Journey to Publication, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Journey to Publication

 

20181027_074001.jpg
Lake Yale Word Weaver’s Retreat – 2018

Working on St. Anne’s

St. Anne’s is the working title of my novel. I brought my manuscript with me to the Word Weavers’ Retreat this past weekend. This Retreat was not a retreat in the sense of getting away from it all. This was more like getting serious about it all. Michelle Medlock Adams, a marvelous speaker, inspired us to not lose heart, to keep pressing on, to keep our priorities in order. However, most of the time was dedicated to what Word Weavers do, critiquing one another’s work.

I found the weekend both enlightening and confusing.

Enlightening: I learned about mechanics–those parts of writing for publication which are cast in concrete–things like layout rules, the correct use of ellipses and Em Dashes,  which font is acceptable, rules for the use of italics.  All of this was quite helpful.

Confusing: God comforted me, reminding me that critiques are given by human beings with often conflicting personal preferences. For example, I written the first page of St. Anne’s by jumping right into the action, hoping to hook the reader. One critiquing person said I needed to begin my story describing the setting so the reader could formulate a scene in his mind  before getting into the action. So, I rewrote the opening for another review of the same passage. This time I was told, by a new critiquing person, that I should not start out with detailed setting information because most readers would prefer to jump right in to the action.

Hmm.

So, the Lord taught me that in a work of fiction, some people like narrative description, and other people like action. It’s a matter of preference. I will lose some people if I don’t begin with action; others will close the book if I don’t give them a setting first. People are different, and I won’t be able to please them all. I need to do what’s right for my God-given “voice,” and take the critique for what it is–one person’s opinion.

I learned a second thing that confused and surprised me.  It is now fashionable to write sentence fragments punctuated as sentences. As a former English teacher and a mere novice to publishing in this millennium, I was saddened. It was like witnessing the end of literature as I have known it. Now I’m not talking about writing dialog. Dialog is different. I get that. For dialog to sound realistic, it probably should be in short bites, like people talk. However, modern writers are encouraged to write narrative passages that way too.  It smacks more of text messaging than novel-writing to me. This weekend I read lots of unpublished manuscripts wherein the writer often wrote so-called sentences using no verbs.

At all.

Period.

20181029_144121.jpg

C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. 

I guess my blessed reassurance from the Lord applies here too. People have different tastes. My tastes are more old-fashioned.

I don’t think I will embrace this radical change easily. Maybe I’m too old to change?

The books I like to read are old-fashioned. Seldom do I encounter fragments in the writings of Rosamunde Pilcher or C.S. Lewis, my favorites.

Will my tastes change?

I hope not.

Maybe.

 

Alaska, Devotionals

THE FINAL DAYS OF AN ALASKAN SUMMER – PART ONE

Alaska worked wonders again this summer. We go there to decompress …

20170822_151716.jpg

to escape the world …

20170825_092032.jpg

to stretch wide in the vastness of the land …

…. and to work with our hands.

 

20180708_06412620180831_092147

.

DECOMPRESSING:

The World is too much with us in the Florida city where we live for eight months. We go to Alaska four months to decompress. The damp air is pure and deliciously fragrant with spruce, moss, and wildflowers. Merely walking around the property is restorative, refreshing the soul. Every wildflower declares the glory of  my Creator who is intimately aware of my every step, every thought, every breath. He created this blossom for me to enjoy today. 

Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”       JESUS

 20180719_142540

 

Now the days are shorter, the mornings noticeably cooler, and the birch trees dance against the cobalt sky. Winds toss these tall branches with a distinctive rustling sound, reminding me of Jesus’ words–

The wind bloweth where it willeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but can’st not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth. So is every one who is born of the Spirit.”

20180512_102938_002.jpg

Do you experience the God you cannot see, but you can hear, and feel?

 

This Alaska Summer, Lord,

You provided yet again …

unfettered Time…

on Your vast Land … 

rejoicing in Your Presence…

 knowing Your Spirit like the wind …

  invisible but palpable …

   moving as You send…

 

Lord, I’m so grateful!

Amen

 

Alaska

MOOSE-TIME IN ALASKA

This year we have been richly blessed with moose visits. One day we had seven! I was working in my greenhouse when this yearling came sauntering by with his sibling and his mama Matilda. This is a “baby” moose about one year old.

20180517_075450

Matilda returned a couple of weeks later with her new calves.  We named them Mocha and Marvin. Matilda looked scruffy with scars and partial shedding of last winter’s coat. Before a moose gives birth, she chases away her yearlings so her newborns will not be hurt by them.  Matilda’s yearlings still appear alone on our property from time to time, but not with their mom.  20180619_152245

The other morning I was inside the cabin when a different yearling strolled through the yard and began to investigate my greenhouse which door I had failed to close the night before.

20180706_062314

He poked his nose inside the doorway, so I knocked on my window to scare him off.  If he had gone inside, I’m sure he would have destroyed the place trying to get out.

20180706_062326.jpg

So, we love our moose! Last month while it was rainy and cold, I painted a picture of a couple to decorate our wall…20180614_181703

… and now I am working on a wood-burned moose sign to hang on the front porch. This is a fun project. We have named our cabin “Spruce Moose” for obvious reasons.

20180708_064126

I’ll finish burning in a few more spruce trees, varnish it, and hang it by the front door.

We have less than two months remaining here in Alaska before we return to Florida. Tom still has lots of fish to catch, I still have more projects to work on, and lots of writing to do, so I’ll close for now.

Thank you for following.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alaska

Alaska – June in Soldotna

Summer finally arrived here in Soldotna last week. It’s been in the 60’s for a few afternoons, which feels like summer! The sun is hot here, and the long days are warming the earth.

SUNSHINE!

Tomorrow the sun will rise here at 4:48 AM and it will set at 11:33 PM. Our days will continue to lengthen until June 21, which is the longest day (19 hours, 3 minutes, and 21 seconds). In June it never gets very dark in Soldotna. After the sun sets on the northwestern horizon, the sky remains a twilight gray while the sun traces a little hidden crescent-smile behind the north pole, peeping back up in the northeast only some four to five hours later. Here, a constant twilight glow remains on the horizon.

dawn nature sunset dark

In Soldotna, we don’t experience the Midnight Sun as do people north of the Arctic Circle. Within the Arctic Circle, at least a portion of the sun is visible from June 12 until July 1. The Arctic Circle lies at 66 degrees N. latitude which, in Alaska, is 198 miles north of Fairbanks. Since Fairbanks is pretty much in the center of Alaska, a LOT of Alaska sees the sun for some 19 days straight! (There are some pretty incredible pictures of the Midnight Sun online which I recommend you “google”.)

Alaska-born people revel in these almost endless days, playing outside long after this Florida girl has pulled the blackout shades and gone to bed. They fish, hike, swim (even in these frigid waters), bike, enjoy outdoor festivals, and just hang out … trying to squeeze the last bit of sunshine from the day, because winters here are LONG!

WILDFLOWERS:

Last week , I planted a wildflower garden beside the house. The sun is so hot, and the air is so dry, I must water several times a day to keep the seeds moist enough to sprout. However, I am not without wildflowers even now.

This year we came early in the spring, so I’m seeing early wildflowers for the first time right here on our property. Most of these I had to look up in my wildflower book because they are all SO different from the Florida wildflowers .

20180612_183431.jpg

The Bog Blueberry’s blossoms are very tiny. They produce sweet round berries which are a favorite for the bears before the moose babies come.

20180610_170441.jpg

This Dwarf Dogwood’s blossom looks so much like the Dogwood trees’ blossom in Georgia of my childhood.

Labrador Tea grows in alpine slopes in South-Central Alaska. They say you can make tea from the leaves for a diuretic, but it can also be poisonous, so…naah!

20180610_170257.jpg

20180614_082616.jpg

Also called “Prickly Rose,” because the stems are totally covered with tiny thorns, this flower has a sweeter rose fragrance than our hybrid roses.

The petals are used to make jelly or tea, and the “hip” or fruit is used for jellies and in baked goods

20180612_183236.jpg

The Starflower doesn’t seem to have any practical use. It’s just delicate and beautiful to look at.

20180610_163554.jpg

These Lupines are prolific along roadsides in poor sunny soil. This one was alongside my driveway, and is just beginning its bloom. It will grow to be about 16 inches tall, but this one is still about 8 inches.

Lupines are very poisonous, especially the seeds.

20180610_171039.jpg

The Alpine Forget-Me-Not is my favorite! The blooms are so tiny, but so brilliantly blue and lavender. It is the Alaska State Flower which I found curious. The tiniest flower for the biggest state!

If you are interested in further photographs of wildflowers in Alaska, I hope you naturalists will let me know. It seems like a new variety appears every day or so.

God bless this good earth!

Devotionals

Free Indeed

When Jesus saved me, soon He began revealing an amazing truth to me: I do not have to sin any more. I am free from sin. That is not to say that I am free of sin, because sometimes I forget this amazing truth. I can still get distracted by my old nature, defend my personal rights, let myself become offended and hurt. Occasionally I still get angry. I still can sin, but now I am free from its dominion.

Before salvation I did not have a choice. I was a sinner! I often became angry when I thought someone had trampled on my personal rights, didn’t give me the respect I thought deserved, maybe ruined my possessions, stole from me, lied to me, were unfaithful to me, spread hurtful rumors about me, cut me off in traffic… yeah, pretty much anything. I would react with anger and I feel, “I have a right to get angry when people do these things! It’s just not fair! What did I do to deserve this?

human fist

However, at salvation, when Jesus’ Spirit entered my soul, He began to talk to me. He non-verbally said something like, “Well, are you enjoying your little angry fit — your little pity party?”

I responded, “No, but did you see what they did to me, how they hurt me? It was so unfair!

Jesus’ still, small voice said, “Yes, I saw it all, and I completely understand. Do you remember what they did to me? How they hurt me? It was so unfair!”

man kneeling in front of cross

“Oh, yes, Jesus. That was truly unfair what they did to you!”

“So, do you enjoy being so angry?”

“No, of course not. I don’t enjoy it at all, but I can’t stop!”

“No, that’s no longer true. Now you can stop. Now nobody can make you become angry. Now, nobody has the power to steal your peace — if you remember where you are and whose you are.

“Whose I am?”

“Yes. Now you are Mine. You surrendered all to me. Remember that day? It was July 28th, 1974. You gave me your life, your body, your possessions, everything! That day you asked Me to come in, and I received you. I took you in, placed your soul securely in Me in Christ. So now “where you are” is in Me! Now, everything — even every unfair thing — that comes your way must pass through me to get to you. Now I am your Abba Father. You no longer have to protect yourself, retaliate, be hurt and angry. I already know all things coming in your future. I will intercept them and transform them, especially the hurtful things, working them together for your good, gradually conforming you into My image. Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to be in control any more. You are not alone. I will never leave you.

man in black jacket beside boy in pink jacket holding plush toy during daytime

Hold My hand, and I’ll walk with you from here on. There will be battles, but I will walk with you through every one. When you feel afraid, hold on tighter to me. I’ve got this.

“Yes, Lord.”

FREE INDEED

Alaska, Jack B. Nimble

Alaska Arrival – May 18, 2018

When last I wrote, we were in Montana, the weather had become increasingly cold at night, snow still lay along the roadsides, and we were not even in the mountains. I became increasingly apprehensive about continuing north alone where snow and below freezing temperatures were forecast, where there was a real doubt that campgrounds with electricity would be open yet, and the clincher — where we had no way to heat our tent camper except a small electric space heater, and… Jack was cold!

20180504_054527.jpg

This was an entirely different situation from our only previous road trip to Alaska — which was made in the height of summer, and we camped in a hard-sided, gas-heated camper. So, we made a difficult decision — to drive west to Tacoma, Washington, put the car and the camper on a ship for Anchorage, and to fly the rest of the way to our summer home. We did that, arriving in Soldotna the morning of May 8th. I apologize to all of you who have been faithfully following our progress, but I know you understand.

Our last three days camping we spent in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. We camped in a most interesting town in Idaho named Wallace. It was established as a silver mining town in the 1800’s. In an antique shop in Wallace, Tom bought a very odd antique musical instrument. It’s a “valve trombone,” and the best we can determine by looking it up on-line is that it’s a rare J.W. Pepper and Son instrument, made in the early 1900’s. Tom polished, and now it actually looks silver.

20180519_090716-1.jpg

In Washington we camped two nights in a park by Moses Lake. They were having a bass fishing tournament, so Tom was entertained. Canadian geese with dozens of goslings paddled around the lake. Cute!

20180505_074432.jpg

On Monday morning we took the car and the trailer to the port to ship out for Anchorage, and caught a ride to the Sea-Tac airport to spend the next 10 hours waiting for our red-eye flight to Kenai. We made it home about 6:30 Tuesday morning.

So, we have been home for over a week now. It has been cold (40’s) and rainy almost every day thus far. The birch trees have tiny green leaves, there is still a lot of snow on the mountaintops, and we have spent several days working to clean out the back acre. Tom has cut up fallen birch trees, cut scraggly lower limbs from spruce, and hauled over 4000 pounds of debris to the dump.

Our back acre is virgin territory — never built on, never cut as far as we know. This week we have been inundated with moose! They have taken to bedding down out back, and

20180516_094455.jpg

when they do, they are almost invisible. There are three moose in this picture. See if you can find Waldo.

Last year two wonderful friends from Church in Florida came to visit, and they built me a greenhouse!

20170802_140249-1.jpg

Yesterday I was planting vegetables in it when Tom came rushing in. A mama moose and her two yearlings had quietly walked up behind him while he was cutting wood out back. They followed him toward the greenhouse…

20180517_075444.jpg

… and while we watched, they strolled by like they own the place…

20180517_075450.jpg

… which they really do, come to think of it.

So far, I have planted tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in the greenhouse.

20180519_093203.jpg

Lettuce and cool weather vegetables — broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and cabbage we’re keeping on the upstairs balcony to protect them from the moose.

20180519_093436.jpg

Someday, perhaps we’ll build a moose-proof fence and plant such things in the ground. For now, the balcony is fine and easy to check every morning. We have grown vegetables up here before, and they do very well.

I think I’m running out of space for this post, so I will continue the Alaska story in a few days.

Thank you for reading!

Alaska

Alaska Road Trip Days 7-9

Sunday, April 29 – (Day 7) We enjoyed the luxury of sleeping in a hotel in Garden City, Kansas Saturday night, but I awoke often, aware that I was in a strange place.

We got away about 8:30 heading due west toward Colorado. Soon after crossing the border, we picked up a US highway heading due north, leaving Denver far away to our west. Traveling through big cities was something we do not want to do. Out in this area of the country, most roads run at right angles, so there is no hypotenuse to make our trip shorter. This day we saw a lot of plains, newly planted wheat fields, plowed fields, more cows, (but not as many as yesterday) lots of windmills. We saw the factory where they built the windmills yesterday, and the vanes must be 50 feet long! We saw our first roadrunner, a couple of pheasants, a mule deer, and lots of red-tailed hawks.

roadrunner-bird-wildlife-nature-158097.jpeg

Our practice has become to set a preliminary destination for the day. After noon we ask Google if there are any campgrounds near our destination town. We call the campground and learn the street address, input the info into our Garmin navigator, and then relax and let her melodious voice guide us to our destination. HOWEVER, it is crucial that the address be absolutely correct — no Highway 11, when it should be Highway 11c. This was the case on Sunday afternoon. Garmin sweetly guided us down a dirt road to a vacant lot behind some cow pens and dirty shacks. And then after we re-entered “11c,” she guided us through many small subdivision to reach the actual address about 5 miles away. We camped at Boyd Lake State Park. Now the trees are getting smaller and the parks have fewer of them. Most all the trees were mesquite, and their leaves have not come out yet. In fact, we are rapidly leaving springtime behind.

It was 80 degrees when we set up camp. Surprising! Tom made spaghetti for dinner, and we turned in early. After the sun set, the temperature dropped quickly into the 40’s by daybreak. We have an electric heater, though, so we were fine to sleep so long as there is electricity.

Monday, April 30 (day 8) We got off about 8:15, heading north on Interstate 25 to Cheyenne, Wheatland, Douglas, and finally to Casper, Wyoming.

20180501_071419.jpg

We broke our vow of “no interstates” today. The few state roads there are did not go where we needed to go.

The landscape changed dramatically — many more rusty rock outcroppings, antelopes, fewer cows. We had intended to head northwest into the Tetons and Yellowstone, but weather forecasts said that snow was likely, and much cooler temperatures in the mountains. So…. we changed our plans and stayed east of the mountains in rather long hills. We broke our vow of “no interstates” when we got up this far. There are fewer state roads, and they didn’t go the way we needed to go.

20180501_071414.jpg

We slept in a Motel 6 last night in Casper, Wyoming, and it only cost $49! Since campsites average $30, we figured it would be okay so as not to have to seek out a campsite far away from our planned route.

Tuesday, May 1 (Day 9) One really nice thing about motels is that you don’t have to break camp at the crack of dawn in the cold. We have only been making coffee in the mornings at camp, then stopping along the road for a hot truck-stop breakfast and a gas fill-up. So, this morning we were up and away by 6:30, heading north out of Casper, Wyoming on I-25. Tom was the animal scout. We saw a LOT of antelope this morning, and Tom managed to get a photo of this one beside the road. We crossed into Montana about noon. The hills here were greener, and looked sort of like what I think Ireland must look like…

20180501_092045.jpg

When we set out this morning it was very foggy, and we could see only about 150 feet ahead. This was on an Interstate, mind you, so I just crept along through the whiteness at about 45 mph. We would crest a hill and be in sunshine until the next valley. Thank God the sun burned it away after about an hour. We went on through the Bighorn Mountains to Billings, and then picked two State roads north to Lewistown. It was getting colder the further north we traveled. Unmelted snow made white spots on the northern slopes of hills. I don’t know how many more days we will be able to camp in this tent camper.

20180501_150233.jpg

But right now we’re camped at a commercial RV park in Lewistown, MT. The state and national parks are too far away from our planned route. Tom had all the best intentions of cooking some chicken and broccoli and making a tossed salad this evening. However, right after setting up camp it began to rain a cold windy rain. Not being the sort of person to give up, Tom tried to adjust pots, cutting boards, even the car (!) to baffle the wind from blowing out his propane stove. After about an hour he gave up, and we drove into town to pick up a pizza. Tomorrow’s another day. The chicken will keep.

It’s cold and windy tonight, and is supposed to get down to about 35 degrees. My little electric heater is cranking. I’m still sitting up at the dining table typing away at 9:15, taking advantage of the wi-fi provided here at this RV park. Tom and dog Jack are snuggled into a warm sleeping bag. Time to join them.

Tomorrow’s plan is to get through Montana and cross into Canada! Half way Home!!

Thank you for joining me this evening. God bless!