Sally

Sally

About Me

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California, United States
I'm a wife, mom, mom-in-law, grandma, and writer. To read more, visit www.sally-john.com. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HEART ECHOES Cover

At long last...it's here!  Well, almost.  =)  The advance copies arrived yesterday. They are for reviewers to read and review.  (There is a drawing at my Sally John Books Facebook page for those who want to post a review online.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 297


Posted Monday, July 11, 2011. . .
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
THE WRITING. . . =) This is THE DAY. I completed my editing of Heart Echoes emailed the finished product to my editor. She’ll do her “thing” – make sure the changes are entered correctly into the manuscript – and then pass it on to others who create the book we will hold in our hands next year.
Big sighs. =) Much satisfaction, some relief, tons of gratitude for the gift of writing story and for all those who add their expertise to make it the best possible product.,
THE DETAILS. . .My blog is finished. The original intent was to record the details of writing this novel now titled Heart Echoes, from start (well, almost start since I began after the concept had been conceived, which is the true start) to the end of my part.
But. . .blogging has been a fun and productive exercise for me and has elicited comments that suggest some may want to read what comes next in this writer’s life.
I’ll think about it.  =)
Thank you for journeying with me. Blessings on you all.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day Whatever #2

Tuesday, June 28, 2011. . .
THE WRITING. . .Last night I visited the Christian Writers Group in Aledo, and had a wonderful time meeting more writers, learning about their lives and writing endeavors and exploring the world of fiction.
           Several lifetimes ago I taught at the middle school in this town tucked away in the middle of farmland; a former student actually attended the meeting. =) Too fun.
THE DETAILS. . .Red Letter Day in Moline, Illinois!  My Daughter and President Obama arrive!  =)

Moooo. . .

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day Whatever

Monday, June 27, 2011
THE WRITING. . .My lovely wise editor has emailed the manuscript back to me with suggestions and corrections.  :)  For me this is the final leg of the journey. On one hand I am itching to get at it, on the other I know it's not possible to fit it in just yet. Those DETAILS of life crowd the day and energy.
THE DETAILS. . .Writing from Moline, Illinois. . .it's green, humid, overcast, fragrant, and green.  Very, very green. =) Those birds I've been missing in California sing me awake here, their summer home. A noisy cardinal joins in later in the day.
My eyes feast on and I drink in the scent of The Sycamore Tree in my childhood backyard. It's huge now, absolutely enormous, probably as old as I am. It was already a good size when we moved in 52 years ago. Mom still rakes the giant leaves and picks up the sticks the rainstorm winds knock from it.

Yesterday's highlight...

Aren't these ladies beautiful?  =)  And yes, I was this close to them.  Snort, snort.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In between times

THE WRITING. . .My editor works on Heart Echoes and will email it soon for my input to her input, which will be my FINAL tweaking. It's comforting to know the work is in good hands, that it is not mine alone, that wonderful women have my back.  =)
I write this from Davenport, Iowa, where I am sharing with others in a workshop how I go about writing a novel.  I'm smushing these past 240+ days into three sessions, trying to make sense for them of an insensible process that I've been following, more or less, since 1996.
I adore connecting with other fiction writers.

THE DETAILS. . .Kids in town. . .Belated birthday celebration with us all together, brunch at home and an unbelievable gift from them and My Guy -- a book of photos from throughout the years and essays by each one, even the little girls, tributes that still have me speechless  . . .Packing. . .Traveling. . .
San Diego Old Town, with youngest Grand, Son, Daughter, and My Guy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Days 264 - 267


Saturday – Tuesday, June 4 – 7, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Online writer friend posted an interview she did with me and her review of Desert Gift (very nice, very well-done) on her website. Thanks, DP! 
            Totally absorbed in the workshop plans. Used up all writing-related energy; blog has gone by the wayside.  =)  Tied everything together on Tuesday. Yay.
            THE DETAILS. . .Yay because it’s summertime and the kiddos are coming soon, all six of them! Not all at the same time, but they’ll intersect at some point. Much to do, like shovel out my office (didn’t I just do this after turning in Heart Echoes??) and revert it to a guest room.
My Guy and I caught a terrifically fun movie, Midnight in Paris. It was so creative, so imaginative, I can’t begin to describe it. Of course I adored the topics of writers and Paris. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 263


Friday, June 3, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .And another “yesterday continued.” It’s a trip, reading through notes and resource books – some I’ve used for ten years – and the wealth of information accumulated while writing eighteen novels plus the first two that were not published. So much to share that was shared with me by authors. Much gratitude for my experience. . .
            THE DETAILS. . .Ended the day reading with My Guy at the beach; clouds rolled in but sweatshirt, two jackets, hood, and gloves kept me comfy enough to stay in a very interesting novel about a Special Forces guy, his Catholic-Islamic mother (now there’s a fresh character), a kidnapping, and life in Pakistan and war in Afghanistan. Whew. Talk about a whole lot going on.
            Happy Birthday to my Iowa Brother!  =)

Day 262


Day 262
Thursday, June 2, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Yesterday continued.  =)
            THE DETAILS. . .Eye exam, new glasses, soooo nice to see clearly again. Farmers market, bike ride, Home Group. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 261

