Just Days Remaining – Countdown to Book Launch – The Hard Way

6 days to go! Less than a week!

I feel like a kid the week before Christmas. Seeing all of the trees, lights and gift displays. I am so close to my dream coming true. When I write next week’s post, I will be a self- published author and have made one of my childhood dreams come true.

It has been a journey. One of hard work and some tears. I respect any author who goes through the process of writing and publishing a book. I’ve had a lot of help and support along the way, from my family and friends to members of Facebook groups, which makes accomplishing this goal mean even more to me. 

What did I get done this weekend?

For my paperback version, I assigned an ISBN number to it.

I set up my CreateSpace account and started uploading my cover and my manuscript. It was really fun to see it all in the close to final format. My editor did the formatting for me, but said sometimes the upload process can change things a bit. I’m glad that she told me, otherwise I might have become frustrated when it didn’t look just right the first time. We will have some minor tweaking to do to the spacing before we publish next weekend.

What is left to do this week?

After we do some additional formatting to the manuscript, I will upload it again and get it ready for the Saturday launch. Since I have been working on getting the e-book and paperback version ready to go, I may be publishing both versions on Saturday. I was originally planning to publish the e-book now and the paperback in a couple of months. After seeing that the processes are pretty much the same for both, as long as we get the reformatting done, they both may be ready to go live at the same time.

Going to the bank today and setting up a new checking account. This is where I’ll have  the royalties from my book go to and hopefully be able to pay expenses out of someday. I didn’t write this book to make a bunch of money. I wrote it because I have a passion for writing. But, if I can make some money, it would be icing on the cake.

Writing and publishing a book is a process with many steps. I know the process for my next one will be easier having done this one. In next week’s post, I’ll be sharing links with you on how to get a hold of a copy of The Hard Way.

Status Update for The Hard Way

Happy Monday! Lately I have been pretty busy with things at my full time non writing job. It has caused me some stress about not having the kind of quality time I want to have to work on my manuscript. Everyone says that you need to make time to write which I believe is true. But with any creative endeavor, sometimes things just can’t be rushed. The delays, self imposed or life imposed, are sometimes a part of the creative process.

I’m lucky the deadline on publishing The Hard Way is on my own schedule. It allows me to tweak things on the schedule if needed. If the editing to make this book the best I can takes a little longer, I can let it. Deadlnes can be very motivating to get things done. Sometimes I think it adds an additional level of stress to a process that may be comprimised if it is rushed.

We had useasonably warm weather last week and it allowed me to start walking at lunchtime again. There is a historical site across the street from where I work. It is called the Cummins Homestead.

According to the Eden Prairie Historical Society website, John Cummins had come to west to Minnesota and bought this 300 acre farm in 1856. Not knowing much about being a farmer, by 1857, he learned that he may have taken on a pretty big project. This house was built for them in 1879-1880. John was frequently trading labor with his neighbors, but John did help with some of the building. John and Maddie never had any children to help them work the farm. I found that interesting. Usually people had big families to help run a farm.

Cummins sold the farm in 1908 to Edwin Phipps. He sold 280 acres for $50 per acre. When he bought it in 1856, he paid $13 an acre. If you want to learn more about the Cummins Homstead, be sure to check out this website Eden Prairie Historical Society. They also have many of John Cummins papers and diaries in the Minnesota Historical Society archives.

I was able to walk around on the grounds twice last week. The walk was good exercise, but it also cleared my head a little to shake off some of the stress I’ve been feeling.

While I sat on a bench at the Cummins Homestead, I was working on an e-mail to my editor with a couple of updates on getting the current round of editing implemented and a read through done. As I wrote the e-mail, it turned into journalling a feeling that I was having about why I write. Here is the last paragraph of that email.

I dream about one day just being an author. Writing books, visiting schools to talk about books and mentoring kids and their dreams. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what those dreams are. I know that some kids need that person to take their hand and get them started. That is where I want to be with my writing someday.

There are many places to go and write. Some find inspiration in coffee shops and others find it at a lake cabin in the woods. I think I found a place that helps me tap into my creative juices and helps them flow. Like tapping a tree for sap to make maple syrup.

On my walk that day, I got some ideas for what would tentatively be book number four in the series I have started. I am only close to publishing the first book. I hope I find the readers who will enjoy and benefit from the stories I have in me to tell.

So for the update…

I sent my edited copy of my manuscript beck to my editor yesterday. We will see what she has to say, but I believe we are really close to having it ready to go and my personal goal of publishing on April 15th is very doable. If so, March will be a big month with a cover reveal and starting the prepublishing hype. I’m scared but excited to almost having my dream come true. I may be spending some more time at the Cummins Homestead in the near future. Not only to get those creative juices flowing, but to start editing book number two in “The Way” series. 

Writing and Walking the Dog

Happy Monday!

