First Editor

Mom...My first editor =)Better late than never! Here’s a post that should have rolled on Sunday.

There are those who support in words, and then there are those who support, encourage, and cheer by actions. And it’s the actions that speak the louder. When I was younger, this sort of difference wasn’t clear to me, but as I look back, it’s what shaped and formed my passion and confidence.

Of course this is a Mother’s Day post (albeit a few days late =(…) but as I sat back to write, I realized something. I’ve very few memories of just my Mom. Not because she wasn’t around but because she always was (and still is.) She’s always served in the background, always been there to cheer, to sing with (don’t get me started on her voice. I love it!) Always supported her family in a beautiful, quiet and unwaveringly loving way.

Those few memories I have of just her and I are old, faded around the edges like a worn photograph. They’re memories of walking to the post office or grocery shopping. These memories are worn because, most of them, are from when I was very young.

The memories that haven’t lost their crisp edges are the ones that still touch me today. Let me explain. She read every one of my school papers, marked the grammar and corrected my tenses and word choice. This isn’t a one time memory, this is a life choice that imparted to me lessons I now live by. She helped me improve at the same time as she told me she loved every word in my papers, all with that sparkle in her eyes that told me she said true. I’ve never doubted her praise.

When I went to college, I was lost at first because I didn’t have my live-in editor. How was I to know my papers were up to par? Who would catch my spelling and grammar issues?

The magical part, though, was her corrections were there, silent supports in my mind guiding my words and keeping my writing to the standard she taught me. I graduated Summa Cum Laude in large part because of her. One, because of the work ethic she showed me and two, because of those silent corrections in my writing.

Those two things still guide me as I continue to write.

I’m not sure I’ve ever said Thank You. That’s sad and wrong of me. Her quiet but formidable spirit hides in the background, easy to take for granted, but she’s always there. Today, I bring it forward and say Thank You, Mom.

And to those Moms who struggle because they’re buried in the chaos of every day, keep at it, your dedication will pay off. I’m not a Mother yet but I can admire your strength and the beauty of all you do. Whether it’s correcting school papers or you child is fascinated by something else, that sparkle in your eye when your child strives to attain that goal means the world to him or her. That sparkle will be the ballast for their spirit down the road when they must ‘adult’ in the world. I guarantee it.

Blessings until next time,

Jennifer

P.S. My mother has also Beta read The Adventure for me. This beautiful woman still keeps me in line =)

The Value of People Amidst the Chaos

I would never have learned to ride a motorcycle without the support of certain key people. Fear and the resistance of time played too strongly in my mind for me to break through that barrier all by my lonesome self.

I’m not a bold person by nature. So my husband finding a motorcycle I could touch the ground on happened because he cared enough about my dreams to urge me forward.

Likewise, taking the class to learn happened because my neighbor wanted to learn as well, and she loved the idea of hanging out together. She encouraged me on when the bike flew from under me and I hit the ground.

This reminds me strongly of the verses in the Bible that say, “Two are better than one…For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Whether you believe in the Bible or not, there’s a lot of truth in those verses. Our society emphasizes personal strength. We glorify the person who did something on his or her own, but we often forget the quiet supporters who stood behind the person and urged him on when the storms threatened to drown him.

This creates a false image in our minds of what true strength looks like. We think achievements must be all our own or we’ve somehow failed. This sets us up to fall…and often we’re alone when we hit the ground.

This past week has emphasized the power behind having a team as opposed to going it alone. We are made for connection.

I wrote last week about my struggle. The Fligiwagit! moment when I received yet another rejection and the tears that followed.

It was my husband in that moment who encouraged me past the tears. It was my dad who started asking questions about who else I might look at for editing. It was a friend who offered to lay a fresh set of eyes on the manuscript for Moonrise Mountain.

I could go on. There were numerous people who saw my bleeding knees and reached to pick me up.

As Jeff Goins encourages, I’m finding my tribe. And, since last week, I’ve found an editor and continue to move forward. All because of the people encouraging me on.

People are beautiful and amazing. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Bring them along side you in your dreams and you’ll be amazed at the joy it can bring.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Chasing Dreams Amidst the Storms

 

img_0608I’ve determined my fear will not stop me from riding a motorcycle. This does not mean, however, that the road will not throw debris in my face.

Similarly, just because I’ve determined to push ahead with self publishing Moonrise Mountain, my first adventure story, does not mean there will not be hiccups in the process. Rib cracking, loud and painful hiccups.

This last month I worked on expanding Moonrise Mountain to fit in a book rather than a blog. I’ve formatted it and put in page directions (adventures have lots of those).

Then looking at it, I admitted professional editing would be a good idea. I want to produce as professional a product as possible. Now, please understand, I’m an English Major. There’s a bit of pride in the way for this. (That pesky pride, always getting beneath my feet!)

