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So here we are approaching September already. I spent three weeks in Rochester, MN just soaking up the green and the coolness. I’m hoping it will sustain me through two more months of heat here in the valley. My AirBnB was just as adorable as it looked online. So cute and so ME. Everyone loved it and I may be renting there for a month next year.

Being with friends almost daily was just a wonderful treat! As much as I sometimes hate being the 5th wheel, it also feels really good to be around male energy when we’re all together.

Highlights included: a visit with our 4th musketeer – Rebecca – from Portland. Such fun memories with her in Lanesboro having lunch on the river and the funniest play I’ve seen in years. Dinner on a rooftop restaurant in downtown, walks along the Zumbro and reminiscing a little as we drove past previous homes and hangouts. I’m so glad she could make it.

Other highlights: Fireflies in the park at dark. Geese at Silver Lake. The Genome exhibit sponsored by Mayo at the new (to me) art center. Getting a library card at the new (to me) library. Shopping at what was once the Red Owl grocer and Hunt Drug. Grandma’s Kitchen. Bridgeman’s ice cream. The old rec center where I spent hours waiting for the kids to finish with gymnastics and ice skating and ballet.

Squirrels who visited each morning and bunny rabbits that silently stood watch just off the deck. Thursdays on first and third. Movies. Car shopping. Lunch and dinner with Dianne and catching up on life. We’ve been friends since our husbands opened Rochester Meats back in 1970? Something like that.

The city has grown so much, I got lost numerous times, but the growth has created a beautiful, vibrant, cultural and international city. The skyscrapers didn’t exist in the old days, and the traffic and parking are a concern for the locals. But the buildings themselves are beautiful and the entire downtown is connected with glass walkways that span block after block. (much needed when it’s below zero).

So I’m back in AZ, looking at pictures of green trees, green grass, green everything and missing my MN friends. But perhaps I will finally get back to editing this final manuscript which I managed to ignore during my time up north. My goal was to finish it by Sept. 1st.  “aint’ happening!” ha

Good to be back to a normal routine I suppose and I’m setting a new goal for completion – October 1st.

Looking for Readers. I need six to eight people who will read with a critical eye and a red pen! Let me know if you’re willing.

Enjoy the memories below…

Stay tuned …

craft room back

Today, I got my craft room back and my office cleaned up as well. It feels odd not having every wall and surface covered with taped notes, research, questions, etc. But, my biggest job is done. My manuscript came back with major recommended revisions which I’ve been slowly working on. Yesterday I tore out the final scene and replaced it entirely. Earlier, I deleted most of the opening 44 pages including the prologue. It’s been a Slash and Dice project with a machete instead of a pocket knife. Ouch!

I loved some of my words, sentences, paragraphs and scenes. I miss them. But I also trust my editor. I’m still deciding on two more “suggestions” which may mean eliminating two characters completely. Ouch!

I’m headed to Minnesota for three weeks and the goal is to have this complete when I return and ready to go back out to her for final line edits.

This book has been difficult for me. I’m used to having a lot of history, historical characters, interesting events happening in their lives. It’s fun to research and fun to write. This time, the entire story is present day and the topic isn’t often playful either. In fact, pieces of it can be downright depressing. A story of resilience and strength.

I’m looking for a half dozen “beta readers” – I think this time the requirements will be: enjoys women’s literary fiction. Likes character driven story rather than plot driven. Empathizes with characters when they are well written and believable. Probably female themselves although that’s not an absolute. The manuscript is 370 pages (not nearly that in print form, but still …).

I can provide a flash drive, an attachment and am willing to print it off and mail it if needed. The benefit to having a hard copy is it’s easier to use your red pen and make margin notes along the way. The negative is you have to return it. If you have a program where you can edit as you read, that helps.

Let me know if you’d like to be a reader.

So—off to cooler climes and out of this ridiculous 116 degree weather. Stay tuned …

 

Book Recommendation

Factfulness: ten reasons we’re wrong about the world and why things are better than you think is on the best seller list. Author: Hans Rosling. Internationally recognized physician, scientist and researcher, World Health Organization, World Economic Forum, TED talk presenter, and to quote him ‘educator to a world who has less knowledge than chimpanzees.’ His factual information is current as of 2017.

I just finished the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author calls himself a ‘posiblist’ – instead of an optimist. However, I found his concepts very optimistic. It was also a mind-opener to our tendencies towards seeing gaps between things and people, toward negativity, toward fear, urgency and destiny.

Seeing gaps can be dangerous. We tend to divide the world in two: the haves and have nots, immigrant vs citizen at birth, black and white, sour and sweet … you get the idea.

But when we begin to view the entire world this way, it becomes dangerous and simplistic. Rosling suggests something more useful — divide the world into 4 groups instead of 2. You can compare any issue using these four levels.

For example, when comparing income levels, he suggests dividing it this way:

Level 1 (poorest)   Level 2 (poor)  Level 3 (approaching wealthy)  Level 4  (wealthy)

Instead of dividing by rich and poor, when you run the statistics (factual) you realize that most of the world is on Level 2 and Level 3. This provides a much more accurate picture — because Level 1 and Level 4 make up a much smaller percentage in every category.

