A local history talk

Yesterday my sister and I conducted our fourth (and last) Local and Rocky River Presbyterian Church History Talk and Tour. We had these monthly, September through November, skipped December, and then started again in January. Response has fluctuated. It was worth a try. I spent hours planning the topics. I had enough topics to last two or three years. No doubt, someone who has not attended any of the four talks so far will complain that we are discontinuing the programs. That’s human nature.

Yesterday’s topics were the Rev. Dr. John Makemie Wilson and the Rocky River Academy. Dr. Wilson was the pastor of Rocky River and Philadelphia Presbyterian Churches in Cabarrus and Mecklenburg Counties for 30 years in the early decades of the 19th century. He served as teacher at Rocky River Academy for much of that time. Completing their studies at Rocky River Academy prepared the students for entrance in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Twenty-five of the academy’s students went on to become Presbyterian ministers. One of them, the Rev. Dr. Robert Hall Morrison, was a founder and the first president of Davidson College.

The three-part series of local history columns I wrote about the Rocky River Academy for Harrisburg Horizons newspaper came in handy as I prepared for yesterday’s program.

Last night I spent some time editing the manuscript of my historical novel, The Spanish Coin, in preparation to submit it in a writing competition. More on that later.

Postcard captions in dribs and drabs

The title for today’s blog posting came to me and triggered a question in my mind. Where or how did that saying originate? It seems that dribs dates back to the 17th century in some English, Irish, and Scottish dialects and meant “an inconsiderable quantity” or sort of like “drip.” The origin of drab in conjunction with drib isn’t as clear. It meant a “small debt or sum of money in England in the early part of the 19th century. I must admit, though, that I thought it was “drips and drabs” until I looked it up a few minutes ago. The joke is on me! It just goes to show that sometimes I think I know what I’m talking about but I actually don’t. At least I was using it correctly even though I wasn’t spelling or saying it correctly.

I had hoped to edit my historical novel manuscript, The Spanish Coin, for four hours today. (Anyone remember that Writing Plan of Action I posted about a few days ago?) Instead, a plumber was in the house working in various rooms for a couple of hours. It doesn’t take much to distract me. There was just no way I could settle down and get any uninterrupted time to edit that book between that disruption and then the aftermath of putting things back into cabinets and mopping the kitchen and bathrooms. I did not want to abandon my writing completely, so I did the research for and wrote nine vintage postcard captions in preparation for a possible piedmont North Carolina book for Arcadia Publishing. (My goal was to write two captions today.) I’ll keep you posted.

Striking a balance in life

With my “Writing Plan of Action” in place as of yesterday, today I turn my attention to striking a balance. I have the luxury of not depending upon my income from writing to keep me afloat. I would have drowned a long time ago if that had been the case! My income from writing thus far officially qualifies it as a hobby, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That means it does not matter how much writing puts me “in the red” financially; it’s just a hobby.

Don’t get me wrong; I would love to be able to make a living by writing. That’s what all writers dream of and aspire to, but few of us achieve that level of success. It would be marvelous if my historical novel manuscript, The Spanish Coin turned out to be “the Great American Novel,” but how often does that happen? I certainly won’t gain fame or fortune writing vintage postcard books like The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, but it is a thrill to see my name on a book as the author.

As I jump into my new “Writing Plan of Action” this week, I want to keep all facets of my life in balance. Writing and everyday life tend to leave no time for playing the mountain dulcimer. I’ll never become proficient at playing that lovely stringed musical instrument from the Appalachian Mountains if I don’t practice.

Playing the dulcimer a few minutes each day, studying the Bible, visiting the sick and homebound, walking the dog, quilting, sewing, doing needlework, and reading for pleasure are all things I need to make time to do. Those are the activities that tend to get squeezed out as I get absorbed by the self-imposed demand to write, write, write.

Tomorrow I will make yet another attempt to strike a balance in my life.

My Writing Plan of Action

This being my 100th blog post, I thought it was a good time to make a “Writing Plan of Action.” I made such a plan a couple of years ago for making items to sell in my craft shop on Etsy.com — Hickory Ridge Crafts. I tend to procrastinate if I don’t have a written list to keep me on task.

My “Plan of Action” for Hickory Ridge Crafts started as a weekly list. I soon found I needed a daily list; otherwise, the end of the week would arrive and half the things on my list had not been finished. What I present today in this post is seven goals and objectives, most of which have no end date or deadline. As I plan each week, I will assign tasks to each day in order to accomplish these goals and objectives:

(1) Schedule book signings/author events (on-going);

(2) Continue to blog every day (on-going);

(3) Continue to research and write captions for a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book so I can propose the book to Arcadia Publishing (on-going);

(4) Spend two hours each week building a list of places that might sell a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book (which must be included in my author proposal – beginning next week;

(5) Continue to search for writing contests to enter or magazine articles to write (on-going);

(6) 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

(7) If Arcadia Publishing rejects my author proposal for a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book, start in earnest to find a literary agent to represent me and my novel.

Sounds like a plan! I’ll give a progress report occasionally.

Not one single sales gene!

Making “cold calls” at bookstores and other stores that might sell my book is not my idea of fun because I was born without one single sales gene. It is difficult for me to enter a store and introduce myself and my book. Perhaps it will get easier with practice. I am much happier at the keyboard writing. That’s probably true of most writers, but promoting one’s book is part of the job.

I told my friend, Kay, that I was not cut out for life in the fast lane. She didn’t miss a beat and came back with, “Maybe you should of thought about that before you wrote a book!”

If you’ve been following my blog over the last week, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that my book was on all the bookstore shelves in the mountains. I visited several bookstores that had not heard of my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. That was not a surprise.

Eastern National operates the gift/book shop at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville. There were a couple of Arcadia Publishing books available there, but mine was not one of them. The cashier said they will “probably have it eventually.” He said it has to be approved for sale by the national office, the regional office, and then the local office. I’m hopeful my book will be for sale there by spring. Winter is a slow time for tourists on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so spring will be good.

The woman at Fountainhead Books in Hendersonville was not very encouraging, but gave me the owner’s business card and told me to have Arcadia contact the owner directly. I did that when I got home, and Arcadia is following up with Fountainhead.

The Fountainhead Bookstore in Hendersonville, NC.
The Fountainhead Bookstore in Hendersonville, NC.

Joy of Books is the other bookstore in Hendersonville. The woman there was upbeat. She has never ordered books from Arcadia, but she has ordered from History Press and she knew that the two companies recently merged. I’m hopeful that she will order my book.

Joy of Books in Hendersonville, NC.
Joy of Books in Hendersonville, NC.

All the contacts I make while promoting The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina will serve me well if I get to write additional vintage postcard books for Arcadia Publishing and when I get my historical novel published. The title I’ve given that 98,000-word manuscript is The Spanish Coin. Someday….