Wednesday, June 1, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Fun e-book news from the publisher: Amazon.com chose Ransomed Dreams to be part of their summer promotion. From now until June 15th, the Kindle edition is available for 99 cents!! Wow!
            Lost myself in my trove of writing notes. Such bliss!  =)  And hard work. I haven’t taught a workshop in a while; putting things in order was a necessity. Read, printed, and moved files from the Backup place into the easier-to-get-at place in Mac.
            Interesting that I still basically follow the same process that I did ten years ago. I’ve had great teachers, some in person, some in books.
            THE DETAILS. . .Three separate thoughts about life’s daily-ness have coalesced. Together they make for a lovely rhythm to the day:
            1. From a card with a sparkly pig wearing funny headgear ~ “Do something silly every day.”
            2. From a customer behind me in Starbucks as I hurriedly put my wallet back in my purse and picked up my bag of beans ~ “Slow down, honey. Nothing is that important.” And yes, she spoke with an engaging Southern lilt that perfectly fit her admonition.
            3. From the monk Thomas Merton (A Book of Hours, page 136, Psalm Prayer) ~
“There should be at least a room, or some corner where no one will find you and disturb you or notice you. You should be able to untether yourself from the world and set yourself free, loosing all the fine strings and strands of tension that bind you, by sight, by sound, by thought, to the presence of other men.
“‘But thou, when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to they Father in secret…’
“Once you have found such a place, be content with it, and do not be disturbed if a good reason takes you out of it. Love it, and return to it as soon as you can, and do not be quick to change it for another.”
Amen. Do something silly. Slow down. Sit with the Holy One.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 260


Tuesday, May 31, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .I received a letter from a reader in Canada via the old-fashioned way: handwritten on paper and delivered to my mailbox out front. (She sent it to a publisher who sent it to my agency who sent it to me, so it took a month to arrive…) She also included a word search puzzle that she created from words used in A Time to Gather. How creative is that!
            I cleared my desk, not in an orderly fashion but as in I picked up the piles (mainly notes to myself, mail, books, files) and put them on the floor. I’ll deal with them later. Gotta have a clear space now to put together lesson plans.
The thing I love most after writing is talking about writing, so this is an enjoyable project. =) A reason I first began the blog was to watch myself write a book. Looking back, I realize it’s no different than it’s ever been, not really. But some nuances have come out, things to incorporate into what I’ve shared before about the novel writing process.
            THE DETAILS. . .Haircut. Bike ride. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Days 256 – 259


Friday – Monday, May 27 – 30, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Delved once again into Christopher Vogler’s The Hero’s Journey, in my opinion the best (as in easy to follow) presentation of how to write a novel. Very helpful in preparation for teaching a workshop in June.
            THE DETAILS. . .My Guy and I began the holiday weekend Friday evening at the amphitheater down at the beach: the Marine Band played and then the movie Top Gun was shown. =)
The music was great and included a surprise ending: an F-16 flew over. Whoa! The movie is 25 years old and because it was filmed in San Diego – and most especially because the house scenes were filmed at a house still located across the street from that amphitheater – the community decided to celebrate. Very fun.
We actually saw one of the scenes filmed (the chase on the steep hill) with our kiddos when they were little; we just happened upon it 25 years ago. . .
Old friends (as in have known each other since before Top Gun was a movie) came over for dinner Saturday night.  Yummy new recipes: tabouli from one friend, a pesto from the other.
Monday we celebrated my birthday – yes again; it goes on and on and on. This was something I’ve long wanted to do. We took a photo caravan tour at the Safari Park (a.k.a. Wild Animal Park): 2 hours in the back of a pickup riding out in the fields where the giraffes and rhinos live. We fed acacia leaves to a giraffe. I kid you not. We really did. Amazing.

Day 255


Day 255
Thursday, May 26, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Reader correspondence.
THE DETAILS. . .Happy Anniversary to Son and Daughter-in-Law!  =)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 254


Wednesday, May 25, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Richard Rohr writes that he prays for one humiliation a day. Eww. Not there yet!  But the point is, if we’re paying attention, such a thing causes us to confront our false self, that ego that craves stroking.
            Book reviews can do both: stroke and humiliate. Two things I don’t seek, don’t truly on the deepest level need, but there they are if I read one.
            I read one by accident. Well, I got to it by accident (hunting down an interview I did about Desert Gift) and naturally the ego engaged my eyes and I read it. My response: ack! where do I go to write a review of the review?!?   I mean, come on!  =)
            I say I understand: my stories do not appeal to everyone. . .not everyone is going to “get it”. . .my writing is not great literature. . .a review is one person’s opinion. Fine. But still. . .ack!
            This came on the heels of reading several emails from readers who do “get it” and waxed eloquently about what specifically spoke to their hearts through the characters and how grateful they are to have received that touch. Sigh. This is why I write.
            Speaking of which, I caught up on emails sent to my AOL address, which I no longer use but is still out there as my main contact address. It takes a bit to inform everyone about the switch. One of those tech things that can drive me up the wall like when I get a couple dozen messages: mail returned, undeliverable, no such address, mailbox full.
            NEW ADDRESS:  sallyjohn.readers@yahoo.com
            Speaking of reviews, I received a “tag” via Facebook that very positively discusses Desert Gift.  =)  Then I got comments to that tag that encouraged. I have to get in there to FB and figure out what/how a tag works.
            I dropped off books at the local library for one of their book clubs; members are reading different titles for their July meeting. Nice.
            Post office run, mailed more books to winners and an uncle in Mississippi who shares them.
            THE DETAILS. . .A bike ride.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Granddaughter Music

