A year ago, I was so proud because my first novel, Shadows, was finally published and was LIVE for sales.. At the time, I thought that the long road to publishing was finally over..
Man was I naive..
Publishing is just the first leg of the journey for book writing. Then comes marketing.. And getting reviews.. And recognition..
But it is rewarding too..
When Shadows placed as a Finalist in 2 categories of the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.. I was so happy.. (Yup.. I cried)…
As I move into my second year of marketing for Shadows.. And finishing up the sequel (Road Home).. I am looking for feedback..
.. In the comment section below, tell me what you think stands out about Shadows.. What you think of the cover.. Positives or negatives.. As long as your comments are constructive, then they will be helpful!
If you would like to get a free copy of Shadows in return for an honest review.. Send me an email..
If you haven’t read Shadows and would like to.. Click below!!
I always tell people that you can’t write about life .. if you aren’t out there living it. So I am out there.. living life. But life isn’t just exploring, meeting new people, learning, having a good time, and laughing. Sometimes it is fixing things, moving households, comforting loved ones and saying good-bye. But I wouldn’t give up the “good” living to avoid the “sad”.
In fact… If my life was a cup? It would overflow frequently with all sorts of emotions.. all sorts of activities.. all forms of life…
For the last couple months, my cup has indeed been very full. My “living” consisted of hard work and a busy schedule as we prepared to perform Seussical the Musical at our High School.. During this time, my daughter found that Dr. Seuss must have agreed with our family’s philosophy.. because she found this among his many famous quotes…
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss
But sometimes I cram too much living into a small amount of time.. Or Life comes crashing into my schedule and overwhelms it. This month? My cup was definitely running over with Life. As much as I tried to stay organized.. YES you guessed it.. IF you came to my house during the Seussical shows, you would have found piles.. Sewing piles.. laundry piles.. paperwork piles… Chaos! All organized chaos.. but chaos just the same.
As Christians, we constantly tell ourselves and remind others that God only gives us what we can handle. Sometimes we wear it like a badge.. sometimes I use it as a cattle prod.. (to get myself out of good book… Or out of bed… or to leave that glorious sunshine.. to get back to work)… but sometimes I think we get stuck on “accepting” God’s Will for us.. Kind of like a “stop your whining” reminder.. I find myself forgetting that God sent a model for us when our Life Cup floweth over.
God sent us Jesus to model for us what He expects… When Jesus was not looking forward to the hard work that His Father had set before Him? Jesus was overwhelmed!! Jesus knelt in prayer and cried out to His Heavenly Father…
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 NIV
This was not Jesus whining about hard work.. or whining because He knew He was about to die for our sins. No. This was Jesus being overwhelmed with the task before Him. What does this mean? This means that God says He will understand if we need to tell Him we are overwhelmed. God is giving us PERMISSION to ASK if a task can be taken away. We can ASK if He will heal a loved one.. we can ASK if He can change the Path before us.. The answer might be “No”… but it is okay to ask..
Then God shows us that He expects us to accept his Will.. accept his decision in all things. “Your will, not mine.”
God ALSO shows us through His Son that He doesn’t expect us to be strong all the time.. He expects us to fall apart when our cup runneth over with Life.. Then we have to rise.. brush off our knees.. and get back to Living..
How? You ask. How do we know for sure?
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
Jesus wept when He found that He was too late and His friend had died.. Jesus was so overwhelmed.. His cup of emotions ran right over the top… And He gave into His tears.
This week should have been a relaxing week for me.. Our production was over.. the set cleared away… the stage clean.. Yet my calendar filled to the absolute brim.. My Life Cup filled with Activities.. Good activities… fun activities.. but definitely too many.
And then my mom called.
It seems that God called one of His children home to Him this week. While my uncle was in India.. visiting his grandson.. he had a heart attack and passed away. Now.. I imagine my uncle was one of God’s favorite children… Because he is an amazing man.. and I can imagine God couldn’t possibly wait any longer to call him home…
..still… My Uncle will be greatly missed until we see him again in Heaven.. I can see my uncle standing at the pearly gates.. inviting me in with that Great Smile of his… inviting me to stay at his mansion until mine is ready to go.. and especially offering to help me explore those streets of gold..
Today I think God will understand if my cup runneth over.. and I think God will understand if I ask that my aunt and my cousins have their cup of sadness taken from their lips… I think He’ll understand if I ask Him to pour some of those emotions into my cup.. as full as it is.. so that I might share this heavy task with them.
One of my readers informed me that they could tell a lot about my personality from my book… Ha ha… I think that this is especially true by reading the sections of Shadows with Mark and Seth. I think that my greatest gift in life was siblings.. not only brothers but my sister as well.. Unfortunately, Emma’s story just didn’t lend itself to having a sister in it…
Enjoy the following sample from Shadows….
When the vegetables were almost tender, Emma went out and rang the dinner bell. “Everythin’ will be done by the time they make it in from the field,” she figured.
“I made it in time fer dinner?” came a voice close by.
