Most of us will agree that 2021 was not the easiest of years. As someone who writes fiction, I found that the pandemic and the upheaval in the USA had an impact on my writing, not to mention my attitude.
For one, I gave up blogging. Let me be honest, though. I don’t like blogging. It takes time away that could be spent working on my next project. And yet blogging is a powerful way to keep in touch with people.
Additionally, blogging potentially puts my name and work out there to a wider audience than, say, my little group of rabid, hardcore Maggie fans (who I dearly love).
However, the stresses of the past year made it difficult for me to work up the energy to blog and to work on A Balm in Gilead or other projects. Part of it came about because my other job became so intense. I am assistant minister/Christian education director/ and director of communications (whew!) at a church. During 2020 and 2021, we redesigned how we did worship, faith formation, and many other things that we took for granted. It exhausted me and, if I am to be honest, put me into a funk that made it difficult to write.
The good news is that I’m pulling out of that funk and looking ahead to a more productive year.
First up, A Balm in Gilead finally is out there as both a paperback and on Kindle. Writing a novel about an epidemic while we were (and still are) experiencing a pandemic was a weird experience. But an important difference between the typhoid fever epidemic in the mid-1800s and COVID in the 2020s is that people in Maggie’s time did not know exactly what caused the fever nor did they know how to prevent and fight it.
I realize that I made a crucial mistake in Balm: my characters refer to the fever as “typhoid fever,” but the bacillus responsible for the fever was identified by Karl Joseph Eberth in 1880. And in 1884, pathologist Georg Gaffky finally gave it a name: Eberthella typhi. Today it is called Salmonella enterica. (https://www.news-medical.net/health/Typhoid-Fever-History.aspx) Oopsy! Major goof. Someone has a lousy editor. Oh, wait, that editor is me!
In the Civil War era, typhoid fever was rampant in both Union and Confederate encampments, where it was called “camp fever,” “continued fever,” or “break bone fever,” among other things. (https://www.wvtf.org/civil-war-series/2019-12-21/typhoid-fever).
Long story short, I will be changing any “typhoid fever” references made by characters to another name. And I will be doing it this coming week!
Next, I’m doing an edit on Saint Maggie, which is the first book in the series. Last year was the 10th anniversary of the novel’s publication, so I thought I’d clean it up a little and reformat the manuscript, so it looks more like the books that followed.
Another goal for 2022 is the release of Frankie and Patrick’s wedding story and perhaps the story of their journey to their new home in Colorado. These will serve to launch a spin-off series featuring Frankie and her new hubby.
What else? Well, who knows? This whole publishing thing is a big adventure. And I’m happy and grateful to have old and new friends join me on it.
Meanwhile, dear readers, may the new year bring you more blessings than troubles!
Until then, remember to be kind and to love others (the world needs it so),
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder