Tag Archives: The Timeless Nature of Patience

Blossom Dearie, Dave Grohl, and a nice review

This morning I woke with “Figure 8” in my head, a Schoolhouse Rock ditty sung by the late Blossom Dearie, jazz pianist and vocalist extraordinaire.  For those 1970s education snippets she also sung about adjectives, but “Figure 8”, written by the exceptional Bob Dorough, isn’t just about numbers, but achieving dreams.  Mastering one’s 8 times tables might be one of those goals, but skating that perfect figure eight is certainly another.  It wasn’t one of mine; I grew up in the Sacramento Valley where no frozen lakes existed.  But I wanted to sing, and Blossom’s voice is like the Kristi Yamaguchi or Midori Ito of singers.  When young, I sang along to all the Schoolhouse Rock tunes, not only learning some maths, grammar, and history, but finding incredible joy, and some inspiration, in voices that weren’t AM radio staples.

I was going to write about football today, ahem, but Blossom Dearie just wouldn’t leave me alone.  As I pottered about the kitchen, making tea, pouring Grape Nuts, I kept going over the 8 times tables, albeit in Blossom’s captivating tone: One times eight is two times four, four times four is two times eight.  If you skate upon thin ice, you’d be wise if you thought twice, before you made another single move.  Then I sat down with the Grape Nuts, careful not to spill the bowl all over my desk.  Poking through various sites, I encountered yet another piece of this morning’s blog puzzle, a quote from Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl, all about the benefits of singing in garages as opposed to standing in front of judges.  Dave swears, so I only linked to it, but it’s quite fantastic.  And what’s even better is what’s written afterwards about how this quote applies to writing, added by my lovely friend Julie K. Rose.  Julie, well done!!

So, I was pondering those nuggets with Blossom’s voice still in my head: One times eight is eight.  Two times eight is sixteen.  Three times eight is twenty-four, four times eight is thirty-two, and five times eight is forty, you know.  Every Friday I check the various online sites where my books are available, in part to make sure book covers are still visible (a while back Kobo lost some covers, that was a drag).  Also to check if books have arrived at sites (I’m still waiting for the last two Alvin novels to reach Sony, and Timeless Nature has yet to appear at Apple).  Also… yes, to see if any new reviews are present.  Okay, I’m guilty as charged; it’s really nice to read reviews, even the bad ones (someone left one star on Alvin’s Farm because of the blue language).  Long ago I reached the point where reviews were just a barometer of people’s tastes.  But I won’t lie; five stars makes me smile, and recently The Timeless Nature of Patience made someone’s day.  Five stars waited under that book’s cover on Barnes & Noble this morning, plus a nice write-up.  Talk about a great way to begin one’s Friday!

Blossom was still running through my mind: Six times eight is forty-eight, seven times eight is fifty-six, eight times eight is sixty-four, nine times eight is seventy-two, and ten times eight is eighty, that’s true.  I was also pondering how cool is this gig, books and tunes and inspirational quotes from rock stars and writers.  That beats a football post hands down!  (Yes, football has been on my mind all week, but really, just say no to the hype, and go Niners!)

It also serves as the reason to continue this path, even when indie publishing seems more like tracking loose ends than actually writing books.  The above hassles with Smashwords have been piling, making me wonder if I’m on the right road with that company.  All I want is to write, then edit, then publish books; why does it have to be so gall-darn complicated?  I’ve been feeling that way about the approaching Super Bowl, more hoopla than you can shake a stick at.  I stopped reading articles about it a few days back, disgusted by Chris Culliver’s homophobic comments and plain sick and tired of media-in-general BS.  Sort of how Dave Grohl feels about TV talent contests and Julie Rose’s view, mine too, on the publishing culture.  Yet so unlike Blossom Dearie’s take on math.

One times eight is eight.  Two times eight is sixteen.  Three times eight is twenty-four, four times eight is thirty-two, and five times eight is forty, you know.

