Accountability

OK folks.  I need some accountability and motivation here.  I have book one done and am faithfully doing my best to sell it.  It is a fun process.  I am enjoying it more than I expected.  But… in the grand scheme of things there is something else I need to get done.  That would be Book 2.  I have books 3 and 4 (or possibly book 4 might be book 6 or 7) done… rough drafts anyway and I just need to get book 2 done.  The problem is that it’s just hard to get started.  Also, the setting is not so simple.  Book one was set at the ranch, a real place I know and love.  Book 2 is set in Colorado in a town I visited once.  That’s quite a difference.  But, the bottom line is that I lack the motivation to write.  I plan to write. I hope to write.  I just don’t write.  After the first of the year I plan to start looking for a publisher for the second book.  My hope is to sell enough books by then to find a publisher interested in republishing a short run of book one followed quickly by book two.  Maybe I’m dreaming but that’s my hope.  But first I have to finish book two.

So – here’s the deal.  I am going to set the goal of finishing it during NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month for those of you who don’t know.)  I am not officially joining in on NaNoWriMo this year since I don’t have 50,000 words to write but I do think it gives me an opportunity to get the rough draft of book 2 done.  Here’s what you can do.  Ask me about it.  Pray for me.  And just knowing that I have told all of you (at least 49 of you if my stats were right the other day) gives me that sense of accountability.  There’s an extra hour tonight… guess what I’ll be doing. 🙂  Stay tuned for further updates.

You Did It!

Hey, thanks to all of my facebook friends who responded to my cry for help this morning…  YOU DID IT.  (For those of you who aren’t facebook friends I asked them to help me top last months visits.)  At present we have 131 visits for this month as opposed to 128 for last month. YAY! 

I would love to hear some feed back on the posts too.  Let me know what you are thinking.

I have another request.  I am keeping pretty close tabs on how many books I sell and I’ll get a report from the fulfillment center for WinePress every three months but I would love love love it if you could let me know if you ordered my book online.  Just send me a note at info@doublecousins.net  or even comment on this blog and I’ll compile a number from there.  Also it will help me establish an email list so when the next book comes out I can notify all of you! 🙂  Oh the next book… yes I have been studiously avoiding working on that today!

 

Comfort Food/Comfort Books

We all know what comfort foods are and we all have our favorites.  Mine, of course, is chocolate.  Followed closely by ice cream.  No, I take that back.  I think it’s the other way around!  Anyway, there are those foods that just speak to our inner beings, they make us feel good!  Tonight I had another one of my favorites, tacos.  Then there is spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, corned beef and cabbage,  potato soup, tomato soup, homemade turkey and rice soup, homemade bread… oh dear.  I better stop or I’ll be hungry!  Can you tell I’m on a diet… that’s where eating too much comfort food will get you. 

Lately though, I’ve been thinking about “comfort books.”  I have several.  Those would be the books that I pick up when I’m having a tough day and I just want to take a break, relax, enjoy the story, and not think too hard.  For me, mysteries do it.  Mysteries like the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman, or The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun are two of my favorites.  They are considered cozy mysteries (just the name sounds like a comfort food doesn’t it?)  When I was a kid it was the Trixie Belden mysteries.  I am definitely a character driven reader.  I really couldn’t care less about the mystery at hand which is the main reason I can do the unthinkable and read the end before I get there.  You see, once I have begun to care about the characters it’s all over because then I start to worry that the author will kill a main character off, or something bad is going to happen and I just HAVE to read the end.  I love watching the character’s lives unfold over the course of several books.  When I’m needing comfort I like to pick one up I’ve read before and it’s like an old friend.

There are also comfort books that we knew in the past but have lost contact with.  The other day I heard the word “gargoyle” somewhere and I instantly had the title, “The Prettiest Gargoyle” pop into my head.  This was a book I read somewhere back in the early 70’s but it obviously made an impression.  I looked it up, found a used copy online and ordered it.  Last week I spent an afternoon rereading it.  What a treat.  An afternoon with an old friend.

My hope for the Double Cousins series is to create a series that can be comfort books for another generation.  The best part is that it won’t make them fat!

Ambiguosity

I asked my husband if “ambiguosity” is a word.  His response was… “I suppose”.  That’s good enough for me. 🙂

Yesterday I was asked how I felt seeing the book finished and in print.  I found it a little hard to come up with words that would express the feeling.  It’s a good feeling, don’t get me wrong.  But maybe this is one of those times when I can say, “word’s just don’t express.”  That isn’t what an interviewer wants to hear though,  so I tried.  “It is awesome,” I said.  That sounds cutsie, I thought.  So I followed it with, “It is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.”  That doesn’t cover it either.  After that I rambled a bit (don’t ask how much coffee I had downed) about my lack of faith that it would ever really come to be, my amazement that I had actually accomplished this dream, and my certainty that without my husband’s encouragement and my Grandma’s repeated queries as to “how that book is coming” I wouldn’t have finished it…  I could have gone on as to all of the other people who were instrumental in the accomplishment… the Black Hills Writers Group, my parents and siblings, my nieces and nephews who took the job of chief naggers VERY seriously sometimes…

This is not just my accomplishment, but many people’s.  So it is an awesome feeling.  It is a wonderful sense of accomplishment.  It is a “can this really have happened to me” moment… it is all of that.  But there is this little bit of ambiguoisity that pops up now and then.  For instance…

When cleaning my house last week I stood over the stacks of boxes in my living room  and I felt a little ambiguous.  What have I done?  What am I ever going to do with all of these books?  Sell them, of course…. but what if I don’t.  Then what do you do with 7 boxes of books (not to mention the ones hanging out in each vehicle and at the house in NC or at my parent’s house in SD.  I’ll put  them in the guest room.  I’ll cover them with a pretty blanket or cloth and use them as a suitcase stand!  Brilliant.  But what about the rest… hum…  I glanced around the living room and AHA!  Those two chairs could sure use an end table between them… 

So now you know at least one good use for “books waiting for a home.”  Make furniture out of them. 🙂  Hopefully they will sell quickly enough that the new furniture doesn’t have time to collect dust…

Carrying on the tradition

Last Monday we gathered again in Broken Bow to say goodby to my Grandma.  We came from three of the four corners of our country with the  majority arriving from the Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota area!   We traveled by plane, by car, and even a few of us in the “one eyed wonder”.  We came, sad for our loss but so thankful Grandma wouldn’t be suffering anymore.  We cried, we laughed, we sang, we shared memories, we ate great food, and… oh yes… I sold books.  Yes, I did.  I admit it.  I sold books out of the trunk of my Daddy’s car.

What???  How could you?  Well… read my book and you will understand.  Or, at least, you may begin to understand.  You see… it’s a tradition.

My great-uncle, Ervin Jones was known as Trader Jones.  In my book I very creatively (hah!) called him Trader Johnson.  He was called this for an obvious reason.  He always had a trunk full of interesting stuff, stuff that someone would NEED.  As in my book, he always showed up at the ranch with cowboy boots in various kids sizes so that we would have them to wear when we visited.  Once he even traded the hat right off his head.  In the book he is the one character that is completely recognizable.  He would have been proud of me!  Especially when I sold his granddaughter a book.

But what about your grandparents?  Let me tell you about my Grandpa Jones.  When he was in his mid-seventies he decided that he remembered a lot of things no one else did.  He had memories that would soon be lost to everyone.  So he wrote them down.  He wrote three books over the next several years and self published them.  He then spent the next several years selling them to anyone and everyone he came in contact with.  He carried them around in his Bronco.  I remember him selling them to people sitting beside him at rodeos, around town, anywhere he went.  I’m pretty sure he had them in his Bronco at a few funerals…

Then there is Grandma.  My Grandma was extremely proud of the fact that I was writing some of our stories down.  Stories that happened on their ranch.  Stories that were from one of the best times of her life.  She had a hard life, especially as a child and a young bride during the depression.  When someone commented to her about “the good old days” her response was… “they weren’t that good.”  So once they started making a living on the ranch it was easier to enjoy life.  She loved having her children and grandchildren around.  They were the best times of her life.  Even up until her death she always perked up when the children came into her room.  She lived the last few years on anticipation for the next family reunion or gathering when she would see all of the new babies. 

So, while it may seem strange to an outsider that I would have books with me at the funeral it seemed completely normal and expected.  I didn’t pull them out until someone asked for one.  Then no one blinked an eye.  They grinned and told me I was turning into George Jones.  I’d call that a compliment!   They laughed and  questioned if I was becoming Uncle Ervin.  And they were  glad I brought books.  After all, why spend money on shipping if you don’t have to.  Oh, but that’s another thing we learned from our grandparents.  Frugality!

Mildred Lenora Trunnell Jones- September 23, 1912 to October 2, 2009

One of the primary reasons we decided to go ahead and publish this book last December was my Grandma Jones.  I felt the best place to launch the book was in Broken Bow, NE at the fair.  It made sense considering that’s where part of the book took place.  The fair only happens once a year, the first week in August and last December, when we were considering this option my Grandma was 96.  I desperately wanted Grandma to see the finished product since she IS the Grandma in the book.  She has also been my best and most constant encourager over the years.  Almost every time I would call her she would ask, “how is your book coming, Miriam?”  She was excited when I gave her the rough draft shortly after finishing it and she read it with great delight.  So, when I realized that the chances of having another year at the fair with Grandma still around were not very likely,  my husband and I decided to go for it. 

Sure enough, after 7 months of work, nail biting, and angst, the finished product came squeaking in just in the nick of time.  We made it to the fair with the book in hand and I even was able to read some of it to Grandma.  She was delighted to see it and hold it in her hands, even though she wasn’t able to see it clearly, or really concentrate on the book.  She enjoyed all of the activity surrounding the books launch too.   

Last week I went home for a book signing and to go help Grandma celebrate her 97th birthday.  She was in pain, tired, and frustrated with her inability to enjoy the day like she wanted and we all hurt with her.  My Dad had commented after the fair that God was still using her as a testimony to others and she was bringing glory to Him through her thankful attitude even in the face of such minimal “quality of life.”  He pointed out that when God’s purpose for her was done, then He would release her to go  to heaven.

Early this morning He did just that and my Grandma stepped into heaven.  She sees perfectly now.  She can walk, run, and express her thoughts clearly again.  There is no pain.  She is with Grandpa and all of the others that have gone on before her.  And, most importantly, she is with Jesus.  I am thankful that she was my Grandma.  I am thankful that she was such a godly lady, one who lived the verse from Proverbs 31.  Verse 26 says, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”  I NEVER heard Grandma say anything unkind about anyone.  I only wish that could be said about me. 

I hope you have someone in your life that has been your example of a godly woman.  I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her influence.  I will miss her desperately, but I am so glad she is finally home.

Grandma and me with the book!

Grandma and me with the book!

Finally Home by Don Wyrtzen

Chorus 1
But just think of stepping on shore
And finding it heaven
Of touching a hand and finding it God’s
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial
Of waking up in glory and finding it home

Verse 1
When engulfed by the terror
Of tempestuous sea
Unknown waves before you roll
At the end of doubt and peril is eternity
Though fear and conflict seize your soul

Verse 2
When surrounded by the blackness
Of the darkest night
O how lonely death can be
At the end of this long tunnel
Is a shining light
For death is swallowed up in victory