Thursday, October 13, 2016

Out of Print

It pains me to write this, for it feels like an admission of failure. My book, Waiting for Wren is officially out of print. What does this mean? The publisher hasn't sold enough copies to warrant keeping it in print. For two years my royalty reports have been dismal, and I knew that something wasn't working.

Understand, this is my choice. The folks at Deep River Books didn't make this decision although they agreed with it. It's not cost effective for them either, to keep printing copies and have them sit in the warehouse, unread and unloved.

To what is this poor performance attributed? Not my writing, they assured me. The judges loved it enough to choose Waiting for Wren above three hundred plus novels submitted that year. No one knows, the president of Deep River told me, why one book sells and another does poorly. Wrong timing, slump in the market, lackluster marketing, another book with the same name released the same month. I was advised, two years down the road from the release date, that I should try to establish a fan base, which I've been working on. Too late at this point? I can't say.

I know in my heart that I wrote and rewrote and wrote again to make Waiting for Wren something I wanted to publicly put my name on, and something I hoped would glorify God. I still feel proud and thankful to be an award winning author, and I continue to love this book. If you're one of my fans, friends or readers who bought the book, and especially if you took the time to leave a positive review, I thank you, and love knowing that you read my words! The good news part of "out of print" is that the publishing rights revert back to me so I'm free to do what I want with it. Watch, sometime in the future, for a new and slightly improved Waiting for Wren.

In the meantime, I have a few copies available, which I'd be happy to sign if you're interested in the original. And I'm working on my next book which examines our weaknesses and how we let them affect our lives every day. Ironic? We'll see...

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Excerpt from Light Over Water, now at a reduced price for a limited time! Link is below...

From Chapter Ten - Beyond the Pale of Law

Off to their right on a high rise stood the crumbling fort, settled like a patient bovine on its haunches.  Another partial brick building stood closer to the woods, thought to be either a barracks or a powder house.  Down a gentle slope, closer to the shore, lay a jumble of granite rocks.  These were supposed to be the foundation for additional battlements connected to underground tunnels from which guns could be fired without being seen.  The project was abandoned sometime after the Civil War and the granite stood untouched; seemingly forgotten and definitely too heavy to be taken.
          It was to these rocks that Aubrey led Alison.  He went to the one farthest from the fort and brought her around to see its end.
          “Look,” he said, grinning and pointing.
          Alison peered at the rock and gasped.  Chipped away from its end was the clearly defined head and shoulders of a man.  She could see the rock chips and dust scattered around its base on the grass, attesting to the hours of time spent here.  “Oh my, Aubrey!” she exclaimed.  “It’s…it’s amazing!”  Kneeling down she examined it more closely.  Despite its rough surface, the head was rounded and shapely.  She could make out features; the eyes downcast, the mouth unsmiling but somehow determined, the jaw strong.  “When did you do this?  Where did you learn how to do this?”
          He shrugged.  “I’ve done it since I was a kid.  Just takes a hammer and chisel and some good stone.”
          “But this must have taken months!”
          “Oh, aye.  Granite’s hard,” he nodded.  He was studying her as she ran her hand over the shape of it.  “I tried to make it look like Sam, but his face seems kinda distant in my mind.”  He smiled apologetically.
          Alison rose, stepped back from it and brought her hands to her heart in a stricken gesture.  She turned to Aubrey, searching his face and whispering, “You did this for me?”

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Excerpt from Some Smaller Grace... Link is below

Questions at Her Grandparents' Funeral 

 It didn't take a trained ear to realize the organist was abominable. Yet a veiled glance about the church suggested to Jill that no one was paying particular attention to the music. There was a low undertone of voices, which gradually died down as Pastor Thomas took his place at the pulpit.

 "They should have gotten a better organist," Jill whispered to her mother at her side. 

 Marta lifted one side of her mouth contemptuously. "Their musical taste is about like their taste in food. They probably think she plays like Bach himself!" 

 Jill leaned away from her mother and fiercely willed herself not to cry. Again she chewed the inside of her cheek, which was beginning to feel raw. She told herself over and over that they would care about the music, seeming unable to shake the thought from her mind. She held her bunched up handkerchief to her eyes to catch the tears forming there. Jill hated her mother at this moment. 

 The music died away at a small nod from the pastor. He asked them to stand and sing together from the words printed on their program. As they began the hymn, Jill was carried back to her grandmother's kitchen. She closed her eyes. 

She could see the sunlight filtering through the maples that encircled the farmhouse. As it shimmered across the cupboards in the early morning, her grandmother hummed and sometimes sang, "There is sunshine in my soul today, most glorious and bright." 

 She would beam at Jill as she flipped pancakes on the griddle, or dipped homemade bread into French toast batter. She remembered the question, "Is there sunshine in your soul, Jilly?" and her grandmother's husky laughter as a sleepy seven year old answered, "I like it dark." 