Simplicity is my mantra.  Maybe that’s a dying art in this smartphone day and age (more about dying arts next week, but hopefully I won’t be discussing my San Francisco 49ers slip from their undefeated reign at the Super Bowl).  I am so blessed to have the opportunity to publish, and small headaches are just par for the course.  Nothing worthwhile is easy, the manifesto of The Timeless Nature of Patience.  One of these days that novel will hit Apple, and its predecessor will see the light of day at Sony, hopefully before Timeless gets there.  But those things are out of my control.  What I can do is sing along with Blossom, consider Dave Grohl and Julie K. Rose’s wisdom, and be pleased someone enjoyed the last Alvin’s Farm novel.  Then I’ll drink some more tea, maybe listen to another of Ms. Dearie’s wonderful tunes (check out her self-titled release from 1956 if you really want to be wrapped in stunning vocals), and pick up where I left off yesterday, editing yet another manuscript.  Just one day after the next, blessings hidden in the most unexpected places.

Figure eight is double four, figure four is half of eight.  If you skate, you would be great, if you could make a figure eight.  That’s a circle that turns round upon itself.

Place it on its side and it’s a symbol meaning infinity.

Follow your bliss

What seems like several months ago, I made the decision to not work so hard.  With the writing, of course, not that I bust my butt with housework.  (Note I never share any snaps of my shower.)  The house is clean; I’m the type that pulls out the big tidying guns when guests are coming.  But with writing, editing, formatting…  I’m a bit of an overachiever, or I just don’t like being bored.  (I wonder why I’m not that motivated when it comes to dusting, hmmm…)  Either way, I work, a lot.  When my husband leaves for the day, I sit down, cuppa in hand, and get right to whichever novel is waiting.

When my daughter got married last summer, I took off three weeks for the pre and post wedding festivities.  And other than dreaming about her wedding for what felt like weeks on end after it was done, I also noted how nice it was not to, ahem, write, edit, format.  That scared me at first; what the heck?  Then once I slipped back into the routine, which took no time at all, I started pondering why I was doing this, what it meant to me.  At the time I was switching to WordPress after years on Blogger, grappling with addressing mail to my daughter’s new last name, all sorts of changes.  But with the Alvin’s Farm series winding down, the end of summer and autumn went ahead at full speed.  Slowing down seemed ages away.

I took some time off for Christmas, but not until Christmas Eve, releasing The Timeless Nature of Patience that morning.  And by Boxing Day (26 December), well, I squeezed in a chapter on the novel I did finish on New Year’s Eve.  Then I hurt my back, maybe that was a warning; slow down woman!  I felt better the next morning, was completely back to normal on the second of January, prepping the latest project.  Penny Angel started with sixteen lengthy chapters, now has twenty-eight ranging from 2-4 K.  I began the actual edits yesterday, after listening to a plethora of tunes by The B-52s.  Today’s title is one of those songs, a whimsical instrumental with some lovely vocal effects by Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson.  I used that song, and others, to get into the editing mood.  And by around two that afternoon, with a long break for lunch (had to feed the hummingbirds), I was done for the day.

Often I talk about songs; music is the other half of my creative lifeblood.  I spent the afternoon folding towels (laundry doesn’t fall under the dreaded housework title, probably because I don’t own an iron) and listening to more from Kate and Cindy, Fred Schneider and Keith Strickland, and the late Ricky Wilson.  Ricky died in 1985 from AIDS-related illnesses, and the band didn’t learn he was sick until nearly the end of his life.  Not even his sister Cindy was aware; Kate Pierson said it was that he didn’t want them fussing over him.  I considered that as I stacked hand towels and washcloths; “Follow Your Bliss” is from Cosmic Thing, the first album made after Ricky died.

Cosmic Thing was released in 1989, four years after Bouncing off the Satellites, the last B-52s record Ricky Wilson contributed to.  He was thirty-two at his death, which now seems very young to me.   At the time, I was not even twenty, and by the time Cosmic Thing came out in 1989, I was a mother.   My eldest probably doesn’t know that album very well, not only because she was a baby, but that by the time she was cognizant of the music we listened to, I wasn’t playing much from The B-52s.  It was just a whim yesterday, picking that band, that one song.  But it stuck with me all day long.

