The plug is pulled on my novella. The publisher is folding, and I had the choice to go with her friend, but I didn't like the terms. Yippee. Another manuscript to sit on my virtual bookshelf. With the sequel to Bonded By Blood going nowhere, at this point trying to write has been more frustration than fruitful. I think I'm done, and part of me is dying through that admission. I have no direction. I wait for God to speak, but I hear nothing, just silence.
Until I receive something to write about, I'm dead in the water with no land in sight. I'll keep the blog and post when I come up with something. I won't force it, because that seems to only make it harder to write, and what I create is garbage. Maybe everything I've written is terrible. At least anything I've produced in the past year.
Im such a crappy writer, I can't even figure out how to end this blog, so I'll just leave it at this.
After letting Magnolia Inn sit for a while, and seeing how the new story developed, I decided to scratch the manuscript and use the new one for my submission to the Floral Inn series. I have until September 15 to get a complete manuscript to my editor, and I'm stalling again. I have the ideas and a synopsis I can follow, but I'm again I'm my own worst critic. When I was having fun and letting the story flow, all was good. Then I tweaked a little here, a little there, and now I'm not so sure it's a good story anymore. My lack of confidence is killing me. If I had some success, maybe I wouldn't feel like this. But until I can get over my petty fears, I won't be successful. And part of me wonders why I bother. I've been shot down time and again. Maybe it's time to face the fact that I don't have what it takes to be an author. Maybe I should have stuck with fan fiction. I don't know. I'm frustrated because I want to write, but my writing isn't good enough for anyone to want to read. I'm at the crossroads I struggled with at Christmas time.
While I'm allowing the Magnolia Inn to percolate before I edit, I started a new novella a couple weeks ago, and I'm close to 19,000 words. The tentative title is Love Found In Ruins. I'm so happy with the first chapter, I had to let the cat out of the bag and show it to you. If you think it could be better, let me know.
“Guys, I wish this was live, ‘cause I could use some help right now.” Margo Yates shifted her arm, and the expensive digital camera clamped in her left hand wavered in the tightening space. A sheared off board poked her side. “Ow. This is getting hairy."
With her right hand, she pushed the offensive debris to an open pocket. Air filled her lungs. Yes, she could breathe better, if it weren’t for the years of dust and guano littering the once-majestic homestead. Good thing she wore a respirator. The seal around her mouth and nose slipped from perspiration trapped between her skin and the rubber. She coughed.
“Oh, God. I promise if you get me out of this, I won’t explore without a partner ever again.”
Ooo, I hope you bring along that hunky guy Justin.
She shook her head and dismissed imagining her viewers’ attempts to wrangle her into a romantic pairing. The school had rules against colleagues fraternizing in such a manner.
“I’m afraid I’m stuck. And I don’t have cell service here. This is one adventure that, if I can extract myself from it, will not see its day of glory on YouTube."
She stiffened. Had she heard the voice, or was it wishful thinking? Was someone outside? The leaves whispered, cicadas buzzed, and birds twittered. Nothing but nature. A twig snapped. Wild animals were always a concern.
“Is someone in there?""
Her heart raced at the sound of his clear, authoritative sounding voice. The potential toxicity of the dirty clumps on the floor didn’t matter. She tore the respirator from her face. The tall grass swished outside. Where was he going?
“Part of the upstairs fell on me. I could use some help.” Silence. Did he hear?
“Don’t move. I’m coming in.” His footsteps thumped on the sketchy wood stairs to the porch, and the boards creaked as he crossed to the front door. “How on earth did you get in here, ma’am?"
His smooth accent and addressing her as ma’am brought a smile to her face. “It didn’t look like this when I came in. I tried going upstairs, the floor groaned, and then boom. The whole place seemed to fall in on me."
“I see.” He grunted. Something banged. “Are you alone?"
“Yes, sir.” Her lips spread wider. She might as well answer him in kind.
He exhaled. “I knew this would happen some day."
“Funny. So did I. I’m fortunate you happened by."
“This property is on my patrol route. When I spotted a car in the lane, and Percy Johnson said he’d been in his field the past two hours and hadn’t seen the vehicle leave, I figured I better investigate."
“Two hours?” She swallowed the croaking in her throat. “I didn’t think I’d been trapped that long. If I’d known there was a farmer in the field across the road, I would have screamed for help."
“No worries, Miss. I see your shoe.” His hand curled around her ankle.
“Well, don’t pull. I need to be dug out, piece by piece."
Her skin prickled where he released her. The floor creaked again. If she never heard that sound again for a while, she’d be pleased. “I would like to get out of here before nightfall, if you don’t mind."
