Writing on Fire

What’s in Mrs. Hale’s Receipts for the Million 1857?

799. Neighbors and Spectators. – When a fire happens, let every respectable neighbor attend. Send instantly for engines, both of the parish and of the insurance companies, and the parish and other fire-escapes. Look for the nearest fireplug – send instantly for policemen. and see they attend, and are active.

Meeting My Goals of 2012

2012 was a crazy year. Two years of unemployment from a job I loved only led me to be daring, a sort of what the heck approach to my life.  So I set goals and darn, if I didn’t make them. A first good sign was the news that Tree Soldier, my novel about the Civilian Conservation Corps had won the 2012 EPIC ebook Award for historical fiction.  Very exciting. I got the news while watching tweets on Twitter. Thank you EPIC AWARDS. ebook2012winner-sm Chanticleer award at VBAnd later it was Chanticleer Book Reviews grand prize winner. Thanks Chanticleer.

Goal # 1 Become a Humanities Washington Speaker

While I was working at my museum as an educator, I often booked speakers and presenters from Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau. The process seemed challenging as you had to audition, but I decided to make it a goal to apply as a new  career.  Once I chose a talk about the Civilian Conservation Corps role in Washington State during the Great Depression, I next built on the existing book talk I had for Tree Soldier. A day’s work at the National Archives Regional branch in Seattle brought forth some exciting new photos and materials.  Then I got a block. You had to apply on line with a video of you talking about your presentation. Then if you were lucky, you got to audition.

Enter David Lowrance of Family History Videos and Photography.  I met him through one of the directors of The Mountain Runners. He kindly made a short video of me talking about Tree Army: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Washington State for submission. Thanks David for your generous support. In July, I got an invitation to audition. I’m now an official Humanities Speaker. I’ll be speaking on Feb 5 in Clarkston WA and many more places. And I can bring Tree Soldier along to sell. How cool is that?

Goal #2 Honor the 150th Battle of Gettysburg & My Surgeon Great-granddad

My great-grandfather was a surgeon with the Union Army. Between July 1 and July 6 1863, he was at the Battle of Gettysburg. When he was 83 years old, he went to the 50th reunion. As the 150th is coming up I wanted to honor him by going myself. First, I was advised to check Gettysburg out. So I researched around and found out about the first work/vacation that the Friends of Gettysburg offer. I signed up with no funds at hand and then worked The gang at Trosler Farm Edradine2various workshops to get there.  By the time September 16th 2012 rolled around, I had peaked my brother’s interest going down too.

It was an amazing time. I finally understood my ancestor’s journal entries and letters as I painted picket fences at farms on the battlefield. I also got some great pictures for a talk I gave at the Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable a month later.  I’ll be writing a chapter for a book, A Sanctuary for the Wounded, published by Christ Lutheran Church and the Adams County Historical Society in Gettysburg. That’s where my surgeon ancestor saved lives or gentled the dying. Looks like I’ll be going for the 150th. First, got some funding raising to do. Another goal.

Goal#3 Publish an Article on a 19th century Bark I’ve Been Researching

Another important goal was to write and publish a piece on the Ann Parry, the bark that brought the bricks to my state’s oldest brick building. She’s a 19th century ship with an amazing history.  I had pitched it to the editor at the Sea Chest, a prestigious maritime historical journal.  I sent in what I had written so far during the summer.  It was approved by the editorial board, a great  honor. After finishing  and submitting it in August followed by edits in October, it came out in December, the lead article. Sea Chest Cover small So excited.

Goal #4 Write More and Get Published

I wrote several historical novels in the past few years, sending them out to agents and contests. One, Timber Rose, I heavily work-shopped this past year and entered into the 2013 ABNA contest. My goal is to self-pub it, though I am also  querying. It is the prequel to Tree Soldier. Another novel, The Jossing Affair, is a finalist at Chanticleer Book Reviews for Historical Fiction. They both required my attention in 2012, dropping all other projects, but I got them into deadlines and good manuscript order.  I also published an essay in The Clover Literary Rag, an essay in Whatcom Writes about loyalty in injunction with all-county read, Snow Falling on Cedar. I wrote about Sallie, my great-grandfather’s regimental mascot. I met my writing goals again.

Lessons Learned

Everyone sets goals –losing weight, go on a special trip, write that first novel — but it’s another thing to follow through. I don’t know why I was so darn focused, but I wanted to see if it could be done. I prepared to be disappointed, but followed all the rules required for each submission and had a Plan B in case things didn’t go right.  Maybe that’s the trick. In life you need a Plan B. And a good network of friends and helpers.

Thanks everyone for helping me meet my goals.

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10 thoughts on “Writing on Fire

  1. Wow, I’m even more impressed with you now, Janet – what a list of goals and accomplishments! You nailed it – following through is key, and you’ve done that and then some! Congratulations, and may 2013 bring you success and happiness 🙂

  2. Janet – I had heard you mention some of these accomplishments, but when you list them all in one place it’s quite amazing — and inspirational. All in one year! Bravo to you.

  3. Janet, I ALWAYS knew you could do it! Even way back…what was it….20+ years ago when the “muse” visited you on a regular basis! So proud of you!!!!!

    • Ridgely, where did the time ago? Jossing Affair, by the way, is a finalist in the Chanticleer Book Reviews manuscript contest. I’ll know soon if I won first place.

  4. Janet, I’m utterly thrilled for you! The writing, the prizes, the Gettysburg anniversary, the Humanities Speakers Bureau and on and on. I remember when these ideas were just little eggs and sperm, hahahaha! You’ve created miracles.
    Warmest wishes and many more hatchlings…………..Gloria

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