Days 248 – 253


Thursday – Tuesday, May 19 - 24, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .New manuscript is good to go.  =)  This means it needs no major overhaul. My editor will suggest and then I’ll tweak. Am I happy?  =)
            Meanwhile I am sliding back into Desert Gift mindset, talking about it, writing about it. Online interview, emails with readers, sending out copies, Facebook and blog posts. . .  
            THE DETAILS. . .Details, details. House, life in general. Blah, blah, blah.
            Friday My Guy and I drove eight hours over to Arizona.  =)  Sweet hugs and catch-up downtimes with Grandgirls, Son, and Daughter-in-Law, soaking them all in and savoring. Attended the girls gymnastics show, coached by D-I-L. Fun and amazing! Drive home on Monday.
            The desk mess still overwhelms. Actually most of it is out of sight in the closet. Ha, ha.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 246 – 247


Tuesday – Wednesday, May 17 – 18, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Spending much time (and technical effort! ack!) on marketing-related online stuff.  =)  It is such a delightful privilege to be able to connect with readers via the Net so readily and (somewhat) easily.  I still enjoy receiving handwritten notes in the real mailbox at the sidewalk, but of course this other enables many more of us to “meet.”  I love how many names are familiar to me.
            Became acquainted with Shelfari, a site where one can create a virtual bookshelf, fill it with “books” (covers are displayed) that one has read or wants to read, and add opinions.
Rather a cool place.  I would tell you more but I do not know more.  I signed up.  Added Desert Gift and Ransomed Dreams character names, themes, quotes.  Saw pics/icons of people who have these titles on their shelves.
            I arrived at it via Amazon.com.  Does this help?  =)  It may show up under the “Book Extras” tab on the Amazon page that describes one book, how to order it, reviews, etc.
            THE DETAILS. . .You’d think I’ve been asleep for six months.  My catch-up to-do list grows longer even as I cross things off.  Yes, I needed a midweek break.
            My Guy and I saw There Be Dragons, a wonderful film that basically has been kept under wraps; I am surprised to see that it’s still playing at our local theater (which caters to those who enjoy animated and/or lots of violent furious action). 
It’s about Saint Josemaria Escriva who lived in Spain during the Civil War, had to escape (priests were being killed), and spent his life teaching about the sacred being everywhere, not just in a church setting. He taught about and epitomized forgiveness. He died in 1975 (so for us old folks this is fairly recent history). 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Guy

The water is not warm . . . He sports a winter-weight wetsuit, boots, gloves, and hood.

Day 245


Monday, May 16, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Wrote emails to readers and yes at last, I finished putting order to the addresses transferred over from AOL to Yahoo – and some Facebook time.  Sooo fun to offer free copies and see the eager response.
            Gathered materials to use for a presentation for June workshop in Iowa.
            THE DETAILS. . .Washed windows. Watched My Guy body surf. Perhaps I’m putting some order back into life as well as the online address book?  ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Days 242 – 244


Friday – Sunday, May 13 – 15, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Still basking in the joy of holding that book in my hand.  =)  Internet work, mostly regarding its release.
            THE DETAILS. . .Ugh. A three-day bout with vertigo, a positional thing that pops up rarely, not even once a year.  Sometimes what seems to set it off is a long, long time with head facing the laptop and then getting up from the desk.  The timing stank – I planned to attend a local meeting of American Christian Fiction Writers, but was unable to do that.  =(

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 241


Thursday, May 12, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .!!!!!!!  Copies of Desert Gift arrived!!!  \O/  One of the most deliriously fun things to do is share a new book with others.  I signed, sealed inside padded envelopes, and took to the post office several copies for family and readers (some winners via Facebook, some influential in passing along “reviews,” some who helped my research [noted in the Acknowledgments]). 
            There were a few oh-no moments this morning.  I learned from the publisher that the boxes had been delivered yesterday, left at the front door.  Uh, not at my house.  I investigated.  Some nearby houses are vacation rentals and vacant much of the time.  I took a walk.  Front doors, like ours, are on the side of houses so they are not visible from the sidewalk.  Two doors down, at a house number that transposes mine, sat my boxes of books.
Yes, prayers of thanks were said for an email on another matter from the marketing lady, which led to my inquiry, which led to the discovery and I danced a little jig.  I did not even grouse about the delivery person who obviously reads numbers like I do.
            THE DETAILS. . .What else is there?  =)   Oh yeah, farmers market and home group and a bike ride.  If you’ve read bits of this blog, you could have told me my Thursday activities.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Days 239 - 240


Tuesday – Wednesday, May 10 – 11, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Shhh. Is that a UPS truck I hear?  One bearing boxes of Desert Gift?   Ha, ha, ha. Okay, yes, I am checking the street. Often.
            “Created” (templates make things so easy for us non-designer folks) and ordered business cards.  They are an easy way to give out contact info to writers, readers, booksellers, not to promote my work. The site I worked on offered mom cards (so-and-so’s mom; very cute), an easy way to give other moms phone numbers, etc.  My need falls somewhere in between business and mom.  
            THE DETAILS. . .Still heavily in the catching-up mode for life's details. Accomplished some kitchen spring-type cleaning.  Disappointed that this chore was not on my list, though; I have nothing to cross off.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 238


