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.

08 November 2016

Keep Smiling

I came across this scene, and I decided to snap a photo. I'm not sure why, but I wanted to capture the moment. The scene that caught my attention was a cart of discarded pumpkins, sitting on campus, outside the science building, waiting to be discarded. I saw it and walked by it the first day. The next day it was still there, so I snapped a picture.



After I took the photo, I studied it for a while, wondering why I wanted to snap it in the first place. Thinking about it created a range of emotions that I couldn't quite put into words.

My first impression was that everything is temporary and fleeting. Halloween was only one week ago, and these pumpkins had already outlived their purpose. I thought, couldn't whoever had placed them there wait one more week? They are not rotting. Surely, they could survive one more week. But no, they had served their purpose.

Then I thought about how they were still smiling. Carved pumpkins begin to lose their faces when they begin to rot.  But these pumpkins are still smiling--totally unaware of their fate.

Then I thought of us and election day and what our future might be and how so many people don't quite get the impact it will all have for generations to come. And they seem like these smiling pumpkins--totally unaware of their fate, trusting flawed human beings to save them.

Of course, there are many of us who put our faith in a greater Power than the Democratic party or the Republican party.

So my last thought about my photo of the smiling pumpkins is: keep smiling because God is in control.

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.

17 September 2016

I Must Be A Masochist

I had the grand idea of formatting not just my second novel, but going back and re-formatting my first novel. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Two weeks later, I am finishing up the tremendous job I was not really prepared for. Never let it be said that I do anything the easy way.

After reviewing the proof copy of Vocation, I had to correct some typographical errors and some formatting problems. I resubmitted the file. Now I await for the review again, and then I will once again, read the whole darn novel again to be absolutely sure that I am happy with the manuscript. I'm not talking about plot. I'm talking about grammar. I have discovered no matter how many times a manuscript is proofed, it still need one more proofreading. Of course, at some point, I have to resign myself to the fact that I am human, and unlike Stephen King, I don't have a publishing company behind me to do all these pesky editing things. I am a one-man production show, which limits me greatly.

However, I do not want my book to be viewed as amateurish, either. I am prideful and a mistake(s) in my book will nag at me, as it did for two years with AFS. So that is why I am revisiting my first book, and it has really been painstaking. But the work has paid off. It is cleaner, more concise, and I can finally relax a little--fixing those things that nagged at me for so long. The real problem came with the formatting for the Kindle version, and if I had read the step-by-step instructions, I could have saved myself a lot of pain, frustration, and time.

First, it was the Table of Contents--real easy to do, if I knew I had to do it. But I didn't even think of that--until it didn't show up in my Kindle book. Then it was the page breaks. Again, real simple to do, if you read the directions. But . . . I didn't.

The good news is . . . after two weeks of reading, editing, formatting, proofing, reading, editing, proofing, reformatting, I am just about ready. Just about? Well, I need to proof the proof one last time.

Now that, my readers, is the painful side of writing.

Now for the fun side . . .





Here are my two Morse code bracelets. I purchased them from an Etsy seller. Each bracelet spells out the name of one of my characters in Morse code. I won't tell you what they spell. It is a secret, but it is super cool to have my characters with me all day. They are like real people to me. And when I look at my bracelets, I forget about all the pain and suffering of formatting, editing, proofing, and reformatting because it is all about my characters and getting their story told!

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!




30 August 2016

Book Three Has a Title

Finally, book three has a title. It is a title I have been avoiding since I began writing the novel back on June 18.  But I have come to learn that novels have minds of their own. They fool you into thinking you are in control, but you are not. They are in control, and we, as authors, just have to give in, stand back, and let it happen.

So, book three will be titled, Incorruptible. That has always been the title, really. I just couldn’t admit it. 

There are several reasons why I fought against this title. First, there are several books already claiming the title on Amazon. Second, it is too much like Vocation. Third, it seemed too simple, and I was looking for something more sublime. But then, I gave in because it is the best title, and like Vocation, Incorruptible carries with it more than one meaning. It is simple yet complex, and ultimately, I am happy with the title.

Incorruptible now has a word count of 68,000 words, and I still have a lot of story to go.

I also received the manuscript for Vocation back from my proofreader. I have been working on the revisions, and I should be done this week. I am also in the process of formatting Vocation. In some ways it is a simple process. In other ways, it is a difficult process. Every time you change a font or change spacing, you have to go through the whole manuscript again to be sure it all flows right. I admit, I am a bit of a perfectionist, and one line out of place will nag at me, but when the process is over, I will be very proud of myself.

