Does Every Treat Have a Trick?

I’m going to tell you a true-life story. I hope you can relate to it.

About ten years ago, Prince Charming and I took a long-anticipated trip. We were both in high-stress jobs at the time, so this getaway was very important to us.

We planned every detail in advance, because we wanted to start our vacation stress-free, with no last-minute rushing about. We had a list of items to pack, which we dutifully checked off, one by one, as we put things in our suitcases.

We had a list of things to do, like holding our mail with the post office, and notifying our home security company of our trip, so they’d make extra rounds while we were away.

We even had a time table for the morning of our departure, starting with the time we wanted our alarm to go off, all the way up to the moment we checked our bags and entered the lines at airport security.

We had everything planned out, anticipated every problem, accounted for every contingency.

The big day arrived. When the alarm went off, we got up, dressed, and headed to the airport, right on time. We were happy. We were stress-free.

And we were proud of ourselves because all that pre-planning was paying off.

Then it happened. We were in the car, on the freeway, almost at the airport for our early-morning flight, when Prince turned to me and asked, “Did you remember to turn the coffee pot off before we left the house?”

So much for stress-free travel.

No, of course I could not remember turning it off, and my stress level immediately went from 2 on the scale to Red Alert level.

In those days, our coffee maker didn’t have an automatic turn-off mechanism. And since I couldn’t remember turning off the burner under the pot—and, incidentally, neither could Prince Charming, which was kind-a why he asked the question—I had an immediate vision in my head of the coffee maker melting down from its own heat and catching the house on fire. Prince had the same vision.

We immediately abandoned our beautifully orchestrated timetable and returned to the house. Prince kept the motor running, while I ran in, only to find one of us had turned the burner off under the pot, after all. So, it turned out, there was no need to rush; there was no reason to panic; there was no cause for worry.

We just had to get back on track and finish what we set out to do, and get that vacation started.

Why am I telling you this story?

Because I had a coffee pot moment not long ago; but this time, the thing that got off track wasn’t a vacation. It was a book.

Back in January I set a goal for myself to finish a novel I’d been working on. And guess what?

I did it!

I finished the novel and sent it off to a couple of beta readers and a proofreader.

Confident, I had a cover designed, wrote a book blurb, and set a date to publish my book in print and e-book formats.

And then I heard back from my readers. They all liked the overall story, loved the hero, and Miss Proofreader spotted only a couple of typos.

But they all agreed there was a problem with one of the subplots. And I had to admit, once they brought it to my attention, I saw the problem, too. But why had I not seen it before?

I was so busy concentrating on writing “The End” on the last page of my manuscript, and reveling in the feeling of having accomplished a major goal, that I didn’t see a hole in my plot.

And now I have to do some revisions throughout the story so that plot hole can be fixed.

So, the good news is, I did achieve one of my goals for the year. I finished writing my book. But the bad news (if you can call it that) is I still have some more work to do to on it.

So I’ve re-calibrated my timetable, and I’m now busy with rewrites.

And while I do that, I want to give a shout out to beta readers and proofreaders all over world.

Thank you! You help make dreams come true.

.

The Young Rebels

I’ve always loved history, and when I was a kid, I was enamored of the period surrounding America’s War of Independence.

It began, I think, when I read the children’s novel Johnny Tremain. It’s about a young teen in Boston who is caught up in the events that lead to the American Revolution.

My interest in that time period heightened when I began watching a TV show called The Young Rebels. It was about a group of four teens/young adults who single-handedly fought off the British Army’s attempts to infiltrate Philadelphia and its environs.

From time to time the Rebels had help from General the Marquis de Lafayette of France. I think my first crush was on Philippe Forquet, who played Lafayette in the show. I recall that he had a charming French accent and a pair of dimples that went on for days.

Actor Philippe Forquet in 1970 dressed as Lafayette on the set of The Young Rebels.

Rick Ely (whose brother Ron played Tarzan in his own TV show) starred as Jeremy, the leader of the merry band of patriots. Alex Henteloff played a brainy, Benjamin-Franklin-like character who was always inventing explosives or contraptions to harass the British army with. Louis Gossett, Jr. played a brave ex-slave, and in a few episodes Hilary Thompson played Jeremy’s sometime girlfriend.

