Things I Miss and Things I Don’t

I am fortunate to once again live where I grew up. Literally. I live in the house that my parents built when I was six years old. The site is not as rural as it was in 1959, but it’s still considered “country.” I can see two other houses from my house, but I don’t exactly live in a neighborhood as most people define that today. The local landscape is rapidly changing, and there are things from my growing up years that I miss.

I invite you to come with me as I take a walk down memory lane. All the photographs in today’s blog post were taken by me.

Cars

I used to know almost everyone who passed by the house. There was less traffic then, and each make and model of car was more distinctive than today. It was easy to tell a Ford from a Chevrolet.

Bobwhites

For a good part of my life, a covey of quail (also known as Bobwhites because that was their wonderfully-distinctive call:  Bob-White!) nested on the ground near a bed of daffodils and a pale pink rose bush in the front yard. I haven’t seen or heard a quail in probably 10 years. Those daffodils still bloom around the first week in February. The climbing rose bush is no longer there, but my brain can still call up the delicious scent of those roses!

Woodpeckers and Flying Squirrels

I haven’t seen a Red-Headed Woodpecker since I was a teenager. We have Downy Woodpeckers but no Red-Headed ones. I miss them.

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Male Downy Woodpecker on a suet feeder

We’ve seen flying squirrels in the huge old red cedar tree at the south end of the house some years, but not in a long time. I’m afraid they are no longer in our area. One summer our nightly entertainment was sitting on the porch and watching the flying squirrels fly in and out of the feeder in the cedar tree where we put dried ears of corn.

Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebirds almost became extinct due to chemicals that were being used for agricultural purposes. After the problem was figured out and stopped, the bluebirds made a comeback. They nest in bluebird boxes in our yard every spring and are a joy to see!

Crimson Clover, Daisies, and Queen Anne’s Lace

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Wild Daisy on May 9, 2015.

My uncle used to plant red clover in the field across the road from our house to enrich the soil for other crops planted other years. I loved the way a breeze would gently blow through the crimson clover blossoms in waves. That memory calls to mind “amber waves of grain” from the song, “America the Beautiful.” That field is beautiful today with wild daisies and Queen Anne’s Lace. No doubt, someday, the wild flowers will be replaced with houses.

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Queen Anne’s Lace blossom

Tractors and Cattle

There are several farmers on the road I live on who still grow crops such as winter wheat. They raise beef cattle and goats. Some of the cattle have won blue ribbons at the North Caroline State Fair. These are serious farmers. I like that their tractors pulling various farm implements pass my house daily. I dread the day that I will have to add farm tractors to the list of things I miss.

Air-Conditioning

Lest I become too nostalgic about the 1950s and 1960s, I will also admit that I do not miss the days before air-conditioning. I do not miss those nights when it was so hot, humid, and still that I just lay in bed watching the clock because it was too hot to sleep.

Hoppy Toads and Mollypops

 

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Passion Flower in our garden

I enjoyed having a vegetable garden for many years. Along with a lot of hard (and hot!) work, came brown and bumpy toads we called “hoppy toads,” box turtles, writing spiders, gossamer-winged dragonflies, and wild passion flowers that produced a fruit we call “mollypops.”

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A “Hoppy Toad”
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Eastern Box Turtle in our yard
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A writing spider in our garden
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Dragonfly in our garden

Not having a garden any more means I rarely see a toad, a box turtle, or a writing spider. I haven’t seen a passion flower since the last year I had a garden, but now we’re overrun with white-tailed deer, raccoons, skunks, gray squirrels, and rabbits. As their habitats get bulldozed down to make way for more and more houses, animals such as deer are being pushed into our yard.

A raccoon in our yard April 28, 2014.
Raccoon in our yard

Hungry White-Tailed Deer

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Gray Squirrel (with a slightly red tail)

 

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White-Tailed Deer Fawn

One interesting bit of information is that I never saw a deer in our area until I was an adult. Now it’s common to see several grazing in the yard. The deer were the reason we stopped planting a vegetable garden a few years ago. We planted tomatoes, green beans, summer squash, corn, bell peppers, okra, and radishes. The deer ate everything. Well, almost everything. We did get six radishes for all our hard work! Needless to say, that was the last year we tried to have a vegetable garden.

I have truly been blessed to have lived here as a child and now again as an adult. I can’t imagine growing up in a better place! A part of me bemoans the fact that this area’s population is growing so fast, but I’d rather live in a vibrant, growing area than in one that is losing people and becoming a ghost town.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Midnight Cool, by Lydia Peelle and Killers of the Flower Moon:  The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann.

I’m still working my way through Barbara Kyle’s “Your Path to a Page-Turner Program.” I’ve learned a lot about the art and craft of writing from the first 16 videos and look forward to the remaining seven lessons.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have lots of productive writing time.

Janet

 

The Spanish Coin, Rescued?

In my H is for Historical Fiction blog post on April 10, 2017, I announced that I needed to make some major plot changes and rewrite my novel manuscript titled The Spanish Coin. I wasn’t sure I had it in me to do that. All is not lost, though!

The-Spanish-Coin-Rescued

 

I’ve brainstormed and come up with an idea for rescuing the book! I hope to start the actual rewrite by the end of the summer. I plan to retain the working title – The Spanish Coin. It won’t be the same story as the original idea, but it will still take place in the Carolinas in the years just prior to the American Revolution. This weekend I started doing deep character work on my protagonist.

I’m getting help!

