Saturday, February 28, 2009

winding down

Tomorrow my Kentucky momma leaves. So today we had brunch at our favorite breakfast place in Port Angeles - Cafe Garden. We always have the same thing- Angel's Eggs - which are just as divine as they sound. Lots of cream cheese, fresh mushrooms, green onion, and hollandaise sauce with a croissant or two thrown in. Nothing fattening about that! I've secretly been dreaming of Panera on Richmond Road in Lexington. There are no Paneras or Cracker Barrels this side of the Rockies to my knowledge:( Personally, I'm relieved that this eating thing is winding down. I need to get back to writing.

My mom keeps exclaiming about the birds we have out here. We have GIANT robins and woodpeckers - like something out of a Stephen King novel, truly! She keeps asking me to identify birds which I am dismal at doing. Need to get a bird book in my stack of stuff. All I know is that we have zero Kentucky cardinals here.

About those books... Soon I should receive The Frontiersman's Daughter in actual book format to review a final time. Only 153 more days till it's on bookshelves!!!! I am so excited and amazed still - maybe a little nervous. Still no wireless in the woods but maybe it doesn't really matter. I'm no Stephen King with reader mail stacking up!

I think I have this erroneous idea that once the book comes out my life will get a little more hectic. But I don't think this is true. I'm sure it depends on how the book does - whether it sinks or swims. Revell has an amazing marketing team. I'm so thankful for that. But really, it's all in His hands. I've done what I can. Going public with anything is a bit frightening. Writers usually are, by nature, a quiet lot and writing is a lonely profession. But like Stephen King said, it's all the playground personally and I think sales figures have little to do with that. I think King would enjoy writing just as much if Carrie had been backlist, though I'm sure his success has sweetened the whole writing experience overall.

I love this King quote: I have written because it fulfilled me... I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.

Amen, again!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

snow days and stephen king

It snowed last night and schools are closed today though I see blue sky outside my window. My stack of books is growing beside my writing chair. Always a happy feeling to sit beside a stack of books! And Amazon has more on the way:) I was in the Port Angeles library a couple of days ago checking out books for my mom who's here (she's reading J.A. Jance, by the way), and I came across a little book on writing. It's the first book I've ever read by Stephen King.

I'm afraid I'm not a horror fan any more than King is a fan of TFD but this little book, entitled, On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, is really interesting. The cover isn't bloody or eerie or anything like that but decidedly unKing-like with flowers and a bay window and root cellar door (now that door does look sort of mysterious and unfriendly, on second glance) but I do like what he has to say about writing.

King writes almost every day, even Christmas Day, and feels strange when he isn't writing and even has trouble sleeping. "For me, not writing is the real work. When I'm writing, it's all the playground, and the worst three hours I ever spent there were still pretty good." Amen to that, I say!

When interviewers ask him why he writes what he writes, as if he's in control of his stories, he remembers the quote by SciFi writer, Alfred Bester, who said, "The book is the boss." Simply put, the book drives the author, the author doesn't drive the book.

Lastly, King wonders why some authors are so prolific (Briton John Creasey wrote 500 novels, some in two days, under 10 different names) and why others like the brilliant Harper Lee and her solo To Kill a Mockingbird, are not. He says, "If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?" Amen again!

I made one surprising discovery about Stephen King. Not only is he a master horror writer, he is a very humorous writer. If you like to write (and laugh) you should read this book. My only caution is that while I abhor profanity, King does not. But he offers a world of advice to writers everywhere, of all genres, and I learned a few tricks of the trade I'd not considered.

Now, off to play in that snow!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a time to dance

I was reading in Ecclesiates this morning that there is a time for everything (Ecc. 3:1-9). A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance... When times are good, we are to be happy. When times are bad we are to consider that He has made the one as well as the other. I'd rather dance!

Life is usually stuffed so full of things I don't remember particular months. But I do recall last February '08 vividly. And I was not dancing. I was waiting to hear if Baker Book's wanted The Frontiersman's Daughter. While I waited the boys came down with the stomach flu (at the same time) and I was sick with a sinus infection, etc. It was raining buckets and it seemed we didn't leave the house for a month. My old computer was having issues which left me wondering if I'd even get the publisher's email telling me I'd been rejected. This was not a fun month - but it sure was memorable!

Fast forward to this February! A time to dance, indeed. I almost hate to move to March as this month has been so much fun. But melancholy as I am, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just how much fun can one have? It seems I've exceeded maximum capacity and some sort of penalty will soon be exacted. Did you know Moses was a melancholy? He also had anger management issues. But I digress!

I'm thankful for this February. But I'm also thankful for last February. It was miserable and I'd not want to repeat it, but I think I learned a tremendous amount about waiting and endurance and trust. I was a different person come March. Maybe a better one.

I was touched by what I found in the front of Silas House's novel, Clay's Quilt. He wrote this dedication:

For Cheyenne and Olivia
I hope you dance

I'm guessing these are his daughters. And I think I understand the sentiment behind it. Let's dance!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

raining again

It's raining and feels like Washington state again instead of cold, snowy Minnesota or North Dakota. My Kentucky kin have a few inches of snow. But spring is coming! And soon we'll gain an extra hour or so of daylight by springing forward in time. And then comes Easter. Gardening. Another birthday. A couple of more deadlines. And then the release of TFD in only 5 more months.

My brother flew south on Friday and we really miss him. He took the boys to town before he left and bought them french fries and onion rings and sling shots. My Kentucky momma is still here for another week. It's been nonstop eating, socializing, fiddling, churching, and such. I feel like crawling into a cave and collapsing! All that fun is very wearing after a while, say a day or so. Try 11 days strong now! I feel very unwriter-like. Book 2 and 3 are still at the bottom of my basket.

I did do something very important this week by switching over from my archaic version of MicrosoftWord 2000 to a new one. Nice! Love that blue background. All those fancy icons and stuff make me feel very editorial though I don't have a clue what most of them do. Guess I'll have fun finding out. Would you believe the very day The Frontiersman's Daughter comes out, Red River Daughter is due? Only 159 more days! I need every one of them.

I truly love this second book. I'm not sure why it has such a hold on me. Perhaps it's the Red River setting. Or the challenge of so much research about the People of the South Wind. Some folks say it's not a good idea to talk about a book in the making so I won't. I've always been reluctant to do so anyway. A book needs to speak for itself.

So on this rainy day I hope you have a good book handy and are anxious to get your hands on mine:) Only 159 days. Hallelujah!

for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come. -Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Thursday, February 19, 2009

fun, fun, fun

Whew! Just when I think our lives are dull, we get a house full of company! It has been fun, fun, fun but half the fun will depart tomorrow - my brother leaves in the morning. But Momma we keep for another week. This is missions week at our church and Chris has been the guest missionary. He preached on Sunday and has spoken with youth groups this week and then finishes up by speaking at a banquet tonight. Needless to say, he won't be unveiling his tattoo for this conservative crowd! Although my boys loved it:)

I never did get around to making those egg rolls but we've had plenty of northwest fare - crab cakes, salmon fettuccine, crab-stuffed mushrooms, prawns, calamari (ick!), grilled shrimp, clams, etc. So now that we're all sick of seafood we can fast! I don't think I'll eat for a week after today. I'm becoming quite fluffy. Taste and see that the Lord is good... Psalm 34:8

We are now teetering on the verge of wireless! A tech is coming to the house this afternoon (seeing is believing) to unchain us from dial-up. Stay tuned.

The preaching of the gospel awakens an intense resentment because it must reveal that I am unholy; but it also awakens an intense craving. - Oswald Chambers

Monday, February 16, 2009

the big surprise

My brother Chris and his family

Now that I'm done with all that photo foolishness, I can get back to my blog and my company. Needless to say, my writing is sitting at the bottom of the basket. I did meet that deadline for acknowledgements and such so it's nice to take some time off. The reason you haven't seen any blog pics posted lately other than the minuscule ones I barely managed to tack on, is because the big surprise sitting in my living room is my brother who is no more adept at dealing with dial-up internet than I am. So these posts definitely lack his colorful pictures.

I couldn't mention my brother's visit (via Indiana via Ecuador) because he was a surprise for my mom who flew in today. So after a reunion this morning, a big dinner of grilled shrimp and chicken and bread salad tonight, and the unveiling of his tattoo for dessert, we are tired! I wonder how many missionaries have tattoos? His extends from his shoulder to his elbow and is a lion and a lamb and cross. My mother just went to bed as she is still recovering (from jet lag and finding him here in my house and examining his rather large tattoo)!

Now that I'm cooking and cleaning and feeling leisurely again, it's a little like my life before books. No pressure or deadlines! Just doing whatever whenever. Lots to be said for that. But I find myself missing my writing. Especially that second book. Red River Daughter is my favorite, if a writer can have favorites.

It is wonderful to be in the same house with my brother again as we usually are not in the same country. And being with my Kentucky momma is an added blessing. So even a good book can wait. Happy Monday.

Gladie Cabin

Gladie Cabin
Gladie Cabin,
originally uploaded by brewer40391.

Restored Kentucky Cabin, Circa 1900

Once Upon a Time ..
What was life like in the Red River Gorge about a hundred years ago?
Would you have enjoyed living here?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Log Cabin - Camp Petosega

Log Cabin - Camp Petosega
Log Cabin - Camp Petosega,
originally uploaded by Odalaigh.
My dream house. I'm learning to post blog pics via dial-up. Only takes two hours and twenty minutes per photo...

busy days and being thankful

Yesterday I had one of those Saturdays where you just don't sit down. But it's good for me as I have days where I don't move far from my writing chair. After breakfast I took Wyatt to town for a nursing home sing. This always make me so thankful for present blessings and reminds me that I may be a resident myself one day. The way time is passing, and the harder it is for me to get out of my writing chair, it might be sooner than I think.

Next we went to basketball practice, then home to pick up Paul for a fiddling gig down in Sequim. He wasn't playing, just enjoying the music. Picked up some Valentine's cupcakes to share there and snuck in a Starbuck's coffee. After a couple of hours of fiddling, we started back home and picked up a Porky Pig Pizza (bbq style!) on the way for Randy. Once home I exchanged Paul for Wyatt and went to the Valentine's banquet at church. It was all fun, fun, fun! But if I had to do it very much it would not be fun, fun, fun:(

In fact, I had dreaded this Saturday. Being away from home wears me out. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the writings of George Macdonald:

... You have a disagreeable duty to do at twelve o'clock. Do not blacken nine and ten and eleven, and all between, with the color of twelve. Do the work of each, and reap your reward in peace. So when the dreaded moment in the future becomes the present, you shall meet it walking in the light, and that light will overcome its darkness.

So if I broke the day down into pieces, my favorite hours were spent at the fiddling gig and the Valentine's banquet. Yet I had nearly blackened the entire day with dread beforehand. Shame on me! And at day's end I felt energized instead of tired. And very thankful I don't have another day like it for months and months.

I have a big surprise sitting in my living room which I will tell you about tomorrow:) I think it will amuse you as much as it amuses me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

nothing like an ocean

Isn't that a great title? I wish I could tell you I know the author of this upcoming book but the truth is I only know his wife, Gin Petty. But I'm sure I'd like Jim Tomlinson if I met him because he's a writer and so many fine things are being said about his work! He and Gin live in Berea and are avid supporters of all things Kentucky. I met Gin, who is an artist, last August when I went to a fiddling gig in old town Berea. She is a wonderful link to home.

Jim has an interesting history. I think he was born a writer but kind of stumbled into engineering by accident, holds several patents for the latter, and has finally gotten back to the business of writing and publishing. He has a very interesting online journal at The Courier-Journal recently printed an in-depth article about him in which he said something I agree with wholeheartedly, "You learn to write by writing. Reading and writing - I don't know any other way."

I especially like what his wife, Gin, had to say about him: "He's a collector, not of physical things but of intangible bits and snippets - a turn of phrase here, the lift of an eyebrow there, a woman's heel-to-toe rolling walk, a child's dance with a bee. Seeing him take those bits and pieces and reassemble them into stories was a pure delight."

Jim has won the coveted 2006 Iowa Short Fiction Award for his debut collection Things Kept, Things Left Behind. His new work, Nothing Like an Ocean, is being released currently by the University of Kentucky Press.

I've ordered mine from Amazon and know it will be fine reading. Now if I could get back to Kentucky and meet Jim, that would be even finer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

divine deadlines

It's been snowing here in western Washington just enough to remind us it's still winter and not spring. I received another deadline yesterday - this one the most pleasant to date! I have a few days to work on acknowledgements which is just a page or so in the front or back of a book where the writer expresses thanks to anyone and everyone who helped the book come about. Do readers ever take time to read acknowledgements, I wonder? My only fear is leaving someone out. One author I know had 3 full pages of acknowledgements for her book. I'm sure the people she acknowledged loved it:) And I'm sure she didn't forget anyone!

Mine will be short and sweet. I don't have a critique group, nor an agent for this first book. But I do have plenty of folks to thank. I decided years ago who to dedicate this book to but you'll just have to read it and find out!

My Kentucky company rolls in shortly and we are very excited. Of course company involves lots of food. I always bake my mom a cake - this time it will be orange cake. Last time it was lemon. And we have to stock up on lots of coffee. I'm going to make a big batch of egg rolls and Kung Pao Chicken for our first supper together. The boys like to help plan the menu ahead of time as eating is high on their list. Paul is polishing "Flop-eared Mule" for an after dinner performance and Wyatt is grooming his moustache. Grandma hasn't seen them in a year and a half!

Grandma has grits in her bag and who knows what else. She flies into Seattle from Lexington and then gets on one of those tiny planes and comes over the mountains and water to us as we're almost four hours west of Seattle. And you thought anything west of Seattle was ocean, I bet. Once upon a time I did, too.

Back to those acknowledgements! Happy Wednesday.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

life in the woods

There is no wireless internet in the woods. Period. At least not at our house. So all you wireless users out there with high-speed connections - count your blessings! I guess I'm chained to dial-up a while longer. So will try to make the best of it:)

The weekend was full of fine things. Sunshine. A fixed dishwasher. A big pot of spaghetti. Sunday school and church. Paul practicing his fiddle tunes. Wyatt playing basketball. Two dry days of walking. An early Valentine with a chocolate heart pasted on the front. Buttermilk pancakes. A trip to town. A call from Kentucky. Who needs wireless!?

I am so intrigued by you readers out there, especially my Port Townsend person who keeps coming back. Port Townsend is a little waterside town just down the road from me about an hour or so east. The only person I know in PT is Wyatt's orthodontist and she doesn't have time to read this blog - and wouldn't want too! She doesn't even know I write. I'm always touched that anyone would take time to log on here. I'm sure I'll feel the same about those of you who read my books. Thank you. May my ramblings bless you in some mysterious way!

I had the thrill of parking book 2 - Red River Daughter - and picking up book 3 this weekend. I was wondering why I feel energized again. It's because I'm back to the creating. The editing just bores me to death. Necessary but stupor-inducing. Writing new material is so fresh and expansive! Like going from black and white to living color. This 3rd book takes place near the Falls of the Ohio around present-day Louisville. A frontier fort. It has me hooked and as soon as I finish here I'm going there.

Use what talents you possess - the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. -Henry Van Dyke

Friday, February 6, 2009

appalachian malady

I'd better type fast this morning as I'm expecting a call from the phone company to try to switch us from dial-up to wireless internet. Apparently there is some problem getting it in our neck of the woods though several of our neighbors have it now. I pray it works today as they couldn't make a go of it yesterday. Bring chainsaws! I wanted to shout at them. Cut down some trees! I think this is the hardest part about living here - it's so dark and wet and moldy most of the year - but the hemmed in feeling is the hardest. I like open expanses of pasture and rolling hills and fences. Breathing room.

I finished reading Clay's Quilt by Silas House yesterday. It gets boldface here because the book is that good. I was born and raised in central Kentucky - Fayette and Madison Counties - and was surprised to find that there are some startling differences between his eastern Kentucky upbringing and my own. I've never before heard the old belief that the fiddle is the devil's own instrument! I've always thought it was God's own. But I think that may be coming from his pentecostal roots. He is such a gifted writer. I prefer A Parchment of Leaves because it is more historical, but both are very good. I'm reading them out of order, I know, and still have A Coal Tattoo to go. House has a play opening in Lexington in April that looks very interesting.

The thing I liked most about Clay's Quilt was the author interview in back. He said some very author-like things that made me hungry to talk to another writer. I even found myself thinking that it would be a fine thing to be married to another writer. But I'm not sure if all that creativity would work. I'm as high-strung as an old fiddle myself at times and couldn't abide someone like me.

Anyway, House's books make me homesick. More than I already am. He might say there could be no higher compliment than that. Who was it that said "homesickness is the most common Appalachian malady"?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

seed catalogs

Is there anything more wonderful in winter than a seed catalog? It speaks of spring, which is right around the corner for you southerners (who are now buried in snow, I know). Here it's been sunny and 50 degrees. I actually snuck out on the deck a little while today and Paul asked, "Mom, is it spring?"

Our mailbox is getting stuffed with seed catalogs and it's almost time to start mapping out our garden. My favorite thing to plant besides wildflowers are peas and green beans and yellow squash. Randy likes corn. Since our garden is bigger than our house we start early and plan where to put what. I had to let gardening go last year when my writing heated up. I said goodbye to canning for the first time in many years. This morning I made biscuits and opened our last jar of wild blackberry jam which left me wishing I'd been a little more industrious last fall when they were ripe.

All quiet on the book front. I lack 15 pages from reaching the end of this edit of Red River Daughter. The word count is down from 149,000 to 136,000 or so. In a few days I'll start from the beginning and try to deflate it further as it still qualifies as a big fat historical. Somewhere in publishing land, TFD is getting a final proofreading before being put into actual book pages and then returned to me for minimal corrections. Book 3 is at the bottom of my big rag basket beside my writing chair. I really miss it. There's nothing like the creating part of a book. The rest I gladly give you!

So in the quiet I get to dream about crookneck squash and having a little garden in a sunny hollow (holler) somewhere in Berea, Kentucky. I've almost talked Randy into moving back there. Stay tuned.

I think gardening is nearer to godliness than theology. -unknown

Monday, February 2, 2009


I went to my first Superbowl (is that one word?) party yesterday. Randy and the boys have gone for several years but I'm not a sports fan so missed it till now. I still can't tell you who won although the food was wonderful, especially all that salmon dip - a northwest staple. The game just couldn't compete with the book I found on the coffee table. Some consider it the second most important historical book after the Bible. It's entitled Foxe's Book of Martyrs. If it sounds like dry reading, it isn't. The stories of the men and women within, all true, are a fiction writer's dream.

I kept coming across Scotsmen called "covenanters" who died for their faith. I have a penchant for anything Scottish. In The Frontiersman's Daughter I have a Scotsman that I fell in love with while writing. I know you're not supposed to fall in love with your protagonists but I do and guess it proves that they're really real to me. Nearly as real as Randy, anyway. Sometimes I feel I know them even better. Maybe because I dream them up. Scotsmen make very inspiring heroes as Foxe's Book of Martyrs proves. Think Mel Gibson and Braveheart. You get the idea. I recently read that over 1/3 of the Colonial population in America at the time of the Revolutionary War was Scottish!

Anyway, as the other game watchers sat cheering or booing and I sat reading, Randy finally leaned over and said to me, "You really are a bookworm." It's only taken him 25 years to figure this out. After Christian, I guess it's the label I like best.

bookworm (1599) 1: a person unusually devoted to reading and study 2: any of various insect larvae (as of a beetle) that feed on the binding and paste of books (Webster's)

I didn't know there were bugs that ate books! I much prefer the first definition. Hope there are no bookworms in your future. And you meet the first criteria:)