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?

 

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Kate’s World Blog Tour

I have been invited to participate in the world blog tour by my friend, Diane Tatum. Her blog  http://tatumlight-tatumsthoughts4today.blogspot.com/posted last week and 9835_4780107118993_1150957166_n book coverwas very informative.

Diane and I met at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference and were drawn together by our shared love of history and writing. After teaching middle school language arts in Tullahoma City Schools for 11 years, Diane retired with her husband’s encouragement to write the historical fiction books that she had been starting and saving on her computer. Gold Earrings was published in 2011. She has started a generational series of historical fiction novels set in American history. The first in that series is Colonial Dream and is completed. She has started the second in the series set in 1809, Transforming Bitterness Into Joy .  The third book in the series is set during the Civil War is completed, A Time to Choose.  She has also added college professor to her resume teaching English as an adjunct professor for Motlow State Community College. I have read her book Gold Earrings as well as parts of Transforming Bitterness Into Joy on the critique loop of ACFW. I can’t wait to read the final product.

For this blog, I was told to answer 4 questions then introduce 3 writers who will do the same on their blog posts next week. So here we go.

1. What am I working on?

Well, That is a loaded question. I am working on several things at the moment, depending on my mood for the day. My biggest project is Safe Within These Walls which is the tale of Rahab and the spies at Jericho. I have completed the rough draft and am slowly working through the editing and rewriting process. It is far more complicated than I thought when I started which is why I turn to other projects when I need a break.

My other big project is a collection of short stories that I have written over the years. They all tell the tale of either Jesus’ healing miracles or life changing encounters. I have some stories published in The Other Side of Miracles for this collection, I want something different. I have created a character that is seeking the truth of Jesus and when he encounters people with a story to tell, it brings him one step closer to faith.

I also have two lighter tales in the works, a Western geared toward middle grade readers and my sons and I are actually working on stories based on Minecraft, their favorite online game. They come up with the plot and some of the scenes, and I tie it all together and edit. We are hoping to publish a series of ebooks for others to enjoy.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Biblical Fiction is not a well known genre although it is gaining in popularity. I think my stories are different mainly because I try to write my characters so that if you were to drop them into a contemporary scene, they would be able to adapt with only a change of clothes and some technology. I try to keep my stories gritty and real while walking that fine line between showing the reality and not offending my readers. Life 2000 or more years ago was harsh and cruel. It is a challenge to give readers an honest taste while not making them toss their cookies.

 

3. Why do I write what I do?

I am a firm believer that people have not changed since Adam and Eve left the garden. God said that he is the same yesterday, today and forever, and I think that holds true for humans, too. We are broken vessels that seek to hide our brokenness. We love, laugh, mourn and despair no matter what millennium or country we live in. I was raised in the church and grew up thinking that the bible was full of stories and characters that, while interesting to read, they had little to no bearing on my life today. I found out that I was wrong. So I began writing stories taken directly from the scriptures and retold them with my own twists to make them live again. My hope is that my stories will cause people to take another look at the bible and see themselves in it.

 

4. How does my writing process work?

I am a pantser- which means that I write by the seat of my pants. I have tried outlining and storyboarding, but it has never worked for me. In most cases, I have a general idea of where I want the story to go, but getting there is always a leap of faith. More often than not, the story takes on a life of its own and ends up totally different than what I had originally intended, and it is usually better.

I do try to spend some time writing every weekday, although it doesn’t always work out that way. If one story isn’t working out for me, I will try a different one. It is rare that I can’t write something on any given day and if I can’t write something new I can always go back and tweak what is already there.

Which brings me to my last phase, critiquing. This is often the hardest part. I belong to three different critiquing groups, 1 secular and 2 Christian. Each one offers something different and I learn and grow from their comments. But that doesn’t make it easy. I am putting my babies up on display, bits of my heart and soul, and no matter how gentle they are, sometimes that growth hurts. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well that’s it for me, come back next week for a peek at what some of my other friends are doing.

10302329_10152515130759059_4812858995563312394_nRuth O’Neil has been a friend since . . . well we won’t say how long, but it is safe to say we grew up together and strangely didn’t discover our shared love of writing until recent years. Ruth was born and raised in upstate New York and attended Houghton College. She has been a freelance writer/editor for more than twenty years. She has published hundreds of articles in dozens of publications as well as publishing a few books. She has spent the last few years working in publishing, working closely with writers editing their books and preparing them for print. She helps writers learn about the publishing world through her writer’s forums. One of the things she enjoys doing most is helping others see their publishing dreams come true. This is what led her into acquisitions. When she’s not writing or homeschooling her kids, Ruth spends her time quilting, reading, scrapbooking, camping, and hiking with her family. http://ruthoneil.weebly.com/    http://ruths-real-life.blogspot.com/

Erin Unger is another Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conferee. When we met, it felt as if we had already been friends for years.Memphis

Erin believes that writing was a gift 1234834_510894622328242_59161338_nGod gave her one day when she felt lost and purposeless.  She loved to write when she was young, but it wasn’t until she turned 27 that she claimed that gift. Now she is working on a couple of manuscripts, at least one of which is ready for an agent to peruse and fall in love with. Erin is also a gifted illustrator. Memphis Learns the Hard Way is a children’s book about making the right choices and is filled with Erin’s sweet and colorful art. Check out her blog at http://erineunger.blogspot.com

 

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Beth Brubaker is yet another Conferee. I met some truly wonderful people during those few days. Beth has a wonderful and real sense of humor, always able to look on the funny side. It shows in her writing as well as her conversation. http://footprintsinthemudblog.blogspot.com  Beth’s witty commentary offers spiritual lessons taken from daily life. She also has a strong creative side that can make beautiful and useful items from everyday objects.