21 December 2016

All Things Shall Be At Peace

The campus is empty now. All the students have left for the holidays. After tomorrow, I take my leave, too.

I went for a walk today. I didn't care about the cold. Cold air can clear the mind, and my mind needed clearing.

I have to euthanize one of our cats tonight, and it is breaking my heart.

Of course, it is.

But even more than the usual pain of losing a pet, losing this pet is even more difficult. This pet is special.

My husband and I took her in after my mother-in-law passed away. That was five years ago. Mommy (that's the name my mother-in-law gave her) was a feral cat. She and her two kittens were all adopted by my mother-in-law twelve years ago. When my mother-in-law passed away, we took all three. Yes, it was crazy, but we made a promise to my mother-in-law to take care of her cats during her recuperation after heart surgery. Things didn't turn out, and her cats were orphaned. How could we send them to a shelter under those conditions?

So we took them in.

They were never a problem. Cats rarely are. Mommy had her own room, in a way. She would never leave the room we placed her in when she first came to live with us. She was free to, but she felt safe and never ventured out, and oftentimes her children would stay with her.

Then something interesting began to happen. A feral cat, probably nine years old when we took her in, slowly tamed, and she became domesticated. She started to leave the room and look for us. She still stayed in her room, but she would begin to jump up on the beds, go downstairs, and look for her people companions.

This year she became even closer to us. She started having health problems, and she trusted us to feed her by hand and give her medication. She would look for me to keep her company, and often she would keep me company while I was writing.

So, it is particularly painful to lose her now.

During my walk today, I came across this sign . . .





It hangs on the entrance of our Shakespeare Garden during the winter months. I think the quote is taken from A Midsummer Night's Dream. I imagine this quote was chosen for that purpose, to hang there while the garden is dormant--and at peace. I have seen the sign, but I never stopped to read it. Today I read it, and it's meaning hit me in a personal way.

Soon Mommy will be at peace. Me? Not so much. It has been an extremely difficult year, and I hope that, somehow in 2017, I will be able to find a little peace myself.

21 November 2016

Draft One of Book Three

Well, I did it. I am finished with draft one of book three. I typed the last scene of Incorruptible this weekend, and I am pretty happy with the results. I think my approach to this book is going to help me become a better writer. I haven't visited the beginning of my manuscript in months, so I will be able to see it with fresh eyes. It will almost be as if I am reading someone else's work--almost.

I know there will be a lot of revisions with this one. Right now it is 117,252 words and 283 pages. That is a long manuscript for me, and the story flowed out very quickly. Right now, it seems like every scene is vital to the plot, but I am sure I will find, when I revisit scene after scene, that some scenes are just not that important in propelling the action forward and will have to be deleted. I have fun with editing, so I'm not too worried.

I have also received some feedback on Vocation. Mostly, it has been positive. I feel bad in some ways because I haven't been able to focus too much on promoting Vocation. I have been trying to devote my spare time to Incorruptible. I never wanted to lose the rhythm with this book, and my diligence has paid off. Now, I can relax and take my time revising and rewriting, which will free up some time for me to focus on Vocation again. And I do have some plans for promoting book two.

This year has been an extremely difficult year, probably one of the worst I've experienced. Between my husband and me, we lost one aunt, two uncles, and two fathers. Five family members passed away, and that certainly makes you sit up and take notice of your own mortality.

The loss of loved ones has had a strange effect on my writing. I have come to realize just how important writing is to me now. It has become a form of escape, a way to deal with tragedy, and a safe zone. I am in complete control of the world I write about, when the world around me is quite uncontrollable.

The themes in my novels also help me in a very personal way. At the root of all my books is the Catholic faith, which sustains me. I've said it so many times in the last year, and I will continue to say it. If you don't have faith in God, what do you have? Not much. As I state in one of the themes in Vocation, God is never changing and constant, and in the midst of chaos, something constant can make all the difference.

Yes, it has been a sad year, but there was also joy. There is sadness for the people left behind, but there is joy for those who have moved to eternity.

When we buried my father back in April, I chose the readings for his blessing service. For his first reading, I chose something from Revelation. Here is part of the reading: He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away. 

I do believe all suffering will cease.

Thursday is Thanksgiving. I wish all my readers a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving. May God bestow many blessings on you and your family.

17 October 2016

My Father's Desk Has a New Life

This weekend I was finally able to paint my father's desk. I took the desk home with me in April after my father passed away, and I have been waiting patiently to refinish it and make it my own. So, on Saturday the weather cooperated, my husband cooperated, and my body cooperated, and I was able to paint it. The paint I used was from Velvet Finishes. I actually combined two colors to get the medium green I was looking for, and in case you're curious, I combined Enchanting (a kelly green) with Luxurious (black) to get the shade I wanted.

Here is the before . . .



Here is the after . . .


This "after" photo was taken while the second coat was drying.

