The Garden in Winter

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been away most of this month on an exciting — read: frustrating, glitch-riddled, nail-gnawing, hair-tearing — adventure of putting together a manuscript for publication. The result being that — ta da! — the allegory HARI & RUDI IN THE LAND OF FRUIT is now a published work, available on Amazon in both print and e-book format. Saturday evening, with the author’s go-ahead, I hit the PUBLISH button and by Sunday evening both formats were LIVE. (See cover and details at the bottom of this post.)

There is so much to learn in this “amazingly simple process.” (Much thanks to son-in-law Ken for all the fiddling needed to produce super front & back cover graphics!) However, we plowed through and are rewarded with a listing on Amazon. Which brings up another issue: how to get reviews for the book. Amazon is clamping down on what they call “solicited reviews” — you can’t get all your friends to post five-star reviews — and the company now only accepts reviews from people who have spent $50 on Amazon in the last year. As I said, so much to learn!

I won’t go on about this…maybe someday I’ll share more about the process, the lessons I’ve learned and glitches that came up. Right now I’m turning my thoughts homeward — and my home needs some thought by now! Plus, it’s high time to do another blog post.

I see that The Ragtag Community Daily prompt word is GARDEN and I’m going to respond with a couple of haiku scribbled in haste. Maybe not the greatest verses but they definitely reflect what we’re seeing outside these days. February has been extremely cold and during the past week a lot of snow has fallen over our yards and gardens. Not to complain; we prairie folk will always take more snow.

Snowed under

banks of snow blanket
a garden there once was
sweet dreams, gardener

the garden of my mind
blooms with many floral scenes
growing mound of notes

Border circles (3)

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Feb 13 19 ebook cover -1

Hari and Rudi, two teens in Lancashire, England, skip school one morning and happen upon a houseboat that’s been docked while the owners go shopping. They decide to explore the boat and have far more adventure than they want when the craft comes loose from its moorings and carries them down the river and into a whirlpool. The boat breaks up and the boys are about to be sucked down to a watery death when they are miraculously rescued and facing an adventure of a far different kind.

Waking up in a strange country, they meet the first of many beings representing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. They begin their allegorical journey through this curious land; they see Jesus and witness his death on Calvary; then, with the help of Joy, Peace, Love, Patience, Goodness and other fruit of the Holy Spirit, they learn important lessons in Christian life.

Writing Meaningful Verses

This morning, housebound and wandering round the web again, I came upon this post over at Penumbra Haiku. Interesting reading the various definitions and quotes from famous poets! A Poet Is

A Few More Thoughts On Writing Haiku

As you will know by now, I enjoy reading and writing haiku. There are a number of online sites dedicated to this art form — Cattails, Frogpond Journal, The Heron’s Nest, to name a few — plus there are bloggers who post their verses like I do on Tree Top Haiku and like the above blogger does.

Haiku, if done well, can really speak to you, catching a brief but touching scene, or revealing an interesting quirk of human nature. I follow The Haiku Foundation’s blog and have read some deep verses, both in their Troutswirl e-zine and in their featured books.

For some time now I’ve been thinking of publishing an e-book of haiku myself and last night I started this project, choosing the most-liked verses from both blogs. Mind you, I did it to gain practice in formatting an e-book as well as to publish my verses. I’ve been working on an allegory, editing and then setting it up as a print book to be published shortly, and the author wants me to publish as an e-book as well. I have the means to do e-publishing with my current WordPerfect version but hadn’t tried it out yet.

Wondering what the competition is like, I hopped over to Amazon to check out the poetry books listed there. First point noted is that haiku is “free verse” — in the literal sense as well as the figurative. Most of the haiku books listed on Amazon are “Read for Free on Kindle Unlimited.”

In the other corner, one brave poet listed his e-book of haiku for $24. Good luck with that.

Second point noted: one poet has seemingly flooded the haiku-book market. I saw at least two dozen of her books listed, but then I saw that one of her books had only nine verses, some others had only four. Book descriptions read like:
Given title. It is an e-book. 5-7-5 Haiku Quality

Hmm…

I checked out a couple, since they’re free for KD subscribers. Hmm…

My thoughts went back to an incident thirty-some years ago, when I was making a serious effort to learn French. Since I’d never lived in a French area, I had only an occasional opportunity to practice with the few local francophones in our community, but I did what I could when I could.

One day I was trying to converse with a young man from a francophone family in Dorval, Quebec, who’d travelled extensively in North America before settling in our area. His English was impeccable, but his tact wasn’t the best. After one quick practice session he told me — in an intriguing blend of kindness and honesty, “After you’ve learned French well, you’ll know how poorly you speak it now.”

Whimper.

But it was the truth. Once we lived in Quebec four years and I learned to speak it better — though never fluently— I knew what he meant. That’s what life and learning are all about.

When it comes to haiku, I have much to learn myself. However, poems like these (my examples) can’t really be classed as haiku:

yet I’ve
always
thought it so

today
I learned
I was wrong

One day a few weeks back I had to laugh when I saw a verse in an online book; it read (something like):

melon
inscrutably
meloning

This led me to write my own verse:

coconut
inexplicably
a nut

And then:

sunrise
promises
sunset

From what I have gleaned about haiku so far — as well as other modern short poems — writers should tell you what they see, but not what they think or conclude. These examples tell you plainly what I’ve seen AND what I want you to see or conclude:

her new outfit
too tight — nothing left
to the imagination

goose hunter
displays three dead birds
proud as a peacock

Verses aren’t to be disjointed to the point of confusion:

oil derricks pumping
countries in consuming competition
with world politics

The verse should not be just a sentence divided in three, nor use a telegraph style:

wind in wheat field
swirls heavy heads
of golden harvest

But rather leave you with a scene, imagining what happened or drawing your own conclusion. I’d love to quote a dozen better poets here, but their works are copyright, so here are my own adaptations again:

walking at dusk
the winnow of the nighthawk
lifts my thoughts

partway down the street
your shape disappears
in the fog

While I’m dealing specifically with haiku in this post, the same is true of all poetry — and writing as a whole. We should make it as concise as possible, thought-inspiring, but still accessible. Paint the scene, but not explain it.

I Lift Up My Eyes and Behold!

It’s February! When did that happen?

Actually, I didn’t literally “lift them.” They moved themselves away from the computer monitor after a long formatting stint.

I’ve heard some writing gurus advise authors to “avoid wandering body parts.” Keep arms, legs, eyes, etc, in the body at all times. Don’t say, “He threw a hand up in the air,” or “She cast her eyes toward the open door where her co-worker stood,” or “His nose ran toward the scent of her perfume.”

But I did take a break and check the calendar. I’ve spent a month, off and on, preparing a book for publication. The originator is calling it Hari & Rudi in the Land of Fruit  and it’s an allegory along the lines of Pilgrim’s Progress, but involving two young teens. This story is actually the setting down of a dream the author had as a young lad in England back in the early 1970s.

Snail

I’ve been snailing along on this project for about eight weeks, but today I’ve finished formatting the manuscript, except for inserting the drawings. As soon as I have those, onto Amazon it goes. Stay tuned… And if you’re willing to write an unbiased review for Amazon, let me know. 🙂

The Word of the Day prompt this morning is LEARN. Very fitting. I have learned — and relearned — a number of things in the past month.
Like…
…how much time it takes to polish a manuscript. (Hint: you finally just give up.)
…once more, how to use WordPerfect to format the manuscript
…how much back-and-forth communication there must be between a writer and an editor.
…what differences exist between British English and ours on this side of the pond.

We’ve learned that pencil drawings do not work. They can’t be rendered clear enough to show up in an insertable file. However, when I said I needed pen drawings, the originator of the tale e-mailed back, “What do you mean by pen?”
(You British readers can tell us what a pen is called over there. In some books I’ve seen it called a byro. Pronounced like eye? Or like ear?)

My son-in-law did an excellent job with the cover graphics. I should write oodles more books to make use of his talents. However, the time involved in producing said books is rather off-putting. My original plan for January was to put my Sewing room to rights and finish projects there. 😉

I’ve learned how high the laundry can pile up in my clothes hamper and we still don’t run out of something to wear, and how much pasta you can eat before your noodle is fried. This all makes me think of Nano-Wrimo days. 😉

I’ve learned how one-track I can be. And maybe it’s necessary, because it would be so easy to push something like this off. I’ve taken time to read a few books for pleasure and a few books with British teen main characters for research, but most every day I’ve worked some on this project.

Thank to all of you who’ve been faithfully following my blog during the interim. I hope I can soon get some other things written. And I trust you’re keeping warm and/or enjoying the ups and downs of the season.

Taking A Deep Breath

Dear Readers,

I see it’s been eight days since my last post. In the past couple of weeks I’ve devoted myself to formatting my book of poems and short stories, Silver Morning Song, for a printed version. And this has been a real learning process!

