Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Light In the Window

© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

When I was eight, my friends and I used to dare each other to ride our bikes past a rundown house at the end of the block. No one ever saw the old lady who lived there. Her curtains remained closed at all times. But late at night a single light shone from an upstairs window and we knew she was there. Tales of what went on inside her home were as tall as the weeds that had taken over her yard.

I bet she wrote fiction.

I’d like to say that writing has been a life-long passion, but the fact of the matter is, my first love was art. From the day I could hold a pencil in my hand, I drew. I studied a wide variety of art forms in school; charcoals, oils, watercolors, ink washes, ceramics, sculpture—love it all. Later I studied graphic design and got hooked on it. Although writing and art are two vastly different creative forms of expression, I am the whole of my life experiences. The art discipline helped me to develop an observant eye and sharpened my senses to the subtle nuances of the world around me. I can visualize the details of a scene as clearly as if I were looking right at them. The challenge is to transform those images and other sensory messages into words. Is the scene vivid enough for the reader to smell the stench of death when Harper walks into the morgue; see the glint of light bouncing off a pool of water on the sidewalk, or hear the rain drumming onto a metal awning?

I write crime mystery/suspense and up until a few years ago, my work was something I shared only with family and friends. Close friends. People who love me and in whose eyes I can do no wrong. It was a safe place to be, but a little voice in the back of my head nudged me forward. Eventually I took the plunge and expanded my circle to include an amazing group of talented fellow writers who believed in me enough to set me straight when my writing was off and kind enough to cheer me on when I finally “got it.”

In spite of the sacrifices, the hours spent writing and plotting the next set of crimes, my family hasn’t disowned me and my friends are still speaking. Still I can’t help but wonder if one day I’ll become my neighborhood’s version of the woman who lived in the corner house. Will the light from my office window be the only proof I exist? I hope not. I prefer to think it will serve as a beacon, encouraging others to keep at it and follow their dream.

The SILENCED CRY book cover is eligible for the 2007 Cover of the Year award. Voting ends April 15, 2008. Every voter will be entered in a drawing for the winning title.

For excerpt and reviews please go to:



Hi Marta
As long as you have an internet connection, I'll know you exist!
Keep up the good work, looking forward to the next novel.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Marta, I just wrote a long glowing comment and Blogger ate it! Now let me see if I can remember what I wrote. LOL.

I loved your piece - fabulous. In my house, it's the blue light of the laptop that can be seen faintly glowing from dark room in the early morn. I love writing in the dark - it mutes all the real life senses and lets me savor those in my book even more. ;o)

You are a great artist and writer - I think you need to post a photo of your painting(s) in this piece. I loved the one you showed me long ago - it was gorgeous. Can you do that?

Writing, photography, music, artistic web designs, etc. are all frequent companions to the creative arm of writing. We four are just bursting with creative juices, aren't we? ;o)

Kim Smith said...

Honey your life thus far (my small role in it anyway) has already been a beacon :)

I am supported, challenged, encouraged and motivated by all that you do.

Thanks for reminding me how special my friends are to me. I owe you a Hallmark :)

Marta Stephens said...

Cait, you DO know me well, don’t you? Thanks so much for taking a chance on me. :) Where's a big-grin smiley face when you need one? You're such a treasure. Book two is almost there!

Aaron, I never thought to post a picture of one of my paintings. Sure I can do that. And yes, there's something wonderful about writing in the early morning when the day is still yours.

s.w. vaughn said...

I've always wanted to be the neighborhood crazy person. Too bad my neighborhood is spaced so loosely...

Marta, you are a light on the Internet. That is a good thing. :-)

(We all simply must get together one day for tea and crumpets . . . on a boat, in balmy weather, near beaches with white sands.)

Marta Stephens said...

Kim, you remind me of Dorothy. Success was always within your grasp. All you had to do was believe. ;)