As you can see, I made some minor changes to the cover. I finessed the fonts a bit and that was it. Love those winding old train tracks!
The Kindle version of the short story, "The Newcomer." is now out for an affordable $0.99 but you will be able to get it free starting Thursday (September 24) midnight Pacific Daylight Time (3 am Eastern Daylight Time). It will be free until 11:59 PDT (2:59 EST) Monday September 28. Of course, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can get it for free anytime.
Find out how the Saint Maggie Series' unlikely, portly lead, Eli Smith, came to Blaineton and ended up staying thanks to the kindness of boarding house owner, Maggie Blaine. Also discover how the chemistry between Maggie and Eli got its start. It only took them five years to actually act on that chemistry but, hey, it's the mid-1800s in a little New Jersey town. Life was slower then. Or so they say. Anyway, if you're curious you can read how their friendship morphed into marriage in the full-length novel, Saint Maggie.
I'm excited the short story is out and am looking forward to having the paperback available soon. Meanwhile, click on the Amazon link to find the Kindle book.
Also, if you like the story, please leave a star rating and a review. The review may be as short as "I loved it" or as detailed as you wish. But it helps authors to have reviews on Amazon.
Thanks again for your support, and for your patience while I work on new stories as well as a full length novel (A Balm in Gilead expected out in 2021).
Meanwhile, stay safe and well. And don't forget to be kind.
Janet R. Stafford
Ever since COVID hit, things have been - shall I say - a wee bit challenging for me.
But then again, it's been that way for everyone else, too.
These past few weeks, I gave up on the idea that an author must blog on a regular basis to build a following. It is an idea that seems to be based on the notion that all authors are full-time writers.
Most of us are NOT full-time authors.
And that means we need to support ourselves in other ways.
As you know, I work part-time as an assistant minister/director of Christian education/communications director at a United Methodist Church. That job description alone should tell you that it's a lot to do in around 25-30 hours per week. It's also the type of work that does not stay in the office. It follows me home. These days, since I now work from home, it's like my best friend - always popping in for a chat. Don't get me wrong. I love what I do. But it's just a new twist on things.
I generally work in the mornings. Evenings find me leading studies and groups or going to meetings - all on Zoom. Again, it's the same thing I've always done - but this time I don't leave my home. Ever.
So, like most authors, I write because I love to write and because I'm called to write. I can't help myself. Frankly we authors would write even if we never published a word, because writing is what we do.
My new reality is that even though my hours have not changed significantly, the amount of time I spend staring at a screen has. So much so that my old eyes have taken to screaming, "Enough, already!"
With that reality in mind, I consciously made a choice to back off on the blogging so I could spend my non-church screen time writing.
The decision has yielded some good results. One is a short story. "The Newcomer," the story of how Eli Smith came to Blaineton, had been posted last year on this blog. But I now have revised and edited it, and it has something like a cover design (see above). I probably will fool with the cover a bit more this weekend. The plan is to publish the story on Kindle next week (at the usual $.99 price). I'll be working on a paperback version in a week or so.
The other result of stepping back from the blog is that I am nearly finished with the first draft of the full-length Saint Maggie novel, A Balm in Gilead. Now comes the fun part - revising, rewriting, and editing my way through about four or five revisions. Then I'll release it to my beta readers and receive more things to correct and revise. After that comes the cover design, for which I will hire my designer, Erin.
So, while I'm sorry that I haven't been blogging lately, I am glad to have backed off. I needed to do what an author does: write.
If you have purchased the Kindle version of my novels, novellas, and short stories during 2020, thank you! Thank you so much. I sincerely appreciate your support. And thank you for spreading the word about Maggie and her friends.
And practice love.
Janet R. Stafford
Image: An old, simple rotary press. (The rotary press described in the Saint Maggie series is steam-powered and much larger. But you get the idea.)
The final step in annoying an industrialist is modeled for us by Eli Smith. Actually, we have seen this before in two preceding novels, Seeing the Elephant and A Good Community. It goes like this: 1) Josiah Norton does something unethical or clueless; 2) Eli Smith pens and prints an editorial; 3) Josiah marches into The Register to complain to Eli; 4) Eli smooths Josiah’s ruffled feathers, but not entirely.
In my work in progress, A Balm in Gilead, it seems that Josiah recognizes Eli's modus operandi. But does that recognition really change the process? After all, Josiah has been successfully annoyed. And, perhaps, Eli’s feather-smoothing even has managed to annoy Josiah, too. In which case, kudos to Eli! He’s annoyed his industrialist twice as much.
(Author’s note: if you’re familiar with the series you’ll notice some changes in The Register’s personnel. Danny Coopernall is now the receptionist, while the former receptionist, Andy Randall, has been promoted to cub reporter. Hey, things change even in novels.)
Despite the above, in the new book Josiah Norton will be in for more than the usual challenges, challenges that just might cause a shift in his attitude and way of life.
Why go in this direction (if the character is amenable)? Simple. I suspect that it is relatively rare for people to go through life and not experience events that challenge their beliefs and even the way they live their lives. I guess I tend to be somewhat optimistic, and therefore it is no surprise that Maggie and Eli have a similar optimism, as does the tone of most of my books.
The long and short of it is that I feel called to bring a bit of hope into a divided and hurting world. Whether anything I do will make any difference is unknown. Just the same, the Saint Maggie books are my way of speaking my piece – and perhaps of speaking for peace.
Janet R. Stafford
Image: “Our Honored Guest,” Frank Bellew, Harper’s Weekly, 2 September 1871. From the collection of Bert Hansen, Ph.D., found in his essay, “The Image and Advocacy of Public Health in American Caricature and Cartoons from 1860 to 1900,” published in the American Journal of Public Health, November 1997, Vol. 87, No. 11, 1798-1807.
I have no doubt that Eli, Maggie, and friends would have perceived Josiah Norton in much the same way as the artist who drew the above caricature of 1870s industrialists. Eli and cohort are becoming aware, or at least suspicious of the impact that low wages and poor living conditions have on the health of the employees in Norton Mill No. 3. The only change they might have made to Bellew’s illustration would be to replace the word “Cholera” on Death’s carpet bag with the words “Typhoid Fever.”
Of course, issues regarding the use and abuse of employees in factories is not new to the Saint Maggie series. In Seeing the Elephant, Eli visits factories and mills other than the ones belonging to Josiah Norton in order to write an article on the subject for Blaineton’s newspaper, The Register. Josiah, by the way, views said article as a personal attack. Eli claims it is not, which is partially true.
My crusading newspaperman dislikes the way things are going and has thrown his hat in with the working class.
Now… on to our topic.
What’s the second step in annoying a 19th century industrialist?
Surprise him. Also, go over his head. It’s a two-step process.
When Josiah Norton stamps his little foot and demands that patients stricken with typhoid fever must be removed from Dormitory Number One to make room for new employees, Drs. Lightner and Frost set out to solve the problem, thanks to a brilliant idea from blacksmith Richard Hancock.
Granted, there is no doubt that today their activity would be considered illegal and followed by a big fat lawsuit. But the 1800s were a “can do” era with just a touch of “anything goes.”
I had planned to insert the SCRIBD document here and then follow up with my conclusion, but since Weebly has seen fit to be difficult and insists on not letting me add another text block, I'll do it here. Take that, Weebly. I pay for this site, but it's become really tough to work with ever since you fully hooked up with Square.
In the end, Josiah's annoyance is tempered by the buildings on his land. However, they were constructed free of charge and are ready to be rented to office employees and other higher-ups. In this way, monetary greed eventually overrides his outrage.
Next week, we'll look at the last step in annoying a 19th century industrialist, and Eli will demonstrate it for us in next week's Squeaking Blog.
Until then, stay cool and stay safe, friends,
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder