Monday, September 26, 2011

Back on Track?

What a strange weekend this has been.

First of all, in my town, we have this event every September called the Fabulous 1890s Weekend. The Weekend revolves around the anniversary of the first lighted, nighttime football game played in the United States between Mansfield Normal School and Wyoming Seminary on September 28, 1892, in our local Smythe Park. The weekend is always a lot of fun and it attracts a huge crowd. This year was no exception.

Having been to many since we moved here, I decided not to go this year. I am not a great lover of crowds, though I like the funnel cakes and the excitement. And the fireworks. My husband shot some video of those and posted them on facebook here.

Friday was rainy and yucky and I was not feeling so good. You know how you get that feeling that you are coming down with something? I had it. My daughter had been sick from going back to school and she passed it lovingly on to me. I reasoned, then, that everyone would probably be at the park on Saturday so shopping then would be a good idea. I rested some, which was also a good idea because Friday night, when I went to bed, I was on the verge of falling asleep when I heard the very loud and very near song of a cricket. I thought he must be in the window - how in the world did he get in the window?? It was impossible to sleep, so I sat up. The cricket song stopped almost immediately.

Perhaps I am losing my mind, I thought. I didn't feel well, it was damp and chilly... I decided to lay back down. Moments later, when all was still, Mr. Cricket started up again. I knew he was not in the window, the sound was off for that. I sat up again and turned on the light. Of course he stopped singing. I sat very still, though my husband opened his eyes. I told him there was a cricket in the room. He nodded and closed his eyes again. Maybe HE could sleep with that noise, but I couldn't. I waited and while the cricket didnt sing again, I saw motion out of the corner of my eye. There he was, walking - walking mind you - brazenly across my carpet.

Now, there is something you must understand. When I was a girl, I liked insects. I would collect empty jars - big, glass applesauce jars - to make terrariums. I would put a layer of nice dark earth in the bottom and put plants in, then I would catch crickets - male and female - and put them in. We would have cricket song in the house. My mother did not much appreciate that, but I loved doing it. I couldn't just stomp on my nighttime visitor. He was just looking for a girl, after all. I tried to pick him up. It had been a long time since I last did such a thing, so I tried to use a sock. He escaped me to go under my dresser. I had to get out the flashlight. There I was, on my hands and knees looking under my dresser for a cricket. I would not get any sleep, I knew, until I caught him. I tried again, but he leapt out from under the dresser to land on an old teddy bear. Staring right at me, he was. This time, I was able to get a good grip on him. I felt him jumping around in my hand and everything! I carried him down the hall and opened the window screen to drop him out.

I slept well that night and I was right. Shopping early Saturday morning was a good idea, indeed. However, on the way home, I completely forgot about the parade at 11 am. Like many others ahead of me, I drove past the band gearing up and that was when it hit me: there's a parade! I managed to take a right off Main Street and make my way home past the University instead, avoiding crowds, cars and the traffic light in town. Yes, we only have the one.

Food shopping tires me out. I don't enjoy it much, but going that morning, by myself, was quite nice. I think I got everything I needed for two weeks of meals and that is always a good thing. I used a bunch of coupons and kept it under $400.00. I planned to spend a portion of my Saturday writing, but found there was something we needed at the Wegman's up in Elmira, NY. I love Wegman's. So, we went. We also ate out for lunch at the OG - soup, salad and bread sticks. We couldn't resist the Pumpkin Cheesecake, either. We came home and though we were supposed to go out that night to a banquet, I was already feeling the illness that grabbed hold of me Sunday morning (stuffiness, sore throat, etc.) so I stayed home to sleep. I am glad I got some sleep that evening because when it came time for bed later on, there was this very loud chirping noise. I went looking where the sound was loudest - right outside the upstairs window where I had dropped the cricket the previous night.

