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

I Remember Stuff Like That

Why Is Sunday Longer Than Monday?

Every Sunday. Always the same. No one ever moved. Like they ate glue and got stuck. It was so boring.

boredgirl2-pexels-com

Why is Sunday longer than Monday?

At six years, Sunday proved the longest day of the week. Once home from church, the hours passed so-o-o very slowly.

Dad napped on the sun-room divan wearing his Sunday suit pants, white shirt rolled up to his elbows, and his tie draped over the maple lounge chair nearby. The Sears and Roebuck catalog lay on the floor, inches from his fingers. Mom was somewhere in the house doing Mom things.

Oh how many more hours before the end of the day?

The neighborhood kids vanished. They had been at church, dressed up fancy, boys with leather shoes, crooked neckties, buttons showing. Girls in dresses with pretty flowers and petticoats and shiny patent shoes. This fancy clothing was not for running around at the park up the street from our house where I spent nearly every day of the week. Were the kids pining to be out of doors too or did they have company?

Sitting alone on the front porch, watching cars drive by, what would I do?

One Sunday I decided to wash clothes.

wolverine waching tub and machine

I filled  my tiny washing machine with water, begged Mom for a little Tide detergent then gathered my doll’s clothing. There I sat, rhythmically cranking the miniature plungers up and down, dislodging the make believe filth from my sedentary doll’s clothes.

The glass faceted wash tub sporting a mini-wringer,  squeezed water from the wet laundry. With laundry suitably clean, I filled the washer with fresh water, rinsing the soap from the fabric. One more wringing and I was done. Afterward, I scattered the wet clothes on the porch floor near the sudsy and rinse water puddles.

Well, I made a mess of the porch. But the sun would take care of that for me. Besides, I had something else I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure what that was yet? It had to be something fun to make this gosh-darn-long-Sunday go away.

The dog. Where was the dog?

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Sorry, kid. Sunday is sleep day. Go wash some doll clothes or something.

“Tiny!” I called, leaving my naked doll sun-bathing, patiently waiting for someone to pick her up, perhaps dress her in her nice, clean clothes. I suppose Mom did her Mom thing, cleaning up the front porch while I searched for Tiny. Don’t quite remember that part.

Never knew what happened to the little wringer washer. It disappeared somehow.

 

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Leave me naked one more time and I’ll… !

wolverine washing machine toy

Anybody out there remember those long Sundays or perhaps that little Wolverine washing machine? I found a picture of it tonight. It is just as I remembered.

I hope my memories last longer than those gosh-darn-long-Sundays of long ago.

Sleep well my friends.

I think tomorrow is Monday. Yess!

Please leave a comment and share.

Thanks.

Damn—I Swear It’s OK

I’ve written my first YA manuscript and a scene comes back to me now and then. One of the characters is angry for good reason, why not let him swear?

Listen to me. I, the writer, give permission for a character to swear? I write the narrative, but the characters seem to have a life of their own. Perhaps they can swear because they really, really feel like it.  Perhaps they dictate the narrative and I just type it.

At first it was a children’s story? Naw. That didn’t work out. I tried different iterations  and each time, it was just too—corny.

English: Cartoon depicting little girl on beac...

English: Cartoon depicting little girl on beach talking to her mother. Caption: Her First Pair of Jumpers — “Am I a little boy now, mama?”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then one day, I just started writing. I had a sad scene and lots of sobbing—the protagonist, not me. It seemed okay. But how was I to make this work? First there were two characters ages 6 and 12 and their moms. Add another kid, a girl this time. My own motherly instincts took over. Lots of love and gentle ideas, well brought up kids. The works. Make all mothers proud.

Then one day, it sounded too—corny.

No one is this nice and able to deal with adversity at a young age without blowing a gasket. Young ones have to get mad sometime. And when things just don’t go as planned? Well, they get angry like everyone else. Wouldn’t they want to express it and feel in control? Feel grownup? In their angry sort of way.

SwearI am convulsing on letting little ones swear? Mothers would be not proud.

Then one day, I made the children older: 12 going on 13 and 15. But it had to fit. Chapters, many chapters written and I had to make sure the change would flow through. The protagonist had to sound and act his new age as did his friends. Then I created a diagram and a timeline for each character to make their stories fit.

Karakasa (parasol) in Japan

Karakasa (parasol) in Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember my first swear—whispered in anger—in my second floor bedroom. I arrived home from school, went to my drawer to fetch a small, silk umbrella. A gift from my uncle. A souvenir from his last naval trip to a land I didn’t know existed. It had a painted picture on the orange silk. I know now it was a parasol, not an umbrella.  I opened the drawer. The parasol was gone! I was aware a distant cousin visited while I was at school, I knew she had absconded with my parasol! In anger I whispered “Dammit” to the bureau drawer. A voice at the bottom of the stairs said, “I heard that. Don’t you swear in this house!”

Why not? My space was violated. I was robbed! I stomped down the stairs and asked my step-mother where the parasol was. “I gave it to Rachel. She visited with her mom this morning, so I gave it to her. You don’t need it.”

I felt devastated. This was not the first time Rachel went home with my toys. My step-mother seemed to enjoy giving away my things without asking me. I swore and I felt, even to this day, justified in swearing. It was my relief valve.

That one swear did not convert me to daily swearing. I survived. As a young girl, I never swore again. Weeks later, a friend kind of swore when she nearly missed the after school bus. She said it in French, but changed the pronunciation a little.  “Maudine!”

I found the word fascinating, but never used it for fear of retribution at home. I knew my  parents were old enough to decipher ‘maudine’ as a play on ‘maudite’, which is French for ‘damned’.

The things one remembers.

Swearing? I do believe it is okay to let my character use one swear. Actually, I may have him say it in French because… . Now here I am enabling him. He is old enough to decide.

So I’ll continue editing my MS and see what happens. He’ll let me know what he wants to do.

Okay, I’ve Finished the Manuscript

Writing

I’ve written a story. Twelve years in the making.

First it was an idea, then it just grew from a children’s book to “Oh no. Not possible. This is too much information for little kids.” So I decided to keep writing and see what happened.

Twelve years? Well, I was working full time as a teacher, and I also built my own home—with my own hands, sweat and blood. Then I got married, moved out of state, built two more houses and got another job teaching in my new geographic location. But my unfinished story haunted me. So I kept writing whenever I had a chance.

At one point, I got stuck. Or I should say, the children in my story were really stuck and I put them there. How could I get them out without killing the whole story? Writer’s block? Yeah. That was what it was. The symptoms fit.

Then one day, I decided I needed another character just to make it more interesting. Should it be a boy? No. How about a girl? Then I had to give her a name. What name. It was like having a baby all over again—without the labor pains or stretch marks. So I did re-writes to fit her into the story. Much later, the same thing happened. This time I added two more characters and had to fit them in with a re-write.

Eventually I felt the children needed to be older. Teen and pre-teen. I learned that is referred to as “tween genre”. Then the title no longer fit the story. Decisions were always being made and I wonder if I made good decisions for the story.

Photograph shows a young girl dressed in a fur...

Photograph shows a young girl dressed in a fur-trimmed coat and hat, carrying her doll. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Isn't she cute?

An idea came as I ate dinner at a restaurant. A pretty, little girl walked to a table with her mom. She had a cute outfit and a beautiful hat. I had to complement her on her hat as I left. I thought, I’d like to paint her. Then it occurred to me. Here was a young girl wearing something special her mom gave her. It was a perceived sign of love by the little girl. My story’s girl needed something to hang on to until her mother came home. So I chose a necklace for my character. It worked for me and for my ‘girl’.

I retired from teaching earlier than planned. My husband was ill once too often and I worried being away all day. Now that I’m home with my happy husband, I have finished my manuscript and have had it reviewed by a critique group. That represents an added two years of critiquing. It was a great experience. The people in the writer’s group were honest and very helpful. I  learned so much more in the last two years. Now my story is so much better thanks to their help and that of a friend who also read the manuscript and made a couple of suggestions.

Now what do I do? Research. I started it a while ago, but had to put it aside to fulfill my obligation to produce new paintings for upcoming art showings and possible  sales. Go to my website at jomorise.com to see my portfolio.

Meanwhile, another story has been brewing in my head for about two years now and I’ve already started writing that as well.

Wish me luck.

Jo

Smile in your mirror every day.