If Fred and Joe were real they’d be bouncing off the walls today. I just received a contract in my email! Linkville Press want to publish my “Tails of Mystery,” a collection of short stories about the mysterious adventures of a rather large dog called Fred, his chihuahua friend Joe, and a cat (as yet nameless) who comes to live with them. Exploding houses, kidnapped dogs, strange touches of green in the washing machine, and more…
Last weekend I went to the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference and suddenly felt like an author. Perhaps it was the way my books were displayed with such care. Perhaps it was the keynote speaker, Jane Kirkpatrick, welcoming me with her usual open arms. Or perhaps it was hearing my name mentioned in her talk! Whichever the cause, I came home walking on air.
But our Coffee Break Bible Study group was coming to an end and I needed a story to shape the summer while we wait to meet again. I had nothing to say. Until my proof copy of Galilee’s Gift arrived in the mail, and opened, by chance, to the page headed “The Bent and Beautiful Woman.”
The hand of chance belongs to God, they tell me. And Coffee Break is a women’s Bible Study group, filled with women, all beautiful to God, however the world might bend us. So I read the story, my story, and suddenly knew what I had to say. This bent and beautiful woman, like us, was healed by Jesus; but better than that, she learned that she was precious in God’s sight. What better reminder for us in the summer break?
Meanwhile those wonderfully supportive Coffee Break Bible Study ladies gave me a gift, with coffee mug, pens, mouse-pad, and even a bag to carry all my books to my next conference, everything decorated with website and publicity photos of me. Suddenly I felt like an author again!
The phone number always comes up as “out of area.” Sometimes it means it’s a telemarketer, but I always have to answer because it might mean the caller is seriously, transatlantically out of area, in which case a family member is probably trying to contact me from England. So I lift the receiver. I say “Hello.” And the reply from my brother is, “My computer needs some help.”
I suspect, having just had to call in the services of our local Friendly Computers when my hard drive died, I may not be the best person to call for computer help. But my nephew was out, my other brother (the technological one) was about to go out, and I came in as third choice.
They’d already tried the “switch off and wait a bit” option. It didn’t help. They’d tried typing in a wrong password to confirm the one they were using was definitely right. But the user account wouldn’t load, and they couldn’t get into a windows screen.
Technological brother had suggested safe mode, so now I guided the pressing of the dreaded F8 key until the right screen appeared. We found our way to the control panel, repair and restore, and various ok buttons. We agreed this would be better than nothing and we let the computer do its work, close down, restart… and my brother (the non-technological one) was back online!
My first transatlantic computer repair job is successfully completed, but will it stick? Perhaps if my brother can’t log on tomorrow the nephew or technological brother will be more conveniently located. But I did feel a pleasant buzz of success as he surfed the internet. I even went on to complete the read-through of Galilee’s Gift, finding typos and feeling guilty, and sending my heartfelt apologies to the publisher. Still, that set of four books will look really cool when they’re finished, and I really hope they’ll read well too. Then I’ll write some more… assuming my computer holds up.
My computer screamed at me the other day, which is odd, because usually I’m the one doing the screaming. Can’t find that picture; lost the file; my Easter blogpost disappeared (it did)… But “odd” is in the eye of the beholder, or ear of the listener I suppose. My computer screamed at me. Then I screamed back.
I had good reason to scream. My computer was failing, failing, failing, while a fearsome black screen declared there was a hardware problem. Memories of that mechanical scream gave me fearful thoughts of what might ensue.
My hard drive had fried. It was totally, completely, irrevocably, irredeemably dead. So I screamed even more. However, I promise, I swear, I even cross my heart; I will never ever again complain when my husband tells me it’s time to back up my computer. He’d nagged me on the Monday night, and the drive failed on Friday, so all I lost was three day’s work.
Sadly, it’s now more than a week later and I’m still catching up. But I’ve learned my lesson. I’m also backing up vital files onto a thumb drive, every night, just in case disaster strikes twice.
