A Tulip By Any Other Name

magnolia blossoms 04.13.15Instead of writing about what I’d planned, I’ve decided to entertain (or bore) you with some thoughts and memories prompted by a Facebook conversation.

In a previous post, I showed photos of our old magnolia tree (new to us, but it appears to be a rather old tree) just beginning its first bloom in several years, according to the neighbors. When my friend Kimberli commented on Facebook, “That tulip tree is gorgeous,” it sparked a brief discussion about the names of trees.

2015-05-02 10.47.12Before I get into that, though, an update about the tree in question: shortly after posting the photo, a hailstorm shredded all the blossoms. Though the tree looked rather dejected after that, it pulled itself up by its smooth-barked bootstraps and produced a few more blooms, as you can see in the photo on the right.

It seems to be the sort of tree that likes to have the last word, so I’ve decided to humor it by talking about… words.

It’s interesting how so many objects, common and otherwise, are called different things in different locations. We could all come up with a dozen examples without thinking about it too hard — such as, how people refer to carbonated beverages in different parts of the country (soda, pop, coke).

A grocery store advertised a sale on swai fillets a few years ago. Though I like fish, I’d never heard of that kind before. So I looked it up and found that what American fish markets call swai, other people know as iridescent shark or Siamese shark (though it’s not a shark), tra, sutchi catfish, shark catfish, striper, striped Pangasius, and other names.

The foliage and blossom of what Ohioans call a tulip tree.
The foliage and blossom of what Ohioans call a tulip tree.

So it  came as no surprise when Kimberli said that where she lives (North Carolina, I believe), they call trees like ours something other than what we call them. Then my sister added that she, too, recently heard magnolias referred to as tulip trees. She also commented that one of tree that we call tulip grew down the street from us when we were kids.

I don’t remember the tree from our old neighborhood. However, my sister’s memories often differ from mine, partly because we’re different people but also because of the age difference. (I won’t tell you which of us is older.) I remember a catalpa tree, which we kids called a cigar tree, but not a tulip. Of course, there could have been one outside my bedroom window for all I know. The fact that I don’t remember it doesn’t mean there wasn’t one.

Nevertheless, I have plenty of memories — and fond ones — of tulip trees. Our first house (which I’ve always thought of our little house in the big woods, though the woods weren’t very big) had several of them on the property. I loved living there, and I loved the beautiful trees, with their impressive height, yellow flowers in the spring, welcome shade in the summer, and beautiful yellow foliage in the fall.

I remembered a photo we took of our little husky mutt, Cucumber, at the foot of one, so I rummaged through the old snapshots. Couldn’t find any good pictures of the trees, mostly because they were too big to fit in a photo. But I located that one with the dog, as well as some others in which the trunks of the trees could be seen.

So, if you want to know how to identify what my sister and I call a tulip tree, you’ll have to look at the photo above that I stole from Wikipedia. But here are a few shots of the towering tulips in my memory.

Cucumber looked like a Siberian husky, but she was a mixed breed. Though only about 35 pounds, she was a bloodthirsty hunter. There was no prey she wouldn’t take on, whether a bird,Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 1.54.47 PM fish, raccoon, or a 250-pound hog. (I needn’t tell you who came out the winner in the latter battle.) One day in 1983, she chased a squirrel up one of those tulip trees and waited, poised to spring, for it to come down. When I say she waited, poised, I mean she waited the whole time in that position without moving a whisker. I don’t know how every muscle in her body didn’t cramp up.

The squirrel knew she was there and was wise enough to not try coming down. After what seemed like half the afternoon, it hopped to another tree, and that permitted Cukie to change position at last.  My memory of the details is about as dim as the picture itself, but I think the squirrel got away, but Craig and I got cricks in our necks in sympathy for the dog.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 2.02.37 PMHere on the left is another shot of those tulip tree trunks. The note in the photo album says the picture was taken in March of 1983. If you look closely, you can see Emily (in the red snowsuit) and Shelley (in blue) playing on the swing set. In the snow. Which, I guess, is why I took the picture. That, and because it’s just plain a pretty scene.

See the picnic table? It did more than collect snow, as you can see from the picture, below left, of a family picnic on that table and in the shade of those tulip trees, in 1981.

The lady standing is Craig’s mom; the two at the table are his sisters, Pam and Gail. And the little girl is our oldest daughter, Emily, who would have been three years old that summer. Also below, on the right, you can see Craig and his dad cooking burgers on the grill. In my photo album, I gave that photo this caption: “No, this is not wilderness camping, it’s our backyard.” Note that they’re sitting at the foot of one of those tall tulip trees.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 2.05.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-02 at 2.05.08 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, that was our backyard when we lived in our “little house in the not-so-big woods.” Quite a bit different from our little town yard now — but at least we still have a tulip tree. Just a different kind!

I was going to talk about words, wasn’t I? Okay, let’s talk about Book #2 in the Gannah series, Words in the Wind. Remember last words in the book? You don’t? Okay, then, I’ll tell you:

…the end.

 

 

 

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Beware the Polyspore Gock

polyspore GockMany mornings, I wake up with a random word or phrase in my mind.

Quite a few creative people find inspiration in dreams. Most of the writing “experts” advise us to keep a pad of paper and a pen (or the electronic version thereof) at our bedside, so we can write things down when they come to us when we wake up.

Indeed, these thoughts are fleeting, and if we don’t record them when fresh, they’ll soon vanish like dew in the morning sun.

In my case, though, that would be no great loss. Once the sleepiness clears, I invariably realize all that brilliant stuff that came to me in my sleep was utter nonsense.

Take yesterday morning’s wisdom, for instance. I awoke with this profound statement running through my mind:

Or perhaps he just fears the polyspore Gock.

This raises many questions. The “or perhaps” suggests that the first presumption was that he feared something else. Like what?

Would he fear monospore Gock, or is it just the polyspore variety that’s dangerous? Or is neither dangerous? Maybe this whole fear-of-Gock thing is a groundless phobia. I suspect that’s the case, as saying he “just” fears the polyspore Gock makes it sound like it’s not worth being afraid of.

The statement is shrouded in mystery, to be sure. But I think I can identify the “he” in the statement. My waking impression was that it referred to the Dr. Pik character from Gannah.

And that would make sense. Pik was on my mind when I went to sleep, because I’d just been reviewing the print proof for the newly-released second edition of Words in the Wind. And Pik, despite his physical size and strength, is afraid of many things.

But polyspore? Gock? I have no idea.

I had a lovely afternoon yesterday finishing up the proof. This morning, I clickedLost and Found “Publish,” so perhaps by the time you read this, it will be ready for purchase. I did find the page for the print version, but as of this moment, none of the reviews have been transferred yet, and the Kindle version is not yet live.

Once the whole Gannah series is up and running, I can start thinking about promoting it. Well, actually, I’m already thinking about promotion. But soon, I’ll be able to get serious about it.

While I’m working on that, I’ll have to keep my eye peeled for that polyspore Gock stuff. I’m not sure it’s something to fear, or if I’ll recognize it when I see it. But I know it’s out there, because I dreamed it. And dreams are always true, right?

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As The Old Saying Goes…

file0001772520894A man may toil from sun to sun, but a writer’s job is never done.

Oh, wait… it’s supposed to be a woman’s job, not a writer’s. But what if that woman is a writer?

[Side note: I looked online for free images for working, laboring, toiling, tired woman, and so on, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. So these guys with the jackhammers will have to do.]

Using a jackhammer is work — a lot more physically toilsome than writing. So much so, in fact, that it isn’t fair to compare the tasks.

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

BUT… at least when you’re done breaking up concrete, it’s done. I doubt any of the guys in the picture above went back to the job site later and said, “Hey, I want to revise that.”

Which is what this “elderly woman with laptop” (the caption given to this image by FreeDigitalPhotos) has a bad habit of doing. (In case that statement wasn’t clear, I’m talking about me, not the model in the photo.)

Okay, so I guess I’m not elderly yet. But I’m a gray-haired woman with a laptop, and that can be dangerous.

Old cover
Old cover
New cover
New cover

As you may be aware, Risen Books recently released me from my contract so I can self- publish the first two titles in the Gateway to Gannah series, with new cover art. And, although they offered me the manuscript files, I elected to use what I already had on my computer from the first time around, as I intended to revise them anyway. I didn’t plan to change either of the story details, just tweak a word here and there.

I embarked on that project about the time I contacted the designer to talk about doing new covers. So when he completed the first one last week, I had the first book revised and formatted and ready to go. I uploaded it to CreateSpace and checked the digital proof.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.18.47 PMHmmm… there were a few glitches. For instance, I omitted a drop cap here and there, or indented the first paragraph of a scene when I shouldn’t have. So I fixed the issues in my document and uploaded the corrected version.

Oops. Somehow one of the chapters was in a different size font. Redo. Upload again.

But then…. I’d put a fleuron at the beginning of each chapter (that little star-like thing you Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.24.36 PMsee in the example on the right) as well between scene changes. But it looked too cluttered that way, so I took out all the flourishes between scenes but left them at the beginning of each chapter.

Upload again.

Eventually, I was ready to order a print proof, which required a wait of several days until it arrived. During that time, I sparred with the cover designer over what to do for the next book. (I say “sparred” because I always feel like I’m a pain in the neck in these discussions. But he’s very nice through the whole process, and if he grumbles about it, I never hear him.) We discussed numerous options and he did a few preliminary sketches, and we finally came to an agreement as to what scene to depict and what it should look like.

to flourish...
to flourish…
Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.33.17 PM
…or not to flourish…

Meanwhile, the print proof arrived, and, highlighter at the ready, and with a pack of little sticky flags at hand for marking pages, I went over it verrry carefully.

 

And made a change to almost every page! I didn’t find many actual errors, but I found LOTS of places where I wanted to reword something. And, hey, if I’m going to make any changes, I might as well make a lot of them, right?

Correct this, correct that, for 330 pages. Upload again. Review the digital proof once more!

WAK! Here’s another paragraph that’s indented, though it’s not supposed to be. And there’s one where the drop cap is missing. ARGH!

Correct. Upload. Review. Oh, and did I mention, each time I thought I was satisfied, I had to wait for CreateSpace to look it over before I could do the final proof? The whole process took several days.

But then, finally! After an uncounted number of repetitions of this exercise, I approved the proof. Publish the puppy!

And then there’s the Kindle version. When I first uploaded it and checked out the result, I remembered–belatedly–that I didn’t want those fleurons at the beginning of the chapters in the ebook version; I only wanted to use them to delineate scene breaks. (Just the opposite of how I did it on the print version.)

Revise. Upload.

Oh, you know what? The drop caps don’t translate well into that format. I should get rid of them in the ebook version.

Revise. Upload.

Well. All that to say… the new-and-improved The Story in the Stars is now available on  Kindle, and it should be available very soon in print. (If not, I’ll have to find out why, because it should be; but at present, the only print version I can find is the original edition. Which I thought was supposed to have been taken off Amazon as of February 15, but it obviously hasn’t been.)

Next, I get to do the same thing with Words in the Wind, once Ken Raney finishes up the beautiful cover he’s creating for it.

James Michener in 1991 (Wikipedia)
James Michener in 1991 (Wikipedia)

After that, maybe I can concentrate on some of these other projects I have on the back burner.

Oh, yes — another thing about writing that makes it never-ending: you can continue doing it long after you’re too old to use a jackhammer.

James Michener published his last novel at the age of 87, and shortly before his death at the age of 90, he published a collection of poetry. Maybe by the time I’m that age, I’ll have hammered out the ins and outs of this business…

 

 

 

 

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Well, That Was Fun!

file0001908942502“What was fun?” you may ask. The answer calls for a list:

1) My three-book, three-day giveaway. Who needs Rafflecopter? Someone who takes this seriously, probably, and processes hundreds of entries. As for me, I had no difficulty handling the dozens of entries I received. I met a few new people and had the privilege of sending Book 1 to two new visitors to Gannah, as well as the third book in the series to a friend who’s already read the first two.

2) My month-long, two-book giveaway on Goodreads, which was entered by hundreds. But Goodreads’s computers did the work, and all I had to do was pack up the books and send them to the winners. I have five copies of Words in the Wind and five of Ransom in the Rock ready to go out in the mail tomorrow. It’s exciting that new people — readers I don’t personally know — are learning about Gannah.

3) Staying with our two youngest grandkids for two days while the rest of the family was away. They were wonderfully well-behaved and gave Craig and me no trouble at all.

4) Learning that my son and daughter-in-law who recently moved to Maryland, and lived with us for a couple of months while looking for a place of their own, are moving back to Ohio. They came here for a job, and are leaving for the same reason — a different job. They haven’t even finished unpacking yet from their last move, and now they’re going to have to do it all over again. Argh!

5) Meeting (virtually) an interesting person who wrote a non-fiction book I recently read and reviewed.

6) Having replacement windows installed. And, shortly after contracting for that, learning that we need a new furnace as well. Money, money, money.

7) Speaking of money, receiving my first payment from the Amazon KDP e-book program for the four (count ’em, 4) ebooks I sold the first month Ransom was available. Yep, I’m rakin’ in the money so fast, I hardly know how to spend it all.

8) Two recent occurrences so strange that I don’t feel comfortable describing them in a public format.

An aside to #8): A couple weeks ago, I finally read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness. Yeah, I know, it’sthis Present Darkness a classic of Christian speculative fiction that positively everyone read years ago, but I never did. Until recently. I didn’t particularly care for it, but I was glad to have read it so I can know what it’s about.

The thing I most object to is the cartoonesque portrayal of angels and demons. I have no doubt these beings are real and do, in fact, play a role in the events of this world. But I don’t think any of us have any concept of how they work, behave, think, make war, or anything else. Moreover, I don’t think we have any business speculating about it.

However… the two above-mentioned recent occurrences serve to remind me that we are, in fact, engaged in a deadly serious spiritual warfare, even if that warfare looks nothing like it does in novels.

9) Coming on the heels of this great awful weirdness, a pointed but gentle answer to prayer. Yep. God hears ’em. And it makes Him smile to answer.

Just as we can’t know just how the demons do their dirty work and the angels commit their heroics, we can’t fathom the goodness of God — nor His absolute, unalterable, inconceivable greatness. However the stories of our individual lives may play out, God is good, and no one and nothing can move Him from His perfect purposes.

And, for one final fun thing this evening,
10) Hearing from an old friend, who made a random comment to an ancient blog post.

There is so much more to life than writing fiction that I’m almost beginning to lose interest in it, despite having a new story simmering in my mind. But rest assured, I still have every intention of wrapping up the Gannah series this fall.

Remember the last line of Words in the Wind? If you have the book, go take a look-see.

 

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We Have The Winner (times three)!

file0001699656351As I’ve been promising for the past three days, I put all the entrants’ names into a plastic bucket this morning and pulled out three.

(Insert drumroll here)

The winners are:

1) C. P. Bialois (who entered by tweeting)

2) Brenda Pace (who entered by leaving a comment)

3) Jil Getner (who also left a comment)

I’ll be contacting each of these directly to see which book they’d like and where to send it.

Meanwhile: thanks to all the others who entered. And I mean that; I truly appreciate your interest in Gannah and your support for my writing addiction.

If you’d like to try again, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway during the month of June. That involves only Words in the Wind and Ransom in the Rock, and because Goodreads is huge, there will be a lot more competition for the five free copies I’m giving away of each of those titles. But you’re certainly welcome to hop over there and enter there, too.

There’s also the option of buying them from Amazon, of course. If you’re in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, you’ll find all three titles for sale at Dayspring Christian Bookstore on West High in New Philadelphia. Both the Dover and New Philadelphia public libraries have the first two books available, and if you ask, they’ll probably buy the third for you. (Please do, in fact!)

Congratulations to the three winners, and thanks once again for helping to keep Gannah growing!

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Win a Trip to Gannah (times three)! DAY 3

DSCN5865What  a peach of a deal! A free trip to Gannah for three lucky winners!

