Friday, October 31, 2014

Release Date, New Pinnables, and Lots of Thanksgiving!

Well, friends, I have been busy as a proverbial beaver this week, plugging away steadily to get this book out to you this fall.

This past week, I've formatted, proofed, re-formatted, re-proofed, re-formatted, and... I can safely let you in on the RELEASE DATE for THE FRAGRANCE OF GERANIUMS! I'm so thankful to the Lord for giving me a tremendous family who encourage and enable my writing... So thankful to the Lord God that He gives me the wisdom to know how to best revise and that He makes all thing beautiful in His time. :-)

So, without further ado, the release date for THE FRAGRANCE OF GERANIUMS, roughly categorized as historical women's fiction, is:


Please tell your friends - Spread the word - And PIN AWAY :-) all these beautiful PINNABLES that announce the release date AND showcase a quote from the novel:


Friday, October 24, 2014

How the Novel Found its Name, Part 2

As I related in my last post, the phrase, "scent of geraniums," has long held a place in my mind... and I was pretty certain that someday I would write a book with just that title: The Scent of Geraniums.

Images usually come first for me when I'm thinking of a new story to write, and this time was no exception:

Geraniums, hanging on a white-beamed porch in the autumn sunlight.

Geraniums, nestled closely together on card-tables in an upstairs room - dark with books and dust.

A piano found its way into that room, as well.

And a dark-haired woman whose fingers danced across the keys as she played hymns.

Another woman, too, but this one entered the story via an old photograph from the 1930s - a bob-haired middle-aged woman, standing between two of her sons - poor, oh-so-very-poor... She could no longer remember a time of real happiness, though she had a worn-out smile pasted on her lips.

And a girl... a teenager wearing a tattered cardigan and flopping shoes... mesmerized by the geraniums on that dark-haired woman's porch.

So the images came together... The plot formed... And three-quarters of the way through, I wasn't quite sure that "The Scent of Geraniums" was the perfect title anymore.

The book had become about so much more, and I wanted the title to convey that, somehow.

So, I played around with words, writing down everything-everything-everything that had anything remotely to do with the book's story, theme, characters, etc.  I ended up with about two dozen real possibilities for a title. Yes, that's right: Two dozen.

After a couple of weeks of tossing the titles over and over, I gave the list to five people and asked them to circle the top three titles that captured their interest - without knowing what anyone else chose. I would pick whatever title rose to the top.

So I thought.

Turns out, when you give a list of two dozen titles to five people, you get very little agreement!

And the choice reverted to me again. I considered The Scent of Geraniums again as the title. But then two people told me it reminded them immediately of a strange movie by a similar name with a different object-of-the-preposition. :-)

Time for a synonym search: And there popped up "fragrance."

Hmm... And that reminded me so strongly of the passage in the Gospels in which the woman pours a jar of expensive perfume over Jesus' feet and wipes them with her hair. And it says, "The fragrance filled the room." {John 12}

And that's what The Fragrance of Geraniums is about: the grace of emptiness before a Lord who suffered in our stead... and the real hope with which He fills us.

So, "The Scent of Geraniums" became The Fragrance of Geraniums.

And I thank the Lord for providing such a fitting name for this story, in just the right time.

If you'd like to see more pictures that have guided/inspired my storytelling journey this time around, I invite you to check out my Pinterest board for The Fragrance of Geraniums... I'm still adding to it, so feel free to follow the board to keep up-to-date. :) Just click on the widget below, and you'll be taken there:

Grace and peace,

Friday, October 17, 2014

How the Novel Found its Name

My stories usually have titles before they possess a fully-fleshed-out plot. That certainly was the case for this latest one: The Fragrance of Geraniums, releasing in mid-November, Lord willing! :-) Yet that title has evolved since the story's inception...

Do you know what geraniums smell like?

When I was a very little girl, my mother worked part-time as a nurse's assistant for a very elderly man with Parkinson's disease. The man's wife {and primary caregiver} didn't mind at all if my mother brought me along, so I spent a few afternoons each week in their living room, reading The Boxcar Children, or sometimes played on their large property.

