"...IF YOU FOLLOW YOUR BLISS, DOORS WILL OPEN FOR YOU THAT WOULDN'T HAVE OPENED FOR ANYONE ELSE." - Joseph Campbell

"SOMETIMES ON THE WAY TO YOUR DREAM, YOU GET LOST AND FIND A BETTER ONE." - Unknown (as seen on River's blog, "Drifting Through Life")

"IT IS POSSIBLE AT ANY AGE TO DISCOVER A LIFELONG DESIRE YOU NEVER KNEW YOU HAD." - Robert Brault


"IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO BE WHO YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN." - George Eliot

"WE DID NOT CHANGE AS WE GREW OLDER. WE JUST BECAME MORE CLEARLY OURSELVES." - Lynn Hall

"GO CONFIDENTLY IN THE DIRECTION OF YOUR DREAMS! LIVE THE LIFE YOU HAVE IMAGED." - Henry David Thoreau



Monday, December 31, 2012

* IT'S A SNOWY NEW YEAR'S EVE *

Well, I didn't get my wish for a White Christmas, but I was surprised to see snowflakes this morning! Not a whole lot has fallen yet, but it's coming down pretty fast. 


Here's a couple of pictures I just took from inside my house.

Deck


 Can you see the flakes falling?


I love this one!


Our mailbox and my "Fa La La & Mittens" flag

Wishing everyone a safe and fun evening, no matter what your plans are! 


I'm also including my post from December 31st of last year:

One of my favorite movies is "When Harry Met Sally." There are so many great scenes and dialogue in it, but for tonight I must post a very appropriate one. It's at the New Year's Eve party. Harry just told Sally how much he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. After a little while, it's midnight and people begin to sing "Auld Lang Syne."  Following is their dialogue:




Harry:  My whole life I have never known what this song means.


Sally: I know exactly what you mean.


Harry: I mean, should old acquaintances be forgot. Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we do happen to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we forgot them…..


Sally: Maybe you're just supposed to remember you forgot them, or something – anyway it's about old friends.

~~~~     ~~~~




Happy 2013! May it be a blissful one for all of us!


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

Saturday, December 29, 2012

* I WONDER ABOUT WORDS AND MEMORY *

I Wonder


 I haven't posted an I Wonder in a long time.
I wonder why?



Oh, how annoying it is to suffer from lethologica, especially when you're a writer....

I wonder how many of you have heard of this word? I certainly hadn't until I accidentally came across it the other day. And oh, what a perfect word for so many of us.....   

lethologica ~ LĒTH ō LŎJ-ik ă  


noun: the inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word.


Ah yes, and sometimes it's worse being on the receiving end of a conversation......

~~~

The Ronald: "Look at the guy in this commercial."

Becky: "Which one?"

The Ronald: "That blonde guy. Wasn't he in that TV show that used to be on?"

Becky: "What TV show?"

The Ronald: "Oh you know. That one about cops and detectives. We used to watch it all the time."

Becky: "We've watched lots of shows that sound like that. Can you give me a little more information, like what decade it was??"

....and my exasperation goes on...





"I always have trouble remembering three things: faces, names, and -- I can't remember what the third thing is." -- Fred Allen

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Correspondence, a Campaign, and a Cake

Yes, I "owe" but it's not credit card bills because of Christmas shopping. 

Nope, what I owe: E-mails and Christmas cards!

source: Cafe Press

Please don't think I've forgotten you, but I just didn't send Christmas cards. If you did receive one, it's either because your last name is in the first part of the alphabet, or you're just lucky, because I did send out about ten of them!

So, to catch up on my correspondence, I intend to send something after January 6th, which is my birthday!