 Now the words caught in her throat like dust. Her soul felt like charred blackness, as though the best in her life had been consumed. At this moment, with the music flowing around her and the memories it brought crowding her mind, she thought nothing mattered. Her grandparents had worked hard all their lives, with what to show for it? The spoils of a farm to be squabbled over by a daughter who despised them. Would her own life yield up such dubious results? Her career seemed a pipe dream, music a waste...…/…/B004V5I4MG

Friday, May 6, 2016

Alphabet Soup

These words of mine,

This alphabet soup of sounds and letters,

Stirring in my mind,

Now meat, now mate, now team or tame?

A word grab of changes or

Flurries, as snow, each its own.

How can these nourish, fortify, or sate

When, so like a virus, they assault my tissues

and grow there,

Teasing me from the soundest dream

With their fevered now!…own…won!

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Year in the Life 2015

A year ago we had a baby here who got from place to place by strategically rolling over and over. Now that kid stomps around here like the big friendly giant - looking over whatever is on the table or counter that he might be able to confiscate or play with: keys, phone, glasses of water, cutting implements. Owen is so tall that almost nothing is off limits! For him it's been a year of growth and change and development. For us it's been an adventure - all the joys and challenges of an in-house hurricane! If I make it sound like he's wild that's not true; he just swirls around leaving trails of toys, cars, alphabets, books...

Russell has contentedly carried on as pastor at Bristow Advent Christian Church where he enjoys a rapport with young and old alike. We are blessed to be here where the people show us grace and encourage us with their generosity so often. Besides shepherding the flock, he is Vice President of the Bristow Ministerial Association, which involves monthly meetings and community activities. He helps care for Owen on his days off, and he tries to fit in weight lifting and a never ending honey-do list. He's been actively working at staving off diabetes and weighs about what he did when we lived in Rhode Island...eons ago! That's down about thirty-five pounds. In February he went to Florida to visit his mom, and in October he went home to Big Lake Township to prepare our house to sell it. It was listed in late October but no takers yet.

I spend my days caring for Owen, working as secretary for the church and fitting in some writing between cooking, cleaning, laundry and reading. I've toned up a bit from a healthy regimen of lifting (Owen), walking (Owen), chasing (Owen) and bending and stretching every day! I am working on my fourth book. I had a goal last year to finish it by Christmas. My goal this year is to write a page a day, and as of January 3rd I was managing that 50% of the time! I'm not giving up :) I had two poems selected for the Goose River Anthology, a collection of stories, essays and poetry published by Goose River Press and released in November. 

We have settled in here in Oklahoma and are maybe even getting acclimated. The consensus was that this past summer was a mild one, and we found it blistering but not unbearable - probably mostly due to air conditioning. We had family visits from Russell's cousin Simon and his wife Mary, and my sister Robin and her husband Brian. Both joyful occasions and proof that Oklahoma is more than "on the way to somewhere"!

Being in Oklahoma means being close enough to Texas to see the little Carles, which we managed to do two or three times. Ryan changed jobs this year and is now a field manager for U-Haul in northeast Texas. No more nights. Crystal has a variety of medicines that she's taking for lupus which help her cope with the various symptoms. She home schools six children and cares for a toddler (the child of a church friend) and manages to maintain a cheerful and patient demeanor. Gracen will turn thirteen this year, Zoe will be eleven and Naomi nine. They are happy, imaginative and fun children to be around. Our Christmas with them was postponed because Crystal got pneumonia and then everyone proceeded to get the flu. We still have our celebration with them to look forward to. (Added 1-11-16) I forgot to mention that Ryan is now pastoring a church plant and has performed several baptisms in this new church. He's a busy man!

Emily has juggled work, home, baby and the adjustments of moving quite well. She does bookkeeping for the owner of the Subway and Pizza Hut in our town. He is good to her and doesn't mind if she has to take Owen for a doctor appointment or come home early so I can go cook for our Wednesday night Celebrate Recovery meeting. She has been considering going back to school as she doesn't want to do books for maybe forensics, pathology...who knows? She has begun cutting out a quilt for Owen and WILL learn to sew!

Peter is back to college at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. He has been able to save enough from working to finish his degree without any more debt, which is an amazing accomplishment. He is majoring in network security. He worked nights for a long time, but no more. He actually ate supper with us last evening!

I'm including a poem I wrote recently that might help explain the general sense of the past year. And I will just add that I read a couple of months ago that when grandparents are actively involved in raising their grandchildren, they are 30% less likely to develop Alzheimer's. Yay!!

We love you and pray God bless you in 2016!

The Juggler

I wanted to learn how to juggle.
The smooth arc of balls
The nimble hands - 
The steady balance of high and low,
It drew me so.

Then there was you,
And eventually them.
The cries of babies in the night,
Hungry eyes, messy meals - 
Breakfast, lunch, supper.

And there was Him.
Start here, go there.
Pack up, unload.
Make a home and
Make it again, and again...

Add the call of words,
The sound of song, the joy of friends.
Talk, laugh, cry.
Write, think, sigh.

And now again,
Starfish hands and laughing eyes
at my clumsy tries
with three balls.
Do over.

I can't get it right,
But I guess by now,
I really do know
how to

System Restore

Restore Point 1 Samuel 12:20   “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart....