrologer  and Diviner John Dee — translated his discourse on fate’s role, The Consolation of Philosophy, written while he was imprisoned.  Boethius writes about the risk of pinning one's hopes on the unreliable fate.

"Inconstancy is my very essence; it is the game I never cease to play as I turn my wheel in its ever changing circle, filled with joy as I bring the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top."

Boethius standing to the side of the wheel.

On a more current trend of thought, the folks who trust their fortunes to the fickle wheel in Las Vegas should read Boethius.  What comes up, must go down with all the inherent consequences.

Ok, going back to the subject, we can find a plethora of images and writings about the wheel dating from the middle ages.  The Romance of the Rose comes to mind right away.  It appears yours truly; this humble mortal is in great company.  Chaucer, Dante, Machiavelli, and of course Shakespeare, were influenced by this concept in some form or another.

Dante's Inferno's speaks:

"No mortal power may stay her spinning wheel
The nations rise and fall by her decree
None may foresee where she will set her heel:

she passes, and things pass. Man's mortal reason
cannot encompass her. She rules her sphere
as the other gods rule theirs. 

Listen to Romeo after he slays Tybalt, “O I am fortune’s fool.”  And Cassius speaking to Brutus, “Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” 

Does the last quote sound familiar?  It should, it’s the title of John Green’s outstanding bestseller The Fault In Our Stars, inspired by Julius Caesar. 

Fate and Fortune, Fortune and Fate, old and new, one and the same.  In literature, this presence has lingered in some form or another, separate or intermingled.  The enchantingly mysterious  Fates have certainly grasped my imagination to the point where the question keeps coming up, what would happen if they appeared as the central power in a modern story?  

How could I resist the temptation?  

Here it is the core theme of Destiny’s Plan.  Raquelita and Matthew, ill-starred lovers struggling against the influence of The Fates.  Is it possible to overcome their whim?  Will their love be strong enough?  The book comes out September 2015.  I hope you'll read it and tell me because I would really like to know.