Beautifully Said: Quotes that Fit my Novel, Vivos

As I’ve been working on my novel for about 2 years now, I find that certain quotes or songs resonate with me because they remind me of my story.  In Vivos, my protagonist deals with her fears in the dystopian society she lives in.  This is a quote I found on fear that reminded me of Shea Donovan’s fears, although not every part of it fits my book.  I think it is beautifully written.

From The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes:  “Fear festers in the imagination.  It’s not fear’s fault.  That’s just the way it’s made.  Nightmares breed.  Allies become enemies.  Subversives are everywhere.  Paranoia justifies any persecution, and privacy is a luxury when the Reds have the bomb.”

Vivos is about life.  Not only about being alive, but about living your life as you choose, and to the fullest.  This beautiful quote by poet Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, sums it up perfectly:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Part of the lyrics to Sheryl Crow’s “Home” fit Shea Donovan’s discovery of a life she loves with a man she loves.

“Home” by Sheryl Crow

“I woke up this morning
Now I understand
What it means to give your life
To just one man
Afraid of feeling nothing
No bees or butterflies
My head is full of voices
And my house is full of lies

This is home…”

In spite of the tension in Vivos, Shea Donovan has a snarky and irreverent sense of humor.  Please see my post “Meet Vivos‘s protagonist, Shea Donovan” for some Sheaisms.  I don’t know if they’re “beautifully said,” but they’re fun!

Thanks for reading – Colleen Eccles Penor


Beautifully Said: Our Country, Our Military

Having served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer for 4 years, I have a deep respect for all those men and women who have served, or do serve, our country, honorably.  I’m third-generation Army on my mother’s side:  my maternal grandfather, my mother, and then me.  My dad was a Marine.

Even before joining the military, though, I loved my country.  The United States of America is truly a great nation.  Traveling around the world strengthened this feeling.  Sure, I visited some great places, but would I want to live there?  No.  I know we have our problems.  But every time I hear The Star-Spangled Banner, I cry, especially when they get to “And our flag was still there!”  Every time I stand for our American flag and place my hand over my heart, I cry.  Every time I see a flag draped across a casket, I cry.  So this post is dedicated to the men and women who fight and defend our country, past or present.  My examples may not refer to American military heroes, but they are about the military and are “Beautifully Said”.

My dad introduced this poem to me, which refers to the Great War 1914-1918.

In Flanders Fields


Poppy photographed on the First World War battlefield of the Somme near the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.


Flanders Poppy on the First World War battlefields.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

On the sign outside the Veterans Administration Hospital in Sheridan, Wyoming:  “The price of freedom is visible here.”

And some photos that don’t need captions.

Image result for photo of soldier with folded flag at the vietnam war memorial

Image result for photo of soldier with folded flag at the vietnam war memorial

Image result for photo of soldier with folded flag at the vietnam war memorial

And yes, I cried while researching this and posting each item.  Please feel free to include your own “Beautifully Said” items related to loving our country or our military heroes in the comments.

Colleen Eccles Penor

Beautifully Said: Pets

Shadow dressed as a witch and Stormy as a devil for Halloween a few years back.  They weren’t too keen on the idea.

I lost my beloved pets in 2013.  Shadow, my 60-pound chocolate lab, went in January that year due to an acute case of pancreatitis.  She was 12, and she had so much energy right up to the point that she got sick, that I thought for sure I’d have her for a couple more years.  I didn’t get to say goodbye because she died in the night at the vet’s office.  Stormy was my 85-pound black lab, and she died in July of 2013.  She had really long legs and had a blown ACL since 2010, and I think the other one went too.  One morning she couldn’t walk.  She also had heart problems and laryngeal paralysis for a few years.  So I got to say goodbye to her because I had to make the difficult decision to put her down.  I knew it was her time to go, and I got to talk to her and hug her before she went.  It was easier than getting the call in the early morning to learn about Shadow’s death.  Still, I wish that neither one had suffered, even for a minute.

Yes, I’m crying right now.  They were my kiddos, and we took care of each other.  They brought so much joy into my life.

I saw this in the veterinarian’s office I went to for so many years, although I couldn’t read it every time because it makes me cry.  The author is unknown.

I hope to be reunited with my girls someday.

Please share this with friends who have pets, or who have lost them.  Please share your stories here about the beloved pets you’ve lost, or a picture, poem, quote:  anything about losing a pet that you believe is beautifully said.

You can follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn as Colleen Eccles Penor and at Twitter @ecclespenor.  Thanks for stopping by.