Finally, I snapped this photograph on the way to work today . . .


Fall is coming! I know some people will find it sad because summer is ending. So, I leave you with a quote from my soon-to-be published, Vocation.

"All life is a series of beginnings and endings. The seasons change, but so does all of creation. And she, as part of God's creation, was about to embrace a beginning in her own life--and an ending."

19 August 2016

Formatting Vocation

One of the last steps in self-publishing a novel is to format the manuscript into a file compatible for print and ebook distribution. In the past, I have hired someone to do the formatting for me. For someone well-versed in computers, the process is pretty simple. My formatting expert can usually have my files back to me in a few days.

With Vocation, however, the timing is all off. It seems I am surrounded by teachers, and they are slaves to the academic calendar not the Gregorian. My proofreader is a teacher and needed to proof my manuscript during the summer months. That step worked out pretty well. I happened to have my manuscript finished in June. 

The problem is my formatting expert is also a teacher. We are now about to enter the most hectic time in any teacher's life, and I just don't have it in me to ask him to format my manuscript. It just wouldn't be right.

So I had to make a choice. I could either wait until things die down a bit, everyone eases into the new school year, and push my publishing date back another month or two (ugh!), or try to format the manuscript myself. After a lot of thought, I decided to try and format the manuscript myself.

Now, I consider myself to be of an average intelligence. Yet the thought of formatting puts fear in me. I'm not sure why. I publish through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, and they have clear, concise directions--step-by-step. I have downloaded the instructions, and I am ready to go (more or less). Yet I still have the notion in my head that I can't do it. Why? I have no clue.

Still, the more I think about it, the more I feel I need to do it. It will give me a sense of accomplishment, knowing I have gained a new skill. It will also bring me one more step closer to being a truly independent author. 

I'll keep you posted.  

02 August 2016

A Tale of Three Novels

Yesterday I received feedback from my proofreader. She is the first person to read Vocation in its final form. She said she loves it! I don’t know how to describe how that makes me feel.

These last few weeks, I have had the feeling that the manuscript was just awful. There are a few reasons for that. I have lost all objectivity. After two years and five revisions, I just can’t see the story for what it is any more. I remember the struggles I had while writing it, so it will take a long time until I can read it as a reader instead of the author. This book, more than any other, will have emotional baggage attached to it, but it will also carry with it a special meaning too; it gave me courage to overcome my fears.

My proofreader will be finished with Vocation in a week or two. After that, I will revise it one last time and send it off to be formatted for softcover and Kindle. I hope to publish in September.

I am now 40,000 words into book three. I am amazed by that. I have a lot more of the story to tell, and I am guessing I am about half finished. That makes for a long book! I still haven’t hit a wall, and I keep expecting it, but maybe I won’t really hit a wall. I never did with A Future Spring.

So which book is my favorite? Well, I imagine being an author is like being a parent. All my books are my favorite—just like all your children are your favorite. Each one is different with a different personality.

I love A Future Spring because it was a fulfillment of a life-long dream. I wrote it in secret, which makes it special. I wrote it not knowing if anyone else would ever read it. I don’t really believe in “art for art’s sake.” I believe art is meant to be shared. I believe it unites people in a unique way. AFS was a dream shared.   

I love Vocation because it gave me courage, and it proved that my first novel was not a fluke. I have emotional ties with the main character that I don’t share with any other character. Vocation represents a long, hard struggle. I came through to the other side even stronger. 

I love book three (I really need a title) already because I think it is the first novel to really showcase my unique writing voice. I am writing it with true freedom. I no longer care what people think. It's all about telling the story not about how it will be received. My loyalties lie with my characters now. I especially love book three because it finally proves (to me) that I am an author.

26 July 2016

Summertime Blues

I am not a summer person. I never have been. And this summer is really beginning to cramp my style. Right now it is brutal with temperatures in the 90s and humidity of 98%.  I don’t like summer. I never have.

I am not one to worship the sun, in fact, I am overly sensitive to it. I have fair skin that doesn’t really tan, and I’ve become even more sensitive with the immunosuppressant drug I take to treat my Crohn’s. It makes you even more susceptible to melanoma, and because it suppresses my immune system, something as simple as a bug bite turns into a massive inflamed mess on my skin.

Then there is the muscle aches and joint pain. The constant change in temperature from hot and humid outdoors, to cold air conditioning indoors, wreaks havoc on my body, creating pain, and this summer has been the worst so far.

But the main reason this summer is beginning to cramp my style is that I have wanted to paint my father’s desk. I have been planning it for weeks, but there is just no way to paint something in this kind of weather. If I could deal with the joint pain, muscle aches, and humidity, I might give it a try, but I wonder just how long it would take for the paint to actually dry.  Does paint dry in humid air, thick enough to cut with a knife? So it just isn’t going to work out—not until we get some cool fall weather, and I’ve now resigned myself. I’ll just have to wait, and it gives me one more reason to love the cool fall weather.

I was hoping to write my third novel on my father’s newly painted desk, but as things are going, it may have to wait until book four. The good news is while I’m waiting for summer to pass by, I have been writing. I am now 39,000 words into book three. I am well into the plot now, and there is still no signs of stopping. Hopefully, I’ll have a title soon. I know eventually a title will pop out of the pages. 

And an update on Vocation. It is still with my proofreader. There is no word on a publication date yet.

01 July 2016

What I'm Up To

So . . . what have I been up to? Writing and more writing, with a little reading in between. Vocation was passed off to my proofreader, and the plot to book three is flying onto the pages. I am surprised by this because I didn’t really know the plot was already that developed in my mind, but I am 15,000 words into it, and there are no signs of stopping right now. (Just for reference A Future Spring is 65,000 words and Vocation is 55,000). I know eventually I will hit a wall. There are always plot problems, but for now, I am just enjoying the process. It is exciting because the story is telling itself, and even I don’t know where it is going. I also have some interesting characters along for the ride—one whom I have grown extremely fond of. He is probably my favorite character in all my books. That itself is exciting.

I am also getting ready to paint my father’s desk. I hope to dive into that project next week. I bought some things to personalize the desk—make it literary. I was thinking of going two ways. I have two favorite books, and I wanted to use themes from one of them to provide writing inspiration. I had to choose only one, which was hard, but I chose, and when the desk is finished, I will have the big reveal. 


That’s about it for now.    

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.

20 June 2016

No More Deadlines! A Time to Celebrate!

It is time to celebrate. I finished the final draft of Vocation. Next week it will be in the hands of my proofreader.

I have learned a lot about writing and myself during this novel. The most valuable lesson I have learned is not to set deadlines. Goals are good. Goals help motive you and keep you on track. Deadlines are bad, even deadly.

I set a deadline for Vocation's publication—August of 2015. It didn’t happen. Then I set another deadline—December of 2015. That didn’t happen. Then another—May of 2016. It still didn’t happen.

There are a few reasons why I never met those deadlines—a new job, the illness and death of my father, and fear. Mostly fear kept me from reaching deadline after deadline.

I began Vocation in August of 2013. I started writing it while A Future Spring was being read by beta readers and critique partners. I continued writing it while AFS was proofread, formatted and published. Vocation took almost three years to write. It is shorter than AFS and took three times as long to write it.

Why?

Sure, time restraints, distractions, revisions, plot problems, all these things factored into delay after delay. But mostly, I put pressure on myself, creating unnecessary stress, because I was fearful that AFS was a fluke. I was fearful that I simply could not write a second novel.

But now that all the revisions are done, I have proven to myself that I can write a second novel. And that has given me a sense of freedom.

I think Vocation will always be special to me. Not because it is a great novel. It is a simple story, really, nothing grand. But it represents freedom. In a strange turn of events, the characters in Vocation (my own creations) gave me the courage to push through the fear, to overcome the obstacle, and prove that I can write another novel. Bridget and Philip, in a strange way, helped me overcome my fear by pleading with me to tell their story. And in the end, I couldn’t resist. I had to do it.

Friday, June 17, 2016, was the official day that Vocation was finished. Since then I have written almost 3,000 words on novel three. That is freedom! There is no fear and no pressure now. Book two is behind me. It is finished. There is no fear about book three. There are already characters and the beginnings of a plot. I can relax and let the story take me along for the ride. My new characters are in the driver’s seat, so I am now able to relax and let them drive me wherever they want to go, and there are no deadlines with this one—however long it takes is fine with me. 

So when will Vocation be published? My goal is August of 2016—no more deadlines.   