Monday, May 9, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Filled with gratitude and delight as I wrote about Desert Gift on the Facebook author page.  Yep, happy as a lark except for the struggle to post the back-cover words and the cover’s image.  Ack!  But I succeeded.  And I announced winners of copies to women who participated in the discussions which was way fun. 
            Reviews are out there.  I wince at the thought of reading any.  I am such a coward. They will affect me, although not for long or intensely:  for a few minutes I will be giddy or bummed. Oh well, it comes with the territory – if I read them.  Ha, ha.  They are a great help to readers, of course.  I use them all the time when choosing a book.
            Google informs me about things concerning my books.  A review showed up, I peeked.  =)  Here it is: “Review of Desert Gift by Sally John : A true gift of inspiration for a hurting soul.” Nice, huh?
            Read more at: freshfiction.com/review.php?id=29372            
Last week I donated books (the ones set in San Diego) to a school fundraiser. My friend, a mom at the school, said the books did well in the silent auction, which was nice to hear.  =)
THE DETAILS. . .At last, a lingering, creative grocery store(s) run. And I actually spent more than twenty minutes in the kitchen. Yummy spaghetti (with low-carb linguine). 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Days 236 - 237


Saturday – Sunday, May 7 – 8, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . . OH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It arrived in the mail!!!!  My first copy of Desert Gift.  Talk about bee-you-tee-ful.  Of course I’ve seen the cover image online and I’ve held the covered book in hand, the advanced reader copy with its extra words all over it and inside it.  But this!  Words escape me.  =)  This is it.  I can hardly wait for everyone to read it.
            This means it’s being shipped, it’s on its way to bookshelves across the country.
            Whoa.
            Thanks be to God.
            THE DETAILS. . .I did not get the mail until late Saturday evening, so the above celebration was not for the entire weekend.  ;) 
            My Guy and I had a movie date, saw a French movie with subtitles, silly fun in a totally French way.  Then we bundled up (summer temps are gone again) and enjoyed a picnic (French bread and brie) at a grassy area above a cove where seals hang out.
            Happy Mother’s Day!  Phone conversations with Daughter and Son and my mom blessed me.  Hallmark Holidays are okay.  

Day 235


Friday, May 6, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Emails, etc. Shifting gears from story submitted to the new book coming soon.             
            THE DETAILS. . .Finished the green space project.  It’s bee-you-tee-ful.
            Hit the tired-every-which-way wall.  Maybe the project was finished because my knees wanted time off.   =)  So I read. . .fiction. . .in the middle of the afternoon, a special treat to myself.  I imagine if I were an editor and read fiction all the time, this would not be such a big deal.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Green Space

Here's one corner in front of our house.
The gorgeous bougainvillea is actually flowing over from the neighbor's yard.
The grill and the fire-ring-turned-impatiens planter both survived the wildfire that swept through our backyard a few years ago.
The potted yellow flower on the wall and the cross were housewarming gifts three years ago.
The green foliage on the ground, behind the grill, is a type of epiphyte (air plant) that is growing on a piece of word. So amazing. This was a gift from friends recently.

Day 234


Thursday, May 5, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Did I mention the great cover for next year’s book?  =)
            THE DETAILS. . .Plants, flowers, dirt. . .  Coffee with a friend, another catch-up time.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 233


Wednesday, May 4, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Received image from publisher of a cover idea for Heart Echoes, the book recently turned in.  Woo-hoo!  It’s beautiful!  Some of the story takes place in Oregon, along the coast. The main photo is of the coast.  I love the three covers together for the books in this series:  a Mexican village, a desert, and now a coast.  Very, very nice.  I voted yes.
            THE DETAILS. . .Another lunch with a friend.  =)  Have I mentioned this is my social catch-up time?  We met at a writers conference about a month before the fire in 2007, learned we lived near each other, planned to meet for coffee.  Then we both lost our houses.  Yes, we have a few things in common (although she is much younger and has young ones).  We know how to take each other's emotional temperatures.
            Worked in my green space; laid stepping stones because walking barefoot on bark chips is not fun.
            Happy Birthday to my Illinois Sister-in-Law!  =)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Days 231 – 232

Monday – Tuesday, May 2 – 3, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Some online writing-related correspondence; mailed an advanced reader copy to a reviewer.
            This is the waiting time, the weeks when I catch-up on the rest of life and check in with reality. It’s a time to breathe differently. It can be a time of I hope I hope I hope oh I hope they like it.  =)  Gratefully, when that thought comes regarding Heart Echoes, it is soon followed by I did my best and they know how to make it better.
            THE DETAILS. . .More garden work.  I’m loving the creative and physical work. The “front yard/patio” space is maybe eight by fifteen feet (wild guess; I have no clue about distances; it's the size of a large room) plus some side yard with sidewalk leading to the front door which is actually on the side of the house.
The Santa Ana winds are blowing like crazy and the 82 degrees feels extra wonderful after a longer-than-what-I-remember rainy, cool winter.  It’s supposed to be days of “May gray” before next month's “June gloom,” but three days into it and that’s not here yet.
Lunch and girl talk with sister-in-law and cousin-in-law.  =)
Am sooo excited about a book that just arrived, The Five Books of Moses, a translation by Everett Fox.  It’s a literal Hebrew rendering of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Fox takes a long introduction to explain this Hebraic voice. Simply put, he has tried to “mimic the … rhetoric” by using the repetition, alliteration, and wordplay found in the original texts.  The result is a sort of prose-poetry that begs to be read aloud so that the ear might take part in the power of the language. 
I’ve read to Genesis 1:19 and am surrounded by beauty. I’ve never ready anything like it.  =)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Days 229 - 230


Saturday – Sunday, April 30 – May 1, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Soaked in the writing behind a play.
            THE DETAILS. . .The play: Let Me Down Easy. We went downtown to a matinee performance. I don’t know where to begin to describe this original work. Written and performed by Anna Deveare Smith (actress). . .based on her interviews with a wide range of people. . .she presented each character answering her questions. . .the result was an energetic slice of American life. And a whole lot more.  =)
Happy Anniversary to Daughter and Son-in-Law!!

Day 228


Friday, April 29, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .A full morning of email/online writing-related tasks.  Mailed the manuscript to my Daughter-in-Law, a first reader with a good editor’s sense.
            THE DETAILS. . .A plant-infested afternoon at a store, choosing just the right ones for our small area: drought-resistant, six hours of sun, part-sun/part-shade, shade (we have all of the above in the space); can survive in a pot (I’m not into digging up the landlord’s ground).  Bought bark chips too (no grass, very little concrete, the chips cover most of it). Fun.
            Watched a replay of The Wedding.  =)  I’ve been in love with England since my first Gothic-governess story waaaay back when and so this was thoroughly enjoyable.  An interesting note: The Earrings resembled the ones my Daughter wore in her wedding.  I guess the word got out how beautiful they were.  =)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 227


Thursday, April 28, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Spent more time with reader emails and author’s Facebook page. Crossed a few items off the to-do list, but there are still many details to attend to. . .website, an Amazon.com link for me as an author to update. . .  As usual after a book is finished, my ability to sit at the laptop for long periods of time is limited. My eyes and mind have been on overload and are still in recovery mode.
            THE DETAILS. . .Cleared the desk, completely. Even dusted and “polished” the pressed wood.  =)  Reorganized it a bit. Always a fun, satisfying task.
            Home Group was a sweet time with My Guy and two women.  =)  (He enjoys this.)  We sat around a bowl of guacamole (made by one of them; yummy with a hint of cumin), chips and farmers market carrots and talked.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 226


Wednesday, April 27, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Corresponded with readers via emails. What a blessing these women are to me.  =)  Posted a new discussion question for Desert Gift on the Facebook author page. Replies posted to the last one are beautiful.   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sally-John-Books/355413061473
           Finished reading a novel, one in a series, criminal suspense genre. I skim the over-the-top violence and zero in on the relationships. Such excellent writing with the recurring characters.  (Writers workshop by osmosis for me.)  At the end of this book the author killed off one of the main characters, the husband of another main person. Not exactly a happy ending but a true ending; given the circumstances it had to happen.
            THE DETAILS. . .This and that. Crossed a few things off the to-do list.
            Biked with My Guy for dinner to the restaurant where we ate several meals in the days following the fire because it’s near the motel where we stayed. We’ve gotten to know a young waitress. Had not been there for perhaps six months. She was pregnant at that time; last night she wasn’t – we saw photos of her baby boy. Nice.
            As we started to bike away, a woman reading the menu posted outside asked us about the food. We learned that she was from New York and her 19-year old in the car wanted steak before he shipped out to Afghanistan. Please pray for Eric and his family.
            The two mama-son stories sort of twist your heart, don’t they?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 225


Tuesday, April 26, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .My Guy finished Heart Echoes, so there is talk about it.  Nice.  =)  Other than that and touching base with Agent and Editor, I did not engage. There is work to be done now regarding Desert Gift (it’s coming SOON), but it wasn’t in today’s mindset.  ;)
            THE DETAILS. . .Went back to the To-Do List. Assuming Daughter and S-I-L don’t have time to read this blog, I will say that I got lost in a photo project, a gift for them for their first anniversary.  And then I got my birthday gift mother’s ring sized. Am so happy to be able to wear it on my finger now. 
            The slowed mental pace is goooood.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 224


Monday, April 25, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . . Played with Discussion Questions in my imagination. As I write, I list possibilities that I might use, topics to pursue.
My Guy is reading the manuscript.  He’s always been one of my first readers. It’s fun to hear his reactions, how the characters come alive for him. Some things he picks up on that I did not know were in the story.  =)
            THE DETAILS. . .The catch-up begins: laundry, wrote the to-do list, framed and hung photos long sitting in a pile, pulled weeds where the sidewalk sections that leads to our house meets the sidewalk that parallels the street, some emails. Ran out of time to get through my list.  ;) 
            The highlight: Granddaughter #2, the 6-year old, called to tell me she did her first by-herself kick-over. Whoa. Okay, I had to ask what it was because I could not recall from when Granddaughter #1 learned how to do it. (Their mom is the gymnast.) It’s kicking over from a backbend into a standing position. As I said, whoa

Monday, April 25, 2011

Days 223 - 224


Saturday – Sunday, April 23 – 24, 2011. . .
            Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia! 