Barbara Kyle’s “Your Path to a Page-Turner” program [https://www.barbarakyle.com] has been a tremendous help to me as I start creating the people who live in my novel. Andrea Lundgren, my writing coach, [https://andrealundgren.com] cheers me on and gives constructive feedback. I am also encouraged by the comments my blog posts receive on the blog itself and on my Facebook pages.

You have all been very patient with me on my journey as a writer. I hope we will all be rewarded someday with The Spanish Coin held together by a spine and two book covers!

Liebster and Versatile Blogger Awards

A few weeks ago, Andrea Lundgren nominated me for the Liebster Award and blogger YellowFuzzyDuck nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. While I was honored by both nominations, I had to decline due to my health.

I thought it only fair that I acknowledge the nominations in this blog post and explain why I couldn’t fulfill the requirements. I thought that telling this personal story might also serve as an explanation for anyone thinking that I’m taking too long to write a book.

CFS/ME

One requirement of both those blogging awards is that the nominee must tell some things about themselves that their readers probably do not know. Something that most of my readers don’t know is that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. That’s its lame name in the United States. In most of the rest of the world it is called Myalgic Encephalopathy or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. I was diagnosed in 1987. My energy level remained essentially the same throughout the first 29 years except for a very gradual decline.

Shingles

Having shingles (May 2016 until recently) has taken an additional toll on me, and I have been unable to regain the energy level I had prior to that illness. My right cornea is still not happy!

Energy slumps

I’ve had slumps before. I choose to believe that this is just a longer-than-usual slump. I choose to expect to improve any day now. That positive attitude has gotten me through the last 30 years. I am, by no means, an invalid. I don’t want to leave that impression!

My life at the present time

I am pretty much at home, though, because getting out and about is draining. For instance, a trip to the grocery store can land me in bed or on the couch for a day or two. I’m fortunate that writing is, for the most part, a sedentary occupation.

Having to rewrite The Spanish Coin is daunting. I love to write and I enjoy doing the research required in order to write historical fiction; however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t work. I refuse to give up, though!

Call to Action!

Please visit Andrea Lundgren’s blog, https://andrealundgren.com. Andrea writes insightful and informative blog posts about various aspects of writing. As my writing coach, she has her work cut out for her!

Also, please visit YellowFuzzyDuck’s Turtledesk blog, https://turtledesk.wordpress.com. This blog takes on a variety of topics and contains beautiful photographs.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. My blog post on Friday will be about the books I read during the month of May. I read some good ones!

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time. If you are still learning the craft of writing, you might want to visit https://www.barbarakyle.com and check out Barbara’s “Your Path to a Page-Turner” program.

Janet

My Writing Plan of Action Update

I blogged about my writing plan of action on January 18, 2015. It’s time to give you an update.

You may recall that my plan in January included goals for my anticipated book of vintage postcards from the piedmont of North Carolina. That book did not come to fruition, so my plan was revised. This is what it looks like today:

(1) Schedule book signings/author events (on-going);
(2) Continue to blog every 5 days or so;
(3) Continue to search for writing contests to enter or magazine articles to write (on-going);
(4) Set aside one day each week to edit my historical novel manuscript, tentatively titled, The Spanish Coin, (until I get it polished as much as I can); and
(5) Start in earnest to find a literary agent to represent me and my novel.

I continue to try to schedule book signings and other author events. The only one I have on my calendar this summer is at the J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman (NC) Branch Library on August 27. With our house being remodeled during the next several weeks, I did not want to schedule any events until later this summer. It’s not like people are beating a path to my door begging me to come speak about my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina! I did not want to schedule any events in June or early July. I didn’t have any requests for that time period, so it worked out fine.

Originally, I thought I needed to blog daily. I came to realize that no one wanted to hear from me every day. My writing life is not that compelling. I adjusted my plan to blog every five days or so, but I will not blog just for the sake of blogging.

I continue to work on stories to submit to writing contests, although I haven’t produced any winners yet in 2015. I wrote a creative nonfiction piece about my 4th and 5th great-grandmothers for the GENEii writing contest sponsored by the Southern California Genealogy Society. I entered a contest in which the prize was to have an entire manuscript evaluated by Barbara Kyle, but I didn’t win that one either. I entered “The Other Woman,” a 1,000-word short story in the Bevel Summers Short Story Prize competition sponsored by Shenandoah Literary Review, but I learned a couple of weeks ago that it did not make the final round of judging. Such is the life of a writer, but at what point does it become counter-productive to keep entering writing contests and not winning or placing? There were more than 1,000 entries in the Bevel Summers competition. My story was eliminated going into the third round of judging. No time spent writing is wasted; however, I must be selective because most contests have an entry fee. Getting no constructive feedback from writing contests is a drawback. My money might be better spent in getting my novel manuscript evaluated by a professional.

We’re down to number four on my plan. This is where the wheels begin to fall off my wagon. I thought it would be easy to set aside one day each week to edit and revise the manuscript of my historical novel, The Spanish Coin. I have failed to discipline myself to accomplish that. I have worked on it for a few minutes here and there, but that is a terrible way to approach such work. I must block out at least an hour or more on a regular basis to do it justice. Being surrounded by the noise of a remodeling project is not conducive to any form of writing, especially something as important as a novel. Until I get number four under control, I can’t move on to number five.

A written plan for my writing makes me accountable. I’m a discouraged at the moment, but I will keep writing. It’s what I love to do!