Summer Update

Yesterday afternoon, I fell, gasping, across the finish line of the writing project I began in September of 2015.

My new baby weighs in at a little over 242,000 words, but don’t worry; it’s triplets. I won’t call it a series, because it’s not a series of related stories. It’s one story that takes three volumes to tell, kind of like the Lord of the Rings.

(NOTE: the format is the only comparison between my project and Tolkien’s famous work. Mine does not approach LOTR’s scope or depth or creativity, and no languages or alphabets were created in the making of it. So don’t go telling people I told you it’s like Lord of the Rings. It’s not!)

I intended to publish the first book this spring. But circumstances have led me to believe I shouldn’t be in such a hurry, so I decided hold off for a while. But having the whole thing drafted at last makes me very happy.

Something else I’ve been talking about for a long time but have only recently made firm plans to accomplish: travel to Tasmania! I’ll be gone most of the month of October, which means I’ll have to miss one of my four favorite seasons here in this part of the world. But that’s okay, I’ve seen autumn before. (Quite a few times, in fact!) But I’ve never seen Tasmania before. And since I have an invitation, as well as the time, health, and means to go, it would be foolish of me to not take advantage of this opportunity.

This is a view of Tasmania from space. I won’t see it from this perspective, but it makes for a great photo

It won’t be the first time I’ve been out of the US, but the other times don’t really count. Back in 1975, a friend and I visited her aunt and uncle in San Diego, and while we were in the neighborhood, we popped in to Tijuana, Mexico one evening. I’ve also been to Canada several times, but only in the days before we needed a passport to go there.

This trip will take a lot more preparation than simply packing a suitcase and making sure there’s gas in the car. I’m doing the research and trying to be practical (like, calmly making a to-do list and checking off items as I complete them) and not think too much about how exciting the trip will be! Because if I think about it too much, I’ll be good for nothing.

I’m pretty much good for nothing anyway: it’s taken me a couple hours to draft this post, because I keep looking at things travelers should know about visiting Australia. (Their Department of State has a very useful website for that.)

I’ll keep you updated on the upcoming trip, and also my progress as I move toward publishing my new baby, The Four Lives of Jemma Freeman.

I originally called it The Four Lives of Jemima Freeman, but I realized  the name Jemima Freeman gives the wrong impression. This is a speculative story set on another planet and has nothing whatsoever to do with African Americans, but unfortunately, the name “Jemima Freeman” conjures up an image something like this

when actually, the character in question has nothing in common with this famous fictional lady, other than the first name. Because some of her friends call my character Jemma, I’ve used that nickname in the title of the series to try to avoid confusion.

I do like the name Jemima, though. Too bad it’s stereotyped.

 

I hope to have some publishing news for you before too long. Meanwhile, enjoy your summer! Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case, I wish you a happy winter.

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The Porch Light is On

I recently started drafting a post on the subject of “coming home.” It was appropriate, considering that’s the title of the new novella collection in which one of my stories appears with six others.

Each story takes place in a different location (Texas, West Virginia, an island in Lake Superior off the coast of Wisconsin, Indiana, Georgia, one of the Carolinas [sorry, Kimberli, but I don’t remember which one!]*, and Ohio) all with the unifying theme being tiny houses. I don’t usually write contemporary fiction, but it’s been fun working with my friends on this project, and I enjoyed writing the story, which I set in the community where Craig and I lived for 30 years.

*[Note: Kimberli just contacted me to say: “This is one of the few stories I’ve written that doesn’t take place in the Carolinas. Like Linda’s, mine is set in Texas, only North Central Texas where it’s hot and dry and the town has been suffering a long drought. That part was based on an actual event. It was so dry in the real town my fictional town is based on, they pleaded with people to pray for rain. In the story, they got it. In buckets.” Sorry I mis-remembered, Kimberli, and thanks for the correction!]

And now, back to our regularly-scheduled broadcast:
Another reason “coming home” is so appropriate is because we recently moved, and when I return to this place after being away, I don’t quite feel like I’m “home.” This kind of surprises me, because when we moved to Maryland in 2013, my husband and I both immediately felt like our new house was home. Why don’t I now? I’m not sure, but it’s different this time.

Here’s a portion of the post I started drafting earlier but never finished:

Coming Home is the title of the novella collection a group of us recently published. In a way, it’s also the theme of my contribution to the book, though it was someone else who came up with the title.

It’s also what I felt like this past Wednesday when I went back for visit to the area of New Philadelphia, OH. That’s where my husband and I lived for 30 years. All four of our kids grew up there, graduated from high school in the area, and were launched into the world from that home base.

When driving back to T-County this past week, the closer I got, the more I found myself anticipating my arrival there. I felt like I was going home.

I dropped off copies of the book at both the New Philadelphia and Dover public libraries. I also delivered several copies to Dayspring Christian Bookstore, where they are now available for sale. I went to Swiss Village Bulk Foods and Sugar Valley Meats in Sugarcreek. I had lunch at my cousin’s house. The whole time, I drove around with a smile on my face.

I don’t ever expect to live there again, but it sure is nice to visit.

I got that far and then couldn’t think what else to say, so I put it aside. Until now.

This morning as I read in the Gospel of John, I got to the first verse in chapter 14 and pulled up short.

