Select Page
See Jane Dig! Is Now in the Editor’s Hands

See Jane Dig! Is Now in the Editor’s Hands

See Jane Dig! is now in the editor’s hands. I couldn’t be happier.

Not having to think about the fourth book in the West River Mystery Series during the holidays is all I wanted for Christmas this year. My editor won’t start working on it until after the first of the year because she wants to enjoy her Christmas break, too.

Not that See Jane Dig! isn’t enjoyable. It is!

That was not my opinion upon finishing the first draft last August, when I thought it was pure drivel. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that was not the case when I began revisions in early October.

Not that it was enjoyable when revisions began. It wasn’t!

Which is why authors revise first drafts and send them off to editors who gently point out the unenjoyable bits authors miss and suggest changes. Which sends the author back to the revising grindstone so a manuscript becomes more enjoyable. Until then I’m going to enjoy the holidays without giving Jane a second thought.

That’s a lie.

I’m already thinking about the research to be done before meeting with the editor to plot out the fifth book. But I’m not going to work on Book 5 until after New Year’s, and then it will only be looking up stuff and reading. No writing. Absolutely no writing.

That’s a lie, too.

I’ll probably start brainstorming ideas and plot points and character names the minute this blog post is published. Because letting my creative juices flow before starting a new project is almost as enjoyable as knowing that See Jane Dig! is now in the editor’s hands.

And that’s no lie.

Bud and Rachel Have to Be in Your Book

Bud and Rachel Have to Be in Your Book

“Bud and Rachel have to be in your book,” my Harding County friend said as we sat down to coffee several years ago.

“But they sold their company to the West River Telephone Co-op the year before we moved to town,” I said.

“That’s a minor detail,” she said. “Besides, you’re writing fiction, right?”

“Okay,” I agreed, “tell me how their phone system worked.”

She didn’t need to describe Bud and Rachel because they and their mule lived in Camp Crook when we did. We saw them from time to time, the most notable being the night before we moved to Iowa in 1985 to be closer to hospitals where our son could be treated for his rare medical condition.

Hiram answered the door and invited Rachel inside.

“Me and Bud wanted to tell you goodbye and to give you this.” She handed us a back issue of the county paper, Nation’s Center News. “There’s an article about me and Bud in there. So you don’t forget us.”

“Thank you,” I said, noticing that she had written “Please look on page 3” above the masthead in spidery letters.

Next she gave Hiram an envelope. “It’s a little traveling money. For emergencies.” She smiled at our son, who’d had lots of medical emergencies since his birth three years ago.

Rachel and Bud were no strangers to childhood medical emergencies. Rachel was born with a cleft lip and palette in 1910 and was spoon fed Carnation canned milk during her early months. Eventually the people in the small Montana community where her family lived raised money so her mother could take her by train to Mayo Clinic for surgery. Bud lost his vision in a 1928 dynamite explosion when he was eleven.

Rachel’s surgery was successful but not elegant. Her speech was difficult to decipher, especially on the phone, but she never stopped talking or connecting calls. Bud’s decades-old scars were visible, but he climbed telephone poles and installed phones confidently.

I can’t imagine the West River Mysteries without Gus and Betty Yarborough, for whom Rachel and Bud were the prototypes. Betty is a vital communication (and gossip) hub in a time before cell phones. Gus and Betty exemplify the essential roles people with disabilities can play when given the opportunity to use their abilities.

As for the $35 Rachel and Bud gave us, it was the exact amount needed to pay for a new prescription medication our son needed on the trip to Iowa.

As for the newspaper article, it lives in a file in my office along with my most prized South Dakota memorabilia from our years there.

As for Rachel and Bud, you are remembered.

The See Jane Dance! Party Top Ten List

The See Jane Dance! Party Top Ten List

The See Jane Dance! Party is now history. It was a wonderful morning, which led me to create the See Jane Dance! book party top ten list. The list would have been much longer, had I not exercised great restraint. Note that I didn’t follow David Letterman’s habit of saving the best for last by presenting his top ten lists in reverse order. The items on this list go in chronological order. Now that we’ve got that straight, here goes…

  1. The party happened, which is a minor miracle. The owner of Chocolaterie Stam and I met to plan the event on October 11. Shortly thereafter, a pinched nerve laid me low. I continue my preparations from bed and wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend the event. Had it not been for my husband, who ran errands when he wasn’t driving me to physical therapy or massaging my sore back, the party wouldn’t have happened at all.
  2. The weather was fantastic––sunny, calm, jacket weather. The day could have been snowy, windy, and cold. Iowa in November is fickle that way.
  3. Friends arrived early and helped us set up. My husband and I thought we’d arrived with time to spare. However, the parking meter accepted credit card payment only, a transaction that gobbled up every extra minute. Fortunately, friends we’ve known for 30 years arrived early. They pitched in and everything was ready when party time rolled around.
  4. People came. Friends from our old church, friends from our present church, teaching colleagues, a former professor from my college days, someone I knew in elementary school, the parent of a former student, even my former eye doctor! Despite their busy lives, they came. This fact never ceases to amaze me.
  5. They bought books. Another fact that never ceases to amaze me. People spent their money on my books. Why, I continually ask myself. Why?
  6. They bought treats at Chocolaterie Stam, too. You may not know this, but the folks at The Stam host events like this for free. Their only profit comes from what is purchased during the event. Many, many thanks to those who purchased chocolate or beverages or gelato on Saturday morning!
  7. I didn’t cry while reading Chapter 1 of See Jane Dance! aloud. The chapter is sad. It’s actually on the funny side. It was the sight of so many dear people smiling and cheering me on, smiling and laughing, to realize how richly God has blessed me, that nearly brought me to tears.
  8. The gift baskets raised $320 for Wonderfully Made Family Camp. I have no words. No words.
  9. Not all of the free chocolate medallions gotten eaten. The extras are in my freezer waiting to become the key ingredient in gourmet s’mores at our next family campfire.
  10. Becca Smith’s live fiddle music. Her toe-tapping songs added a perfect, festive touch to the party. After the party ended, the Chocolaterie Stam’s regular Saturday afternoon musician arrived, and the two of them began jamming. You can hear a snippet of their impromptu concert at this Facebook link.

If you attended the party and would like to add to the list, now’s your chance! Just leave a comment in the box below.

Swapping Out Jane’s Dancing for Jane’s Digging Has Been Keeping Me Sane

Swapping Out Jane’s Dancing for Jane’s Digging Has Been Keeping Me Sane

Swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane for a few miserable weeks.

The misery began with back pain that I thought was the normal stuff I’ve dealt with for decades. But it turned out to be a pinched nerve that requires bed rest, physical therapy appointments, and exercises simple enough for a kindergartener to zip through with ease, but feel like climbing Mount Everest to me.

The worst misery came with the word that my last living uncle, the one after whom Uncle Tim in the West River Mysteries is modeled, died. We knew it was coming, but it came sooner than we knew it would. That particular misery expanded when I realized driving 3 1/2 hours to attend his funeral was out of the question due to my pinched nerve.

More misery came with the cancelation of a See Jane Dance! speaking engagement at the Onawa Public Library in western Iowa because it was too far to drive. The misery continues gnawing as I wonder whether a speaking engagement on November 9 at the Huxley Public Library will suffer the same fate. And, gasp, what about the See Jane Dance! Book Launch Party on November 11 at Chocolaterie Stam in Ames?

3 hopeful facts and 1 saving grace are keeping the misery at bay. The hopeful facts are:

  • The physical therapist says I’m making good progress.
  • The PT showed my husband how to help with exercises and massage my sore, pathetic back muscles to speed progress.
  • Both venues are just down the road, and my husband is willing to serve as my chauffeur.

The saving grace is this: swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane. Instead of woe-is-me-ing about the See Jane Dance! stuff I can’t do, I’ve swapped it out for stuff I can do. As in, revising the first draft of See Jane Dig! Not only is it my favorite part of writing a novel, but also I can do it while resting in between doing my wimpy exercises and getting up close and personal with the PT crew. And November 1 was my target date for starting revisions anyway. Hooray!

So you can now see why swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane. Let’s hope this saving grace, along with the 3 hopeful facts, result in enough healing to avoid more cancelations. With that hope in mind, I’ll sign off with this––see you at The Stam on November 11!

The See Jane Dance! Party Is Coming Soon

The See Jane Dance! Party Is Coming Soon

The See Jane Dance! party is coming soon! Here are the dance party deets:

DATE: Saturday, November 11
TIME: 10:30  – Noon
WHERE: Chocolaterie Stam
230 Main Street
Ames, Iowa 50010

The writer/teacher in me feels compelled to clarify certain aspects of the party. The See Jane Dance! party is NOT a dance party. Rather, it is a party to celebrate the launch of See Jane Dance!, the third offering in the West River Mystery series. I also feel compelled to say there will be live fiddle music, featuring the tunes Jane and the Little Missouri citizenry learned to square dance by. If the music makes you want to turn the See Jane Dance! book launch party into a dance party, I’ll be dancing with you.

We’ll also be celebrating the book’s spectacular splash on Amazon. I mean, what’s not to celebrate about hitting #1 in 3 Amazon categories and #27 in the entire Kindle Store?

Live fiddle music is just the beginning of the fun. You can also:

  • Enter the drawing for 4 door prizes: $25 Chocolaterie Stam gift certificates
  • Sample FREE Chocolaterie Stam chocolate
  • Participate in a book signing (bring your copies or purchase them on site)
  • Place silent auction bids for 3 gift baskets (all proceeds go to Wonderfully Made Family Camp)
  • Listen while the author (that would be me) reads a chapter from See Jane Dance!
  • Ask the author (still me) questions about the series
  • Get the inside scoop about See Jane Dig!, Book #4 in the series
  • Purchase treats at The Stam––chocolate, gelato, coffee, and tea––to enjoy during the party
  • Do some early Christmas shopping (Who doesn’t want chocolate in their Christmas stocking?)

Come November 11, I hope you put on your dancing shoes and do si do on down to the Chocolaterie Stam in Ames and join in the celebration!