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.

 

Happy Mother’s Day 2016

Last week I wrote about May Day. This week the topic is Mother’s Day which we celebrated yesterday. I wonder how often it happens that May Day falls on a Sunday too? I suppose that would be a good question for Google, huh? O.k. I loooked it up, 12 times since 1910.

Mother’s Day is a day filled with mixed feelings for me. My Mom passed away eight years ago from breast cancer. I remember my first Mother’ Day without her. I was walking through Hallmark a couple of weeks before and I saw the Mother’s Day cards.  I started bawling in the store, knowing that I wouldn’t be purchasing one this year. My first reality check that she was really gone.

Since my Mom wasn’t in her final resting place yet, after walking in the Susan B. Koman Mother’s Day 5K walk for Breast Cancer, I went to a Japanese Peace Garden where her and I had gone many times together. My mom always loved nature and was a natural at gardening. So, as I walked through the garden, many things reminded me of her. The featured image of the waterfall was a picture from that day.

For Mother’s Day the following year, I did the Mother’s Day Susan B. Koman walk again with many breast cancer survivors and families that have lost loved ones to this disease. Afterwards, I went to Bachman’s to buy a single pink rose to lay on her grave. It was a little crazy to be there on Mother’s Day with all of the last minute shoppers who needed to get flowers for their Moms. But I knew it is what I wanted to do. I went to the cemetery, laid the rose on her grave and sat and talked with her for a while. It was a sad but very peaceful feeling being with her. My second reality check that she was really gone.

Many people celebrate Mother’s Day without their moms. What I have learned about the day is even when you think you aren’t going to be emotional about it, those feelings sneak up on me. My love for her wells up in my heart and tears fill my eyes. She is my angel in the sky.

There are many times in my life I wish my Mom was here for now. To be able to just pick up the phone and call her would mean the world to me. There are many life questions I never got a chance to ask her because I thought she would always be here. Or that she would always be here to seek advice about those day-to-day things a daughter would ask her Mom. For example, let’s talk about gardening. I really could use her help on raising plants. She was the one in our family with green thumb. I have a couple of plants that came into my home from her memorial service. They are philodendrons and I think  my Mom’s spirit is living strong in, since they grow and flourish. Then every year I buy some flower bulbs to plant and grow from scratch in her honor and as an experiment to see if I can do it. This year it is Begonias and Fresia. We’ll see how they do, or if they will need Mom’s intervention.

We spent this Mother’s Day having brunch with Sam’s family. It was nice to be together with the kids, Sam’s nieces, sister and of course his Mom and Dad. It helped to fill in some of the missing pieces of my Mom not being here. After feeling very emotional all day, Sam and I went to her grave last night just before sunset. I told her that I love her, thanked her for being my Mom and for always being the angel on my shoulder.

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After my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I made a point of getting a mammogram every year to make sure that if I did have breast cancer, we could catch it early and have a chance at treating it. Every year at that appointment, I get a reminder of my Mom’s passing when I fill out the medical information form. They ask for my family history of breast cancer. There is a box by one of the questions that I have to check the yes box and fill in the fact that my Mom had the disease and passed away from it.

Mourning is a process and writing has been a big part of mine. I’ve been using it to express my feelings and to get my creative flow. Writing has helped me sort through my feelings and journaling has played a major role in my process. It gives me a way to get my real feelings out and communicate with my Mom in spirit. The creative writing helps to keep my mind moving forward with something that I love to do. And to help me to not miss her as much as I do sometimes.

I started my serious creative writing with a short story about a Memorial Day weekend trip I made to Duluth, Minnesota in 1994. Duluth is one of my favorite places. Last spring I worked on a lot of writing ideas between visits to places and hiking with my family. I love being there with the Northern Minnesota feel and the view of the harbor.

Just like the Japanese Peace Garden, Duluth is another place I can go to feel calm and reflect. Being there usually helps me to make more progress in my writing and finding myself. I know my mom would be happy about where I have been able to take my writing to. Writing a weekly blog, a few short stories here and there, and having a middle grade manuscript edited for publication are all big steps to making dreams of mine come true.

I miss my mom a lot. I wish she could be here to share all of the things that are going on in my life with me. I think of her a lot as I write. It makes me smile. I think about how she would be reacting to all of this, and I see her smiling too.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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.