Books, Full of Days, The Hidden Legacy, Writing

Change Is a Tricky Thing

changeI have a bit of an announcement to make. It is both happy and bittersweet. For nearly ten years, my manuscript has been created, nurtured, pruned, and grown under the title Full of Days. It was not the original title. The original title was a terrible, overly dramatic phrase I will not admit to here. Before the first draft was finished though, my little story had become Full of Days, and so it has remained… until now.

When I got into the nitty gritty of collaborating with the editor assigned to me by my publisher, she asked that I consider changing the title. The first time she asked, right there on the title page as her very first comment when the edits were sent to me, I mentally refused. She stated that title’s strength did not match the story’s strength. I frowned and muttered and thought how absurd the request seemed to be. The next time she mentioned it, I wondered if I should at least think about it. The third time she mentioned it, I’d spent a number of weeks reviewing her subtle changes and astute suggestions throughout the manuscript and had to humbly admit that maybe (just maybe) the editor knew what she was talking about. I don’t remember if there was a fourth mention. There might have been. I only know that by the time I reached the final page of the manuscript, completing my review of her work on my story, I was deeply grateful for how she’d sharpened the writing and developed my perspective on giving the reader the best possible version of the tale and characters I’d created.

Thus began my deliberation over the title. Oh, how I wrestled with it. By the time I sent a handful of title ideas to the publisher to get their opinion, I’d brainstormed and eliminated at least twenty possibilities. Always, in my mind, Full of Days was still in the running. It was a contender but not the guaranteed winner.

The goal was to create a title that captured the interest of a reader who knew nothing of the story itself. Someone who might be perusing books in this genre, looking for something new to intrigue them enough to at least read the back cover’s synopsis. The title needed to create curiosity and hint at the heart of the story.

Making the choice felt like renaming a newborn child after first deciding on a name quite early in the pregnancy. It was akin to spending all that time of nurturing and development calling the child by one name, then, upon meeting him face to face, realizing it simply is not the right name for him. It happens, and I imagine it is quite a bittersweet change to make in that moment. Such a change would transition from difficult and uncertain to happy and confident as the new moniker became familiar. That is exactly how I’d describe this process.

So, yes, after all that rambling, I am here to tell you that as of Tuesday, my upcoming novel has a new title! I invite you all to be on the lookout in the coming months for news of the release of the debut christian historical novel titled The Hidden Legacy.

Books, Fiction, Full of Days, The Hidden Legacy, Writing

December Dreaming

Time for a book update! I am thrilled to share that my debut novel Full of Days is tentatively scheduled for release in both print and digital formats in December! Yes, December of 2017. At the time I signed the publishing contract, I speculated publication would take place in mid to late 2018. You can imagine my delight when my publisher emailed this tidbit of information! It would be accurate to say I have never looked forward to the return of winter as much as I shall do this year.

Curious about the book? It is a historical fiction novel with Christian themes and a rich, multi generation story that will appeal to fans of Lynn Austin, Kate Morton, and Michael Phillips. Below is a bit of summary without giving too much away. Plenty of updates and musings can be found here on my author page. Like and follow if you are so inclined. Every one of you is a blessing on this lengthy adventure of becoming a published fiction author!

Secrets kept for eighty years come to light when Annie Walcott makes her great-granddaughter Laurel Thomas her final confidant. Together they delve into Annie’s memories of her service as a World War I nurse in France. Annie’s experiences challenged her to become a woman of depth and strength as they radically changed the course of her entire life.

 

Annie’s revelations of love, loss, and courageous sacrifice irreversibly affect Laurel, even bringing her very identity into question. The truth casts a new light on past wounds and unexpected possibilities for the future. Can Laurel discover the transforming power of authentic love and the courage necessary to pursue it? 
Books

At The Library

After work yesterday I spent a good half hour or so among the books. Library… synonym for sanctuary, at least in my personal thesaurus. As I hadn’t been to our library here in Appleton for more than five minutes in the last several months, the visit yesterday had me thinking about the hours I’ve spent in libraries in the course my twenty-nine years. Countless, really.

In junior high and high school, my sister and I walked after school to the tiny public library in our town. Two blocks from the school (those two blocks being the length of our ‘downtown’), it was a squat, square building filled with shelves of delight. Jessica and I spent numerous afternoons there. Starting our homework, naturally, but more importantly, searching the stacks. That library is where we got hold of every single Sweet Valley High, Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, and Ramona book ever written. It’s where we discovered Gilbert Morris, Lori Wick and Janette Oke. Heck, it’s even where we discovered the nonsensical fun of People magazine. And it’s where I first opened the pages of Pride & Prejudice. I can still picture that copy in my mind: large, with a dark green hard cover and drawn illustrations interspersed among the chapters.

Occasionally we’d stop at the larger library in the relatively larger town nearby (Menominee). I never knew my way around this two story stone building that well and each visit felt like an exploration. This one had wide bow windows overlookng the marina and Lake Michigan and thus I learned how remarkably well water views and reading go together.

I never liked the library at Grand Valley State. It was unwelcoming and hard. When I transferred to Franciscan though, I loved my library once again. Softer lighting, comfortable chairs, beautiful volumes…. A friend secured me a part time position as a clerk and I spent a few quiet hours behind the counter and returning books to their proper homes. I sporadically wondered how happy I’d be as a librarian.

