Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hey, that's my story!

     So, you may know that I'm writing a book. A good one, I hope. Anyway, I've been working on this novel for over a year now, and I'm allllmost nearing the finish. It's very exciting, and a very fulfilling feeling to be so close to completing something I've invested so much of myself into!

     But anyway, that's not what I'm talking about right now. This morning I was on Goodreads, and I noticed an add for a new book that's just come out -- Go Away Home. The title intrigued me, and I LOVED the cover, so I clicked on it and read the synopsis. And then I gasped because....

     People, this is MY story. Not exactly, of course; but it's pretty darn close.

     Okay, here's the synopsis:

     For an Iowa farm girl in 1913, Liddie Treadway has big dreams. She yearns to move to town, learn a trade, and live on her own. With encouragement from career-minded Aunt Kate, her goals seem within reach—until her unmarried sister is sent away for becoming pregnant and her father dies in a tragic accident. Now the family needs Liddie more than ever, and she’s certain she’ll be trapped on the farm for good.

The Treadways’ hired man, Joe Bauer, has dreams of his own: to marry and settle down. So when a woman he’s been courting breaks his heart, he leaves Iowa to start over, just as Liddie finally gets her chance to take a seamstress apprenticeship in town…

Though they’re separated by miles, Liddie’s friendship with Joe grows as they write to each other about their new lives. But when Joe returns, will Liddie have to choose between worldly independence and the conventional path of love and family? Or can she have it all?

     What?! No! I read through that and just sat there for a minute catching fruit flies in my mouth. It's so close to the premise of my novel. I have a young farm girl with big dreams of moving to a city and being rich. I have a career-minded Aunt who heavily influences her. The themes presented here are so similar to mine: 'worldly independence', the 'conventional path of love and family'? Um, Mrs. Bodensteiner? excuse me, ma'am, but have you been rifling through my desk when I wasn't looking????

     Now, it's not exactly the same. In my novel, Addie's father doesn't die and her sister isn't sent away for becoming pregnant. But still. I was pretty taken aback by how similar this book looks to what I'm writing. Now I really want to get my hands on a copy and read it -- because it does look super good. And I want to know just HOW close to my story it is. Because if there's anything else besides what's in the synopsis, that'd make me mad.

     Just, weird.

     Writer friends, has this ever happened to you?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Leap Year (2010)

Anna: I'm going there to propose to my boyfriend.
Declan: That's the stupidest thing I ever heard!

     I can't remember when I've watched a romantic comedy and liked it so much. Actually, I can't remember when I've watched a romantic comedy at all. I don't think I ever have, come to think of it. Anyway, this isn't the kind of movie I watch a lot of. But this one held a certain appeal to me for several reasons. One of them being that I'd read good things about it on friends' blogs, another being that it takes place in Ireland, and the other reason being...Matthew Goode. I'm being honest. ;-)

     So I was on the lookout for Leap Year, searching every library around for it...and then finally, last week, when I wasn't even looking for it, I found it!!! Doesn't it give you such a thrill when you find something at a library that you've been looking for for SUCH a long time?! I love moments like that. :-)

     So, I went home giddy and delighted. I watched the movie. And I loved it!

     Pretty much from the start, Leap Year is an unusual story. A girl named Anna lives in Boston, has a glamorous job 'staging apartments' (whatever that means -- this is coming from the country girl who probably won't understand your job description unless you say you plant corn or write books), a steady boyfriend, and from the outside, looks like she has it made. But when she and her boyfriend celebrate their fourth anniversary and he still hasn't asked her to marry him, Anna decides to follow him to a medical conference in Dublin to propose to him on Leap Day, February 29th, according to an old Irish tradition. Simple as that, right?

    Knowing Amy Adams, probably not. ;-P Things start to get complicated when Anna's plane has to land early because of bad weather, and she ends up on the wrong side of Ireland, in a tiny little two-bit village where the only public venue is a run-down, hole-in-the-wall bar. Enter Matthew Goode as Declan O'Callaghan.

     Declan thinks Anna's plan is absolutely ridiculous. But when Anna tries to find a taxi that will take her to Dublin, guess who's the driver. Yup.

     So begins Anna's long-winded, stressful, hilarious adventure of trying to get to Dublin in time to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day. And her humorous relationship with Declan, who turns out to be actually a lot nicer than she thought.

     Amy Adams was cute as Anna Brady. She annoyed me sometimes, especially at the beginning, because she was just so...modern, I guess. ;-) Plus she wasn't very nice to Declan. (Of course, he wasn't overly pleasant to her either...) The situations she gets herself in are a riot -- like wrecking an entire room while trying to plug in her phone, and frying the entire village in the process. I found it really funny that she walked around the whole movie in those ridiculous high heeled shoes. ;-) Okay, what I want to know is, how does she walk through rainstorms, fall on her face in the mud, and still get her hair looking that great?

