Thursday, July 31, 2008

365 days

Tomorrow is August 1st and we must kiss July goodbye. If you look at the countdown counter in the margin you'll see that August 1, 2009 is a big day for me. Only it seems like it will never get here.

I don't think anything takes longer than publishing a book - except maybe the nine month wait to have a baby. Giving birth to a book takes far longer. The only similarites are that you are very excited and must think of a good name/title for that baby/book. Fortunately babies don't need any marketing - they just appear and become overnight bestsellers, so to speak. Most books do not. And that is why publishing takes time. Everything has to be just right. You must give a reader every incentive to pick up your book. Beginning with the title. And then the cover, etc. It really boils down to dollars which has nothing to do with why I write. But it's a business, after all.

If I was more ambitious and less busy I would start a support group for writers who are waiting for that first book to come out. But I've never been a groupie so this is not really appealing (I used to cry when I had to go to Brownie meetings as a kid). Lots of writers go to conferences and join critique groups but I'm not sure about this either. However, there is one conference in Hawaii that sounds good to me. But anywhere warm sounds good to me right now as it is 50 degrees here and raining!

So when I get impatient - or you get impatient waiting for something big to happen - it's really helpful to keep our minds on Ecclesiastes 3 - "There is a time appointed for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - a time to give birth and a time to die ... a time to weep and a time to laugh ... a time to mourn and a time to dance ... a time to be silent and a time to speak ..."

Even a time to publish and a time to wait to be published. I'm finding I like His timetable much better than mine anyway.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

wanted: one violin teacher

Recently we had to say goodbye to Ms. Helena, Paul's violin teacher, as she moved to Seattle. It's a good move for her as she will be able to play with the Seattle symphony and not commute to concerts like she was doing. For us it means sticking the violin in the closet or trying to find another teacher. As you can guess, there are few classical violinists in the big woods. Paul thinks he would like to make the leap and fiddle - just like on Hee Haw. I know I wouldn't have a problem finding a fiddle teacher in Kentucky but here ... hmmm. Paul has all the moves down to play fiddle - he likes to play fast and he holds his violin in a lazy, drooping, fiddling wannabe way which earned him no points with Helena. So this might work.

Only 7 more days till Kentucky! I will be taking my laptop as this is sort of a working vacation. I'll be visiting some interesting places - at least from a historical perspective. Can't wait!

God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us.
Psalm 67:1

Monday, July 28, 2008

the ultimate b.l.t.

Yesterday we had one of those old-fashioned Sunday suppers that make you feel good inside and out. Ham, pinto beans, new potatoes, ripe tomatoes, sweet onions, cornbread, and deviled eggs. I was going to make coleslaw but didn't. Randy sat down and said it reminded him of the days when I liked to cook! I still like to cook - but I like to write more.

Sadly, I have a small stack of cooking magazines I never seem to get around to reading so I rely on those old tried and true recipes. Like this one. But beware - you might never be able to eat a plain old B.L.T. again. At least Randy won't.

Shrimp B.L.T. with Chipotle Mayonaise

1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons sherry
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 lb. peeled and cleaned raw jumbo shrimp
6 slices bacon
1/2 cup mayo
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
4 slices sourdough bread
1 ripe avacado
4 slices tomato
2 lettuce leaves

Combine 1/2 tsp. garlic, oil, sherry, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp and shake to coat evenly. Marinate 15 minutes.

Fry bacon till crisp and drain on paper towels.

Combine mayo with 1/2 tsp. minced garlic and chipotle; set aside.

Drain shrimp and saute' in hot skillet over high heat till slightly pink and opaque, 2-3 minutes

Toast bread. Spread each slice with 1 tablespoon chipotle mayo. Divide shrimp between 2 slices. Place two tomato slices and avacado slices on top of bacon and top with lettuce. Cover with remaining bread slices. Cut in half and serve.

Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people). If you don't like the heat, only add 1/2 a chipotle pepper. I don't like sourdough bread (Randy does) so any rustic type Italian bread will do. This is a great summer sandwich when the tomatoes and avacados are really ripe. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

historical fiction

There are so many kinds of fiction being written today but my kind boils down to good old-fashioned historical fiction. My husband likes to call it hysterical fiction and really, when you think about what happens in a good novel, he's not far off the mark. I've heard that a writer spends the first half of a novel getting a character up a tree, and then the last half of the novel getting that character down.

That really means you must create all kinds of conflict and problems for your characters and yet, at book's end, at least within the world of Christian fiction, your story must be "emotionally satisfying." The secular market doesn't operate with this same criteria except perhaps in the romance market.

I wouldn't want to write a romance as the parameters for doing so are so narrow. Your hero and heroine usually meet within the first few pages and then dance around for the rest of the book. With historical fiction, you can do a great many more things. I like to write a romance within historical fiction - without it a book would be flat, I think. And I like to have a happy ending - something life doesn't guarantee any of us. But at least in my imagination there is always a good outcome.

But there are real risks in writing historical fiction. You have to do lots of homework. And be true to the language of that time period. I have a wonderful (big) dictionary that tells me when words came into being - actual dates. I rely on this heavily. Recently I used the word "floozy" in this third book and then struck it out as my dictionary told me its birthdate was 1911. My time period is late 18th-century. So I resorted to "Jezebel" instead - a wonderfully safe substitute as it is Hebrew and so old the date isn't even listed.

I recently read that historical fiction has a shelf life three times longer than a contemporary novel. Maybe that makes all the hard work worthwhile. Hope you're reading a great historical work today. Here's one worth picking up - Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan.

Happy reading.

Friday, July 25, 2008

kentucky countdown

Yahoo - I leave for Kentucky in just 13 days! I'm taking a night flight from Seattle to North Carolina and then to Lexington. For nine heavenly days I get to drive by Cracker Barrel (there's no such thing here) and get hot and sweaty and have one bad hair day after another and sit on my folk's front porch and stock up on grits which I've been out of for some time.

I have all these wonderful plans and would even love to climb the Pinnacle but last time I went in the heat of summer with Reba Fothergill of Berea, Ky. we got lost (wonder what Daniel Boone would think of that?)! And Reba, being one very gracious southern lady, turned to me on that sweltering trail and told me that if she had to get lost she couldn't imagine being lost with anyone she liked better. I'll always love her for that. By the way, we forgot to take water along and might have even been hiking in high heels for all that I remember!

The good thing is that the airlines have curtailed your luggage limit so I can't stuff my suitcase and bring it back to Washington. I have a terrible hankering for Cracker Barrel giftshops - every item on the shelves practically jumps up and shouts at me to buy it for family and friends (and myself). So there's no doing any of that this time.

I do need to visit the Log House in Berea and get a dogwood bracelet. Last time there I purchased a little dogwood ring like the one I had as a little girl which I lost long ago.

While I'm gone the boys are going to camp for the first time and Randy will be working, as usual. The first of the garden will be coming in about then so when I get back I have to start canning. And getting ready for school. And editing that 2nd book again. But for 9 days I won't have to think of those things and just be with family.

In the 18th-century there were two sayings about Kentucky, one of which is still heard today:

Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.
What's all the buzzel about Kaintuck?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

writing sacrifices

If I could give one piece of writing advice it would be this - guard your time. A few years ago I did a Bible Study by Elisabeth George in which time was treated as a gift - every minute. She actually teaches women to be organized. It was no accident that I took this study! Afterwards I began to evaluate my time and how I was spending it, just like I evaluated how we were spending our income. When you're on a budget you forego that meal out or that extra trip to town or that second Starbucks.

When I got serious about writing (well, I've always been serious about it) - but when the rubber met the road, so to speak, I began to make sacrifices. I stopped talking on the phone. I quit reading the newspaper. I became very particular about what books I read. I stopped surfing the internet. My schedule got very tight and I said no to lots of things. I even checked out books from the library online so the library staff could pull them off the shelves for me and have them waiting at the front desk which saved me the time of looking for them myself. This is available to everyone!

I'm finding this blog takes some time but perhaps it serves a purpose - mainly to help someone else. I have learned so much but have so much still to learn. I'm still wrestling with the homeschooling end of things. Homeschooling took a hit last year when I was knee-deep in this publishing journey. It's back to school for us September 2nd and I'm not sure how that will look this year with two more books to submit. But it can be done if you guard your time and get organized. And pray!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

jumping for joy

Last year was so difficult I don't think I saw a dry day. More on that tomorrow. But this year has been one delight after another. Maybe today wouldn't be so sweet if yesterday hadn't been so sour. And speaking of things that delight my heart (coming straight from His hand) is the new website my brother, Chris, has created.

I really do believe he can add "web designer" to his list of credits. He was still working on it at 3 am this morning but here it is - Lots of folks pay to have web designers create a website for them but he did it for me and I didn't even ask him too! And I just love it!

Check out the wonderful old photo and overlay of trees! And then go on to the next two pages and you'll see my boys (Randy, too) and lots of other neat stuff. I wrote the welcome and history part but Chris did all the rest. Thank you, Chris!!! When I saw it I really was jumping for joy!

Hope you enjoy looking. Better go call Mom and tell her to log on. More tomorrow. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

if you're ever in Washington...

If you're ever in Washington state please plan your trip around the last week in July. The weather is usually sunny and warm by then and if you wander down to the waterfront you'll be a part of the best ever summer event in Port Angeles - the Sand Sculpture Festival. Sand sculpture is big art, I guess, and the folks who sculpt fly in from as far away as Europe and South Africa to enter the competition and see who can create the best and biggest sand creations. Dump truck loads of sand are brought in to the beach downtown and then the fun begins!

Last year the winner created a massive mountain with a castle on top and a pirate lagoon at the bottom with caves and sailing ships and mermaids and other intricate things out of mere sand. This year a Kentucky sculptor will be here - actually, all the sculptors are here right now and you can watch them work all week long culminating in the festival starting this weekend. The boys and I hope to go in Friday and admire all that transitory beauty. It is a real treat for your imagination! But soon after, the local kids get to run down to the beach and demolish all that wonderful work. I always hate that part. All that work is fleeting. All that beauty is fleeting. And winning first place is also fleeting.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:11

This helps me handle the fleeting part. I think it's both peculiar and wonderful that the only thing we have that is not fleeting is Him. And heaven won't have one fleeting moment! Something to think about as I look at all that sand. Hallelujah.

Monday, July 21, 2008

waterpark recovery

We are recovering from the waterpark. The trip was full of delightful things - sunny weather, a beautiful drive around the Sound, Starbucks, dippin dots, a side trip to the new Cabela's store which has a mountain in the middle of it with real stuffed wolves and polar bears and antelope and myriad other critters atop it. Wyatt and Paul loved the waterfalls and underwater viewing windows of big trout and other fish. Wow!

The boys enjoyed the new waterpark and so did we. But it's an amazing example of American excess. How do you explain to your kids that it's a blessing for Americans to have such abundance and yet it's really not okay?

I kept thinking of something our pastor said - that we're the only nation on earth that has mulitple aisles of dog/cat food. He's gone on a lot of mission trips. I think America should take more missions trips. I bet waterpark attendance would decline among other things.

So now we're back home and back to reality. Back to those books!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

leaving that laptop behind ...

