Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Work in progress

As I was rereading a comment from a previous post, I realized I had promised to take a picture of the plaque in my writing cabin, but had never done it.  It is about 12 inches square and hangs over one window. The verse is from 1 Corinthians 10:31. Here it is...

While the sky is overcast, the pond is still pretty with  some fall leaves still clinging to the trees. With colder temperatures expected this week, they may all be gone by the end of the week.

In the past month, I've been able to submit a children's magazine article, submit a biography for critique at a November SCBWI conference in Pennsylvania, and now I've been revising an historical picture book. Here's what my workspace looks like. (Caveat: the pictures in this blog are copyrighted by me and may not be copied, saved, or used without my written permission.)

I cut the manuscript into what I think are the page turns. It is helping me to see where there's too much going on  for one page, not enough (for illustrations) on others, and where it just plain needs to be changed.

Overall, it's been a good writing month. Writing has been squeezed in between homeschooling, harvesting, and other obligations, but "where there's a will, there's a way."

1 Cor 10:31 "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Time of Rest

This past summer was not a productive one for me writing-wise.  It culminated with my having surgery a month ago.  I thought I could work on several projects while recuperating, but didn't have the energy for it.

I really like the home-school program we purchased for our 6 y.o. daughter.  It is A Beka Academy's 1st grade program.  Our 6 y.o. watches a teacher and participates with her classroom online and then has lots of workbook pages to complete each day.  My daughter is writing in cursive and reading two-vowel words.  Quite an accomplishment this young.  (Perhaps "normal" for this day and age, but above normal compared to when I was in 1st grade many moons ago!)

In the last few days, I was able to revise a children's nonfiction magazine article that had gotten rejected back in June. My critique group tore it apart and I've incorporated the suggested changes.  Today I need to print off the manuscript and bibliography and then label the photographs that go with it.

After I've mailed off that submission, I can get started on revisions for an historic picture book I wrote at the beginning of the year. I have done a lot of research in order to make it historically accurate and plausible.

On the farm-front, harvest has started. We are praying for a better harvest than this year's weather conditions warrant.

Hopefully this period of enforced rest will result not only in a healthy body, but renewed writing projects.

Psalm 34:8 "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."

Monday, July 25, 2011

3rd Annual Oakdale Farms Writer's Retreat

Here's the group of generous, funny, kind, smart, talented ...children's authors who came for the 3rd Annual Oakdale Farms Writer's Retreat.  The picture was taken at a local cafe.

I think everyone had a good time and I think they were able to get some productive writing in.  I'm always concerned about: are they too hot, too cold, is there enough food that everyone will like, do I have too many "rules of the  house," are their beds too hard, too soft, etc. etc. etc.  Then after they leave, I think, "Oh, we should have played board games or talked more, or we should have done this or that."

There weren't any new calves born while they were here this year.  There were, however, tons of tadpoles and minnows in the pond for some side entertainment.

One highlight for me was the surprise launch party for author Wendy Henrichs' debut book: I am Tama, Lucky Cat.  Wendy is one of the kindest, warm, loving people I know - and she gives awesome critiques for my manuscripts!
We all crowded into Pilcrow Place (my writing cabin) and showered Wendy with gifts, a gorgeous cake, and our heartfelt support.  She would be the first to suggest a launch party for any of the rest of us, so it was nice to be able to do this for her!

I think everyone had a chance to write in the cabin if they wanted to.  It still smells a little like varnish from the last bookshelf my husband made, but hopefully, it didn't bother them too much.  It was nice having an air conditioner out there since we are in the middle of a heat wave!

Here's a little side entertainment after dinner on Saturday night.  It was going to be, "How many children's authors fit in a phone booth?" but since it was so hot, we opted for just trying to fit everyone in the picture!  (Last year a kind, local police officer who just happened to be walking by took the picture.)  There are 13 women in the picture if you can find them all!

It was especially nice that my purse was still on the park bench after I realized I'd forgotten it there!  (Thanks Judith for turning around and getting us back there quickly!)

It's a little sad that everyone is gone and I'm here writing alone.  Wondering how I can manage two retreats in one year!  It's also sad that I can't have more women here for the retreats... but I only have so many beds.

