My novel HEART OF CLOUDS — beginning to think of synopsis and deeper themes…

Well, the first thing about the novel is that it is strongly grounded in Ecopsychology  — not just for children but for adults as well.  The crux of the novel is LOVE, not just for human beings but for the animal kingdom and the ocean.  So, I have my main characters — the teenagers Teenie and Devlin meet at the beach.  In the first chapter we learn that they are both suffering a loss.  Devlin’s mom, and Teenie’s father. We also are introduced to the depression in Teenie’s mom, and I have used her home as a contrast to the happier scenes at Devlin’s home with his grandparents, on purpose.  I need to contrast a warm atmosphere with a cold one — to provide a glimpse in the family systems.

As I thought about the themes that play out between the characters I wanted to show Devlin’s strength in coping with the loss of his mom (depression) played off against the depression in Teenie’s mother.  Also, I introduced an older very charismatic male figure in Mr. Honeygarten — his recollection of his first love Claire is how I grounded Teenie’s experience of Devlin. There are very strong and good characters as males in my book.

A recurring theme in the dream sequences has to do with a turtle named Tut, the “king of the sea” who warns Devlin about all the plastic in the ocean.  This is a theme from green and ecopsychological thought — we would look at how a healthier ecosystem is better for the planet overall.  I don’t go into why Teenie’s mom is so depressed until later in the book — the first chapters are only an introduction to the characters themselves.  One of the reasons for Teenie’s mom’s depression is that the “village” where they live has lost all the jobs and so the family has had to split up (economic distress).

The first few chapters introduce the concept of writing letters and keeping journals — both are from concepts in Narrative Therapy.  I envisioned this as maybe having a little box with a tiny journal and pen in it — like Teenie’s — that might go with the book — in a kind of package.  Sort of art therapy?  In a sense.

So, I did a lot of things with this novel that are bigger than the novel itself, maybe.  I think that the dream sequences would be really fantastic on film.  The plot is character-driven and there are only a few characters in it?  Here they are:

Teenie (a young teen)

Devlin (a young teen)

Teenie’s mom

Mr. Honeygarten

Devlin’s grandfather Jess.

Devlin’s grandmother

Characters in storyline  that are absent are Teenie’s and Devlin’s fathers. (Both work elsewhere).

As the story moves along more of each character is revealed.  Almost as if windows open into each of them — and we learn how Devlin copes with loss of a parent, and meeting a new friend in Teenie.

I wish that I knew how to explain all of this to an agent, I really do — in simple terms.  I just have to sit here and think about it.  I am very tired right now and I want to get my writing out and into the places where it needs to go.  Soon.  I was thinking of asking a colleague to read it, maybe.

I just have to not give in to negative introjects, either internal or external in this mo.

Link to the story is here:


ps: I wasn’t thinking about this when I wrote it, but after the fact?

The novel Heart of Darkness — no, I wasn’t thinking of Conrad as I chose the title for this but how ironic!

14 thoughts on “My novel HEART OF CLOUDS — beginning to think of synopsis and deeper themes…

  1. Thanks, but?………!

    ps: I want you to see somebody that agent I like represents — it’s like the permaculture you have talked about in AZ? Plus she made a film on Gimbutas — check this out!

    I wish I could write to her, I swear. I do. Just to ask what it was like on her first book.

    ps: guess what, one of my old colleagues has offered to read the book — he is a therapist for children…!

    I wish I could call, but, I’m going to start a new book. I’m calling it Wipeout which is an old surf song — it means when a surfer gets thrown off the board by a wave. But, it’s a metaphor for all of it in a way.

    Ps: I joined a great place called YAlitchat, and also

    check those out for yourself?


    I’ll see who you like, now, and thanks for the info…


  2. i have tried to answer this several times this am, but have been interrupted over and over again. Finally, took a moment and went outside to change my hummingbird feeder, and took a deep breath.

    first, so glad your colleague is reading your wonderful novel. This is great news.

    Second, I checked out the site. Interesting.

    Obviously the appeal of your book is broader. And if this is the publisher, hopefully you won’t be boxed in, in some
    San Francisco way?

    This is a big country. Here in Phx. Permaculture looks like this.

    Thank you for the referrals to these other sites. I am too busy, using what time I have researching, mostly late in the evening as of late, so? Maybe someday, not now. I am keeping late hours

    writing a new novel? Sounds hard to me, this one.

    No need to worry about calling. writing comes first.



    1. Okay, but? Waiting. I sent my first query for Heart of Clouds. I hope I hear something back because I like that agent, a lot. That film sounds like you a bit? At least what happened when you went off to study. I hope I wrote the right kind of letter, I really do.


      1. i did some research in that area yesterday for you. I don’t know.

        Hoping you will reconsider option 2, we discussed as well. Option 2 used to be option 1. please do.

        you wouldn’t be such a fine writer if you didn’t have that single minded laser like focus, but try to
        diffuse it, now, just a bit, and broaden your options. Can you do this?

        I was a workhorse. Married young really, at 12 to
        a patriarchal world. the movie? .
        everyone is too busy thinking of what to do with you, like you are an object. your feelings? don’t matter.

        when I gave up the opera company at 21. I left that world. and took my passion with me…that can’t be taken

        maybe that is why I am perceived as so friendly?





      2. I think if you write literary fiction you can write any genre and not be pigeonholed — but it might make it difficult for a literary agent in this country — not overseas. Thank you for your ideas on the scholastic? Mean that.


    1. I’ll go check it out! Thank you. All day I watched themes on Robotics and dehumanization. I also came across a really incredible video, so posting and links will address Ecopsycholoy and that genogram. Thanks Song!


    2. I saw that news story today, too. Yes, Heart of Clouds is about this!
      All about this, plus, it includes interventions on how humans can connect via narrative.


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