Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dime Store Valentines and Cupcakes

"Be Mine, Valentine." 
"I Woof You." 
"You're purr-fect, Valentine!" 
"You're doggone cute." 
"We're heart to heart friends."

I know Valentine's Day is past and it's 50 weeks before it shows up again. The candy's gone. The roses have drooped their heads. The cards are beginning to look like clutter. The diamonds are probably still glittering in the rings and necklaces if jewelry was in your Valentine box. But I'm not ready to let Valentine's Day slide away just yet. I tied in Valentine's Day with my Summer of Joy Celebration Giveaway. Two more days until I draw the winners. I'll announce them here on Sunday if all goes according to plan. 

But first let's enjoy a few Valentine stories. I didn't have a great response with the Valentine stories the way I have with other fun stories you've shared. Grandmother stories. Best or worst gift stories. Christmas gifts remembered. Those are some of the stories I've asked for in contests in the past. And I got story after story and loved it. But when I asked for Valentine stories, they came in few and far between. I'm not going to say romance is missing. Instead I'm going to go along with the reader who said she had plenty of Valentine stories but they were private. But a few of you did offer up some stories and I enjoyed reading them all. I shared some of them already and thought I'd let you enjoy a couple more tonight. 

First let me say that I didn't expect all the stories to be about romantic love and they weren't. Linda shares some fun Valentine school day memories. 

"My valentine story involves memories from childhood. I grew up in a similar small town like Jocie. In elementary school we would decorate shoe boxes with a slit in the top and on Valentine's day we would go around our classroom putting little Valentines in each box. I don't remember if we had to do one for everyone in the classroom, but hopefully that's the way it was so there would be no hurt feelings. Also, someone's mom would make cupcakes for our afternoon snack. Back in the day, life seemed so much simpler because decorating the boxes came from our imagination and what we had on hand and the little Valentines came from the 'dime' store."

Oh yes, Linda, I remember those Valentine parties. I had some myself when I was in school, but I best remember being the room mother for my kids and helping with their Valentine parties. I was that mama who made the cupcakes even if I wasn't great at decorating them. During my years of room mothering, Valentine's  was always my favorite party of the year. The kids did decorate shoe boxes and they did have ten-cent store Valentines for each child in their classes. I kept my oldest son's Valentine box for years. He made it out of a boot box. Guess he was expecting a lot of Valentines. I thought I still had it, but when I went to search for it to take a picture, I couldn't find it. Isn't that the way of it? You keep something for years and then you finally talk yourself into getting rid of it and a year or two later, you miss it. :)

And here's a cute idea from Amy to make any holiday fun for your kids or grandkids if you like to cook. She shared this here on a different post, but if you're like me, you don't always read through the comments. And if you did read the comments, hope you don't mind a repeat.

"I don't necessarily have many really memorable Valentine's days. I guess I lead a boring life. I do remember my Mom always making a fun dessert for us, and I've tried to carry this tradition on with my family. One year I took it a step further and created a special restaurant for my family. I made up menus and let everyone choose from two different entrees, their choice of salads and side dishes and choice of desserts. The kids loved it and requested the same experience for Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner that year."

And you know what? Someday when somebody asks them to remember a special Valentine's day, that might be the very one they remember. What fun! Hope my grandkids don't read this. They'll be after me to give it a try. Maybe we'll have a go at it this summer for an everyday party time.

What desserts would you want on your Valentine party menu? I'll take cherry cheesecake or strawberries on a slice of Angel Food cake. Yum!

Thanks for reading and remember, you can leave a comment to be in a special drawing for a Hollyhill book or your choice of one of my other books. That's true over on Jocie's Heart of Hollyhill blog too. She's sharing another excerpt from Summer of Joy all about Wes's story about Bug Juice and Jupiterian Fropples. Wes has some great Jupiter stories. But to be in the drawing there or here, you have to leave a comment with a way for me to get in touch with you should you win.  

Thanks for reading!



Sunday, February 23, 2014

"A Book Worth Reading"

"If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give." ~George MacDonald

Sometimes an encouraging word can be a special gift. I got one of those today from a reader who was reading my book, Scent of Lilacs. She said she was enjoying the story and then she thanked me for writing "a book worth reading." What a very nice thing to tell an author! 

Of course, I hope all my books are worth reading. I want to write them so that those of you who read them can get to know and love my characters the way I do while I'm writing their stories. With my Heart of Hollyhill books, I had fun going back to the Sixties and populating my fictional town of Hollyhill with characters who might walk down the streets of any small town in the USA. I stayed with those characters through three books and never got tired of them, Scent of Lilacs, Orchard of Hope, and now coming back to stores very soon in its bright new cover, Summer of Joy. 

But there are special gifts that are things too. Not long ago I received that kind of gift from my daughter-in-law. She got e-copies of all my covers even the old ones from years ago before there were e-copies of anything and made me the framed poster, pictured above, to hang in my office. Isn't it great? And such a thoughtful gift of her time and effort as she came up with a perfect gift for me. A writer has a special place in her heart for the cover art of her published books. Those covers are something bright and real with the promise of the story inside. The cover of Summer of Joy in the poster is not the new cover, but it's good to have that first cover remembered too. I'm so fortunate to have loving daughters-in-law who have blessed me with some beautiful grandchildren and who also encourage me in my writing career. 

One Week to Get Your Entries In

The deadline for my Summer of Joy Celebration Giveaway is Friday, February 28th at midnight EST. You can enter by sending me an e-mail from my website or here by leaving a comment. Comments on my posts here also enter you in a special additional drawing for a copy of your choice of one of my recent books. I don't have extra copies of those long ago books. The contest rules and description of prizes for the Celebration Giveaway are on my News & Events Website Page. Here's two of the prizes, a cute little ring dish and a charm bracelet with encouraging words all around. Plus those books that I do hope you will think are "worth reading." 

I also have that extra contest for people who say they "never win." I've gotten very few entries in that so maybe most of you are already winners. But one of you who tells me you never win is going to get a book and a box of chocolates. 

Remember, if you leave a comment here, you have to include a way for me to get in touch. A couple of you have commented without your contact information or even a name. If you don't want to leave that information in a comment here, feel free to e-mail me at annhgabhart(at)yahoo(dot)com or message me on my Facebook page. I know sometimes the comment feature on blogs can be a pain. Besides, you might enjoy joining in the conversation on my FB page. Some of my friends there enjoy my weekly features of Friday smiles, Throwback Thursdays, Shaker Wednesday, and Sunday Morning coming down.

A Book Worth Reading

That's what we all want when we're reading, don't we? A story that keeps us turning pages to find out what happens next. A story that we can be glad we read when we do turn that last page. A book that doesn't disappoint. Not every reader who picks up my books agree that my stories are worth reading, but I'm glad for those of you who do. And I will keep looking for the right words to fill the pages to make the stories you can enjoy. 

Thanks for reading!  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Every Dog Needs a Name

Dogs, Dogs, and More Dogs
Last week on my Facebook author page, I asked for suggestions for a dog's name. I posted the first picture above as a look alike of the dog in my current work in progress. But he's not exactly right. My dog may be a little more like picture two. And of course Oscar in picture three is wondering why I had to write about a dog that wasn't him. Actually, my fictional dog is a mix of all three. He's not quite as big as dog two, but the look on that dog's face captures some of the personality of my fictional dog. And yet he also has some of the eagerness to please that seems to be in the expression of dog one. And he has a dollop of Oscar's calm confidence.

That's the way it is with coming up with characters whether they are the four-pawed kind or the human kind. A writer takes a little of this and a little of that and invents the character or in this case, dog, that fits her story.

Some Stories have to have a Dog
I have been a dog lover all my life, but I've not written very many books with dogs that played a major role in the story. There was Jocie with her "dog prayer" and then she finds Zeb in the woods or Zeb finds her. A couple of my young adult novels had dogs and in For Sheila, the dogs were major characters and central to the plot. In Chance Hero there was a dog named Maybe. And in my Rosey Corner books, Graham has a dog named Poe and one named Chaucer in Love Comes Home, the book due out in July. I like writing dogs into the story whether they figure strongly in the plot or not. 

A Name that Fits
This dog, the one I'm trying to name, is more central to what's happening in the book. So he needs a really good name. A name that fits. Of course, all characters need a name that fits. Have you ever read a book where you thought the names were all wrong? I have. I've even named some characters of my own and then realized deep in the story that the name just wasn't right. That's how it is with my dog character. I named him Ash. Not bad, but not exactly right either. So I threw open the question of what to name him to my friends on my Facebook page. And boy, did the names start coming in! Around 90 of them. And very few repeat names. Now I have so many choices I'll be able to name every dog in my stories from now on.

The Naming Begins
A few names got more than one vote: Chance, Amos, Sky, Jack, Dash, Shep, Duke and Rocky. But there were many other great suggestions. Some Bible names like Ezra, Bartholomew, Jericho, Joshua, Asher, Joash, Isaac, Jeremiah, and Job. Some of the dog names echoed names I've used for dogs in my life or that I have known like Buster, Max, Tate, Pete, Beau, Roscoe, Charcoal (Coal), Casey and of course, Oscar. A few suggested Civil War names: Yank, Yankey, Jeb, Lincoln (Link), Shiloh, Rebel, Trooper and Sarge. I had suggestions that made me think dogs like Prince, Ace, Rags, Dutch, Ruff, Kip, Rusty, Shadow, Champ, Patch, Pepper, Bingo, Smokey, Smiley, Spark, Lucky, Duke and King. Or Muffin that for some reason made think more of a cat. Some of the names echoed names I've given to my human characters in books, Victor, Love, Sammy, Jake, Stan, Jasper, Buck, Isaac, and Asa.  There were a few names that were a little too fancy for my dog in this story: Rembrandt, Ashford, Comfort, Bentley, Odin, Hauser and Dante. Other names suggested included Murphy, Duncan, Jesse, Nash, Mickey, Boone, Jeb, Sally, Riley, Chester, Simon, Toby and Harve. A couple of names suggested that seemed unusual to me were Trot and Drift or Drifter. Turns out the person who suggested Trot had a dog named Trot. 

Decisions, Decisions
So now I have all these great names and I'm still undecided on the name that best fits my fictional dog. I've been playing around with Asher, one of Jacob's sons in the Bible. So what do you think? When you read through the names, did one of them seem to fit the composite dog above? 

Giveaway News
Remember, I've got a giveaway going to celebrate Summer of Joy getting dressed up in a new cover and about to be available in print again. The prizes are fun things Jocie, my young character in the Heart of Hollyhill stories, might have picked out. You can see the details on my website news & events page. I'll also be picking two winners of winner's choice of one of my books in an extra drawing from those of you who comment here. Each comment on a new post gets you another entry in that drawing. Winners in the USA or Canada will have the choice of a paper book or an e-book. International readers can win the e-book. Jocie's also giving a book away on her blog, Heart of Hollyhill blog. And if that's not enough chances to win, you can sign up on Goodreads to maybe win one of five copies being given away. 

Thanks for reading. And remember what Groucho Marx once said. "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a do, it's too dark to read."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Giveaway to Celebrate Summer of Joy

Celebration time! 

For a writer, there's not much more exciting than seeing a new book coming out for readers - even when that new book is simply one dressed up in a new cover. With the re-release of Summer of Joy, in a few weeks, my Heart of Hollyhill books will once more all be in print again and inviting readers to come back to the Sixties to visit Jocie and her family and friends.

Joy in the Journey
Some of you might remember the Sixties. Some of you might be too young for that. But isn't it great that books can take us to other times and places and let us experience "joy in the journey?" 

Life is a journey and you can travel through a year of life in Hollyhill with Jocie. Secrets are uncovered. Strangers show up. Joy is awakened. Troubles come. Love conquers. Life happens in this Small Town, America story. 

Celebration Prizes
And so I'm celebrating by having a giveaway with a few fun prizes. First prize winner will get that cute charm bracelet that Jocie might have picked out for you along with an autographed set of the Hollyhill books that includes Scent of Lilacs, Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy. Second prize winner also wins a set of the Hollyhill books along with the ring dish with the bicycle and Joy in the Journey saying. (Jocie loves the bicycle.) And then there is the drawing for those of you who say you "never win." That prize is a box of chocolates and the winner's choice of one of my books. I've only gotten a couple of never win entries. Everybody must either be winners or on a diet! So be sure to tell me you've never won if you want to be in that drawing. And if you already have the Heart of Hollyhill books, it's fun to win books for a reading friend or perhaps your church library.

I also invited entrants to share a Valentine story of love. You don't have to tell a story to enter. You just have to send me a message at annhgabhart(at)yahoo(dot)com or leave a comment here (with a way to contact you) on my blog before midnight EST February 28, 2014. People who comment here will get one entry in the drawing for the prizes listed above, but I'll have a special extra drawing for my blog commenters with two winners getting their choice of one of my books. Each comment on a new post here on One Writer's Journal before the deadline will get you an extra entry in the blog drawing. I do appreciate those of you who drop by to visit me here. And of course, feel free to leave those Valentine stories. 

A Valentine Story 
Here's a cute story I received after I sent out news of the contest in my newsletter last week. R.M. said, "Back in 2001, one of my coworkers came in the office where I was working and said someone was there to see me. I was excited! Whoo hoo!! Flowers for Valentine's Day! Nope, lo and behold, a Barbershop Quartet!! Right there in the main corridor. They handed me a long stem red rose and sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart"!!!!! That was the best Valentine's Day ever. Love was in the air!!!!
    Now, today I am picking up balloons as I already have the heart-shaped cake and cookies to have my granddaughters over for a Valentine's Day Party!!! Love is still in the air!!!"

I love R.M.'s enthusiasm for Valentine's Day love. Love is in the air in Summer of Joy too. So share some love whether about romantic love, family love or even the fun of all those little Valentines given away at school parties across the nation. "Be Mine, Valentine." "Yours till Ivory Soap Sinks." "Roses are red. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet and so are you." What silly Valentine rhymes do you remember?  

Next Time
If you don't get my newsletter and would like to, be sure to let me know or sign up here on my FB author page. And come back Wednesday night or Thursday. Over on my Facebook author page, I'm getting suggestions for naming my heroine's dog in my work in progress. So far 89 different names have been suggested. I'll share those results next time on One Writer's Journal. 

Thanks for the Prayers
Last, but certainly not least, I very much appreciate all your prayers and concern for my mother. We had a rough week with taking her to the facility Monday and then spending a night in the ER after she fell on Wednesday, but today she seemed to be settling in. She even told one of the aides that we were her daughters and she knew my sister's name. Prayers are powerful and I thank you that you're willing to plug into that power for my mom. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Hard Day's Night at the ER

Here's Mom about five years ago with a lap full of great grandbabies. She was beginning to have problems with her thinking then, but they were things you just passed off as getting older. Dementia was actually raising its ugly head, but we either didn't recognize the symptoms or didn't want to see them. I, for one, never thought Mom would have memory problems. I thought she'd be one of those little old ladies who soldiered on with some physical problems but that she'd be remembering things I'd long forgotten on her hundredth birthday.

Alas, that didn't turn out to be the case. Dementia invaded her mind and stole her life as she'd always lived it and would have wanted to finish living it should she have had that choice. 

But now she can't remember. She can't choose. And while in the picture above, she was having a good day but perhaps too big a load in her lap, last night she had a bad night. She fell at the Alzheimer's home. My sister and I went down to see about her and decided she was probably okay. We signed releases with the ambulance personnel and took her back to her room to bed. It's a long walk from the front of the building to her room. She barely made it on foot. And then once in bed, she was crying in such pain that we changed our minds, bundled her up and took her to the emergency room where they x-rayed, scanned and treated her with great care. The other times I've been in the ER with her were decidedly unpleasant, but this time they addressed her pain, were quick with the tests, and the several hours we were there weren't so bad. She slept most of the time and my sister and I talked about how sleepy we were going to be as we watched the clock spin through the wee hours of the morning. 

All the tests came back normal, but in the process of reviewing the paperwork, I discovered a mix-up with Mom's medicine. The prescription that is supposed to help with her agitation wasn't being given the way the doctor had prescribed it and the way she'd been taking it for a few months. The orders he'd written for the home weren't clear enough, and they had cut her dosage by two-thirds. Plus other over the counter aids we were giving her, at the doctor's verbal instructions, weren't being given because the doctor had not ordered those in writing. All that is straightened out - we think.  

On our visits to her before her fall, she seemed happy enough and didn't mention us taking her home. But she hasn't been sleeping and not eating very much either. There is an adjustment period for a move like this. I know that. But it is still very difficult to stand back and not do something to make things better. Of course, there are the prayers going up for her and for all of us, her family. You can't begin to imagine how I appreciate you praying for Mom that she'll have peace there in the new place. Looks as if she's needing more prayers than ever. We are going down for family night tonight. Perhaps the next time I write about Mom, it will be a happier post. 

Meanwhile, if I can stay awake after the all-nighter at the ER, I'm hoping to send out a Valentine newsletter tomorrow with info on a new prize giveaway to celebrate Summer of Joy back on the market dressed in a new cover. If you're not on my newsletter list, you can sign up easily by clicking here. You can also follow my posts here on One Writer's Journal by subscribing to the posts. If you enter your e-mail address, the posts will show up in you mailbox. 

Thanks so much for reading and thanks so much for all the support and caring messages you've give my family and me over the past few days. Prayer is powerful!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Hard Choices of Dementia

When I was a little girl I always wanted to look like my mother. I thought she was the prettiest woman ever. And I wanted to be like her too. Strong. Determined. Smart. Patient. Loving. She was ready to do whatever necessary to take care of her family. She loved us, her three daughters. 
Mom grew up during the Great Depression years. She had three sisters, no brothers. She and her sisters were always close. They loved their mother and father. My grandfather was a blacksmith and served in World War I as a cook. He died when I was five. I only have a couple of memories of him. I'm not one of those people who can remember when I was two. I do well to remember when I was twenty. LOL. But Mom always had a great memory of how things were when she was a little girl. Those memories were the inspiration for my first Rosey Corner book, Angel Sister. While the story is completely fiction, I owe the inspiration for the background and the characters to Mom's stories of her childhood years. 

Mom's only a few weeks from being ninety-four. She always said she wanted to live to be a hundred. But she never planned to lose her memory to dementia. We never thought she would lose her memory to anything. We thought we'd have our mom with us as our mom until she moved up to heaven. It hasn't happened that way. When she reached her late eighties signs began to show up that all was not right. She began to think things had happened that had not happened. Always things that made her unhappy. Still, she managed for a few more years with us dropping by to help with the little things. Then she fell and although nothing was broken, it was a traumatic experience because she was unable to get up and lay there for we don't know how long before my sister stopped by. 

We didn't think she would pull through that. She got better, but her mind continually got worse. We started staying with her around the clock after that fall although at first we could make quick trips to the store or wherever. Then her mind got even worse. We couldn't leave her alone. She started wanting to "go home." Home was not this house where she'd lived for over twenty-five years. Home was most often her childhood home. Her parents hadn't told her she could stay so long and they were going to be upset. At times she also thought about her home with my father who has been gone for almost thirty years. She had to fix supper for him and the "children." Nobody was watching the "children." She had things to do and she really needed to go home. And because she has always been a determined "I can do it" type person, she would get up and try to go out the door. If nobody would take her home, she'd just walk. After all, the "home" she was seeking was just over the hill. 

And so, the lies began. At first it was difficult for me and my sister to lie to our mother, but it is cruel to tell a dementia sufferer that their loved ones are dead. It doesn't stay in their brain and is a fresh pain every time. Besides, Mom would sometimes look at you as though you were the one without good sense since she'd just seen her mother or father or husband that very morning. So a lot of time her mother and father were "out of town" perhaps visiting "out of state relatives." Nevermind, that they had no out of state relatives. Dad was doing various farm jobs. Perhaps in the hay in the summer or stripping tobacco in the winter or feeding the cows. Whatever came to mind. And "tomorrow" became the promise that never happened. Tomorrow we'd see about going home. Tomorrow we'd talk about it. Tomorrow we'd do whatever we had to do. And that is what happened. We did whatever we had to do.

And now tomorrow we're going to do what we have to do again. We're moving Mom into an Alzheimers' Home. It's a beautiful place with a caring staff. It's our way of trying to give her some more time out of the nursing home since her funds are getting low and we may need to sell the house to keep financing her care. We are naturally concerned. So much can happen. We want Mom to be happy. She's not happy here most of the time. She may not be happy there. She may not be happy anywhere until she moves on "home" to be with her mother and father and sisters. It's a difficult choice. It may not work for her. Then I don't know what we'll do. 

If there's ever a time when a person has to take it one day at a time, then dealing with dementia is that time. Sometimes it's one hour at a time. I know many of you are dealing with the same illness, and it is an illness, a cancer of sorts of the mind. So may we all take it one prayer at a time. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

When 45 Records Ruled and the Beatles were New

 Fifty years ago Beatlemania hit America. When I look back on it now, you might wonder why that song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" took the country by storm. The Beatles were already hitting the music scene in England, but here in America, the record companies were reluctant to put out their songs. Maybe because those songs were so different. But then their popularity kept growing and Capital Records rushed out a release of the song. In the first three days after it was released, it sold a quarter million records. Many adults wondered why, but kids when crazy for it. Radio DJs played it over and over. The song was just so different from the other songs at that time. 

The Beatles were just so different. They were crazy young, energetic, willing to do things no singing group had done. Bob Dylan caught the reason why when talking about the Beatles popularity. He said, "They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid." Outrageous is a great way to describe them at that time.

The lyrics of their early songs were super simple. They sounded like songs a teenage boy would sing. They became songs lots of teenagers sang along with the records. The Beatles first big hit in England was "Love Me Do." That became their second number one hit in the America. And a lot of older people wondered why. Cynthia Lowery of The Associate Press expressed the feelings of many critics and adults. "Heaven knows, we've heard them enough. It has been impossible to get a radio weather bulletin or time signal without running into 'I Want to Hold Your Hand.'" 

I remember being one of the kids who sang along. The Beatles never made me swoon or scream. I wasn't that into being a fan of any singer. I was busy scribbling in my notebooks at that time. But I do remember thinking they were fun. They made music fun. I didn't spend my money on 45s. I had to buy film for my camera and ink for my pen. But my sister bought a lot of the popular records and so I got to listen to them anyway. I don't remember for sure, but I think a 45 single cost about a dollar. We had a record player where you could stack on the records, and it dropped the records down one at a time. That was jukebox time in the restaurants too, but my family didn't spend any time in restaurants. We ate at home. When I started dating, we'd go to drive-in restaurants and the music would be piped outside. And then I got married way too young, and pop music moved way down the list of my priorities. 

Things change, don't they? Kids grab onto music the older generation hates. The interesting thing about that is the older generation did the same when they were kids. Kids now do the same. Each generation has its defining music. The Sixties certainly was a time of music upheaval. And you might say The Beatles ushered in a lot of that upheaval. We'd had Elvis, but now we had groups that harmonized on silly lyrics and jumped around and exploded with energy. They were just so young and they made us celebrate being young too.

That's how Jocie is in my Heart of Hollyhill series. Here's the new cover for her book, Summer of Joy. On the cover, she's trying out some of the 45s in Leigh's apartment. Maybe even the song "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Right now you can throw your name in the hat on Goodreads for the chance to win a copy of Summer of Joy. Just click Goodreads Giveaway. Plus, I'm coming up with prizes for my own celebration giveaway coming soon. Watch for my newsletter next week with details. If you aren't signed up for my occasional newsletter, it's easy to do. Just click here, Ann's newsletter, and enter your name and e-mail. I promise never to share that with anyone. I'll post details here too and on my website News and Events page.

And if you're old enough, tell me what you remember about when 45 records ruled. And if you aren't that old, tell me what you think about the Beatles. You might know more about those older Beatles, but it's those young teen Beatles with the shaggy haircuts adults at the time hated that I'm remembering today.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sneak Peek at Love Comes Home

I usually hold off on putting the cover of my books out here on the net until closer to time for them to actually be on the shelf, but I'm giving you a sneak peek at Love Comes Home since I've been working on edits for it all week. The release date isn't until summer, July 1, 2014 to be exact. So do you like it? What do you think?

I think you're going to like visiting Rosey Corner again. At least I hope so. The Merritt sisters have a lot going on in their lives. While I've struggled with untangling some knotty writing in a paragraph here and there, I have enjoyed going back to Rosey Corner myself to live the story with my characters again as I'm editing. I got to hear some more of Aunt Hattie's prayers and homespun wisdom. I got to witness Graham doing some more matchmaking. I got to walk in the woods with Fern and that is always interesting! I teared up when the boys were welcomed home from the war by their loved ones. I went with Lorena to find out the "rest of her story." And more. Lots more. The book is already available for pre-sale on Amazon.

But while I was enjoying the story again, I was also reading the editor's comments on how to make my writing better. The surprising thing was I never thought the editor was off-base with her suggestions on how to make the story read better. Sometimes a writer can struggle with edits, and not see the need for the suggested changes. But this time when my editor noted a little muddy writing, I could see that I hadn't been clear enough. When she said I'd used the same words too often or too close together in a paragraph, she was right. Sometimes "echo" words are okay. Sometimes they're not. (Note my "I got to" echoes in the paragraph above.) Perhaps I was okay with her comments because she didn't ask for a lot of changes.There was one place where I had to shift the scene a bit, but the rest were fairly easy changes. Of course, there was that one knotty paragraph that I spent hours on and I'm still not sure I've got it right. I'll have to go back and read it again before I hit the send button to turn it in to the editor. 

These were the first copy edits where I could make as many changes as I thought were needed. So whenever my reader's eye stumbled over a phrase or sentence, I worked it over to try to make the reading smoother. The intent of careful editing is to make the words disappear so the story can play like a movie in the reader's mind. A clunky sentence or a bad transition between scenes can jerk a reader away from the "movie" and make her remember she's reading words. That's not good! I want to keep the magic of the story alive in the reader's imagination. I'll get another chance to edit, but then the book will be almost ready to go and any editing changes will need to be minor.  

So now how would you like a sneak peek at a new Rosey Corner character? Clay Weber. I'm hoping you said yes, because here's a bit of a scene from Clay's point of view as he thinks about finding a way to capture the affections of the girl he loves even though she shows no sign of wanting his love. 

    He [Clay] might not be the handsomest guy in the room. But he knew how to stick to something and get it done if it was worth doing.

    Working a farm taught a man that. Every year that a man plowed a field, more rocks rose up out of the dirt to be hauled away. Weeds kept sprouting no matter how many calluses a man got plying his hoe. Horses went lame. Machinery broke down. Cows went dry and hawks swooped out of the sky to steal the chickens. The ground didn’t give up its yield without a man watering it with plenty of sweat. But just because something was hard didn’t mean it wasn’t worth doing.

So there you have a sneak peek at the cover and Clay. Now I'll push Love Comes Home back in line to wait its turn since I do have the re-release of my third Hollyhill book, Summer of Joy, coming out in March. I'll reveal that cover on Jocie's blog, Hollyhill Book of the Strange later this week. I'm gearing up to celebrate the last story in the Heart of Hollyhill series. In fact, there's a Goodreads giveaway opening up on it Tuesday, Feb. 4. Here's the Goodreads' giveaway link. And I'll be doing my own giveaway soon too. Stay tuned for that. 

Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear what you think about the cover of Love Comes Home.