I’m happy to tell you that, after much trial and error, Silver Morning Song — in a shiny paperback edition — is now available from Amazon.com

Rik Hall at Wild Seas Formatting has also updated the e-book files so readers can order the latest e-version — hopefully with NO typos now — from either Amazon or Kobo. Funny how many times you can go over a book and those little typos and spelling mistakes still slip through. 😦

In addition to my own project, I’ve been doing a quick second edit on the book of a friend. This is an allegory that I expect will be in print before too long.

Here on the prairies this past week we’ve been enjoying a mild spell of weather, together with sunny days that really makes us think of spring. Some evenings and/or mornings have been foggy, so our trees have a glistening hoar-frosted appearance now.

I trust life can get back to normal again, and I’ll be more faithful at blogging for awhile. Although I’m really enthused about getting to work, editing and then publishing my next book. This adventure of publishing your own writing kind of grows on a person. 🙂

Leave a few lines in the comments and let me know how you’ve spent the month of January? For some folks in the East, I gather it’s been a month of shoveling snow.

Sites For Free E-Books

There’s an old joke from back in the days when service stations all had an outside air pump so you could fill your own tires whenever they got low. Maybe most of them still do? I don’t look after tires anymore. 🙂

The joke goes something like, “The first Scotsman who discovered FREE AIR, trying to get as much for free as he could, blew out all four tires.”

Yeah, I know it’s not politically correct to make ethnic jokes anymore, but I thought of it when an e-mail popped into my In-box this afternoon. It said, “65 FREE e-books, various genres.” With all the free novels being offered by various services, being of Scottish ancestry myself I just might blow out the memory in my e-reader. Thankfully that can’t happen.

Anyway, I went to Book Cave Direct and looked over the list. A few might interest me; a lot of the stories aren’t the genres I’d read or recommend. I did see one book that instructs writers on how to format their Word documents for publishing on Kindle. For someone wanting to publish their own e-book, that could be handy. Here’s the link if you want to check out the list yourself.

The second last book on their list, Blue Hydrangeas, is one I have read, really enjoyed and would recommend. This is the story of a senior husband whose wife has Alzheimer’s. He dreads the thought of putting her in a nursing home, so is caring for her at home but he’s finding it an every-minute-all-day job. A poignant and realistic novel. Read my review here.

Two days ago I also got a notice from one of my favorite writers, Dan Walsh, informing his fans that his book, Remembering Dresden, is free on Amazon until tomorrow. I already have this one; it’s on my “To Read Soon” list.

I’ve gotten some really good books from BookBub, too; they send out a new list of free and specially priced books daily or weekly, as you prefer. If you’re interested, you can find them at bookbub.com. There’s also storycartel.com (where you agree to do a review in exchange for a free book), instafreebie.com and half a dozen others.

Do you have a favorite site that offers free e-books? If you’re a writer, have you found these sites really helpful in promoting your book? I understand authors have to pay a small fee to get their books on the lists sent out.

My goal for this winter is to read the books I’ve already downloaded and write reviews for these. The whole idea behind authors giving away their books through these sites is to generate more reviews. Being a writer myself, I want to lend support where I can, so be prepared for a bunch of book review posts in the next couple of months.

Editing My Book

Lesson From A Weed

Entombed by four-inch asphalt,
frozen for months,
how can this weed know
it’s spring? That light is up this way
when not a pinpoint guides it?
How does it see that it must
conquer this blackness
and reach for life?

How can its leaves, salad-soft,
struggle so fiercely for their freedom?
Paper-thin, yet they pierce
like relentless tiny jackhammers
until their tips burst through
to claim their place in the sun.

Yet we humans, beset by foes
and woes, will so agreeably
roll over
and die.

TODAY AT OUR HOUSE:

We’ve been enjoying beautiful sunshine and mild temps today. Bob did some mowing, now he’s installing our window air-conditioner for the hot days ahead. And I’ve begun  working on the final revision of my book, Silver Morning Song.

About five years ago I started compiling this book of short stories and poems, including the poem above. My son-in-law, bless his dear heart, designed a lovely cover for it. Then leukemia came along and threw me into a completely different format. This spring I decided to revise the manuscript and include some new stories I’ve written since.

My book has been a back-burner thing since chemo treatment, while I was getting back onto my feet, then starting this new blog and doing some sewing for summer. But now it’s time to get Silver Morning Song propelled into circulation via that famous launching pad, CreateSpace.

Rik Hall of WildSeasFormatting.com has agreed to put my manuscript into e-book format and has the time right now, so I’d best get on it — and I’m quite excited at the prospect. Feels like this particular weed has finally broken through the pavement. 😉

Stay tuned for more details. And if you remember any stories or poems you’ve read here and think should be included in my book, please let me know in the comment box below.