Category: For The Writer In Me

Writing related experiences, guest posts, reblogs, interviews, etc.

O is for “Ohana” #nanowrimo #fiction

“I ended up here in Maui because I killed my son.”

I heard the words and saw Galen’s lips moving but my brain just could not compute the information.


“Excuse me?”

It was as if someone had thrown a bucket of ice water onto my head. Instinctively, I started to pull my hands away from his but Galen refused to let go. His deep blue eyes pleaded with me not to be afraid.

“When I was living in New York with my ex-wife and my son Ben, I was obsessed with climbing the ladder at work. All I could think about was becoming a reknown investigative journalist. I spent way too much time chasing the next story, taking stupid risks and traveling the world without them. I basically neglected my family and one day, my wife decided that she had had enough. It wasn’t until I came home after one of my long work trips and found that she had left with Ben that I realized that I had been putting them last. Ohana wasn’t one of my priorities when it should have been.”

I frowned not only because I didn’t know what ohana meant but because I was anxious for Galen to cut to the chase. Now that Galen was giving me the back story, I didn’t want it. I just wanted to know how I had ended up sitting with a self-confessed killer.

Ohana means family,” Galen explained, reading my face and answering the question I hadn’t asked. “When Ben became a teenager, he started spending entire summers with me, where ever I happened to be in the world. By then, I had given up on becoming a famous journalist and had taken up contract work to have more flexibility especially when he was around. His mother and I were getting along really well and I thought that we could actually have a chance at being a family again when I made a fatal mistake that changed things forever.”

Galen’s tears made my heart bleed but I refused to shed any of my own until I knew the whole story.

How could he hurt anyone, much less his own son?

“You…you said that you killed your own son?” I questioned with quiet intent.

“It was my fault. I should have been looking out for him and instead, I was distracted by work.”

Galen took a deep breath and closed his eyes as if he was re-visiting that fateful day in his head.

“It was the summer we spent here in Maui and I was doing a bunch of important telephone interviews that day. In the midst of it all, Ben asked if he could go surfing with some boys he had made friends with. I didn’t want to dampen his fun and though I didn’t care much for those boys, I said yes. But I didn’t think to ask where they were going because I felt guilty at being unavailable and didn’t want to put a damper on his fun.”

Galen opened his eyes and looked down at our intertwined hands.

“It wasn’t until Ben wasn’t home for dinner, that’s when I really started to worry. And just when I… and when the police came to my door, I knew that he was gone.”

“Gone?” I repeated, knowing exactly what he meant.

Galen nodded and finally let go of my hands.

“Ben and those boys had gone to Olowalu Beach on an extremely busy day and he wasn’t that great of a surfer. Ben didn’t know about the large coral heads just under the surface of the water in specific spots. It was my fault that I never told him. My ex-wife never forgave me. She hasn’t spoken to me since his funeral, not once in the five years since it happened.”

Oh my God…

“But… it wasn’t your fault Galen. It was an accident.”

I couldn’t even imagine what I would do if something happened to my kids.

“I might as well of killed him myself Katie because I should have been “parenting”. If I had taken the time to ask, I could have warned him about the reefs. At least that’s how I felt back then. For the first couple of years after he passed, I stayed in New York and dug myself a deep dark hole that I refused to crawl out of. And when I did get myself out, I came back here to visit the spot where I lost him and I could feel him, truly feel him here. Ben had a beautiful soul and it’s as though he’s always with me when I’m on this island. I changed my life completely by deciding to spend most of my time here. For the past three years, I’ve been all about living in the moment, being of service to others and taking advantage of every day. That’s why I decided to get out of the rat race.”

Galen stopped talking and I was at a loss for words. I crawled into his lap and hugged him because it was the only thing I could think to do.

“I’m so sorry for your loss Galen. You are brave. I don’t think that I could ever revisit or stay in a place that took one of my children away.”

Galen held onto me tight. His pain was palpable.

“You never know what you’ll do until you’re faced with hard challenges. Some of us run and hide, others stay and face the music. Being here in Maui, has been a bit of both for me.”

I knew exactly what he meant. His words resonated deep in me. I had run away to Hawaii to escape my diagnosis but at the same token, Hawaii had made me realize that I needed to go home and face the music too.

“Like I said Katie, we’re are all products of our pasts. What made you come here?”

After all that he had just shared with me, how could I tell him that I was dying?

“I came here to escape,” I hesitated. “I mean, it recently hit me that there’s so many things I want to do before I die. That I’ve wasted years putting myself last and time isn’t infinite, my time is running out. I’m scared that…I mean…I’m dying and never would have lived.”

I waited for a reaction from Galen that never came. Instead he kissed me on the forehead and held me tighter. It was clear that he hadn’t taken me literally.

“We’re all dying Katie. Some of us are already dead but we just don’t know it. The key is to live while we still have the chance.”

I couldn’t have agreed more and offered my lips to him once again.

This time, Galen didn’t hold back with his kiss…

All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews


Kate is Living To Die #nanowrimo #fiction


I suddenly realized that I had much better things to do with my time, especially now that I had some living to do….

“Of course, I can’t give you an exact time period but from my experience with this kind of illness, I’d say, give or take 12 to 24 months. I’m so very sorry. Are you sure that there is no one I can call for you?”

Why is this office so sterile white? White walls, white shelving, off-white accessories…

“No. I’ll be fine.”

The doctor’s voice sounded a thousand miles away and even my own voice didn’t sound like mine in my own head.

“Kate, I don’t think that you should be dealing with this news alone…”

They could at least have splashed a little color on a few of the walls, especially in the waiting room where it is so depressing…

“No. I’m okay.”

The doctor’s eyes pierced holes into my face, probably wondering how much longer she would have to wait before I cracked and crumbled into pieces onto the floor in tears. She gave me a doubtful look before scribbling something down vigorously on her prescription pad. I looked at the array of diplomas, degrees and certifications that littered her wall behind her, boasting her credentials.

All of those credentials and none of them can help me…

“I’m referring you to a therapist. It would be good for you and your family to speak with him. He can give you some coping strategies to help you through the difficult times to come.”

She scribbled something else on another page of her pad.

“And this is a prescription for something to take the edge of your nerves.”

The doctor tore the sheets from the pad with such force that it startled me back to attention. I took them without saying a word and shoved them into my purse.

“And I’d like to see you back here next week so that we can discuss your options.”

“Options? You just said that it’s terminal.”

I knew that I was looking at her all kinds of crazy. What kind of quack was she?

“I’m referring to options related to delaying the effects of the disease and to make things more…cope-able.

Cope-able? Was that even a real word?

“I apologize. I should have made that more clear, Kate.”

The doctor pushed back from her chair and stood up, signaling to me that my time was up, in more ways than the obvious one. I did the same, not feeling any sensation in my legs. My head felt disconnected from the rest of my body and I steadied myself by placing a hand on the edge of her desk. The doctor caught me by the arm to help me balance.

“You’re not okay. You need to let me call someone for you. What about your husband?”

“I’m divorced,” I spat out. The doctor looked uncomfortable.

“I forgot. I’m sorry. What about one of your children?”

“They both live abroad,” I lied, watching her face as she ran out of options. “I told you, I’ll be fine.”

The doctor nodded and gave up. She walked me out of her office door and back into the corridor but not before giving me a look filled with genuine sadness and pity.

“Don’t forget to have the receptionist give you an appointment for next week, okay?” she said loud enough for the receptionist to hear. “We’ll discuss a plan to…deal with all of this.”


The doctor nodded, to the receptionist, handed her my chart and called the next patient into her office. I took a moment to observe the faces in the deathly quiet waiting room that was overflowing patients. I felt invisible – most of them were focused on their smartphones while others looked off blankly into the distance worried about their own fates. But they weren’t invisible to me. I wondered which one of them would be joining my express ride to the other side.

“Mrs. Kavanaught? You need an appointment with the doctor for next week, right?”

I turned my attention to the always upbeat and pretty receptionist. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five years old.

Twenty-five… That was only 14 years ago. When I was twenty-five I was young and vibrant too…

“Mrs. Kavanaught? You need an appointment with the doctor for next week…”

My heart was racing but my spirit was calmly and clearly speaking to me.

“No. I don’t.”

The young girl looked confused.

“But the doctor said that you needed an appointment for …”

I ignored her and walked away to the elevators, my sole focus was on getting back to my car without passing out. As the elevator doors closed, I looked back to see the receptionist on her feet and staring at me as if I’d lost my mind.

Maybe I had.

But no, there would be no need for an appointment next week or any other week for that matter. I suddenly realized that I had much better things to do with my time, especially now that I had some living to do.

It was time for me to start living to die…


All Rights Reserved ©2017 Marquessa Matthews

Bad Buddy, Good Friend #nanowrimo

If you added me as a “buddy” on the official NaNoWriMo website, I’ll apologize in advance for never “checking in” with you.

The first year I attempted the challenge, I logged onto the site every day to check-in with “buddies” and provide encouragement.

All the while, I was trying to get my daily 1,667 words written, participate in virtual write-ins, attend online online NaNoWriMo seminars and peruse your NaNo-focused and the #nanowrimo hashtags…

Let’s just say that I quickly realized that I couldn’t do it all and made the choice to only log my word count from time to time on the official site.

So yes, if you added me as a “buddy”, I’m going to be a bad buddy. But I will still be your good friend…after November…. 🙂

Priority #1 will be keeping up with my daily word count by any means necessary.

Priority #2 will be to provide some snippets/excerpts for my mailing list readers who I have neglected for far too long…sorry.

To my fellow NaNoWriMo participant-friends, let’s get this done!


M  xoxo

Liar, Liar, Pants On NaNoWriMo Fire #nanowrimo #preptober


So I lied about getting prepared for November.

Are my outlines for my 4 short stories drafted?

No. Instead, I’ve been rereading my “Kate” story to get a feel of who she is and put myself in her shoes again.

How many days until NaNoWriMo starts?


Am I still going to attempt NaNoWriMo?

Of course.

I’ve had a number of life obstacles over the past months (and my currently fractured hand) but there are a few things that I know about myself when it comes to writing…

  • I am capable of writing under “word count” pressure. I’ve done it once with NaNoWriMo and with the A to Z Challenge .
  • If I let ideas run free all day in my head, I can usually hit my word count within 2 of writing after dinner (wait, does that count as a doing an outline?)
  • I have the ability to catch up, if I don’t let more than two days pass.

So folks, here’s to being a die-hard pantser!

How is your NaNoWriMo preparation going?


M  xoxo

Kate Does NaNoWriMo


This is exactly how I feel when I’m trying to come up with story ideas that I want to write as stand-alones but also still wanting to keep intertwined and “open” for possible future storylines.

I’m talking about the direction to take with the four short stories I plan on tackling during November’s NaNoWriMo.

Since some of you voiced your preference for “Kate” from “Living To Die” as the first story I should try to self-publish, that’s what I have decided to do as soon as NaNoWriMo is over.

But since I wrote Kate’s story, it’s been eating at me a little that she still has a number of untold stories to share…stories of rediscovering oneself after having almost totally lost your heart and soul for so many years.

To make a long story short, my NaNoWriMo plan is to write four stand-alone short stories based on “Kate” that follow up on “Living To Die” and these are my working titles (that you helped me chose):

Freedom” – When life takes Kate to the brink and then gives her another chance, for the first in her life, Kate feels free to break some rules, take a few chances and play the role of the woman she’s never dared to be.

The Sweetest Taboo” – The struggle between who Kate wants to be and who she thinks she should be, is real. And sometimes part of that struggle can come in the form of not one, but two men. Should Kate follow her heart or take the safer love choice? Or better yet, can Kate have the best of both worlds?

Any Time, Any Place” – (I’m still thinking 🙂 )

Suddenly” – Kate knows all about the curve balls that life can throw but the one thing she never ever expected has her wondering if she could really turn back time and regain what she never thought existed?

To get me back into Kate’s perspective, I will be reposting “Living To Die” in its non-edited/original format during the month of November since I will busy offline chasing 50,000 words.

I hope that you’ll  enjoy it for the second time!


M  xoxo