So I reached out to an editor, who I researched and thought would be a good fit, to see about the details to have Moonrise Mountain edited.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-6-56-22-pmLess than 12 hours later, I receive an email back. The basic gist…editor’s not interested, find someone else. Fligiwagit! (That’s as close as I get to cursing.) And, to be honest, he probably didn’t mean to be so abrupt.

And now, after a few days, I can see that. But immediately after reading the email, I wanted to cry, and did. (The crying bit might have something to do with several rejections that came in the same week for Dryad. I’m keeping a folder on my computer. Once I have enough, I’m printing them out and burning them in a nice s’more making campfire. Anyone want to join me?)

Anyway, as the day went on, my ire rose and my stubborn streak kicked in.

Two steps forward, one step back. I’m still making progress.

On an up note, I may have found an illustrator for the story. And I’m super excited if it works out. I’ll share some of the awesomeness as soon as I can.

Until then, keep after those dreams because, despite the mud and bugs thrown in your face, it’s totally worth it.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Frustrated Childhood Dreams

dsc_0612In my childhood, my dad always had a motorcycle sitting in the garage. Every spring he’d head outside to bring the beast back to life with some tuning and then a couple sputtering coughs and finally it’d roar with joy.

If we were lucky, my sisters and I would get to ride with dad along the dirt roads and through forestland near our home. Not a care in the world, I’d lean back and grin with the feel of the bike and the world around me full of warm weather and life.

I’d dream of driving my own motorcycle and exploring the world. I’d see new places, introduced to me by the smell in to my nostrils before I even left the road. The sights would be that much clearer because they weren’t framed by the outline of a car window and were brought to me through the rush of wind on my face. The possibilities were limited only by my imagination.

As years passed, that dream sat in the back of my head, a tiny nugget of “I wish.” But with that nugget grew a malignant dose of reality. I realized, at some point, that most motorcycles sit too far off the ground for me to hold up with my short legs. (4’ 11″ of total height equals a very short inseam =)) Mixed in there came the realization of just how fast a motorcycle can go without the comforting metal frame of a car.

When my husband got his motorcycle a few summers ago, I thrilled to ride with him, but as soon as I threw my leg over that back seat, all those reality fears swarmed in to smother me. No longer could I simply sit back and grin, enjoying the wind in my face. The road passed by with alarming speed barely inches from the bottoms of our feet. Cars and trucks passed within feet of us, blowing their exhaust into our nostrils as they rumbled by, and the motorcycle itself tilted farther into the turns than I realized as a child.

img_0609My “I wish” clouded over, smothered in exhaust and noise. The desire still pulled at me but drawing it out, even to think about it, felt doomed. But my husband knew my childhood joy. Despite my reservations, he continued to talk about finding me a motorcycle and encouraged me to take rides with him. Then, last summer, he pulled the desire out of the sludge of exhaust by finding me a motorcycle I could touch the ground on. Never before could I fully lay the soles of my feet on the ground when straddling a motorcycle and the reality that maybe, just maybe, I could make the “I wish” come true filled me with a hesitant glimmer of hope.

Excitement and terror warred within me. I signed up for the class to get my endorsement and away I went to face my reality demons. For two days, I breathed down my terror, which sat like a sickness in my stomach, and let the excitement carry me. Even when, at the end of the first day, I totally messed up, and the motorcycle flew from under me, I found the excitement enough to put me back on the bike.

I knew then that, without a goal, the motorcycle would sit in my garage, taunting me that my reality demons were stronger than my courage. I determined to not give myself a choice. If it was sunny out, I was riding to work.

Every morning the sun lit my morning and I swallowed down that now very familiar terror. Maybe four or five weeks into it, I realized I was grinning on my way into work. Getting on the bike still terrified me, placed a deep ache in my stomach that threatened to keep me from following through, but actually being on the motorcycle brought me back to that kid, enjoying the wind and the sun.

With the New Year, just like most everyone else, I’ve looked at the coming year and contemplated what 2017 should bring. Especially with writing, this is always my point of re-motivation, where I find the drive to keep pressing forward.

In shock and sorrow, I’m seeing a trend in my writing just like in the “I wish” of riding a motorcycle. The thrill and joy are becoming clouded by the noise of reality.

Several years ago I jumped in with both feet and started my blog in conjunction with posting on other social media sites. The thrill of it left me grinning.

img_0607Now, the thought of working on a post feels very much like breathing in the exhaust of other cars. My goal to expand my platform led to more and more stuff and less focus to the point that the blog takes precedence over my other writing despite the fact that novels are my passion.

This isn’t to say I’m quitting the blog altogether. However, just as with the motorcycle, I found actually doing the activity I enjoyed most returned my enthusiasm. I had to cut down on the noise, take the fall, and press forward.

This is an extremely difficult decision for me but this year I’m looking at self-publishing the first adventure story and I need focus. I’ll continue to post updates and perhaps short stories as they arise; maybe I’ll rerun some of the adventures. I’m thrilled to share how the self-publishing thing goes and I plan on still checking in on other blogs, but for now, please understand if I’m quiet on my end.

The support from everyone here humbles me, and I promise to return in the future. Until then, I wish you the best of luck with 2017.

Blessings,

Jennifer

On the Doorstep of December

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

Typically today would mark the start of a new adventure. We’d be wandering into the woods or ascending a marble staircase of an abandoned house or climbing a tree in search of a wise owl to ask for advise. Sorry to disappoint, but we’ve reached that time of year again.

All the leaves are moldering on the ground and the air outside’s crisp and filled with woodsmoke. By the end of the week it’ll be December. As always, I’ve no idea where the year went.

At the start of this year I had high ambitions (always do) and some of them were fulfilled. My latest novel length story, Dryad, has been edited and I’m now in the process of submitting it to agents. It’s an amazing feeling to reach that point and I’m trying to view the rejections so far as a badge of success because I can’t receive rejections if I’m not submitting. So there’s that. =)

I did not get to self publishing any of the adventures. So that is the next big project on my list. After looking over them all, I was astounded to find I’ve written over 40. It’s definitely time to see what can be done with them. (Perhaps by this time next year you’ll be able to hold a hard copy of an adventure and explore all the different endings at your leisure.)

img_0567

Although I do enjoy a good whiskey =)

But before I dig into that project, it’s time to enjoy this season. For me, December has become the time to step back and focus on family and friends, to breath and figure out what, exactly, the next year’s goals are going to be. What those goals will look like and what is required to reach them. I get so focused on just doing, that by this time of year I need to pause and reevaluate.

If you’ve read this far into this post, thanks. =) With everything that demands your attention, I appreciate your support of this blog and my writing.

If you’re in the USA, I hope your Thanksgiving was a wonderful time. May your December be amazing as well. I promise the Adventure will return to brighten your days in January.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Hunter Option Aa2: Threaten

This vote did not go as I thought it would. I love it when readers surprise me.

Let’s see how this story ends.

Hunter Option Aa2: Threaten

Usually the less aggressive option appeals more to you but the man’s still keening on the ground, in obvious distress over his wolves, and his eyes seem sharpened with something just that side of insanity.

Master Finn stands at your shoulder watching as well. He fidgets from his left foot to his right and back. “He’s an awful liar,” he informs you after a moment.

“Wouldn’t trust a trade?” you ask.

Master Finn shakes his head.

“Then we’ll try something else.”

You walk to the box wagon and the giant man goes still, watching you with his chin resting on the ground. The position, since he’sdsc_0059 still hobbled with hands and feet tied together, contorts his spine into a spiral, but this doesn’t seem to disturb him.

“Thing about this box wagon,” you say over your shoulder, “is it’s got barred windows.” You climb onto the wagon’s seat and slide the panel off the front window. It shifts to the side with a cringing wood on wood creak.

You brace your feet on the wagon and hold your bow out for the man to see.

A wolf barrels its body against the open window, rocking the wagon. Next you see teeth through the bars but none of this breaks the wagon and so you rock with the motion and continue talking to the man.

“You’ve got three chances with this,” you continue. “Tell me where the boys are.” The arrow rests against the string, and its broad tip is clearly visible to the man in the street.

He howls and rolls, almost slobbering now.

“Right then,” you say, “two chances left.” And you pull back the arrow.

“NO!”

It’s the first clear word from the man since you captured the wolves.

Holding the arrow ready, you pause, “boys?”

“They’re that way.” He points.

“We know that,” you continue to hold the arrow ready although the tension’s starting to ache in your shoulders. Soon you’ll start to shake.

“Follow the deer-trail-behind-the-mill,” words tumble from him. In great detail he outlines the trees and the small, dry creek bed the deer trail meets. He tells of the wolf den beside that creek bed and gives the distance, in exact time, to the den. He even layers on the smell of the snow sitting on the needles around the den and the must of wet earth when you crawl inside.

It could all be made up but you doubt it.

archer-1578365By now the bow rests against your leg and the arrow hangs from your fingers. “Put him in the jail,” you instruct Master Finn, “while I check out his directions.”

Later, while crawling into the den, you’re a bit amazed at how accurate the man’s description of the smell is. It wafts around you, earthy and damp. But then you’re distracted by the sight of two boys, maybe four and six, huddled in the tight confines of the wolves’ home.