Day 221

Friday, April 22, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .I tightened up that Epilogue, worked on a few other things and then. . .I was done.  Yes, again.  ;)  It was another “finished” episode. This was a Biggie: I emailed it to the editors.  It was time to let it go (no matter that today is Good Friday and no one is going to see the email until after Easter).
            Thanks be to God.
            There is always the post-mortem: What do I think? How do I feel? I feel good about the work. I put forth my best efforts. I miss my characters.
            THE DETAILS. . .The remainder of the day I moved in a fog. How do we writers come out of it, how do we leave a world in which we’ve lived and breathed for months and months? It’s like being born or gaining sight: everything is new. Everything is bright and shiny and a little bit scary.
            I emailed my daughter and asked what they were doing for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving.  In an email. It wasn’t a slip of the tongue. Slip of coherent thought, perhaps.  ;)   

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 220


Thursday, April 21, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . . \O/  I typed THE END.  Woo-hoo!!!!
            There’s finished and there’s finished and then there’s finished. Maybe one or two more.  Last week’s was completing the story, minus Epilogue and my editing/rewriting.  That’s emotional crying time.  Empty and full time.
Today’s finish was: Epilogue written and all the red ink transcribed into the file. I laughed and clapped at my laptop.  =)  Thanks be to God.
I enjoy writing epilogues. For my type of story, it’s a look at what good has come of the previous 200 pages of struggle. There might be some bittersweet. I try not to answer all the dilemmas or be too syrupy sweet.
It should be tight writing and honestly I will most likely rewrite it after my editor gives it back to me because as is, it’s loosey goosey stuff, an emotional unloading as well as a “this is what happened to so and so and that situation and this is where we are and the moral of the story is this in case it wasn’t clear.”
THE DETAILS. . .Maundy Thursday. Our church practices some of the old ways. We had a foot washing, communion, and then in silence the altar was stripped. Even the floral arrangements were carried away. The barrenness speaks to me: what if Jesus never came to reveal God to us?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 219


Wednesday, April 20, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .A 10-hour, at-it day. Finished entering the red ink into file, then finished reading the hard copy.  Ahhh.   I am satisfied – well, as much as possible before transcribing all the red ink. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 217


Monday, April 18, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Sixty pages and a red ink pen.  ;)  An interesting process to read and edit and see the big picture and rewrite and check notes and take notes and follow threads. Interesting and all-consuming.
            I do so appreciate my editors.  =)
            THE DETAILS. . .Not much. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Days 215 - 216

Saturday – Sunday, April 16 – 17, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Continuing to let it sit.           
THE DETAILS. . .Landlord visit and new lease.  =)  Walked around local art fair; always inspirational to see artists’ work, such an expression of creativity and diligence and beauty.  Dinner at friends’ home that included time with their visiting parents, a couple full of encouraging later-life stories. (Yes, 60-year olds need to hear from elders who are doing it well.)
Palm Sunday. . .Hosanna time!

Day 214


Friday, April 15, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Another hands-off, back-away day.
            THE DETAILS. . .Put some order to the office.  Scooped piles of stuff from bed, dresser, and floor into the closet.  This would have waited but the landlord is coming for his annual look-see and for us to sign a lease to continue renting.  I Did not touch the desktop however.  ;)
            Movie time. My Guy and I walked down to the neighborhood theater; was bummed that our coupon gave us cheaper tickets than my new Senior Status so I still did not get to say “one senior ticket.”
            We enjoyed Soul Surfer very much. Based on a true story and well done, it is full of real-life: sadness, joy, inspiration, hope, conflict, unanswered questions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 213


Thursday, April 14, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Around 2 a.m. an answer to me, to a question I did not realize I was asking (I probably wasn’t, ha, ha!).  Underlying everything else in the story, what is Heart Echoes really all about?  Ta-da!  It’s about Protagonist’s father wound. I went back to sleep.
            And then I took the day off.
            THE DETAILS. . .Farmer’s Market with My Guy. We worked on flight arrangements for June travel for me to be part of a writers conference and visit extended family.
            Noticing house things again, like the sun shining just so on white woodwork.  ;)  DUST!! LOTS OF IT!!  I addressed a few things. 
Also I treated myself to a stroll through some secondhand stores not far down the main street (101) and found a treasure for $8: pink Depression glass creamer and sugar bowl.  They’re a memento copy of a memento lost in the fire, my grandmother’s dishes.  I’m not interested in replacing things like this, but a small bit to have for a time and then pass on with the stories to my kiddos and grands is good.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 212

Wednesday, April 13, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Love the ‘search and find and replace’ feature of Word. =)  I worked on incorporating notes jotted during recent weeks. They were tweaks, having to do with such things as name changes, timing issues, that legal technicality thread.  Paused some to rewrite, but not much.  Printed the whole thing out.
            In the old, old days, I began a writing session with pen and paper and then put it on the computer; it was weird to start directly on the computer and see my work displayed so glaringly on the monitor.
In the old days, I printed daily, needing the hard copy in hand, not trusting technology very much.  Now I email the new stuff to myself and sometimes back up on a flash drive.
In the nearer old days – as in two books ago – I worked in double space; today’s it’s single space.  Double space was a throwback to 20 years ago when we mailed two hard copies to editors who worked on them and needed the space.  
I’m feeling I’ve been around for a while.  =) 
THE DETAILS. . .Ahh, a morning walk on the pier.  I’ve missed them.  Finding some balance today (read: I did not do much at all after noon).  I finished my Shutterfly project:  a photo book of our weekend in Borrego Springs.
Still some dazedness going on.  It’s a sweet and odd space to be in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 211

Tuesday, April 12, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Oh happy day! I wrote the final scenes!! (Except for the Epilogue which comes more easily after my editing.)  Thanks be to God.  Afterwards, I just sat for a bit, overcome with gratitude for those 87,000+ words and for the gift of putting them together.
            Tomorrow the editor can come out and play. It’s fun, hard work, tiring – but not daunting as creating new.
            THE DETAILS. . .Dazed.  Much singing.  =)  Groceries, putzed around Tuesday Morning (small home outlet store), massage.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 210


Monday, April 11, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Odd middle-of-the-night moment. A new story began. This is how they come sometimes. They lie in wait until I’m ready to “read” them. This one played out like a scene from a play; it even had music, the song Our God Reigns. The upper left hand corner of the “screen” of my imagination was fuzzy; obviously the whole thing is not clear to me yet. It’s too early to talk about content; it’s enough for me to know it’s there.  
            Okay, that sounds really, really weird.
Long, full, satisfying day. It’s a balancing act: by the end, Protagonist has changed, she’s grown, she’s wiser, she’s more at peace, she has seen evidence of God at work in her life. . .but life is still life, full of challenge and sadness and consequences of her choices. In short, she is in a better place and yet she is not perfect.
            It is a joy to look at her life through her new eyes though.  =)
            Final scenes with minor characters completed.
            THE DETAILS. . .Looked up from laptop at 6 p.m. Went to the kitchen and wrote a note to myself about a story detail to add tomorrow.
            What details?  =)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Days 208 - 209


Saturday – Sunday, April 9 – 10, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .A middle-of-the-night tweaking in my imagination. Early morning note jotting. Okay, now I can let it go.
            THE DETAILS. . .A cold, windy yet sunny weekend. My Guy and I managed to sit at the beach, bundled in sweats and jackets and blankets, and read.
Cahill’s book, The Gifts of the Jews, continues to enlighten; it’s such a succinct history lesson, not only about what physically occurred but also along the lines of developing spirituality.
Got lost in a Coben novel, for me an out-and-out writing lesson: character development and dialogue are models.
Oh, such a treat! A breakfast reunion with long-distance old friends in town. Face-to-face time after four years was the stuff of soul feeding. But the best part was to  meet, at long last, their daughter, the talented, creative young woman who designed my pretty website.  My world is richer having met her. KB, you are an absolute delight.

Day 207


Friday, April 8, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Good stuff.  =)  Late afternoon, I received an email from my legal expert replying to a question I ran by her.  Whoa.  A new layer has been added to Protagonist. Something I had in place will not work, technically/legally speaking. She is in deeper than I knew. This tweak will round things out and take me to the end.  THANK YOU, AR!!!
            THE DETAILS. . .This and that. It’s a struggle to resurface, but I think I really, really, really need to. Walks and a recorded The Mentalist help.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 206


Thursday, April, 7, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .One of those days that begins with “uh, I don’t know how this is going to happen” and then ta-da! The characters do it.  Some tears shed on my part as they face a difficult reality and meet it with grace and courage.
            THE DETAILS. . .Toooo windy for a bike ride; we walk but not far. Typical spring, a game of tag between winter and summer.
            Finished Rob Bell’s Love Wins. Such encouragement tucked in it: God is always inviting us to hear the story He tells about Himself and us, that He loves us no matter what.
            Home Group. . .Ezekiel 37 reading about those dry bones clattering together and being enfleshed and receiving breath. Again, that invitation to hear the invitation God is always sending forth to let Him give us new life – sometimes if only moment by moment.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 205


Wednesday, April 6, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Worked on Facebook author page – time to post a new topic for discussion. Not sure this is working to create interest. Questions I come up with are too heavy, too involved, too personal for a public forum. Maybe should rethink this.
            Writing of final scenes continues. By final I mean several that carry us to the conclusion; I’m sure there is a technical term for it that escapes me at the moment. They are a series of short chapters because there is much going on and I want to see these events from both the Protagonist’s and her husband’s points of view. Also, because I do not want to introduce the daughter’s POV at this time, I want to see as much as possible what she is doing behind their backs (which means it is done behind the backs of us readers).
            Which all reminds me of my stickler’s attitude toward POV for the type of writing that I do: tell the story from within one character’s seeing and only one's at a time; change chapters when it’s time to enter another person’s head. Plain and simple. It requires tighter, stronger writing. It invites the reader to connect more personally and emotionally with the characters.
            Any other way cheats the reader, in my opinion. Some readers don’t mind. I do. And so I write this way. It’s not a “right” or “wrong” thing for this non-literary fiction, it’s a preference.
            THE DETAILS. . .Bike ride with My Guy. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 204


Tuesday, April 5, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Woke up writing notes in my head; put them down on paper ASAP, minor threads to tie up more succinctly, things that could have easily gone by the wayside (what exactly happened to that person?) which I as a reader might have wondered about and my editor might have pointed out.  =)
I incorporated that info previous scenes and began somewhat of a biggie scene for Protagonist. It’s all set up; she’ll walk it out tomorrow.
            THE DETAILS. . .Pretty much everything is falling by the wayside. My office is a major mess and that’s just the first layer. I did manage to go to the grocery stores. =) It felt good to do something concrete, to check things off a list.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another Desert Photo

Sunrise. . .

