Monday, September 29, 2008
We're back to making a fire in the woodstove this morning after a long summer hiatus. The trees are starting to turn yellow outside my window and it feels like fall. Good writing weather!
I am working on the final chapter of book 2 and trying to think of a good working title. Recently I reread the 70 plus pages that make up book 3 - The Scrivener's Daughter - and when I put it down I wondered who had written it! It's so different for me, maybe because I'm using 2 points of view - his and hers. I really like the shift of perspective.
You may wonder if the Kentucky frontier starts getting stale after 3 books. Not at all! I'm already thinking of book 4! Recently I read something fascinating about 18th-century Kentucky gunsmiths and I would love to tell you but I think that's called a spoiler so better not. I promise not to title it The Gunsmith's Daughter (though I am tempted). Maybe I'll be called the Queen of Frontier Fiction. Hmmm. I have no such aspirations, believe me.
The truth is that a writer is always thinking about the next book. I know of authors who have several books going with several different publishers at the same time. I'm sure I'm not one of those prolific type writers. I write s-l-o-w-l-y. Maybe if I drank more coffee I could speed up but I doubt even Starbucks is that good. Wyatt and Paul tell me I need "Rock Star" - those horrible energy drinks that are all the rage with kids right now. Like they need extra energy!? No, they haven't had one. Wyatt has had one sip. He thought it was great. But they are taboo at our house.
Hope you are accumulating good books for winter reading. I am:)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Since I spend so much time in another world - mainly my imagination - where you control the temperature of everything and everyone, and nothing unpleasant intrudes without your permission, it is sometimes easy to forget about the real world.
But since I read these facts from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, I can't keep them out of my mind, even after going to brunch with a dear friend this morning and shopping for a wedding shower gift and then hearing from my wonderful new author friend, Cheryl St. John, via this blog. It's so easy for me to get so comfortable with my world that I forget about what really matters and why we're here in the first place and why I even write.
Did you know (I didn't)?
*40.6% of the world's population has never heard the Gospel.
*Each day, 350,000 people are born and nearly 150,000 (about the population of Eugene, Oregon) die.
*Only 10,000 missionaries are currently working among the unreached. At least 35,000 missionaries are needed to accomplish the task.
Chances are you know of a missionary or are related to one or help support one or have been on a mission trip. The least we can do is pray for these unreached people and those who seek to reach them in His name. I'm so ashamed that I pray for my brother and his family as they minister in Ecuador (soon to be Spain) but I forget to pray for all the others who do the same. I wonder if their work, and His work, wouldn't be far more effective if we remembered them daily - all of them.
Turn to me and be saved, all the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Something interesting happened this morning and I thought I'd relate it here. I've been calling my second book "The Preacher's Daughter" as it fits the story so well and seemed a good working title after The Frontiersman's Daughter. This morning I heard from another author who has a book out entitled The Preacher's Daughter and another upcoming one entitled The Preacher's Wife. I was a bit embarrassed to hear that my own publisher has already put out yet another The Preacher's Daughter by Beverly Lewis, the bestselling suthor of Amish fiction.
Anyway, Cheryl St. John wrote and told me of her book by that name (it has a beautiful cover) and invited me to be a guest on one of her writing blogs. This particular blog also has a terrific title: http://petticoatsandpistols.com. Unfortunately, my book is set in the colonial period and isn't a western or I'd love to! I enjoyed looking at her sites. She's a very prolific, popular author and probably doesn't need the extra exposure but she was so gracious I wanted to mention her here. Thanks, Cheryl!
All this just goes to show that the publishing world is actually very small and good titles can be hard to come by. And so now you know I am green as corn about all this. An editor once told me to "enjoy the learning process" in the world of publishing. I guess this is all a part of it. So back to imagining a fitting but original title for book 2. I haven't done a google search yet but can almost bet there's not a book out there called The Scrivener's Daughter. So I might be safe with book 3! Nothing dull about the publishing world:)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Recently I had a wild notion to hang up a little sign in my kitchen that says "simplify." It's dangling from my one and only glass cupboard right over the coffee pot so I'm sure not to miss it. About a week ago I decided to take everything out of my kitchen (at least what was on the countertops) in hopes of having a new, simpler look. So now there are just a few things out and I like it much better. Randy always gets woried when I do this for some reason. Men don't seem to have the need to make all things new (or at least different) every few months. In face, he says it if wasn't for me he'd be fine in a little old shack somewhere. I'm sure it would be somewhere very near here and not in Appalachia!
Speaking of shacks, I just finished reading "The Shack" and if you haven't read it yet, please run to your nearest bookseller and buy it, then give it to a friend! My opinion of my own creativity got flushed when I read this amazing book!
I've nearly finished this last edit on book 2 - The Preacher's Daughter. I really have become "a writer overstaying her welcome at the reader's expense" with this one. That just means that the story should have ended several chapters ago but I couldn't bear to say goodbye so kept right on writing. I know that must sound strange to you non-writers out there. Just think of hating having to read the last chapter of that great book you have - it's sort of the same.
Hope you're collecting great books to curl up by the fire with this winter. I have a few I could loan you! Bless those books and for the Master Author for inventing reading in the first place:)
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
A story is told about French author Victor Hugo anxiously asking his publisher about sales for his new book Les Miserables. Hugo sent a telegram that said simply, "?". His publisher sent this response, "!".
I'm not sure if this story is true but my brother and I got a good chuckle out of it. Then I remembered that I'll be doing the same thing this time next year and hope I get a "!" back myself. But other than send you a bookmark and beg you to read my book, what control do I really have over sales figures?
Back in the dark ages of that very dismal year, 2007, I remember praying at one nail-biting point, "Lord, I'm willing to work as hard as you want me to, but you'll have to do all the rest." I think the same applies to the success of The Frontiersman's Daughter or any book. I write my heart out and then He sells it. But what if it still sinks instead of swims? Sigh.
Reading tastes are such a strange thing. My folks like to read spy-thriller type books. My brother's tastes are more eclectic/broad. Randy likes to read magazines mostly. Wyatt loves the Hardy Boys. Paul has graduated to Captain Underpants. I hate science fiction. Sorry, trekkies! You could give me the finest science fiction book on the planet and I would have a hard time making it past page 1. I really prefer to read historical works. So I'm just saying book sales, like individual reading tastes, are a mystery to me. I look at the NY Times bestseller lists occasionally and shake my head. Vampires, anyone? Huh?
Recently I highlighted this verse: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
And then beside it in the margin, I scribbled this quote by Kay Arthur, "Our responsibility is to carry out the work God gives us. He'll be responsible for its impact."
Really, when all is said and done, I am writing for an audience of one. And that has little to do with sales figures. And I'm so thankful.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Yesterday our Paul was baptized in Lake Crescent, like his brother and Dad before him. We'd waited a year or so to make sure he really understood what it meant since he just turned 9. Our little church is Christian and Missionary Alliance and on a good Sunday has about 130 folks at a service. There must have been about 100 at the baptism to celebrate as one man, a teenager, and five children were baptized in that very beautiful but cold lake.
Lake Crescent is in Olympic National Park here in Washington and is almost 700 feet deep in places. The baptisms were at the shallow end of the lake in a little cove with several ducks and one goose swimming around. The sun was out but it was cool - sometimes we have to build a campfire to keep those baptized folks warm - but yesterday we didn't. I like the lake setting as it is more akin to what Jesus experienced at his baptism.
Sometimes I wish I'd been baptized like that instead of in a choir robe in a warm Baptist baptistery in Kentucky years ago. But it doesn't matter where it's done - only what it means. And our pastor said one very interesting thing. The only time in scripture when the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit appeared together was at the baptism of Jesus.
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Anyway, we wandered past farm implements and old trucks and lots of junk in the fog and didn't see anything that shouldn't have had a for sale tag on it. UNTIL I walked into an old cobwebby shed. There, on this dilapidated table, sat a box of English Ironstone China. Now, this might not mean anything to you, but I was absolutely delighted at first sight. Over the years I've managed to find a saucer and a little dish of this in antique stores but nothing else.
The delightful thing is that this china was only made for one year - in 1976 - to commemorate America's bicentennial celebration. I was a girl back then and dressed up in a pioneer costume and marched in a Kentucky parade like lots of other local yokels.
These wonderful dishes are a glossy cream and deep brown and have Colonial scenes on them - Betsey Ross sewing the flag and Paul Revere riding around in the salad bowls, George Washington and Mt. Vernon on the dinner plates, the Boston Tea Party on the dessert plates, Martha Washington on the creamer, etc. About a hundred pieces in perfect condition! And all for only $40.00. Sold!
Only He knew how much finding that would mean to me. The Colonial era is my era and the only one I really care to write about. And everytime I use these Americana Style House Ironstone Everlasting Colour J. and G. Meekin England dishes I'll be reminded of how He delighted my heart on a grey, foggy day in the middle of nowhere.
Randy thinks it's ironic that England would make these quaint dishes that celebrate America's radical rebellion against them but I think it makes the find even more delightful still.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Victory always begins with a cry for help. When we come to the end of ourselves and cry out for help, amazing things happen.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart ...
Thursday, September 18, 2008
But there's a reason I'm still sitting in my chair outside of Port Angeles, Washington this morning. I think all that hype would scare me to death! Even thinking about it makes me kind of queasy. I'm one of those people who believe if I was meant to be there I'd be there. And since I'm not there ...
The neat thing about this conference is that unpublished authors can attend and make appointments with agents and editors who look at their work. Many times this is how a new writer gets in the door. So if you can attend, attend! Although Seattle hosts a lot of writer's conferences, I've never been to one. This is another oddity about my publishing journey. No writer's conferences, no agent, no contacts, nothing! I was literally sitting in the woods writing my heart out for years and years and nobody knew it.
This just shows that He can use anyone at any time for His purposes. If you just do what He's called you to do, He'll take care of the rest. So rest in that. I'm living proof:)
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
We had a 2 day honeymoon in Olympic National Park where we'd both worked at one time - Randy at Log Cabin Resort and Lake Crescent Lodge for me. Both are historic places and just across the lake from each other. Randy has lived here all his life but I flew out to waitress in the lodge dining room in the summers while in college. And that is how a southerner gets stuck!
So today besides writing I'll make him a chocolate cream pie and wish for another 14. He is just the man for me and I knew this when I met him 24 years ago, though I had to wait 10 before it happened. And the Lord gets all the credit:)
Monday, September 15, 2008
1. The Frontiersman's Daughter
2. The Preacher's Daughter
3. The Scrivener's Daughter
The first title is Revell's pick and the last two are mine but they might change. I don't have to worry about the word count on book 2. A quality story trumps word count, so my editor says, and I'm thankful. Still, I'll try to trim where I can.
I should be hearing about - or seeing - the cover for The Frontiersman's Daughter soon. And I'll post it here as soon as I can. Of all the interesting milestones in this publishing journey, this is dearest to my heart. Revell is known for its beautiful covers so this should be eye-opening to say the least. I just hope I know Lael when I look at her!
Next research stop: Fort Pitt. I have to make a trip to Pennsylvania and then skip on over across the river to Fort Steuben in Ohio. After feeling like a travel writer last month on that Kentucky trip, I am really looking forward to doing it all again. And I promise to keep you posted, no pun intended:)
Yesterday in Sunday school we learned about a similar storm and I wanted to share the wonderful lesson. Bear with me as I'm no Beth Moore! Our pastor's wife taught and it was absolutely annointed! Cindy, if you're reading this, I know it won't go to your head (smile) and you can consider this a thank you note! Anyway, the text is Mark 6:45-46:
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He himself was sending the crowd away. After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.
When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the water...
In this snapshot of Jesus's life, He has just fed the 5,000 with the loaves and fishes. I think the disciples must have been tired as they had been with this hungry crowd all day. Notice Jesus "made" them get into the boat after this miracle. Being made to do something is no fun if you don't want to do it. I can just imagine Peter, strong-willed as he was, looking right at Jesus and whining, "But I don't want to." Maybe the disciples didn't like being separated from Jesus (would you?) even if it was just a quick trip across the lake. But into the boat they went. Jesus remained on shore and said goodbye to the big group He'd just miraculously fed. Then He went up on the mountain to pray. Even God's son needed time alone. Perhaps He needed a break from the disciples. They were a high-maintenance bunch, I think!
While Jesus was praying He was also multi-tasking. He was keeping an eye on the disciples and they were having trouble. Now, many of these men were experienced seamen. But the wind had kicked up and they were straining at the oars and couldn't get to shore. But He kept His eye on them. He let them row until the fourth watch - 3am to 6am. He let them get really tired before He intervened. In the words of Beth Moore, this was "a great time for control freaks to exercise surrender." And then Jesus walked to them on the water, got into their boat, and the wind stopped.
It's such a comfort to me to know that in our storms, He's keeping His eye on us. He's always there, always watching , always ready to intervene. But He intervenes on His timetable, not ours. We just have to keep rowing and watching for Him. And we can call on Him to get into the boat with us. He wants us to do that. The Christian life is all about a relationship with Him.
Hope you have smooth sailing this week. But if not, we know the One who goes with us.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Paul and I drove about 40 miles east today, far out of the woods to an old grange hall in the middle of a sunny prairie in the heart of farmland (is that a run-on sentence?!). The backdrop of the Olympic Mountains was just beautiful. But the music coming out of the grange hall was moreso. We joined the Old Time Fiddlers Association today and Paul is on his way to owning his own violin and meeting some fascinating fiddling folks (and guitarists, banjo pickers, mandolin players, etc.). But today Paul was actually more interested in the finger foods than fiddling. We didn't bring his violin but will next time. This was our first time and they made us feel more than welcome.
I liked this fiddling group right away and could see doors of ministry swinging open as they talked about playing in nursing homes every week, at parties and weddings, etc. It's been my secret wish for years to have some sort of nursing home involvement. I have a heart for older people and enjoy their company so much. I feel more at ease with seniors than those my own age for some reason, maybe because I spent so much time with my granny and she was active in the Berea nursing home.
If the Lord let us pick our gifts before the foundation of the world I would have asked for the gift of music. Yes, even more than writing. I think I'm a fiddler at heart. You'll find a fiddler in every book I write.
Not much writing was done today but being away from it is sometimes as important as being immersed in it. And tonight, after grilling on the deck and sitting in front of that charming chimenea (outdoor fireplace, however it's spelled), I'm ready to start whittling again on the last 100 pages of The Preacher's Daughter. Since I can't fiddle, that is!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This morning we headed 45 miles east to go to real school. Washington state is a wonderful place for education as their laws are homeschool-friendly. Other states make it much harder to educate kids at home. There is always a movement working to abolish homeschooling altogether which makes me scratch my head because most children were homeschooled until the last century. But I'd best not get political here.
The boys love Tuesday school and attend from 9-3. They have wonderful certified instructors that teach such interesting things like:
The Secret Lives of Bugs
Hands-on Medieval History
This particular program gives homeschooling parents a generous stipend to buy books, etc. I work in the school library while the boys are in classes as parent are required to be on-site. It's fun being with other parents and going on field trips like the Seattle Science Center and experiencing its amazing butterfly garden (you walk through this huge atrium with a waterfall and lots of exotic trees and flowers and real butterflies of all colors and descriptions land on your head and arms - think the Garden of Eden). Anyway, you get the picture. And it's a very pretty one!
The only downside is that I miss my writing while there. I took a hard copy of book 2 (no laptop) and was able to sit in the sun in my Jeep and edit on paper with the proverbial red pen. I really do like editing (it's a challenge) and pray for an editor's eye. So now I'm off to the 18th-century tonight, in deep wilderness just beyond the Falls of the Ohio (present day Louisville, Kentucky), and I can hardly wait to get there.
Monday, September 8, 2008
I looked at today's agenda and decided some major tweaking was in order if I was going to do all this: roll out of bed, pack Randy's lunch, make Starbucks coffee, have some prayer time, pry the boys out of bed, make Paul eat breakfast/make Wyatt stop eating breakfast, check email, wean myself away from book 2 which consisted of changing a word or two but evolved into a 25 page edit that lasted till 9am, haul all the schoolbooks out and blow the dust off, sharpen pencils, watch Paul tell me a flannelgraph story of Adam and Eve (Paul's interpretation) in which he builds a flannel fire under Satan and hurls lightning bolts at his head, walk 3 miles, avoid those pesky incoming phone calls, check email again to find my editor is out of office for the week, force Waytt to conjugate verbs, make lunch, look longingly out the window at the deck, decide to quit homeschooling forever, put all the books away, plop down into my chair and edit book 2 for 4 hours, talk to Mom on the phone, do some laundry and hang out on the line, grill some chicken and clean the kitchen, take my vitamins, and now, do this blog:)
I think I might have left something out. Mercy! I'm sure you have some combat stories of your own. And tomorrow we get up and do it all again.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
So we fed apples into this very old hopper which pulverized each one and then watched in glee as a very light-colored cider trickled out. I looked at all that apple mash leftover and wished we had some pigs. We used to have two - Wilbur and Templeton - but they quickly became bacon. I don't think the rain here agreed with them as the butcher said they were some skinny pigs - and it seemed all I did was feed those rascals!
Of all the things we do on our homeplace, my favorite is cider-making and jerky-making. And I love our garden, even if I can't spend as much time there as before. I guess I have an affinity for such old-time things because I see that they are becoming a lost art - a lost way of life. That makes me sad but life is all about change.
I think this is one of the things I love about James Thom's wonderful frontier books. He doesn't just write about using a Kentucky rifle or skinning a deer or walking the Lewis and Clark trail. He actually does them till he is at home with each of them. This gives an authenticity to his work few novels have.
In The Frontiersman's Daughter there is a cider-making scene toward the middle of the book. I hope you can smell and taste the cider as you read about it - or at least want to! Those old apples on the frontier weren't like the ones we have today.
My boys and I are thinking about beekeeping. The Indians used to call bees the "white man's fly" because they weren't native to America or the frontier and their coming always heralded the advance of the white man. But all that's in my second book so best not give anything away!
Enjoy your Sunday wherever you are.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I just saw a quote that made me cringe, "If you're not living on the edge you're taking up too much space." Now, I'm not sure how that translates to the Christian life except to say that it might be the stretch me prayer in secular form. Sort of like saying, "Lord, I'm taking up too much space. Let me live on the edge."
I dare you to pray this. Then pray for a Paul-like faith!
In the wonderful Sunday school class I'm a part of (a dozen or so women, 3 of whom are in their 90's!), we are studying three types of prayers:
1. Search me
2. Stretch me
3. Lead me
I am stuck on number 2 for some reason. Perhaps because it best mirrors what is happening in my life. We are all stretched in different ways at different times. I like to stay within the parameters of my comfort zone and resist any sort of change that pushes me past it. Yet I've always wanted to be one of those people that scale Mt. Everest in a blizzard. This writing thing is sort of like that for me. I bet you are having a Mt. Everest experience of your own.
Thank heavens we have help. Psalm 139 is such a comfort to me. I memorized it with my mom when I was a girl and although I can't recite it like I once did, certain parts still come to mind.
Search me, O God, and know my heart,
Try me (stretch me?) and know my anxious thoughts,
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The author, William P. Young, (per back cover) was born a Canadian and raised among a stone-age tribe by his missionary parents in the highlands of what was New Guinea. He suffered great loss as a child and young adult and now enjoys "the wastefulness of grace" with his family in the Pacific Northwest.
The novel has some interesting elements - a child's abduction and suspected murder, an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness, a suspicious note, and, interestingly enough, a ladybug.
I urge you to read this amazing book. In the words of Wynonna Judd, "this story has blown the door wide open to my soul." It's that good.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. Ralph Waldo Emerson
I've been thinking about why publishing a book has any prestige attached to it. There are millions of books and millions of authors out there and many unpublished writers. Most writers, even very gifted ones, don't achieve Steven King status. I just read a statistic from the Advanced Fiction Writing site that says 80% of all books sell less than 5,000 copies. Perhaps that's why so many published authors have regular jobs. Still, the prestige sticks. I think it must have something to do with personal perseverance.
If it's true that less than 1% of all books written are published, then publishing really is a miracle. In my case, it certainly is! If you'd told me last September I would now be working on book 2 in a 3-book contract I would have laughed the loudest and longest:) But when I look back at the last 47 years, most of which were spent writing, one little thread in my life remains unbroken. I was never the best or the brightest at anything but I just hung in there.
persevere: to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter influences, opposition, or discouragement
Real writers persevere. I think they are simply braver five minutes longer. So if you are writing and not yet published, keep going. Work as hard as you can for Him and then leave the rest to Him.
In the words of fellow Revell author, Virginia Smith: God has plans for your writing. And believe me, they're better than any plans you have for yourself. Let Him be in charge, and let Him delight you with what He has in store.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Our favorite part of the day was sitting down together to eat. When the garden is in, meals are so much easier. The menu was simple - grilled pork, garlic cheese grits, fresh green beans and new potatoes from the garden, and fried apples.
I love books that are full of food. Jan Karon in her very wonderful Mitford Series does a masterful job of bringing food to life in her novels. I've never been a fan of orange marmalade but after reading about Esther Bolick's orange marmalade cake, I'm a believer. In my frontier novels it is hard to elaborate on food as these early settlers sometimes had barely enough cornmeal to cobble a corncake together. But I did recently find a very intriguing 18th-century recipe for roasted beaver tail, and yep, it went into the book!
One of my boys asked me if we'll eat in heaven. I thought of the verse in Luke when Jesus says "and just as my Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom..." Being hungry boys, I didn't have the heart to tell them that this might mean a spiritual feast and not garlic cheese grits.
Hope your day was full of blessings wherever you are.