She turned in the direction of the road to see James walking toward her. Emma laughed at the hope in his expression. “It’s like you’ve a clock in yer belly.”
“Is yer family still in the field?” he asked.
“Yea. I canna leave my bread bakin’ ta take them lunch today,” she explained. “They should be in shortly.”
“Anythin’ ya need help with or should I head out ta meet `em?” James asked.
Emma thought about his question. “I’ve only the wash tub ta refill, if ya want ta make sure my Da and brothers heard the dinner bell ringin’,” she suggested.
“Seth can hear that dinner bell over any sound, no matter how quietly ya ring it,” James said with a laugh. “Let me go check ta see iffen they’re headed in, then I’ll fill the wash tub fer ya.”
“Thank ya,” Emma said. She returned to the kitchen. She could smell that her bread was done baking, so she pulled it from the oven and set another loaf in its place. Then she drained the vegetables, replacing the lid to keep them warm until the menfolk came in. She had just set the plates around the table, when James came in toting a bucket full of water for the wash tub.
“They are headed in. Should be close ta the front field by now,” James reported as he headed out the door with the empty bucket.
“I’ll dish it up when they come in.”
“It sure smells good,” James said eagerly.
Emma laughed softly, “Now ya sound like Seth.”
James laughed too, as he left through the door.
When James returned again, her father and brothers were with him.
“Sorry ta make ya come in fer dinner. I couldna leave my bread bakin’,” she explained to her family.
“We were needin’ a break from the sun, Emma girl,” Da answered.
“This smells better than a picnic lunch anyhow,” Seth decided, inhaling deeply.
Emma met James eyes and they laughed. Seth’s words were almost the same as the ones James had used earlier. Da saw the shared joke and raised his eyebrow at James. Emma had turned back to start serving up the plates and missed the exchange.
Once everyone was seated, her Da blessed the food and everyone started eating heartily.
“We noticed the raccoons are back in the fields. They did a fair amount of damage ta the cornfield by the woods last night,” Da told Emma. “So we’ll probably be sittin’ out there tonight.”
Nodding in understanding, Emma started planning what food she would send out with the boys.
“Ya interested in joinin’ us, James?” Mark added.
James agreed easily. “Wished I woulda known earlier, I could’ve jest stayed on inta the night.”
“We could send Emma inta town with a message fer yer Pa,” Seth suggested.
“I’ll not ask her ta make that trip in this heat,” James said. “Besides she’s bread ta bake.”
Emma gave him a thankful smile. She was already dreading the trip to the mercantile that she knew was coming up. An added trip was not appealing to her.
“Speakin’ of bread,” Seth said suggestively. “Can I have a slice with my dinner?”
Emma put her fork down and pushed her chair back from the table. Reaching for a loaf that was cool enough to slice, she heard a whispered comment that made her smile.
“Rotten kid. Let her eat her food while it’s warm,” James said.
“Jest asked fer bread,” Seth responded confused.
Their father laughed at his expression.
“It’s fine,” Emma insisted. Setting the plate of sliced bread on the table, she sat back in her chair.
Just as she was putting a bite to her mouth, Seth asked with a impish smile, “Could I have butter on mine?”
Emma froze mid-bite, just in time to see Mark smack Seth in the back of the neck. James slid his chair back and retrieved the butter crock before she could even respond. She tried to keep her smile hidden as Seth rubbed the back of his neck. “Never dull at mealtime,” she thought to herself.
**DISCLOSURE*** No brothers were harmed in the making of this book…
(If you would like to read more… Click here for links to BUY Shadows.)
Recently.. I launched my book, Shadows, into the world. To make it a momentous occasion, some friends of mine helped me host a book signing. I made sure I had books available to purchase.. I made sure I had pens to personally sign each book… We made coffee and cookies… And I decided I would give a brief talk.. followed by a question and answer opportunity. To prepare myself, I asked my Facebook friends and family what questions they would ask me. Things that they were curious to know. I used these questions at the launching… and I was asked many more.
After the Book Launching day passed.. I received messages from people who wished they could have come hear me speak. I understand this feeling. Life is so busy that it is impossible to do everything we would like to do. But in this one instance? In this instance, I can share a few of the questions (and answers) I talked about…
Here are a few of the most frequently asked…
#1. Is Shadows a continuation of your blog site?
Short answer… No!
Long answer… My blog site is made up of short stories from my life. Simply put.. it’s non-fiction. My thoughts, my memories, my sorrows, my hardships.. from the real life of Jules Nelson. Shadows is my first published work of fiction. It is about the thoughts, memories, sorrows and hardships of a fictional young lady named Emma Fern Wells. And while many people enjoy reading about the lives of both, they are NOT one and the same.
#2. What made you want to write a book?
Short answer … I am a writer. It is nice to put the works of my brain on paper.