The boys are up early stuffing their backpacks full of clothes, food, gum, jerky, action figures, transformers, stuffed animals and those unstuffed (our new kitten) and everything else that shouldn't be brought on a weekend getaway. We're heading to a place called Grand Mound (about 3 hours away). No, it isn't historic - it's a waterpark. I think I'd be a little more excited if it had to do with Indian bones/burial sites. And true to rainy Washington state, it is an indoor waterpark. Somehow I'm ashamed to even admit this! But it's foggy and 50 degrees this morning so the weather is cooperating.

It will be a wrench to leave my laptop behind but I never take it on vacation (at least the two we've taken). Maybe I'll just sneak a book in my bag - but which one? Luckily this indoor waterpark has a Starbucks and Pizza Hut and other fun stuff. There's a ride called the tornado tube that shoots you out at top speed in a raft. Somehow this makes my stomach churn and I'm not there yet. I'm no swimmer! I don't even like to get wet!

This third book has hooked me badly. Wish now I hadn't started it as I've muddied the waters by crafting 70 pages, falling in love with my hero, liking my protaganist, and now have to say goodbye for awhile and get back to book 2 which I've entitled "Many Winters I Have Waited" which will never ever fly with my publisher. This third book I've tentatively titled "An Inward Grace" from the Psalms. That doesn't sound very reader friendly either but it reflects the story. I never thought I'd be one of those writers that juggled several books at a time and I don't want to be. I think you must lose something by switching around so much and juggling characters. You need to be all there for the one story for an extended time. You can't microwave depth or feeling (or good books). At least that's how I work (unless the Lord wills otherwise!). That's how I've been writing for forty some years - one story at a time.

I am a galley slave to pen and ink. Honore de Balzac (1799-1850)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

summer garden sauce

Since there really is more to life than writing and reading great books, here is a recipe to prove it! We have a big garden here but sadly a real, ripe Washington tomato remains a mirage. For all you Kentuckians drowning in tomatoes about now, this one's for you!

Summer Garden Sauce

2 large ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded and chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Mix tomatoes, bell pepper, cuke, cheese, scallions, basil, and salt in large bowl. Whisk oil, vinegar, and garlic in small bowl, then pour mixture over tomato mixture and toss to coat. Cover and let stand at room temp for 1 hour. Toss with cooked pasta such as prepared penne, bowties, or campanelle. Enjoy!

book bliss

Now that the deck is almost done, I think Randy should start on a book room - a little library extension. Of course this will never happen but it's fun to think about. I am living in a state of book bliss - going to the mailbox and having an Amazon order there is just like Christmas, no kidding. I am just wild about books! I've only ordered 21 since March and this is using tremendous restraint. Currently I'm on a Lewis and Clark tangent so have some more coming about the Corp of Discovery trek. I've even started reading in bed but need a little flashlight so I won't keep Randy awake. Reminds me of keeping a book under my pillow as a kid and using a little light to read by - till Mom came in.

I should hear from my publisher any day about the title for this first book. They asked for some alternate titles and I gave them six. Too bad I can't conduct a little poll for best title. I kind of hope they just come up with one that is a zinger on their own. They're better at this than I am!

Thus far I've written about 60 pages of this third book and have decided to change point of view. Usually I write using one perspective - hers. But I'm experimenting with using a his-hers point of view - one chapter is his perspective, the next chapter is hers. It is very interesting. I'm not sure if it will sink or swim but I really like it. It's kind of like going from black and white to color. And after a slow start with me scratching my head about the opening, I now have a hard time setting it aside. Always a good sign, I think. At least with writing or reading a good book.

Here's hoping you are reading a great book today - or at least trying to find one. If you need help please ask me!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

blog woes and a happy birthday

My blog continues to confound me! My favorite feature - my countdown counter to the book has flown into cyberspace and I don't know what happened to it. Then this morning I see that the little blogroll that used to be at the bottom of the page with a link to Beth Moore's and my writer friend, Ann's, blog has also taken a hiatus. Just goes to show that I need more bloggging education. And my brother and master blogger, Chris, in in Venezuela at the moment. But this is such a silly thing really. I just hopped on over to James A. Thom's website and he is having major problems with someone counterfeiting his latest novel, thus his publisher, Random House, will not proceed with printing. Now that's a problem!

But moving on to tomorrow - Paul's 9th birthday. He's invited a friend over after church and we're taking the boys to the lake to swim. There's a hefty Costco cake in the fridge - white cake, strawberry mousse filling, and cream cheese frosting decorated with an American flag. I think I could eat the whole thing myself!

Paul, sadly, isn't wanting a new violin for his birthday. He told me he wants a new name!! Yes, this was his announcement at breakfast this morning. He says he is tired of his old one. He has a new name picked out, he said, and when he becomes a man he is going to be called that. We are chuckling because this is just like Paul. When I find out what his new name is I will tell you.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, July 11, 2008

reading, writing, making history

It's Friday morning and it's a clear blue sky kind of day with a Montana wind blowing. The wind always blows in Montana, so they say, and lately it seems to do the same here. And it's not a warm wind! I'm really hankering to jump on the train and go somewhere. I've started packing my bags for Kentucky (well, one bag as I hear they charge you for extras now). Once I did take the train to Kentucky along the historic Lewis and Clark route. I traveled alone and it remains one of my most wonderful memories. I hope there's a train in heaven and the dining car still serves grits!

Lately I've been thinking that the only thing better than reading a great book is writing one. Just don't read James Alexander Thom before you sit down to do it. I've almost finished his epic novel From Sea to Shining Sea and I'm eeking out those last few chapters as I can't bear for the book to end. This must be the hallmark of a good book - not wanting it to end. Maybe it's because after 879 pages you feel married to these people. Thom is actually very difficult for me to read because he is such a brilliant writer. I want to throw up on my own keyboard as his writing is so fine! He actually ruins my experience with other writers because he raises the bar so high no one else ever measures up. Thanks, Jim!

Seriously, I must admit Thom makes me fall in love with his heroes - yep, I'm ashamed to say it but it's true - first, I became terribly infatuated with George Rogers Clark and now my fickle affections have shifted to his younger brother, William, of Lewis and Clark fame. I just know there was some sort of love affair between William and Sacagawea whom he called "Janey" (I find this charming) on their long trek west to the Pacific in the early 1800's. He loved her little son, Pomp, and later adopted him.

Thom doesn't sugarcoat anything - try him yourself - his writing is hauntingly beautiful and poignant, even humorous, yet terribly realistic and brutal. He actually traveled the entire route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition while writing From Sea to Shining Sea. Randy and I would like to do the same, just not with Wyatt and Paul in tow.

Anyway, did you know that after the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which was hailed a huge success, Meriwether Lewis shot and killed himself? This is not what I was taught in school. But it's true. I told Randy this and he had a very practical explanation for it, being the same age as Meriwether Lewis himself when it happened. After making such an amazing trek, would anything in life ever measure up afterwards? Hmmm.

As you can see, history is not history to me - it is here and now, 24/7. And if you're not into history you are probably yawning by now so I promise to write about something lighter and more contemporary tomorrow - like Paul's 9th birthday. I think I'll call it "Menopause and Motherhood!" Happy Friday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

my friend Ann

I think one of the best things about being a writer is meeting like-minded people who write also. Ann H. Gabhart is one of those people. I told her recently that she is my first writing friend. After writing solo for so long it is delightful to find someone who understands my world. When Ann talks about writing I understand everything she is saying!

A few months ago when Baker Books offered me a contract, I was browsing their website and found Ann - who is from Kentucky! Since Baker has several imprints and many authors I feel this was one of those divine appointments. I ordered one of her books and found her website/blog and have emailed her since. She is a very busy lady who somehow manages to write wonderful books and also be a farmer's wife, active church member, busy grandma, UK basketball fan and all the rest!