I’ve noticed that whenever I take our dog Maddie for a walk, it seems to be a different experience every time, even when we are taking the same route.

Dogs can definitely be creatures of habit. Stopping by the same trees or bushes sniffing for those perfect scents. Or, they can have their attention caught by something new and start leading you down a different path than you normally go, if you let them. Even though Maddie and I have three standard routes we take for walks from our house, sometimes I’ll take a different turn to check out something new. Or, I notice the path is pretty icy and we need to take a different way.

I’ve read that dogs have some of the same life patterns as wolves. They wake up, need to hunt (walk), eat, and then sleep and the cycle starts over again. Through Maddie, I have seen this to be quite true. Add in some of the human elements, like playing with toys, riding in the car, shopping at the pet stores, and hanging out with us, and we have created the life of a domesticated dog.

When I moved out of my parents house and into a place where I could have a dog, I was excited. Not only because I wanted one since I was a little girl, but I would have another reason to get out of the house and enjoy the outside world. I was lucky to find a dog who loves to be outside. It benefits us both. She gets to explore the outside world and I get to see things I wouldn’t normally see and she has sniffed out. And the best part for me, I get share being outside with one of my best friends!

It is nice that we get a couple of these adventures on a daily basis. Our walks give me the quiet time I sometimes need to clear my mind and work through some writer’s block. Do you think Maddie knows when I am having a tough time with my writing and need to make time for a walk? Sometimes I think she does. At other times, when I am in a writing groove and things are going great, and she needs to go outside, I think it is more about her needing some attention from me.

We had temperatures of fifty and sixty this past weekend. For those of us in Minnesota this is definitely not a normal thing for February. It is making me look forward to spring when the weather is nicer for our walks. It is still a ways off, but this weekend helped to perk my winter blahs mood up just a bit.

Why do I write?

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017!

In honor of ringing in the new year, I decided to take time to reflect on why I write. Not only to understand why I do, but to give myself a starting point of understanding my process and to help me harness that energy into my writing goals and blogs for 2017.

Continue reading Why do I write?

The Secret Pond – Chapter 4 – Abigail

I love the moments when you find writing inspiration in random places. When I logged onto my WordPress account yesterday, there was a post on my reader called A Rare Moment in the Woods from a blog called Sunny District. The next thing I saw was a beautiful photo of a deer in the woods. Here’s the link to it A Rare Moment in the Woods I was struggling a little bit with what to add to this week’s segment and the photo from Sunny Disrict gave me just the inspiration that I needed. Thanks Bipasha, a lover of all things pretty.

Chapter 4 – Abigail

Abigail watched as Sally left the library and headed up to her room. They decided to meet in the garden at 2:00 PM to give them each a chance to eat lunch and change clothes. She gathered up her things, including the copy of Great Expectations, and headed towards the carriage house. She was excited to finally see the place that Sally always talked about. Even though Mrs. Baxter had a large household staff, she seemed to keep Abigail busy with many other tasks when she wasn’t tutoring Sally. So she never got a chance to just walk around and explore the grounds.

Another thing she was wondering about was how Sally and Lila would interact with her around. Abigail knew when she had her own imaginary friend, Alice, she didn’t share her with anyone. She wrote about her and their adventures in the leather bound diary that she kept hidden under her mattress. She would only talk to her when she was alone in her room. Sally was a lot more open with Lila. Abigail felt honored to have Sally share their experiences with her.

Abigail grabbed a light jacket from her closet, not sure if she would need it or not, left the carriage house, and walked out to the garden. She saw Sally dressed in her yellow rain coat carrying the light green backpack walking towards her. They met each other at the elephant shaped topiary in the middle.

“Ready?” Sally asked.

“Let’s go,” Abigail replied.

They walked together to the back wall of the garden.

“It’s good that you brought a jacket,” Sally said, “it can get pretty chilly in the woods.”

“Is Lila with us?” Abigail asked.

“No silly, she is already in the woods. She didn’t want to wait inside for me to finish with school.”

“Will she meet us there?”

“Maybe, but she might be exploring. She does that a lot.”

“Without you?”

“Yeah, I can be too busy in my own world for her sometimes.”

As they walked behind the back wall of the garden, they arrived at the beginning of the forest. Ahead of them was a opening in the trees about three feet wide. A worn dirt path is what met them there. It wasn’t a fancy one put there by the Baxters.

“I’ve always seen the woods from the house but never knew there was a path back here.”

“I found it while I was playing back here one day. The day that I met Lila. She showed me all of the cool places.”

“How did the path get here?” Abigail asked.

“I don’t know for sure. One of the maids said that my grandfather spent a lot of time in these woods. Maybe he made the path. I don’t dare ask my mother and father about it. They will probably make me stop coming back here if I do.”