Writing, blogging too, is my joy.  But it needs balance, maybe because I’m not as young as I used to be, or maybe I’m adopting my housework sucks mantra to other parts of my life.  Not that writing and editing are a drag, not at all, but time is precious, and precarious; the hummingbird outside my window flits, parks his tiny behind, slurps a little, then swoops off, all in seconds.  Just seconds but I watch as often as he dives in, for his minute presence is one of those little gifts.  Writing is a bigger treasure, but it’s not here and gone.  It’s not a hummingbird.

I knew 2013 was going to be a transforming year; no more Alvin, for which I am still a bit sad.  (Been reading Timeless Nature the last few days, finding a typo, man, they are impossible to fully remove!)  Penny Angel is also a great tale; once I finish this post, I’ll swoop in for a few chapters.  But my husband is off  work today, and once he sorts the budget, well, the day is ours.  Before, I would have kept my nose to the grindstone, or pressed against the monitor, but life is made up of so many pieces.  When he’s at work, or on one of his marathon walks, I have all the hours available to read over documents.  But my feet are plenty wet with indie publishing, goodness knows I have enough manuscripts in the hard drive to keep me busy for a decade or more.  Those are blessings too, they are.  Still, who can argue with the presence of a loved one, or the momentary gift of a rather aggressive, thinks he’s actually a Klingon hummingbird.

Today I’m going to follow my bliss, wherever it might lead.  And if by God’s grace, and sense of humour, I find myself cleaning the shower, so be it.  Stranger things have happened; I am an indie novelist, you know.

(And now that I’ve mastered adding music to a post, expect further tunes down the road, heh heh heh…)

Saying goodbye to 2012

From 2008; 31 December spent walking along the beach in Santa Cruz.

When we lived in Britain, we always enjoyed the year-end round-ups, usually on Sky, noting achievements from news and sport to entertainment and other issues, I’m sure.  We can’t seem to find something similar here in America, a pity.  It was a way to frame the end of the year, a marker.  It felt very comforting.

Right now I’m in a bit of discomfort; amid making a cuppa and starting my dishwasher, I put my lower back into a tizzy.  I had just finished the WIP, but had yet to correct the mistypings.  All I was doing was standing there, I promise.  Now I’m sitting, and will be doing so for a while to come.

But that doesn’t negate all that occurred in 2012; I published books, a good number of them.  I wrote some as well, started another, also completed two short stories, very exciting all-round.  When I wasn’t working (or straining my back) I was plotting, then reveling in my eldest daughter’s wedding.  Occasionally I went to the beach, although not nearly as often as I would have liked.  For three years running my husband and I went to Santa Cruz and Capitola to usher in the new year.  This year I’ll be lucky to step outside my back door to watch the hummingbirds.

It’s been a wonderful year, wordy both in novels and blogs; I switched to WordPress in July, am loving it for the smooth interface, new friends I’ve made, also reconnecting with old pals.  I’ve learned so much about indie publishing, I’ve become a better writer with every book released, an even better editor.  I’ve engaged with readers who make my heart leap, I’ve read new authors who have captured my soul (more on those in January).  I have recommitted myself to this tasking, which is not easy, but then, loading my dishwasher seems fraught with peril.  Writing is not as precarious as kitchen chores, but it’s not without some drama.  Or a lot of drama; releasing The Timeless Nature of Patience was a thrill, still makes me smile.

In the meantime, I’ve taken painkillers.  I’ve finished Where The Ball Is, and lord help me, might be considering not just a sequel for that book, but a third tale as well.  Writing and publishing are indeed sometimes thorny, but I shall prevail.  A host of manuscripts wait for revising, heh heh heh.  Not an aching back or missing year-end TV specials can dissuade me, when I can post photographs like the one above, or yet one more of darling Buttercup.  She was a treasure falling into our lives this year; what wonders might I encounter in 2013?

In her new Christmas sweater; I think she’s just adorable!

