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.

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Every Picture Tells a Story

Every once in a while I’m able to justify the time I waste on social media by coming across something I truly love. Here’s my latest find:

There are so many things I adore about this image. Let me count the ways:

  1. The setting is quintessential American heartland. I love the red barn, and even though they don’t appear in the painting, I can imagine what the house looks like, and what color the old pick up truck is that made the ruts in the dirt drive.
  2. The field of newly-sprouted crops against the rich purple-brown soil reminds me of the pattern in a favorite quilt.
  3. I can remember a time (long before emails, direct messages, and tweets) when I sometimes haunted our mailbox, waiting for a letter, so I understand what it was like for this woman to receive a long-awaited letter. I love that she couldn’t wait to get back to the house, but opened the letter and started reading, right there at the mailbox.
  4. There’s a small silhouette of an airplane in the top left corner of the painting; that, combined with the woman’s age and clothing, makes me think of all the mothers who kissed their sons good-bye when they went off to fight in World War II. That’s the story I imagine this painting is about: a mother anxiously waiting for news that her soldier son is healthy and unharmed.
  5.  I love the sweet way she holds the envelope to her cheek.
  6. The way the sun tops the horizon just as the woman is reading the letter is a beautiful touch.

I’m sure there are many other ways to interpret this painting: A mother waiting to hear from a daughter who moved to the big city; or a grandmother who hasn’t seen her grandchildren in a long time because they moved out of state. The possibilities are endless.

But that’s the beauty of a really good picture or painting: It tells a different story to each person who views it.

This painting is signed by an artist named  “John Falter.” I Googled the name, but I couldn’t come up with a definite match. I’m going to keep looking, though; I’d love to see other pieces by this artist, and see what other stories he has to tell me through his brush.

How about you? Have you ever come across a painting or photograph that really speaks to you or touches your heart? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Talked to Death

Am I the only one who wishes there were no such thing as political ads? They’re everywhere; I can’t escape them, but I dearly wish I could!

I think this 1873 Currier and Ives print sums up my feelings pretty well:

I’ve decided that until election day, my only form of entertainment will be reading.

No TV (unless I’ve recorded the program and can fast-forward through the commercials), no more radio. Just books.

Having made that decision, I now know why I have a To-Be-Read pile that’s taller than I am (times three); it’s for emergencies such as this.

So, a few minutes ago, I covered my eyes with one hand and poked the fingers of my other hand into my TBR shelf; here’s the book I randomly selected:

Falling for the Cowgirl by Tina Radcliffe

Doesn’t this look like  a fun book? It’s my first time reading this author and I’m looking forward to losing myself in her cowgirl world. And when I’ve finished this book, I’m going to select another; then another.

So good-bye horrible, screeching, misleading political ads. I’ll see you again in 2020.

A Romance Trope in Real Life

I freely admit I’m a hopeless romantic. There isn’t a romance novel trope I don’t like, from a hero in disguise to an orphaned heroine who must work as a governess to a moody widower aristocrat.

One of my all-time favorite tropes is the friends-who-fall-in-love trope. In fact, I’ll go ahead and let the cat out of the bag: the book I’m writing right now is a variation on that theme.

So it’s no wonder that a post on today’s Inspy Romance blog really touched my heart. It’s all about friends-who-fall-in-love, but it happened in real life!

You can click on the image below to read the post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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?