Day 203

Monday, April 4, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Here I go again, wanting to leap instead of linger.  Reminder to self: do not rush the end. I long for the characters to be reconciled, redeemed, renewed, restored. (Why do all those good words begin with ‘re’? topic for another time. . .)  But if I push it, I’ll end up telling.
            Wrote some icky telling today, BUT the setting and topics I need are now in place, ready for rewriting. Another ‘re’ word. . .
            THE DETAILS. . .Another yummy omelet cooked by My Guy.  =)
            Beautiful birthday bouquets keep on giving a week later, scents and elegance. Thanks to Daughter and Son-in-Law, friends KM and CG.
Have I mentioned the TV show In Plain Sight? Spectacular writing, real characters, superb relationship drama, and – almost an ‘oh and by the by’ compared to all that – very interesting portrayal of the government’s witness protection program (which may be mostly fiction, but still. . .). We watched (DVD) episodes from early season; we’re anticipating its at-last launch of season 4 in May.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Days 201 - 202


Saturday – Sunday, April 2 – 3, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Some nudges now and then, under-the-surface stuff.
            THE DETAILS. . .Remembering the young nephew who passed away a couple years ago; Saturday was his birthday. Prayers for his parents, siblings, wife.
            My Guy and I drove (rather than walked down the street) to a movie theater. I was rather excited at the prospect of saying “ONE SENIOR TICKET PLEASE.”  But their sign said seniors begin at 62, not 60 (unlike our theater down the street).  Major disappointment.
            We saw Certified Copy, a foreign film in English, French, and Italian set in Italy. At first it seemed to drag; then I began to think I missed something although the subtitles were easy to keep up with; when it was over I said “huh?”  =)  One of those – but then we started talking about it and began to see depth and nuances. It was all about a marriage; all about showing through dialogue.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 200


Friday, April 1, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Sigh, sigh, sigh. This is all I can do. Writing is such a deeply satisfying process, most particularly at the point in a story when the Protagonist shows signs of new life after reaching the end of herself. Her eyesight has changed; she’s getting accustomed to new lenses, so to speak.
            After solid hours of bringing the sister relationship to a new place, tying of those threads, I have to stop. Ahead is one more hoop for Protagonist to jump through, one more surprise, one more test – in this case one more tug-of-war between mom and sixteen-year old daughter.
            I shall mull it over the weekend.
            Touched base with a few readers via email who want to purchase some final in-print copies of The Other Way Home. Packed them and took them to the post office.
            THE DETAILS. . .Regular housekeeping activities center me. Our bike ride is an obstacle course of walkers, bikers, joggers, cars on the strand.  =)  Weather still the So Cal stuff of tv and movies.
            HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SAN DIEGO SIS-IN-LAW!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another Desert Photo

Ocotillo and me. The orange blossoms are at the top.

Day 199


Thursday, March 31, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Have I mentioned I love these people?  =)  Tying of some threads and an unexpected sweet connection for Protagonist and husband. Sigh.
            THE DETAILS. . .Extremely difficult to emerge from the cloud of make-believe. Bit of an afterglow going on. I framed my Eiffel Tower poster; felt like a teenager hanging it in my office until I remembered there was no framing going on back then. Transplanted a jade drowning in an inappropriate container. Jade is the way to go. This poor thing, a start from a larger one given to me by a friend a few years ago, just kept on trucking. I don’t know that he minded the ugly, no-drain-hole pot because he did not give up.
            Biked with My Guy. I was surprised to notice the weather. Summer had arrived! (At least temporarily, I hear.)  People, people everywhere. Spring Breakers and Ironman enthusiasts (this coming weekend event).
            Home Group – my brain and eyes unfocused for the most part.  Sigh.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 198

Wednesday, March 30, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Tweaking abounds. With numerous strands to tie together, there is much to fine tune as I close in on the final scenes. The rhythm becomes free flow/let the characters surprise/remind them what else is going on/tweak/free flow again.
            I vacillate – I want to see what happens to them, I don’t want to leave them. =)
            Some catching up with readers via emails. Also posted a discussion question  on Facebook about marriage, based on one of the issues that Desert Gift poses. The plan is to put something different out like that every week.
            Yikes! Going between the two stories is a memory challenge. Ha, ha, ha.
            Facebook link -- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sally-John-Books/355413061473
            THE DETAILS. . .Thomas Merton’s A Book of Hours arrived in the mail, a surprise from Son and Daughter-in-Law. Ohhh. It’s a beautiful book, and the writing is beyond description. It’s the kind that causes you to linger and stop often to listen. And I’ve only peeked inside.
            Mabel Annemarie Samuelson Carlson Kropp was born this day in 1900. She was my Swedish grandmother. I pause to remember her smile and optimism. She is still a source of inspiration.