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Answer #1 . . .

Is a no. I was invited to send proposals to editor’s at two publishing houses. After two weeks and one day I got my first answer. “I think your idea has merit, but your writing needs to be strengthened.” She then recommended some freelance editors who could help me shape up the manuscript. Okay, deep breath. Gut reaction? This woman, who has decades of experience and thousands of sucess stories, obviously doesn’t know strong writing when she sees it (although she is able to recognize a good idea). Reaction after gut reaction wears off. Crap, I obviously can’t write and I’m kidding myself when I think my book could actually be published. This brilliant woman is letting me down easy and she’s probably just being nice when she says my idea has merit. Reaction after being hugged by my husband and getting a good night’s sleep. A professional in the Christian publishing field–who’s opinion is subjective–thinks my idea is good and my book is worth working on. I replied to the editor thanking her for her time and advice and saying that I’ll explore the editor route. She replied with a “Good for you!” That was nice, actually. Next step? Well, I may look into what it costs to hire an editor. But before I do anything further with my manuscript, I’ll WAIT to hear from editor number two. Opinions are subjective and what I’ve learned about the current publishing industry is […]

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Maiden's Bower

Publication isn’t the only thing I’m waiting for. I’m also waiting eagerly for fall after a particularly hot, sticky summer. Yesterday evening the humidity finally gave way and I took a most pleasant walk along our road. The great thing about waiting is that there’s usually plenty to see and do while you wait. As I walked, I noticed sure […]

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Mountain Mama

This poem of mine appeared in Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. MOUNTAIN MAMA There is truth in the trailer park and honesty in the car on blocks. Starvin’ Marvin and “as seen on TV” live cheek by jowl with the likes of handmade quilts and apple butter; old-time music and the oral tradition. Some folks say it isn’t True, isn’t the way things used to be. But lose a grandfather to the coalmines, an uncle to the war, your mother to a cancer that gnaws at her soul— lose a child for no reason you can see. Then you’ll find the fragile beauty in the never-ending yard sale. You’ll learn to love the tourists who buy corncob pipes, coonskin caps, and lumps of coal carved like bears. When the giant timber companies run the local sawmill out of money and Aunt Eunice can’t remember your name— when your best friend moves to California and minimum wage is doing alright, man. Then you’ll find the potent wisdom in workers’ compensation, food stamps and tonight’s lotto number— dear God let me win. A one in a billion chance is better than watching the land your ancestors cleared wash away . .  . no wish away on the promises of strip mines and a future you can’t afford to wait. At night, the lights from Wal-Mart glow like the promise of a better tomorrow.

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Likeable Characters

Have you ever read a book and realized that you just didn’t like the main character? I recently read “Gods in Alabama” by Joshilyn Jackson and I appreciated her ability, her craft and her style, but I did not like Lena. And although I found her boyfriend Burr likeable, it annoyed me that he put up with Lena’s nonsense. The story was great–a mystery that unraveled slowly and unexpectedly even though, at one point, I thought I had it all figured out. I finished the book, but I’m not sure I’ll read the two that follow it. On the other hand, it can sometimes be delcious to not like a character. In Ron Rash’s novel “Serena” the title character is awful–but spectacularly, wonderfully so. I wanted to see her punished, but her awfulness was thrilling to me. I could hardly put the book down because I couldn’t wait to see what unbelievable thing she would do next. I liked how unlikeable Serena was. Q4U – Have you ever stopped reading a book because you didn’t like or care about the characters? Have you finished a book in spite of not liking the characters? How important are likeable characters to you?

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Walking on Broken Glass

I just finished “Walking on Broken Glass” by Christa Allan and enjoyed it immensely. It took me a little while to get into the book, because the main character, Leah, is an alcoholic who has decided to admit herself to rehab. I wasn’t sure I could relate. But pretty quickly I began to relate to Leah in terms of her struggle to build balanced relationships with friends and family; her questioning of God and why He let’s bad things happen; and the ongoing process of learning who she is. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I really liked the way this book ends. It’s a good ending, it just doesn’t tie everything up in a neat package. You know, like life! You can visit Christa’s website at

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