Tomorrow, I’ll draw three names. I’ll contact them to offer any of the three titles in the Gateway to Gannah series they’d like to receive.

If the winner lives in the US, he or she can choose either a print or e-book; otherwise, only e-books are available. (Sorry, but those shipping costs are a killer.)

You have three ways to enter:mf679

1) Comment. Leave a comment on this blog, and be sure to include your email address. You’ll receive one entry each day you do this.

2) If you’re on Twitter, tweet about it. The easiest way to do that is by clicking on the “t” symbol under “Share This” at the end of the post. When the automatic Tweet comes up, delete “I like” and instead write: “Win a #FREE #book on @yanderson101’s blog.” (Make sure you leave the link to YsWords.) This gives you another chance to win — one entry per day that you do this (not one entry per tweet!).

3) Tell your Facebook buddies, making sure to mention me so I’ll be able to reward you. (You can use the Facebook button on the “Share This” bar at the bottom of this post.) You’ll earn one entry per day that you do this.

The first day of this three-day giveaway, I provided a brief description of each book. Yesterday, I gave you a paragraph from each to whet your appetite. Today, I’ll share the first sentence and the last word of each:

 

Stars cover

First sentence: Dassa trudged through the Ayin Forest across a crusted snow, her weary steps fueled by the nearness of her goal.

Last word: smiled.

 

 

Words cover

First sentence: “End.”

Last word: end.

 

 

 

Ransom in the Rock

First sentence: Her chest tight with dread, Lileela opened the closet.

Last word: belonged.

 

 

I hope these little snippets have enticed you. If you’re interested, make sure to leave a comment so you’ll at least have one chance to win. Telling your friends about the giveaway will increase your odds.

Good luck! I’ll draw the names and announce the winners tomorrow.

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Win a Trip to Gannah (times three)! DAY 2

three windowsThree windows of opportunity!

Well, the first one’s closed, but there are still two left. That’s right, two more days in which to enter to win a free book.

You heard me right: today and tomorrow, you have the opportunity to win a free trip to Gannah. On Wednesday I’ll draw the names of three lucky winners, each of whom will be able to receive their choice of the three titles in the Gateway to Gannah series.

If the winner lives in the US, he or she can choose either a print or e-book; otherwise, only e-books are available. (Sorry, but those shipping costs are a killer.)

Three books will be given away, and you have three ways to enter:file000185159942

1) Comment. Leave a comment on this blog, and be sure to include your email address. You’ll receive one entry each day you do this.

2) If you’re on Twitter, tweet about it. The easiest way to do that is by clicking on the “t” symbol under “Share This” at the end of the post. When the automatic Tweet comes up, delete “I like” and instead write: “Win a #FREE #book on @yanderson101’s blog.” (Make sure you leave the link to YsWords.) This gives you another chance to win — one entry per day that you do this (not one entry per tweet!).

3) Tell your Facebook buddies, making sure to mention me so I’ll be able to reward you. (You can use the Facebook button on the “Share This” bar at the bottom of this post.) You’ll earn one entry per day that you do this.

In case you haven’t had the opportunity to visited Gannah yet, let me give you some little snippets to whet your appetite. I’ll keep the theme of three and provide a paragraph from the third page of each book:

Stars coverThe sun still shined undimmed by clouds, but the shadow in her heart drew darker the closer she drew to the palace. Fear knotted in her chest, though she smelled no dangerous animals near nor sensed treacherous changes in the weather.

 

 

Words coverShe flopped backward onto her bunk. Deep weariness, the inevitable result of separation from her planet, made her bones ache. This was so pointless. Why had Pik insisted she come?

 

 

 

Ransom in the RockLileela pouted, a feat that never failed to impress the blank-faced Karkar. Especially when she managed to produce a few tears in the corner of her eyes, like she did now. “Why should that worry them? They’re rich, they own all of Gannah, but people there don’t use money. It wouldn’t burden them to keep me on Karkar the rest of my life.”

 

Interested? Make sure to leave a comment so you’ll at least have one chance to win. Then come back tomorrow and do the same thing. Telling your friends about the giveaway will increase your odds.

 

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