The patient's wife - Alana was her name - gave me one of the strongest impressions of my childhood, without meaning to do it, I'm sure. And this is whence the upcoming novel's title comes:

During one winter, Alana asked if I would like to come upstairs to help her with something - I don't remember now what it was. So I traipsed up the steep, ancient staircase behind that spry, white-haired woman. At the top of the stair, we entered a dark but not gloomy hallway, and then Alana led the way into one of the rooms.

That is where I first experienced the scent of geraniums: spicy, unique... as my mother puts it, "not a pretty smell, really."

But an unforgettable one. And I never forgot the smell of that room - the darkened library-room where Alana "wintered" her geraniums - for, in New England, we can't keep our geraniums out year-round. I remember the stubby stalks of all those potted plants, lined up on card-tables, little patches of soil dusting their surfaces. I recall the surprise of realizing that the plants still lived - though Alana had pruned their scarlet blooms and dead bits.

The fragrance of geraniums - more emitting from the plant-part than from the flowers! - filled Alana's library-room, mingling with the musty scent of old books lining the shelves.

And, as a five-or-six-year-old, I felt that I'd been let into a mystery: There was a secret meaning to the scent of geraniums... though I didn't know yet what it was. And that is what the original title of this soon-to-be-released novel was: The Scent of Geraniums... which eventually became The Fragrance of Geraniums. More on that process next time. :-)

Update on The Fragrance of Geraniums' release: I have been editing-editing-editing to get this story to you all with its message of grace clear and lovely. Next is formatting. My Launch Team members should be receiving their review copies shortly - hurrah! :-) -  and then, dear readers - dear patient readers - The Fragrance of Geraniums should release in mid-November!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Title Reveal! And the Name is...

And the name of the new novel is...

Please feel free to SHARE and PIN so that more readers will have this novel to look forward to this harvest season. Thank you!

Coming up on this blog in the weeks ahead: How the novel found its title; a sneak-peek at the characters you'll meet in its pages; a giveaway; more pinnables... :-) This is a blessed and exciting, full-of-work time as this novel is born; I appreciate your prayers for me so very much.

Grace and peace,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pitying the Villain | For Other Writers | And for Interested Readers, Too!

An early reader (one of those Beta readers you hear me talk about from time-to-time) talked to me about her impressions of "The Geranium Story." I asked her how she liked "the villain" ... whether he was a good one or not. She hesitated, then said, "I kind of pitied him."

Smiling, I knew I had succeeded in creating the right sort of "bad guy." :-) For my own stories, I've found that my best bad guys would be great guys... if only they weren't bad. They're not any worse than other human beings; but they let sin devour them {see Genesis 4:7}, the same sin that lies at the door of each of us. They refuse to "rule over it," preferring the bowl of stew to the birthright {see Genesis 25:29-34}.

And I think that's where the power of pity arrives on the scene. An utterly-evil character cannot excite any emotion except fear... and maybe disgust.

On one hand, these emotions are desirable to effect; we end up sympathizing with our hero/heroine's plight and condemning the "villain."

On the other hand, I think the better villain produces a more complicated relationship with the reader... For we must never forget that good stories should cause the reader to identify with the characters - to see something of himself/herself in them. So "complicated" is good... This is one of the reasons I like to cut away to my villain's point-of-view at various points in the story. We have to understand where they're coming from... and where they're coming from? It's usually not a motive of just accomplishing devastation. At its root, a villain's motive could have once been good - or at least neutral. It's always human.

A little secret? Most of my "bad guys" have something of me in them, otherwise I couldn't write them truly. They also, often, have something of someone I know or know of - usually a good trait that has been twisted and contorted into something evil.

We pity a good villain because we know - deep in our hearts - that we need that pity - that grace - should we ever become the villain in our own tale.

For, as C.S. Lewis points out, there's never anything that is utterly evil in the same sense that God is utterly good. Evil is never creative, in the sense of something-out-of-nothing; it always takes materials once used for good and distorts them.

Isn't that the horror in The Lord of the Rings when we find that the race of Orcs derives from that of the Elves - captured, tortured, and mutilated into evil creatures? {click here for more info}

And for me at least, that's the horror in multi-dimensional villains: I could be just like them.

You could be just like them.

The hero/heroine could be just like them.

But for grace received.

For the grace to do differently is given to all.

But the reception of that grace is what draws the major line between my hero/heroine and our villains.

What about you? Do you have a favorite literary "villain"? I'd love to know why! :-)