Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crazy Quilt History

Quilts connect the past with the present and the future.

  This is the bed I sleep in when I stay with Mom overnight. I don't actually sleep under this quilt. I very carefully fold it down and lay it aside. The quilt is well over 100 years old. It was a gift to my great aunt for her wedding. Her sisters and friends had a quilting shower for her. They each embroidered their names on a piece of fabric and then all gathered to sew the pieces together with more fancy stitches.

Here's my grandmother's name. I never really knew her. She died when I was two, but I can imagine her quilting her name here before she married - while  she was young and anxious to fall in love and have her own family. Some of the other names are Ethie, Em, Hervie, Virgie. Old fashioned names. But young names at the time. Names of girls full of hope and laughter. You know they laughed as they worked to fit these crazy pieces together like a puzzle. 

I love looking at the quilt. It's a unique piece of family history, an evidence of caring and fun. A very real piece of art. Everyday art for them at the time. But amazing art for me as I think about how they were able to fit all those pieces together and come up with a quilt that doesn't have odd corners.

I've always liked the crazy quilt patterns better than even the fanciest wedding ring patterns or basket patterns or whatever bit of amazing artistic design. The crazy quilt patterns speak to me.


"Our lives are like quilts - bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love."

I guess that's why I like the crazy quilt pattern. It's like life. Bits and pieces in all shapes and sizes, but when stitched together, it makes the whole fabric of our lives. Writing is that way too. A book is pieced together with bits of stories from a lot of different characters. Sometimes you can't see how you'll ever fit the pieces together and maybe sometimes you'll have to throw aside a piece to use another time. But you have to get the important pieces - the ones with names on them - into the whole of the story. And the process can be crazy, but turn out beautiful sometimes in the end. 

Thank you so much for reading. Remember, this is another (and your last) chance to leave a comment to be in the drawing for an autographed copy of Words Spoken True. I'll be drawing for the winner on February 1. So let me know what's crazy in your life right now or just say hello. I always enjoy hearing from you. And I'll be announcing a great new giveaway to celebrate the book's release that will have the flavor of the book's background.




Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some Days We Need An Inspirational Kick

A lot of you know I'm a big basketball fan. And living in Kentucky, that means I bleed blue. Ever since I was a kid I've been listening to UK play basketball. Been through some exciting times with the Cats and some disappointing times. Right now, things are going well in the Big Blue Nation. We've got a good team and a coach most all of us can like. 

I know you're all wondering how I'm going to tie all this in with the picture I've posted. Well, I heard Coach Cal on the radio the other day and he was talking about coaching and how a person can get off track. He said he had a banner in this office that read "Coach Your Team." I think he was saying that he had to work with what he had and not worry about what other coaches were doing. He had to be the coach for his players. 

That resonated with me. Not the coaching part, but the taking care of your own corner of the world part. So I made a banner for my blog tonight. "Write Your Book." I can't write somebody else's book. I can't waste a lot of time wishing I wrote as well as this bestselling author or that much admired wordsmith. I guess it's only natural to wish to be better at whatever we want to do whether that's writing or throwing basketballs through a hoop. But I'm not going to get to be a better writer by wishing I was somebody else writing somebody else's book. I have to write my book. 

Then once I have it written, I could make another banner. "Turn Your Book Loose." Give it to the readers and hope they will like the story. Just don't obsess about it. Turn it loose and look back to banner one. "Write Your Book." 

The thing about writing novels is that by the time one book makes it out to market, most of the time a writer is putting the finishing touches on a new book. And some writers might have finished several books in that year it takes a book to wind its way through a traditional publishing house and be printed and ready to go out and find those readers. All that is good inspirational advice. But even the best advice is hard to follow sometimes. It's hard to turn loose a book and not feel a little tightening in the throat when the first reviews roll in. What are readers going to think? Are they going to like your characters? Are they going to be caught up in the story? Are you, the writer, going to develop a thick skin and be able to remember that first banner and "write your book" no matter what the reviewers say? So many questions. Questions that might not have easy answers. 