They started down the path and were swallowed up by the trees. Abigail could feel an immediate chill from the shade created by the trees and was glad that she brought her jacket. After walking in the woods for a few minutes, they came upon a clearing on the left side of the path. Sally and Abigail suddenly stopped when they saw a doe, just standing there looking at them. Next to her were two little fawns.  

“The mama always watches us when we are here,” Sally whispered.

“She is making sure that we aren’t going to hurt her or her babies,” Abigail added.

“My family owns all of this property. I think Lila and I are the only ones who come back here now. The animals should feel safe here because we won’t hurt them.”

“Is this what it is like back here all of the time?”

“Like what?”

“Quiet and peaceful.”

“For us humans yes. For the animals and insects, it is busy. We don’t always hear all of the things that they do day to day.”

They continued down the path. The property seemed to go on for miles. Abigail couldn’t believe that all of this was back behind the tree line that she saw from the carriage house window every day. The sounds of their footsteps on the path broke the silence of the woods. After a few minutes, Sally stopped and pointed to a spot ahead of them.

“We need to watch where we are walking now. Gloria just had her babies over there and they may be out of their nest.”

Abigail followed Sally as she walked carefully down the path. They came up to an area with a bunch of trees surrounding a pond. Sally turned to look at Abigail with a smile.

“Welcome to the Secret Pond,” Sally said proudly.

A Girl With a Dream to publish a book

Welcome to June!

Many years ago, I was a young girl with a dream. Now I’m a middle aged woman on the brink of having it realized. My first completed manuscript is coming back from my editor with the first round of edits this week. I can see myself taking another step closer to my dream, to publish a novel. And it is pretty exciting.

This girl has always been an avid reader. The Little House on the Prairie series and Nancy Drew mysteries were books always found on my book shelf. But there has always been a creative writer inside of me. I started writing in diaries with thoughts about a day in the life of a young girl growing up. Secrets about who I liked and what I thought about things that went on in school, only shared with the lined pages of that little book with the lock on the edge.  I still have those diaries in my hope chest. I can see them in my mind. One green, one red and one blue.

From writing in my diary, the creative writing evolved itself into silly stories that were caught in my imagination and needed to come out. Being at the time before computers became common for all to have, I wrote them down in three ringed notebooks or on pieces of notebook filler paper. I have a few of those saved in my writing archives.

In elementary school, we had units on creative writing during English and penmanship class. I have a packet of poems and thoughts about Christmas a teacher put together from one of my classes in my archives too. In another grade we learned how to write in a journal. Our teacher had us start with basic facts about ourselves. Who is your dad? What color is your house? What is the name of your pet? This question was a hard one for me to answer because at that time my family didn’t have a pet, so I would have to write that fact in my journal. Kind of made me feel sad, or I guess feel different from the other kids. Then our teacher would have us write about a place you visited with your family on vacation to give us all an idea that we could write about. Little did I know then these activities would become a part of the foundation for the writing that I do now.

Then came all of the research papers written in junior high and high school. I really enjoyed researching different people and learning about who they were and their role in history. I also love researching historical events and finding out why they happened. I remember getting into mythology, the gods and their functions in the myths. I even put together a family tree to follow who was related to who. Not as an assignment for school, but because I was keenly interested. Abraham Lincoln and Charles Lindbergh were and still are fascinating people to me, so I wrote school papers about them. I believe some of the Charles Lindbergh research I did brought to light an interest in aviation and ultimately obtaining a pilot’s license. It also intrigued me enough to go visit his family’s home in Little Falls, Minnesota.

When I look back on it, my novel writing really started with a short story that I wrote in 1994 about a weekend I spent at a Bed and Breakfast over Memorial Day weekend. It was a last minute decision to take the trip, which isn’t like me to do. My experiences from that weekend worked their way into a WIP I started called Mentoring a Dream. That story brought many things I was dealing with personally and professionally together into a story. It was about what I was doing with my life, things that I wanted to do and dreams of mine at that time, written through a character based on me. It was like I was figuring out who I was and where I wanted to be through writing. I’ll talk more about my Mentoring a Dream WIP later on this month.

All of these writing experiences have brought me to where I am today, working hard to make my dream of publishing a novel come true. It feels so good that achieving the goal is getting closer to actually happening.

Writing and publishing a novel is not an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. There is a lot of work involved. With all of the self publishing and promotion things added into the author’s work load these days, it isn’t just a writing journey anymore. Many publishers want to see an author platform and fan base before they will pick up a book to publish. So, building a social media presence has become a part of the writing journey an author must do to publish successfully, whether it is being published by someone else or self published. Add that to all of the hard work already done to write it and self edit it to get it ready to send it out to alpha and beta readers, it is a pretty heavy work load. Once it comes back from those readers, it gets polished up and sent out for a professional edit to tear it up and make it even better. This is where I’m currently at in my writing journey. When I get the suggestions back this week, I’ll clean it up and send it back for one more read through by my editor.

Now, I get to take a break, right? No. When a writer gets to a place where the story is finally working and readable, there is a cover design that has to be thought about and created. Until I started on the road to publish, I don’t think I was fully aware of all of the pieces that have to come together for the finished product, the actual book. I currently have a rough idea put together of what I want the cover to look like, but I may need a professional to come in and put that piece together for me.

It will be very satisfying to accomplish this goal. Working through each step of the process has given me a greater appreciation for all of the hard work it takes for an author to get a book published.

 

Black History Month 2016 – Bessie Coleman

What a journey it has been! When I came up with the idea to write about Black Americans for Black History Month, I thought that I would focus on those women who made a statement in history. I decided to let inspiration take me where it would and I wound up writing about all men so far. From the creator of Black History Month, to the first black fighter pilot, to a man that fought for the rights of blacks, women and the Irish, and finally to the first Black American to play baseball in the major leagues.

For the final week of Black History Month of 2016, I’m going to blog about Bessie Coleman. What was the inspiration this time? I thought back to what my original plan for the Black History Month 2016 blog was and started researching. My interest in aviation drew me to looking at women pilots. When I started reading about Bessie Coleman, I found out there are many similarities between her and Eugene Bullard’s experiences in life and in Aviation. Then I was even more intrigued. Bullard was the first black fighter pilot that I blogged about earlier this month. Coleman and Bullard both broke through the color line, Bullard as a fighter pilot and Coleman as a woman barnstorming pilot. They both were forced to go to France to escape from the discrimination here in the US to do what they wanted to do, Bullard to make a life for himself in a place where he would be respected. Coleman went there to learn how to fly which gave her the tools to pursue her three life goals.

According to AvStop.com, Bessie Coleman was born on January 26, 1892, the 12th of 13 children. Her father, being part Indian, moved back to the Indian territory when Bessie was only seven, leaving her Mom to raise four daughters and a son. To support the family, her Mom picked cotton and took in laundry. The children all helped out and their mom encouraged them to learn as much as they could. Bessie would pick out books from the traveling library to read to her family in the evenings. This is where her quest for knowledge had begun.

Bessie finished high school and attended one semester of college before she had to drop out due to lack of finances. She moved back home for a short stint then headed to Chicago. She had a hard time finding a flight school in the United States that would teach a black person how to fly, much less a woman. So, she did some odd jobs to earn money for a trip to France, where they would teach her.

Part of her drive to fly was due to something her brother had told her. He said that there were many French women already flying planes, and because of her gender and race, she would never be allowed to fly. She eventually earned the money and took French lessons before heading over to France to learn how to fly in a Nieuport Biplane. While in France, Bullard enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. Upon his recovery from being seriously wounded in battle, he volunteered for the French Air Service and received pilot’s license #6950 on May 5, 1917. Bessie proved her brother wrong when she returned to the United States in 1921 as the first black woman pilot to earn a license.

After attaining goal number one, she would now be chasing goal number two, to become a recognized stunt and exhibition flier. Barnstorming was popular in the Roaring ’20s and was the main avenue for women pilots to pursue. It was a form of entertainment where stunt pilots performed aerial tricks. Some of these pilots went from airshow to airshow performing tricks and giving airplane rides to make a living. Again, since no one in the US would teach her the advance skills needed to be a stunt pilot, she went back to France in February of 1922 to complete the advanced flying course. Shortly after she got the training needed, she came back to the US and during Labor Day weekend in 1922 she made her first appearance in an airshow.

Her third goal was to establish a flying school where young black Americans could receive training. She started raising the funds by doing lectures and flying in airshows. In a letter to her sister, Bessie said that she was on the threshold of making this goal a reality too. But, on April 30, 1926 the day before an airshow she was going to fly in, Bessie and her mechanic, William Willis, went to do a test flight. William had some concerns while he flew the plane from Texas to Florida for the show and wanted to check things out. While doing an aerial maneuver, a wrench got caught in the flight controls, which caused it to roll and toss Bessie out of the airplane. Her mechanic was also killed when the plane subsequently crashed into the ground. Due to her death, she would not realize her final goal.

She achieved some things that most people at the time wouldn’t have been able to. Add into the equation that she was a black woman, made what she did even more remarkable. Through her accomplishments, she also became a positive role model for young girls. Her perserverance in battling discrimination helped to pave the way for other woman pilots to achieve their dream to fly, whether they were black or not.

Blogging in honor of Black History Month this year has opened my eyes to the different battles that many blacks had to fight to get where they wanted to be in life. Many people have fought against discrimination to achieve their goals when they are living in a country where they are a minority. Our country’s history seems to have made that achieving more for yourself harder on some, just because they are different.

With all of the different people in this country, we have the ability and resources to do some amazing things. We just need to support and respect each other, regardless of the color of our skin or the language that we speak.