Meet Vivos’s protagonist, Shea Donovan

Shea Donovan is 22, spoiled and directionless. She lives off a trust fund from her wealthy parents. She hasn’t declared a major, but is attending some humanities and wellness courses. Attending may not be an accurate word—she’s enrolled in classes and attends when she feels like it. A boyfriend recently broke up with her, and she’s been acting out, since: partying, smoking and one-night stands. This is in variance to her fitness habits: she runs five miles per day, lifts weights, and does yoga—even with a hangover.

What she wants more than anything in the world is to be loved. Romantic love has eluded her. She doesn’t get along with her mother, and sometimes feels that her mother hates her. Her older brother, Jace, was once her best friend, but he’s a drug addict now and is unreachable.

Shea is trained in survival skills, as her parents are survivalists. She knows how to fire a rifle and a pistol, knows unarmed self-defense, and attended a 2-week survival course in which she learned to pack a survival pack, set snares, find shelter, find and purify water and build fires. Still, she lacks confidence in her abilities.

She’s beautiful and intelligent, but doesn’t realize it because she has low self-esteem. She has bipolar disorder.

And she’s funny, even in a world that has gone bad. Those who have read parts of my book call her “snarky” and “irreverent.”

Some Sheaisms:

If my face gets stuck like the face I make for her benefit, I will be one crazy-looking broad.

I may have run over the toes of some guy who was standing next to his car, but that’s his tough luck. Get your flippers clipped, buddy. The shoulder is my little piece of paradise.

I let lose a string of swear words that would make a stand-up comedian cringe.

Wait, if you act like a pain in the ass and no one is around to witness it, are you still a pain in the ass?

I doubt if he weighs more than I do, and I only weigh 130 pounds, which is to say my driver’s license says 120.

Shea Donovan has been fun to write.  I hope you’ll get to know her better once her story is complete.

Ladies, support your peers’ endeavors

I wrote this letter to after reading an article in More Magazine:  “Is There Still Such a Thing as Women’s Issues?”  The article had a political slant, but my response could apply to our need to support other women writers so we can all find success.  Follow one another’s platforms, share posts, buy books, recommend books and authors to friends.  Suggest good editors and agents and publishers.  Don’t tear each other down based on jealousy or envy.  Writing is a lonely business–we all can use the support of other writers as we make this long journey from written word to publication.


Colleen Eccles Penor – Introduction

Hi, my name is Colleen, and I live in Bar Nunn, WY.  I am an accountant, community theater actress, wife of a pilot, a veteran, and a writer.  I write short stories, essays, plays, poetry, and am putting the finishing touches on my first novel, Vivos.  I hope to have it to my editor by October 15th, but I still have to write the synopsis, which I’m dreading.  How do you boil a 350-page book down to 2 pages?  I guess I’ll find out.

I became a writer because I’ve always wanted to write a book, and when my husband proposed to me, he told me that he would support me in whatever I wanted to do, whether that be hanging out my own shingle as an accountant, writing that book, or anything else.  I’m really enjoying writing, especially seeing my book come to life.

Interests include:

Traveling by boat, airplane or motorcycle, whitewater rafting, working out, walking, acting, writing, reading, movies, plays and spending time with my husband and family.

My accomplishments include:

I was a top finalist in the Writer’s Digest 83rd Annual Writing Competition for my essay, Fearsome Men.

I served in the U.S. Army as a Military Police Officer for 4 years.  I was named Top Cop/Distinguished Graduate from the Fort George G. Meade Military Police Academy, and I held a secret security clearance.  I received an honorable discharge, and went home to attend college.

I put myself through college by working one job during the school year and two jobs during the summer break.  I also used the G.I. Bill I earned from serving in the military.  I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Accounting from Montana State University – Billings, and was the Top Accounting Graduate.  I was a member of the Sigma Beta Delta and Phi Beta Kappa Honor Societies.  I passed the 15 1/2 hour CPA exam the first time.  I went on to practice all aspects of accounting, as well as human resources, personnel management, head of security and technology.

I enjoy theater, and try to make it to as many productions as possible.  I have acted in 8 plays, including 4 lead roles.  I was named Rookie Actress of the Year for my first play, and the Favorite Actress in a Comedy for my last play.  I enjoy farces most of all.  I hope to do a play this year.

My goal is to post something here once a week, focusing on the arts.  Next week I’d like to tell you about my Vivos protagonist, Shea Donovan.  I hope you’ll stop by and take a look.  She’s really something.