I opened the screen and stuck my head out with flashlight in hand. Mr. Cricket was on the roof of the addition we had built six years ago for my husband's aunt to live in. I had dropped the cricket onto the roof, but I was sure I saw him head for the edge the night before! Apparently, he didn't go over. Set free, he stayed where I had dropped him, calling to the lady crickets who couldn't possible reach him. I didn't hear him on the roof last night and I wonder if a bird ate him, or if he finally found his way off into the grass below.  I don't suppose I will ever know, but it made me wonder if I take advantage of opportunity or do I 'sit on the roof'? How often have I been freed from my own emotional or physical prisons by the hand of God in my life only to stay right beside the site of my imprisonment (be it the TV, the internet, another person or my own fears) unaware of the blessing bestowed upon me? How often am I content to sit on the hard roof of life when the green grass awaits just a hop away?

Sunday morning, I woke feeling feverish, sore-throatish and miserable. My ears were clogged and my voice was squeaky. I sent the family off to church, washed dishes and started laundry. Then I thought I could break the fever by getting some exercise, so I did the Walk at Home. I haven't done that in a long time and my knees HURT today, but I am glad I did it. I showered and spent the afternoon with my husband, relaxing. Our oldest had to work and our other two children went to a Magic the Gathering tournament and were gone most of the day. It was nice to just be together a while.

Of course, that couldnt last, could it? Back to school and work today for the family and I got to experience a broken bathroom sink trap. We have to replace it, but for now, a bucket sits beneath the trap to catch the overflow. Ick.

Just for you, Robin.
I am still wondering, however, how that cricket got into my second floor bedroom in the first place...











So, maybe Robin (in the replies) is right.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tracks for the Journey: Lyric Monday


For my journeys in writing, I listen to a lot of music. It soothes me or agitates me, lending power to my imagination for the scenes on which I work.  Below is a lyric poem attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots. It was set to music by James Mulholland. It is, I think, hauntingly beautiful when sung. My daughter and her Middle School Chorus performed it a couple years ago. It was the first time I had ever heard it. Those pure, young voices have lingered with me. I will have to find a way to share it with you so you may hear it too. It is available on YouTube, but it is not quite the same. 

"When I no more behold thee, think on me.
By all thine eyes have told me, think on me.
When hearts are lightest,
when eyes are brightest,
when griefs are slightest,
Think on me.

In all thine hours of gladness, think on me.
If e’er I soothed thy sadness, think on me.
When foes are by thee,
when woes are nigh thee,
when friends all fly thee,
Think on me.

When thou hast none to cheer thee, think on me.
When no fond heart is near thee, think on me.
When lonely sighing o’er pleasure flying,
When hope is dying,
Think on me."

So, what music or poetry sets you in your mood? Where do you go for solace or inspiration? I would love to hear your ideas.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rewarding Visits

Along this publishing journey, I have had the opportunity to connect with some wonderful people through the marvel of social media. The time I take to read other blogs has helped me a great deal in the editing of my work in progress for publication. There is so much to learn, no matter how much we think we know.

One of those people, of course, is Jody Hedlund, author of The Doctor`s Lady. Today, I am happy to announce the winner of the review and interview giveaway for the copy of The Doctor`s Lady signed by Jody  Hedlund!

Drumroll please...

The winner is Diane Sallens!

Congratulations Diane. If you will email me (narratus@yahoo.com) your complete mailing address, as the winner of my giveaway, I will pass that on to Jody and she will see that a signed copy of her book is sent out to you! Thank you so much for reading and being part of the contest. I hope you find reading The Doctor`s Lady as rewarding as I did.

If you did not win, but entered, remember that you can still win with Jody`s Trailblazer contest!


In celebration of the release of The Doctor’s Lady, Jody is offering her readers a chance to win an incredible pioneer prize package valued at $300.

Enter the Be A Trailblazer Contest!

Visit the Contest page or find Jody on Facebook to learn more, submit your entry, and tell your friends.


God Bless!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stops Along the Way: Interview with Jody Hedlund


Today, I would like to welcome Jody Hedlund to Directions for the Journey. I am very excited to have her join me for an interview about her latest release, The Doctor's Lady, available now. Jody is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children.




Jody, welcome! Your book is an exciting tale, full of challenges, hardship and hope. What was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?



This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.

It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

Based on a real woman, what percentage of The Doctor’s Lady is true? And how much did you add?  

