Coming Home

our passive solar home with solar electric array and solar water batch heater - Bruce Witzel photo

Coming home is like eating sour candies. You know those little treats that are sugary on the outside but mouth-puckering once you really get chewing? Sleeping in my own bed is definitely the sugar. The sour part is knowing I won’t hear the morning scurry of pitter-pattering feet as one or both of my granddaughters climb in with me.

Easter facepainting - Bruce Witzel photo

Coming home is always a mix of beauty and challenge around here. The pear tree in full bloom and a few of the rhododendrons putting on their show of colour take my breath away. And I mustn’t forget the brand-new magnolia managing three huge blooms in its first year with us. Ants zipping around the kitchen as I unpack and get settled in is most certainly the challenge side of things. I find, as I get older, that I am more and more like an elderly dog circling around and around my mat before I can settle down.

Cabin rhodo - Bruce Witzel photo

Coming home with a pile of work ahead for the next six weeks is exciting. Line by line edits of Chasing Down the Night are complete. Once again my talented editor has suggested changes that have honed and polished my words to wonderful perfection. I’ll print out a hardcopy today and Bruce will start proofreading. He is good at spotting typos. I will be busy with writing the book description. The task is a daunting one. I’d rather sit down and write a one-hundred and fifty thousand word novel than try and condense a story down to a punchy and gripping two hundred word blurb. But try I must.

I will also be preparing the proofed manuscript for the e-book formatter. This involves deciding on how I want all the front and back matter, creating the hyperlinked table of contents and going over and over the document to ensure all hidden formatting has been stripped out. These are time consuming but necessary steps. Sure, the formatter would do it all but at a cost. I try to keep that cost down as much as possible by doing everything I can do myself. And having done this three times now, I have templates saved that make the tasks somewhat easier.

Meanwhile, Bruce will be working on the cover. We have some ambitious ideas and I can’t wait for cover-reveal day when I get to share the finished product on this blog.

Once the e-book is off to the formatter, I’ll start the work of preparing the manuscript for the softcover edition. In many ways, I enjoy putting on this formatting hat. The discipline and precision of it appeals to me and satisfies something that the unruly work of writing cannot.

Storyboarding - What Might Have Been

On other fronts, storyboarding has already begun for the fourth and final novel in the Crater Lake Series. I’ll keep that board in the periphery of my vision and do character sketches and take notes as I work on formatting tasks. I’ll also be checking in with Maelstrom for further rewrites. I find that switching hats now and then, from creative to editing to formatting, is as useful as going out for a brisk walk. It shakes the cobwebs out of my head – though it definitely doesn’t replace the need for that brisk walk.

A lone stellar jay is sitting in the arbour outside my window enjoying this misty morning. Colourful deep blue feathers against the darkest black and a shiny dark eye draw my gaze again and again. I can see a woodpecker through a tangle of branches start his tapping routine on one of the dead snags that stands like a bent and gnarled old man on the cliff. Creatures are stirring and it is time for me to get up out of this chair and exercise more than my fingers on the keyboard.

StellerJay - Charles Brandt photo

20 comments on “Coming Home

  1. djmactrucker says:

    Always a treat to read your descriptions and to see the pictures. Welcome home !

  2. smilecalm says:

    wishing you focused creativity, Francis
    interspersed with calm relaxation 🙂

    • I love the sound of that juxtaposition – creativity and calm relaxation. The view this morning is certainly conducive – mist suspended between water and sky lit by the sun peaking up over the mountains. Beautiful.

  3. jane tims says:

    Hi Fran. From your story board, I’d say the final book will be as place-based as the others. ‘Final’? … my horror at hearing that just shows how much I enjoyed your first two books. Jane

    • Your words about ‘final’ made me smile. Final for Crater Lake – all series must come to an end. But so many more books in the works and in my head for future writing.

  4. Welcome home, Fran! Boy, I would love to come home to that view.

    • The view is definitely part of the sugar coating 🙂 It is wonderful to be here and picking spring broccoli for dinner and stewing fresh rhubarb to mix with strawberries – we didn’t grow those. Gearing up to get this next book out and enjoy the garden.

  5. reocochran says:

    I like how you wrote this post, I use the words, “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” whenever I get ready to leave my Mom in my car. I see her standing there, knowing the one tear turns to more, the farther I drive away. I also like the idea of your mouth-puckering candies, which turn to sweet, which could demonstrate ‘bitter.”

    • I hear you on the tears turning into more. My daughter told me she awoke the morning we left to the sound of my granddaughter crying in her room because I was gone. We generally try to leave early before everyone gets up to make a longish trip home. That is bitter sweet, for sure. Oh, those sour candies – can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

  6. reocochran says:

    Oops, I pushed publish my comment, but meant to say, “bitter sweet.”

  7. Behind the Story says:

    A feeling I know all too well: the sour -sweet of leaving the children and grandchildren and coming back to work I love. Beautiful photos! I love your storyboard–very impressive. I may just go out and buy something similar if I can decide where I want to put it.

    • Where to put the storyboard is an issue around here, as well. I don’t have wall space to hang it and that would be the perfect solution. I end up propping it up on a chair where it sits and dominates the space calling my attention back to it again and again. Now there are some advantages to this. If hanging on the wall, I could never get away from it short of draping it with a dark cloth. How medieval is that? I guess I get the best of both worlds this way.

      • Behind the Story says:

        I walked around the house yesterday and came to the same conclusion. When I’m ready for a storyboard, I’ll prop it up somewhere.

  8. Gallivanta says:

    A great description of feeling like an elderly dog. All the best for the work ahead.

    • I owe this word imagery to a friend I had in grad school. We were drawn together because we shared ‘mature’ student status and were both prone to achy knees when forced up four flights of stairs to a classroom or made to sit in uncomfortable chairs for long lectures. This gave the analogy double meaning. She used to describe herself as an old dog at those times and when settling to write. Circling that old dog bed over and over before getting down to it.

  9. Gwen Stephens says:

    I love looking at that story board, Fran. All those post-its in a rainbow of colors, squiggly lines and arrows and groupings…the work of a true artist, that only said artist can understand. I can appreciate the comfort of engaging in formatting and such. In stark contrast to drafting, which zaps all mental energy, it can feel like a breath of fresh air. Looking forward to that cover reveal.

    • On the cover review – all I can say is – me, too 🙂 Bruce and I are tossing ideas around at a furious rate. I can’t wait to get that storyboard on display but adding one extra hat right now might tip everything to the floor in a big mess. Patience, grasshopper.

  10. jackiemallon says:

    How interesting to see a glimpse into your process. I have heard talk of these “story boards” but I have never made use of one. Intrigued I am.
    That Bruce is worth his weight in gold. He wears many hats.
    Good luck with the multiple tasks at hand.It must help to be surrounded by such idyllic vistas for when you look up from your work…you do manage to look up once in a while, right?! 😉

    • I do look up! Most definitely and sometimes I find myself in a bit of shock. The view still takes me by surprise. I used to wonder if I’d get all blasé about it but that hasn’t happened yet – and I’m going on 22 years looking down this lake to mist clad mountains in the distance. If the storyboard idea works for you, you’ll never look back – the thing is a bit like a powerful drug when it comes to visioning.

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