The tiny red light on her camera had extinguished. She turned the device strapped to her hand. The viewfinder’s small black rectangle glared at her. Great. Dead battery, no doubt. Or something damaged the camera when the world collapsed on her, and she’d been talking to herself for the past hour or so. Thank God for small blessings. If Justin were to see this recording, he would scold her for not taking him along. But she had to do this without him, and no one else she knew was up for the excursion.
“Yeah, I have a woman trapped in the old Sheldon plantation home. Need assistance pulling her out."
“Copy, Deputy. Coleson Fire Department’s estimated time of arrival is twenty minutes.” The disembodied voice crackled a response.
“Thank you. I’ll see what I can do before then. Sounds like she’s been in there a while. Trent out."
Trent. Was that his first name or his last? She wriggled in the debris cocoon. She wanted to see her rescuer and thank him for his efforts. He had to extract her first.
“What’s your name?” A beam scraped against crumbling brick.
The back of her calf tingled as she sensed freedom. She wiggled her leg. “Margo Yates."
“Miss Margo, I’m Deputy Jack Trent, if y’all haven’t figured that out already.” He grasped her leg. “Don’t move too much. The load is shifting."
“Sorry. It’s good to know I can move something."
He clucked. “I can’t believe you got yourself into this mess. Why wouldn’t you bring someone with you?"
“Because then there’d be two of us stuck.” She snorted, the reality of what might have been forming a clear picture in her mind.
“Deputy Trent, could you please do a little less yapping and more digging? I’m having a hard time breathing in here."
“I’ll see what I can do, Miss Margo."
“Ms. Margo if you insist on calling me that."
“Yes, ma’am. Miz Margo."
Did he snicker? What ever happened to professionalism in law enforcement? Was this how these southern podunk sheriff’s deputies behaved? Laughing at victims in distress? The nerve of him. Locked in her accidental prison, her clothing grew damp, her skin clammy. The air thinned and turned stale. When would the firemen get here? Would they be any more qualified to rescue her?
This was the result of exploring in locations off the road to civilization, but a risk she’d always been willing to take. From the inside the collapse, it didn't seem to be a good idea. But if and when she saw the cloudless sky again, would she quit? No way. After a brief regroup, she would be off to the next small town to document the decay and ruin of what once was the opulent South.
Voices blended with Deputy Trent’s, and boards and two-by-fours slipped off her like a rapid game of pick up sticks. The end of a board bonked her in the shoulder. She bit her lip. That would leave a bruise.
“Miz Margo, are you still with us?” Deputy Trent’s call punctured the clattering and clunking of her rescue.
“Yes. I can breathe better."
“You’re almost free. I can see your back. Come on fellas, just a few more pieces and we’ve got her."
The load floated from her shoulder blades and spine until she could brace herself and rise from her prone position. She’d stiffened in her confinement. Hands grabbed and pulled her to stand. She turned and stared into the shining hazel eyes of Deputy Trent.
His smile competed with the sunlight in brightness. “I bet it feels good to be free again."
Her knees failed her. Was it from the shock of being buried, or gazing upon the face of her rescuer? His light brown hair, cut short at the sides, cascaded over his forehead like a wave on the ocean and obscured fine wrinkles stretched across his skin. His cheekbones and angular jaw enticed her to cover them with her hand. How silly of her. Sniffing guano and raccoon scat for an hour or more must have addled her brain.
His arms wrapped around her waist. The lines deepened. “We should have somebody check you out. Maybe you have a concussion or something."
“We’ll see.” With his arm around her waist, he led her to the rescue ambulance parked in the weed-choked circular drive. He stepped aside and cradled her video camera and purse as the paramedic examined her. The camera he turned in his hands, inspecting every side.
She pointed to the blank screen. “I think it might be broken. It stopped recording sometime during my confinement."
“I see.” He pushed the power button with no effect. “It sure would be interesting to see what you filmed before this happened."
“You’ve never been inside the mansion before today?”
He met her gaze. “Once, in the dark. We were looking for a lost boy. This place has been a hazard magnet for a long time. Every deputy who patrols this area expects a call to come rescue someone trapped inside.” His hands cradled the camera. “Never thought we’d have to pick an adult from that mess."
She bowed her head, unable to meet his amusement with a credible defense. “Am I free to go now?"
“You’re fine, ma’am.” The paramedic, an older man with a slight paunch beneath his white pressed shirt, patted her shoulder. “A few bruises and scrapes, but nothing serious."
“Thank you.” She pushed off the ambulance bumper and approached Deputy Trent with hands extended. “Thank you for your assistance. I’d like to go back to my motel room, and freshen up."
“After you review your footage, you’re not planning to return for another shoot, are you?”
She scanned the long front porch. The ceiling sagged in places. Windows lay smashed on the uneven boards, popped out of their settings a long time ago. “This place looks rougher than when I went in. It’s pretty much gone, in my opinion."
“Are you an engineer, Miz Margo?"
