Celebrating my 200th blog post

This is my 200th blog post. What a milestone!

In those 200 posts there are:

Book reviews and fun facts posts

Writing House Updates

Episode stories

and Writing Prompts

But most of all, there is a lot of creativity, work and fun.

Be sure to take a look through them and like your favorites.

Thanks for following me,

Selma

 

On August 22nd, I will be participating in an author takeover. I will also be having a $.99 sale on the ebook version of The Hard Way from August 22-25, 2018. Be sure to pick up a copy if you haven’t already.

TheHardWay_eBook

Here is a link to Amazon for purchasing The Hard Way – on Amazon.com

The Secret Pond – Chapter 5 – Sally

Chapter 5 – Sally

Sally was anxious to find out what Abigail thought of her special place. She took a big leap of faith to share her stories in the first place. It took even more to actually bring her here. 

When they arrived at the pond, Abigail stopped on the path next to Sally, turned around in a complete circle to take it all in. After a couple of minutes, she took a deep breath and gave Sally a great big smile. Sally felt a great sense of relief. She had finally shared the location of her special place with someone other than Lila.

“What do you think?” Sally asked.

“It is just like you described it in your stories. Very beautiful.”

“Let me show you where I do a lot of my writing,” she said and started walking on a narrow path through the trees that stayed pretty close to the pond.

They continued walking and arrived at a spot on the opposite side of the pond from where they started. There was a big red colored rock that sat about six feet back from the water. Sally climbed up on it, sat down, and put her backpack on her lap.

“This rock is made of red granite, the state rock of Wisconsin. I know, because I looked it up. Please come and sit with me Abigail,” Sally pleaded, “there’s enough room for both of us up here.”

Abigail walked towards the rock and climbed up next to Sally. The vantage point from there allowed her to see the entire pond. As they both sat there taking in the view, she saw the mama deer and her fawns across the pond walk up to the edge and take a drink of water.

“It is one of the best things about being here. The view is beautiful and it is so peaceful,” Sally replied as she took her notebook out of her backpack.

“The house is a very busy place,” Abigail said, “it has to be nice to have a place like this to come to.”

“It is. My mom likes the hustle and bustle and to show off what she has. She’s always inviting people over.”

“I thought they were friends of your parents’,” Abigail said.

“No. Typically they are either influential people in the area, members of the higher society, or they are just trying to meet my parents to say that they know them.”

“Do your parents have any friends that come to visit them?”

“Not really. Although, when the family comes to the house it is more of a visit than a party.”

“Were they the ones who stayed here over Christmas?” Abigail asked.

“Yes, those were my father’s relatives. My mother’s relatives will come and stay with us in the fall. After I leave for school.”

“Are you looking forward to going away to school?”

“In a lot of ways, yes. I don’t like living here. But I’ll miss the pond. And you.”

Sally reached over to give Abigail a hug. She felt Abigail’s body jerk away from her when she touched her. She pulled her arms back right away and put her hands in her lap.

“I’m sorry Abigail,” Sally said, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“No Sally, I’m sorry. You just startled me. I’m not used to receiving affection. My mom wasn’t the hugging type, so I haven’t been exposed to it. Let’s try again.”

Sally nodded and reached around Abigail and gave her a hug. Sally felt her hang on a little longer than what she was used to with hugs from her own family. After Abigail let go, they both got resettled on the rock.

“Like you, I wasn’t very close to my mom. She was so busy trying to get me out of the house.”

“Why?” Sally asked.

“She thought I should be working on my future and not just sitting around. I think she didn’t want me to rely on her for support.”

“I know my parents financially support me. But I don’t even know who they are.”

“That’s really sad.”

“I’m afraid that when I move away they won’t even contact me. They will be too busy. The only contact I will have back at home will be Lila. And she was someone I created to keep me company.”

“The stories that you have written about her show your strength in creative writing. That skill will take you far at school.”

“What will you do when I leave Abigail?”

“I’m not sure. I have to talk to your Mom and see if she still needs me. Otherwise, I don’t know. Do you know where Claire went when she left here?”

“She went back to live with her mom and dad. Her mom was pretty mad at mother after Claire left.”

“Why?” Abigail asked.

“Since her mom was friends with my mother in college, she assumed that my parents would have been more generous with their money. Claire’s family is not very well off. Instead of sending her to school, they had her come work for my parents. The idea was for Claire being my nanny, that my parents were going to give her money for to get her education.”

“What gave them that idea?”

“I think they agreed to it before Claire came to live here. Then mother decided not to do it.”

Sally hoped that things would go better with her parents and Abigail. But she didn’t have good feelings about it.

“I don’t know where I will go. I don’t know where my mom is. And, I don’t think I want to go back to Superior.”

“You should go somewhere and teach. You are a good teacher. I hope that you do something that you like with people who love you, like a family. You deserve that.”

“So do you Sally.”

“I’m going to a place where I’ll meet some new friends and find some new things to do. You won’t have that unless you leave here.”

“When I took the job, I saw it as a great opportunity to grow and do something I love, to teach. And that working for a rich family would give me a great place and connections to grow successful from.”

“I’m afraid that my parents may not support you the way you want them to, Abigail.”

“You are right Sally,” Abigail replied, “my true future may not be found by staying here.”

The Secret Pond – Chapter 4 – Abigail

I love the moments when you find writing inspiration in random places. When I logged onto my WordPress account yesterday, there was a post on my reader called A Rare Moment in the Woods from a blog called Sunny District. The next thing I saw was a beautiful photo of a deer in the woods. Here’s the link to it A Rare Moment in the Woods I was struggling a little bit with what to add to this week’s segment and the photo from Sunny Disrict gave me just the inspiration that I needed. Thanks Bipasha, a lover of all things pretty.

Chapter 4 – Abigail

Abigail watched as Sally left the library and headed up to her room. They decided to meet in the garden at 2:00 PM to give them each a chance to eat lunch and change clothes. She gathered up her things, including the copy of Great Expectations, and headed towards the carriage house. She was excited to finally see the place that Sally always talked about. Even though Mrs. Baxter had a large household staff, she seemed to keep Abigail busy with many other tasks when she wasn’t tutoring Sally. So she never got a chance to just walk around and explore the grounds.

Another thing she was wondering about was how Sally and Lila would interact with her around. Abigail knew when she had her own imaginary friend, Alice, she didn’t share her with anyone. She wrote about her and their adventures in the leather bound diary that she kept hidden under her mattress. She would only talk to her when she was alone in her room. Sally was a lot more open with Lila. Abigail felt honored to have Sally share their experiences with her.

Abigail grabbed a light jacket from her closet, not sure if she would need it or not, left the carriage house, and walked out to the garden. She saw Sally dressed in her yellow rain coat carrying the light green backpack walking towards her. They met each other at the elephant shaped topiary in the middle.

“Ready?” Sally asked.

“Let’s go,” Abigail replied.

They walked together to the back wall of the garden.

“It’s good that you brought a jacket,” Sally said, “it can get pretty chilly in the woods.”

“Is Lila with us?” Abigail asked.

“No silly, she is already in the woods. She didn’t want to wait inside for me to finish with school.”

“Will she meet us there?”

“Maybe, but she might be exploring. She does that a lot.”

“Without you?”

“Yeah, I can be too busy in my own world for her sometimes.”

As they walked behind the back wall of the garden, they arrived at the beginning of the forest. Ahead of them was a opening in the trees about three feet wide. A worn dirt path is what met them there. It wasn’t a fancy one put there by the Baxters.

“I’ve always seen the woods from the house but never knew there was a path back here.”

“I found it while I was playing back here one day. The day that I met Lila. She showed me all of the cool places.”

“How did the path get here?” Abigail asked.

“I don’t know for sure. One of the maids said that my grandfather spent a lot of time in these woods. Maybe he made the path. I don’t dare ask my mother and father about it. They will probably make me stop coming back here if I do.”

They started down the path and were swallowed up by the trees. Abigail could feel an immediate chill from the shade created by the trees and was glad that she brought her jacket. After walking in the woods for a few minutes, they came upon a clearing on the left side of the path. Sally and Abigail suddenly stopped when they saw a doe, just standing there looking at them. Next to her were two little fawns.  

“The mama always watches us when we are here,” Sally whispered.

“She is making sure that we aren’t going to hurt her or her babies,” Abigail added.

“My family owns all of this property. I think Lila and I are the only ones who come back here now. The animals should feel safe here because we won’t hurt them.”

“Is this what it is like back here all of the time?”

“Like what?”

“Quiet and peaceful.”

“For us humans yes. For the animals and insects, it is busy. We don’t always hear all of the things that they do day to day.”

They continued down the path. The property seemed to go on for miles. Abigail couldn’t believe that all of this was back behind the tree line that she saw from the carriage house window every day. The sounds of their footsteps on the path broke the silence of the woods. After a few minutes, Sally stopped and pointed to a spot ahead of them.

“We need to watch where we are walking now. Gloria just had her babies over there and they may be out of their nest.”

Abigail followed Sally as she walked carefully down the path. They came up to an area with a bunch of trees surrounding a pond. Sally turned to look at Abigail with a smile.

“Welcome to the Secret Pond,” Sally said proudly.

Moving Forward and Making Progress

After last week’s post, I felt pretty bummed out about how my writing has been going. I know that things have been really busy in my life lately, but when it comes to my writing, I felt like I was letting myself down.

When I was planning out what the subject of this week’s blog was going to be, it started to sound like more whining about how much time I don’t have to write. Obviously, this issue has been weighing on my mind a lot. Then I read the comments of another blogger who was having the same type of problem as me. Seeing that I wasn’t the only one, I decided to accept the issue I’m having with making time to write and just start making time to write.

I stopped, took a deep breath and thought about finding a small project I could start working on to get my brain back in the writing groove. I looked at the yet to be posted blogs for The Secret Pond and wondered what direction I could take it.

Over the weekend I read a post by a WordPress blogger that I follow, BeetleyPete. The post is called Archival neglect. It is about how we bloggers don’t seem to do much with our archived works. So, he decided to dust off some of his favorites, create links in his post and showcase them for his newer followers to see. Many of you weren’t following my blog when The Secret Pond was originally posted on BlogSpot. Only the prologue and first two chapters were posted previously. So, maybe I’ll rework these posts a little bit and repost them for you.

When I started this last year, it was hard to write the story in pieces on a weekly basis. As I reread through it yesterday,  I can see that it didn’t get the time and attention that it really needed trying to do it that way. I’ve learned a lot more about my craft since then, and I know that I can make it better.

So, here is the revised version of the Prologue of The Secret Pond. Originally published June 8, 2015.

The Secret Pond is inspired by the A to Z blogging challenge in May 2015 and the Morning Walk blog entry from June 9, 2015. This is the first installment.

Prologue

Abigail Watson lived in the carriage house at the Baxter’s country estate just outside of Superior, Wisconsin. She not only tutored Sally Baxter in her studies, she also helped Sally’s mom, Jean, with planning for the many events she hosted at their house. From teas, to lunches, and dinner parties, the house was always seemed to be a bustle of activity.

Sally’s parents were able to give her anything she wanted. But all she really wanted was a friend. Abigail was nice, but she seemed to be there more for her Mom than for her. Sally would ask Abigail to come and explore the grounds with her. She would always say she had too much to do. Just like her parents would say when she asked them.

Their school day was from 8:00 AM to noon Monday through Friday. They covered four subjects, English, History, Science and Math. English was fun and her favorite. Sally got to read stories and write about them. History was fun, she learned a lot about things that happened in our country. They were told through many stories written by the ones who experienced it. Science was o.k. She loved the earth science part and when they went outside to find insects and animals, but didn’t like having to learn about continental plates, weather patterns and theories. Math was the worst. Abigail just started teaching Sally about multiplication and division. Memorizing those math tables was just not working for her.

She seemed to get the best inspiration for her writing from the secret pond, probably because it got her away from the craziness of her house. The pond was located in the woods in the back part of their property. Sally loved to go there with her light green Dora the Explorer backpack, her stuffed bear, Clyde, her little yellow notebook and the pink Hello Kitty pen that actually wrote with pink ink. She loved to write stories about fairies and gardens.

The one thing that Abigail would do is let her read the stories she created in her favorite yellow notebook. Sally was so happy to have an audience for her stories. At the end of her school session, they would take time to let Sally read what she had written. As she shared her adventures with Abigail, Sally longed to have a friend just like Lila, the fairy who she wrote about in her stories.

Sally decided that she needed a companion. She was an only child living in a big house way out in the country, away from town. Her great-grandfather had done well in the shipping business. And the family continued to live in his house and off of the money made by his hard work. She was finding comfort in the imaginary friend she was creating through her writing. So, she changed Lila from a fairy in her stories into a girl, just like Triton did with Ariel in the movie The Little Mermaid.