Have you seen that “flying angel” on Second Wind Publishing’s blog? Today I read the first formatted copy of Divide by Zero‘s re-release, and there it is, my very own flying angel! Thank you Second Wind Publishing!
Meanwhile I’m editing the second novel in the series, Infinite Sum. If Divide by Zero was a tapestry, I guess Infinite Sum must be the genesis of a painting, since it’s told through the eyes of an artist reading her life from pictures.
And then there’s Imaginary Numbers, a mystery. And then… and then…
One day I’ll write the tale of the guardian angel cat, but you’ll have to read the books to find out who that is.
Spring took a break and April showers marched their way through our yard. I learned that dandelions bloom faster than daffodils, and local squirrels have a taste for crocuses. But even the squirrels (and birds) hid when the rain hit its worst.
On a rare day of sunshine, I planted irises, donated by a generous neighbor. Hooked on success when their leaves still looked alive (and the tubers hadn’t been pulled out by squirrels or birds), I tackled weeds (and errant dandelions) in the gray of the following day. Then it rained again. And then, ah folly, I tried to pull more weeds and rediscovered why I hated mud pies as a kid.
I remember being told all kids love mud. Not me; not mine. Finger painted aroused all my distaste for feeling messy. But I never intended to give my kids the same hangups. I pretended enthusiasm with glee and they burst into tears. “Not like mess.” They never enjoyed muddy yardwork either. But the birds thought it was great.
So, back to those birds. Crows are loud, large, and threatening. Small bright-colored friends watch from branches and tweet random numbers of notes (not characters). Huge blue birds shout at squirrels who shout back. And they all fly up in a cloud when dogs walks past.
Dogs are the best bit or yardwork. Mud is the worst. And twitter might still be my friend. My Klout score has reached an amazing 62, though I’m not sure who I’ll klout with it–maybe the crows if they threaten me again. The score certainly seems to be related to tweets and retweets. So now I’m twittering 140 character fiction, writing kids’ stories, dreaming a novella, editing two novels, and reading…
I think spring sprang to life today. Lots of little green shoots appeared in our garden. And a gorgeous springer spaniel, who just happens to be visiting for the weekend, sprang over them with delightful agility. Meanwhile the local birds, perhaps unconvinced of said springer spaniel’s goodwill, sprang into song.
Birdsong: the sound of tweeting birds.
Twitter: light-hearted nonsense chatter.
Tweet: The highly recommended, up-and-coming (or already here–why am I always behind the curve) form of advertizing your books.
So here I sit, like a twit, composing 140 character tweets that include links (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords perhaps) to my Easter book, and realizing before Ash Wednesday would have been a better time for them (but it was still winter, wet and soggy, and lacking in birdsong back then). Still, the tweets will go out (as will the dog), and maybe I’ll even check to see if they generate any interest, or lead to sales.
I’m told real authors check their sales figures as frequently as real marketers tweet. But I’m still behind the curve–I probably have to figure out how to check them first.
The black-green scar of Hemlock Forest tore across yellowing plains. Before it all roads but one turned away in dismay. But Dad took the one road, the freeway’s thick black snake, and drove without pause. Soon sentinel trees stood guard to either side, bending to watch the car. Eyes shone in shadowed threat or hope, but Dad seemed unconcerned. “It’s just animals.”
Finn wasn’t sure. He jumped in his seat as they passed a line of orange cones blocking an exit. “Look Dad! Over there.” And his father explained, there’d been a village once, deep under the forest’s green, but it was was long gone, deserted before the freeway was even imagined.
The road’s snake rose on concrete stilts into daylight on the edge of the forest. Gray shapes of a lonely townscape shone in the sun. “That’s where we’re going, kids,” said Dad. “Hemlock Edge. We’ll be safe there.”
Finn still wasn’t sure.
But Finn and his family aren’t the first strangers to travel in search of Hemlock. The short story, Passage, in Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, tells of another family coming from a place much further away, and a creature who maybe lives still under those trees, watching and waiting, bright eyes shading into dark.