I can't say enough good things about Velvet Finishes. Everything they claim on their website is true. It dried quickly. There was no harsh smell. And it didn't streak! I am really pleased with it and can't wait to show all of you when it is in its place in the house and in use. Right now it is in my living room until I move and shift some things around. I ordered a special drawer knob to go with the theme. Yes, my desk has a theme, and I will share that theme with you as soon as it is decorated.

I have also been working hard on Incorruptible. At the last count, the manuscript is 92,500 words. I still have a bit of the story to go, but the first draft is near completion.

30 September 2016

Vocation Has Arrived

Yesterday, I received my first shipment of Vocation, and I snapped a picture when I opened the box. This is the most exciting thing about writing novels--seeing three years of work finally in book form. My first order will be for local sales and give aways.




Again, my approach to book two will be very different than book one. I am a little more seasoned now, and I have learned what doesn't work. I'm still not sure what does work, but I definitely know what doesn't. And I have decided to try something new.

My first thought is to expand my readership. I need to focus beyond my local market, and I have been reading and researching a lot these past two years. I have some creative ideas on how to branch out. Again, I'm not sure what will work, so I plan on experimenting a little. I am in no way a marketing executive, but I realize, I need to take a more active role in getting the word out there about my writing.

I have also redesigned my blog. Have you noticed a difference? There is so much more I want to do with the design, but Blogger is a bit limited. I like the simplicity of Blogger, so I'm staying here for now.

Last, A Future Spring is reformatted, and I have corrected (I think) all those pesky errors that were included in the first publication. I have come to discover that I am not a formatter. I do not like doing it because I tend to be a perfectionist. I don't know enough about it to create a perfectly formatted manuscript, and to spend the time learning how to perfectly format a manuscript, will only take away my time and energy from my writing.

So for book three, I have decided to  hire a professional company to do the cover and formatting for me. I learned of this company through a writer friend, and they are just what I am looking for to polish my third manuscript. There are a massive amount of books out there to compete with, and there is no way I can really compete, but I can improve on what I have done, and with each book I will strive to do a little better. I'm excited about it. I've seen their work and they are very impressive. I have some really good feelings about Incorruptible. Just wait until you see the graphic I am using for the cover. I can't wait to show all of you!

Well, I guess that's it for now.


25 September 2016

Vocation is Published

After three years, Vocation is finally published.

I started writing Vocation in August of 2013. I began writing my second novel while my first novel was being critiqued. Three years later, it is finished, and there were times when I doubted this day would ever come.

Three years is a long time, and a lot has changed. I can say I am not the person I was, and I have learned a lot about writing, publishing, and my readers. I have also discovered what kind of writer I am.

However, the greatest lesson I have learned is--that I am a writer, and I always was. I just didn't realize it.

Book three (Incorruptible) is still flowing out of me. My creative flow was interrupted while I was re-formatting AFS and publishing Vocation, but now I'm back to writing again, and I am really excited about where this novel is taking me.

Now, I have to send Bridget, Philip, Mark, and the rest of my friends out into the world. I have spent three long years with them, and I am saying good-bye. It is hard because they are all a part of me.

You can find their story here on Amazon.

08 September 2016

It's Been a Three-Ring Circus

While I was waiting for the specs for Vocation to be reviewed, I decided to reformat A Future Spring. I have said from the beginning that my first two books would be companion books, so I wanted to format AFS to match Vocation. The formatting for AFS was fine, but I wanted to get a little more creative with Vocation, so that forced me to make the decision to reformat AFS to reflect a more updated look. I also wanted to update my author bio and add an "also by" page to AFS. I guess I am looking beyond my local market now and focusing on a wider audience. 

I have learned a lot about writing, formatting, publishing, and marketing since AFS was published back in February, 2014. The road with Vocation has been much easier to travel because I learned from the mistakes I made the first time around. Now, it is time to go back and fix those mistakes, using the knowledge I have gained in the last two years. This, of course, turned into a tremendous task. 

While I was updating AFS, I was also working on Incorruptible. Then the proof copy of Vocation arrived, so I am dropping everything to review that. So right now, I am in various stages of all three books.

I am fairly certain that October will see the publication of Vocation and the revised publication of AFS. Then I will be able to refocus on Incorruptible, and I imagine book three will be a breeze with everything I have learned

Here is my proof copy of Vocation with her sister, AFS. A Future Spring is no longer an only child!




22 June 2016

The 2nd Most Exciting Thing About Writing A Novel

This week I applied for the copyright to Vocation, and I am one step closer to publication. Applying for a copyright is probably the second most exciting thing about writing a novel.  I’m not sure why I find it so exciting. Maybe because it is a confirmation that the novel actually exists. Copyright makes it official, maybe like a birth certificate of sorts. I don’t really know.

And what is the most exciting thing about writing a novel? The first reader’s feedback. And I can’t wait.

Just this past month, I’ve gone through a whole range of emotions about this novel. After reading it so many times, I was at the point that I thought it was the worst thing I have ever written. Who would ever read it? But then after a healthy distance, I re-read it one last time, and I can honestly say, it’s not half bad. It’s mine. I wrote it, and I’m pretty happy about it.

09 May 2016

Regaining My Perspective

My Father passed away on March 31, 2016. As my faithful blog readers, you know this. What you may not know is that he was in the hospital for the full month of March. He entered the hospital in late February for a procedure. He was then transferred to a skilled nursing center for physical therapy. He stayed there for about a week, and then he was transferred back to the hospital. This happened twice, and the last time he went to the hospital, he stayed there for five days until he was transferred to hospice for the last week of his life.

I remember the day I received the phone call that my father was being sent to the emergency room for the first time. I was sitting at my computer getting ready to revise the first draft of my second novel. I was just about ready to open the file, when I received that call. The date was March 6. I remember because my husband’s uncle was buried the day before.  

I remember sitting at my writing table cleaning out my files. I was cleaning up my hard drive, preparing for a long day of revisions, but it never happened. I was called away to the emergency room.

I have not touched my manuscript since that day. In fact, besides this blog, I have not written a single word.  

Many times, since that phone call, the thought has crossed my mind to scrap the whole project. It seemed worthless, in view of the reality of life. The whole thing seemed silly, really. Who cares, when people face daily . . . a reality you cannot overcome . . . death. I guess I was depressed. It is part of the grieving process, as they say.

Then I heard a homily last week that made me see things in a new way. The priest who gave the homily told us we need to be Christ in the world, not just in our actions but in our voice.

My writing is my voice.

It seemed as if God was speaking to me through this priest, and I realized that there is something I need to say, and for a brief time I had lost my perspective.

So this week I will begin my revisions. That homily made me realize that I do have a message to share, and that message is hidden in the pages of my novel.  


11 April 2016

My Father's Desk

So we buried my Father this past Thursday. I am still processing everything, and I imagine, with time, I will feel the need to write about it all.  

My sister and I had to empty his apartment out very quickly, so we didn’t have a lot of time to sit and reminisce over all his possessions.

I am not one to really hold onto things of the past, so I didn’t take much from his place. I did, however, take his desk.



I’m not sure where it came from. I am thinking he probably had it when he was first married. It was probably in the attic of the house I grew up in. I know it was not used in that house, and I think he maybe took it with him when he moved into his one-room apartment. I am not really sure. I never thought to ask where he got it from. But I liked the old-fashioned look to it, and with some refinishing, I think I can make it my own, yet somehow, keep a bit of my Father’s memory alive in it too.  

I don’t really have a “writing desk.” I usually sit at a table and type on my laptop. But I now have a writing desk, and I hope to use it for a lot of writing in the future. 

17 February 2016

The Joy and Pain of Writing

Today I am writing the last sentences of the first draft of Vocation. Very soon Bridget’s story will join the world of published books. The idea of sending Bridget out on her own is both exciting and frightening.

Vocation is a special book because there was a real possibility that it would never be finished. It took 2 ½ years to write. There were weeks that went by that I didn’t add one word to the draft, and at one point I wanted to scrap the whole project. It wasn’t writer’s block. It was more than that. During the writing of Vocation I went through some personal changes, and in many ways, those changes affected my writing.

The process of writing can bring you joy and pain. Writing changes you because it forces you to look at yourself in ways that you just don’t in your normal waking life. Publishing a book also brings joy and pain. The joy comes with seeing your dream fulfilled; the pain comes with facing your limitations.

Bridget has changed me, in a sense. Her journey became my journey. I am anxious to share her story with the world. There is also some apprehension, fear of how it will be received. But overall there is a feeling of freedom. I have grown as a writer and as a person, and I am ready to meet the next challenge. 

09 February 2016

What is Success?

What does it mean to be a success at something? Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about what makes a successful author. Of course, success is in the eye of the beholder.  And when you get right down to it, you have to define your own success.

Last night I added the finishing chapters to my second novel. They are not the last chapters of the book. They are fill-in chapters that tie together parts of the story.  

I am just about to reach the finish line, and last night unexpectedly, I became emotional. I started crying after I wrote a particular scene. It wasn’t the scene itself. That wasn’t the reason for my tears. No, my tears came because soon I will send my characters and their story out into the world, and that is an emotional thing.

Do I consider myself a successful author?

I do.   

Why?

Have I sold a million copies? No. Do I have 1000 likes on my Facebook page? No. Do I get all five-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads? No. But I consider myself a successful author because my first book was a fluke. It almost wrote itself. Writing a second book means I can do it again, and to me, that is success. 
  
May, 2016 is my goal for the release of my second book, Vocation. It has become a reality. Here is the cover design . . .