They would go on adventures together in her stories and her imagination. One time Sally saw a movie with her Aunt Judy about a unicorn that lived in the woods that wound up saving the entire forest. Sally became inspired to write a story about how her and Lila met up with a unicorn.

She brought her books back to her bedroom after class. Looking out of her bedroom window, she saw the clouds building and the wind picking up. She grabbed her yellow rain slicker to keep warm and dry.

“Make sure you grab your yellow jacket, Lila,” Sally said, “we don’t want to get wet.”

And they headed out together to the pond.

This has been a lesson for me to make time for the things I want to do and not get so frustrated when I don’t. It is important to work towards the goals we set for ourselves and not let life get in the way as much as it does.

A Girl is building her writing house

We finally wound up with a weekend the boys didn’t have any weekend baseball tournaments and I wasn’t on call for my day job. So, I took some vacation time, made it a long weekend, and we were able to get away from the day-to-day life in the city. As we got closer to the day we were going to leave, I was hoping the trip would help me rejuvenate and refocus my energies towards my writing.

Status of my writing this past week starts with baseball, baseball, baseball. Love the sport and to watch the boys play, but between that and some personnel changes at work, finding time to work on my WIP edits has been nearly impossible. I’m so excited to get working on them and not being able to is creating some additional stress.

I’m not the type of person who procrastinates on getting things done. I make a plan and  figure out a way to get it done. I thrive on making progress towards goals. For me to get started on this project, I seem to be looking for a good time with a lot of quality writing time. I have a feeling this approach is going to get me into trouble. I probably won’t find what I’m looking for. Normally I’m able to put that kind of time into my schedule here and there. I currently do this when I work on my blog or writing platform during my lunch breaks. At this point of my life it seems almost impossible to find enough of those times.

When I think about what is going on with me right now, I do have more responsibilities at work. My home life has some big changes coming soon. Most of which we weren’t planning on doing right now. Don’t worry, none of it is bad, just stressful because it is all coming to us at once. So again, my writing goes on the back burner as my energies are spent in other places.

It isn’t as if I didn’t write at all this weekend. I wrote a preliminary blog post for Monday Morning (this one that you are reading right now). And, I was working on an online writing workshop through one of my Facebook groups to improve the views and content of my WordPress site. I know the work put into it will help my writer’s platform for future marketing initiatives.

With all of that being said, the editing on my manuscript still is not getting done.

Most writers are not fortunate enough to be able to write as a full time career. Many are in the same boat that I am, having to write while working another job. Add family life on top of that and it makes me one busy person. There are many books and seminars on setting priorities and creating manageable plans to get tasks done. Sometimes creating and following those plans has worked for me. Then there are times like this when those plans just can’t fight off the challenges brought on by every day life. So, I wind up dropping that plan and start taking care of the immediate issues at hand.

Finding the time has been one of my biggest obstacles to get myself into my writing. As I have found out, it is a lot of work to write, market and publish a book. Putting  all of the pieces together to get the actual book published is only a part of it. Setting up and utilizing all of the tools and sites that social media has to offer for marketing is a job all by itself, for an author just trying to publish a book. Through the WordPress workshop I’m currently involved in, I’m getting some great information and some ideas on subjects I may want to try out on my blog. How about Middle Grade book reviews? Or, YA book reviews? Or, some thoughts and research on the issues facing young teens today? Another thing I’m adding to my list of writing projects is to start searching out those groups who work with middle grade and YA readers and start networking. It will not only help me get more ideas for my writing and blogging, but it will help me create a network with other authors who are writing in the genre I am.

All of the work is positive progress towards creating my book and writer’s platform. I need to remember there are a lot of pieces to this project and they all need my attention. It is like building what I will call a writing house. It may mean that I can’t get to the parts I want to get to right now, like painting the rooms or hanging the curtains. I may need to work on some of the other tasks that are not necessarily seen, but definitely add things to the foundation or structure of the house itself.

My original idea for today’s blog was going to be writing about the progress I made on editing my middle grade manuscript, The Hard Way. I was going to talk about the process and how I was working my way through it. That is not what happened here at all. This wound up being more of a journaling about why I can’t get to my editing project. It’s not meant to be a whining session, but a real life soul search for an answer to the question of why I can’t get a start on it. The answer I stumbled onto here is I have quite a few things going on in my life right now. Things that need to get done before my writing can be worked on and completed successfully. It’s an important conclusion for me to come to here. I can accept that’s just where I am right now. It tells me not getting to my edits is o.k. I know I’ll get there. It’s just where I am in the process of building my writing house.

A Girl becomes a Blogger

Blog? What even is a blog? When I first heard the word, it sounded made up to me. And me become a blogger? Didn’t know that would happen. Let’s see if I can find some information about it on Google to understand what it is all about.

After a basic online search, I found out that blogging is a fairly recent phenomenon in our history. Its creation came with the art of website development becoming more user friendly. According to Wikipedia, it was originally called a weblog by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. He used the term to describe the process of logging (posting) information on the web. He began his “logging” with daily entries on his blog, Robot Wisdom. He wrote a lot about James Joyce and artificial intelligence in those posts and his written works are almost all self published. Peter Merholz broke the word up into we and blog on the side bar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May of 1999 which is how it got known as just a blog.

The typical blog that one sees on the internet today evolved from what was known as an online diary. It was a webpage where people kept a running journal of their personal lives or a travel log for their trips. I think part of the origin goes back even before the computer, when that information was in more of a handwritten form found in a diary or journal. The entries contained in those books went from being written on paper to being typed in digitally on a computer.

People have been sharing their lives through writing for years. There are journals and letters dating back to the time when when writing was done on stone tablets and parchment paper created from animal skins. Most of that writing was not intended to be shared with many people other than an intended recipient, but some of it has been found and used to add other people’s experiences to our history. Blogs are a popular way to share our experiences with many people in real time. They are also an important writer and author’s tool to present their writing style to potential readers all over the world.

Ever heard of a vlog? What is the difference between that and a blog, I asked? Back to Wikipedia. They are both regularly updated websites or web pages typically run by a person or small group. A vlog is where the postings in the feed are primarily in video form. A blog has postings that are written in an informal or conversational style and posted as written posts.

There are many places online where one can set up a personal or author type blog. WordPress.com, Blogspot.com and Weebly.com  are just a few options. Once a person sets one up, they need to decide what they want to do with it. Is it just for their own personal writing? Is it going to be shared with a few friends? Or maybe with the world?

As an up and coming author, it became apparent that I was going to need to start writing a blog. Not only for honing the craft, but also to get my name and writing out there for the public to read. It is fine to journal and write for myself, but if I want to get a book published and be successful, I have to put my writing out there. Not only is the blog important for promoting my writing, but I also have to recruit other authors and readers to follow me on it. Just like I had to do with Facebook and Twitter. Most authors I have talked to say it takes a while to build the following from scratch. I have found that it also takes daily attention to make it happen.

At the beginning of 2016, I started my Monday Morning Blog posts. Not only has it been a fun and educational journey for me, it has also worked out well to get on a writing schedule for about 1000 words a week on something that is separate from my novel project. It has also enabled me to give my followers a weekly post to check out and read every Monday.

Many of my blog posts are a combination of creative writing and researched facts online. I often find it is fun to just start writing about something random and see where things go. I took a writing class in college many years ago that talked about Rush Writing. It is a writing method where you just start writing about whatever comes to your mind at the time. For me right now, I’m thinking about a calculator. So that would be my subject to write about. I’ll have to use that as a writing prompt someday. It is a great way to get the writing head warmed up and get some creative work done. By using that method, I have written some pretty neat things and when I have added them to my other writing, it has given those projects an extra boost.

Then there are the writing prompts I have used to get the creative juices flowing too. I actually used writing prompts as the subjects of my April 2016 blogs. They not only gave me something unique to write about each week, it also gave the readers a little different feel for what my blog can give to them. For one of them, I had no idea what I was going to write about and I just let the story role out onto the computer. It actually became a mini story of its own. You can check it out with this link, Writing Prompt #3 from April 18, 2016.

All of this blogging is in addition to working on my first novel that I’m planning to self publish by the end of this year. I also have two additional novels, one as a draft and one in idea/outline stage ready follow it to complete a trilogy. The blogging and recruiting followers on social media not only helps readers get to know me, it also paves a path to market my books on, once they are ready. It also keeps this soon to be published author very busy.