About those books ... Ann has written almost 20 books, including her best-selling Hollyhill series set in a small Kentucky town in the 1960's. I just love the titles in this series - Summer of Joy, Orchard of Hope, and The Scent of Lilacs. In just a couple of weeks - August 1st to be exact - her new novel The Outsider will be released. It has all those wonderful elements that make a good book - suspense, forbidden love, history, mystery - and is set in Kentucky's Shakertown at the beginning of the 19th-century. It has already received great reviews from all across the country and promises to be a bestseller.

But writing great books is not Ann's primary mission. On her website she says, "I want to inspire people to step into the sunshine of the Lord's love and to realize the Lord is always there for us, the same today as He was yesterday and as He will be tomorrow. I want people to read my stories and feel the joy of Christ."

I think Ann is doing just that! If you want wonderful books to read yourself or give as gifts, then Ann's books are for you. They are available at and
I've pre-ordered my copy of The Outsider. Better go order that Hollyhill series also ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Did you know that there are patriots and pioneers in your family history? We all came to America from somewhere and sadly that information is often denied us. But often there is a genealogist in the family and that is true of mine. Sometimes they uncover facts (even siblings!) you'd really rather not know about but that is exciting and enlightening as well. Family research is not for the faint-hearted.

Randy's family is kind of interesting as they think that, being Frantzs, they were Moravians from Austria or Germany. But there is a huge gap in how they came from there to here. Suddenly they were in Ohio, then Texas, and then on an Indian reservation in western Washington but no one can say definitively how they got there. He sometimes laments this but doesn't do anything about it because research is not his thing. I love the fact that in the 19th-century his great-great (more than that) grandparents were really and truly Randolph and Laura Frantz!

I was just perusing my latest treasure from AmazonBooks - an out-of-print gem entitled "In Search of Morgan's Station/The Last Indian Raid in Kentucky" by Harry G. Enoch. As I was flipping through I came to the listing of 18th-century pioneers in that part of Kentucky and was absolutely delighted to find my very own William Blanton listed! I showed Randy proudly which is kind of silly as I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Nor do I know this great-great of mine from Adam. Still it delights me.

I just know these Blantons came from Virginia like so many other Kentuckians and they settled the area called Blanton Flats which still exists in Jackson County. William came into Kentucky in 1792 with his French wife, Nancy, and they had a few slaves (which I am not proud of). In this book he's listed in the Montgomery County tax rolls. The Blantons were among the founding families of Berea, Kentucky. And the Blantons are still in Kentucky today. I think they were able to preserve their family history a little bit better than the Frantz family because they never left Kentucky.

Still, there is so much I want to know. Why did they leave Virginia? Kentucky was still a very dangerous place in the late 18th-century. Did Nancy Blanton like the move? What happened to their slaves? Did they like Kentucky? What was their cabin like? Did it have a spring out back? Were they friendly to Indians or hostile? What did Will Blanton do for a living (farm, I think). Did any of their children die? The infant mortality rate was about 40% at that time from what I understand. So many questions and so few answers. The sad thing is that I'll never know so I just speculate. Maybe that's why I write historical fiction - to fill in the gaps. Only heaven knows what happened back then. But I'd sure love that expansive perspective.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Last year I began to study all those intriguing verses in the Bible about delight. It has always baffled me that God wants to delight in us and have us delight in Him.

For then you will delight in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will pray to Him, and He will hear you ... Job 22:26-27

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

The steps of a man are established by the Lord and He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23

They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and you give them to drink of the river of your delights. Psalm 36:8

Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know my ways ... they delight in the nearness of God. Isaiah 58:2

This morning I am absolutely delighted by the clear blue sky. Hmmm - that would make a good book title - Clear Blue Sky. And I heard from my editor first thing which always delights me (at least at this stage!). And I had a strong cup of coffee and my boys woke up well and happy. And Randy went off to work. And I have a large stack of research books on my desk which really does make me giddy with glee whenever I look at them. I've always loved research. And in a few minutes I get to clean house and then can sit down to write. And that just covers the first half of the day! Of course not all days are delightful but that just makes me want to savor the ones that truly are.