As with any story of historical fiction, the large majority of what I’ve written was truly from the depths of my imagination, all of my creative meanderings of “what could have happened.”

However, in my research of the Whitmans, I drew from numerous biographies. While I wasn’t able to stick to every historical detail in complete accuracy, most of the story outline is taken directly from Narcissa’s diary.

I tried to follow the trail they took west as closely as possible. While I was unable to include every stop and incident of their travel for the sake of brevity, I did try to capture the essence of their journey. I included their travel first by sleigh, then steamboat, and lastly by wagon and horse.

Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of the book where I explain in more detail which specific incidents came from the pages of her diary and what I made up for the sake of the story.

The Doctor's Lady gives readers a very real taste for history and the landscape of our great country. Where I live in Pennsylvania we have our very own "Grand Canyon." There are miles of scenic trails along the canyon with Trail and Canyon Wagon Rides that offer a "taste of the western experience." In preparation for writing The Doctor's Lady, did you spend any time in the wilderness yourself to understand the rugged road your heroine had to travel?

Even though I really wanted to rent a covered wagon (if that's possible!) and simulate an Oregon Trail experience through Nebraska and Wyoming as a family vacation, I just couldn't get my family to get excited about such a trip! And actually, since I started the book in January and finished writing it in May, I likely wouldn't have been able to make a trip like that work anyway!

So, instead of re-enacting the trail West, I had to rely on my past memories of vacationing and living out West. When I was growing up I lived in Colorado and Utah for a number of years. And while living there we did a lot of vacationing throughout the West. So I was pretty familiar with the terrain and climate. I also watched a couple of different Lewis and Clark DVD's that enabled me to view overland travel through early explorer eyes. The Lewis & Clark route was slightly different, but their experiences, what they saw, and what they encountered were very similar to the setting of my book.

You homeschool your children. I did that for a few years myself and it was hectic even though I was only doing it with two of my children. As a homeschooling mom of five, how do you manage to find time to write?

It’s definitely not easy. I feel like I have two very full time jobs! But like any other writer trying to balance dual careers or multiple responsibilities, I’ve had to look for ways to make it work. I’ve scaled-back on outside commitments and simplified home life as much as possible. I also stick to a very strict writing schedule when I’m in first draft mode. I block out writing time and don’t let myself go to bed at night unless I get in my daily word count.

You're already working on a new book. What’s coming next?

In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

It sounds like Lily will be facing some tough decisions. I look forward to reading about what she does. In the Doctor's Lady, Priscilla and Eli go through many difficult things as well to achieve their goals. What message do you hope readers take away?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

Sounds to me like some great directions for all our journeys. Thanks for stopping by, Jody! I had a great time with this interview and wish you every success. 




Watch the book trailer for A Doctor's Lady here:
Find Jody:
Twitter: @JodyHedlund
Her  website: jodyhedlund.com

Tell your friends about Jody's BE A TRAILBLAZER contest!

Enter the Be A Trailblazer Contest!

In celebration of the release of The Doctor’s Lady, Jody is offering her readers a chance to win an incredible pioneer prize package valued at $300.
Visit the Contest page or find Jody on Facebook to learn more, submit your entry, and tell your friends.


*~*~*
Announcing YOUR chance to win a copy of 
THE DOCTOR'S LADY
signed by Author Jody Hedlund:


Directions for the Journey is offering one print copy of “The Doctor’s Lady” signed by Jody Hedlund. You have several opportunities to enter this drawing. You may do just one, two or all three of the options below and each option equals one entry of your name into the hat from which the winner will be drawn.
The only Rule - You MUST have a U.S. Mailing address (No P.O. Boxes please!)


Entry option #1 - Visit my facebook author page and mention this blog post there.
Entry option #2 - Post a reply to this Interview
New Entry option #3 - Tweet about Jody's new book and include @narratus in your tweet so that I see your tweet.

The entry window for the drawing is now open and closes at 11:59 PM September 12, 2011. I hope you get to enjoy this marvelous book soon. God bless you and thanks for reading!




Monday, September 5, 2011

Sight-seeing - A Book Review: The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Some people groan... let's be honest; most of us groan when we hear the word "labor." My friends, we should be thankful for our ability to work. Labor is listed in Genesis as God's gift to us before the Fall of Man. It wasn't part of the judgement for man's disobedience. It wasn't meant to be a burden, but rather a life-fulfilling effort, a joy, believe it or not. While you rest on this Labor Day, I hope you enjoy your cookouts (it's raining here, we'll be cooking indoors), the beach, the mountains or wherever else you go. Before you launch into a new season of busy-ness, take some time to relax and refresh with Jody Hedlund's most recent labor of love, a wonderful historical fiction novel called The Doctor's Lady.



Hedlund's The Doctor's Lady is based on the real events recorded in the diary of the first woman to attempt the overland trail west that became known as the Oregon Trail. There is irony in writing this review for me. When my children were young, we came across this great little computer game by MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium) called "The Oregon Trail." The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding his party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley over the Oregon Trail via a Conestoga wagon in 1848. The game kept a record of your trip which was available to read as a rather dry diary at the end of the game. The kids could not get enough of playing it during their elementary school years, learning about American history while having fun. The Doctor's Lady made a connection to that memory for me, yet, it is no prosaic story like the Oregon Trail's gaming diary. Rather, it is brought brilliantly to life by blending Hedlund's love of history and her daring as an author to ask "what could have happened?" She weaves a sprinkling of historical fact with good writing and a clever imagination.

The Doctor's Lady took me on a sweeping adventure across America of the 1800's. The characters are lively and engaging and the plot grabbed hold of me.  I read sixty pages immediately, but was interrupted until the next day. When I picked it up again, I read straight through to the end. I honestly could not put this book down until I reached the final page.

I don't usually read romance novels, but this is not your typical romance. Beyond triggering the memory of the game and times with my kids, I connected with this story in ways I had not expected. I experienced the frustration of Priscilla and Eli at the decision of the Missionary Board - a decision my modern sensibilities and personal experiences told me was short-sighted. I felt Priscilla's agony at not knowing the joy of motherhood because I have three children of my own and can't imagine what life would be like without them. Hedlund's writing made me feel as though I were there in New York. On their journey west, the characters traveled through Williamsport, PA, a place only an hour south of where I live and have been to many times. My mother-in-law grew up there. I have heard many stories of her childhood and I could imagine the sights and sounds. I was swept along with these intelligent and intrepid people. The more I knew, the more I wanted to know and the more I cared.

The story of Priscilla and Eli brings with it the timeless message of hope in hopelessness. It is a reminder of what being a person of faith in difficult times - and in times of joy - can mean. It is also a reminder of all that was challenging about our young nation's early years, full of hardship, loss, discovery and triumph.



Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady was just released and is available now.



Find Jody:
Twitter: @JodyHedlund
Her  website: jodyhedlund.com






Tell your friends about Jody's BE A TRAILBLAZER contest!

Enter the Be A Trailblazer Contest!

In celebration of the release of The Doctor’s Lady, Jody is offering her readers a chance to win an incredible pioneer prize package valued at $300.
Visit the Contest page or find Jody on Facebook to learn more, submit your entry, and tell your friends.

*~*~*
Announcing YOUR chance to win a copy of 
THE DOCTOR'S LADY
signed by Author Jody Hedlund:


Directions for the Journey is offering one print copy of “The Doctor’s Lady” signed by Jody Hedlund. You have several opportunities to enter this drawing. You may do just one, two or all three of the options below and each option equals one entry of your name into the hat from which the winner will be drawn.
The only Rule - You MUST have a U.S. Mailing address (No P.O. Boxes please!)


Entry option #1 - Post a reply to this blog article and tell me how much you'd like to read Jody's book.
Entry option #2 - Visit my facebook author page and mention this blog post there.
Entry option #3 - Come back on September 10, 2011 and post a reply to the upcoming Interview that Directions for the Journey will be doing with Jody.

The entry window for the drawing is now open and closes at 11:59 PM September 12, 2011. I hope you get to enjoy this marvelous book soon. God bless you and thanks for reading!