A Perilous Pilgrimage and a Happy Ending.

Life has been good this week.  I received an email from a reader telling me how much she liked my book. This made me very happy. It is a wonderful feeling to learn your work has found its way into the hands of an appreciative reader.

Other good things have happened. My print book gained a few corrections and additions and was approved for release. The deed is done, Hunt Club will be available soon as a printed novel, and I’m back to plotting and scribbling other projects.

Speaking of other projects, much of this week was spent gathering and collating the notes for a book I started over a decade ago. While assembling the material in a notebook, I realized there were only twenty chapters. Quite a bit of the story had never been typed.

This called for a journey to the archives, two enormous, heavy, and deep file cabinets which contained the sum of my literary achievements. Hidden behind a thicket of boxes, magazines, and a huge tangle of my nephew’s worldly possessions, they stood nearly as tall as I and were guarded by an old bicycle, a multitude of spiders, and mud dauber wasp nests which I could only hope were uninhabited.

(Yes, I know. I’m having entirely too much fun describing it, but believe me, sifting though files in a tight place, in which it is highly possible something small and evil could easily mess up your day is a nervous situation. I probably ought to clean out the garage.)


Despite the perils, I made the journey, located the desired material and put several hours into typing my old scribbles into nice, neat computer files. It was fun, actually. After so many years, I had forgotten half of what was written there and rather enjoyed reading my own manuscript. There is still much work to be done and more material to be located, but I believe with a bit of work these stories may eventually make more readers happy.

There was more fun to be had yesterday, when I stopped at the local bookstore to chat with one of the owners. Plans have begun for my first book signing. It’s a terribly exciting milestone for me, made doubly so by my fondness for this particular store. I used to play my harp there during the local art nights. A few years ago this very month, I played spooky tunes in one window while an author sat in the other autographing books. I remember thinking maybe some day I would have a book signing too.

Sometimes life brings things full circle. I’m smiling a lot lately as so much of my hard work is finally coming to fruition. It is a happy week for me.

I hope you are having a good one too.

ROW80 Goals

  1. Average ½ hour a day working on new novel. Done and then some.
  2. Average ½ hour a day on promotion and blogs. Done
  3. Finish reading a book and write a review. Nope

4) Outline the sequel for Hunt Club and be ready to write it by November. I gave it some thought, but didn’t write any of those thoughts down, so I won’t count those ideas yet. This is something I need to attend to this week—NaNoWriMo is slowly sneaking up on me. I need to put some detailed thought into this. Murder mysteries are really challenging to write.

5) Read Hunt Club proof, fix any final errors and approve for final release to print. Nailed it.  🙂



Look What Came in the Mail!


Yes, the galley proof for my first novel arrived yesterday.

It has been available as an e-book for a few months now and I have test prints of the cover. I knew what it would look like and had very detailed knowledge of what would be inside. Nothing went terribly wrong in the printing process and there were no big surprises. I will be going over it and fixing a few minor problems this week, then it will be released for sale.

I am of two minds today. One is the patient, plodding aspect that has seen me through the development of this project. Yes, there is still more work to be done, and the next indicated action afterward. Stuff happens, but life continues.

The other part of my mind is exuberant. I keep picking the book up and holding it in my hands. I just can’t believe it is real. I want to laugh and cry and show it to all my friends.

Books have always meant a lot to me. I had trouble learning to read at first but grew to love the work of Dr Seuss. Later, I advanced to the works of E.B. White, Roald Dahl, Margurite Henry, and Walter Farley. These writers and many others whom I would never get to meet in person entertained and inspired me, improved my vocabulary and taught me something about the world. Their works were some of the best loved gifts under the Christmas tree, and the most enduring. Many were passed on to my nieces and nephews, then purchased anew when I had kids of my own.

I used to read to my children, then in the evenings I would read to myself. Science fiction and fantasy, poetry and mythology, comics and satire. Late at night or early on weekend mornings, I would write stories of my own. I would name the author I was reading as who I wanted to be when I grew up.

It’s something I still do. The truth is I want to write as wonderfully as they do. I want to write dark and beautiful fantasy like Neil Gaiman, action and adventure like Stephan Brust, humor like Terry Pratchett. Sadly, I can’t write like them. I can only write like Elizabeth Toll. I hope it’s good enough.

People talk about how important books are for kids, but they seldom acknowledge that they are beneficial for adults as well. Grownups, like kids, often feel lonesome and socially awkward. They move to new towns, take on new jobs, watch their kids grow up and move away, and find themselves at loose ends, wondering what to do next. It has happened to me many times.

A book is the voice of another human being saying “Hi, we have something in common and you are not terminally unique.” Whether I like the book or not, I usually learn something about myself and enjoy the company they offer. If I really love the book, the author’s name will ever after make me smile, like a favorite relative or a kindly stranger who did me a good turn. In their own way, they did.

So now, here I am with this book, this bound copy with my name on it as the author. I find myself smiling at the grandiose idea that maybe this will somehow carry the legacy forward, doing for someone else what has been done for me. In today’s publishing world it is a mere message in a bottle, tossed upon a literary sea. It may be wildly successful or disappear beneath the ocean. It may prove indecipherable to some, but it may find readers who enjoy it, who cherish it, who share it with others.
Either way, these are my words, frozen in time. I’m a little afraid for them, but I’m also proud, very proud. My baby is all grown up and getting ready to venture out into the world. I wish it well.



ROW80 Update : Old Goals

  1. Average ½ hour a day working on new novel. Done.
  2. Average ½ hour a day on promotion and blogs. Done
  3. Finish reading a book and write a review. Nope
  4. Outline the sequel for Hunt Club and be ready to write it by November. This is in progress.

New goal

1) Read Hunt Club proof, fix any final errors and approve for final release to print. This is new but takes priority.

That’s my report for this week.  To any reading, I hope you are making progress on all you wish to achieve too.



October Check in

The writer in her natural habitat.

Currently Harping: Um . . . Not much, I’m afraid. My harp tuning wrench has gone missing and until it turns up again, I have to contend with sour notes. Ah well, I’ll be tidying up for the holidays soon and it will likely be found under the pile of papers on my desk or among the manuscripts on one of my shelves, or under the cat in my basket of juggling toys.
I could have made up for lost time by playing the keyboard, guitar, flute, recorder, or ukulele, but there are only so many hours in a day. This week has been one long push to get a different goal off my plate and I’m happy to report it was successful. Now I can relax and start up the Halloween themed music, which is actually enhanced if played a little off key. 🙂

Currently Writing: As mentioned, I’ve focused all efforts on getting my e-book, Hunt Club, formatted and tidied up for printing. It is done and sent as of yesterday, and if all goes well, I’ll have a physical copy in my hands very soon. I’m still a little anxious as the printed medium tends to reveal still more issues to be corrected, but until the first copy arrives it is out of my control.  I’ve done all I can for now.
This means I can finally let it go and focus on other things for a few days. Like my next novel, which has been proceeding at a snails pace, and the Hunt Club sequel, which I am outlining this month in preparation for National Novel Writing Month in November. This year, I hope to become a plotter rather than a pantser and see if I can make some solid progress on cranking this story out. I need to learn to work faster while making the story as good or better than the previous one. Perhaps if I’m better organized this year, more of my word sprints will actually move the tale forward. Here’s hoping.

Currently Entertaining: No one as far as I can tell. The phone has not been ringing of late and writing takes up most of my time these days. My geographical area appears to be overrun with face painters, many of them better than me, and I’m becoming a little discouraged. I’m good at balloon animals and general clowning too, but the media seems to delight in exaggerated reports of scary clowns terrorizing the populace. I think donning the greasepaint in October might be the equivalent of masquerading as a white tail during deer season. I’m considering other options, but mostly I’m busy scribbling.

Currently Growing: I attempted to start some kale seeds this week in my vertical window gardens and played a bit with my fairy landscapes. Mostly, this week has been about nurturing the plants I already have. There comes a point in late summer when I just give up for about a month because it is too hot to exert myself outside and the plants are all shriveling in the heat anyway. It can be hard to recover from the apathy.

Fortunately, the garden is pretty well established this year. I water every other day now and usually come in with a handful of okra, tomatoes, runner beans, chard, or edible flowers. I want to start some winter greens and flowers but am having trouble getting motivated. Maybe now that the book is done . . .

Miscellany: I signed up yesterday for NaNoWriMo. Why my idea of fun is to complicate the month I’m already hosting a big family dinner and trying to prepare for the Yuletide insanity with a demanding scribbling challenge is a question I am not prepared to answer. Happily, though, I’m not the only one, so if any of you decide to participate and want to friend me on the forums, I’m listed there as Ms Whatsit.

ROW#80 Update

  1. Get Hunt Club set up for printing. Done at last. Yes!!!!!!!
  2. Average ½ hour a day working on new novel. Nope. I completed number one instead. 🙂
  3. Average ½ hour a day on promotion and blogs. Technically yes I am doing this. Now if I can just learn to create a blog within the time limit, you may start hearing more from me.
  4. Finish reading a book and write a review. Nope.

It’s a new round and my major task is out of the way, so I’m going to add a new goal.

5) Outline the sequel for Hunt Club and be ready to write it by November.

This is a very exciting task and I’ve already made a start on it. Here’s hoping you all are having an good week too.

Nimbus supervises my writing efforts.