I’ll share that with you in a minute, but first, let me fill you in on something that happens in my novella. The main character has been going through a very difficult time. Her marriage has fallen apart, she’s moved out of her long-time home, she’s left her career, and is trying to start over in the community where she lived when she was a young girl. Subconsciously, I suppose, she hopes to recapture something of the hope and happiness of her youth. But she can’t find it, because those days are gone. She prays, but can’t seem to feel the connection with God she once did. She feels lonely and adrift.

At one point in the story, she’s out walking the dog after dark and gets a little scare. She looks toward her tiny house, and the lights beckon to her to come back to safety. As she and the dog move into the protective glow of the house’s deck light, she asks herself, “Stepping into the light of God can’t be as simple as walking back to the house, can it?”

That analogy came back to mind when I contemplated John 14:1. Here are the thoughts I recorded in my journal. (Please forgive my long, rambling sentences; I write these notes only for myself, not for publication!):

What the disciples were about to face—they didn’t know it yet, but Jesus did—was a horror of unprecedented magnitude. They were about to see the long-awaited Messiah, whom they knew to be God in the flesh, whom they had seen exercise supernatural power over everything (sin, death, disease, demons, storm winds, human authorities, physical laws), and in whom God would fulfill all His glorious promises to Israel—this One in whom they had willingly placed their lives, their hope, their faith—would soon be arrested like a common criminal and taken away, subjected to unjust trial, physical torture, and the most horrific execution mankind had ever devised, all without lifting a finger or a word to defend himself. It was more appalling than can possibly be described. And on the eve of this, Jesus tells them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

There is no difficulty, no trauma, no heartache we can possibly face in this world that falls outside that assurance: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Jesus.

Jesus knows what we’re going through; this is not a trite platitude. He knows full well, for he’s experienced it. Indeed, he goes through it with us. When we know Jesus, we know the way through it, because HE is the way (vv. 5-6).

I tried to depict this through my story, but John said it better. Jesus is the Light (John 1:1-5 and 8:12) that draws us to God. When we hear things bump in the night, when we see disturbing shadows in the darkness around us, when we’re filled with fear—and indeed, there are plenty of legitimately scary things in this world!—we can come into the Light. He’s always near.

This is not to minimize the dangers. Our troubles and fears may be horribly real, but they are not eternal; they’re not all there is. When we walk in Christ’s light, we can see the end of them.

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Home!

I’ve been quiet recently for a number of reasons:

#1 – I’m a lazy blogger. Lazy like a sloth, but not so hairy.

#2 – Craig and I recently made another out-of-state move. (Didn’t we just do that a little over three years ago? Yes. But it was so fun the last time, we did it again…)

#3 – I’ve been waiting until one of my new releases finally came out, so I could announce it.

SO… We’re settled into our new home now. Yes, actually settled, though we still have one more carload of stuff to bring from the old place — things like winter coats and other odds and ends we won’t need immediately, so we won’t go back to get them for another couple of weeks.

AND… I’m finally able to announce the publication of that tiny house novella I’ve been talking about!

Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection is now available in Kindle, and will be out in print in the next week or two.

I’ve read four of the seven stories, and they’re each very different but are all sweet reads. I have no doubt the other three are just as good, and I look forward to them.

As is always the case with new releases, we need reviews. So if you’ve got $4 to spend and a little time for reading, I invite you to download it and post a review!

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Book Publicity and Root Canal

I was going to say book publicity is like root canal, but I’m not in a position to make the comparison, as I’ve never undergone that particular dental procedure.

In my mind, however, the procedure of marketing my writing is probably worse than root canal, because with dental work, it’s usually a one-shot deal. Maybe two or three shots. In any event, unlike promotional efforts, it’s not something you have to do on a regular basis.

I’m not sure why so many writers cringe at the very thought of self-promotion, but many of us do. Possibly it’s because writing is a rather solitary endeavor that appeals to introverts. I do know of some writers who love marketing, but they seem to be in the minority.

With two new releases coming up (the novella collection, and Stillwaters, Book 1 in the Four Lives of Jemma Freeman), I embarked on an online course  in book publicity through ACFW. I’m getting a lot of information, suggestions, and ideas. None of it excites me, and all of it makes me feel a little sick to the stomach. I don’t want to do that! Are you kidding? I’m supposed to do what?

This isn’t my first rodeo, but I’ve never won any prizes in the past. In fact, my efforts have made me feel more like a rodeo clown than a competitor. But it would be silly to keep writing and publishing books if I’m going to pretend I’m not.

So please bear with me as I get on this bronco and ride. And get thrown. And get on again. And get thrown again… And get on again…

If you want to laugh at me, I won’t be offended. That’s what clowns are for, right?

 

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It’s About Time!

After keeping the same site format for almost seven (7) years, I’ve finally updated my blog! I like the simple format and the clean look. I may tweak it here and there yet–for instance, I’d like to find a good photo to set up as the featured image, if this template will allow me to do that. But because I haven’t posted anything since March, I’m letting it go out into the world despite its immature state.

As you might notice, I’ve made small revisions to my “About” page as well as the tab for the Gateway to Gannah series. And I’ve added three new tabs:

  • One for my upcoming speculative fiction series, The Four Lives of Jemma Freeman;
  • Another for the tiny house novella series;
  • And a third for the new publishing company I’ve recently created, Gannah’s Gate.

Check them out! What do you think?

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