Journey to Publication, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Journey to Publication

 

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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.

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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 …

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to escape the world …

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to stretch wide in the vastness of the land …

…. and to work with our hands.

 

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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

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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.”

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

Alaska

Alaska Roadtrip Days 4 – 6

Thursday, April 26, DAY 4

We left Louisiana early heading for Waco, Texas, hoping to visit Magnolia Farms, of Chip and Joanna Gaines fame. Our drive through Texas was spectacular, thanks to Ladybird Johnson and her wildflower program. The highways are still filled with these pink flowers, and yellow, coral, red and blue. The rolling landscape in southern Texas is our favorite so far.

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We finally arrived at Magnolia Farms. Big mistake! The place was over-run with busloads of tourists and end-of-school trips. So, we gave it a pass and found a campsite nearby in a state park on Waco Lake, our prettiest spot to date. State parks and Federal parks are proving to be the cleanest, most picturesque of all the campgrounds.

20180428_065528.jpgFriday, the 27th, Day 5: We slept well, got up early, made and drank coffee, broke camp, and drove north through a lot of Texas into Oklahoma, the landscape becoming drier and flatter as we went on.   The roadside wildflowers disappeared in Oklahoma, and huge tracts of farm land replaced them… wheat, cotton, cattle, goats, llamas, bison.

We camped in northern Oklahoma in Great Plains State Park. A lake was surrounded by rocky hills of rust colored stones, looking much more like “the West.” The above photo was sunrise this morning.

Saturday, the 28th, Day 6: An educational day. We saw more and more windmills covering the plains, providing electricity and looking sort of spooky… like huge white giants waving their arms. We saw two turkeys that we at first thought were road runners, but then we saw a REAL roadrunner. Pretty!

We saw thousands of cattle — some on pastureland, some jammed in feed lots being fattened for the slaughter. Pee-yew! No stink can compare. Many, may feed lots over hundreds of miles as we traveled west… dozens of grain elevators holding the feed for the thousands of cattle. We were told that one of the houses slaughtered 500 cattle/ hour!!! That’s a quarter of a million pounds of beef in one hour… a lot of Big Mac’s!

We drove through the historic district of Dodge City and saw the Long Branch Saloon. Kitty, Chester, Festus, and Mr. Dillon could not be found. However, we remembered from Gunsmoke episodes that Dodge City was a major cattle drive destination even back then, so it is still a major beef processing town. The rail lines run westward, carrying beef to Denver and beyond.

Late this afternoon Tom had a stroke of genius! He said, “Why don’t we sleep in a hotel tonight. We could get a really good shower, do laundry, clean up the car a bit, eat out.” What a jewel he is. I think we’ll do this again after 5-6 days camping. Great idea.

So, here I sit in a Comfort Inn, in Garden City, Kansas just west of Dodge City. I also have wi-fi to catch up here.

 

 

 

 

Devotionals

April 3, 2018 “Count It All Joy!”

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  James 1:1-4 KJV

 

Let all the earth rejoice!
Let all the earth rejoice!

 

I have heard people say, “Never pray for patience, or God will send you trials.”

Perhaps people say such things as just a joke, or maybe they have believed a false doctrine that God works that way. Trials come because you and I live in a fallen world with sin, sickness, war, and ignorance, a world under temporary dominion of the prince of this world, Satan. The earth itself is groaning, awaiting our full redemption.

So, just why does James encourage me to “count it all joy?” I believe it’s because the trials that the devil sends for evil, God works together for my good, having predestined me to be conformed to the image of His  dear Son. I can “count it all joy” because I am given the amazing opportunity to demonstrate that in Christ I am already counted victorious over any trials the world, the flesh or the devil can throw at me.

But… if  I’m not firmly grounded in God’s Word and I’m walking in the flesh, I can sometimes forget that, and listen to Satan’s lies and temptations — “You don’t deserve these trials. It’s just not fair. You should be terribly afraid of what’s happening. You should complain a lot about the pain you are having to endure.”

When I listen to Satan, I murmur and complain like the children of Israel did in the wilderness, and I miss the blessing of following God’s path to victory.

Conversely, joy comes when I recognize the lies of Satan and declare, “You are wrong, Satan! I deserve so much more than these trials. I deserve hell. So, Satan, I no longer fear the trials you send because my greatest fear has been removed by Jesus. Because I’m forgiven of my sin, hell and death hold no torment for me. Satan, I am so consumed with gratitude for what Christ has done for me, I refuse to let you steal my joy today.”

My pastor Jeff says, “Once you have an answer for death, anything else becomes bearable.” I think he’s right. All other trials provide an opportunity to praise God for his mercy and his grace.

This morning the sun came up again, and it was beautiful. Mockingbirds sang in the trees, and I watched a baby dove learn to fly.

God is good all the time, and today I rejoice that all is well with my soul.

Maranatha!

 

 

Journey to Publication

Journey to Publication #1

On my homepage, I mentioned that I wrote a novel ten years ago. Lately, I have felt the urging to dig it out again and try to relearn the publishing business which has changed so dramatically in ten years… not to mention since the 70’s.

Publishing is not new to me. In the 1970’s, my husband and I wrote and illustrated books and magazine articles as a way to make money when we lived on our sailboat, but publishing was so different then — portable typewriters, carbon paper, and snail mail.

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Nowadays, the market is so glutted with self-published books that standard publishers need a guaranteed return on their investment.

Nowadays, unless you’re Stephen King or Annie Dillard, a publishing house will not give you the time of day without an agent.

Nowadays, an agent will not give you the time of day without an “on-line presence,” and a “following.”

So, the website.

In February I attended my first Florida Christian Writers Conference at Lake Yale Conference center. Fabulous! Hundreds of professional and aspiring writers who love Jesus in one room! I was very encouraged by the response to my novel from a NY Times bestselling author. Also, a poem I wrote won inclusion in a soon-to-be-released book. So, that was encouraging.

However, from all sides I learned that my manuscript of St. Anne’s is about twice as long as it should be for consideration by a standard publisher. I also learned that belly-aching about how much harder it is to publish in today’s marketplace is sort of stupid really. It is what it is. So, no more belly-aching. Promise!

Nowadays, I spend a couple of hours a day mercilessly editing St. Anne’s, and I spend more than a couple of hours a day trying to learn about how to use domain names, servers, hosting services, et al. Then I study even more to learn how to use this software to prepare these web pages without accidentally pushing the wrong button and erasing everything I wrote for the past hour. AAGH ! It has happened a few times. Oops, that was belly-aching, wasn’t it. Sorry.

Please pray for me that I continue along the path God has set before me, that Satan, that old discourager, is kept at bay, and that I finally succeed in entering the 21st Century, technologically speaking.

So, the website.

Thank you for reading!

Jane

Alaska

March 27, 2018 Alaska Adventure

20180324_103429Our first drive to Alaska was in 2001…

… when we took our Astro Van and a camper up there to live in while we worked on building our house. We entered Alaska via the Al-Can Highway, which was only partially paved back then, much pot-holed, and rather desolate for long distances. We never passed a gas station … we always stopped and filled up, for we were warned that you never knew how far away the next one would be. Remember, this 17 years ago, before we had driving technology!

We arrived “home” after eleven days on the road. Our building site was marginally ready, so we parked our camper in our neighbor Ben’s driveway. He let us run an electric cord to it, and a hose from his well. In Alaska, most folks are eager to help one another, and we certainly found this to be true on Lumberjack Lane. Yes, that’s really the name of our dead-end road.

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Backstory: On our vacation trip in 1999, we fell in love with Alaska and, on a whim, bought an acre and a third near Soldotna and the Kenai River. We tied neon-yellow plastic tape around all the trees we wanted cut out, and contracted with a land clearer and a well digger to take care of doing some work while we were back in Florida.

In 2000, we did not go up . We stayed home and saved money to pay for the work going on in our absence. Our neighbor Ben oversaw the preparation of our lot. He was having the same work done on his property, so he did that for us too. Amazing man! We had the trees removed, the house site and a short driveway prepared, a well dug, and septic system installed.

In 2001 while we were there again we …

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…discovered that we needed to raise the house site about a foot, so we hauled in more gravel,

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smoothed it out, and…

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poured the 24 x 28 foot slab. Below, Tom is shoveling dirt over the exposed blue styrofoam insulation to keep the wildlife from eating it over the winter, all under the watchful eye of Mama Moose…

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and her precious baby.

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Mama moose have learned an advantage to giving birth in areas inhabited by humans. Berries and baby moose are the mainstays of a Grizzly bear’s diet until the salmon start to run in late July. A mama moose knows that bears are hesitant to venture close to people, so their babies are more protected there. A couple of years ago, a moose gave birth in a grocery store parking lot!

Moose are not at all afraid of people, though. We are very careful not to get between mama and baby. Cute though, aren’t they?

So, we put our vehicles in storage, and flew back to Florida until the next summer.

NOTE: These old photos were taken with my old 35 mm SLR film camera, prior to digital.