***

You bring the boys home and stay in the village until a messenger fetches several lawmen from the closest city.

Then, with some relief, you watch the lawmen haul the giant and his wolves away while the villager’s payment for your services rests comfortably in your pocket.

The End

Congratulations on your success!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Hunter Option Aa: Bait Them

Welcome back, Hunter. Let’s go bait some wolves.

Hunter Option Aa: Bait Them

Now that the village center stands empty, the giant man grins and holds his hands out with a questioning raise of his brow like you might release him.

“Ha,” you laugh. “The wolves didn’t take your boys by accident.” This is a statement, not a question, and the man doesn’t deign towolf-2-1568458 respond other than to lower his hands again.

It’s your turn to grin and you push him to the center of the village square. Straight ahead the road runs out of the village and into the forest that hems it on the far side. That’s the way the wolves went. You have the man face that direction and tell him to sit.

When he’s lowered his considerable bulk, you hobble him there by placing bags over his hands and then tying his hands and feet all together.

“You move, I’ll shoot you,” you warn before turning to survey your options.

The general store sits, broad and low, to your right. Since it’s a single story building, the roof presents itself as a good vantage point in which to see the road. Across from it faces off the tavern, double story but with a balcony on the second floor. Also a good vantage point but more exposed.

“You’ll never catch them,” the man says.

“Who says I’m going to catch them?” you ask.

He straightens and, in the dark, his eyes glint as he leans toward you, perhaps trying to see your face better.

“You rightly called me a hunter,” you remind him.

He grunts but there’s a strangled quality to it. He truly cares about these wolves.

If you were just trying to rid the village of the beasts, you wouldn’t hesitate, but with the boys the wolves took, there’s an unspoken assumption that you’ll get the boys back.

Perhaps capturing the wolves will give you leverage to find the boys.

You spin on a heel and go to the door of the general store.

“Master Finn,” you call. He’s the general store owner and the man who contacted you in the first place.

After a brief pause, the door cracks open to show Master Finn’s broad nose and dark eyes.

“Got anything that might work as a cage?” you ask.

After a bit of explaining, you recruit three of the villagers to help you and they assist in turning the lawman’s box wagon into a sturdier cage to house three large wolves.

Then you send two of them to gather baskets of sage and the third you inquire about the availability of raw meat.

Once all is set, you perch yourself atop the general store roof with your bow. In the village square the big man still sits hobbled but you added a gag to the ensemble as well to prevent him giving the wolves orders.

Behind him on the side of the street, the box wagon rests with its back door wide open. You can’t see it from where you sit, but several large chunks of raw beef stain the floorboards of the wagon.

In the side streets your recruited villagers wait, out of sight and down wind.

Now all you have to do is wait. If your theory about the big man is correct, it shouldn’t take long for the wolves to come looking for him.

Your theory’s correct.

They’re silent shadows framing the street. Slinking from one building to the next with a fascinating, smooth grace you truly appreciate as a hunter. They’re wary, with good reason, but finally one creeps into the center of the square to sniff at the big man. With him sitting, the wolf’s head could rest on top of his own.

He struggles against his bonds and the wolf growls low, surprised.

But one of the others gives a soft huffing sound as it comes close to the wagon and sniffs inside.

dsc_0059It disappears into the dark box wagon.

The third wolf takes a step to follow but the lead one, the one by the big man, growls and backs away.

Time to push them.

In a single, smooth move, you rise and draw the bow. The string twangs softly in your ear with the release of the arrow.

Barely a moment later, the arrow thuds into the hind quarters of the wolf. You blunted the tip but the wolf jumps with a yelp and runs. It aims to go around the wagon but one of the villagers runs at it with a flaming torch of sage. The smoke coming off the torch billows into the wolf’s nose and it backs away, chuffing with distress.

You have to give the villager credit. Running at a wolf that size isn’t typically a person’s first instinct.

But the beast backs away, and finds another villager pushing it from the side.

It takes another several arrows and the villagers not backing down, but within five minutes, all three wolves have been pushed into the box wagon and the door bangs shut under the hand of Master Finn.

The broad nosed man grins and giggles. You suspect it’s because if he doesn’t, he might cry in sheer relief.

Everything quiets except for one harsh noise. The big man has canted onto his left side and is wiggling and half screaming in an attempt to get to the caged wolves.

The beasts respond with their own keening.

Now that you have them contained, you have to decide, do you offer the man a trade. The wolves and his life, and them to never return to the village, in exchange for the boys. Or do you threaten the wolves to get the man to give up the boy’s location?

Aa1: Trade?

Or

Aa2: Threaten?

Well done so far! Now how would you like to proceed?

We’ll finish the adventure on Thursday.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer