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.

 

A Book Report

As I sit here writing and looking out of my deck door, I see a beautiful day coming along. This morning the sun is out and the blue sky is showing itself with no clouds. They say it is supposed to be almost 60 degrees here in Minnesota today. That is rare for this early in March, but I’ll take it. I think I’m ready to be outside again, without a heavy coat and boots on.

I’m still reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is a longer book, but it is also taking me longer to read. I think I’m just in a busy life period lately. Or maybe I have a lot on my mind. After blogging last month about black American people who made some great things happen in the history of our country, I think I got a little heavy hearted about how they were treated. Even as I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I feel sympathy for the characters and how they didn’t have many choices. They were split up from their families with no regard for their feelings. They were killed if they were caught escaping with no consideration of why they had to leave. Many did escape and become free, but it wasn’t an easy journey. It was pretty stressful not only for them, but also for the people who were helping them get away from slavery.

Thinking about the title A Book Report, I remember the book reports that we did in school. It made me go back into my archive files to look through some papers that my Mom had saved for me from grade school and high school. I saw some poetry that I had written in fourth grade. I saw the awards I got for reading books in the Bookmate Program in fifth grade. I have memories of walking into our library at my elementary school, which I think was actually called a media center, and going to the posted list of Bookmate books. I wish I had a list of the books I read, it would be fun to see what kind of books were of interest to me then. I know at home I was reading Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie. My Godmother also gave me some books from Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series. This books were similar to Little House on the Prairie in setting, but was more of a Christian romance story.

So, after looking through those papers I wondered how would I write a book report about Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Well, first off, I should probably finish the book to have the full story to work with. Back in the school days, I wonder how many students did write their book reports without finishing the story. I know that some kids were watching the movie and writing their reports based on that version, which the teacher would always catch them at. Nowadays, kids can go right onto the internet and find reviews and even videos about the book to write the report from. How about Cliff Notes? I know that I received some help from copies of those to write my English papers. Are they even still available? I just googled it and they are still out there.

With another google search, I found out how to write a book report on wikihow.com

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Book-Report

I think the first paragraph is great advice to how to get started. This information could have been helpful to me when I was assigned this task back in the day.

Most students will have to write a book report. But writing a book report isn’t always easy. It is best to enjoy the book and not think about the report until you have finished reading. Now, absorb and think about what it was you read. Get up from your chair, walk around, then sit down at the table and start to write.

wikihow.com talks about the process to write the book report

Method #1 – Before you write the report

  1. know the requirements of the assignment
  2. read the book an annotate
  3. Outline main ideas and sub ideas of your book

Method #2 – Form of your report

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

Method #3 – Final Copy

  1. Reread your report
  2. Edit your report

The process sounds familiar, but I don’t think I had it spelled out like this for me before. As I look through the steps, I would say that I probably did them all, but maybe not as in depth as I could have. I am not sure if I did any annotating or outlining while I was reading the book then, but it may have helped in writing the report. The form of the report is how all reports and research papers are set up. I remember the teachers talking about that format a lot, not just for a book report but other research papers too. Then there is the reread and edit phase. I think I was so happy to get the thing done, I may not have did such a great job at the proofreading part. Now, as a writer of blogs and manuscripts, I do this step a lot before I post or publish. Oh, how my writing process has changed since then!

A book report is a paper about what the book is about that is usually written for a class assignment. How about a book review?  I have seen them as articles in the newspaper that are like a mini book report. On the other hand, the ones that I see posted on Goodreads and Amazon.com, tend to be little blurbs about what the reader thought of the book. They are usually accompanied by star review, one star being dislike and five stars being liked a lot.

Authors like to receive reviews from their readers and reviewers, either good and bad. One of the things that I have learned over my years of writing is that not everyone is going to like what you write. It is just like with people, some are going to like you and some aren’t. That shouldn’t be your motivation to write. Your motivation to write is that you enjoy writing and to get your voice out there. Any feedback that we can get from the readers is a gift. They took their time to let us know how they felt about what we wrote, good or bad.

W is for Walnut Grove

Do you know where Walnut Grove, Minnesota is? It’s in the southwestern part of the state. And, it is a real city! Sam and I drove through it a couple of years ago on our way to visit the Pipestone National Monument. It is still a small town with a population according to the 2010 census was 871.

Walnut Grove was developed after the end of the civil war when citizens were seeking new beginnings and were coming from the eastern parts of the country to settle. The city was named for the grove of black walnut trees located near the original town site. It was also known as Walnut Station. The first postmaster, Lafayette Bedal, built a shanty near the Chicago and North Western Railway right-of-way and called it Walnut Station in 1872.

The town was also known as a place where a young girl, Laura Ingalls (Wilder), before she became a well-known author, moved with her family in 1874. Her book, On the Banks of Plum Creek, talks about the move from Kansas to Walnut Grove. When the city was incorporated in 1879, her father Charles Ingalls was listed as the justice of the peace.

After some tough times, Charles moved his family several times to make ends meet. The family finally settled in De Smet, SD, where Charles and Caroline would live out their lives with their oldest daughter Mary, who had lost her eyesight due to Scarlet Fever, which they have recently concluded was really viral meningoencephalitis . Her book, The Long Winter, talks about the winter of 1880-1881, the second one that the family spent in De Smet and one of the worst ones in South Dakota history.

Laura Ingalls met her husband Almanzo Wilder here and they were married on August 25, 1885. They gave birth to Rose in 1886. She was their only child to survive to adulthood. They also had a son in 1889 who died two weeks later before he was even named.

The Wilders also had their share of tough times and did a lot of moving around like her family had done to make ends meet and to deal with Almanzo’s  health issues caused by diphtheria. They wound up settling in Mansfield, MO at a place they called Rocky Ridge Farm in 1894. In the custom-made farmhouse that Almanzo designed is where the Little House on Prairie book series was written. Her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane talked Laura into writing the books about her life journey and Rose became the editor. A museum is there now, which was created by Rose in her family’s honor.

moday1wilderhouse2

I grew up watching the television series, Little House on the Prairie, and I followed the story line of the characters. I also read all of her books. The television show, which was ultimately based on her book series, makes it seem like the Ingalls family lived in Walnut Grove for a long time. In reality, they only lived there a few years (1874-1879). They also lived in Wisconsin, Iowa and even South Dakota.

It was very interesting for me to read some information about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life story. I think that the television series did a pretty good job, but I can see where some of the facts were changed to make the series work for television.