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.

The Secret Pond – Chapter 3 – Sally

Even with the editing and reworking of the story line that I’m doing, writing the story as I go is challenging for me. I don’t know if you have heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) If not and you are a fiction writer, you should check it out. They have events throughout the year, but their annual event occurs in November. I won in November 2015  by writing at least 50,000 words during the month. It lead to me having a rough draft of my second middle grade novel, The Bully’s Way, done and ready for first round edits.

While participating in NaNoWriMo, they have two categories that writers tend to fall into and it is based on how they create their works. Some writers are known as pansters (ones that write by the seat of their pants) and others as planners (ones that outline and plan what they are going to write). I tend to be more of a planner, but do some of my initial work as a panster. A true panster may have better luck at writing this story the way that I am. Thanks for hanging in there with me guys. It has been challenging, but a good exercise for me to battle through.

I need to remember that I am writing for me first. I want people to enjoy what I write, but that can’t always be my motivation to type the words and create the stories. Even though the writing journey may be challenging, it also needs to bring out my passion to write for me and my readers.

Chapter 3 – Sally

When Sally got back to the house, she ran up to her room. She could hardly wait to write about her adventures with Lila today. From seeing the turtle to finding a nest of baby warblers. The mama bird had the nest hidden underneath the low hanging branches of one of the jack pines in the woods. Sally decided to look up some information about warblers and found out they are endangered birds. She decided she would keep an eye on and take extra care of them. 

She took out her yellow notebook and started to write. She took what actually happened and added some of the story she created with Lila’s fairy character. 

Lila wanted to go and see the unicorn so bad today, but it was a little far for us to go with the chance of rain popping up all afternoon. I told her we would try to get there sometime this week. Then we started talking about the turtle.

We went to the pond last week and learned that we had a new neighbor move in. There was a snapping turtle swimming in the pond. We named her Gloria. When we walked by her today, she was in the process of burying the eggs she just laid. We waited on the path far enough away from her to not startle her. She stopped for a moment to make sure we were just watching and continued to build the protection around her eggs. We are so excited to see the babies after the eggs hatch.

Sally closed her notebook and placed it on her bed. She thought about Lila and was feeling sad about having to leave her when she went off to school. Coming to school with her wouldn’t be what Lila would want, but Sally didn’t want to leave her here alone either. She didn’t want her to feel the loneliness that she felt for such a long time.

She loved to share her stories with Abigail. Maybe Abigail could take care of Lila while she was at school. Sally thought maybe she could bring Abigail to the pond and show her around? Sally had always seen it as her secret place though, and didn’t know if she wanted anyone else to know about it. But something told her that she could trust Abigail.

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The next morning, after getting dressed and grabbing her backpack, she went downstairs to the family library where she and Abigail met for her lessons. The room was located at the end of the hallway and was two stories tall. It  was one of the tallest rooms in the house with the walls lined with shelves and filled with books from floor to ceiling. It was decorated in rich dark browns and reds. When Sally walked in, Abigail was reading a book at the long wood table in the middle of the room.

“Hi Abigail. What are you reading?”

Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickins.”

“Do you like it?”

“It’s pretty good. It was one of the books here in the library. I’ve been picking one out of the collection each week to read.”

She stood up from the table and closed the book.

“Should we get started?” She asked.

“Sure,” Sally replied.

“I thought we’d would start with math and get your least favorite one out of the way. Did you fill in those tables I gave to you yesterday?”

“Sure did. Stayed up pretty late to get them done.”

“Let’s see how you did.”

Sally nodded her head as she pulled the paper out of her folder and handed it to Abigail. She took out her red pen and began to touch each of the squares with it as she checked the numbers. Sally held her breath until Abigail was done.

“Looks like someone is finally getting the hang of this. Nice job Sally. Now I’d like to give you some problems to solve using the information in these tables.”

“O.k.,” Sally replied.

They both sat down next to each other at the table and Sally started working on the problems that Abigail had given her to do. After about an hour, Abigail sat back in her chair.

“You have really started to retain this information. That will be enough math for now. How about you read one of your stories to me?”

“O.k,” Sally replied and pulled her  yellow notebook out of her bag, “I’ll read you the one I wrote yesterday by the pond.”

“What pond?” Abigail asked.

Sally stopped. It was her secret pond. She wasn’t sure she was ready to tell anyone about it yet. She did think about telling Abigail yesterday though. Then she sighed. She had to tell her now.