Male members of the cast: Alex Henteloff, Rick Ely, Philippe Forquet, Louis Gossett, Jr. in a still from one of the show’s scenes.

Together, Lafayette and the Rebels blew up British munitions depots, blocked British cavalry troops from crossing rivers, thwarted the King’s messengers from reaching their commanders in time to summon help. By the time the show went off the air, I was convinced they had single-handedly won the War of Independence for all Americans (high school history classes subsequently corrected that belief).

It was a lot like The A-Team (a TV show that came along twelve years later) set during Colonial America, but with wigs and waistcoats.

I loved that show, and I especially loved the character of Lafayette.

The real Marquis de Lafayette.

But it should be known that I wasn’t the only one with a crush Lafayette. America love him, too . . . the real Lafayette, that is.

Lafayette’s image on an American cigar box.

And when Lafayette returned to the United States in 1824, American’s rolled out the red carpet for him.

Medal struck when Lafayette visited the United States in honor of the country’s 50th anniversary, 1826. From ForgottenDelights.com

Newspapers published adoring tributes to him.

“The National Guest” by Thomas Hope, published in a Wilmington Delaware newspaper on September 18, 1824.

Cities erected monuments in his honor.

A statue of Lafayette in Union Square, New York.

Banks printed his image on money.

A five pound bank note printed by the Bank of Manchester, Michigan.

Communities held banquets and balls and welcomed him to every event as if he were royalty.

Admission ticket to an 1824 fete to honor Lafayette

Lafayette’s image was everywhere, from playing cards to cigar boxes.

A deck of playing cards with Lafayette’s image.

But when I think of Lafayette, I don’t think of those images; I still think of the lasting impression a young actor named Philippe Forquette made on me when I was young. I still remember how a TV show helped ignite my love for our country’s history at the time we were fighting for our independence.

In fact, the show helped ignite my love for history of all eras, and I’m fortunate to be able to share some of the historical bits and bobs I’ve collected along the way in the blogs I write.

Tomorrow is America’s birthday, and in honor of the day, I think I’m going to reread the book that started it all, Johnny Tremain.

What about you? Was there a television show, book, or movie that made an impact on you when you were young? Please share your thoughts!

Cover Reveal!

In my last post I promised to share the cover art for the book I’m currently working on.

Without further ado, here’s the cover!

His Kind of Love is set in a small tourist town in Colorado (my home state). I’ll share more about the plot and some excerpts in a future post.

Right now I’m in the stage of making final edits to my manuscript, then it’s off to a professional editor/proofreader. After that, the book has to be formatted and prepared for publication in print and e-book formats.

All of that takes time, so my current release date is September 30. I’m hoping to improve on that date; I’ll keep you posted if anything changes.

This cover captures the spirit of the story so well! I’m really happy with it, and I hope you are, too!

 

Updates and My New WIP

It’s been a busy 2018 so far.

The good news is that all that busy-ness has produced some real results! Here’s what I’ve been up to in the last few months:

Isabella Alden Blog

I manage a website dedicated to sharing the life and written works of Christian author Isabella Alden. With weekly blog posts and daily updates on Facebook, it keeps me pretty busy!

But this year we (my techie friend Susan and I) made a few changes to the website we’re pretty proud of:

  1. We made Isabella’s website ad-free. No more distracting ads for heaven-knows-what kinds of products!
  2. We added a Privacy Policy page to the website, so visitors will know exactly how we do or do not collect or use their data when they explore the site.
  3. We arranged to publish Isabella’s Free Reads through BookFunnel. This is a big development for us. Every month we publish one of Isabella’s novels or short stories for free on the site; but in the past, we published those Free Reads only in Adobe PDF format. We now publish them in PDF, mobi, and e-pub formats, and distribute them through BookFunnel. It took a lot of work hours to get to this point, but we think it was worth it!

My WIP

I’ve been hard at work on my own novel, too!

Back in January I shared my “word of the year” with you . . .

Finish

. . . and pledged to finish at least one writing project of my own.

I’m pleased to report that it looks like I’m going to meet my goal!

My current work-in-progress is coming along nicely. So far, I’ve written

77,739 words!