The sign on the mailbox even looked sad when I took it down.

Well, now I have the 4th Annual Oakdale Farms Writer's Retreat to look forward to!  Perhaps I will be more relaxed for that one.... you think?

P.S. Hopefully one of the other ladies will blog about the retreat.  They always give a better recap than I do!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Service to our country is a prevalent theme in my family. I have pictures of seven family members who have served, but there are many more I don't have photos for.  For instance, I don't have a military picture of my sister Carolann who retired after 20 years in the Air Force. She died of a syndrome called C.R.E.S.T. in 2003.  My step-brother, Dan Jalbert, just retired from the Air Force last week after 26 years. My brother, Alan Dombrowski served in the Navy. My grandfather, John Montgomery, served in the Boer War for Great Britain. My Grandfather Woodward served during WWII. I have cousins and uncles and probably other family members who I'm forgetting, who also served.

We have to remember that being a member of this country is not free. There is a price. It comes at the cost of our loved ones. Pray for those who are serving. Thank one of them today.

Here is my dad, Neil I. Montgomery. He served in the Army in North Africa and Italy during WWII. He was wounded over there and received the Silver Star for his actions.

Here is my brother Richard Montgomery. He served in the Marines for two tours of duty during Vietnam. I don't know what decorations he received, but I do know he didn't wait to be drafted, but volunteered for duty.

Here is my sister, Paula. She spent twenty years in the Air Force and retired as a Technical Sergeant.

Here are my biological father Harding Coolidge Mason and his brother (my uncle) Leslie H. Mason. They both served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. They also both left high school early in order to enlist. My Uncle Leslie died in the war.

Here I am.  I spent five years in the Air Force. I was a E-4 Sergeant when I got out. I trained in Texas and Colorado and I was stationed in Guam, England, and Florida. I did several temporary (short) assignments to Germany.

Here is my little brother, Eric Beauregard. He is currently in the Navy Reserves. He has had a tour of duty in Bahrain in the recent past - among other duty assignments.

There is also a price for our spiritual home. But thankfully, One paid the ultimate price for our eternal freedom: Jesus Christ. He died so that we might live.
John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writer's Cabin update

My writer's cabin is finished!! Yesterday, I used it for the first time:

Here's the view out the window that's to the right of my desktop overlooking the pond: 
Wildlife I saw out my windows: two Canada Geese, a (huge) snapping turtle, bluegill and catfish, 7 Painted turtles (they vie for prime basking space on the tire in the pond), at least three hummingbirds, and many other birds.

"Did you get any writing done?" you ask?  YES!  I wrote the first draft of a magazine article that I want to send to Highlights for Children magazine.

I hope to (soon) make a video of the building process and the finished cabin.

I haven't taken a picture of it yet, but our oldest son and his fiancée made a plaque for me that hangs over the big window. Its from 1 Corinthians 10:31 and reads: "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring and New Book

Spring arrived a few days early.  Yesterday, the first two calves for this year were born. Here's one of them and her mother:
We raise Shorthorn beef cattle. The best part is that both calves came on their own and my husband (or I) didn't have to "assist."

Today, I was looking at some photos of a friend of mine on Facebook. It made me think up a new picture book story! I spent the day working on the first rough draft.  This picture of my daughter (taken when she was almost three) has a part in the story:
I think I got the editing and formating revisions done for a Mennonite woman's memoir that I have worked on for about one year now. I tried to print it out but there was some "operator error" involved.  I will try again tomorrow. I need to make sure that the document will print if I put it on a disk for her. She'll find a printer who will make it into the actual book.

I've started on the book of Psalms.  Here's one of today's verses from Psalm 19:14
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It pays to do the dishes...

                                                      Light Bulb Clip Art

It pays to do the dishes, or take a walk, or doodle, or watch eagles nesting, etc. (Have you seen this webcam of two eagles and their three eggs?  Decorah Iowa Eagle cam  )

I've been trying to come up with a more cohesive arc for the biography I've been working on (it seems) forever. While I had a few ideas that would possibly work, I wasn't really satisfied with any of them.  Then this morning while I was washing the dishes, the solution came to me (at least I HOPE this is the solution).

Why would I find the answer when doing something totally unrelated to writing?  The answer is pretty simple: I allowed my brain to relax and my thoughts to wander.  Some writers, when they get stuck on a particular manuscript will switch to another manuscript for a while. It has the same effect.

My next piece of advice is to always have paper handy so you can jot down your "bright ideas" as they hit you. I keep my iTouch on my nightstand because I frequently get ideas right before I go to sleep (once again, it's when I'm letting my brain relax).

So, if you are stuck on a manuscript, or problem in your life.... go do the dishes!

Verse for the day from Biblegateway:
1 Peter 3:15-17 "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Picture Book

Last week ended on an up-note writing-wise.  I had researched the information for an historical fiction picture book off and on for four months. Last week, I wrote the manuscript and then, thanks to my critique partner, did some heavy editing. It's exciting having a new project to submit for the April writer's conference.  I do wish the biography I've been working on for over two years would sell!

There's an old saying, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."  It will take more work on my part to finish the edits I need to do. Wishes won't get it done.

On another note: I helped my husband put up some of the inside pine siding in my writer's cabin.  We had to stop before finishing the ceiling because of fading daylight (the electrical isn't hooked up yet) and because of snow. Now, we will have to wait for this snow (4-6 inches predicted)  to melt and the ground to dry out again. Reason:  to hook up to the electricity and so the cabin isn't full of sawdust, my husband sets up the saw outside. We have to keep going in and out of the cabin to cut the boards. I don't want a bunch of mud in there.  After the ceiling will come the trim, then the flooring, the desktops/drawers, and the bookcases.. I'm hoping it can be finished before planting season. A woman can dream, can't she?!

Totally off-topic... is there ever just one topic in my blog? ... many people frequently say they have one word that describes their year. I've never thought about that for myself.  But this year, if I were to choose one word for myself, I would hope it would be "grounded."  I want to be grounded and purposeful in everything I do and say. It's easy to "go with the crowd" it's harder/challenging to be deliberate and focused on what your life goals are.

Hebrews 12:1-2  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Choices and Hope

For lack of a better word, I've been feeling gloomy for the last week or more. Perhaps it's the death or memories of loved ones. For instance, I missed my mom and dads at Christmas. This month, my mom would have been 90. Or perhaps it was the deaths of two members in my husband's family last week. Maybe it's the lack of sunshine or all the cold/snow. Perhaps it's because of my failure to accomplish my goal of reading through the Bible in a year. Or maybe, it's from having to re-edit my WIP for the umpteenth time - and now it looks like it will be closer to the first version. Or perhaps it's because I haven't been writing because I know I will get interrupted before I get very far.

Probably a combination of all of the above. There's a quote I love from the movie Facing the Giants. It's part of a prayer that Grant Taylor's character is praying: " Lord Jesus, would you help me? I need you. Lord, I feel that there are giants of fear and failure staring down at me, waiting to crush me. And I don't know how to beat 'em, Lord. I'm tired of being afraid. Lord, if you want me to do something else, show me. ... But You're my God. You're on the throne. You can have my hopes and my dreams. Lord, give me something. Show me something."

Then, I remember my blessings. I have a 5 y.o. with a vivid imagination - who makes me laugh and gives me joy. This morning I watched her play in the snow. She picked up two long branches that had broken off the lilac bush. She put them on her head as antlers and pranced around. Then she made a slide down one of the mountains of snow. Another blessing is my 19 y.o. It can be aggravating having to tell him the steps for a task a million times before he can do something. But he has such a loving spirit. He loves showing affection. He loves telling life stories to people or telling them about movies he's watched. While he annoys his little sister, he also loves to make her laugh. I have been blessed with two "bonus children." I am also blessed with a husband who loves me and provides well for our family. He loves spending time with his family.

It all comes down to choices. I can choose to say, "poor me, why can't I 'catch a break'." Or, I can realize how blessed I am and keep working toward my goals. It's up to me. My joy is not dependent on anyone or anything else but my relationship with the Lord - but that in turn will cycle around and make my relationships and life better. Selling a book won't make me happy, having the best marriage in the world won't make me happy, having the best kids in the won't make me happy. All those things are fleeting. Yes, I want those things and I hope I'm working hard at those things - but my hope is in things that are unseen. My joy is in my Savior.

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God." Psalm 42:1

Our church was blessed yesterday with the presence of four people from Central Christian College of the Bible (Moberly, MO). The students there can get degrees in many areas, but many of them will become missionaries. Am I doing enough for the mission field? Am I bold enough in my faith? Does my writing lift up the Lord? Perhaps my discontent for the last week is the Lord's way of having me reevaluate my priorities - or to focus more sharply on my goals.

As a writer, I hope I'm communicating effectively. I'm not at all saying the people and "things" in my life aren't important. I'm not saying I want to be so heavenly minded that I'll be no earthly good. I want there to be balance. I will take the joy with the pain. I will take the laughter with the sorrow. I will take the triumphs and the tragedies.

I am reading the book of Job this week. Here is a passage from Job 5:17 where Eliphaz is talking to Job: "Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty."

Psalm 51:10 says: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Saturday morning, our niece's husband, Nathan Bryan Dunn, passed away from complications of cancer treatment. He would have been 26 years old yesterday.

Viewing the many tributes and comments about this young man is heart-touching. Everyone knew him for his smile, his kindness, his love for his wife, his passion for Christ - among many other things. What a blessing to have known him.

I prayed so hard for his recovery and don't understand why the Lord took him, other than the fact that none of us wanted Nathan to continue with the pain he was in. I saw him the day before he passed away. He was hooked up to a myriad of tubes and machines. His body looked nothing like the Nathan we knew. He has a new body now - and he is without pain or tears. He is surrounded by the love of God - in the presence of the Savior.

Jim Reeves sang a song that says in part, "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through..." It's how every Christian should feel. We won't be "at home" until we are in heaven. But the dilemma is that we leave our loved ones behind. Will they be okay without us? Will they remember how much we loved them?

I saw a link today for a Michael Buble song called "Home" (To hear it, click on the word, "home") While it made me cry, it also renewed the feeling that, "this world is not my home." How has your life affected those around you? Have you been a peacemaker? Are you a joy to be around? Would I want to be my own friend?

Rest in peace, Nathan. Heaven is richer for your presence and earth, duller without your smile.

Revelation 21:4 "‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Project Life

I bought the Project Life 2011 kit this year. I want to take pictures, journal, and include tidbits from our everyday lives. Part of the reason is because, other than a few vague memories, I don't remember anything of my biological parents (my mother died when I was 3 1/2 and I got adopted just before I was 5.) Another reason, is to journal what I've learned each day from my Bible reading (although that's another New Year's Resolution that isn't happening daily like I planned it to). Another reason is because I want to remember those special moments/blessings that happen on a daily basis. The last reason, that I can think of right now, is because there aren't any personal recollections from the person I finished writing a biography about, and I want my children and grandchildren to have those from me.

On the writing front, I finished the biography (again) and submitted it to the agent I met at a conference. He called me to let me know he wouldn't be representing me, but gave me some direction on how to work on the manuscript. He gave me the names of several editors to submit to once I'd finished revising it (again). In the end, he did leave the door open for me to resubmit to him. I made changes/additions and just sent it this week to a professional editor so she can do line edits.

The writing cabin sits - empty - by the ice and snow covered pond. The weather has precluded finishing it, for now. The outside is done but not the inside. My bonus son and his fiancée made a sign to put over the door: Pilcrow Place. One of my sisters named it. Look it up - I had to! :o) They also made a plaque to hang inside that quotes 1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

I ended last year and started this year off with a sinus infection and bronchitis. While the bronchitis is gone, I'm still having trouble with my sinuses and swollen glands. Wah. Those things are a large part of the reason I've broken my New Year's Resolutions. I was going to begin each day with my Bible reading, then write for about 2 hours, then homeschooling for my 5 y.o., then do household/family stuff the rest of the day. Thankfully, each day is a new gift so I can strive to get into the routine I hope will work for the rest of the year!

Happy New Year everyone,
God bless you indeed.