“There’s a pond back by the stone wall in the woods. It is a secret place that Lila and I have been going to on our adventures,” she replied, sounding a little defeated.

 “I kind of wondered where you wandered off to after our sessions. Is it someplace that you can take me to? I would love to see where you and Lila explore.”

“I guess I can do that,” she replied starting to perk up.

“How about after our lessons today?”

“Sure,” Sally replied, kind of excited to share her secret place with Abigail.

“So, are you going to share your story with me?”

“Yes,” she said.

Sally opened up her notebook and started to read her story about Gloria. She hoped that Abigail would see her when they went to the pond today.

The Secret Pond – Chapter 2 – Sally

Hope you liked the book review last week. I really enjoyed reading Nellie Nova Takes Flight. I’m looking forward to see what adventure Stephenie Peterson has Nellie and Niles embark on in her next book. I’m glad to see such a good response to the post too.

Rewriting The Secret Pond has been an experience in editing. When I added more storyline and background to it, I noticed that my writing skills have definitely improved over the last year. What I originally wrote may have been my best at that time, but now I can see the things that can be changed to make it even better.

While working through my editor’s notes for The Hard Way, she pointed out a narrator Point of View (POV) change. It happens when the story is being told from one character’s point of view and then changes to a different character without any notice for the reader. It is an easy mistake to make and it can create confusion for the reader.

While rereading, The Secret Pond, I noticed that some of the story is told from Sally’s POV and some from Abigail’s. The story starts as Abigail’s, so if I want the narrator POV to change, I’ll have to show it changing. There are a couple of ways to do that. One, I can break it out into separate chapters and label them by who is telling the story. Or, I can choose one character’s POV to tell the entire story from. You will soon see what way I chose to go.

Chapter 2 – Sally

As she was running away from the house and down towards the woods, Sally felt a misty rain against her face, but she didn’t mind. She was going to her favorite place, her secret pond. Sally arrived at the edge of the woods and started down the path. 

The pond was in the middle of dense woods at the back part of the property that surrounded her house. Sally discovered the pond a couple of years ago while she was playing outside. She looked towards the woods and saw a path leading right into the trees. Her curiosity got the best of her and she started following the path. After cautiously walking for a couple of minutes, she saw a whole army of miniature frogs on the path ahead of her. They were frantically hopping in all directions to get out of her way as she walked towards them. She had such a hard time trying not to step on any. Just around a small bend in the path, she saw a beautiful pond off on her right. It was surrounded by the dense trees which kept a lot of the outside light and sounds out. It was so quiet in fact, that she could hear the sounds of the creatures in the pond singing their songs. 

Sally always visited the pond by herself. The adults didn’t have any time to spend with her, let alone visit the pond. She almost asked Claire to come with her one day. Sally smiled when she thought of Claire. She was the perfect nanny. She loved children and it showed as she treated Sally like one of her own. She moved into the Baxter’s home just after Sally was born. Sally’s mother wasn’t made to be a mother, but needed to have a baby to provide an heir for the family fortune. 

As she was growing up, Claire was her only playmate. Her mother didn’t believe in play dates. She was too busy being a part of high society to have any time to hang out with other moms. The Baxters hired people to take care of those tasks. So when Claire was busy, Sally had to entertain herself. She loved to read and played for hours with her friends, ones she either read about or created in her head.

Sally decided that she wanted to have one of her imaginary friends share the secrets of pond with her. Lila was a fairy that Sally met at the secret pond in one of her stories. She knew in her heart that Lila wasn’t real, but she needed to pretend that she was. The loneliness was eating her up inside. Living so far away from the city, she didn’t have a neighborhood of kids to play with. So, Lila became the ultimate playmate for Sally.

Just before Claire left, her Mother talked about sending her off to a special school. She explained to Sally that was why Claire had to leave and Abigail was coming to live at the house. She was going to be the tutor to get her ready for the school’s very challenging assessment exams. Sally wasn’t sure she wanted to go away to school, but knew that it was probably best. She felt that her parents didn’t have the time or interest in raising her. It would also give her the opportunity to meet kids her own age and find a more normal life than what she was living now. 

She lowered the hood of her rain slicker onto her back. The dense trees kept the mist out of the forest. As she got closer to the pond, she heard what sounded like a stone being dropped into the water. Walking down the path to the water’s edge, she saw a turtle swimming in the pond.

