The Christmas Gift from The Roommate We Kicked Out

christmas-tree-2016

The Christmas Tree and Wreath the Roommate Left Us

Last summer, we took in a guy who needed a place. Maybe you’ve done this. He’d moved to the big city with high hopes and a friend who wanted him to move in. That lasted a month. He found another place, house-sitting but it also came to an end and he didn’t have a place to go or money to get one. So we invited him to stay with us, temporary, as a paying guest. He agreed and was grateful for the chance.

To shorten a long, sad story, he lost the job due to non-attendance, refused to pay rent or leave. He called the cops on us three times for violating his right to stay without paying. Yeah. And much, much more. But then his mother died and he left for the funeral. We had already rented out “his” room to a paying roommate and gave him half the living room “temporarily”. His belongings filled his half of the living room waist-high. They also filled the apartment storage room to the ceiling. And some were still at his old friend’s place.

He came back for one pickup truck load and a month after that texted that he would not likely be back for anything else: he was moving again. We acknowledged, but his stuff in the storage room we left alone, just in case. In truth, we didn’t know what was in there, beyond it being very full of what looked like camping gear and some Rubbermaid tubs.

So now its eight months later, it’s December and we are seriously looking at moving to a cheaper apartment. With Christmas imminent, we decided no tree for Christmas. Of the three of us, two don’t normally ‘do Christmas’ anyway.  Call me a kid, but to make a year complete, I need Christmas! With the move imminent, however, I figured my inner kid would survive if I miss putting up a tree one year. And truth was, my own Christmas stuff is in storage in another state anyway. Yeah. And I wasn’t going to retrieve it just before a move.

Glass Manger Scene

Glass Manger Scene From the Roommate

So rather than all the Christmas hoopla, we would keep busy with moving preparations. We went to empty the storage room. The plan was to donate or toss whatever was in there, and pack and stage some of our own stuff for the move. Well, guess what we found? Yes! All the Christmas decorations, and a small artificial tree that belonged to the troublesome roommate. Instant Christmas! Tree, decorations, and enough left over to donate to a favorite charity.

So, in the end, the roommate that was such a pain in the rear—was a blessing to us. We never imagined that would be and I would guess he never imagined it either.

Sounds a little like the Christmas story that this holiday began with: an unplanned move that ends up a Christmas Blessing.

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Half-Off November

img_20161114_133932 In the past month, I have done almost anything but write and edit. Which is odd because I haven’t accomplished much of anything else. I edited two chapters in the House novel and written a short story. Very little else of writing importance, so it feels. The two most consistent things I have done in the past month are: walk Loyola Beach and write blog articles for someone else for cash.

It’s not all bad. I have an Understanding From Above that this ‘season’ in Chicago is going to be about Discipline no matter what form it takes. The walking it is making me aware of my lack of physical ‘capital’. My wind is weak, my belly seems to swell and shrink with the phases of the moon. Or something equally irrational. Lately my concentration and creativity for my writing are weak as well. Those all point to a need for vigorous physical activity to flood my brain with oxygen and rebuild my large muscle groups. And here come the Holidays where we tend sit, talk and overeat.  And overspend on conveniences. And not write.

My small muscles, on the other hand—dexterity of fingers especially—and the writing half of my brain seem to be on the upswing.  The blog article writing has something to do with that. It is disciplining me to research broadly, write clean, edit quickly and move on to the next thing. Add to that, my chosen ‘field’ to write blog articles about has to do with senior citizens with cognitive problems. That in itself has been eye-opening. I may well be researching my own future.

A side note here: I get these Understandings From Above sporadically. Call them wordless messages, these Hunches, Non-Woman Intuition, or whatever else. They are always general in nature but extremely accurate within that boundary.  They usually pertain to life in general, often about money or work. Sometimes love, although I try to avoid those.

Add to this mix of meander and discipline the somewhat startling fact (to me) that the Holidays begin next week! I had to check my calendar to make sure. I am not ready.  But I think I’ll save the rest of this part of the story for another time, or perhaps another blog. In the mean time, I need to get back to an article I’m writing. This one is about using social media –rather than how to travel for the holidays with your dementia-afflicted loved one.

Stay Strong and Keep Writing

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Excitement About the Widow Woman

I have given into the idea that between now and sometime after Christmas, I will probably post only three times here, not the four or five times I had hoped. Not because there’s nothing to say, but because there’s so much going on. The holidays will make it busier, no doubt.

Excited About Widow Womanmisty-meadow

When I wrote Widow Woman I liked it. The more I read it over, the more depth of personal meaning it had for me. But the ending wasn’t ‘right’. In the flow of writing it had seemed right and I left it that way. But several times I was asked to submit a short story, and when I submitted Widow Woman with the old ending, it was rejected. I knew it was the ending. Once more time someone asked for a short story. By then I was convinced that I needed to change the ending now, before I submitted it again. I would have to murder my ‘darling child’ of an ending.

I sweated, I wrote, I deleted, revised and rewrote and finally came up with what I thought worked. Then I revised it again. It was even better. And everyone who read both endings agreed heartily that this ending was much better than the old one. I’d love to make a comment here about honesty, but I remember some of the looks on their faces reading that old ending. I posted pieces of Widow Woman on Instagram (@gordondelandauthor) and they get more likes than many of my other posts. Maybe another good sign?  And my sister, an English Major from way back was pleased and surprised by the story.

The final indicator that I maybe did something good in killing off my darling ending comes from the fact that the story with this new ending is going to be published in an anthology! The good folks at Smaeralit are putting out their third book,  “Dreams & Reality: Book 3”. In it will be my Widow Woman story! The book will be available on Amazon some time before Christmas this year, by the way.

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Fall Has Arrived

autumn-in-chicagoFall has arrived in Rogers Park, for sure. I’m seeing golden leaves all over the street. Loyola Beach is closed to swimmers. And if you want to drive somewhere before 9am add a half hour for waiting for school buses. Oh, and the weather has cooled off and the college students are back. Yes. Autumn.

Along with this time of year comes a desire to stop writing and get back into bodybuilding and all things physical. But… I’m not ready to give up on the writing just yet. I have too much interesting stuff going on!

I have a short story, Widow Woman, that I redid the ending on and I’m excited all over again about not only the story but also the setting. It is set in central New York State, in the early 1870’s. The railroad fever that gripped the nation at that time was making itself felt in the area, with all the surrounding money and drama it brought.

Along with the short story, I wrote a short non-fiction work about the railroad that ran through that area. Actually, come to think if it, the short story was an outgrowth of the research on the railroad. I’m revising and reformatting the railroad book for a bicentennial celebration the township is having. Shout out to the Town of Otselic on their upcoming two hundredth birthday!

As I’m writing this, a friend suggested I should incorporate some ‘magic’ into the railroad story (he’s a magician). That… is an interesting idea. Maybe take him up on it. Change the history with the magic? Have a happily ever after story?  Back to writing!

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Change of Seasons

School

School is IN. Drive Friendly.

I have been caught up in the marketing end of writing so much lately that I missed the change of seasons from Summer to Autumn. Here in Rogers Park the trees are not turning color—that comes later—but school is back in session. That means morning driving is a little slower and safe driving more challenging. I was on my way to an appointment this morning when a father with two little girls in tow stepped out from behind a parked minivan right in front of me. He was intent on getting the girls across the street to school on time. I was intent on getting to the doctor’s appointment on time. We exchanged dirty looks and got on with our day, no blood spilled. Had I been texting, it would likely have been a tragedy. [It’s illegal in school zones here I think; it definitely was in my recent home state of Texas.] This is the reason to #justdrive and not pay attention to anything else. As they say back home, Drive Friendly.

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Moving Right Along…

Yes! The writing is going forward. Slowly. But yes, the marketing and the setup for more marketing is also going ahead, with most of the energy to the marketing. Up until now! The pieces of the plan to market Small Town Romance are sorted out and the first pieces are in place. It’s been a steep learning curve. Now to ‘relax’… a weekend off at the very local Glenwood Avenue Arts Fair, literally a half block from the apartment!

About The Romance:  I went back over the Small Town Romance manuscript, correcting spelling and improving a few sentences. I’m satisfied that it is “Finished”, as far as any changes or improvements. Abby and I have briefly talked about a sequel. Pretty easy to see where it would go, to me, but I’m interested to hear what you all think on that.Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page. It would be fun to know what you all think!

About the House: I haven’t made it out to John’s place—my mentor. He’s been out of town anyhow so that worked out. Soon though, I do want to get there. An interesting side note: I had a conversation with a sociopath. Yes, a real one. The villain in This Old House is a pretty good example of a sociopath, it turns out. The research I did on his character… maybe save that for another blog… but apparently I did a good job. The Character is drawn to a chilling accuracy. By the way, the conversation was NOT face-to-face!

About Other projects: Lately I’ve noticed a few novels set in fantasy worlds, and I’m mulling over the idea of trying to write or at least outline a story set in such a world. I’m more of a history buff than Si-If or Fantasy, so it would likely be heavy on historical accuracy of that kind of ‘post-Apocalyptic/Medieval’ society. If you think about it, the so-called Middle Ages were our planet’s very own post-Apocalyptic period, at least as far as Western Europe is concerned.  Maybe even more interesting—and a lot more research needed—to do a story set in Africa after the decline of one of the Central African Empires, maybe the Sao or the Awkar Empire (somethimes known as the Ghana Empire). I don’t know much more than they rose, existed and declined long before Europe rose from its own post-Rome Dark Ages but how interesting to look at the world from that very different point of view!

I also have written and sold a few helpful pieces on healthcare. They are nothing fancy, nothing fiction, but as always good practice. To do solid research, to be concise, to meet a deadline—everything a writer of anything needs constant practice doing!

That’s it for now. We have people coming over for dinner, the street festival tomorrow and extra time on Loyola Beach on Lake Michigan.  And I’m very ready for the ‘letting down’ for a few days. Then—back at it! Have a good weekend!

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Busy… and then some.

Broad St in Norwich

Broad St in Norwich, NY

I am tired. It’s a good tired, but nevertheless, tired. I had no idea a ‘book launch’ was this much work. It is a ton of advertising and talking about writing. But not much actual writing. Instagram is my new friend (I think.)  Facebook has become a constant companion.

Writing is… kinda pushed into the background.

That seems to be the way a book launch goes, though. From what I have read, we should probably have started three months ago to get ready for this. It would have relieved some of the stress. Well…. here we are anyway. And this tired face of mine has a smile on it!

The novel is selling. The reviews are beginning to come in. And there are requests for paper copies–something that hadn’t even crossed my mind. And I’m reading that an audio version would be a nice addition. Wow! My first thought was, “That’s a lot of work!”  followed by “That’s sounds expensive!” At this point, I’m still researching those options. Abby is not in a position to do a lot of this (she has a full time job and two kids on the way to college. Talk about full time!) The print edition I think we can arrange fairly quickly. The audio is another story. We’ll see.

Two things, in closing. One, if you would, read the first three chapters (Free!) and let me know what you think. You can PM me on Facebook at Gordon DeLand Author, or leave a comment here or at the end of this blog entry. Two, share the news about the novel on your Facebook page so that others can enjoy the read and maybe buy the book.

One last thought. The truth is, if no one but me read the novels, if I never sold one copy, I would still write. I can’t just…stop! Add to that urge, the experience of co-authoring with Abby which was more fun than ought to be allowed. It’s been said many time but still it’s true: Writers Write. And that’s me. Now, it’s your turn. Buy and read and review!

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