     I tend to like stories where people are thrown together in odd circumstances and have to hate each other before they realize they love each other. I also like it in movies when people pretend they're married for one reason or another -- it's just funny. And almost always, the two people end up getting together in the end.

     When Anna misses her train to Dublin, she and Declan go home with the train master for the night. The train master's wife runs a sort of boarding house, but when they get there she only has one room left -- and she won't let anyone stay who isn't married. Desperate as they are, Declan and Anna decide to play along.

     There's only one bed. Problem.

     They flip a coin, Anna gets the bed, and she makes Declan sleep in the shower. (How awful does that sound?) But...it's awfully wet in there. Anna relents and lets Declan share the bed.

Because how could you say no to that face.

     It's pretty weird, but even though they're both in the same bed nothing actually 'happens'. That might really bother some people, but I didn't have a big problem with it. In fact, it made me like Declan even more, because he was a real gentleman about it. Not that I really needed anything to make me like Declan more.

     Did I mention how much I like Declan O'Callaghan?

     I LOVE DECLAN. Oh, my. He was just....wonderful. :-) Declan is not your typical guy. He was kind of moody, tough on the outside, not the most pleasant guy you're ever bound to meet. But when you get to know him, he's absolutely wonderful. And he's wildly funny. He drives old beat-up cars ("It's a classic!") and listens to annoying Irish indie music ("No one touches the music!") Not to mention, I don't believe Matthew Goode's ever looked better. He really had it going on with that beard.

     I did not like Anna's boyfriend, Jeremy, at all. He was just really, really annoying. Ewwww. He was the kind of person you just really love to hate. He didn't love her, people. Declan loved her. Oh dear, was that a spoiler? Well, you saw it coming.

     Yes, this movie is positively adorable. The kind of movie that makes you squeal and giggle, laugh your head off at times, go "Awwwww....", and leaves you with a sparkly, sweet, romantic feeling that lingers long after you've finished it. I went to bed in a sort of trance that night after watching it, swept away by the utter adorableness.

      If you like rom-coms at all, watch it. If you like Matthew Goode, watch it. If you like quirky stories about people who get into awkward situations, handsome Irish bartenders, and the timeless beauty of true love, then by all means, watch it. And then come back here and comment so we can giggle and squeal and be ridiculous together, because fangirls love company. :-)

Monday, June 22, 2015

....and we have winners!

     Hello, friends! We have the winners for our bookmark giveaway! I drew them out of my cowboy hat this morning -- no kidding, I really did. ;-) And they are...

Miscellaneous Collection

Kittens bookmark // Cryslyn
Jack & Rose bookmark// H.M. Wilson
Les Miserables bookmark// Miss Meg March
Cowboy bookmark// Hamlette
Gus McCrae bookmark// Olivia
GONE WITH THE WIND bookmark// Faith P.

Downton Abbey collection

Edith Crawley bookmark// Patricia Ellen
Lord Grantham bookmark// Naomi
Isobel Crawley bookmark// Kerry
Edith & Michael bookmark// Evie
Mrs. Hughes bookmark// Kara

      Thanks so much everyone!  It's been fun hosting my first giveaway. I've emailed the winners and will hopefully get these sent out soon.

      If you haven't visited the other giveaways in the Great Book Giveaway Bonanza, there's still time to enter! Just visit this page on Hamlette's blog to see them all.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

One year ago today...

     ...I sat down on the bridge by the creek, took my pen and wrote the very first words of the first novel I'd ever write. That was the day the dream began.

     Well, not exactly. If we want to get technical, the idea sprouted on June 15th, when I scribbled a few words in my notebook about an 'Aunt Isabelle' who drove a stylish roadster and came to visit each year on Mama's birthday. I had no idea then where I'd go with it; those words ruminated there on the page until a few days afterward, when I penned the first few pages of what is now the largest-scale project I've ever written, my masterpiece, the best thing that's ever come out of me. One year ago.

     ...And one year later, it's still not finished. Three-hundred-and-fifteen pages later, it's still not finished. But it's coming, and deep-down, it's there. It's all there in my heart, and now all I need to do is breath the words onto paper; bring my soul's feelings into words that can be seen and understood; make my story reach its fullest extent. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. It's coming, but it's not there yet.

     So I just wanted to commemorate this day, because it's very special to me. The day I really became a writer, you could say...even though I guess I always was one, all along.

P.S. It's also Father's Day! I love you, Daddy. :-) Thanks for being a hard worker, and watching westerns with me, and letting me name the animals after Lonesome Dove characters, and for making me laugh.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Great Book Giveaway Bonanza!

     It's here, folks! The Great Book Giveaway Bonanza! If you haven't already heard, Hamlette is hosting a great big giant book giveaway celebration on her blog, The Edge of the Precipice. I've been really looking forward to this, and now here it is! Book giveaways are the bestest, aren't they?

   Do hop over to her blog to see all the details, and enter for some really awesome books!

   Now, I thought it would be really cool to host my own book giveaway this year, but unfortunately that's not going to happen for two reasons; one, being all the books I'm willing to part with are ones I don't think anyone else would want to read; and two, I'm kind of broke right now and I just don't have the fundage for sending all those books. So, alas, I won't be giving away any books. BUT I do have something special for you! Instead of books, I'll be giving away several bookmarks that I've made.

Collection #1
(Left to right) Kittens, Jack and Rose, Les Mis, Cowboy, Gus McCrae, Gone With the Wind

Collection #2
(Left to right) Edith Crawley, Lord Grantham, Isobel Crawley, Edith and Michael Gregson, Mrs. Hughes.

(You can click on all the pictures to make them bigger)

     They're not spectacular, but they're cute! I thought it would be a unique contribution to the book giveaways going on -- because if you've got so many books, you're going to need a snazzy bookmark to go with them, right?-- and it's something I can do right now. ;-D 

     So! I've made eleven bookmarks. There are two separate collections; the Downton Abbey collection and the Miscellaneous collection. To enter, just comment below and tell me which one you would most like to win from each collection. (Please do enter for both! :-)) Each bookmark has a name, which I've listed with the pictures, so you can specify. Then leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. (Note: if you'd rather not have me publish your email address, just say so in the comment and I won't.) 

    This giveaway is open world-wide! I'll be drawing winners on June 22nd. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, John Boy

     June 13th is Richard Thomas' 64th birthday, the actor who will forever be immortalized in my mind as dear old John Boy. :-)

     I've grown up watching The Waltons from the time I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and they all seem like family to me. John Boy has always been my imaginary older brother, my childhood crush, my hero. There are so many reasons why I love him. Here are a few of the many...

  John Boy's a dreamer. He has big ideals, high hopes, and he hopes to be a famous writer someday.

He may be upset for a while, but it's never long before he's smiling again. :-)

He wears nerdy glasses and argyle sweaters.

He isn't afraid to be bold for what's right. He yells at people when he needs to.

He loves listening to stories, and gets inspired by his family all the time.

John Boy knows how to have fun. He's really just a kid at heart.

He's kind and considerate to every girl he's ever met.

He gets really excited about things.

He knows how to argue well.

Olivia's not smoking, just so you know. I think that's a pen or something.
He sits cross-legged on the sofa. 

He prints his own newspaper.

He calls Elizabeth 'honey'. He's nice to all his sisters.

He's always so earnest about his feelings.

John Boy really loves his family.

     He also sings  'Loch Lomond' with old ladies, helps deliver babies, wins horse races riding on mules, helps his family keep business deals, makes speeches, and writes books, and is pretty much the nicest guy you're ever bound to meet.

Happy birthday, John Boy. You'll always be my darling.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A night in summer long ago...


   So I sat down by the wood pile this evening, on the side facing the field, fully expecting to finish the chapter 9 re-write of my novel. But for some reason I'm in the mood for something else right now. I feel like sharing some of my adventures of late, blabbering about the funny little scenarios that make up my days, giving voice to my early-summer dreams. So bear with me, if you will. ;-)

    I'm on the edge of summer. (Not quite there yet, since our stand opens next week and that's always the official beginning of the season for me, no two ways about it.) Summer is when I come alive, really. I mean, I'm always alive (duh), but in summer I feel so much....more. The poetry in me comes to the surface. Emotions are heightened, dreams feel closer, laughter is louder and longer. It comes at me in fresh waves each year as the flowers bloom and the corn starts to shoot up in the fields. 

   Summer is also when I become pure, all the way country. I'm a country girl, folks. It's in my blood. I'm tied to the land. Most of it is being a farmer; some of it is just being overly sentimental. :-) But at this point in my life, anyway, I feel like I couldn't be as happy anywhere else. I love being a farmer girl. 

      Summer is getting my hands dirty; not just because it's my job, because I love to. Summer is leaving off wearing shoes for the indefinite future. Summer is going on extended odysseys in the diesel truck. Summer is picking daisies along the edge of the cornfield. Summer is writing stories on the bridge; reading books on the haywagon; making brownies at 8:30 PM; watching Dr. Quinn; savoring the moments of being halfway between little-girl and almost-adult in my beautiful little valley.