But I have gotten the answer about the first couple of reviews I've seen for Words Spoken True. RT Book Review Magazine gave the book 4 stars. Then Long and Short Reviews posted a really nice review today. Loved some of the imagery the reviewer used about the story being a tapestry with the different threads of the characters and their stories woven into it. And isn't this button image they sent me nice? This is the one for romance. The one for sci-fi is green. The one for mystery another color. I'll let you guess what color they use for the spicier romances. Sort of fun. 

But you know the reviews that are best are the ones from you. I'm always glad to get an e-mail or comment telling me what a reader likes about my books. The ones where you tell me what you don't like aren't quite as much fun, but I'm tough. I can take it, because you know what? I have to "Write MY Book." 

Don't forget the giveaway. Comment on the blog and get your name thrown in the pot again for an autographed copy of Words Spoken True. I'll pick the winner February 1. Remember, this is just for those of you who comment on my blog posts so your chances of winning are pretty good. I do need a way to get in touch with you or you'll need to check my Wednesday blog on Feb. 1 to see if you won and then you can let me know how to contact you.

As always, thanks for reading. I do so appreciate each and every one of you. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Dog Dub

If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life. ~Roger Caras 

I lost my dog, Dub, last year before Christmas. He was a very good dog. A chocolate lab registered by his first owners as Coffee W. Crutcher. Those owners got more dog than they bargained for with a lab puppy and he soon found himself chained to a dog house in their yard. Enter my friend, Carolyn. A dog lover like me. A very tender-hearted dog lover. She sees the lab and imagines his life of confinement and offers to take the dog from the owners. They agreed and Coffee W. Crutcher began the next chapter of his life.

Carolyn took him to the vet, did all the necessary things to keep him healthy, loved him, but she lived in town and had a small, unfenced yard. He had too much dog energy for that small space. Enter my wide open farm and the fact that I was down to only one dog. So it was great timing. Coffee W. Crutcher came to live with us here on the farm along with his registration papers, his dog house, his dog dish and his extra heavy duty dog chain and leash. 

So, Coffee W. Crutcher began another new chapter in his life and found a permanent home. He was a dog with energy. The first time I tried to take him for a walk on his leash, just as a training exercise, I ended up being dragged through a briar patch. Next walk we used a choke collar. He was a strong dog and just a little hard-headed. So much so that yelling Coffee didn't penetrate his ears. He didn't even so much as turn his head to see if there was any possibility I might mean him. Crutcher didn't work either, but Dub - short for W - that he could hear.  So this beautiful chocolate lab with the very distinctive name became my dog, Dub. 

Well, as much as he ever became anybody's dog. He was always an independent soul. He liked me. Walked with me every day. At times he'd sit down and patiently wait for me as he's doing in the picture above. He liked going swimming and rarely passed up the opportunity to take a dip in a pond or creek or plop down in a mud puddle. He was a retriever who would not fetch. If I threw a stick or ball, he'd just look at me as if to say, you threw it; you go get it. He had a good appetite. Ate his dog food and supplemented his calorie intake by killing the occasional unlucky rabbit or squirrel. Once some wild ducks hatched out around our pond. Dub waited until the ducks were about half grown before he swam out and "retrieved" one of them as a tasty snack. Then he went out and got the others, one by one. Not a good place for ducks on Dub's pond.  

Other dogs loved him. My yard became the gathering place for all the neighbor dogs. They came to lay beside Dub. Or on top Dub. They loved Dub. He'd been to the vet to be neutered before he came to live here on the farm, but the surgery must not have been a complete success. He didn't go chasing after the female dogs, but they came to our yard after him. When that happened, he couldn't resist the siren call. I put him up when I knew what was happening, but sometimes he was gone before I knew the girls had come after him. I never knew for sure if any of the pups were his because there were other male dogs around, but one time when there was an American Staffordshire in the neighborhood, I was pretty sure that the one pup she had was Dub's. She wouldn't entertain attentions from any of the other dogs. Another time he went off with a different neighborhood flirt and ended up several miles from home next to a parkway where somebody stopped, gathered him up and turned him in to the humane shelter. It was a holiday weekend and I didn't figure out he was gone until too late to call. He spent the weekend in doggie jail before I could find out they had him and bail him out on Monday. He was happy to be my dog that morning. 

So many stories I could tell about Dub. How he developed an allergy and was tormented by itching in the spring and fall until we had to give him steroids. How he liked to go sleep on the neighbor's porch furniture. How every bed I bought him he slept on for a few days and then attacked like it was a wild animal and spread filling all over the yard. How when he was beginning to get old and tired, he'd go to the middle of the field where he could watch me walking to lie down and wait for me to come back around. How he had to wear one of those collars after he had surgery on his ear. How if he thought he was going to the vet, he just came to the car and climbed right in. Never tried to get in the car any other time. How he was a very good dog. 

In December, he got very sick. I knew he was dying and went out to the garage to check on him on a morning in December thinking I'd have to take him to the vet for that final trip. He wasn't there. He wasn't anywhere. I walked miles on the farm looking for him in every fence row, under every cedar bush, and under buildings and everywhere I could think of. He wasn't anywhere. I was about to decide he'd walked on up to heaven, but then a few days later, the neighbor came over to report he'd found him next to his pond. I should have walked his field instead of mine. So now Dub's buried out by the gate we passed through so often on our walks. You want to outlive your dogs because dogs are only here a short time. But at the same time you remember every one them. Good dogs all. And Dub was a good dog who had a good life here on the farm. 
 
Have you known some good dogs in your life?

A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, big or small, young or old. He doesn't care if you're not smart, not popular, not a good joke-teller, not the best athlete, nor the best-looking person. To your dog, you are the greatest, the smartest, the nicest human being who was ever born. You are his friend and protector.  ~ Louis Saban


Remember, you can get your name in the hat to win a copy of my new book, Words Spoken True, by leaving a comment here. This giveaway is just for my blog followers. Each comment on a new post enters your name again. So thanks for reading and I hope you have a great week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Holding the Promise of a Book

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.  ~Author Unknown
 
I'm excited today about getting the first copy of my new release, Words Spoken True. I've had my ear tuned for the UPS truck to bounce into my driveway for several days now because I knew it was close to time for that advance copy to make its way to me. It takes so long to turn a story into a real book you can hold in your hand that the day when you do actually hold that book and see your words inside is a day to celebrate. 

So I've been celebrating today by sharing the news with my Facebook friends and family. (And planning a new celebration giveaway. I'll announce details soon.) One of the things I said on my Facebook writer's page was how I loved holding a new book in my hand and thinking about readers picking it up and sharing my story. Such a promise. 

Then one of my friends got me thinking with her comment that as a reader, she loved holding a new book too. I knew what she meant. I've had that same feeling many times when I picked up a new book to read. Perhaps it was by a favorite author that I knew was going to entertain or inspire me. Perhaps it was just the story that held out promise. Perhaps it was simply holding the book and knowing that I was going to be able to live some new adventures or through some historical times with the characters inside. People a writer had captured in words that were going to spring to life in my mind and let me accompany them on their journey through the pages.

That doesn't necessarily mean that whatever book I might be holding when I was feeling that promise was a new release. A book unread is a new book to the reader whatever the publication date. Samuel Butler says it well in this quote. "The oldest books are still only just out to those who have not read them."

Release dates are fun. Holding a book fresh off the press is a definite highpoint in a writer's life. Still, it's what's inside that book, the words that may catch a reader up into the lives of the characters and make the story come to life in his or her imagination, that's the promise I hope I'm giving readers when they hold one of my books. It's the same promise I want to feel when I pick up a new book to read. Movies and t.v. are nice. But books - books are magic.

"Books are a uniquely portable magic."   ~Stephen King 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget my giveaway just for those of you who read One Writer's Journal. Leave a comment between now and the end of the month on a post here and your name will go into a pot for a random drawing to win an autographed copy of Words Spoken True. Each time you comment on a different post, your name goes in the drawing again so you can have multiple chances of winning.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Editing The Gifted

What do you think of Jessamine here? I don't often let my heroines have blonde hair. Mostly I want them to have dark hair or auburn hair. It goes back to when I was a kid and everybody was always talking about how cute the blue-eyed, blonde girls were. Me, I wasn't blonde. Me, I had eyes that couldn't make up their mind if they were green or gray or, as my son told me once when he was very young, yellow. I preferred to think of them as having flecks of gold. :)

So when I started making up stories, my characters, especially the girls, weren't blonde. My heroines might be blue-eyed brunettes or redheads, but definitely not blondes. That is, until Jessamine. Jessamine is beautiful with hair like spun gold and eyes the color of cornflowers. But that's not the best thing about Jessamine. The best thing is her spirit.

I've been editing The Gifted all week. I don't mind editing. Well, maybe I should "edit" that a bit. I don't mind editing - I even like editing - when it's my idea. Actually, I've been blessed with wonderful editors at Revell for all my inspirational novels and I've not resisted their suggestions to make the stories better except once or twice. Even then, after sleeping on the editor's suggestions, I began to see the light - the editor's light. An editor simply wants to make the story the best it can be. That's what I want too, so I start editing. 

Most of the time, after thinking there's absolutely no way I can do whatever the editors want without having to rewrite the whole thing completely, I figure out a way to make the changes without that much angst. I usually end up agreeing that the editor was right. Sometimes that's almost like admitting your husband is right about something you've insisted he was wrong about for a week. Let's just say, it ain't always easy. 


I didn't have that trouble with these edits. They were fairly simple and I found myself writing "Okay" in a lot of the comment boxes to indicate whatever the editor suggested worked. My editors have nudged me toward being a better writer, more aware of the mistakes I often make while writing. Like that pet word I seem to always bring along to every new manuscript. It's gotten so that every time I type the word "just" or "still," I start hitting the delete key. You'll never believe what my pet word or I guess I should say words were in this book. "Of course." Of course, it was. I'm through with the edits but I'll have to do a search for those of courses. I caught a few, but my eyes must have slid right over the others. My sweet editor counted them for me. You know, this technology stuff is too handy at finding a writer's props and knocking them out from under her.

This is the last sneak peek I'm going to give of Jessamine until June. Got to think about Words Spoken True right now and I'm very excited about readers cracking open that book. Very excited! So excited that I'm coming up with a new celebration giveaway. I'll unveil the prizes soon. Before that, here's a giveaway just for those of you who read my blog. Leave a comment between now and when I receive copies of my new book in the next week or so, and one of you will win an autographed copy of Words Spoken True hot off the press. Each time you leave a new comment on a different post, your name will go in the drawing again. And if only one of you comments, then you know what? You'll have a pretty good chance of winning. 


Thanks for reading. It's always good to have you come by to walk with me down my meandering thinking lane. Hope you have a great week.

Thanks

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Snow Cream in the Forecast


" Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."  (John Ruskin) 

Snow is in the forecast for the first time here in 2012. We saw a few snowflakes in December, and this forecast is not calling for much snow either. That's okay with me. We got enough snow the last couple of winters to scratch my snow itch for awhile. The picture is from a January snow in 2010. That one piled it up on us. I don't mind a little snow, maybe one good snow a year as long as it doesn't stick around long. Then I tend to agree with this Carl Reiner quote. " Some people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."

But I know plenty of people get excited by the prospect of snow. There are some things that you can't do without a little snow. Go sledding for one. When my oldest was six he got a sled for Christmas. It didn't snow more than a skiff for three or four years, but then we had three major snow winters in a row. He would stay out in the snow for hours. I thought he would have frostbite, but he just had fun. And you can't make a snowman without a good snow or dig out a snow fort and have a snowball fight. No snow means no days off from school. All kids need a few of those. And you can't make snow cream. 

That leads me to one of the Christmas memories sent in by a reader. So if you're in snow country and you've ever wanted an actual recipe to make snow cream, here it is from Virginia. Here's her story.


My grandmother was 'the greatest cook ever' and used to make delicious snow ice cream. Fresh clean snow (yes, it was cleaner in the " good olde days", ) whole milk or cream, sugar, and vanilla. For some reason, I crave ice cream in the Winter--maybe because of Gran's "Snow Cream". One of my mother's favorite holiday treats from her childhood was "' boiled custard"  (which you must not allow to boil). A rich, cooked drink similar to eggnog, boiled custard is actually a custard which is thin enough to drink from a cup. My grandmother used to make it and pour it into glass jars which she would set down outside in the snow to cool. Mom and her brother and sister would drink it outside straight from the jar and then get "switched"   by Gran for stealing the family treat!


Fresh Snow Ice Cream
1 small pkg. regular (not instant) vanilla pudding mix
1 cup sugar
1/2 milk
1 pint cream
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 to 2 gallons fresh, clean snow

In an extra-large, heavy mixing bowl, combine pudding mix and sugar. Stir in milk and blend until dry ingredients are dissolved. Blend in cream, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Cover and chill until ready to serve ice cream. To make ice cream: Stir mixture well and add in enough snow to make desired consistency. Do not over-stir. Serve immediately. 


Thanks, Virginia, for sharing your story and your grandmother's recipe. So if you have a heaping bowl of clean snow - actually, the fun spoilers, er, I mean the experts, tell us that no snow is clean enough anymore, but it's still fun to think about snow cream. 


Have you ever eaten snow cream? Let us know if you liked it. My mom used to make it sometimes too, but these days I just eat my snow sugar free and wait for summertime to make the real stuff by salting down some ice in an ice cream freezer and churning away.


Thanks for reading. Now to get back to those edits on my next Shaker novel. Maybe that's what I'll talk about Sunday.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Looking Ahead to Writing Goals in 2012

"Never believe in mirrors or newspapers." (John Osborne - British playwright and producer 1929-1994)

Last Wednesday I looked back at 2011. I think it's good to take stock of where you've been but it's even better to look ahead to where you're going. A writer can hang onto the last story too long sometimes and not reach out for the new story. With writing, the thing is that it's usually at least a year before you get to actually see your story in book form. So by the time one story is all wrapped up in a great cover and ready to hit the stores for readers, then a productive writer has another story ready to start the publishing process. And some really productive writers have several stories ready to go. I read about one writer not long ago who has nine new books coming out in 2012. I can't even imagine doing all the editing, etc. that would be required on that many books in one year, much less write that many new books.

But I do have two books coming out in 2012. For me, that's a lot. First up is Words Spoken True. It releases February 1, and I'm thinking I might get a copy hot off the presses any time now. I read my first review of the book this week. RT Book Review Magazine gave it 4 stars and said "Gabhart’s ability to transport readers into the world of newspaper writing in the 1850’s is amazing. Her latest conveys the power of the written word, family secrets and the knowledge that the choices we want to make are not always the ones that happen in the end." 

I always feel a sigh of relief when the first review I see on a book is positive. That doesn't mean the next one will be, but at least somebody thought the story was okay. Now I have to wait to see what my readers think. I actually dedicated this book to my readers who have followed my story trail through my small town of Hollyhill to my Shaker village of Harmony Hill back to a little community called Rosey Corner and now to Louisville. I've so appreciated my readers who have been willing to give my different stories a chance.

 Some of you will be happy to know I am going back to Harmony Hill for another story. I'm actually doing edits on The Gifted right now. I wanted to come up with a different heroine for this Shaker book and I think I succeeded with Jessamine Brady. The book won't be out until July, but it, like Words Spoken True, is already available for pre-sale on some internet bookselling sites. 

So that's what's already in the pipeline for me in 2012. I've got those stories written. Words Spoken True is edited and ready. The Gifted will go through a couple of edits and then it'll be ready for readers too. That's the easy part of my writing road in 2012. But I want to write more stories so that I can look ahead to more books ready in 2013.

My writing road is sort of bumpy right now since I have to spend so many hours sitting with my mother. I am trying to work out a new writing schedule, but so far it hasn't been easy. It would be great if I could sit down in front of my computer and have the story flow like water out of a primed pump, but it's not usually that easy for me. But I keep writing and the story usually trickles out if I keep pumping hard enough. That's what I'm looking forward to in 2012. Pumping hard and keeping my fingers on the keyboard to write two new stories that will speak to my heart first and then perhaps to readers' hearts on down the road. 

What are you looking forward to in 2012? I hope you have some exciting things awaiting you and that you are pushing toward your  goals. Thanks for reading. I appreciate each and every one of you who reads my journal here and those of you who follow it every week. I always enjoy your comments too. Thanks so much. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Looking Back at Writing Trails in 2011


A new year is a great time to look back. To take stock. To see where you've been and if the roads you chose took you to an expected destination or kept you wandering around in confusion for a while. So that's what I'm doing tonight - looking back at the writing roads I went down. 

Some good things happened in my writing life last year. Some very good things and one of those was seeing Angel Sister released and in readers' hands. Since the publishers were interested in getting my Shaker books out there to readers to build the interest in those, Angel Sister had simmered on a back burner at the publishing house for a couple of years. I understood why and agreed that it was best, but at the same time I wanted the story to be in book form. That's how writers are. We always want to see every one of our stories between attractive covers and on store shelves enticing readers to take them home. For sure, Revell came up with a great cover for Angel Sister. I love having Lorena on the cover and the look on her face is perfect too. 

So I was thrilled when my copy arrived hot off the press early in 2011, and I could start talking about this story. This book is extra special to me because of how the background is based on my mom's stories about growing up during the Great Depression. Readers and reviewers started talking about it too. RT Book Review Magazine made it a Top Pick for February and eventually picked it as one of ten nominees for Inspirational Book of the Year. The book got a mention in two national magazines and the reviews were almost all positive. The Night Owl Book Review in April by Books4Betty may very well be the best review I've ever gotten for any book. Here's a bit excerpted from it I am going to shamelessly share with you even as I blush a little from the high praise. 

"Angel Sister, the beautifully molded and eloquently crafted novel by author Ann H. Gabhart is worthy of more than five-stars. If I could give this a “priceless” or “epic” or “must read” I would, and I will. 

After the first couple of pages, I was hooked completely and drawn into this powerful novel about a family; not just a family, but a family from the Depression Era. The dry, and hot, backdrop of a Kentucky summer is wonderfully and majestically written. I felt like I needed to fan myself because of the heat permeating from the pages. The summer days, long and so full of hot moisture is a surprising character in this novel. From morning until late in the evening, Gabhart does an amazing job with using the Kentucky landscape as her canvas. She beautifully painted in each aspect. I could see, smell, and feel every summery stroke.""  

And she goes on from there. You can see the whole review at Night Owls Reviews if you're interested. It's a very good review. So good it almost makes my head spin or maybe wonder if it was really MY book she read. And it puts the pressure on. A bad review you can shrug off with an oh well. But a great review like this has you thinking well, okay maybe I did get the right words down that time, but can I ever do it as well again? Only a writer like me could find something to worry about in a positive review like that. (Sigh)

But having Angel Sister in reserve and then out in February let more good things happen. It meant I could publish two books in one year. I know a lot of writers manage even more books a year, but I'm a slow writer. Two in one year for me is amazingly good. So it was extra nice to have July roll around and see The Blessed release. I never planned to write more than three books set in my Shaker village of Harmony Hill. But then Lacey popped up in my imagination. I planned for her to be a minor character in my Shaker book, The Seeker. But she came so alive in my imagination and had such a great story that I decided to tell all her story and The Blessed was the result. I really liked Lacey and being able to write with her voice filling the pages. The Blessed got some good reviews too. Here's an excerpt from Single Titles posted by Donna in August. " With the Shaker way of life as backdrop, personal tragedies are overcome, forgiveness is given and a love story develops in spite of the restrictions and taboos of the Shaker beliefs. Beautifully written, history comes to life and a completely different lifestyle is exposed by the gifted pen of Ann H. Gabhart. Informative and inspiring, THE BLESSED, should not be missed."   Single Titles

Okay, I won't keep wallowing in praise. Although it is good to know I managed to tell a story that others are enjoying. Very good. Some of the best encouraging words are in e-mails that readers send to let me know they enjoyed one of my books. 

So that was my publishing year. I managed to write another Shaker book and sign a contract for a follow-up to Angel Sister. That's where that great review above is making me choke a little. But each book is different with a different story to tell. Also I discovered with my Hollyhill books that a reviewer liking one of the books doesn't guarantee he or she will like others in the series. I have to not worry about the reviewers. All I have to worry about while I'm writing is telling my characters' stories. If I do it right, then maybe you will want to share those characters' story too. If I don't do it right, I'm sure somebody will tell me. 

Tonight I looked back at my writing trail in 2011. Sunday I plan to look ahead to 2012. I hope you are looking back with fondness and ahead with hope this January. Thanks so much for reading. And for the comments you leave. What trails did you follow last year?  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 - Challenges and Goals

Image credit: jscreationzs
For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. - T.S. Eliot

2012! That sounds so far into the future. Of course it isn't. It's actually the here and now. The first day of a new year. Each day will be a new page to write our own stories on. Some days will be sunshiny and bright. Some will be dull and gray. Some very busy. Some maybe relaxed and lazy. We may have some sad days, hard days, but then again, we will surely have good days, satisfied with our lives days. 366 days this year since it's a leap year. I've still never figured out quite how we can have a fourth of a day extra every year and keep those fourths all in reserve for that day in leap year's February. I know, I must be calendar challenged.

Since we're talking about challenges - we are, aren't we? - what challenges are you going to welcome in 2012. We need challenges to keep life interesting. Challenges and goals. I have some challenges lurking out there in the days ahead. Some of them I can see poking out from behind the shadow of the future. A couple of books to write with the words coming hard and not enough free writing hours in the day. Taking care of my mother while she slowly sinks deeper into the confusion of dementia. Finding the time for reading and renewal and rest. Other challenges that await me in 2012 are hidden deep in the unknown that will slowly be revealed day by day. It's up to me to prepare myself and be ready for whatever 2012 might hold for me. 

I know some good things speeding my way. Words Spoken True will release in a few weeks. I'm excited about a new book out there for readers. And this book is different - very romantic. Unlike the Shaker books that can't have much romance due to that pesky rule those Shakers had about men and women being forever separated. That makes romantic scenes difficult to come by, but I did find ways around that in the Shaker book, The Gifted, scheduled to come out next summer. But with Words Spoken True, I didn't have to tiptoe around the romance. I let it run a happy course right through the heart of the story. 

I don't normally make resolutions. I do often examine my goals. What do I hope to accomplish with my writing? How can I become a better person? What steps do I need to take to move toward my goals? So no real resolutions to be quickly abandoned. Although I could eat better, lose a little weight, be more generous, get rid of clutter. See - when I start resolving I don't know when to stop and soon I'm overwhelmed and surrender to the hopelessness of it without much of a fight. Have you ever made resolutions that you kept? What sort were they? Resolutions to live healthier? Be kinder? Become more spiritual?  
 
The quote above spoke to me. I do need to leave last year's words behind and find the new words, the new voice for a new story. Not always so easy to do, but I've done it before. I hope to do it again. 

Whatever we resolve or don't resolve, I hope 2012 is a year of good things and many blessings for all of you and me too. 

For those of you wonderful readers who entered my Christmas giveaway, I drew for the winners and have already sent these lucky winners e-mails. The winner of the music box and one of my books is Jeanne. Christine from FL can no longer say she's never won. She won a copy of one of my books and the Christmas book, Startling Joy. The other two winners, Christine of IA and Gina J. won copies of The Dog Next Door and their choice of one of my books. Then because I so enjoyed all your stories, I picked an extra winner out of those who shared their favorite Christmas memories. Angie C. will have her choice of one of my books. I wish I could send you all a book, but if I did that, I'd run out of time to write for sure. But I do appreciate those of you who entered. I'll be doing another giveaway soon to celebrate the release of Words Spoken True


Meanwhile, Happy New Year! May 2012 have nothing but good things hiding in the dimness of the future ready to pop out at you. Thank you so much for reading and for commenting at times. I appreciate each and every one of you.