“What do you think of that, Lila?” Sally said out loud, “We have another friend living in our secret place.”

She thought it was probably the same turtle she saw laying eggs along the path last week. Seeing some baby turtles in the pond would be a lot of fun. Her and Abigail were talking about animals and creatures who lived in the woods. As a matter of fact, just today Sally learned that tadpoles were baby frogs. She was going to look and see if she could find some tadpoles in the secret pond.

Sally knew she would miss coming here once she left for school. But the bigger problem was what would Lila do after she left? Sally knew that Lila liked it too much at the country house to move anywhere else.

By choosing to write the story this way, I can bring in both what Sally is thinking and what Abigail is thinking and let them tell the reader themselves. Multiple points of view is an effective way to write, but adds a few more things to keep track of. Let’s see how it works going forward into Chapter 3 next week.

Book Review – Nellie Nova Takes Flight by Stephenie Peterson

You may be wondering why there isn’t another installment of The Secret Pond on the Monday Morning Blog today. Last month, I made a plan to do a book review once a month and I picked the second Monday for the post. So, when I agreed to do this book review, I set the date for the second Monday in August. So, The Secret Pond story will continue next week and the next book review will come the week after The Secret Pond project has concluded.

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Yesterday morning after taking the dog out, I settled into my comfy chair with a cup of coffee and surfed the channels on TV. I found a Lifetime Movie Network movie about JK Rowling that caught my attention. It was about how she wrote, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, found an agent, who in turn found a publisher, Bloomsbury who then bought the rights to her first book. Little did they know when it was published in 1997 that she would go on to write seven more books in what would become a popular series for middle grade and young adult readers. Just to note, many adults are fans of the series too. The story of her journey is a very inspiring one for a writer like me who is looking to publish a trilogy of my own. After watching the movie, it got me going on my writing.

Through Facebook writing groups, I’m making connections with many published and aspiring authors all at different places in their writing journeys. The advice and support that I find in these groups is invaluable to keep working towards my dream to publish a novel someday.

About a month ago, I proposed the idea of doing a book review of middle grade books on my blog, to add some different content. I mentioned it to a couple of the Facebook writing groups that I’m a member of. One of the authors from Fiction Writers, Stephenie Peterson, volunteered to send me a copy of her first published book. Here’s my review of  Nellie Nova Takes Flight.

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Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

Nellie Nova Takes Flight

Author

Stephenie Wilson Peterson

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction

Background

Published in 2016, this is her first published book. It is also the start of a series of books starring her main characters, Nellie and Niles Nova.

Summary of the story

Nellie Nova is a nine year old girl with curly blonde hair and lots of book smarts. She has strengths in math and science, which is not typical of most young girls. After being heckled by her brother, Niles, about being just a girl, she decided to do something that he would never believe she would. Using her knowledge of science and math, she built a time machine. Along with Niles, she visits places and times in history. On one of their adventures, they are able to meet Amelia Earhart, one of Nellie’s all-time favorite people. She is a fan of Amelia’s because she is also a girl, who was brave, and made big things happen.

My reactions to her book

Loved the story. I was drawn in by her characters and story development. Peterson really made Nellie a strong girl character which was nice to see. I’m a pilot, so having Amelia Earhart be the woman that Nellie really wanted to meet, brought me into the story even more.

I would recommend it to all middle grade readers. Seeing such a strong girl character in a novel for their reading level, I think would make it an inspirational read for young girls.

How do you get a copy or find out more about the author?

To get a copy of Nellie Nova Takes Flight from Amazon.com, just follow this link

Nellie Nova Takes Flight

For more information about the author, Stephenie Peterson, and her upcoming books, here’s a link to her website

Stephenie Peterson

The Secret Pond – Chapter 1 – Abigail

Chapter 1

Abigail Watson grew up in Superior, Wisconsin. Her Dad drove one of the big oar boats on Lake Superior for many years. One day, while loading the boat in Sioux Ste Marie, he got into a fight with a man over a card game. When the boat left port the next morning, he rode home in the infirmary in pretty bad shape. He died in the hospital a few days later.

Abigail’s Mom, Marie, decided that Abigail wasn’t going to sit around and watch the world go by, so she started looking for things for her to do. She found Abigail work as a waitress at the Superior Diner for a while and then helping Mrs. Dennison, who lived down the street, with household chores and tasks. But those jobs were just busy work for Abigail. They were not helping her to move out of the house and be able to live on her own.

Smart in school she was. She finished all of her high school classes by the time she turned 16. With diploma in hand, Marie decided to find her a tutoring job. She heard that the Baxters, a rich family who lived outside of town, would be sending their young daughter  off to boarding school. They would be needing someone to tutor and get her ready to go. She thought Abigail could be the person to do just that. She hoped that if Abigail could get in with the Baxters, they may be able to help her daughter find success.

Abigail met with Mr and Mrs Baxter and was hired on just after the nanny, Claire Baker, left in January. Claire had raised Sally from birth, but could not teach her the subjects that Sally had to learn for school. Abigail had sent her mom letters once a week after she got settled there. For the first couple of months, she received replies from her and it helped her to not feel so homesick. Abigail got busy and started writing less but still wrote from time to time. The replies slowed down and then stopped all together.

To celebrate her second Christmas with the Baxters, she decided to send a Christmas card to her mom. Even with all of the holiday parties that Mrs Baxter hosted at the house, Abigail still missed having her own family around her.

Just as the snow was melting and the brown grass was starting to show through, Abigail received a response back from Superior in the form of a small box,  but wasn’t from her mom. The address was was written in a different hand. She opened the box and found an enevelop on top. She opened it and it was a letter written by Mrs. Worthington, the owner of the boardinghouse where Abigail and her mom lived after her dad’s death.

Dear Abigail,

It is so nice to hear from you. Glad that things are going so well with you at the Baxters.

Your mom no longer lives here at the boarding house. She left here about four months after you left. I’m sorry dear, but I have no forwarding information from her either. I saved all of the letters that you sent after she left and kept them in this box, in case she came back. I want you to have them, since they are really yours.

Good luck to you Abigail. I wish you all the best.

Agnes Worthington

Abigail was glad to know that her letters did get there, but then became concerned about where her mom was. Not only because she missed her, but now where would she go? Where would she call home?

She glanced up at the clock on the mantle in her sitting room. Looking at the box and letters she had lost track of time. After putting the box on her nightstand, she quickly got herself cleaned up and ran towards the main house for dinner.

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Abigail climbed the stairs to her room above the carriage house after classes with Sally on a sunny April day. She was thinking about how her and Sally were a lot alike. She was also an only child, but didn’t have all of the things that Sally had. Abigail was going to turn eighteen next month and knew how lonely it was to not have any siblings or friends. She hoped that Sally was going to have the chance to make friends at boarding school. To help her escape the loneliness that she had felt for so long. Abigail knew how she was feeling. Lately, it was feeling worse for her, especially not knowing where her mom was.

The stories that Sally was writing showed the strength of her imagination. The adventures she came up with for her and Lila were things that Abigail wanted to do with a friend. She wished that she had one, but didn’t have time with all of the jobs her Mom was having her do. And once she moved in with the Baxters, she didn’t have a lot of free time, but she was so far out in the country away from other people, she would probably never find that friend to do things with.

Abigail looked out the window of the carriage house towards the garden. She saw Sally wearing her rain slicker, carrying her light green backpack, walking towards the woods at the back of the property. She always wondered where Sally was sneaking off to. Maybe one day, she would have to follow her and find out.

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.

More Unfinished Buiness

I’ll begin his week’s post by introducing the treehouse image that I selected for it. This image will be used for the posts that update the status of my Writing House. This is the picture that came into my mind when I originally came up with the concept. I’m so glad that I found it for my blog. This clipart is free to use on public domain, but they ask to have a link back to their page. Here is the link. Treehouse Clip Art. I appreciate the sites out there that have clip art that you can just use. In return, I don’t mind giving credit where credit is due.

How did you like my book review last week?  I really enjoyed reading the book and writing the review. It was great to get some different material on my blog. It also provided a great opportunity to do research on what other authors in my genre are writing about and how they do it. I really like John Grisham’s writing in his adult novels, so reading his middle grade book for my first review was a bonus. I’m working on other middle grade and children’s book reviews for my blog, so keep an eye out for them on future Mondays.

We all have unfinished business and projects in our worlds. Projects we started and are just waiting to be finished. Sometimes we just can’t complete them when we start them. With out a firm set of directions, the path they are supposed to be on may take some time to reveal. Sometimes it isn’t about a lack of direction for the project, it may be just a lack of time or money that is holding our projects back.

Let’s see what is going on with projects in my Writing House.

> I continue to post blogs every Monday for the Monday Morning Blogs. Keeping up with that has kept me in the writing game over the summer while Sam and I are running our two kids to their travelling baseball games.

> I recently moved my blogspot posts over to my WordPress blog. I did it in response to a reference I made to one of those posts. I wanted to link those two posts together. After I moved and settled them in with my more recent posts, I came across six post drafts that I never finished. Most of them were part of a story I was creating and posting segments of each week. When I discovered draft posts it hit me, I have some unfinished business to deal with.

My plan is to check out what I posted so far. It might have a good base for a short story to write and submit. Or, I may need to continue to take it on the path it started on, since sections of it were published on the previous blog and the story may need to be completed for the reader.

> I’ve been reading and reviewing other middle grade and children’s books to get reviews done and put into the review format ahead of time. I am trying to make time for the big project in the house, editing The Hard Way.

I’ve been a little anxious about working on those edits for some reason.I want to work on them, but feel I’m not ready with the right type of time and energy to work on them. Do I feel this way because of the busy day to day life, or am I  procrastinating?

As I sat on the deck drinking chai yesterday morning, I thought about this very question. Working on those edits will be a big step forward for me and that project. My editor and I have to take our time and getting this book done right. It will be the foundation for the next two novels in my planned trilogy. The advice I have received from other authors is to just get started and take it in small bites. That way I won’t feel so overwhelmed and can start getting it done.

I think I will wait until the summer travelling baseball season is over. Then I will have more time available and maybe not feel so pressed. It is only two more weeks, so not too far off from now. I am afraid if I wait, something else will pop up that needs to be done and the writing gets pushed off again, to remain as another item on my unfinished business list.  My writing has been overrun by many things many times in my life. I need to accept that I’m not going to be able to control these things that come up in my life. I keep stressing myself out with trying to fix it and I may just have to find the patience to wait and the faith to know it will happen.

There is a time in life for everything. Just like my other writing ideas, it may not be their time yet.The perfectionist in me has to let go and be o.k. with just doing my best. My best is pretty good and it seems to be getting many things done so far. I need to take the advice of other authors. Just need to start working on those edits little by little. Have faith that it will get done and my goal to publish will come true. It just may take a little longer than planned. I guess that’s what they call being realistic.

Book Review – The Accused (Theodore Boone #3) by John Grisham

I have quite a few writers that follow my blog which is great. Since I am planning to become a middle grade author, I want to bring some YA/Middle Grade readers, parents, teachers and librarians on to follow my blog. To make that happen, I decided that I would need to come up with some different content for my blog posts. Topics they would genuinely be interested in and want to come to my blog for.

As I worked through the WordPress workshop I was involved in last month, I brainstormed some new ideas. One of the ideas I came up with was book reviews. Not just any book review, but a review of either a YA or a Middle Grade book. That way, I could draw in those readers for a new book to read and also write the review for the parents, teachers and librarians to help them decide whether the book would be suitable for their young readers. It would also help me to read the books that my soon to be published one, The Hard Way, will be found on the shelf with.

So, I decided to start with a monthly book review this month. For the featured book for July, I went into our family bookshelf and looked at the books that the boys have read. I found one, Theodore Boone – The Accused by John Grisham. I was intrigued by the fact that it was a middle grade novel written by Grisham. I like his style in the adult novels I have read so I thought that I would try this middle grade novel out.

A book review is just one person’s view of what they read. So I will give it a shot and share my thoughts with you about this one. Check out what I have to say about The Accused in the book review below.

 

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

The Accused (Theodore Boone #3)

Author

John Grisham

Type of Book

Middle Grade Fiction

Background

This is the third book of a series. After reading the book, I learned that it can be read and enjoyed without having read the first two books in the series.

Summary of the story

Theodore Boone (Theo), an eighth grader at Strattenburg Middle School, falls into in a stolen goods situation at school. As the son of two lawyers, he uses his knowledge of the law and interest in investigating and takes the case. He has to fight through being the one accused of the crime, to work on the case with his Uncle Ike and his friends.

Reactions to the book

Couldn’t put the book down. It was a very engaging read with characters that would be very easy for any middle grade reader to relate to. I have read many of Grisham’s adult fiction novels and I am a fan. The same writing style is found in his middle grade series. The idea of reading a mystery at that age, reminds me of the Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene. I had fun reading those books as a young girl and enjoyed trying to figure out how it was going to end. I found that reading this book was the same way.

Theo seems to be an above average kid in his knowledge of the law. He must be really interested in it to take on his case and other people’s cases like he does in the book. The other kids seem to want to help him out with it, which brings in kind of teamwork and friends helping each other theme into the story.

If you enjoy a good kid sleuth solving a mystery story, I would definitely recommend this book for any middle grade reader out there. It was even a pretty enjoyable read for this adult reader.

 

Happy 4th of July! It’s a milestone day.

A couple weeks ago, I realized that I was getting close to 100 blog posts on this site. I looked at the calendar and noticed what day the post was going to fall on. This year July 4th falls on a Monday, the day I post my weekly blog on. This is my 100th post on WordPress and it is going live on the internet on the 4th of July 2016. It’s debut comes on a day designated to celebrate our country’s independence with picnics, parades and fireworks. It is a great day to post this milestone’s debut on.

You may notice some changes to the look of my blog site. Thanks to some new found knowledge from a workshop about WordPress that I am currently working through, I did some updates to my blog. Some of them you will see. Different colors with additional pages containing an author bio and another page with a contact me form. Other changes are working behind the scenes to make things work better on the site.

So, let’s start this post with a little bit of background about Independence Day.

According to Wikipedia, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress. It declared that the original thirteen American colonies would become a new nation and no longer be a part of the British Empire.

From the onset, Americans celebrated the anniversary of this event on the date the declaration was signed and appears on the actual document, July 4th, 1776, rather than the date the resolution was approved, which was July 2nd. Not only is the difference in these dates an issue and disputed fact, but it isn’t even certain that the declaration was even signed on July 4th, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin later wrote they actually did sign it on the 4th.

Some additional bits of trivia about July 4th,

  • Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration to later become presidents of the United States, died on the same day, July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of when the Declaration was supposedly signed.
  • Another Founding Father, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, now the third president who has died on the holiday.
  • So far there has only been one president born on Independence Day, Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872.

I enjoy doing research for my blog posts. I learn a lot of interesting things that I want to share. I hope you find some of it interesting too. Through my blogs this year I have learned many fun facts about different events in the history of our country. I wonder if one of these facts will win me any money in a trivia contest someday.

Along with my 100th blog post milestone, I have another blog writing milestone to celebrate from this holiday weekend. I achieved the 100 likes mark on Saturday, thanks to another author who commented and liked last week’s blog post. Even though I feel like my writing has been at a stand still lately, these milestones show me the work and time I am putting in on my blog is progressing. I’m also making more contacts and meeting some great people in the process. This networking is helping the typically solitude life of a writer change into more of a social experience.

I have gained so much knowledge and experience about the writing and publishing process through this journey. Not only by the writing itself, but also by listening to the advice of others who have walked the path before me. There are a lot of people to thank for their help, advice, and support along the way. I know now, as a writer, you definitely don’t journey down this path alone. I have made contacts with so many people around the world through blogging and social media groups. I don’t know how I would have done it before the invention of Facebook and the creation of my blog.

Last week while I was sorting out my feelings about my writing progress, I came up with the writing house analogy. It is a way to view what I’m putting together for all my writing processes and goals. I compared it to building a house, because there are a lot of things that go into it. Some are visual, like the colors and furniture on the inside and some are essential but hidden from view, like the foundation, or writer’s platform, which needs to be stable and built the right way. Constructing the writing house is not only putting together what is seen on the outside, the right website, Facebook page, blog, or cover design for the novel. It is also having a comfortable place to go and create the stories and blogs that make the rest of the writing journey work and the house function with it.

Everyone has a happy place. A place where they can go to feel relaxed and calm or maybe just simply be happy. For my writing house, I’m picturing a tree house with a writing desk in it. Birds singing and wind blowing through the leaves. I feel a sense of calm when I imagine myself there, away from the stress of day-to-day life. It gives me a place where I can be quiet with my thoughts and listen to my heart’s passions; for my family and my writing. Even if I can only just imagine being there, it ultimately helps me get creatively inspired to write those stories that are inside of me.

My 100th post is a definite writing milestone for me. It makes me stop and think about how far I have come with my writing. A lot of work has been and will continue to be put into it. There have been a fair share of hard times and happy times on the journey, but anything worth having has to be worked for. And the work isn’t easy, but the results are well worth it in the end.

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.