If you're a regular visitor to my blog, you'll know that particular date is very significant and for TWO BIG reasons this year. That's the date my Kickstarter Project ends. Please help me reach my goal. And it will be the best gift I've ever received and it will be for.....


source: bookriot.com 


  my 60th Birthday. Yikes!!  
source: onesweettreat.com/2011




"Authorities say brain cells may shrink, but they don't necessarily die. Frankly, I am cheered by the fact that something is shrinking. I'd be even more thrilled if what was shrinking affected by dress size, but you can't have everything." -- Erma Bombeck

Sunday, December 23, 2012

* Nostalgic Sunday *

It's time for another Nostalgic Sunday!


Last night I thought about Christmases of long ago, and it occurred to me to share a few lines from various chapters in my memoir. 
~~~
The first one involves my sister Jo Ann, my brother Mike and me. I was 10 years old.(my parents were recently divorced at this time)
.......another very cold Sunday, Jo Ann, Mike and I were at Mass. When it was time to go to Communion, we were still completely bundled up in our heavy winter coats. Since we walked the few blocks to church, we never did warm up. As we knelt at the Communion railing, all of a sudden one of the shiny, gold buttons on Mike's coat popped off and went soaring up towards the altar. I guess he had on one too many layers that day and the thread couldn't hold any longer. And of course, being in a situation where we shouldn’t laugh, it made us want to giggle all the more. We couldn’t help but do that silent, shoulder shaking laughing and a bit of snorting, too. Luckily, the button didn’t hit the priest, or anyone else, but it pinged a couple of times as it bounced around the marble floor and steps. I could feel many pairs of eyes scanning the front of church, wondering who the culprits were. The three of us managed to get through the rest of Mass without causing any more commotion, but I don’t think we could've said what the closing hymn was. We were too busy trying to keep solemn faces and weren't doing a very good job of it.

~~~
I remember a few things all the way back to when I was three years old. The following are some of them.

My brother and I never believed in Santa Claus. Why, you may ask? Our mother didn’t want us to! She said when she learned the truth as a little girl she was so devastated she didn’t want her own children to ever suffer the way she did. Huh?! ....
...I watched my older sisters Marian and JoAnn wrap presents.....Some years we had Snow-in-a-Can and Dad sprayed that fake stuff all over the tree. I actually have a few delicate ornaments with that gunk still on them......Those early Christmases were perfect and I still carry them in my heart. Our tiny house didn't overflow with gifts or decorations, but with our family's love. There was a warmth to our home that I felt even as a little girl of three or four years old.