Long answer… As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to write a book. Ever since I was a little girl, I have made up characters and mapped out their stories. Where ever I was, my mind would slip into my writer’s world. Whether I was folding laundry.. or washing dishes.. or raking leaves.. or vacuuming.. or sweeping… my mind would be a million miles away.. Sometimes hundreds of years away. Wondering how a young lady would do the same task 100 years earlier. OR wondering if a young lady would have been allowed to do that task… YES.. you can imagine that my mother was annoyed with me on more than one occasion… Everything I did was done to perfection.. but it took FOREVER. When I was old enough to write things down.. I did.. I often filled notebooks full of stories. My first stories just rambled.. weaving and wobbling along with no particular direction. By my teen years, I had gotten the hang of sticking to a plot.
#3. If you have been writing since childhood.. why did it take you so long to complete a novel?
Short answer… Life.
Long answer… Life during high school and college is so busy.. and packed full of activities.. there was NO time to write. I kept my usual journal for awhile… but that too fell by the wayside after a few years. Then I met my wonderful husband.. and had my 2 amazing kids. These 3 people consumed my life for a time. When my son was diagnosed with Autism, all my research went into learning new therapies and new concepts. Even when life was at its busiest, I never stopped making up stories. I would develop characters and tell adventures with them to my daughter. Make up new endings to terrible movies. But until recently? Until my husband’s job brought our family home to Michigan, my life was not simple enough for me to write a book.
#4. What inspired you to write Shadows?
Short answer… Hmm.. there isn’t one.
Long answer… I love History. Not the type of history that you learn in the classroom.. not all the dates and facts.. But history ITSELF. The clothes they wore in a certain time period.. What those particular clothes said about a person… How you could often tell what class a person was in by the clothes they wore… How they cooked… What they ate…
Whenever I learn something new, I try to tie it back to something I already knew. For instance, wagon trains were going on before and after the civil war. These were NOT two separate time periods .. but one and the same. So to head off to join the war? They traveled for WEEKS by wagon or horseback to meet up with the army.
There are photographs of the soldiers during the civil war. A strange mixture of primitive conditions. Pictures of living in tents and cooking over fires. Pictures of women washing the officer’s clothes. The more I thought about the photos… the more I thought about how SOME of these soldiers could have been on a wagon train. How none of the scenes in these pictures would have been unusual for them. They would have slept in tents.. and cooked over fires.. and washed clothes in any creek they could find. The more I thought about the soldiers.. the more I thought about the wives they left behind..
And then I decided that SOMEONE should write their story.. the story of the wives left behind to do the job of pioneer woman and man both.. left behind to do it all alone, in most cases. And I decided that I could do it.
#5. When did you know you would write Shadows?
Short answer.. As soon as I developed Emma’s character… and had a dream about her.
Long answer… Shadows is actually the prequel to the story I want to write about the civil war wives. The more I developed the character of Emma.. the young mother who will be left behind.. the more I longed to tell her story from the beginning. When I had a dream about the person she would have been? I woke up with the firm decision that I would start with Emma…. that I would write Shadows before I wrote Ashes… I would write where she came from.. who she was… write about how God shaped her character..
#6. Do you plan to write another book soon?
Short answer… Yes.
Long answer… I am already writing the next book. Shadows is the first of 3 books that follow Emma’s life. The next book.. the ONE that I am currently working on… will follow Emma’s first year of marriage (no spoilers here.. so I won’t tell you who she marries). I am hoping to have this second book, Road Home, finished by Spring 2015. The third book will follow Emma as the Civil War breaks out. When her young husband leaves her behind to take care of their growing family and the farm.
#7. Where do you find ideas for your books?
Short answer… Everywhere..
Long answer… Everywhere… Research… ballads… undeveloped characters in other novels… phrases in songs that leave you thinking.. photographs… pretty much anywhere…
#8. What is the most important aspects of writing?
Short answer… Details… and editing.
Long answer… Details! Lots of details.. If I can explain my story the way I see it in my mind? If I can describe my characters so that you can “see” them as you read? If I can do that? Well, then you won’t want to put my pages down. That is when my story becomes a book. AND THEN? And then I edit to make sure my words say EXACTLY what I want them to say. Nothing slows down a reader more than typing errors.. or words used in the wrong context.(I know this because I love to read.) So details and editing.
#9. How much (if any) does Shadows reflect your life experiences?
Short answer… A little…
Long answer… Emma’s faith is similar to mine. Unwavering and simple. I trust the Lord to provide for my needs.. and so does Emma. Emma has brothers.. and so do I. Brothers who are protective, supportive and loving.. Other than that? Other than that, Shadows reflects my life long pursuit of knowledge and everything history.
#10. What was your most life changing experience about writing this book (Shadows)?
Short answer.. Peace.
Long answer… Writing this book was exciting and fun… and fulfilling. But the most life changing experience would be the peace I feel. Writing is what I was meant to do.. and it feels so good to be doing it.
I hope you all have read Shadows.. and I hope you really enjoyed it.
Keep the questions coming.. but for now…
I need to get back to writing…
Everything sounds better with the echo of a still small voice.