Greetings! I want to thank all of you who follow this blog. I love writing about writing and other sundries, but I feel that I need to change my blogging schedule for a while. Unfortunately, it’s all about time for me these days.
In part, this stems from working 25-30 hours a week as an assistant pastor at a United Methodist Church. Anyone who is employed by a church can tell you that those 25-30 hours do not translate into a regular schedule. Generally, I work Sundays (naturally), and Monday thru Thursday. However, I also may work on a Saturday. On Sundays my hours will vary anywhere from 4 to 9 or 10 hours, depending upon what we are doing. Sometimes, as in the summer, I may be involved in a days-long activity, such as a mission trip, our church’s booth at the 4-H Fair, or other events.
All part-time authors must work our writing in around our other vocation and daily life (family and friends, groceries, cleaning, doctor visits, car repairs, and so on). Finding writing time is a constant juggling act.
I find that writing one blog takes me about 1-2 hours, sometimes 3, depending upon what I am writing about. Obviously, anything having to do with the history behind historical fiction takes a bit longer because I need to assemble and check my facts and put up notes on resources.
As a result, my time for writing historical fiction and promoting my published stories has been curtailed because something new (the blog) was added to the juggling act. I love my fans and love my stories, and so, at this point, I need to cut back on the blogging.
After some consideration, I think posting three times a week will help me meet my goals as an author. I hope you don’t mind, but this is something I need to do.
The Squeaking Blog will now appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to give me more time to do research, write fiction, and promote my published stories.
Thank you for understanding.
See you Wednesday!
A large part of The Good Community, my work-in-progress, has to do with the creation of a school for children of all races – a product of Maggie and Emily’s frustration when they learn that Blaineton’s public school no longer will admit children of color. Within the struggle to treat all children equally, Maggie also finds herself wrestling with her anger toward Josiah Norton, her main adversary. Normally, a quiet and focused woman, Maggie is challenged to speak up and do political and social battle – and it disturbs her. But she will have to do it.
Maggie's situation opens the door for a little role reversal. It is Eli’s turn now to be the voice of reason and help.
The scene below illustrates Maggie’s issues with Josiah Norton and Eli’s attempt to both smooth her ruffled feathers and give her advice.
A frustrated Maggie had retreated to the porch where she proceeded to take in a pair of Eli’s trousers. Since they had returned to Blaineton, he often would walk to and from town in fine weather and when his leg was not paining him much. Hence, his circumference had reduced a bit.
Maggie attacked the trousers with a vengeance, but it wasn’t Eli’s middle that had her in a fit of pique. She was pleased with his weight loss. What ate at her was the conversation she had had with Josiah Norton.
Try as she might, her mind kept replaying everything they had said to each other. The more she thought it over, the more vexed she became.
How dare the man take that tone with her? How dare he suggest that she ought to go before the school board and ask them – nay, beg them – for permission to start a school. And a private one at that!
How dare he –
She had poked the sewing needle into her finger.
She growled and hissed, “Blast!”
“Language, Mrs. Smith.”
“Not amusing, Mr. Smith.” She stuck her bleeding index into her mouth.
Eli sat down on the rocking chair beside hers. “Let me see it, sweetheart.”
Maggie sulkily held her hand out for him to inspect.
“Yep,” he concluded. “It’s bleeding all right.” He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. Glancing up at his wife, he teased, “The hankie's clean.”
“I should hope so.”
Eli wrapped the handkerchief around her finger. “Now, now, would I do anything less when it comes to you?”
Maggie sighed. “I apologize. I am disturbed by a conversation I had today.”
“It was with Mr. Norton.”
And Eli gently said, “I know.”
“Yes. He came to my office to complain. About you.”
“Oo!” She flopped back into her chair. “That man!”
Eli laughed. “Yes. That man. He is officious and self-important. But…” He leaned toward her. “Please don’t let him upset you. That’s how he operates. He likes to nettle people, so they will become furious with him and make a mistake to his advantage.”
Maggie removed the handkerchief from her finger. “It has stopped bleeding. Thank you.”
Eli’s smile widened in love for her. “You’re welcome. So, did he?”
“Did he what?”
“Cause you to make a mistake?”
She shook her head. “No, but he did cause me to become furious. Oh, Eli, I don’t like feeling this way! It’s not who I am, who I aspire to be!”
“And the very fact that you are relating this also tells me that you are a better person than you think.”
Maggie laid a hand over her husband’s. “He is angry with me. Why? All I want to do is educate the very children he and the school board refuse to educate.”
“They’re afraid, Maggie.”
“Of what? Of children?”
“Of children with black skin who will grow up to be adults who will, in some people’s minds, compete for employment, wealth, and status they feel they is undeserved.”
Maggie sighed. “Life is not a competition.”
“Some believe it is.”
“No. Life is to be lived together. We are to help and serve and build others up.”
“Oh, my Maggie! You’re such a good, Christian woman. The trouble is not everyone follows that path.” Eli turned his hand over and interlaced his fingers with his wife’s. “But I know you. You’re determined and brave and, my love, you will have a school. I’m willing to stake this house and my life on it.”
“Nonsense. You shouldn’t bet. That's gambling.”
He fell into chuckles at her very Methodist attitude. “Oh, I do love you so!”
Will Maggie and her friends prevail and do what the town will not? Or will Maggie be cowed by Norton’s bully tactics?
Believe it or not, I’m still not sure how it all shakes out. I guess we’ll all find out together.
Today I finished draft gazillion of the script for HEART SOUL & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL. It’s something Dan Bush and I have been working together for a long time. We finally got serious over the summer. I read it, he stopped me and made comments, I gave him an argument, he told me to get over it, I made some other suggestions, we synthesized them, and I made the changes. A true team effort. And we didn’t break up over it.
We both think HEART SOUL would make a good little indie film.
Of course, neither of us knows any producers, nor do we have an agent. I think we have some work to do!
I’ve attached the first 26 pages. I’m not saying it’s typo-free yet and it still has some bugs in it, but we’re getting there.
HEART SOUL FIRST 26 PAGES
If you’ve never read a spec film script before, it looks quite different from a piece of prose. Scene descriptions are on the left, in caps, describe whether a scene takes place inside or outside, where it happens, and whether it is night or day. So, an exterior shot taking placing in the Flying Fish Club at night looks like this: "EXT. FLYING FISH CLUB - DAY." Also on the left are lines describing action. Dialog and occasional parentheticals to help the actors are centered. Transitions are always to the right, such as FADE TO BLACK or CUTAWAY. It looks complicated, but give it a chance. You might be able to see how it would look on film.
Also I've written a logline, A logline is a no more than 25 word description that you might see in the "information" section for a movie or TV show. For HEART SOUL & ROCK' N' ROLL it might go like this: "While on vacation, assistant pastor Lins falls in love with agnostic rocker Neil. Will they rock into the sunset or call it a day?"
Rock on, my friends...
View of Bailey Island near The Giant Staircase
By Simonhardt93 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
During the summer, I received the suggestion to write a Young Adult novella or novel. I think it came from my family. What spurred the idea was that we were visiting Harry Potter World and were surrounded by J.K. Rowling’s magical world. I guess my family thought: Mimi can do this, too!
Mimi is my granny name. It’s what his grandsons call me.
“Mimi, you could be the next J.K. Rowling.”
Tl which, Frankie Blaine might say, “Not hardly.”
But, still, the suggestion took root and that was followed almost immediately by a memory.
For many summers, when my sister Diane and I were growing up, we would visit my Dad’s second cousin, a woman named Agnes. She had a summer place at Bailey Island, Maine. We didn’t have a lot of money in those days. We weren’t poor, but every penny counted. Our vacations usually were visits to family members.
And so, we were lucky that Aunt Agnes’ husband had built his family a log cabin on the island. Let me explain that. Yes, it was a log cabin. It was made of logs, which were not only visible on the outside but also on the inside. But for a cabin it was HUGE. It had a country kitchen, an enormous living room with a breakfast nook, two bedrooms and a bath upstairs, downstairs a bedroom, a bathroom with a shower stall, and a dormitory. Yes, a dormitory containing (I swear) 6 sets of bunk beds and a dressing room. Over the big stone fireplace in the living room was the mounted head of an elk. (Sorry, animal lovers. Someone in Aunt Agnes’ family must have been a hunter.) As if all that were not enough, the cabin wing off the living room. It was a small suite: bedroom, sitting room, and bathroom.
The cabin had a big stretch of lawn in front that led to the waters of Casco Bay. What a wonderland that was for two kids from suburbia! Raspberry bushes were just steps from the kitchen and we picked berried for our breakfast. Beyond the raspberry bushes was Mary’s Cove, a stretch of sand and stone leading to the water. I can’t find Mary’s Cove on today’s online maps. I think the name must have been local. As a young girl, I thought it was romantic and wondered who Mary possibly could be. (Even then I was making up stories.)
On the other side of the cabin was a dirt trail, bordered by wild blueberry bushes. The trail led to two other cabins built by Aunt Agnes’ late husband. Other family members stayed in them, including twin girls with whom we made friends.
Directly in front of the property, past the sea wall, were large rocks, rough-hewn by the waves from Casco Bay. We used to play in the tidal pools for hours.
During the summer it was chill in the mornings, so we’d have to throw on our sweatshirts. When the sun shone it could get quite warm and we then tossed the sweatshirts off. In the evening it would be chilly again and we’d light a big fire in the fireplace and play board games, cards, or talk.
It was a perfect place to be a child at a time when children were free-range. “Go outside and play,” my mother would say. “Janet, put that radio down. Don’t come back until lunchtime.” When I entered my teens, a transistor radio and a couple of teen magazines were my only contact with my pop heroes for two or three weeks. But since you didn’t argue with my mom, I went outside. And my sister and I played and used our imaginations.
And then came the night when we heard something strange. My sister and I both heard it. It sounded like a footstep followed by a thump. Footstep. Thump. Footstep. Thump. It went all the way around the cabin. My mother heard it, too. She was sleeping in the bunkroom with my father (not terribly romantic for them).
What was that sound? None of us knew. My mother postulated that it was an old pirate with a peg leg. If so, why was he walking around the cabin? Our questions remain unanswered.
Do you see what is happening? My own life has given me a setting, some characters, and a mystery. What shall I do with it? It has the seeds of becoming a YA fantasy, doesn’t it? We’ll see what develops. I would like to have something ready to publish by the end of 2019.
I fully believe that inspiration can come from anywhere.