Taking a deep breath.

This last week has been a doozy. Just when I was getting into a good groove writing, my son was hospitalized with a staph infection in his leg that was very resistant to antibiotics. After switching up different medicines they found something that worked and he started rapidly improving the third day. Many folks on facebook offered prayers and positive thoughts and I really believe that made a difference. Thank you to all of them.
I did get some writing done but not nearly what I’m used to lately. I did other things that didn’t demand the hyper focus that writing does. I found a great open source editing software program, downloaded it and created a few new covers. (links below for all my writer friends) I completed the timeline for the remaining portion of 1930 and the beginning of 1931, I spent three hours scouring my email for a scene in 1930 I wrote a year ago and was now ready to insert. I set a date for the Muse to visit and made a list of things we need to do while she is here. Coming up with a complete skeleton for Drifter and 1931 is at the top of the list, as well as a weird scary one we thought of together while drinking coffee, driving the back roads of Montana. I’d really like to see if that could go somewhere. Totally outside my genre experience. No clue what I’m doing. Lost in the dark with this one. I can’t wait!
I am looking forward to getting back to a “schedule” of sorts this coming week. I hope to get a lot done and am really looking forward to the blog post telling everyone that 1930 is off to the editor!

Open Source Photo Software: http://www.gimpshop.com/

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Freedom with fiction.

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This morning a friend called and asked me if I’d read my reviews lately. She knows I don’t read reviews and haven’t for a long time. It’s her standard lead in when she feels like she needs to tell me something important.
“Well, it’s the shower thing. Another person mentioned it.”
“Ok.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Absolutely nothing.”
This never goes over well. She thinks I should try to please everyone to gain a wider audience. I just can’t do that. When I wrote 1929 I knew there were no showers in the tenements. They were lucky to have a bathroom at all. Most of the time there was one filthy toilet room on each floor for everyone to share. I knew that there were mostly coal-burning stoves instead of fireplaces. And I tried writing it like that. But in my mind’s eye I saw it differently. Showers and fireplaces were in the more modern, well to do houses at the time. Was it a stretch to add an old rusty pipe leading from the faucet to a crude shower head into the tenement? Sure. For the most part, it isn’t historically accurate. And apparently, some people are getting hung up on that. At first I tried to justify it by thinking that perhaps the previous tenant was a shipbuilder and created it himself. I went through a dozen scenarios to justify its presence to myself. And then I realized I didn’t have to justify it. It was just there and it wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t. It was a stretch, but it’s fiction. I have creating freedom with fiction. And it isn’t as if Jonathan pulled out his iPhone while dodging a horse and buggy in the middle of the 1929 Stock Market crash. Even if I were tempted, the Muse would kill me if I tried to delete shower scene. It’s her favorite. And in case the nit-pickers forgot, on one of the first pages there are two words. For Lisa. This whole thing started out as entertainment for just her and I. My working title was a joke between us. It was called, “Killing time til Diana Gabaldon puts out another book.” That’s a mouthful so we shortened it to 1929.
So, if the shower or fireplace caused someone to put down the book, I’m sorry. Will I change it? No way. I have to be true to what I see. And I have to write not to please the masses, but as I have from the start. For Lisa.

Keeping it alive

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I came across Misty on YouTube  about a year ago. I have watched nearly all of her videos and her way of life has been an inspiration to me and thousands of others across America. I am fascinated and somewhat envious of the simplicity, frugality and humility of this energetic woman! I find myself stuck between wanting to drink from a mason jar and a Waterford goblet. Between making handmade dresses and wearing a red-carpet gown. Stuck between this time and that. She lives in that time and no matter how beautiful the goblet or how shiny the dress, I’m drawn to that time just a little more. And I have to admit, I’ve used her videos a lot to describe scenes and actions on Caleb’s farm. I’ve never milked a cow or butchered a chicken and her videos give me a visual to work with. (There were no chickens killed in the writing of 1929) ūüėČ

The Muse and I actually made her homemade cough syrup. I renamed it “Kentucky CureAll, since my grandma was born in Haymond, Kentucky and I imagine this is similar to what her family might have used when they were sick. It certainly reminds me of how her family must have lived tucked up in the woods. These are skills that are dying with the last of the generation that survived the Great Depression. I am so happy to see someone teaching them to others and keeping them alive.

You can find Misty on Youtube and Facebook.

“Can you make it” Monday

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Through the day? Ehh, with lots of coffee. I fell asleep last night listing to a depressing report of what America does not make anymore. Bad jobs reports, dire fiscal cliff warnings, (still haven’t avoided that fully you know) Commercials urging you to buy gold, buy food, buy guns, prepare for what’s coming…Sheesh!¬†¬†I’ve known for awhile that harder times are coming to this country and everyone knows someone who has lost everything in recent years. I have often wondered if the generations alive today have the intestinal fortitude to make it through to the other side. Sadly, I just¬† don’t know. I had to find some positive in all this and so I have decided to seek out Mompreneurs that make things, interview them and feature them on the blog on “Can you make it” Mondays. Combining handmade, made in the USA, highlighting¬†creative ways to get through these hard times and giving those hardworking moms some exposure. If you or anyone you know is a Mompreneur, email me for a spot. I’d love to feature you.

My new ghost? I shall name her Mabel.

It’s quite possible we have a ghost in the new place. We have settled down, (details in a future post) and today I am alone here for the first time. Love the peace and quiet. I was just sitting down to resurrect the blog I have neglected over the past few hectic months¬†having¬†put on one of my favorite records, “The Great Band Era”. Glenn Miller, Earl Hines, Hal McIntyre, Sammy Kaye, you know, all the good ones circa 1944. I love the sound of old records. Scratchy, tinny and original. Like the times and people of the past, it can’t be¬†reproduced today. (With the exception of¬†one band that hits it darn close, but I’ll get to that later.) So anyway, I was sitting here listening and the hair on the back of my neck raises. I get a shiver that runs through my whole body leaving electric tingles.¬†Almost simultaneously, I feel as if¬†someone has entered the room.¬†I could feel it the same as¬†I feel my husband or son enter the room and I have heightened paranoia about that because I’m weird¬†in the way that I can’t have anyone looking over my shoulder when I write. So my radar goes¬†off whenever anyone is around. Trouble is, as I said, I was home alone. I got the deep-rooted¬†feeling that someone was looking right at me. And my mind flashes back to when we first bought this place and the elderly woman across the¬†street came over to welcome us. She went on¬†politely in a slurred, dementia filled ramble¬†and I could tell she was quite lonely. She talked about the people who lived here before and had good words for them. And the old couple that lived here before that. Then she became quite lucid, looked me in the eye and said, “She died here, you know. Right in that back room.” Oh. Crap.¬†My sister, who was here helping me with some of the demo work, went into crisis management mode, knowing how I am about such things. Thank heavens she works with mentally unstable people and knew exactly what to do!¬†I’m a big friggin’ chicken and the hyperventilation started promptly. The older lady finally went home without dispensing any further wonderful news and I started trying to figure out how I was going to live here knowing that.¬†Having no other home, I had to¬†suck it up and¬†much to my relief,¬†all has been quiet. No paranormal activity, no things misplaced or strange noises in the night. I thought, “Good. She’s moved on.” After all, not all who die hang around. But then today I put on the old music and suddenly I feel something, as strongly as I’d feel a living, breathing human and¬†I wasn’t afraid. That is very unlike me, who beats feet out of a room before I bother to find out what a noise or shadow was. I wasn’t scared. I had the detached thought that the music must have attracted her. I turned very slowly and looked at the living room entry where the feeling was coming from. Nothing. No shadow or apparition. The feeling left instantly as well. Electricity¬†disappeared and raised hairs fell.¬†So, if we don’t have a full time ghost, I think I have someone returning to enjoy the music. At least she has good taste. I think I’ll name her Mabel.

