NaNo Make-Up #1

Because I’m such a pathetic human and cannot manage to do NaNo the months it is actually running, I have decided to come up with my own times to do NaNo when it works for me. So, myself and Emily McConnell are hosting a NaNo Make-Up that will run from January 15th to February 15th.

 

You can set your own word count, or set a project/outline/editing goal–whatever you want! If you are going to join us, send me a message and I’ll add you to our group Google Hangout. Also, you can add your goal to the group Google Doc. Some of us will be using MyWriteClub for goal tracking. It’s not a requirement, but if you want to join that, feel free!!!

 

I hope you can join us this month! However, if it doesn’t work for your schedule, know that we will be doing a second Make-Up from March 15th to April 15th.

 

November Goals/Writing Update

I’m going to go back to monthly wrap posts, but instead of trying to wrap up October, I’m just going to start with November goals. :P

And since I don’t have time to make a cool feature image, let me leave you with this neat picture I took yesterday that I’m a little proud of.

 

img_2969

 

Writing

Even though I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I’m going to be fixing up and finishing a bunch of other projects.

  1. Finish Even Through Rain
  2. Publish above short story (Information forthcoming)
  3. Complete edits on secret project (Details forthcoming)
  4. Send said project to editor
  5. COMPLETELY OUTLINE Long Lake Legacy book 2. (LOTS of details forthcoming ;-P )

 

 

I don’t really have any other specific goals for this month other than writing, since that will be my focus. But who knows…life has been throwing me curveballs as of late!! ;-)

 

~~

Do you have any goals for November?

Are you doing NaNo?

If not, are you working on something else?

How I Write a Book FAST(ish)

Letter to My Book

That’s probably not a title you expected from me. I didn’t either. But I’ve come to realize that I do write fast, even if it seems like it takes an eternity. The Old River Road took eight months from first words to published. So how do I do it?

Let me introduce you to this lovely thing I call Binge Writing.

Binge Writing, otherwise known as a Writing Spree, is something I started doing out of sheer desperation. NaNo of 2015 was my very first attempt at writing 50,000 words in less than a year (in less than 3 years, actually). And I did it. 50,000 in one month.

After November, I was pretty convinced that I would just participate in every single NaNo and camp NaNo available. Great idea, in theory. It just so happens that April, July, and November are pretty much the very worst months for me to buckle down and focus on something.

Also, I have the attention span of a gnat. It’s called ADD. I like instant gratification. And yes, THERE IS A WAY to have it in writing.

I schedule two binge writes a month. 5 days of 2,000 words per day, one week off, then another 5 days of 2,000 words a day.

Why 2,000 words a day?

This will vary from person to person, but I’ve found that 2,000 words is my sweet spot. I know without a doubt that I can write that much and not be stressed.

Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. I can write that much with minimal stress. :)

That number is flexible, however. Some weeks, if I have a lot of schoolwork to do or I’m working more hours, I might lower it to 1,500. Or 1,000. Or 500. The point is to write some amount of words, consistently, for 5 days.

It adds up overtime, kinda like change in a jar. When the jar is full, you can be surprised at how much money is in there. When the week is over, you can be surprised at how much that word count has come up.

Give it a try. And tell me how it went! :)

~~~~~~~~~

What are your writing habits?

 

Writing Romance: Where to Draw the Line?

No doubt, this is a touchy subject. I do not claim to be right, nor do I claim to be an expert on the subject. I’m probably going to make some people upset with this post, and I know that not everyone is going to agree with me–and that’s OKAY! I’m merely going to point out some of my personal convictions when it comes to writing romance. Sound good?

 

Letter to My Book(1)

Just about everyone will admit that they have read–or watched–an encounter between a couple that made them uncomfortable. Even if the couple is married, the way they show affection to one another–affection that is not “wrong”–can feel very wrong to be seeing [or reading] it.

On the flip side, there are those books where the couples rarely show affection to one another.

As a reader, either one of these scenarios can be maddening. As a writer, it can be hard to know how much is appropriate to show.

So how can you know?

This is a subject that really bothered me a few years ago. Hence, I decided that the best route to take was to write romance-free books. It was a great idea in theory, but my characters revolted. I found myself needing a way to handle their romance rather than ignore it.

So I went crying to my dear mom, “How do I know if it is okay to write about characters who decided to love each other?!?”

Moms are full of wisdom, peeps.

She told me something that someone had told her when she was young, and it boils down to this:

Would that couple be doing/saying/behaving that way if someone was standing in the room watching them?

I had to think about that for some time before I made sense of it in my head. And, more importantly, I had to figure out what that meant for my writing.

What I decided to do is pretty much what that says. My characters don’t do, say, or behave in such a way that would make me uncomfortable if I were in the same room as them.

Let’s face it: plenty of things go on between couples that other people shouldn’t see, whether it be a private conversation, a passionate kiss, etc. Therefore, they shouldn’t go in books. Readers are smart, and a little imagination can go far enough. There is no need to be explicit about subjects that should be reserved for husbands and wives.

“But how can I show that my characters love each other without writing those things?”

Think about it–do you have to see what goes on behind closed doors to know that couples you know (parents/neighbors/friends) are in love? I don’t. If you pay attention, it really isn’t that difficult to see when a couple loves each other merely my the way they interact even in a public setting.

Love can be shown in so many ways. I challenge you to utilize some of the more subtle ways of showing love between couples, and leave what happens behind closed doors behind closed doors. It is entirely possible to write a sweet romance/relationship without giving too much information.

For my own writing, I have made the decision to not write any romantic relationship that goes beyond what I would be comfortable seeing/hearing were I in the room with my characters. I have been told that the romance I write is “immature” and should be “more graphic.”

I must admit that I actually laughed when I heard that.

But you know what? I’d rather write “immature” and “un-graphic” romance that I believe is appropriate than worry about overstepping my bounds and making some readers, not to mention myself, uncomfortable.

~~~~

How do you feel about writing romance? Are there any specific guidelines you’ve set up for yourself? I’d love to hear–new ideas are always welcome! :)

Letter To My Book

I’m totally stealing this idea from Katie. She wrote an awesome letter to her novel, and it inspired me to do the same. So without further ado, here is a letter to my book, The Old River Road.

 

Dear TORR,

You aren’t the first book I’ve ever written, nor are you the last. You’re kind of that stubborn, middle-child story that was easier than my first, yet harder than the next. You forced me to grow, as a writer, in ways that I never imagined.

In hindsight, writing went relatively smoothly, despite all the tears, headdesks, and facepalm moments. I wrote you faster than I’ve ever written a book before, thanks to this insane thing called NaNoWriMo. 80,000 words in 3 months, the first 50,000 in 30 days. I didn’t think I could do it. It took me 4 years to write your 130,000 word cousin, Chained Heart.

To be honest, I hated the writing process. I was handicapped by my perfectionism; crippled by the fact that I couldn’t get every little detail exactly right.

But I did it. You helped me prove to myself that I can write fast. That I can edit fast. That “perfect” is unattainable (and that’s OK). That I can fit writing into my everyday life. That I can get over myself and do it.

Somewhere along the way, the idea/necessity for your sequel was born. I didn’t want to write a sequel. I still don’t want to. I don’t know if I have the mental energy to write it now, or even 6 months from now. But God has big things in store for you–I can see that already–and I’m not going to shut any doors just for the sake of my own desires.

I’m very excited for what comes next, yet am hobbled by fear at the same time. You are so precious to me for so many reasons, yet I’m going to be throwing you out into a big world of readers who may or may not like you. I’m ready to make the transition from Writer to Author, but I’m half afraid that you aren’t a worthy debut novel. I don’t know if any of my novels are.

I’m afraid that if I were to wait until my novels were ‘worthy,’ I would never make the transition.

Now that we’re in the final stages of preparing you for publication, I get all the warm fuzzies as I write the epilogue, afterward, and acknowledgements. I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. I’ve wanted it to happen, d e s p e r a t e l y, since I was a little thirteen year old with big ideas. But I never thought that you would be my first published work.

There have a lot of times when I wondered if I would even make it past the first couple words. There have been even more times when I wondered if writing stories was worth the time and energy it took. And unfortunately, there will still be times like that…lots of them…but I will be able say to myself, “I already did it. I can do it again.”

It’s been a frustrating, maddening, yet completely awesome ride. I can’t wait to see how God will use you in the big scary world of readers.

Much love,

your author.

 

Really Awesome Research Vlog (not mine)

I know, I know…two posts in one week?!?! And I’m not done yet. There’s a book review coming on Saturday. :-)

I just wanted to tell you guys about this amazing vlog on researching for a historical fiction novel. Emily Ann Putzke did a really nice job making the video clear and concise. It was very informative and helpful for me, so hop on over to her blog and take a peek at it! (And look around while your there. Her blog is absolutely amazing.)

Life Lately/April Wrap

Well, these monthly wrap up posts seem to be “the thing” right now, and while I try not to do what everyone else does, these posts are so fun to read I don’t see a good reason not to do them!

(And yes, I do know that it is May 4th. Life gets in the way of my desires to post on time.)

 

www.LakesidePublications.co

~Books Read~

11. Sorry, I don’t have the energy to list them all every single month.

BUT.

I will list my top 3 favorites.

Samara’s Peril by Jaye L. Knight. I got to be an advanced reader for this book!! Can you believe it!!!! I still can’t! It was so amazing!!

The Ryn by Serena Chase.

The Remedy by Serena Chase.

(I am completely blaming my dear friend Hope for telling me about those last two. And no one needs to know how late I stayed up reading them. They were totally awesome, by the way. :) )

 

~Writing~

Well, since I had a long day of near panic when I realized how close the release date of The Old River Road is coming in comparison to how much work still needed to be done, I re-evaluated my goals for April.

Total words written: 20,000

Total words edited: 85,000 (that was my whole manuscript for TORR)

I successfully completed my “week of insane writing.” Barely. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. The story just wasn’t flowing right. But I pushed through, and finished with 15,000 words in five days.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 11.59.34 PMBTW, please tell me I’m not the only one that gets to the “..999” word count and seriously cannot think of ONE MORE WORD to type to finish up my daily amount.

Most words in one day: 5,126

Least words in a day: 216

Most words in an hour: 2,000 (a new personal high!)

 

~Beta-reading~

  1. Abi’s Martin Hospitality
  2. My own book. (Does that count?)

 

~Life~

Well, a lot of life stuff happened this past month.

  1. I got accepted and enrolled in college. *ahhhhh!!!!* I will be taking classes from home through IMG_1439Liberty University. Classes start in 14 DAYS!!!!
  2. I buckled down on high school stuff so I can close that area of my life.
  3. Edited an entire book, hired a cover designer AND editor, rounded up 12 amazing beta readers…and somewhere in there lost my sanity.
  4. Learned how to drive our 36ft motorhome. (Told you I lost my sanity.)
  5. Resumed TaeKwonDo classes. Boy I tell you, I am one rusty black belt. Eight years of no practice really puts a tarnish on that shiny blackness.  :-)
  6. Ate at Chick-fil-A for the second time in my entire life. Seriously, they need to get these restaurants in Eastern Washington. What the heck is up with them only being in the southern/eastern states and in Seattle?
  7. Met an internet friend in person!!! (Hi Rosey!!!!) :-)

 

~Goals for May~

  1. Finish getting The Old River Road ready for publication. This means going through my beta-reader’s comments, sending it to my editor, going through her comments, then sending the manuscript to the formatted. (WHEW!)
  2. Start college. This one is inevitable, so maybe I should say “survive starting college.”
  3. Plan my graduation/baptism/18th birthday/Mom and Dad’s 22nd wedding anniversary.  These events are all so close together I decided that we may as well celebrate them all on the same day. Why not, right? Now I just have to plan the insane event.
  4. Beta-read Hope’s Song of the Sword, and Abi’s Martin Hospitality.
  5. Read 8 books.
  6. Do a Vlog.
  7. Survive. (This one has been on the bottom of my daily to-do lists as of late.)

 

~~~~~~~~

Well, there was a lot more that went into April, but that’s all I have the energy to record for now.

So how was your April? Did you do anything absolutely fantastic that I should know about? How do you feel about frozen cookie dough? (Sorry, that was random, but seriously, have you tried the stuff?)

 

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DON’T STOP READING YET!!!!

Are you still reading? Good. Keep going.

I have this wonderful idea to do a Vlog sometime in the near future (’cause Vlogs are awesome), but in order to do so I need to know if you have any questions for me. I can come up with a topic on my own if necessary, but it would be far more fun to answer your questions. Please, if you have any questions, leave them in the comment box, or email me with the contact form. THANK YOU!!!

Sneak Peek–The Old River Road~Pt 2

Yay! You’re back! Enjoy the second part of Chapter 1. Read Part 1 here.

 

~~~

Clara tried to answer her sister, but William spoke before she had a chance.

“Miss Boutwell had an encounter with a mud puddle, which was entirely my fault.”

Clara vainly stifled a giggle as Esther looked up to William’s handsome face. Esther’s rosy cheeks flushed and Clara saw her eyes widen.

“Your fault?” Esther asked, her gaze fixed on William.

“He bumped me and I fell into a puddle,” Clara said quickly. She shrugged William’s coat off her back and handed it to him. “Sorry to ruin your coat.”

William smiled and took the coat, handing Clara’s books to Esther. “No problem. Dirt and water will wash out. Again, I apologize for my carelessness.”

“No need to apologize. It’s been quite a long time since I went for a swim in a puddle.” Clara smiled at him and let her eyes flash childishly.

William laughed and let himself out the door. “Good afternoon.”

Esther let out a dramatic sigh when the knob clicked shut. “Ohhhh Clara, he’s so handsome!” she squealed. “Who is he? Where did you meet him?”

Clara groaned. “I’ll tell you later. Please Esther, stop being dramatic and help me out of these clothes. I’m freezing.”

“Alright, alright.” Esther dropped her playful teasing and helped Clara up the stairs.

Esther was twenty years old; three whole years older than Clara. She was the youngest of Clara’s older sisters, and the one Clara was closest to. Though Esther wasn’t a biological sister, she bore such resemblance to all four Boutwell women that no one ever guessed she had been adopted. Clara didn’t remember exactly when Esther had come to live with them…they had both been such little girls and Esther had been very quiet and reserved the first few months, grieving the death of her father, who had raised her since her birth.

“Clara?” a sweet voice called from the top of the staircase. “Is that you?”

“Yes, Mother.” A part of her hoped that her mother would stay where she couldn’t see her; shivering and filthy as she was.

“My goodness, Child, what happened to you?” Mrs. Boutwell asked as Clara alighted the staircase.

“I fell into a puddle on my way home.” An attack of chills overcame her as she spoke, making her words tremble.

“Oh Clara, you’re so unromantic,” Esther chided. “No Mama, an extremely handsome young man bumped Clara and threw her into the puddle. He walked her home and even made her wear his coat.”

Mrs. Boutwell’s hand flew to her mouth.

“It was an accident, Mother.” Clara firmly resisted the urge to roll her eyes at Esther. “He didn’t mean to bump me. Neither one of us was watching where we were going. Mr. McDonald was kind enough to make sure I made it home without freezing.”

Mrs. Boutwell sighed and shook her head, but Clara thought she saw a hint of a smile playing at her mother’s lips. “Let’s get you out of those clothes and into a hot tub. Esther, please put some water on the fire.”

“Yes, Mother.” Esther turned back down the staircase and Mrs. Boutwell led Clara into the master bedroom.

The Boutwells certainly weren’t considered wealthy, but they lived a comfortable life in the city. Clara’s father, a War veteran, was the pastor of a local Presbyterian church. He also earned a good living being in the Illinois Volunteer Militia, where he had risen to the rank of General.

Clara was proud of her father in many ways. Mostly though, because he feared the Lord above all else. Unlike many other men Clara had heard of who beat their wives and spent all their money in taverns, her father was a hard worker and a well-respected man, both by his family and his congregation. His quiet way with words and powerful ability to make a difference in people’s lives astounded Clara.

 

Mrs. Boutwell helped Clara strip off her still-dripping dress and petticoats, and Clara stiffly eased into the claw-footed tub. Clara thought she saw a smile breach her mother’s lips as she turned on the tap, but she couldn’t be sure.

“Oh Clara,” Mrs. Boutwell said, placing her hands on her hips and gazing at her. “Will you ever learn to keep yourself out of scrapes?”

“I didn’t do it on purpose, Mother, it was an accident. Mr. McDonald bumped into me, and I couldn’t catch myself.” Clara grinned sheepishly. “I saved my books.”

Mrs. Boutwell looked wistfully at the ceiling, but she too smiled. “Sometimes I cannot believe that you are nearly seventeen. But then again, you’ve always been more concerned about books than your clothes.”

Esther knocked on the door before entering with a pot of boiling water. She slowly dumped it in the tub, and Clara closed her eyes as the hot water mixed with the lukewarm water from the tap. It made her feet and legs tingle as they thawed.

“One more pot should be perfect,” Clara said, leaning against the cool porcelain of the bathtub and trying to ignore her stinging toes.

***

Mrs. Boutwell helped Clara wash the dirt out of her long, curly hair. Clara’s hair was the annoying and frustrating, but she wouldn’t get it cut for anything. The tight, curly locks fell to her waist, shimmering like her mother’s best brown silk dress. Clara was the only one of her sisters to inherit her father’s curly, Scottish hair. She couldn’t decide if it was a blessing or a curse. Though complicated to care for, the curls were strikingly beautiful.

Clara chuckled a bit as her mother gently worked soap into her curls and rinsed them repeatedly to remove the dirt and gunk that had attached itself after her fall. Her mother had been trying in vain for years to convince Clara to wear her hair up, as most young ladies her age did. But Clara liked wearing her hair long. She loved the feeling of the curls bumping against her back and shoulders. And besides that, wearing her hair up on top of her head was the surest way to get a dreadful headache. It was true though; had she worn her hair up today, it wouldn’t be in such a dreadful mess now.

Clara lingered in the warm water as long as she dared. Supper must be prepared, and her father would be home soon. Mrs. Boutwell left Esther to help Clara dress her hair while she began making supper.

“What was the young fellow’s name?” Esther asked, carefully squeezing the water out of Clara’s curls while Clara sat at the vanity in a fresh, dry dress.

“William McDonald.”

“How old was he?”

“I don’t know! I don’t ask questions like that.”

Esther chuckled, then gasped. “Did you say his name was William McDonald?”

“Yes, that’s what he said.” What’s so important about his name?

“Do you know what that means?”

Clara turned and looked at her sister’s vibrant face. “No, I have no idea.”

“Sir John McDonald? The prime minister of Canada?”

“What does he have to do with Mr. McDonald?”

“Father was telling me about him…Father knows young Mr. McDonald’s father. William McDonald is the nephew of Sir John McDonald! Don’t you remember him telling us about it?”

Clara shook her head, spellbound.

“Ohhhh!” Esther faked a swoon. “The nephew of the one and only Sir John McDonald, prime minister of Canada, is sparking our little Clara!”

“What?” Clara spun about and faced her sister. What a preposterous idea! “Why would he be interested in me?”

“Why wouldn’t he?” Esther teased.

Clara thought back to her exchange with William. Could he truly be the nephew of Sir John McDonald? He had been dressed better than most young men in the city. If he was indeed the nephew of such royalty, he would no doubt be quite wealthy…far too wealthy to be wasting his time with a poor little mouse like her.

“He’s not sparking me!” Clara protested, her brows knitting. “He bumped me into a puddle, helped me out, and then walked me home. What is so ‘sparking’ about that?”

Esther laughed as she brushed out Clara’s long curls. “You came in the house wearing his coat. He was holding your books. What else would he be thinking?”

Clara groaned. “I was wearing his coat because he didn’t give me a choice. And he was holding my books because I didn’t want to ruin them any more than they already were ruined. I think you’re taking this too far.”

“Oh Clara, Katie and Emma and I both know that you’re far prettier than the three of us put together. Young fellows have been eyeing you for years now, you just haven’t seen it. Now, they’re making themselves more obvious.”

“I’ve never seen Mr. McDonald before in my life!” Clara burst. “It’s not as if he were ‘eying me’ as you say. He was simply being a gentleman. Do stop teasing now, Esther.”

Esther said nothing, but Clara’s heart still pounded uncomfortably. Why must Esther tease her so? As if William had any motives other than helping Clara home. He felt awful about the accident, quite obviously, and simply wanted to amend his mistake. There was nothing romantic about that.

Esther finished dressing Clara’s hair and put a shawl around her shoulders, pulling the still-wet curls out over the thickly knit material.

“There. That will keep your dress dry until the curls stop dripping. I’m going to help Mother with supper.”

“I’ll be down in a few minutes.” Clara stood and fingered her damp hair, gazing at herself in the mirror. Her mind flitted back to what William said about her age. It was true; she did look much younger than she was, and the fact that she wore her hair down didn’t help at all.

But Clara wasn’t about to give herself perpetual headache just so people, even handsome young men, would think she was older.

~~~

Did you enjoy this little sneak peek? I hope so! I can’t wait to share the book with the world!

 

Sneak Peek–The Old River Road~Pt 1

You’ve heard me talk about it. You’ve listened to my blubbering and whining about it. But you haven’t seen it yet.

Well, since the release date for The Old River Road is only 12 weeks away *PANIC*, I thought I’d give all of you lovelies a sneak peek of the first chapter.

 

Chapter 1

Clara couldn’t contain a scream when she felt herself suddenly thrown off balance. Unable to catch herself before falling, she hurled her armload of books far away from her. Cold, muddy water splashed into her face as she broke the fall with her hands. Grime squished under her fingers and coldness seeped through her skin.

“Oh my word—I am so sorry! Are you alright? Can I help you?”

The words tumbled out of an unseen stranger’s mouth almost before Clara realized she was on her hands and knees, up to her stomach mucky water. She attempted to stand up, but already her many skirts and petticoats were soaked and heavy.

Strong hands grasped Clara’s upper arms and plucked her out of the puddle as easily as if she were a pesky weed in the garden. Her knees wobbled when her feet were set on firm ground.

“Are you hurt?” the voice asked again.

Clara looked up…far up…to meet the face of a young man. His striking blue eyes were laced with embarrassment and concern.

“Ah…no.” Clara shuddered as rivers of water trickled down her front and spiraled around her legs. “I’m alright.”

“I am terribly sorry,” the man said, though it occurred to Clara that he couldn’t be much more than a boy. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

Clara raised her arm and put it to her face to wipe gritty water from her cheeks. But she stopped her hand mid-air, realizing that the sleeve was even wetter than her face was. She let it fall to her side. How was she going to make it home in this condition?

“Use this, please,” the man begged. He offered a bleached muslin handkerchief, but Clara shook her head.

“I don’t want to ruin it.”  

The soft cloth swiped over her face anyway, his hand behind her head.

“There.” The man stepped back and offered a half-smile, folding the handkerchief and replacing it in his pocket.

“My…books,” Clara spluttered, pointing a soggy arm to where her books lay sprawled on the wet ground.

He sprang to where the books were, and picking each one up, he wiped the covers off on his coat before offering them to Clara. Clara reached out to take the books, but then pulled her hands back in when she realized that they were covered in mud.

“Oh—”  The man looked Clara up and down. “Can I walk you home? It’s the least I can do after—”

Clara managed a small smile and nodded. She didn’t want to ruin her precious books any more than necessary.

“Where do you live?”

“Ahh—” Clara’s mind was still spinning from the shock of the cold water. “West side of town, near the new church.” Two miles through Chicago in a soaking wet, muddy dress. Wonderful.

“Oh yes, I know where that is. My name is William, by the way. William McDonald.”

Clara felt stiff as she began walking. Her skirts clung to her legs and dripped on the ground. “I’m Clara Boutwell.”

William smiled. “I’m happy to meet you, Miss Boutwell. Though I wish it would have been in a slightly more comfortable way…”

Despite the heat burning in her cheeks, Clara couldn’t help smiling. William looked even more embarrassed than she felt.

More people, Clara’s coworkers, streamed out of the Singer building. Clara averted her eyes from their stares and carefully stepped out of the way of other ladies’ skirts. What business of theirs was it that she had taken a mud bath?

“You work for the Singer company, too?” William was saying as they began walking.

“Yes.” Clara looked up to meet William’s eyes. His face was clean-shaven and long, with a distinct chin and thin, decisive lips. He wasn’t the least bit homely. “I work in the design department.”

William flashed a smile. “I work in engineering. But these books—” William looked down to the stack he carried. “These don’t seem necessary for designing Singer sewing machines.”

Clara chuckled. “I’m studying to take the teacher’s exam.”

“Are you?” William appeared surprised. “You hardly look much more than a schoolgirl yourself.”

Clara tipped up her chin and straightened to her full five foot two inches. “I’m nearly seventeen. I finished school two years ago.”

“Seventeen?” William burst. “I aged you at thirteen or fourteen, if that.”

Clara watched as William’s face grew red.

“I mean…you’re so…small. But it’s not—” William fumbled with his words and his face turned even redder.

Clara couldn’t contain a laugh, though she hardly thought her mother would approve of her chortling in the middle of a busy Chicago street. Then again, her mother would probably die if she saw Clara walking down the street looking like a drowned rat.

“I am small,” Clara said, any awkwardness between her and William suddenly disappearing. “And yes, I am nearly seventeen.”

“How long have you been working for Singer?” William asked.

“Two years,” Clara said as they stepped off the boardwalk into the muddy streets.

“I began four years ago. It’s surprising our paths haven’t met before now.”

A cold blast of October air blew through Clara’s wet clothing and she inadvertently shivered. She crossed her arms tightly over her chest in an attempt to hold the heat in, but it did little good. She was soaked to the skin.

“Here.” William handed Clara’s books to her, and, before she could protest, he had taken off his coat and put it snugly around her shoulders. He then took the books back and tucked them under his arm.

“You don’t have to give up your coat,” Clara said, though she pulled the already-warm fabric tighter over her body.

“I don’t mind.” William smiled down at her. How nicely his blue eyes complimented his blonde hair. “Besides, I’m the one who knocked you into that puddle.”

Clara smiled and laughed a little. “My mother is going to be horrified when she sees me.”

“I’ll explain that it was entirely my fault. Will she be hard on you?”

“Mother? Oh no. She’s all bark and no bite.” Clara looked down at her muddy dress and chuckled. “And besides, I’m the youngest in my family, so they’re used to the messes I get myself in.”

“You’re the youngest?”

Clara nodded. “I have three older sisters. And they tell me that before I was born, there were two young brothers who died during the War. I wish I could have met them.” Clara stared ahead. “Having brothers would have been such fun.”

“Brothers are fun,” William said. “I have one, though he’s many years younger than me. We have a good time together.”

Clara watched as a cloud suddenly passed over William’s face, and his Adam’s apple bobbed inside his skinny neck.

“And then there’s George. He was my best friend, just two years older than me.” William took a shaky breath. “But he was killed last year, in an accident in New York.”

Clara said nothing, not knowing exactly what to say. At least Clara hadn’t known her brothers before they died. But William’s brother…they had grown up together. They had been friends. Clara shuddered. What would it be like if one of her sisters suddenly died?

“I had another older brother,” William went on, “But he died when I was too little to know him.”

Thank goodness.

They walked in silence for several minutes, Clara thinking how fortunate she was to have the only siblings she’d ever known still living.

She was unable to keep from shivering by the time they reached the Boutwell family home. Even wrapped in William’s large coat, which nearly fell to Clara’s knees, waves of cold swept over her.

Not bothering to knock, she turned the brass doorknob and stepped inside, welcoming the warm air from the fireplace in the parlor.

“Clara!” a shrill voice gasped. “Whatever happened to you?”