13 June 2016

The Naming of Characters

The naming of characters is a difficult matter. Okay. I stole that from T.S. Eliot’s Poem, “The Naming of Cats,” from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The original line is: “The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter.”

I agree on both points. The naming of cats is a difficult matter, but so is the naming of characters.

Why is it so difficult to name my characters? Because once they are named, they become real. Their names give them an identity, so I don’t take the naming of characters lightly.

Here is how I go about the matter of naming characters.

First, when choosing a name, especially for a major character, I always choose a name that I like. By my experience, it takes two to three years to write a novel. That is two or three years I have to live with the characters—and their names. So it just makes sense for me to like the name I have to type over and over and over. Examples of this are Ginny Dalton, Scott James, Bridget Landry, and Philip Beaumont. The names sound nice to my ears, yet they are everyday names. They are believable and don’t sound contrived.

Once I decide on a first and last name, I usually do a Google search. First, I search to be sure there isn’t a really famous person with the same name. Second, I search to see if there is someone out there with the same name. If there is, and there usually is, I know that it is a believable name.

When choosing first names, I usually just choose one that I like. There is a lot of thought behind the first names I choose. That is mainly because I have to like the sound of it, but it is also because the name has to fit the character. It is strange how a character slowly develops and takes on his or her name. A great example of this is Bridget Landry. She was a minor character in A Future Spring. Then she developed into a major character in Vocation. Through the process she grew into her graceful name. It is really an interesting process.

Here are some of my characters and where their surnames came from:

Ginny Dalton—Dalton came from British actor, Timothy Dalton. I remember the painful process of choosing Ginny’s last name. It took a long, long time for me to find her last name. I searched and searched, and nothing seemed quite right. I never settle on a name that doesn’t seem right, so Ginny was without a last name for a long time. Then I stumbled upon Dalton, and I knew I had found Ginny’s name.

Scott James—James came from novelist, Henry James. I wanted something short and to the point for Scott, since he is a no-nonsense police detective. Scott James was the quickest name I have ever chosen for a character. It was right from the very beginning. In fact, his name came before I even had a story.

Bridget Landry—I liked the name Bridget and decided I would use it somewhere. Bridget was intended to be a minor character, but she was so complex, even in her two scenes in A Future Spring, that I knew she had to tell her own story. That story became Vocation. Landry came from a list of priests in my local diocese. Putting the two names together created a graceful name, and I immediately liked it.

Philip Beaumont—Beaumont came from actor Hugh Beaumont, Ward Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver. It is a beautiful name, and who doesn’t like Hugh Beaumont? The use of Beaumont began in AFS with Philip’s brother, Mark.

So that is a glimpse into how I choose some of the names for my characters.

However, there is one character for whom I have broken all the rules. He is the hero of Vocation, and as the hero, I simply could not choose a name for him. He would not allow it. He chose his own name. He, in many ways, existed before I put him on the pages of my novel. He existed before Bridget existed. You will have to read Vocation to find out what his name is and why it (and he) are so special.

06 June 2016

Update on Vocation

Last week I received a gentle reminder that I have not written a blog in a month. It is true, and it is nice to know that someone noticed. Although I haven’t written a blog, I have been writing and re-writing and re-writing.

For weeks now I have been reading and revising Vocation, and I can finally say I am in the last stages.

After I received feedback from my critique partners, I was back to my manuscript changing things, adding things, and deleting things, and the process is not done once. It is done many times until everything “fits” together in the best way I know how.

After weeks of revisions, I am finally ready to do the final one. This last revision is my favorite part of writing a novel. The story is done. The characters are developed. The hard work is over. Now I can sit back and re-read my novel one more time, sentence by sentence, choosing the right word and the right phrasing to tell my story. This is a long process, and it cannot be rushed, so I have to resign myself to the fact that it will be a few more weeks until I send Vocation out for technical help—proofreading and formatting.

I also spent some time this last week writing the first scene of my third novel. Novel three (it has no title yet) has been brewing in my mind, and I had to sit down and get some things typed out.

When Vocation is sent for proofreading and formatting, I will be free to start devoting more time to the next novel that is now bursting to come out, and it is an exciting time. I honestly don’t know where this novel will go, and I am eager to find out. And the whole process will start all over again with a new story and a new set of characters.

And characters will be the subject of my next blog.

Until then . . . 

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 . . .