     So far, this June has consisted of....

~ sitting out in the treehouse with my laptop and my written manuscript, editing and re-writing to my little heart's delight....that is, until a second rung broke on the ladder while I was climbing down and I had to declare the place temporarily uninhabitable. Oh, did I mention the roof's also caving in? Yeah-- not safe. That old treehouse has seen better days. Maybe soon Daddy will get it fixed.

~ driving along of an evening with a bunch of cousins, listening to country music. :-) I <3 Brad Paisley. What is it with me and people named Brad.

~ romping around a little lakeshore town with a couple sisters and a cousin on her birthday. It was my cousin Mary's 17th birthday, and we celebrated in style, exploring a farmer's market, a library, and a very rocky beach.


No, we didn't actually go in this place. I just thought it looked kinda, um, cool.

   Oh yes, and I now have short hair! Mary wanted to get her hair cut -- short -- and being the pushy cousin I am, I pretty much said, hey, count me in! ;-P Haha. It was fun getting our hair done together. I had my hair really short when I was about eleven, but for years it's been mostly the same (like Sully :-)) so it was quite a change getting all that chopped off! I'm loving it.

~ multiple trips to the nursery-- that would be plant nursery, folks -- getting flowers for the stand and little baby plants that are ready to be put into the ground. *happy dance* The other day it was Mama and I in the truck and we stuffed the cab so full of flats and hanging baskets, we could hardly see out the windows, let alone get back out.... ;-P

~ reading Christian chick-lit. Yes, I have found a new love. Who'd have thought it, when I picked up that first contemporary romance at the library, that I'd get so hooked on this genre? Least of all me! I think it all started with those Sara Evans books. Now I'm knee-deep. It's really quite funny, if you think about it; me and sappy modern-day romances. Where, oh where did all my good sense go?

~ discovering the Inspired by Life and Fiction blog! This is my new favorite thing, folks. It's basically a bunch of Christian fiction writers blogging about their books, as well as everything and anything else. One of the regular bloggers is Lynn Austin, my favorite writer EVER. And guess what? I audaciously commented on one of her posts, and she responded! No, you don't understand: I ACTUALLY EXCHANGED WORDS WITH LYNN AUSTIN. *screaming* It was so special. :-)

~ I was interviewed on Heidi Peterson's author blog! Actually that was back in May, but I haven't mentioned it here yet, so I'm mentioning it now. I was so thrilled to be a part of her writer interview series. If you haven't seen it yet, I'd be plum tickled if you'd read it! Makes me feel very up-and-coming. :-)

~ being charmed and delighted by Tales of Avonlea! I love this adorable series SO much. My sisters and I used to watch the few episodes our library had over and over, but just recently we got some new ones (well, new to us) and watching them has been so much fun! These kids are so clever and naughty and hilarious. I wish I had grown up playing with them. Oh, and I may or may not be utterly in love with Gus Pike. Y'all can have Gilbert Blythe; Gus is mine.

   By the way, does anyone know where Tales of Avonlea ends and Road to Avonlea begins? They're kind of blurred together.

  ~ discovering new country music favorites, like Gillian Welch. Her voice is just pure, Appalachian country. Oh yeah, and I'm kind of into a band called Old Crow Medicine Show. They're not the kind of band you want to leave on shuffle...some of their songs are borderline-questionable, but they've got some really good ones, and I have to admit to being just a tiny bit taken with their lead singer. I mean, he sings and plays the fiddle at the same time. And his hair. I don't know. ;-P

~ practicing driving! Mama says I'm overconfident. Hmm. Wonder how that happened?

~ looking forward to starting riding lessons at our neighbor's horse barn soon!!! :-)

Me at the seaside lake. You have no idea how much my feet were hurting.

 Well, that's a glimpse of my days for you. There are so many things I'm looking forward to this summer! Picking beans (what's not to look forward to? ;-P), working on (and maybe finishing! Woo-ee!) my agonizingly drawn out labor of love (aka my novel), learning to ride horses, mayyybe getting a part in another musical (yipeeeee!!!), and just embracing each day's quirky little adventures. That could be the title of the story of my life: Quirky Adventures. Put a 'mis' in front of adventures, and you've got it. ;-P

   So many things to be glad of, so many things to thank God for. Because at the end of each day -- no matter the season, no matter the struggle -- I'm in His hand. And you are too! :-)

What's your summer looking like so far?
Do you have any funny adventures to share?

   (The title of this post, by the way, is a Mark Knopfler song. Because I know y'all were dying to know.)

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