~~~

So what do you think? Are you as excited as I am about this release?!? Come back on Saturday for the second half of chapter 1!

March Update/Review

 

Since December, I’ve been trying to finish the first draft of The Old River Road. Unfortunately, I ran into some historical inconsistencies that needed attention before I could continue/finish the story. After bugging extended family members, friends who knew the McDonald family, and taking several trips to the library and Spokane’s history museum, I am *almost* back on track.

 

Editing is rather slow with this book. I’ve really shirked in my duties to this poor little story over the past few months. As of Sunday, that changed. Now, my goal is to edit two chapters each day. That’s about an hour of work. I can do anything for an hour, right? Right. Tell me I can.

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BTW, this is what NaNo does to me. I cannot remember the last time I confused two, to, and too. I’ve done it TWICE in this book.

 

Coming up in April is Camp NaNo. I was going to do another full 50,000 word project, but when I realized how far behind schedule I am with The Old River Road, that got pushed to the back burner. However, my goal is to do 25,000 words (though I’d be happy with 20,000). The project I will be working on is what I have been calling my Secret Story.

 

BUT!

 

It’s not a secret anymore because I’m going to tell you about it RIGHT NOW!!!! :-)

 

Here is the blurb (and a draft of the cover):

 

1Chelsea is the daughter of Ralph Sanders, a respected crab fisherman and the much loved captain of the vessel Cora Lee. Named after her deceased mother, Chelsea feels a connection with the boat, and with the ocean, that no one but her dad can understand. When a sudden, unexpected proposal from her maternal grandparents sends Chelsea far inland, she fights with her desire to return home…to her dad, cousins, and everything she knows. But after taking a closer look, Chelsea realizes that though her grandparents are wealthy and not wanting of any worldly goods, they have not yet let go of death of their daughter, though she died sixteen years previous. Pulling away from self-pity, Chelsea reaches out to her grandparents and help them heal despite their obvious annoyance. Will Chelsea be able to help her grandparents move on in their lives? Or will their exasperating, constant mentions of Cora drive Chelsea away?

 

Already, Ocean Hues has 26,000 words, so it shouldn’t be too hard to resume. (Starting books is always the worst part for me.)

 

Also, I purchased a new word processing program called Storyist. Apparently, one must be a techy geek to figure this program out. It’s been rather maddening, but as I’ve slowly been understanding and working through the program, I think it is going to work very well for me. One thing I love about it is the ability to keep all my random papers and notes in one document/project. Maybe, eventually *crosses fingers*  it will actually make it so that I don’t have random pieces of paper spread all over the house with random notes written on them! ;-) (Doubtful, but one can hope, right?)

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Something else new is this beautiful new computer monitor. It is amazing. I can now sit at my desk and work with Adobe, read onscreen, and do schoolwork on this blown-up version of my laptop. All I have to do is connect the two computers and there we go…laptop expanded. It’s awesomeness.

 

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One of my sweet, lovely siblings came into my room and STOLE my desk chair. :-(  Well…they were given permission from mom to steal it, so I guess that makes it better. Still, I’m out a comfy desk chair, and now I’ve got to find a new one that won’t fall apart when I spin around in it. After all, isn’t that the only thing desk chairs are good for?

 

I’ve read so many lovely books this month. Just to name a few, From the Dark to the Dawn by Alicia Willis, Dare and Deny by Tricia Mingerink (and oh my goodness get ready for a RAVING review on EACH of these books), The Little House Charlotte Years, Adventures and Adversities by Sarah Holman…I could go on and on. One of the best times I found to read was the 3-hours-3-times-a-week driver’s Ed class for my BABY brother.

IMG_1368Notice the hair tie? Not for hair. Perfect bookmark.

 

 

Soooo….that update was probably much more involved than you would have wished but hey…

Is anyone else participating in Camp NaNo? What have you been working on? Tell me tell me…I love getting comments! It’s like candy, finding a comment in the comment box. Come on…you’ll give me some virtual candy, right?!? *gets down on knees and begs*