Becky & Mike
get a load of my knock knees!
~~~
The time frame of the following speaks for itself.
......I particularly remember getting an idea in my head the Christmas I was 12 years old. I truly believed he was going to “come to his senses” and come home to us. (I’m pretty sure that idea came from my mother.)  I sat for hours in our living room, facing the front door, listening to Bing Crosby croon “I’ll Be Home for Christmas." I played that record so many times, I almost wore it out.  I just knew any minute he would burst through the door, ask for forgiveness and be loaded down with gifts for all of us, including Mother. It was a scene I played repeatedly in my wistful daydreams. I made sure the porch light was on, so Dad could find our house. But of course, that never happened.  (The title of this chapter is "Thoughts On Love & Forgiveness," and was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul; Divorce & Recovery in 2008.)




Although most of my adolescent Christmases were lonely, because they were spent without my dad, I choose more times than not to remember those early, happy ones.


Wishing everyone the merriest of Christmases!



 "Memory is the library of the mind." -- Francis Fauvel Gouraud

Thursday, December 20, 2012

* Silver and Gold....&....Snow Men *

Who remembers that song from the 1960's animated special, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?  
♫♪  Silver & Gold ... Silver & Gold  ♫♪

Those are the only words I remember from the entire song, but I certainly remember the tune, and the voice of Burl Ives singing it!

 (I thought I'd do another Christmasy post tonite! You can always click on the photos to make them larger.)


This is a large glass bowl on our mantel. I filled it with plastic silver and gold ornaments and tied a silver ribbon around it. Not too shabby, huh?!


This is that $15.00 tree I mentioned in a previous post. It's about 6' tall, and has multi-colored lights. I added a string of white lights and it was just right (light-wise!)

Every ornament on the tree is plastic and bought from either Hobby Lobby or Dollar Tree. Wow, I'm a big spender, aren't I?!

BUT, it does look like I missed a spot or two, or three! I sure didn't notice it until I looked at this picture. 


I particularly like this one. 


.. And here are the Snow Men..in the half-bath ..


Whoa...I didn't realize that sink was so ugly, until I saw it in this picture, too. 
It must actually look much better in person!

The snowman soap dispenser on the left came from Kohl's a few years ago. I was thrilled to find it because my color scheme is blue and white! To the left and behind that snowman is a glass bowl with a few blue and gold plastic ornaments and sparkly stars.The snowman on the right is plastic and from Dollar Tree. He's adorable and his hat looks like it's real yarn. 
And a white hand towel with snowmen on it!


More snowmen. Another blue and white duo, on a sled. One under a candle lamp, and a little guy on skis. 


And another hand towel 

* Please don't forget about my Kickstarter Project. Thanks so much *



*I'm dreaming of a White Christmas* because we had a dusting of snow today and some fierce winds that are still blowing. BUT, according to the weather prognosticators...it's not going to happen. :(

Monday, December 17, 2012

Time For Some Goofiness

(I have no words to add to what's already been said about the recent tragedy)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I can't believe Christmas Eve is one week from today. I sound like such an old lady every December when I mention how the year has just flown by

Well, I AM becoming an old lady....and it's officially happening on my next birthday...... January 6th, 2013......I'll be 60 Freakin' Years Old! I have no idea how that's possible. Thank goodness I don't feel old, mentally or physically. And I'll still be the same Goofy Becky next month, and every month, and every year after that.



Evidence of Past Goofiness, from various years: 
(some of these photos have been posted before)














Wow! What's the deal with this disgusting kitchen?? I guess I spend more time being goofy than cleaning house.



Welcome to my newest followers: Julie Luek and The Desert RocksI hope you'll stop by often and always enjoy what you read and see!  



And now, a few quotes from one of my favorite Goofy Guys: Steven Wright


Shin: a device for finding furniture in the dark. -- Steven Wright

A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. -- Steven Wright 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

* We Need a Little Christmas *

I love the 1974 musical "Mame" with Lucille Ball and Robert Preston. And yes, I know...Lucy is NOT a singer, but she's actually much better than she portrayed in the old "I Love Lucy" show. And yes, I know the movie was NOT a commercial success. What can I say? To each his/her own!

Why do I like this movie so much? Because of the character Mame. She's fun and wacky and loves life. She even tries to stay upbeat during the Great Depression and after getting fired from her job. That's when she comes home and sings "We need a little Christmas" with her young nephew Patrick and her loyal house attendant, Ito. Of course, there are many more great scenes, but since it's December.....How about a Little Christmas from my House to Yours? 


These adorable porcelain dolls are part of a Christmas tree.


They're both singers in a Christmas choir, holding their song books. 


I got my camera as close as possible and took a picture of the inside of one of the song books, because there are actual words and music in it! The song is: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear


Here is the tree. It's about 36" high and is standing on an end table in the living room. I bought it a couple of years ago at a local craft fair. The price was so incredibly low, I had to buy it instantly! 
See where the choir girls are, and there are three snowmen in front of them. There are all kinds of other ornaments included, plus the lights, obviously. Everything is glued and stays in place, too. I just love it and can't imagine why it was so inexpensive! Maybe it was purchased at a garage sale for a cheapie price and then resold at the craft fair!

 None of these photos turned out very well. I think it's partly because my camera battery needed a charge. 

Here's one of the cute little ornaments. 

We have one other tree that stands in the family room and it, too, is a cheapie! The Ronald and I bought it about 5 years ago at a Walgreens. It was a floor display, about 6 ft tall and narrow. Nothing fancy, but came with mulit-colored twinkle lights.....all for $15.00. Ya can't beat that!! I'll post photos of it some other time.  


P.S. I know I owe so many e-mails, and blog visits and comments, and I stress over it every day. I promise that tomorrow - Wednesday the 12th - I will begin my attempt to catch up!  

** Update: 10:00pm CST** Thanks to the incredibly insightful podso, I won't be adding anymore stress to my life during the holidays concerning e-mails or blog comments. I hope everyone will understand, as podso predicted, and will do the best I can! 


And I leave you today with a favorite quote from "Mame"

"Life is a banquet! And most poor fools are starving to death!" -- Mame

Saturday, December 8, 2012

* Leaps of Faith and Me: A Continuing Scenario *

Does this happen to you? Just when you think your plans are set and the road ahead is straight and clear, you come to a hill and on the way down, a mirage appears to lie ahead in the distance, right in the middle of the road....

Once again it's time for me to take another leap of faith, actually two giant leaps of faith, because I feel that I'm on the brink of something big and it's time to take control of my own destiny. 

I'm excited, invigorated, and ready to say, "Look out world. Here I come!"

I apologize for sounding secretive or mysterious, but I can't reveal things until they've actually begun. It should be soon, though.




Have you noticed my new plaque I posted on the right side bar? It's kind of hard to miss, isn't it? I saw it a couple of weeks ago at Home Goods and although it's not in any of my color schemes, it yelled at me to buy it. I mean...how could I resist? It says ALL the things I believe in, and it even has "Follow Your Bliss" on it. Sold! 

Oh, and on a side note: I've begun writing a sequel to my memoir! I still have so many stories to tell. Now I just need a title! 



Welcome to my newest follower Trish at Desktop Retreat.
I hope you'll stop by often and always enjoy what you read and see!  


And because I believe in all those sayings, that's why I have to make those leaps of faith when something presents itself: 

Follow Your Heart. Never Give UP. Nothing is Impossible. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Books and Christmas...Christmas and Books

While blog hopping the other day I came across a photo of a Christmas tree made out of books. It was the coolest thing, but I don't remember where I saw it. (see previous blog post about my confusion and lack of attention span!) 

Then yesterday my awesome friend, S. who is not a blogger and didn't even know I'd recently seen such a thing, sent me this:  


I just love this! It's not the same one I saw on the other blog so that prompted me to Google Christmas trees made from books....and oh my gosh, you won't believe how many creative "trees" there are. Here's the link for hundreds of images that also includes "trees" made from recycled products. The book trees though are my favorites, naturally! 


photo by Becky

And speaking of Christmas and books.....how about books wrapped in "book" Christmas wrapping?? 

And do any of you remember these adorable Christmas cards I bought a couple of years ago? I found them at: Bodleian Library - University of Oxford.  Love them!


Whatever you do today, take a little time to savor the joy of reading, especially if it's a printed book!




"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.-- first line of Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott  (one of my all time favorite books)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

* If It's Tuesday, I'm Confused....Again *

First I want to say a huge Thank You to all the wonderful women who stopped and left such heartfelt comments on my Thanksgiving Day and December 1st posts. It truly means so much to me! I love my bloggy friends!

If you're a long time reader of mine, you may remember I've used this same post title before. That's because my days are so busy and I get so mixed up sometimes that I honestly don't know what day it is! But, hey....I'm having fun, so I'm not complaining!

I saw the following gadget/button on Annesphamily's blog and it made me laugh out loud. It is SO ME! And Anne gave me permission to use it on my blog, too........

Isn't that hilarious??!!


The past few days I've been busy with writerly stuff and house cleaning stuff......and a bit of Christmas decorating stuff. I found an awesome CD in my son's bedroom that I confiscated! Hey, he moved out when he began college....uh...in January of 2007. He left a few things behind and he obviously hasn't missed this particular CD yet! It's "Joe Cocker, The Ultimate Collection." In fact, I'm listening to it right now. Fabulous!


Welcome to my two newest followers JJ and podso. I hope you'll stop by often and always enjoy what you read and see!  

I really like the quote I'm ending with tonight and I've used it a couple of times before, too. It really speaks to me because it's exactly how I feel about myself.



"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves." -- Lynn Hall

Saturday, December 1, 2012

* A New Dawn - A New Day *

It's 4:30 am, CST and I've been wide awake for a couple of hours. Why? Because I was exhausted last night and went to bed way too early. So, here I am wide awake and raring to go! 

The first thing I did was fix myself a small yogurt parfait. (Yep, even at this time of morning!) I try to always have three major food items on hand: yogurt, fresh strawberries, and granola cereal.  

Then I walked over to the kitchen calendar and flipped the page to December. There's something invigorating about seeing that new month, all those "blank" days just waiting for life to happen. And this morning, for the first time in my life, a song popped into my head right then and there.

♫♪ 
Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by
You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good
I'm feeling good

"Feeling Good"
(Lyrics & Music by Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse)



And for whatever reason, that's exactly how I feel this morning: happy, excited, calm, anxiously waiting for whatever the day may bring. I can just hear Michael Buble singing this, because although I know it's been sung hundreds of times, his voice is the one I'm most familiar with. 
http://familycrafts.about.com/

What about you? How do you feel when you see a new calendar page? And please, don't allow your stress level to rise just because it's December 1st! 


"The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters. -- Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Authors, Memoirs, Book Signings, Oh My!

Last night I attended a wonderful taping of a local radio program; "The Fontbonne University KMOX Charlie Brennan Book of the Month Club." (Wow, that's a mouthful, isn't it? It can be heard online and as soon as I find out when the shows will air, I'll post it here.)

I don't know how many people were in the audience, but the theater was packed. We had the pleasure of hearing about the lives of two totally different men: Kevin Killeen and John Pizzarelli.

Kevin Killeen is: a very funny guy, also has a program on KMOX 1120 AM radio in St. Louis, and has written a hilarious, charming, nostalgic memoir/novel about growing up Catholic in the 1960's. His publisher is Blank Slate Press, a St. Louis company.

Never Hug a Nun


All of his escapades take place in the idyllic St. Louis suburb, Webster Groves, Missouri.

I cannot wait to begin reading this book! Kevin was so kind and encouraging when I told him I'd just finished writing my memoir. What a neat guy! 

~~~

John Pizzarelli is: another very funny guy, has traveled the world over playing guitar for the best of the best singers and musicians. Just to name a few: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, James Taylor, and Paul McCartney. John is also a fabulous singer as is his wife, Jessica Molaskey. 

World on a String; a Musical Memoir

This, too, is another memoir I can't wait to read.

Please support your local independent book store, and if you don't have one near you, you can order from indie stores online. 


Welcome to my newest followers Knuckled 54, farawayeyes, and Encourage One Another. I hope you'll stop by often and always enjoy what you read and see!  



"You can go other places, all right - you can live on the other side of the world, but you can't ever leave home." -- Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair

Thursday, November 22, 2012

* Thanksgiving is More Than Just One Day *


While Vern and I walked yesterday, I marveled at the glorious leaves, some of which still clung to branches, many covered portions of yards, and others skidded and tumbled along the streets and sidewalks. 




I thought again how everything that has previously happened in my life has brought me to where I am right now. How every event that occurred, whether happy or sad, has been part of my life's path. 

When I was a child the route was chosen for me by my parents, and then when I was a young adult, I decided my own course. Sometimes I needed to make a detour and other times the detour was already in place ahead of me. 

Countless people waste so much precious time fretting about "If Onlys." 

If only I'd taken that job I wanted.
If only my parents didn't do this or that.
If only I had more money.
Etc. 

