To write a book…

charlie-chaplin-392926_1280When I was in school I hated American History. I thought it was boring. I thought that since other countries had been around so much longer, they were obviously much more interesting.

Now that I am older, I am no longer so excluding. For the past few weeks I’ve been focused on the American Civil War. My attention was peaked last year when I did some family history research. It was more recently that I received a book of local ghost stories that pinged that interest again.

Then I spoke with another writer who I greatly admire. I told him that I had been thinking about writing a book that takes place during the civil war. I recounted what I had found out about my family, and he said: That sounds like a good place to start. Why don’t you?

That “Why don’t you?” Has been echoing around the empty cavern of my skull for weeks.

I tried to use the excuse, “Well, life has so many changes going on right now, with the new job and going back to school…”

My inner writer answered with, “You don’t work on the weekends and part of your degree is going to be in History anyway.”

Then the dragon of self doubt raised its head and said, “Do you really think you can find anime_dragon_1024x768-634320the time to write a book? Look how well that has worked in the past. You have three unfinished novels sitting on your computer right now. And remember that rejection letter. The one that hit the mark so well.”

The dragon almost got me. Then I remembered the rejection letter it was reminding me of was the catalyst I needed to pull up my boots and march back to school. The three unfinished novels reminded me that my current way of writing isn’t working very well and I need to try something new. (Not that those three will never be finished. Two are honestly in a rewrite stage but I changed things and got stuck in the muddle in the middle. Then proceeded to wallow in the muck.)

So now, with so many things already on my plate and with so many new challenges to face, I find myself stacking yet another task on top. I’m going to write a book. Sanderson Quote-800wi

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The Only Constant Is Change

doctor wibbilyThe only constant is change. I am sure that is a quote from someone much smarter than I am. I cannot recall who it may have been. It is a truth that my life feels like it is trying to prove these last couple of months though.

I lost the best boss I’ve ever had, but was able to reposition her into a ‘awesome friend‘ slot. So she isn’t gone from my life, just from that one spot. I left the job I have spent nearly 7 years of my life at. The place that ate up half of my nights every year. I left behind good friends and routine. I even stopped writing for a period of time.

I had a moment of evaluation and came to the conclusion that things were not as they indianashould be and that I was not happy. Then I came up with a plan to fix that. It sounds easy but it was not. It was terrifying. It was a doubt filled tangle of What if’s. It was a massive black hole of: But how do/will I…

Then I took a step. And then another step. I am still scooting along, one step at a time. The ground still feels unstable beneath my feet but that hasn’t stopped me yet. The changes are probably not all over yet either. I am in transitional limbo. In September or October things should feel more solid.

hobbitI have a new job now. I am still in training and have five more weeks of it to go. I love it so far. My kids are signed up for a new school. I signed up to go back to school and my classes start mid August.  I no longer work nights. I no longer have to drag stacks of totes larger than I am. I started writing again.

I have no doubt that my writing will be the slowest thing to advance simply because of all the other obligations. Not because it isn’t important, but because it is. I have to learn patience with my writing.

I get in a hurry and I often don’t do the best job I can. I want the story told. However, I also Writing-furiously[1]need to tell the story right. I need to let go of the rush, rush, get-it-done and just tell the story. It’s like turning the oven up as high as it can go. Yeah, it will cook the pizza but it probably won’t be very tasty. I want to make tasty pizzas…er stories. (I am writing this too close to dinner time.)

Anyway, the point is I am taking more time with my writing and therefore I will hopefully be churning out a better quality of fiction. As a result of this and my other obligations I may not be updating my blog as often. My normal routine has been to post once a week on Mondays. From now on it may be once a month or once every two weeks. I am not sure yet.  I will try it until I decide that the schedule doesn’t work, and then change it again. Or life will change it for me.

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Busy Before Sunrise

 

Good morning all and special shout out to the new friends I made this morning while the registers were down. (*Waves* Hi Samantha!)  It took me a little longer to leave the store, but it all worked out in the end. Sometimes things that should be irritations work to our benefit. It’s not always easy to see it that way but I am happy when I can.

In case you are wondering why I was out and about before the sun, I took the kids out for pancakes before the rest of the world became too crowded. I am doing much better. I’ve had a few anxiety attacks since my last post but no more panic attacks.

I have taken the precautions of avoid large crowds when I can and I’ve cut out most caffeine for now. For frequent readers of my blog, you know of my love of tea and coffee so this has been difficult. I bought decaf but I just can’t bring myself to drink it. Silly, I know.

I haven’t managed a lot of writing over the last few days. I tire a lot easier right now than I normally do. Most of my concentration has been spent on feeling better and household tasks. However, I plan on spending a lot of time catching up on writing today. I have several books that really need to be finished. I guess I better get to it.

Open book magic on black

Mondays and Missing Cats

Hello all. What is it about Monday’s? It’s like I wake up with an automatic To-Do list that somehow complied over night. Today is going to be a busy one.