May He delight your heart in unexpected ways today!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

the little things

It's really all the little things in life that make it worthwhile. Like eating tacos for the 4th of July (yes, this is what the boys requested) along with a chocolate cream pie. Today I had to make a big bowl of potato salad and get the hot dogs out. Then I had to walk 3 miles! Oh well ...

As I have one foot in the 18th-century all the time, I know those colonials were often painfully thin and had little to eat. From all reports, though, dear Martha Washington might have joined Weight Watchers had she been with us today. I would have probably been right with her.

I spent the 4th working (writing) most of the day and evening and since this is never work, don't you dare feel sorry for me! I've set my 2nd book aside as I need to get some distance from it. It's finished and has been rewritten and edited (by me) several times over but is still not right in places so I'm putting it down for a month or so. I no longer see the mistakes in the manuscript at this point after going over it again and again. So I've begun the 3rd book and have 32 pages done. But the new folks peopling those pages are unfamiliar to me and I find myself missing that 2nd book. I think that's the craziest thing about writing - having to rewrite nearly everything you write and then getting so fond of the folks in your head that you can't stand to be without them! No wonder so many writers go mad!

Good news on the home front - Randy is halfway done with the deck! I'm so thankful. After 14 years of stepping onto a postage stamp size piece of wood out back, we will literally have another big outdoor room in a couple of weeks, just in time for the start of summer here. Like I said, it's the little things!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

the 4th of July

The 18th-century is a novelists's dream. It was a time of tremendous uphheaval on every level. Colonial America is truly the era where "fact was stranger than fiction." It's easy to draw characters and events from this time period because such a wealth of things were happening. Here are just a few:

The 4th of July is the celebration of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by the the 2nd Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 which gave the colonies freedom from England. The men who signed this document knew full well the penalty would be death if they were captured (they were English citizens betraying their mother country, England).

Ever wonder what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Carter Braxton of Virginia was a wealthy planter and merchant who saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He died in rags.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she lay dying. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his 13 children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Thomas McKearn was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in Congress without pay.

Francis Lewis was one of many signers who had his homes and properties destroyed. The British jailed his wife and she died a few months later.

5 other signers were captured by the British and tortured to death as traitors, 12 had their homes ransacked and burned, 9 died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War, etc.

Here are some other little known facts (things they don't teach you in school):

At least 2 attempts were made by the British to kidnap Martha Washington.

Patrick Henry was known as a rabble-rouser who kept his mad wife locked in the basement of their home (she lost her mind after the birth of a child).

George Washington refused to live in anything other than a tent during the brutal winter at Valley Forge until all his men had proper lodging.

Special days of prayer and fasting were instituted during the war out of desperation because fighting England was such a lost cause. All of the colonies participated. After each of these days events began to turn in our favor.

John Adams said of our Independence Day, "It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore"

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

the ball is rolling!

Publishing is such fun! I heard from marketing this morning and they're holding two more titling meetings for Dogwood Winter starting tomorrow. It will be fun to see what they decide to do. I think of it as a kind of contest. Will it end up being Dogwood Winter or will they come up with a better one? I'm all for a different title if that happens. But I'm also curious to see if they can make up a better one!

Last week I heard from Bethany House via a questionnaire asking about titles for a nonfiction book they are doing. It was interesting to answer. The bottom line is that the sales reps who promote these books have the final say because they know the market and what sells and what doesn't. I rarely think about the business end of things and am glad to have them do it. I just like to write.

Jesse Stuart said, "Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."

Wise words! I write what I like to read.

"Write from the soul, not from some notion what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal."
Jeff A. Carver

The countdown clock on the right doesn't ever appear to move! Maybe it's just me ...