I learned a long time ago to stop thinking that way. When and how did I figure that out? I really can't remember, at least not at this moment. 

All I know is this: I'm very happy. And material things have nothing to do with my happiness. Can I say that I'm glad every "bad" incident happened in order for me to be in this blissful state of mind? I guess that's what I've been trying to say. It's that domino effect.

Although I sincerely thought I knew what my feelings were about everything in my past, I didn't really begin to know until I began to write my memoir. I still have more to think about. More to learn. More to delve into. I'll just have to start on "the sequel," I guess. 

~~~~~

This post doesn't really seem like a Thanksgiving one, does it? I may have gotten a bit too reflective, but my point is this: 

I am alive. I am here on this beautiful earth. My life is not perfect and neither am I! But I'm grateful & thankful, every single day of my life for every single thing that happened along the way. It has made me who I am. 

~~~~~

Happy Thanksgiving!






And have a cup of yummy flavored coffee with me, with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles on top!






"This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control you own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy." -- Susan Polis Schutz

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vern, The Iditarod, and Me

Today, after I got home from the Tuesday morning Coffee & Critique (writing) group, which also included staying afterwards for a fun (and yummy) lunch with five of my gal pals, Vern was really ready to go outside. 

He loves to go on his daily walk with me and it usually happens sometime around noon. (Today it was after 2:00pm!) When it's quite a bit later than that, he almost literally drags me along the first few yards.....and I'm grateful for that because it's a slight incline and I don't mind the help! 



This picture isn't from today but this is a good example. 


As he pulled me along, he looked like he was really working hard, tugging a heavy load behind him! It was then I thought about him running in The Iditarod and it made me smile!

Mush, Vern. Mush! 




 "Progress has little to do with speed, but much to do with direction." -- Unknown


"In a perfect world, every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog." -- Unknown

Sunday, November 18, 2012

* Nostalgic Sunday *

It's Time for Another Nostalgic Sunday



Yesterday was our Family Thanksgiving and it was the usual madhouse! Food, fun, family, and a furry-four-legged-family-member: Vern! 

Vern on our walk 11/13/12

Poor Vern must've gotten into some food left unattended, or who knows what....because he got me up three times last night (actually all were after midnight) to go outside. He never gets table food, so that's what we think happened. He was better today!

~~~~~

When I was a child, my brother and I were always given the turkey legs to eat and we thought that was really great. Nobody in our family, including all the grandkids, will eat any of the dark meat. I just hate to waste any food, so most times I'll save it. It's good cut up and used in casseroles and salads. 

~~~~~

This evening, I flipped through my new Country Living magazine. As always there were beautiful design ideas and great gift suggestions. A couple of items I was delighted to see were cotton dish towels with cross-stitching on them;
Page 26 Country Living magazine, Dec/Jan 2013
photo taken by Becky
*Nebraska artisan Ellie Campbell will hand-stitch your initials onto these cream cotton dishcloths, inspired by antique French linens. (froggoestomarket.etsy.com)

~~~~~


and pretty recipe boxes with vintage looking recipe cards.

page 130 Country Living magazine, Dec/Jan 2013
photo taken by Becky
*Nicole Lissenden will paint your monogram on the lid of this bamboo box, which houses her super sweet cross-stitch cards. (minkletterpress.etsy.com)

Ahhh....two of my favorite things are maybe making a come-back?! 

~~~~~

*It's also time to announce the winner of Margo's give-away. The winner, chosen by Random.org is........Janel Gradowski! Congratulations! Please e-mail me and let me know which of the two giveaways you'd prefer.*

Thursday, November 15, 2012

* Guest Post - Margo Dill *



* I'm very happy to have a guest blogger today:  Wonderful writer and friend, Margo Dill. *

I met Margo in 2007 when I attended my very first writers conference. It was the (MWG) Missouri Writers Guild Annual Conference and Margo was the chair. Talk about feeling surrounded by a multitude of talented writers! I definitely experienced anxiety and felt very out of place! But Margo made me feel so welcome, from my first (and probably really dumb) question. 

And so if you don't know the lovely Margo, you'll be happy to meet her. Take it away, Margo!
~~~~

Facing Obstacles and Winning:  How Finding My Place Became a Book
by Margo Dill


Writing a historical fiction novel for kids is not as easy as you might think--especially when you have some obstacles like I did. The first obstacle occurred on September 14, 2011—three days after 9/11. I was supposed to fly to Baton Rouge to visit my best friend for a few days, rent a car, and then drive to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where my book is set, to do research. Needless to say, I did not fly three days after 9/11; but I did rent a car, against my mother’s best wishes (due to all the rumors of terrorists still planning attacks), and drove to Vicksburg.

Going to the city where I set my book was the best choice I made. I left St. Charles, MO planning to write one book; and when I left Vicksburg a few days later, I had a much better story, along with a deeper understanding of how the citizens of Vicksburg had to live in caves dug out of the yellow hills while the Union Army shot at them day and night. I understood just how close the battlefield was to the town and how the citizens were in-between the Mississippi River and the battlefield—right in the middle of the line of fire.

One of the very best resources was COMPLETELY free and easy to access at the Vicksburg Public Library—the vertical files. I actually found a copy of an 1863 Vicksburg newspaper printed on the back of wallpaper and read an account of a mother being killed while fleeing with her children to their cave. Both of these I worked into my novel.

I wish I could say that I came home, wrote the novel, took it to critique group, revised it, submitted it, and got a contract. But that is far from the truth. Obviously if Finding My Place just came out on October 1, 2012, this process took eleven years! From 2007 to 2012, I was waiting for the book to be published—White Mane Kids changed their business model once the economy started to have trouble, and my book got put on hold.

But from 2001 to 2006, I wrote the novel, rewrote the novel, took it to one critique group, moved to be closer to my husband, took it to another critique group, and went to conferences to meet agents and editors. I won’t go into detail about all of this, but I will tell you I LISTENED to the rejection feedback I received, and it made all the difference. (Note: You should always go with your gut on whether or not someone giving a critique is offering good advice. You don’t have to change your manuscript based on a critique. But be honest with yourself—do you trust the person? Does he or she know writing?)

When I sent my manuscript to the agent I shepherded (picked her up from the airport,  introduced her at her talk) for the 2005 Missouri Writer’s Guild conference and she said I needed more layers to my story and main character Anna, I wiped my tears, and my critique group helped me. The manuscript got stronger and better. Then I sent a query to Emily Easton at Walker Company, and she asked to see the whole thing!

Then she wrote me the NICEST rejection and said that my historical fiction book wasn't for the trade marketplace but perfect for the school and library market. So, I started looking into companies that geared their books to teachers, saw a submission call from White Mane Kids, and sent a query.
Believe me, rejections hurt, and I've had my fair share. But I’m so glad that after I wiped my tears—I listened to these experts. If I wouldn't have, I wouldn't be holding my beautiful book in my hands today.
~~~~~


Margo L. Dill is the author of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, a historical fiction middle-grade novel about 13-year-old Anna Green and her struggle to keep her family together during the Siege of Vicksburg.


To read a summary or purchase an autographed copy (a perfect Christmas present for children ages 9 to 12!), please go to http://margodill.com/blog/finding-my-place  


** Also, for everyone who leaves a comment here, Margo is offering one of two professional critiques/evaluations. There will be one winner and she/he may choose one of the following:


**Professional critique of the first 5 pages of any novel, nonfiction work, or short story

OR

**Professional evaluation of a blog or social media profile with a written summary of what works and suggestions




Welcome to my newest followers Jess*Jessie*Jessy* and Claudia!  I hope you'll stop by often and always enjoy what you read and see!