A Girl With a Dream to publish a book

Welcome to June!

Many years ago, I was a young girl with a dream. Now I’m a middle aged woman on the brink of having it realized. My first completed manuscript is coming back from my editor with the first round of edits this week. I can see myself taking another step closer to my dream, to publish a novel. And it is pretty exciting.

This girl has always been an avid reader. The Little House on the Prairie series and Nancy Drew mysteries were books always found on my book shelf. But there has always been a creative writer inside of me. I started writing in diaries with thoughts about a day in the life of a young girl growing up. Secrets about who I liked and what I thought about things that went on in school, only shared with the lined pages of that little book with the lock on the edge.  I still have those diaries in my hope chest. I can see them in my mind. One green, one red and one blue.

From writing in my diary, the creative writing evolved itself into silly stories that were caught in my imagination and needed to come out. Being at the time before computers became common for all to have, I wrote them down in three ringed notebooks or on pieces of notebook filler paper. I have a few of those saved in my writing archives.

In elementary school, we had units on creative writing during English and penmanship class. I have a packet of poems and thoughts about Christmas a teacher put together from one of my classes in my archives too. In another grade we learned how to write in a journal. Our teacher had us start with basic facts about ourselves. Who is your dad? What color is your house? What is the name of your pet? This question was a hard one for me to answer because at that time my family didn’t have a pet, so I would have to write that fact in my journal. Kind of made me feel sad, or I guess feel different from the other kids. Then our teacher would have us write about a place you visited with your family on vacation to give us all an idea that we could write about. Little did I know then these activities would become a part of the foundation for the writing that I do now.

Then came all of the research papers written in junior high and high school. I really enjoyed researching different people and learning about who they were and their role in history. I also love researching historical events and finding out why they happened. I remember getting into mythology, the gods and their functions in the myths. I even put together a family tree to follow who was related to who. Not as an assignment for school, but because I was keenly interested. Abraham Lincoln and Charles Lindbergh were and still are fascinating people to me, so I wrote school papers about them. I believe some of the Charles Lindbergh research I did brought to light an interest in aviation and ultimately obtaining a pilot’s license. It also intrigued me enough to go visit his family’s home in Little Falls, Minnesota.

When I look back on it, my novel writing really started with a short story that I wrote in 1994 about a weekend I spent at a Bed and Breakfast over Memorial Day weekend. It was a last minute decision to take the trip, which isn’t like me to do. My experiences from that weekend worked their way into a WIP I started called Mentoring a Dream. That story brought many things I was dealing with personally and professionally together into a story. It was about what I was doing with my life, things that I wanted to do and dreams of mine at that time, written through a character based on me. It was like I was figuring out who I was and where I wanted to be through writing. I’ll talk more about my Mentoring a Dream WIP later on this month.

All of these writing experiences have brought me to where I am today, working hard to make my dream of publishing a novel come true. It feels so good that achieving the goal is getting closer to actually happening.

Writing and publishing a novel is not an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. There is a lot of work involved. With all of the self publishing and promotion things added into the author’s work load these days, it isn’t just a writing journey anymore. Many publishers want to see an author platform and fan base before they will pick up a book to publish. So, building a social media presence has become a part of the writing journey an author must do to publish successfully, whether it is being published by someone else or self published. Add that to all of the hard work already done to write it and self edit it to get it ready to send it out to alpha and beta readers, it is a pretty heavy work load. Once it comes back from those readers, it gets polished up and sent out for a professional edit to tear it up and make it even better. This is where I’m currently at in my writing journey. When I get the suggestions back this week, I’ll clean it up and send it back for one more read through by my editor.

Now, I get to take a break, right? No. When a writer gets to a place where the story is finally working and readable, there is a cover design that has to be thought about and created. Until I started on the road to publish, I don’t think I was fully aware of all of the pieces that have to come together for the finished product, the actual book. I currently have a rough idea put together of what I want the cover to look like, but I may need a professional to come in and put that piece together for me.

It will be very satisfying to accomplish this goal. Working through each step of the process has given me a greater appreciation for all of the hard work it takes for an author to get a book published.

 

X is for Xanadu

This was a movie that came out during my teen years. Released on August 8, 1980, it is an American romantic musical fantasy film. The script is considered speculative fiction, which is not a highly regarded genre. It takes fiction and adds a bit of fantasy to it. So, the story line can be a little far-fetched as compared to reality.

The plot was inspired by a 1947 movie called Down to Earth. Starring Rita Hayworth, the story is about a Greek Goddess, Terpscichore. She was one of the nine muses and goddess of dance and chorus. She comes down from the heavens and lands a part in a musical which mocks Greek mythology. She’s able to get the producer to make some changes to the show which helped to make it a flop.

Xanadu is about some of the same Greek muses who come down from the heavens to inspire men to achieve. They help the character, Sonny Malone to build a huge disco roller rink. Inspired by the muses to pursue his dream.

The movie was not a financial success and earned mixed to negative reviews. This movie was one of the ones that inspired the creation of the Golden Raspberry award to memorialize the worst films of the year. Xanadu was nominated, but it didn’t receive it.

I’m trying to remember if I saw the movie or not. I listened to Olivia Newton John and I liked her music. I think I heard a lot of songs from the movie, but didn’t see it. It was a PG rating and I know my parents didn’t let me see rated R movies until I was 17.

A rated R movie back then was nothing like what you would see in a rated R movie now. With the increased sex, violence, and harsh language that are seen as almost a normal part of life now, rated R movies would almost be rated X in the 80s. Back then, a little nudity and a little swearing is about as far as it went. And that was seen as risky.

Even though the film didn’t do so well at the time, the soundtrack hit double platinum status and there’s a cult following for the film. It’s appreciated for the goofy fun musical about achieving your dreams that it is.

N is for Nightingale

A nightingale is a bird well known for the beautiful song it sings. Unpaired males will sing at night to attract a mate while singing at dawn serves to protect their territory. It’s said that they sing louder in urban areas to hear their singing over the background noise of the city.

Nightingales are the inspiration for many poems, songs, fairy tales and books. From Greek mythology, the story of Philomena is just one example. She was raped and mutilated by her brother-in-law Tereus. He cut out her tongue and her sister turned her into a nightingale. In this context, the song is seen more as a lament than a beautiful song due to the context she’s singing in. Since she was made mute, she wasn’t able to talk just like the female bird in nature doesn’t sing.

A famous woman in history also has the name Nightingale. Florence Nightingale was a celebrated English social reformer, statistician, and founder of modern nursing.

Having been named for the city she was born in, she grew up with the feeling that she was supposed to help people and wanted to become a nurse. Her parents weren’t so sure that was a good idea, but wound up sending her to a school to learn some basic techniques.

She had gained some practical experience from a hospital in Britain when she was asked by the Minister of War to train some nurses to take with her into the Crimean War. They arrived at the front in November of 1854.

While she worked at the Scutari Hospital in Turkey, she found that poor care was being provided to the wounded by an overworked medical staff. Medicine was in short supply and good hygiene processes were not implemented. This led to mass infections being common in the hospital, many of them ultimately being fatal to the patients.

She was dedicated to helping people. Quoted from the British newspaper, The Times, this is how Florence Nightingale came to be known as the “Lady with the Lamp”,

“She is a ‘ministering angel’ without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow’s face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.”

nightingale_ladylamp

Trying to make things better, she implemented basic hygiene processes like hand washing to help stop the germs from spreading  to fight some of the deadly contagious diseases.

She also tracked statistics of what was happening at the hospital like how many were sick, with what and if they died, what they died from. She put her statistics together and made a plea to The Times for some government intervention for better treatment of these patients. This data was then sent to the Royal Commission which resulted in a marked reform in military medical and purveyance systems.

International Nurses Day was just celebrated this month on May 12th. It also commemorates her birthday.