So what about that Manuscript thing… ?

Oh. River Fork?

I had planned it as a coming of age, YA story. With a bit of fantasy aka paranormal.

Why did I write it?

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As a former teacher, I encouraged my high school students to write. I found several of my students had dealt with a major loss. They wrote about it, but no one talked about it.

Neither did I—Mother died in a fire. My sister and I witnessed the event. I was five, my sister, seven. Needless to say, we never forgot. We never talked about it. Nor did our father. Assumptions and rumors were spread.

During my teaching career, a story slowly evolved. Picture book? Children’s book? Family story book? My brain cranked out scenarios. At first it was a morass of imagery. How would I best present my idea? I wasn’t a writer. I wrote poetry. Still do and tuck it away in a briefcase. But writing a book?

I am an artist. So I began with cute pictures and poem-like stories.

The story grew. I dropped the cute — loss is not cute.

I needed a plan, feeling, a theme, a plot, etc… . What did I get myself into?

My head said, put it into words. I began writing, finishing the Manuscript the year I retired. Then I researched the writing craft, improved my writing skills and investigated publishing options. Needless to say, publishing  has surely changed since I first put pen to paper.

The story:

  • Timeline: 1956-57
  • Theme: the loss of a parent.
  • Setting: River Fork, NH. A farming and logging community. In the mountains near the Saco River.
  • Characters: Three neighboring friends: Tim, Charlie and Roach. Tim will be 13 in three days. The others are teens.
  • It is about coming of age, death, forgiveness, hope and faith. Oh, and there is a budding romance.
  • There is a bit of paranormal (no magical potions, witches, vampires, violence, etc…)

 

So, Has Anyone Reviewed It?

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The Manuscript has been line critiqued and gone through many revisions.

A year ago I found three beta readers.
Results:
I did not write to the YA audience. It is suitable for the Middle Grade audience. Disappointment for sure here.
Okay. I asked for an honest review.
I received three great reviews. Two people pointed out what didn’t work and what could be done to make the story more interesting. One Beta Reader recommended a few resources. With this expert advice and suggestions, I learned a lot. I am grateful.
So. I’m doing lots of editing, developing my characters and setting a bit more. And DUMPING stuff that was kind of iffy even as I first wrote it.
  • If it’s IFFY for the writer – It most certainly will be IFFY for the reader. DUMP IT. Ahhh. Yes. You’ll feel better. I did.

Once this latest revision is complete, I’ll need a couple of Beta Reader(s) again. Then on to an editor and publishing—self-publishing.

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For those who work with me in this endeavor, your name will be mentioned in the credits and you will receive a free digital copy of my novel once it is published.

The sequel—Roach’s story—sits in my laptop. Waiting.

Please like, comment and share this post.
Thanks.
J.M. Orise

What’s a Cat For?

For people.  🙂

Cats have been around for a very long time. They have been around humans for about 9500  years. Can you imagine the fleas?

A Maine Coon cat.

Just like my Charlie

Looks like my Charlie

When I adopted Charlie, one of my colleagues warned me, “He won’t last six months at your place.” That disturbed me because I had lost three cats within the last three years. I hoped it wouldn’t happen again for Charlie loved to romp and hang around the woods outside our home. Ten years later, he still does!

More than once, I’ve searched for him at night or early morning if he hadn’t returned home by dark. He usually comes home when it it’s safe (I believe). He is a great hunter and a very wary traveler. That would account for his survival. He is a Maine Coon cat, which gives him  coloring that blends into our surrounding. He wears camouflage!

Our property is part of a forest. Wildlife from owls, hawks, bald eagles, coyotes, bears, fox and raccoons roam at different times looking for a meal. We found animal tracks in the snow around the perimeter of our house in 2009, identified as mountain lion. A neighbor photographed a mountain lion in our neighborhood that same winter. Another watched a lion in his back yard drag a deer off in deep snow. Scary. Now, I fret at letting Charlie out at night.

I walked up to a black bear this last summer. He was more frightened of me than I of him. However, I know he is only about a year old. I watched momma bear and her three cubs the previous summer as they caught Charlie’s attention at the living room window. They were picking berries right by our door. The cat was ecstatic. The bears were so cute. But leave them alone and all is well.

American Black Bear (Ursus americanus), Réserv...

My bear friend and I had unanticipated meetings this past summer, I felt he was obviously not accustomed to nor totally aware of his surroundings and unsure of what is perceived as a danger.

He and I had met about four times. Each time he seemed to contemplate what to do next. Finally he remembered what mom said before he last departed to venture on his own, “Stay away from two-legged animals who live in strange caves.” So he clumsily turned, stumbling and crashing through the woods. If I walk up to this same bear when he is older, will he turn and run as before? I hope so.

Two days ago, as I walked our half mile drive, I heard a sudden crashing to my left among the trees at the edge of the drive. From the sound of each step, whatever it was, it was heavy. I stopped, anxiously determining what it could be. Then I realized it was my friend the bear. No other animal was as clumsy and noisy as he. I think we both have kept an eye out for each other. Upon my return after retrieving the mail, there was no sign of my friend. He was probably up a tree like his mom taught him—to avoid humans.

My cat, Charlie is still part of the family. No critters invited him to lunch. I believe he thinks himself human. He understands some of our words and we understand some of his. Between his purrs, meows, growls and body language. I know when he is hungry, happy, angry, wants a treat, wants us to accompany him on a walk, doesn’t want us to leave or wants us to go to bed by 9:00 PM. He jumps on our chest in the AM telling us it is time to get up and be about our business, which is to feed him and let him outside! If we don’t feed him on time, no worry, he finds food for all. He meows while carrying a rodent in his teeth. As he approaches the door he indicates, “I know you are out of food, so come eat. I’ll share.”

That’s my Charlie cat. Yes, cats are for people.