The Appleton public library is unremarkable but adequate. I don’t spend a lot of time there as it doesn’t provide the cozy security I associate with the libraries I’ve loved. Nevertheless, the occasional visit – for longer than five minutes to pick something up that I have on hold – remains a delight to me. I will always feel at home among the books.
Books, Holiness, Scripture

How Small a Fire

I fell asleep while reading Persuasion. All the Jane Austen novels are worth reading (though Mansfield Park perhaps only once) but it is Persuasion that I return to time and time again. It is my literary comfort food. Among other things, the story is a demonstration of the terrible power of words. Words to persuade and convince, words to manipulate, words to hide behind, and words left unspoken for far too long. Only when words are spoken in humble honesty, without guile but with hope and courage, only then are things set aright and happiness slips into the grasp of the long suffering hero and heroine.

As this and other things this week have me considering the power of our words, the passage from James Chapter 3 came aptly to mind.

“If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers.” (vv. 3-10)

It’s a dire outlook on human communication but one that is unfortunately justified again and again. With the same mouth we worship God on Sunday mornings then tear down our neighbor, a priceless human being made in the image of God. “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so…” This need not be so. That comment cuts me to the quick. Encouragement and discouragement; love and hate; hope and fear; honesty and dishonesty; and on and on. Are we even aware of the fires we set with our words? Daily we engage in communication with one another, from the spouse to the stranger, and none of our words are without effect. None of them.

If we consider the power of our words for ill, are they not equally capable of good? Were we but more conscious of ourselves, more attuned to the responses of the other person, more concerned with building up another than ourselves… oh the good that could be done. Instead of violent fires, the flames set might be lamps added to one another’s paths – paths often difficult enough to walk without us multiplying the difficulty for each other. Yes, the good that could be done.

Books, Writing

Snowy Night

Nature launched a blitz attack on my evening plans. The snow began mid-afternoon, millions of flakes rushing to the ground with the aid of a skin-chilling wind. It hasn’t stopped. I’m attempting to focus on the sparkly blanket of beauty and not on the shoveling or the messy driving. In lieu of dinner and a movie with Matt and Nethanial, I am opting for “Without a Trace” reruns, long neglected issues of “Better Homes & Gardens,” and chicken alfredo pizza.

The snow has me in the mood for slippers and writing. I’m craving progress. I’m craving the feel of my pen in my hand, the pressure of the point on the paper. I was part of a conversation today on the transition of books to a digital format. My personal preference remains old school. I’m doing my best to accept that this realm of things is changing drastically though. That the generation after me will likely be raised on digital literature is a fact I’m not going to ignore. But as I listened to the guys talk up the evolving technology I thought to myself that the delight of writing won’t ever change. The satisfaction of scratching those letters onto the lined page will remain. My work can be published in whatever format anyone wants. I won’t fight that. Whatever the end result, it’ll start with pen and paper though. No better night to return to that work than this snowy one.

Books, Writing

Standards & Practices

I’m currently reading the Catholic novel, Fatherless, by Brian Gail. Important, compelling subject matter; potentially rich cast of characters; horribly disappointing quality of writing. I am so frustrated with this novel! With so little authentically Catholic literature being written and published today, it is beyond aggravating to read a novel with such squandered potential. I’m trusting that in the end I will be glad I read it, as some friends have claimed, but getting there is getting under my skin.

Okay, I’ll admit it. Amongst the most frustrating aspects of reading this book is the reality that this is published and my book is not. I am not claiming that my novel is perfect or reaches its fullest potential or even touches on subject matter as compelling as what is found in Fatherless. Yet I can’t help but ask no one in particular how a book with such poor narration, confusing timelines, weak character development and further flaws was accepted for publication and mine has been only rejected? Jealousy is rearing its ugly head. I’d be lying if I denied that.

Silver lining though – and this is what I choose to dwell on when the jealousy or frustration are making themselves felt: I have so much fresh motivation! Motivation to continue editing, to hold myself to higher and higher standards as I learn more of the craft of writing, to dedicate myself to this work that I love. And motivation to trust that the Lord will not deem this work fruitless. By His grace and timing, and my continued perseverence and effort, it will bear the fruit it is capable of bearing. I will serve Him by this work. I will follow through on the desires and hope He has created in me.

“Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)

Books

Bookish

I am such a sap! Yesterday, I laughed my head off and cried my eyes out at the movie, “Ramona & Beezus.” The movie is based on the Ramona books by Beverly Clearly, favorites of mine as a child. Plain and simple, this was an excellent family film – funny, heartwarming, clean. Not a blockbuster or an Oscar contender, but entertaining fare worth a family’s time. But beyond the goodness of the movie was the sweetness of seeing on screen beloved characters from so many years ago. My sister and I repeatedly exclaimed under our breath as yet another character or situation was introduced that we recognized from the books. It gives me half a mind to read those books again. More than that, it drew me into memories of reading. At breakfast, in the car, curled up in bed, in between homework assignments, during commercials… I grew up with a book in front of me. Joy and excitement were found in the immersion of my imagination in the words on each page. There wasn’t a lot about my little life to ‘expand my horizons’, but books… well, books let me know there was a vast world around me, filled with a host of personalities and cultures, opportunities and adventures.

It’s why I still read. It’s why I write fiction. It’s why I question how long I should sustain my current circumstances rather than take a leap.