That’s almost a complete book! Of course, I still have plenty of work to do to complete my novel, but I’m happy with my progress so far.

In my next post I’ll share my novel’s title and cover, so stay tuned!

All-in-all, 2018 is turning out to be a very productive year, and I couldn’t be happier.

How’s your year going so far?

 

Happy 2018! And My WOTY

Hello, January 2018!

This post is a little belated because I have been down for the count with the flu. I’m talking eleven days of laying on the couch, doing absolutely nothing but bolstering the stock prices of companies that manufacture facial tissues and cough drops.

Today is the first day I’ve felt well enough to try to put words on my computer screen … which is oddly appropriate, given my blog topic today.

You see, I write a lot on a typical day. I have a dedicated writing time when I sit down at my keyboard and give full reign to the stories and novels that live in my imagination. I write thousands of words on a weekly basis.

Some of the stories I write are, in my opinion, pretty good. Some of the chapters in my novels are so-so compared to others. But regardless of the quality of the words I produce, I write every day.

There’s just one problem . . . None of the stories and novels I’ve worked on are finished.

None.

Stop Go signs

It’s weird, because I know I can write a complete novel. I did it a little over four years ago when I typed “The End” on the last page of Ask Me Again. Ask Me Again was a contemporary Christian romance set in Colorado (my favorite place!). It was the first book I ever wrote. Several friends, family members, and ladies from church read it and gave me positive feedback; so I went for it. I self-published it on Amazon to see what kind of reception it would get.

The book garnered five reviews; not a lot, but they’re all positive. I took those positive reviews as a good sign, and immediately started work on a new novel.

A new novel I never finished.

I can’t explain it. I don’t know why I started, but never finished, any any stories or novels since Ask Me Again was published. I don’t know why my brain gives up on writing as soon as a bit of dialog gets hard or a scene doesn’t work.

Speed Bump Ahead sign

It’s almost as if my usual determination flies out the window as soon as the story gets a little challenging. Instead of pushing through the difficulty, I find myself giving up, and turning my attention to a different story, hoping it will be easier to write, only to repeat the process again and again.

Go Back Wrong Way

In my heart and my head, I know there’s no magic way to write a book. Every plot will have its challenges. Every scene has the potential to go annoyingly off-track.

But if I ever want to be truly satisfied with writing my stories, I know I have to complete them.

So here’s my Word of the Year for 2018:

Finish.

In 2018 I vow to finish one of the many books or stories currently stored in the WIP folder on my computer. I vow to finish SOMETHING I started in my creative writing process.

Go the Extra Mile

I vow to push through and write those extra words when my brain is telling me it’s just easier to give up and move on to another project.

I vow to finish a book. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be publication-ready. It just has to have those magical words typed on the final page:

The End.

So that’s my goal for 2018. I have twelve months to get it done, and I think I can do it. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Ask Me Again – A New Cover

My book, Ask Me Again, has a new cover!

Roseanna White Designs did a marvelous job of capturing the setting (Denver), the time (fall), and the love story. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Cover for Social Media01

What drew me to Roseanna were her beautiful covers for Out of the Ashes by Sandi Rog, and A Fair to Remember by Suzie Johnson. You can see these and other covers on Roseanna’s website by clicking here.

I’m so happy that such a talented designer agreed to work with me. Thanks, Roseanna, for making my book beautiful!

A String of Pearls

String of Pearls CoverOne of my favorite pastimes is browsing through second-hand stores, antique shops and library outlets for interesting old books. About 8 years ago I found a book called A String of Pearls. It was published in 1856 and it’s pretty battered, as you can see from the cover. Inside are 365 scripture verses and thoughts for every day of the year. The title page displays a verse from Proverbs:

Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck.

I immediately had a visual image of God’s commandments and teachings as pearls strung together so we can wear them wherever we go throughout our day.

Here’s the page with today’s verse and reflection:

String of Pearls June page

I thought this book was so charming, I used it as inspiration for a fictional book in my novel Ask Me Again. The heroine, Minda McAllister, has a book called Mrs. Plowright’s 1908 Guide for the Genteel Lady Gardener, which Minda describes as “a peculiar mixture of gardening tips, etiquette lessons and Christian affirmations”—much like String of Pearls.