Plugging back in

Breaks are necessary and reviving, but routine is my best friend, next to my husband.  As my daughter, son-in-law, and Buttercup left this morning, I gave hugs and kisses, belly rubs too.  Buttercup was edgy as her folks were in and out, loading the car.  She seems to crave routine too, along with walks, food, and copious palms laid along her back.  I don’t need excess stroking, but as I sat to write, once the last goodbyes were said, a strange, lovely energy ran through me.  I read over what I’d written yesterday; yes, I snuck in some work on Boxing Day afternoon, after mulling over the WIP.  It’s going to be a few chapters shorter than I planned, with a sequel to follow.  All that time not writing or prepping The Timeless Nature of Patience was usurped by family, the dog, Christmas, or pondering the novel-in-progress.  Enough thought went into it that I was left with no other choice; end the novel well before I originally decided, then write another to finish (or elongate) the tale.  No, I’m not looking at another six-book saga like Alvin’s Farm, maybe just one more to follow Where The Ball Is.  I’ll know when I get to the end of the next one, Where The Heart Is, although I assumed The Thorn and The Rose, the second Alvin novel, was going to be it.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

Anyways, back to what I was saying.  This morning, around nine thirty or so, I had read over yesterday’s installment of the WIP.  All I had to before starting to write was plug in my ear buds, listen to today’s song, then let my fingers do the work.  Living Colour’s “That’s What You Taught Me” was supposed to document Kendall’s meeting with his former soccer coach, laying the seeds for Kendall’s possible return to sport.  Instead it was Kendall telling his parents what he had asked his girlfriend Sarah.  Listening to the song, I could feel renewal flowing through my arms, right down to my fingertips, my brain engaging, as if I had actually been hooked back into some writing pipeline.  I have never felt that sense so strongly, and it was shocking.  I know this is my gig, no doubts there, but I had reveled in those days off, both from writing, also publishing Timeless Nature.  Yet, when the moment presented itself yesterday, I scribbled over 3,500 words.  And today I hit nearly 5K.

You can take an author from the keyboard, but you can’t take the words from a writer.

I had a fabulous Christmas and Boxing Day, spent with those I love most, rain falling more often than not, quite British actually.  We watched Doctor Who on Christmas night, a hot mess my friend Julie rightly described.  It was sort of a Doctor Who Christmas in this house; I received a book of spoilers journal and a Vincent van Gogh exploding Tardis mug.  My husband got Dalek socks, the newly married couple Tardis and Dalek salt and pepper shakers.  We played the Alan Turing Edition of Monopoly last night, another gift for that new couple.  My youngest kicked butt with the green properties, I was the second to go out.  Which gave me time to finish reading over yesterday’s work, then plopping a quick post about the merits of time off and how my brain managed to sort a new direction for that novel.

But today is December twenty-seventh, Christmas is over.  Even in the UK, it’s just another day.  And for this writer, some truth, that while a holiday is required, so is that which fuels quite a bit of my heart.  Family is foremost, but another rush beats right under them.

Sometimes it takes a special moment for the fire to return.  One of the best parts of “The Snowmen” was the one-word test Clara was put through.  As a writer, I hooted as she chose the exact piece of language to best prod The Doctor off his cloud, a brilliant touch in an otherwise chock-a-block episode that did pique my interest in the second half of season seven.  No use shooting more shows if everything is wrapped up in one Christmas treat.

(But there is something to be said about letting an audience digest what has been proffered; Strax is alive!  Vestra and Jenny are married!  Clara is…  Heh heh heh, no spoilers…)

In my book of spoilers, lines break up blank pages, but I’m not looking to record what River Song needed to document, at least not on paper.  I capture plots and people on Word documents, it’s what I do.  It really is, my goodness, how humbling and wonderful it was to realize that this morning, like a delightfully gentle brick upside my head.  Music does it, just like now, Hans Zimmer’s “Up Is Down” from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.  I’m listening to that tune, but not imagining Johnny Depp and friends.  I see a legion of women young and old saving San Francisco from imminent doom.

Yes, my creative brain is always ticking.  Descendants of Maidens is the title of that tale, waiting for its moment in the sun.  And in the meantime, as I finish a slice of double layer pumpkin pie and a refreshing cup of decaf Yorkshire tea, I’m back on the horse, ready to see out 2012 with a heart-pounding, dramatic flourish.  Where The Ball Is is nearly done; what will 2013 bring?

(A post detailing those plans coming soon…)

The Timeless Nature of Patience

timeless_v3

How to even start this post; the book went live at 8.02 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.  Last night I spent the second half of the abysmal 49ers-Seahawks debacle giving the manuscript another peek.  We shan’t speak any more of football.  Let’s talk about Alvin’s Farm

Specifically this last book of the series; I wrote this novel for NaNo 2010, with the full awareness it was The End.  When I wrote the last sentence, which never did change from the initial draft, I wept, in part from the sentiment of those final words, and that the whole kit’n’kaboodle was done!  And what a series; six novels of plentiful love and heaps of angst set in Western Oregon.  I loved writing these books, really loved writing them.  Publishing the last one feels so good.

It’s like saying goodbye to beloved friends whom I really can see anytime; just open the book and read.  As this last one ties up many loose ends, there is plenty to peruse.  Having never previously attempted a series, plotting this last installment was tricky.  And when one character muscled her way into the action, well, I knew better than to halt the flow of progress. Pru Castle made her wishes known; I just typed the words.

To fully express all that sits in my head at this very moment would take a book; the Liner Notes at this novel’s conclusion go some ways in explaining this story’s meaning.  At this time of year, with so much expectation afoot, patience is indeed a virtue.  Christmas Eve, even for big kids, is awash in great hope for very good things; presents come in all shapes and sizes, what Jenny tries to tell her son Eric.  This novel is a lot about Eric Cassel, who is more like his father than anyone realizes.

It’s also about Eric’s cousin Tanner, who is a lot like my brother Joe, which I didn’t accept until several edits into the process.  It’s about seeing what is right under our noses as blessings, sometimes attractive, occasionally not so much.  It’s about love’s healing power trumping all evils, even if love seems vary far away.

Which at this time of year, a baby nearly born, seems like an apropos analogy.

This book wouldn’t be released if not for many people, why self-publishing is such a misnomer.  Julie K. Rose designed the gorgeous cover and provided vital editorial expertise.  My family proffered their support, and readers of the previous novels have lifted my heart; many thanks to all these folks.  My husband needs a huge hug for putting up with me (and the Cassels and Smiths) since I started this series in spring of 2009.  Last, but not least, I give all credit to God, without whom I wouldn’t even be writing this post.  This novel is my personal favourite, but I didn’t write it alone; divine inspiration lies at the heart of all my books, this one especially.

Closing this post, I just want to note what an incredible experience crafting and releasing this book, and the other five, has been.  Until I wrote Alvin’s Farm, I never saw myself as a serial author, but there is a lovely charm (and certain ease) in dealing with one cast.  Unwinding so many lives provided me with untold opportunities to explore my own path, which is why I write.  The Timeless Nature of Patience brought out the best of my writing to date, which was also exhilarating.  There is just so darn much I like about this book, which now I can share with those who are called to it.  Happy Christmas to all (even my vexing San Francisco 49ers), and to all a good read!

Christmas carols and finished novels

Ages ago I used to listen to all sorts of Christmas music; now I stick to instrumentals, specifically Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas and John Fahey’s The New Possibility.  This afternoon, after much running around town, I’ve read through the last chapter of The Timeless Nature of Patience.  The last novel of the Alvin’s Farm series is done.  As in put a fork in it DONE.  Other things are finished too, like Christmas shopping (whew!), getting my car’s oil changed (been stewing about that for weeks), my husband with work, but not me, not quite.  I wanted to publish Timeless Nature before the end of the month, so that meant a bit of poking at it, but after that lovely comment from Shelia, I decided not to wait until after Christmas.  Eschewing writing on the WIP, and in between Christmas errands, I’ve been reading the final installment of a six-novel series, and just moments ago, I read the last sentence, saved the document, then smiled.

Alvin’s Farm is finally ready to be put out to pasture, ha ha.

But it’s more than that; I started publishing that series this time last year, the first of December 2011 to be precise.  All of 2012 has been touched by that collection of novels, thirteen months of concentrated effort on a large cast, but really it’s three families.  For many months, the Cassels, Smiths, and Harrises have been on my mind, sandwiched between my daughter’s wedding, and two other novels published this year.  But to be honest, it’s Alvin, Jenny, Tommie, and Sam.  And today, well, it’s sort of like Christmas; lots of prep work for one day.

Many words written, plenty of tales told.  Now one last novel wraps it all up; I’ll tie a bow and say Happy Christmas to all who have read those books.  Bless your hearts from the bottom of mine!

