I Give My New Cover Five Stars

Lost and Found


The new cover art for The Story in the Stars is finished — and I don’t mind telling you, I’m delighted with it!

I hadn’t planned to reveal it before republishing the book, but I was too excited about it to keep it under my hat. Doesn’t this make you want to skate to Gannah just as fast as you can get there?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Ken Raney of Clash Creative.


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Talking About Temperature

Almost 30 below
Note the temperature on the thermometer: almost 30 below zero. This is an old photo — it hasn’t been THAT cold here recently.

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

That quote is usually attributed to Mark Twain, but maybe it shouldn’t be.  I found an interesting post about that here.

I’m as guilty of pointless weather-talk as the next person — except that in the winter, I complain when it’s not wintry. Why object when the weather acts appropriately for the season? Of course, I complain when it’s hot in the summer, which I suppose is the same thing.

But I’m not here to complain about any sort of weather in this post. I’m merely going to talk about temperature.

Bitter cold is hard on everyone and everything. Yes, I love cold weather, but I confess, once it gets below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it starts to get uncomfortable. Below zero, it gets serious. And negative 30? Been there, done that, and once is enough for me. In the winter, my favorite temperature is between 10 and 20. If it never went above 25 from December through February, I’d be delighted.

Of course it’s easy for me to say that, having a nice tight little house with good windows, solid walls, a sound roof, and a new furnace—and enough of an income to pay the utility bills. And I’m thankful the bills are low compared to what they were in the last house we lived in. I do have compassion for those who don’t have a warm place to retreat in weather like this. But that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the pleasure of a good piece of brisk weather.

Playing in the snow 12.27.12
Grandkids playing in the snow three Christmases ago.

This past weekend was cold and crisp. We had a little snow, a lot of wind, and below-zero temps. I didn’t hear many people remarking that they liked it, so I kept quiet about it. Mostly.

Sunday morning, I arrived at the church early, as usual, to print the bulletins and get some other last-minute things done in the office before the service. As I opened the door to the office, I was met with a blast of wintry air. The heat in the office wasn’t working. At all. There are two old hot-water radiators there, and both were icy, and the thermostat on the wall was bottomed out at something below 50 degrees.

I left the door open to let a little heat in from the hallway and left my coat on as I went about my business. But computers, printers, and copy machines don’t like those temperatures, and they all gave me a hard time about having to work in those conditions.

By the time I got everything done, my feet were frozen chunks of meat despite my winter boots, but the problem with the boiler was found and solved. (It was an easy fix, but I won’t bore you with an explanation.) No pipes had frozen, and all was well in the world (though still frigid outside).

After I got home, I felt cold in the house. I thought it odd, because I’d warmed up during the church service, so I didn’t think I was still chilled from the morning. But I figured it was just because it was so cold and windy out – and I’m at the age when my inner thermostat is a bit off-balance anyway.

Yes, we keep it at 68, but it gets up to 69 before the furnace shuts off.
Yes, we keep it at 68, but it gets up to 69 before the furnace shuts off.

Before going to bed, we turn down the thermostat from 68 to 65, because we like it a little cooler when we sleep. Then, whoever gets up first turns it back to 68. When I do this, I don’t usually look at it. I know I need to press the top button four times: the first time shows the current setting, and after that, it changes the setting up one degree for each press of the button. So I usually stumble first to the coffee pot to turn it on, then to the thermostat, all without turning on a light. Sometimes, without even opening my eyes.

Monday morning was just as cold as Sunday, and once again, I felt a little chilly in the house. Late in the day, I got tired of it and put on an extra layer of clothes, but I still didn’t think too much about it.

Until bedtime. Here’s my conversation with Craig, upon going to turn the thermostat down to 65:

“You turned down the heat already?”

“No, I didn’t touch it.”

“But it says it’s 64 degrees in here, and it’s set for 65.”

“What? Didn’t you turn it up this morning?”

“Yes, I distinctly remember doing it. I didn’t turn on the light, but I pushed this button four times.”

We discussed it a little further until we figured out what had happened. Two nights ago, we’d both turned the heat down. Without looking at it. I went to bed first, and turned it down to 65. Then when Craig went to bed a little later, he turned it down three more degrees.

So when I got up and turned it up three degrees, I was setting it for only 65.

Then that night, we’d turned it down three degrees as usual—so the next morning, when I pushed that little button without looking at it, I didn’t realize I was only moving it back up to 65.snowman

Perhaps we should look at what we’re doing. (What a thought!)

Anyway, now we’re wondering if we shouldn’t keep the temperature that low all the time. We survived it for two days, after all…


(Except for the shot of the thermostat, all photos were taken in years past at our house in New Philadelphia, Ohio.)

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Shifting Out of Idle

file3951337414647Green means go!

Throughout my writing career (if you can use that word to describe an activity that costs more money than it generates), I’ve watched God’s signals so that I could move forward, slow, stop, and change direction according to how He leads.

This isn’t a “follow your heart” type of a thing. Nor do I hear audible voices or anything like that. But if you’re a Christ-follower too, you understand it’s a combination of the Spirit speaking through God’s word, the alignment of situations, wise words spoken by fellow believers, and other factors, all working together in a process that’s hard to pin down.

As as a result, my writing life has been on idle for quite some time. The motor was running, and I kind of gunned it sometimes just to make sure there was still gas in the tank. But I wasn’t going anywhere.

Now, however, the light has turned green, and I’m moving forward once again. I have a couple of projects in the works, with more ready to take their places when the current heat of this lifelong race has finished.

A nonfiction project I’ve been contemplating for quite some time has progressed past the planning stage, and I’m now into the actual writing of it. It’s exciting and challenging, and, although I’m happy with the way it’s going, the finish line is still distant. It’s definitely not ready to share with anyone yet, so I’ll say no more about it for now.

While waiting for the light to turn, I occupied myself with reviewing and revising the manuscripts for the first two books in the Gateway to Gannah series and formatting them for upload to CreateSpace. This was with the view toward re-releasing them with new covers when the time was right. I also contacted Ken Raney, who designed the covers for Books 3 and 4, and asked him to start working on the first two, so those would be ready whenever the time was right.

Apparently, however, the time is right NOW! Sensing it was time to move, I contacted the publisher of the first two titles and asked to be released from my contract (which would expire next January anyway). And apparently they were also aware that the time was right, because they agreed immediately. In fact, they’re taking the books out of circulation on February 15, so when I do re-release them, there will only be no confusion.file6461244338923

This happened much more readily than I expected. But I don’t want to rush things — I’ll walk, not run. I won’t pressure Ken to knock himself out getting the covers done yesterday-if-not-sooner, and will give each of the manuscripts one more careful run-through before launching them into the world.

And then, of course, I’ll have to get serious about promoting them. Which I’m not looking forward to AT ALL. But once the pricing and distribution of the whole series is in my control, and all four titles have covers I’m happy with, I’ll have no more excuses. I’ll have to buckle down and sell some books!

And, of course, there’s that Deer in the Dining Room book still languishing on my computer. I plan to release it this summer so it will be available by next deer season, but I want to set up a website to go along with it. Urg. Not the type of thing I like to do, but if I take a deep, fortifying breath or two along the way, I should be able to manage it.

Besides all that, I have another fiction story bubbling in my brain. I’m constantly picking up ideas, rolling them around, and mentally plotting the tale. But I think I have enough writing projects for the moment, so I’ll leave this one simmering for now.

I expect it will be quite tasty by the time I serve it.


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