Oh, and the band I mentioned earlier is “Boy and Bean” I lived in the Pacific Northwest all those years and never got down to Oregon to see them, but I’d still love to manage a show sometime. I donated to them on Kickstarter¬†to help get their first album off and running. Great sound. Check them out and tell them MLGardner sent you.

http://boyandbean.com/boy_and_bean_video.html

Boy and Bean

What doing?

When my children were little they used to come up to me and ask, “What doing, Mama?” I get asked that a lot these days as well. Several emails a day ask me when 1930 will be finished and I always cringe and feel guilty. Believe me, I want it done just as bad as some readers! I thought I would do a post, (since it’s been so long and all) about what I HAVE been doing, since obviously not a ton of work on 1930 has been accomplished. And some readers are actually angry at me for that. I try not to take this personally, but as a good thing. They are really into the book and that is wonderful. Still, I feel the need to produce and since I cannot immediately produce, I thought I should at least explain. I do want to keep my readers.

What am I doing. Wow. Where to begin. First, I suppose, is the largest endeavor we are undertaking as a family. We are transitioning into Tiny Living. Google it, it’s an amazing concept, (albeit not entirely new) and we fell in love with the idea. Our family will consume a fraction of the electricity, water and produce a fraction of the waste¬†that we do now. Not that we are raging hippies or anything, just consciously aware that things are changing, more changes are on the horizon and while preparing for these changes¬†we can do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle. Living well, living simple. When we got the idea to jump into Tiny Living, we didn’t like the idea of buying land near the city and in these parts in order to get way ‘out there’ it would be impossible to commute. So, we¬†bought an RV, gutted most of it and have been rebuilding the inside, custom to our needs. And when I say rebuilding, I¬†mean we are doing it ourselves. I have learned to work with all kinds of power tools,¬†built cabinets and sofa frames, laid hardwood floors and found trim to be my best friend. I’m not the “hire it out” kind of person unless I truly don’t know what I’m doing.That said,¬†we are bringing someone in to¬†do some custom electrical.¬†Sounds nuts, I know. The idea of giving up everything and going mobile to look for our little piece of America is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. One of my friends shook her head at me, baffled. “Most people UPGRADE after writing a few books, M!” Yeah, I know. But I’m not most people. I do sort of walk to the beat of my own drum. And I do feel like I am upgrading, in my¬†own way. ¬†I’m totally fine with giving up most material things¬†and going on an adventure to¬†search for that perfect piece of land to build a tiny home. We will winter here in Washington¬† since the¬†season is¬†so mild and then head out into the wild blue yonder! The house plans I am drawing, (oh yeah, I’m learning how to do that, too) have the Tiny home at around 600 sq. feet. (plus a writing cabin) Which will seem enormous after the 300 sq. feet of the RV!

This has had the bulk of my time this summer. But, on the upside, when we do get moved in (roughly a month from now) I can sit in the woods with my solar laptop charger and tap away at 1930! “Housecleaning” will take all of an hour and even though I homeschool two boys, we have been turned on to the idea of “Unschooling“. I have been reading some of John Holt‘s books (literally a few minutes at a time whenever I can grab my kindle) and we are going to dive into that this year. Which will actually give me a little more free time. And by free time, I mean writing time. I am really looking forward to it and so are the boys.

Let’s see, what else have I been doing…our cat very unexpectedly had kittens, then Mama cat got a scratch on her face that required medical attention. We’ve had to wean the kittens early and¬†feed them individually. My daughter is tranistioning to the University and my husband has been working overtime being summer and all. In his line of work this is the busy season. What does he do, you might ask? Well, you know that little heart on your drivers license that indicates you are an organ donor? Enough said.

So, with all that, I will apologize to readers who have waited so patiently and ask them to wait just a bit more. Believe me, I miss the characters just as much and can’t wait to get back! I don’t like waiting either. I was, after all, one of those women in line at Barnes and Noble at midnight when “An Echo in the Bone” came out. I will try to make an effort to update this blog more often as well. Someone emailed me asking me to drop non spoiler tidbits about the next book in my blog posts to give her something to think about while waiting. That just made me smile! I am rolling that idea around. Thanks for reading and for your emails. They mean alot to me.

MLG