Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What's Up With War of Honor? {snippets included}

via Pixabay
We flip on The Man Who Invented Christmas. It's a Friday night a couple of weeks after Christmas. We're already sleepy from a long work week, but I've been saving this treat as a reward for being diligent in homework grading and class prep.

Charles Dickens, too, is writing a novel. He has six weeks to finish it. He's paid for it on his own, putting him in a precarious financial position. And he can't write the last scene.

"I can't. The characters won't do what I want." On the verge of tears he finally admits to his friend, "And I'm afraid."

I understand you, man. I understand you.

Looking at you, War of Honor. Looking at you and the muddle-headed young visionary who thought you could be done and off to an editor five months ago. (She was a bit off in her timescale.) 

I have not had the kind of productivity I envisioned in my writing life in 2018.

One summer an author-girl set a goal, only to realize that a job would take more time than she had anticipated. One month she set a deadline, only to come down with the worst cold she had had in a long time. One evening early this year she sat down to write and grief thwacked her in the teeth, slamming her mind numb. 

McConkey Press, however, is still finding its way forward. We waded through sales tax forms. We sold sixteen copies of War of Loyalties (book 1) at a homeschool convention, and seven at an anniversary party. My dad sold another eight while I lay in bed sick watching movies. We ate celebratory first birthday pies half-asleep in a hotel room (I snuck a second one earlier that day on lunch break.) And, you know, it's still 99 cents on Amazon because I haven't taken it down yet. (But I will be very soon!)


Inside lay a uniform, carefully rolled up and put away. And between the heavy fabric, he found a framed photograph of a white-clad young woman with a strong brow and chin, looking up at Ernest himself. 

“So you’re the fräulein of sun and fire,” he muttered.


And War of Honor has also made progress. I have read research books, corresponded with a man who helped me find a good wireless transmitter for my book, and stopped to re-do a first act that didn't have enough spying in it. Part of it is due to "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again" by Danny Gokey, and part of it has "Soldier" vibes from Fleurie (now you'll know). I readjusted time goals, didn't meet them when life took some tailspins and readjusted (and didn't meet them) again. I finally put in another gun besides a Webley, and I still for the life of me have to check to see if Webley has one b or two. 

My mind is healing. Healing from November sickness, five trips in six months, and the learning curve of a new job. 


Warm tobacco smoke.

Fact collided with his brain like a burst of light. He snatched up the lantern and closed the thin shaft of flame, then shoved letters back into the leather pouch and frantically pushed them into a straight stack again. Reaching for Lucie’s hand, he gripped her small fingers and pulled her towards the door.

Out. Out now. Out now.


On Monday night, January 28, I pull out my book and feel the tension of frustration grip my mind. How to keep writing? How to keep writing, when I pull it out and have to skim through a chapter just to get in the groove? I rearrange where the chapters fall, and wonder if I've made a mess. 

That night after supper, I set my timer for fifteen minutes and write what comes to mind. A young spy pulls a box of love letters off a shelf in the house he's visiting. And those love letters turn into part of a missing chapter. 

That night, writing takes a turn. 

“Will you talk a minute?” She tugged him away from Wolf into the quiet, empty pantry, full of hanging dried spices. Nathan breathed in the sharp tang of basil and rosemary, and for a long while afterward, when he closed his eyes, he smelled it and thought of her bright, young face.


The last week of January, snow fell over Michigan with a vengeance. Bucketloads, hours of snow. Everything shut down. Bible study canceled. Work canceled. Our van sat at the end of the driveway, unused. I worked on getting ready for classes and organizing first semester grades. Then classes canceled.

I grabbed a pillow and sat under twinkle lights in our room and wrote and wrote and wrote. I shifted to the chair and made Assam tea very badly and wrote and wrote some more. I made Paris tea and soaked in the sunshine coming through the window and kept writing.

When you have a day off, there is no guarantee the writing bug will hit. That day, by the grace of God, it hit with a vengeance. And I caught a glimpse of how to move forward.

You wouldn’t have to tell them. You could save one precious, shining thing out of all of this wreckage to come.

He pressed his hands to his ears.

How could you betray something so good?

He yelled and picked up the candle, hurling it against the whitewashed wall opposite. It blew out, leaving him in the dark.


You could write, Schuyler. You could write every weekday morning from 9:00-9:30. In the midst of the brick wall and the questions, God opened a door to be faithful, and since then, he has provided the words to go with the time. There are no answers. No end dates. But in the comfort of forward movement, I find for now that I do not need them. I show up. He sends grace. I find fresh joy in words that come. Will you pray with me for this project? For words and courage, for peace in God's timing, and the knowledge and sources and patience to do it well? I would be so grateful for your prayers.

One year an author-girl felt stalled. And she may feel stalled again, and some dreams take a time-shift. But for now, her dream is moving forward again. And the journey of dreaming is always part of the gladness--even more, perhaps, than reaching the end.

What writing project are you working on? How is it going? 
I'd love to know!
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