Graduation date: 1998The creative writing project Circles in the Sand began as a collection of\ud interrelated short stories but is now the three opening chapters of a novel, a chapter and an\ud early draft of what was originally the ending to a novella, and one short story. The\ud landscape is the upper Mojave Desert in Southern California; the principle community is\ud Ridgecrest, California, although other locations are integral to the work: Darwin, Garlock,\ud Inyokern, Trona, and others. Throughout these stories the primary focus in on the\ud characters and their connection to each other and to the land, and how that relationship\ud can change over time. In the opening chapter, "Zip Protocol," Frank Grier must adjust to\ud returning to the desert community of his childhood while his wife, Jen, is caught up in the\ud secret world of military research and development. In "Desert Lakes," Tommy Jenson\ud encounters an old flame, Stacy Bennett, and develops a friendship with her young son,\ud Scott. In a relationship destined to go bad from the beginning, Tommy discovers that he\ud can't avoid the joys and sorrows that come from interacting with others. In "Desert\ud Solace," Morris, a World War II veteran learns that even in the silence and calm of the\ud desert, the outside world has an unpleasant way of intruding into long buried memories.\ud "Desert Showdown" is an early attempt to bring a close to the first two chapters "Zip\ud Protocol" and "Desert Lakes." As the name implies, the principle characters have a\ud showdown in the desert. "Angels of Grace" is a short story that is separate from the novel\ud material, but the characters come from the same community and landscape. In this story,\ud Robert Jones gradually comes to understand the difference between religious fanaticism\ud and true belief as he observes the examples of his father, an Assembly of God minister, and\ud his grandmother, a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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