Usually I don’t note this stage, the I’m done with revisions but there’s still the formatting to do and synopsis to write and dedication and Liner Notes and…  It sort of goes on forever, kind of like Christmas; I still have presents to wrap, stockings to fill, garlic potatoes to assemble.  I have made the candy cane ice cream (crush a dozen candy canes and add to your favourite softened vanilla ice cream), and when my daughter, son-in-law, and Buttercup arrive tomorrow, we’ll plot out Sunday’s holiday baking (more butter, chocolate, and nuts than you can shake a stick at).  Christmas Eve is pretty quiet, usually.  We hang out at home, the have dinner at whichever good Thai restaurant is open.  I’ll either be on a high from my 49ers beating Seattle on Sunday night, or be slightly fuming that San Francisco got their butts kicked.  Meanwhile I’ll ponder the joy of all of my kids here for the holiday while speculating what might be waiting under the tree.  Oh yeah, I’ll be publishing a novel on Monday.  That might seem a little odd, but the reasons are threefold; 1) It will be nice to have it out of my hands for Christmas proper and the subsequent days afterwards.  2) It’s a Christmas gift to all who are waiting for it.  3) The Timeless Nature of Patience is sort of what those who long for Christmas are feeling, whether it’s small children or forty-something authors, and any in between.  My three-year-old nephew is dying to open presents, but my brother tells him he has to wait for Christmas Day.  Right now it’s Christmastime, and that nephew has figured out the difference.  Patience is a hard virtue to learn, sort of what I’ve been feeling for the last year, in releasing this series.  Good things do come to those who wait, and on the shortest day of the year, I’ve reached the end to all that Jenny, Alvin, Sam, and Tommie and their loved ones have been seeking.

It’s a lovely feeling, amid John Fahey’s gentle guitar.  It’s the end of the year, end of the Alvin’s Farm series.  Also a wonderful way to close the book (heh heh) on my indie publishing adventures for 2012.  More to come on that subject, and on Timeless Nature.  Look for it sometime on Christmas Eve…

A Buttercup Christmas

So it’s starting to feel like Christmas; my husband is done with work, and while I’m not (writing and editing never really end), we did get the tree up over the weekend, decorations scattered about.  Not as many as in years past; this house is small, and I gave to my daughters the bulk of what had spruced our homes over the ages.  Time for them to start new traditions.

But a few pieces are precious; nativities (creches in the UK) and some ceramic geese from the first Christmas I was with my husband.  My brother Joe’s Christmas stocking from when he and my other brother Patrick visited our first year in Britain.  Candles from Marks & Spencer and some from Morrison’s, many pieces of Yorkshire following us all the way to California.  The M&S candles are frankincense and smell so wonderful.  I keep them in the kitchen, reminding me of mince pies, Radio 4, cold weather, and Boxing Day.

But as my girls are starting their own paths, we’ll have one here this year; Buttercup.  My eldest tried to get a shot of BC wearing a Santa hat.  This was the best she could manage.

Happy Christmas from Buttercup

Happy Christmas from Buttercup!

I suppose I can’t blame Buttercup; it is a wee bit embarrassing, or maybe she just doesn’t like hats.  Right now two small creches sit low, and my daughter has informed me they will need to be moved.  Buttercup might take a hankering for them when they arrive this weekend.

I received an early present, a lovely comment from Shelia, who has read all the Alvin’s Farm novels, and eagerly awaits the last book.  As I wrote recently, I have been getting my I am really tired of reading this manuscript feeling when picking up The Timeless Nature of Patience; not that it’s a bad book, in fact, it’s my very favourite novel write by, ahem, me.  But I’ve been so consumed by the WIP, Timeless Nature has been getting the short shrift.  But let me tell you, there is nothing like hearing how much a reader has enjoyed a book to get this writer back on the revision horse.  Over the next few days, I might not do any writing.  But the last read-through of Timeless Nature will be high on the at-home agenda, like getting the creches out of Buttercup’s reach.

She might look very cute in that hat, but I don’t trust her as far as I could throw her with ceramic sheep, cattle, angels, Mary, and Joseph.