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

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.

 

Fall Behind, Hurry to Catch Up

I am a few thousand words short of where I should be if I want to stay on track. But the John and Sary’s story is slowly coming together. They have just met for the first time on Christmas Eve day . . .  Want to read it?

095The warm light drew him. It became a window. John fell against the rough siding an peered in. Through the wavy panes of glass, a fire crackled beneath a spit where a giant bird slowly rotated.
A sleepy-eyed child crouched next to the hearth yawning as she turned the spit. A woman worked a mound of dough at a table. John stood transfixed as the dough became loaves of bread. His stomach rumbled but he was afraid to move for fear the delicious scene would disappear.
“What are you doing?”
John whirled around at the snap of the voice but ended up on his hands and knees once more.
“Mother, Mary, come help.”
Slender arms wrapped around his chest and helped him to his feet. A nearby door swung open spilling light and heavenly scents into the cold morning air. John allowed the women to lead him inside.
They ushered him to a chair next to the fire. The heat seemed to scald his skin. Phantom pain flashed through his numb hands.
The women worked at the knots holding the blankets around him around him. Then did the same to his woolen coat. As the soaked layers were pulled off, the heat flooded over him bringing on a violent fit of shivering. When they tried to remove the linen gloves from his hands, John curled his fingers and held them on.
“Now sir, we must get these wet things off of you. Let me have the gloves.”
With his teeth chattering, John was unable to speak but he shook his head and pulled his hands closer to his body. He was too cold to think, but still refused to show his hands.
“Well then, hold this tea, it will help warm them.”
John took the cup, but his hands trembled so violently the tea sloshed over the side. The young woman cupped his hands in hers and steadied them. The first sip scalded his tongue, then slid down his throat with blissful heat. He closed his eyes allowing the warmth to spread through his belly.
“Have another.”
He opened his eyes and met those of the young woman crouched before him. They were wide with concern and the fire reflected off the hazel so that they seemed to glow with tones of green-gold and bronze. Her cheeks grew red under his gaze, a perfect complement to the eyes. He stared until thick lashed fluttered down as a shield.
“What were you doing out there, young man?” The mother came back to the room with a thick towel and began rubbing it over his head and shoulders. The vigorous rubbing awoke thousands of red-hot needles in his skin. More woke in his feet as the youngest removed his sodden boots and rubbed with another towel. The agony brought a moan to his lips, tears threatened to escape regardless of how he tried to hold them in.
“I know it hurts, but we have to get the blood moving before frostbite can set in.” The woman continued to rub across his chest. The girl with the eyes had taken his cup and he spotted her hanging a woolen blanket near the fire. He followed her movements. She still wore the cloak and scarf showing that she had been the one to find him.
“Th-th-thank you.” It took several tries before his lips would obey his command. “Moth-th-er. F-f-father.”
“I’m sure you are welcome, but I am not your mother young man.”
“By th-the river.”
All three females stopped their ministrations and stared at him.
“There are more of you out there? Why, it is below freezing, what can you have been thinking of.” The mother offered another sip of tea then another.
He tried again. “Set ash-sh-shore by ship’s long boat. Mother sick. Had to find help.”
“Sary, you’re dressed, go out and find your father. Mary, put more tea on and get the quilts from the attic.”

What do you think? Is it an interesting meeting?Cutting-gingered-bread

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?

 

They’re Just Things

“It’s mine.”

“No, it’s mine. I saw it first.”

Does this sound familiar? It should to anyone who has had toddlers or worked with them even seen them fighting in a store. The whiny, cranky voices grate on the nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

The sad fact is that we don’t necessarily grow out of it. Sometimes we merely hide it under polite phrases or even nonverbal cues.

There is something I want. I will find a way to get it.

Sometimes the claims are right and just. We have certain rights as human beings and it is not wrong to claim them. We have rights as Americans, as children of our parents, as parents of our children, even as homeowners and renters. We have rights.

But what if claiming those ‘rights’ infringes on the ‘rights’ of another? As a parent, I have the right, the responsibility, to discipline my children. As my children, they have the right to be sheltered and protected. Sometimes that line is blurred. Sometimes I don’t discipline enough and sometimes, I confess, I have gone too far. Sometimes I actually hit the mark. It is one of the hardest jobs for a parent.

My parents are already planning what to leave behind as an inheritance for my sisters and I. Until we get to heaven, death is a part of life, but I hope they don’t leave for a long, long time. With their planning, they are trying to shelter us from the upheaval that will come.

I have seen it in other families who have lost parents. Arguments over who gets what. Fighting over little details, a bit of furniture or jewelry escalates to horrendous proportions. The battles can last for years, sometimes for a lifetime. Huge chasms of pain and anger tear families apart. Sometimes forever.

I can see glimmers of it, the seeds of discord within my own family. A few years ago I would have said it was impossible. We love each other deeply and would never cause that kind of pain just for things. I fear I may have been wrong and it fills me with sorrow.

I have the memories of my parents, of our family through the years of both sorrow and joy. No one can take them from me. They are my inheritance. The things, the items linked to those memories are not important.They are a pale shadow of what is real. My parents are striving to disperse the things in a way that is fair and compassionate. Sometimes the division of things will not be perfect, there will be things that more than one person wants. That is bound to cause some hurt.

I grew up knowing, beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was loved by my family. I was not always understood, my choices are not always the right ones. But I have always been loved. That is such a precious gift that few other families can claim. The more I see of this weary old world, the more I treasure what I have had without question, without doubt. I pray (it has become a fervent prayer) that my family will remember the priceless possession that we already have before they give in to the hurt of things.

We have each other, don’t let the things of earth make us forget that. I would rather go through life with nothing than lose what I have with my family. 081

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 . . .

Spring Pond1