Eleven chapters to go! Eleven out of fifty! That's in the long-running Work in Progress about the Shelton Laurel Massacre.
The past several days have been too hot to do much in the garden and, aside from picking some greens and broccoli, I've stayed inside, pecking away at the remaining chapters.
Now, that doesn't mean there'll be a book in bookstores or on the internet any time soon. It doesn't work that way.
After I write THE END, there will be several weeks of careful proofreading and chasing down some loose bits of research. Then, when the whole thing is in reasonable shape (I really, really hope this will be by September,) I'll send it to my long-suffering agent. She will read it and, perhaps, suggest changes to make it more salable. (Or throw up her hands and quit me.)
If she doesn't absolutely hate it, eventually she'll try to find a home for it -- a publisher who will offer to buy it.
This could take quite a while -- it took three months before Bantam Dell bought SIGNS IN THE BLOOD. This one may be harder to place. It's a character driven historical novel about a little known incident in the Civil War (though some recent novels have referenced it, notably Ron Rash's THE WORLD MADE STRAIGHT.
Should the book be bought, it would be at least a year before it hit the shelves. Because that's the way mainstream publishing works.
Yes, I know about self-publishing and how quick it is. But that's an option of last resort for me. For various reasons.
All of which is to say, there's a ways to go yet. But I'm feeling chuffed by getting near the end of the first step.
I was standing at the kitchen sink washing the dishes and happened to glance out the window at my left where I could see the tops of the hollyhocks and the thought came to me that somehow they looked just right, that now the picture was complete.
And then I wondered why I'd thought that.
I looked again and then I remembered. It was a moment of not exactly deja vu more of a flashback. A snapshot of a time and place.
Nine or ten years old, I was sitting at the table in our breakfast room looking out the window to my left. At the tips of the pink hollyhocks blooming there.
And a flood of memories came back to me . . . my Girl Scout uniform, the glass of milk that was never cold enough, the longing for summer and the freedom it brought. . .
The new email address has necessitated going through my
email address book and sending notifications to those who I think might be
interested. And that has stirred up so many memories…
Of course there are many names about which I haven’t a clue.
More than many – most. But others bring back times and places . . .
Deb Dandolino – the first bookseller to be excited about my
first book. I met her at the SIBA and we stayed in touch even after her
bookstore closed and, indeed, till she died.
Two others gone but not forgotten are Bo, “The Adverb Guy” and Mike, a friend from Wildacres (see LINK.)
And there are the early fans – Elaine in Hawaii who wrote that when they
had to leave their hotel room because of some impending disaster (earthquake?)
she took SIGNS IN THE BLOOD with her so she could finish reading it. And Pat in
Tennessee who told me of locking herself in the bathroom when they had company
so she could finish a crucial chapter.
Lots of authors – some even famous, some less so. I cherish
having gotten to know (however slightly) some of my literary heroes as well as
all those others struggling with this writing thing.
There are lists of folks who signed up for my newsletter – either
on line or at appearances at book stores or book clubs or libraries over the
past ten years. Some of the names
conjure up specific people like the lady from Cherokee who gave me a little
bracelet of olive wood beads from the Holy Land. Or the nice lady who bought my
quilt book and wanted guidance on reproducing one of the quilts therein for her
nonagenarian mother. The fan who wrote to say she enjoyed my books even though
she was a Republican. The fella who told me about the Melungeon family, thus
inspiring my Melungeons in IN A DARK SEASON.
And the addresses of students from various
writing classes. My goodness, there have been a lot of them. Some I hear from
now and then and that’s a delight – like the woman who created a character and
began a novel in one of my John C. Campbell classes and now is working on the
third in the series. Others spring to mind as I read their names – like the
archaeologist who was writing about a murder on a dig in Crete and introduced
me to the wonderful word chryselephantine (made
of gold and ivory.)
And there’s the email addy of the fella who read a piece during
our first class that was so deeply creepy that no one could find anything to
say about it as we all shifted uncomfortably in our chairs. And the very good
writer who knew everything and had a tendency to take over the class if I
didn’t stop her. And the one who wrote so magically about a New England village
on an island . . .
Family, old friends, new friends, blog friends, readers,
writers – all have enriched my life in one way or another.
The web provider we've been with since we first ventured onto the internet is closing down the tower that has provided us with (not very) high speed wireless, leaving us the option of dial-up (life isn't long enough to deal with dial-up again) or a new provider.
Accordingly, we have acquired a satellite provider with what seems to us dizzying high speed. Unfortunately, there are limits to how much bandwidth we can use without paying a good bit more so we are feeling our way -- how much web surfing, Facebook, etc. can we do and stay within the limits?
We can use the Internet between the hours of 2 and 8 am and during that times, the rate of consumption is counted as half. So I'm going to attempt to adjust my habits . . . and expect to be online less and working on the novel in progress more. (It's going well -- I'm optimistic that I'll finish by fall.)
I am also acquiring a new email address -- as my old one is linked to the account we will no longer have. I'll be sending out change notices and will also post the new addy now in the first comment.
And what a way to spend a little time, waiting for her to make her entrance from behind the wooded ridge!
The air was balmy; the sky was mottled with clouds and growing brighter by the minute. Crickets chirred and lightning bugs danced against the trees' dark backdrop or flashed over my head, making me think for a second that it was a shooting star.
When I returned home a week ago, I was thrilled to see that the hollyhocks I'd started from seed in 2015 were, at last, blooming.
So of course I became obsessive about getting pictures of them.
I've always loved hollyhocks -- especially the old fashioned single ones. Some where there is a picture of eight or nine year old me in my Easter dress, standing in front of a row of hollyhocks planted against the white-painted board and batten of our house.
I grew them years ago -- and now I have them again.
Please forgive my irrational exhuberance -- I did edit away at least two-thirds of the pictures I took.
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