I didn’t do much this weekend but sit around in comfortable clothes and watch Doctor Who. I had some sort of stomach nasty that wouldn’t let me get too far from a toilet without dire consequences. It was kind of nice to have self permission not to do anything. I could have done without the being sick part though.

Panda
Panda

Today I have to play catch up. There is housework to do, writing to get done, and a cat to find. Panda, our black and white cat, hasn’t been home in several days and I am beginning to get worried. Sometimes she will disappear for a day or two after we have done something to offend her, but this is a bit long. Usually these absences will follow a few days of breakfast being served late or us not letting her outside when she wants. She is the queen of the household and knows it.panda

I’m not only worried about Panda but my daughter as well. Technically she is my daughter’s cat. We brought her home from the animal shelter as a kitten, shortly after we moved into our house.

At thirteen, my daughter is all moody teenage girl. Her cat is the one she talks to when things get to be too much, because obviously mom can’t understand. (I was a teenager once too and did the same thing, so I know how this works. Cats can be wonderful confidants and they have the added bonus of being fluffy.)10502233_10201355538529691_2457240744323550533_n

To complicate things, not only does she have the usual teen stuff to deal with, but her father just moved across the country. She has always been a Daddy’s girl. She has always known if she needed him, he was right there and I would take her to see him. Now that is a bit more difficult since he is a couple of thousand miles away. They still skype and stuff but it isn’t the same.  And now her cat is missing.

My daughter does talk to me. It’s not like we have no communication, but talking to her Daddy and talking to her cat is different from talking to mom. Kids have a lot to deal with. So do parents for that matter.

I had more to say but my kids are awake now and I have lost my train of thought. I have to go make breakfast and get my son started on his homeschooling. He is full of energy this morning and is irritating his sister. She is in a good mood and is irritating him back so my house is very loud right now.

I’ll return with cat updates as I have them.

Late Night

Weep not for me and my lost sleep

Pity not my missed nightly dreams

For I have been traveling the word roads

I slipped between sentence spaces to journey

I danced among worlds hidden in print

I’ve drunk the tears of dragons and feasted on fears

Now I return to this world sated

I may yawn till my jaw cracks and my eyes may blur

But every traveler pays a cost to take a worthwhile journey

And I have willingly given away sleep and what nightly dreams may have come to mine.

Chasing Tall Tales

A week ago my mom bought a booklet of local ghost stories a thrift store for a quarter. Just twenty-two pages long, bound with staples and orange card stock, it really doesn’t look like much. However, the first story in this book has been driving me to distraction. Short enough to be considered flash fiction, the story is only two paragraphs long and is a reprint of something that appeared in a local paper nearly 20 years ago.

Roughly it states that, while working on widening a rural road, a road crew dug up a body of an adult woman. She was buried in the middle of the road with a wooded stake through her heart. Both the stake and the body had been petrified.

The lack of information immediately intrigued my curiosity. I am well aware that this a toothless gifwork of fiction. Sort of a local legend. It’s the kind of thing my older cousins used to make up to scare me when we took walks in the woods near my grandparents house. However, whatever it is inside that makes me a writer started whispering, “What if?”

It is plausible that a woman could have been killed and buried in an unmarked grave. Depending on when she was buried, maybe there wasn’t a road there at the time. Or maybe it was the only convenient spot. The story wouldn’t leave me alone. It claimed to have happened less than thirty minutes away, so I began digging. (Figuratively. I am pretty sure I would be writing this on the walls of the local jail if I actually tried digging up the road.)

Armed with just the name of the road I searched and found out that they did widen the road back in 1917. I also discover there has been precedence set for the petrification of human remains, if under the right conditions. The part of the road were the story claims the woman was buried runs close to the Hiwassee river. This is important because not only would the soil need the right minerals but it would also need the right amount of moisture.

In 1867 there was a great flood that decimated the area. It took out bridges and caused a train wreck where many died. There are even claims that the streets of Chattanooga were so flooded, that a man living on Lookout Mountain watched bodies float down them.

background-313572_1280So if the mythical woman had been killed and buried before the flood, then it is even plausible that she could have been petrified. If she existed. But if so, what happened to the body? Why was she buried in the road? Did whomever it was that killed her think they were slaying a vampire or a witch?

These are questions I don’t have answers to yet. I did find a similar story in a book called The Granny Curse and Other legends from East Tennessee by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett. It is about a chair haunted by the ghost of a vampire. (I didn’t know vampires could have ghosts but stranger things have become local legends.)

I am still investigating. Some people will probably laugh at me for chasing ghost stories and say I am on a snipe hunt or a wild goose chase. Just because it may not turn out to be true, doesn’t mean it isn’t teaching me a lot about the past. I had no knowledge of the flood of 1867 or of body petrification until now. I am sure it will end up being useful at some point, even if it is only in fiction.