Out of Office

Well, not really. I have been home and working away at . . . pretty much anything but my writing, at least as far as my novels are concerned.

I have sewed costumes for my son’s musical in his high school

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I have been midwife and caretaker for a litter of 7 puppies (almost ready to go)

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One week old

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4 weeks old

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5 weeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been critiquing for other authors and friends.

I have been homework monitor and after-school-activity-fetcher.

I have also recently taken on some free lance work as a writer of Novelettes. Ghost writing, so you won’t see my name, but at least I get paid for them.

I keep telling myself I will spend at least one day each week on my own stuff, but so far I haven’t managed it.

I will do it eventually though.

In the meantime, I am having ‘fun’ keeping my life filled to the brim!

by the way, I do have another E-short out:

Coming to Your House, the story of Zaccheaus

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VB0PBR0

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The Big Orange X

I have noticed a new arrival on my road lately. Big orange x-es are appearing on the old maple trees. Those who know me or follow this blog 001know that I have a soft spot for trees. I love their ability to overcome hardship and damage as well as their peaceful acceptance of the seasons.

This marking happens every year and always makes me sad. These are the trees the county has decided are too old and ill to survive. They have become a hazard to the road below and the ugly black wires that stretch from pole to pole.

We can’t have them shedding limbs and stopping traffic or bringing down the wires now can we?

It doesn’t matter if the trees were there first. It doesn’t matter that they have been standing there tall and strong for 100 or 200 years. They are a liability.

007Now I know that there is truth to that. The marked trees have lost much of their former glory. Halfway up, jagged stumps remain where the main trunk had been lost to a storm or lightning a decade ago. Often there are only a few branches that still produce leaves, and those are growing sparse. The bark is rough and split with dead wood showing through. They are dying.

But I remember them as they were 30 years ago when my family moved onto this farm. They were at their prime and there were so many more of them back then. They lined the road every fifty feet or so. They were the home to thousands of birds, squirrels and chipmunks . . . not to mention the occasional raccoon and possum families. In the fall, the road became a glorious bower of red and gold splendor.

The family we bought our farm from told us some of the history of the area. They had lived here for generations, since the 1800’s at least. Our004 farm began as a small cabin at the base of a nearby hill. The hard working farmer who first settled here soon built a larger place where the house currently stands. It started as two small rooms and has expanded several times so that it can now hold my sister’s family and my own.

That same farmer was wise enough and compassionate enough to plant these so that his horses would have shade as they toiled along the dirt road. The fields were wide open by necessity, but the roads to and from was thick with cool, refreshing shade. The trees fulfilled their purpose long after teams of horses gave way to tractors and trucks. More than 100 years later they continued to stand guard over five young girls riding their bikes or walking 1/4 mile to the nearest house to play with the children who lived there.

So many times I would climb into their spreading boughs when the world became a hard place to live. I would go high as I dared and cling with my ear pressed to the trunk. There I could hear the creaking and sighing of the ancient tree. It seemed that it was talking to me, if only I could understand the words.

Now there are few of my old friends left. One by one they have fallen to the storms of the world or that dreaded orange X. The sunlit street is lined with new homes. Children no longer ride their bikes or walk in the road . . . with cars whizzing by without thought or care it is no longer safe.

Time marches on and everything must someday fall to its command.

I still hate the big orange X.

The other day when I was thinking about those trees marked for execution, my thoughts strayed to the Great Gardener. Perhaps if someone had tended to those old trees, they may have survived longer. If someone with skill had trimmed the diseased and damaged branches, had kept away the strangling vines, the trees would have been strong enough to withstand the storms.

Jesus said that he was the vine and we are the branches. (Israel doesn’t have much in the way of maple trees.) He knows how to tend to his branches to keep them healthy and strong. He prunes and binds, trims and trains so that we become all that the Father meant us to be.

He does not paint big orange X’s on us when we become old and weak. He tends us and loves us until time wins its battle. Then he takes us home where we are planted by streams of living water to become forever young, forever strong and forever with him.

 

Try Again

How are you doing on your 2015 resolutions? Even if you don’t make specific resolutions, most of us at least have something in the back of our minds that we want to do better this year.

I know I do. I have a whole list but there are two that stand out at the top of the pile.

1. Lose weight/get in better shape.

Now that isn’t exactly an earth shattering revelation, the majority of Americans have weight loss somewhere on their ‘to-do’ list. But this year I have to get serious about it. I’m no longer 20 and with middle age in full swing . . . or droop as the case may be . . . the hours I spend sitting and staring at this screen are taking their toll. I am teetering on the brink of Hypertension and diabetes. Perhaps I have already begun the plunge to my doom . . . unless I can make some changes, I am done for.

2. Get at least one writing project finished and ready to pitch to an agent.

This one is a little trickier. I have trouble finishing what I start and my writing is an innocent victim of my predilection for procrastination. I sit at my desk and think, ‘I will work on my WIP today.’ I turn on my computer, and think, ‘Let me just check my email first, just in case there is something important.’ There seldom is, mostly ads, reminders and those dreaded Facebook messages. So I of course have to go to FB to check on things there . . . the next thing I know, three hours have gone by and it is time for lunch. I can’t type while I’m eating, of course, so I check on some of my favorite blogs and shopping sites. Another couple hours go by, the kids are home and I have to settle squabbles, help with homework and start supper. The kids and my husband get the  computer in the evenings, so another whole day has gone by without even looking at my stories. Oh well, there is always tomorrow.

So my plan is to make a schedule for myself . . . just as if I was back at work and accountable to my boss for a certain amount of work to be finished before I am done for the day. I will have a block for eating, exercising, writing and critiquing the works of my writing friends. There will also be a block of time to check Facebook and blogs . . . after my other work is done.

I’m not sure I can contain the procrastination gene that keeps popping up to disrupt my best laid plans, but every day that I do the right thing is a step in the right direction. There will be days that I fail to follow ‘the plan’ . . . probably a lot of them . . . But each day is brand new, with no mistakes in itdouble rainbow, to quote Anne Shirley. So each day I will get up and prepare to try again. And again. And again.

I will never be perfect, but perhaps I can edge a little closer to that goal.

The End is Near!

Here it is, November 26, the final days of NaNoWriMo.

Have I kept pace with my goal of 1700 words each day?

No, I am averaging about 1400, but have picked up the pace with ‘the end’ looming.

Will I finish all 50,000 words before Dec. 1st?

Well, its not looking good. I passed 36,000 yesterday, but that leaves 16,000 to write over the next five days (including today)

Do I like what I have written so far?

Well, parts of it. It is, after all, a very rough draft since I have had to lock away my ‘inner editor’ for the last few weeks. There are a lot of notes, highlights and whole sections to revisit during the coming months before I will consider it good enough to send through my critique group. That being said, the basics, the bare bones of it is good and there are some rough gems hidden within. The coming months will determine if cutting and polishing can bring out the shine of the early promise or if it would be better off as a paperweight.

I did write in a turning point last night and this morning:

NGS Picture ID:1075708“You have one shot, make it worth it.”
John sighted down his musket barrel until his vision cleared. He could see the play of muscle beneath the coppery skin.
His finger was greasy on the trigger as his pulled away the primer cover. The smell of burning saltpeter from the wick caked the back of his throat. 1. Steady your stance. 2. Take a deep breath and let it out slow as you draw a bead on the target. 3. As the last of your breath goes out, squeeze the trigger . . . gently.
Please, Lord.
Blinking, he focused on the brown, now, red skin. The forest had gone eerily still, even the birds and creatures that rustled in the leaves went still.
“Don’t move. Reload. There are always more.”
Swan crept forward once more with his already loaded gun. John rushed to follow, loading primer, powder and ball. They made it to Clary without incident. John laid a hand on the older man’s chest.  The heart thumped strong and steady beneath his hand.
“He lives.” John swallowed the lump in his throat.
Swan moved toward the bleeding Indian. “So does this one.” He stepped on the indian’s wounded shoulder to keep him from crawling away. The native’s black eyes were emotionless with not even a tremor to show the pain he must be in. Swan grabbed a leather thong from the Indian’s outfit, tied the native’s hands behind his back, and forced him to his feet. A bead of sweat traced its way through the garish paint. It stared at John with quiet menace.
“We will take them both back to the village. The savage will be our hostage to keep the others at bay. Can you manage Clary?”
The sight of the arrow sticking obscenely from Clary’s back made him queasy, but John swallowed and lifted his friend to his shoulder, careful to disturb him as little as possible. Bowing under the weight, he nodded to Swan.
Swan nudged the captive with the knife he had pulled from its sheath.
For John, the beautiful forest, just stirring with the new life of spring, had suddenly become a labyrinth of peril where death lurked just out of sight.

Sary stood and brushed the wrinkles from her skirt with her eye fixed on Mr. Whitaker. He would know if her father had arrived.
Before she was more than halfway across the crowded lawn, there was a commotion where the clearing gave way to trees. The shrill scream of a woman and the shouts of men made her grab her skirt and run. She pushed her way through the mass of bodies until she could see the trio of men that staggered from the woods. Skipping over the black haired savage and Mr. Swan, her eyes latched on the stooped form of a young man staggering beneath the burden of a familiar brown coat and shock of grizzled chestnut hair. Bright crimson blood streaked both men.
“Papa.” Sary clapped both hands to her mouth to hold back the cry that rose to her lips.

 

The Character Sketch

Who is this John that I write about?

His blood, diluted by 300 years and more, runs through my veins.

Will that help me to know him? What did he dream of? What did he dread?

He crossed an ocean after losing everything, yet so many others stayed.

What drove him across the water? A quest for significance? Dreams of feasting flames? Simple family duty?

He lived, laughed, loved and thrived.

Did he ever look eastward toward his past and wonder ‘What if’?

Did he look westward toward the future, where his grandchildren and their grandchildren would set down roots?

100 years after his Atlantic voyage, his grandchildren and great grandchildren fought for independence.

Did the seeds of rebellion lie dormant in his heart? Did he cling to king and country til they laid his body down?

Who is  this Sarah, who loved him and bore him sons?

Her blood rushes with each beat of my heart.

She was a child of independence, a new life in a new world.

Did she walk pristine New England woodlands? Did she huddle in her home?

What did she think of the land her parents fled? What did she see in the man who stole her heart?

Fresh from the shores of England, did she welcome him or offer scorn?

Did her parents arrange the union? or did her heart choose its course?

She bore him children, some lived, some died.

Did she thank God for the moments they breathed or forever mourn the ones who ceased?

Who are these people, who yet live through me.

I write their story to answer these queries. To know what came before and wonder what will follow me.

Family Story

November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. Last year I used it to finish the rough draft of the novel I have been working on. I am still muddling my way through edits and rewrites, mostly because it is a daunting task and I have a tendency to put it off.

This year I am shooting for a somewhat easier project. I am going to write the tale of one my early ancestors and his journey to America.

Losing everything he owned in the Great Fire of London, John Perry had few options left to him. He could return with his father to the ashes of the city and try to salvage the scorched  fragments of his life and rebuild, or he could turn his back on the past and look to the colonies across the ocean for a new start. The black smoke hovering over the once great city merged with the gray clouds. The steady rain had finally turned the tide of destruction and conquered the flames. The smell of ash and charred wood clogged his every breath. Nothing remained of his life, his dreams. No, there was nothing left for him here. The colonies of the New World held the promise of hope and forgetfulness.

John Perry (the Younger) joined his parents, John Perry (the Elder) and Johannah Holland Perry on the trip to Watertown, Mass in 1667. There he married Sarah Clary within the same year. I can find information about births, deaths and marriages, but little else so many years later. I know bits and pieces and some stories that have come down through the family. My people were there during the French and Indian war, the Revolutionary War, Civil War and other important times in our country’s history. They were farmers, teachers and preachers. Simple people who grew up, loved, laughed and sorrowed just like we do today. They lived the history we learn about in books.

Their blood flows through my veins. It is enough for me to want to know them. Are they like the living, breathing family that I know and love? What parts of them have been passed down to me and my children?

Years ago, before I had any idea of being a writer, my Grandpa Perry and I sat together on the couch gazing out the window. He was telling me stories of his parents, aunts and uncles, their travels and their coming home. At fifteen I was keen to know who I was, where I had come from. As we talked about the ones who had gone, he said to me.

You should write a story about our family.

At the time, I eagerly agreed. I loved my family, I was fascinated by our history. I neglected to mention to him that I hated to write.

Years later he passed away, lost in the fog of Alzheimer’s syndrome. I was 1500 miles away and unable to get home. My biggest regret was that I never got to say good bye, second to that was that I had never fulfilled that request.

Still I waited. Now he has been gone more than ten years. I have been thinking about it more and more and have come to a conclusion. 4023864_origIt is time to grant that simple wish.

NaNoWriMo is coming.

Are you ready?

 

Life Goes On

Did you ever notice how birthdays have a way of showing up every year? No matter how I hide or run, there it is waiting for me, same day every year.

Great. Super. I’m so excited.

Not.

But then, life isn’t so bad when you get right down to it. Sure, I have the cheapest dumb phone available. Sure, I sit home, day after day, trapped with no vehicle because my husband feels that he actually has to go to work. Sure, my kids come home, interrupt my work to tell me about their day and proceed to dirty the dishes I had just washed, again. Even with all that and more- life is pretty darn good.

My dumb phone is nevertheless a working phone ensuring that when my kids or someone else needs me, they can reach me. Since my number is given to a chosen few, I am not swamped with calls that are not important. My dumb phone can even text, which for me, who hates to actually talk on the phone, is a wondrous thing. Now if I could just get to the point where I can make appointments and sell stuff by text instead of phone or face to face, I would be on cloud nine.

I sit home without a car most days, but I also have this lovely computer that allows me to do what I love, write. Day after day, I sit here and write my own stories or critique the ones my friends have written. In this way, I can add to the stockpile of well written words that millions can access for entertainment and encouragement. Added to that, I have a husband who supports my literary efforts and has a strong work ethic, even at a job he hates. He agrees that it is important for me to stay home and focus my efforts on my writing and raising our kids even if a second income would help pay nagging bills.

My kids come home from school everyday with their noise and their appetites. but I am grateful they have food to eat, a good school to learn stuff in and maybe best of all, they feel comfortable enough with me that they can tell me the ups and downs of their day. How many moms have teenagers who actually like to spend time with her? I am blessed.

Now my birthday looms over the horizon and as I look at the halfway point of another decade I realize something. I am far from where I wanted to be when I reached this point. But where I am . . . with all its trials and blessings. . . . is right where I want to be. Not that I wouldn’t mind some of those fancy electronic gadgets, or my own vehicle, or a maid to do those darn dishes-again. I am human enough to want such things. But when you get right down to brass tacks;

Life is Good . . .

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