Using income levels, one person per billion resides in Level 1 countries. Three people per billion reside in Level 2, with 2 people per billion in Level 3. Only one person per billion resides in Level 4.

Yes, you read that correctly. 3 people per billion live in Level 1 and Level 4 combined.

The majority – 5 people per billion live at Level 2 and Level 3.

I’ll let you read the book if it interests you. By the way, he acknowledges there are 5 issues in the world that warrant our concern, fear, and urgency. But all of the others, when you look at statistical data from professional and accurate fact finding sources, warrant almost none of the time, energy and drama we give them. (and guess what, the media loves drama and gets paid to provide it)

Oh, he also has a tip on where to be investing your money …  I’ll let you find that too.

I hope you’ll give it a read. Unfortunately the author died of cancer last year but his son and daughter-in-law are continuing his work, including his website Gapminder.

To close, Here are 3 of the 13 questions he asks in the first of the book. See how you do!

1. In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
A. 20%
B.  40%
C.  60%                                                                                                                                            (answer is C)
2. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has:
A. Almost doubled
B.  Remained more or less the same
C.  Almost halved                                                                                                                      (answer is C)
3. How many people in the world have some access to electricity?
A.  20%
B.  50%
C.  80 %                                                                                                                                        (answer us C)

cold water wash in arizona

cold water in az

Yes, this is how we do it! 6 cups of ice to a small load of delicates which I washed this morning. There is no cool tap water after June. In fact, several children have been scalded when parents turned on the garden hose in the yard without letting it totally drain out. Some days I ask myself why I live here, but like every living being in the desert, we learn to adapt I suppose.

A writer’s plight

Writing is easy for me, as it is for most authors. I love watching the characters in my head come to life and create a world around me.

I was once told in one of my writing courses that it’s fine to love to write, but if you want to be published, you have to love revision. That’s the hard part. Loving to revise.

To a certain extent I do like to revise. Finding better sentence structure, locating over-used phrases, using a Thesaurus or website to find a much better word than I originally used. All of that is likable, even fun. But when you get back a twelve-page summary from your editor that begins with: cut the first 44 pages, suddenly revision is no longer lovable, not even likable.

The hard revisions that require story structure, eliminating minor characters, developing more scenes with a particular character – none of those are “fun.”

It’s tempting as a writer to simply open a drawer, cram the damn manuscript inside and forget it. It’s tempting to say, the editor is wrong and I love my own words. It’s tempting to set fire to it!

In the past, I’ve stepped back for a period of time and realized how much time, energy, creativity, and work I have put into the book so far. It’s usually enormous. That’s when my stubbornness rises and I get out my red pencil, my yellow highlighter and my computer and go to work.

I’m stubborn enough that I have to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing this and no one is going to stop me. In my family it’s called the Poole stubbornness and the Poole temper. Guess I can blame my dad for this trait. Or thank him ….

I’ll let you know which in a week or two … Now, to re-read that 12 page summary …

 

By nightfall…

The wait is almost over. My editor emailed from D.C. two days ago that barring further delays, she would return my manuscript this evening. I wrote and said – really excited and anxious but mostly terrified! And it’s true. Nothing makes a writer shake in her boots more than an editor’s critiques.

Will she say, “Worthless, throw it in the garbage?” Or “Not bad, but you might want to rethink the entire plot line.” OR “I love it, but here’s about six months’ worth of changes you need to consider.”

The past few weeks I’ve busied myself with nonsensical things to keep from thinking: A jigsaw puzzle – a Chihuly reproduction I bought as a souvenir at the Oklahoma City Art Museum during a recent visit. A 4th of July wood craft for my breakfast table. Hey, it’s something I’ll use, turned out pretty cute, kept me busy for a few hours. Add to that Netflix – entire seasons of Bosch and Grace & Frankie. This weekend – binge watching The Handmaiden’s Tale. I also took two classes on organizing and saving digital photos and drove to the Copper Art Museum in Clarkdale, AZ.  Excellent by the way.

So tonight. She’s on the east coast so perhaps by 3:00. I’ll read her first page of overall thoughts and perhaps put off the details until tomorrow. Or I may just dive right in and depress myself all at once. I know I sound negative. All authors do the same. We’re hypercritical. We know it isn’t the best it can be when we send it off for edits. We also hope and pray that it’s worth spending the next two-three months living again in a story that isn’t our own. Deleting sentences we love, finding better descriptors, changing dialogue that doesn’t “push the story forward.” I know all the lingo after spending the past seven years as a writer. My skin has thickened and critique arrows can’t pierce my flesh. There will even be a few suggested changes that I will kindly decline to make.

This is not my first rodeo – this is my fourth book. Hopefully this is the best book ever. Hopefully I captured my protagonist. Hopefully readers can’t put it down. Hopefully it will get rave reviews. In the meantime, I head into another revision. I’ll come up for air sometime around August. See you then.