“I’m a history teacher, Deputy Trent. I find old abandoned buildings and record them as a hobby. They’re posted to YouTube, if you’re interested in seeing the other sites I’ve filmed. Just type in Margoes Exploring.” She smiled at her cleverness with her channel’s name.
He glanced at the decrepit building before turning back to her. “I should cite you for trespassing."
“I didn't see any signs posted."
“There used to be, but this place has been empty for close to fifty years, I think. Longer than I’ve been alive, that’s for sure.” He scratched his ear. “I think you’ve learned your lesson today. Stay away from this place."
“Thanks for the advice. May I have my things?"
He fumbled with her purse and the camera, and both wound up safe in her hands. “Where are you staying? The Hickory Inn? I hear it’s a nice place.”
She nodded. “Old and quaint. Just the way I like it.” She slung her purse over her shoulder. More like a canvas gear bag, she patted the pocket where she stored her camera. Hope it survived.
“Thanks again for your help, Deputy. I appreciate the effort.
“Sure thing, Margo. You take care now."
Like warm honey his words trickled from her ears to her toes. Along with the smile and the remnants of concern written on his face, she might have been enchanted. But he was doing his job, nothing more. In a few hours his report would be tucked into a file cabinet, forgotten, and she would be a blip on his timeline as he went home to his wife and kids.
He wasn’t wearing a ring.
Stop thinking about him. Forge ahead to the next place on your list. There are only six weeks left before school resumes, and time flies. She tossed her bag onto the passenger seat. When she turned the key the starter grumbled, but the engine wouldn’t turn over. She tried again.
Would this day get any better?
This isn't the entire chapter, but enough to give you an idea of what might come. I'm not sure where I'll be publishing this or when. I'll let you know.
Still struggling to write and figure out why I've suffered serious writer's block for over six months. My husband thinks it was the last couple agent rejections in late fall that did me in, but I think I stayed on the critique list too long. I learned a lot, but I became so conscious of my mistakes, I couldn't see past them to create the story. I'm working on turning things around, but it hasn't been easy.
My current work in progress is a 20-30,000 word novella for Lovely Christian Romance Publishing. I wrote a synopsis they liked, and I'm under contract to produce the novella by January 1, 2017. It will be published in March. I've dragged my over-critical self to 23,000 words, ripping out whole sections and rewriting them along the way as I think and rethink my characters' motivations.
My goal is to finish the first draft by July 1. Pray for me!
My favorite character was a Navy SEAL fighting to prove his daughter was his own flesh and blood when a well-meaning aunt sought to give her a "proper" home.
I'm glad I made the changes I did, and that someone enjoyed my story. I haven't had time to read the others yet, but I planto before the season is over. I hope you will also have a chance to pick up your copy of "A Bit of Christmas" and enjoy the positive messages each author provides.
My short story will be part of a boxed set released in early December, and the publisher is looking for early reviewers! Are you interested in making a commitment as follows:
1) Read the entire boxed set of 6 short stories (so, about 120 pages total)
2) Write an honest review on Amazon on December 1, or as soon as possible after that.
If you can help me out, please email the publisher at email@example.com. Let her know that you want to be an early reviewer for the Christmas short
stories. She will reply to confirm your interest and find out whether you want
a PDF, a mobi for kindle, or an epub file.
I'm increasingly frustrated with the ACFW critique list. Over the past couple of months, a lot of new people have joined. Which is great, since people come and go, and it's nice to get some new blood and stories to critique. However, I can't figure out what is wrong with people. Before they join, they're supposed to be instructed in the rules of how the list operates. There are specific ways to title submissions and critiques. And yet, they continue to mis-label them. What's the big deal, you may ask. All the e-mails to go the archive, so if you're trying to find a submission to critique, if it's mislabeled, you'll waste time trying to find what you're seeking.
For example: all submissions should be like this: [Critiques] SUB: Story Title Ch. 1, Genre, Word Count
A critique should be labeled like this: [Critiques] CRIT: Story Title Ch. 1, Genre, Word Count
One little word change. Simple. I will be the first to admit from time to time I forget, but some people do this on a consistent basis. The wrong identifier makes it difficult to go into the archives to search for an older post. You have to weed through all the critiques labeled SUB in order to find the real submission. I have better things to do with my time.
I have learned so much from the critique list, and I hope I am able to teach others, especially the newbies. But if this disorganization and blatant disregard for rules continues, I may have to drop off the list. This is a Christian list. We should follow the rules, not because it's the right thing to do, but it's respectful of our brothers and sisters' time. I doubt any of the listers will see this, but if they do, I hope it strikes a chord and makes people more aware of what they're doing.
It's the feeling a writer gets after the manuscript is finished, and the baby is sent off to an agent. The energy spent creating and shaping the story bounces around inside with nowhere to go. I usually spend a few days doing nothing, goofing off on social media, watching videos on Youtube, etc. until I regain my equilibrium and focus on a new story. I hate the sense of being lost, so I try to push through and move on. If I don't, the helplessness will only worsen.
No wonder writers are a neurotic bunch. We dig deep into our memories, our reactions and emotions, and create characters who are fractured shadows of our lives. The past serves as fodder for the stories. Add a vivid imagination, and beat that sucker into shape until it's ready to submit to the agents.
Both submissions of Operation Pandora have been sent, and now I wait. It's all in God's hands. What's the worst thing that could happen? They both say no, and hopefully give me something to ponder as to why.
Maybe it's because I see areas where I could have done better. Being a writer is crazy. You put a piece of yourself into your work, investing countless hours to get it right. After the last punctuation mark is made, you know it's still not good enough. Like a scab you can't stop picking, you go in and fix something. Then another part. And another. It will never end, and that's why you hear of people who spent ten years or more on a novel. They couldn't back away and let it breathe and be itself.
Every time I think of the two books I self-published, I want to kick myself. I've improved my writing in so many ways since I wrote them. In the process of creating, sometimes I lose sight of the fact that it's out there forever, even after I've developed into a better writer. The temptation to rewrite my first efforts collides with the reality that I don't have time, and editing at this point seems dishonest. These stories are part of my evolution. I'm not perfect, and never will be. I've been given a gift, and it's a better use of my time to move on to the next adventure rather than dwell in the past.
So, now that I've submitted my manuscript, what's next? I'm going back to the untitled manuscript I'd planned to self-publish if it didn't get a response from an agent. I read the first couple chapters. It needs work. Other ideas sit in a folder, waiting for the day I can bring them to life. A writer's work is never done, which is a good thing. Trapped in limbo is no fun.
Trying this again. The Weebly app is cutting off my posts.
You never know how an opportunity will grab hold of you. A couple months ago, I was looking for a new keyboard case for my iPad. I thought I found one on Amazon. It was aluminum and made for a company called IEGrow. It didn't suit my needs after all, and I returned it. But through an e-mail dialogue, I suggested I would be happy to review any of their other products if they sent something to me. I mentioned I was going on a trip, and a portable charging source would be a good thing to have.
So, they sent me the iEGrow P501 External Pack Dual USB Portable Charger with a bright orange USB cord iEGrow Premium Apple USB Cable with Ultra Compact Connector. I used both on my trip to Dallas when I was at 10% on the iPad and had no easy access to a plug.
The P501 fits in the palm of your hand, and it's weighty, but if you're already carrying an iPad, notebook, and other gear, you'll never notice it. I was able to plug in and continue working while the iPad charged quickly. One thing this charger doesn't do is replenish itself fast. The instructions, translated from some other language, tell you to use a 5volt plug. I'm assuming they mean a 5 watt. Twelve hours later, the unit was charged. This isn't a big deal if you don't need it very often, but if you want to take it an go the next morning, it might not be at full capacity.
The USB cable was like any other cable, except for two things. When I coiled the cable, it stayed in a neat coil. Regular USB cables are impossible to wind up, stow, and find in the same condition later. They tangle. This one won't do that. Also, the bright orange color made it easy to find when I needed it, and when I packed I didn't forget it. This is a great cable for people who are often leaving their chargers in hotel rooms. I think my boss, a Tennessee fan, needs one of these.
You could run to Best Buy and get one of those cheaper chargers, but if you want something more rugged, you need the iEGrow P501. I'll be looking for more products from this company. When I returned the keyboard, they asked me why. I felt compelled to give them ideas on how they could improve it and make it a product I would buy in the future. They seemed very receptive to my suggestions. A company that listens to its customers is a company I want to do business with.
I finished my first draft of the manuscript I pitched at the ACFW conference in September. It's almost ready to send to the agent who wanted a manuscript more than 80,000 words. Another agent wants to see a book proposal and 5-10 chapters. The manuscript is around 90,000 words and the book proposal is almost done. I'm aiming to have both submissions out by Monday or Tuesday. I'm a bit nervous. No one has ever asked for my entire manuscript before. I'm hoping this is a good sign.
God has blessed my husband and me so much since I returned from Dallas. He gave us the means to buy a new car at an incredible discount, in cash. He's given Bob a new mission - a music ministry that might require him to travel. This is why we had to have a second car. It's scary and exciting at the same time. Bob has been sitting at home day after day with nothing to do but read the news on the internet and watch the world spiraling deeper into a pit. Evil blooming like a black rose, and he's powerless to do anything. But God has a plan. He's inspired Bob to write new songs, and as soon as they're written, he'll present more details for his mission. It's sketchy now, but we have faith the road will become clearer as he reaches the next step.