WHAT TO DO?

I’ve been thinking about trying the November Novel in a Month. Would this take time I need to get cover letters, outlines, queries, resumes, market analysis, and sample chapters ready to send out to the thirteen possible publishers I’ve identified for my Mary Colter book? They do need to get out because replies take anywhere from one month to six months.

But writing a 50,000 word draft of a novel in thirty days would be a challenge – one that might be the very one I need to jump start my publishing – however doubtful. The topic would be my life as the wife of a Protestant minister. It would start while I was still in college and declared to my friends that I never wanted to marry a minister. It would continue through my marriage to a US Navy man, university, seminary and four ministries, three in upstate New York and one in Warsaw, Poland. I’m not certain it would be exciting or memorable, but it would document Richard’s fifty years of ordination and how ministry affected me and our family life.

In writing magazines, I read about lack of ideas for writing. I have two unedited novels on my shelves. A middle grade novel in first person about a young boy rafting logs to market on the Delaware River in the 1700s in my head. It would be fun to research and write. My computer holds about a third of a middle grade sequel to my completed novel “A Long, Long Summer” (which also needs marketing). I need uninterrupted time to finish it. Then I have an idea for biographies of noted women composers. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and other men are celebrated, but what about Amy Beach, Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, and others still living.

I must decide how I should use my time, which seems to fly into the wind. Do the needed marketing, or try something totally new? I’m tempted.

What do you think?

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MARY COLTER AT SEVENTY-SEVEN

After World War II, Mary Colter continued to work for the Fred Harvey Company. Lots of people were traveling. The trains of Mary’s earlier years had lost favor. New, bigger, and more comfortable automobiles–now rolling out of Detroit’s factories– were the transportation of choice.
Grand Canyon National Park was a prime destination in the Southwest. Mary Colter already had eight buildings to her credit in the park. All of them are now on the National Register of Historic Places. The park had increased the number of hikers to take the two-day, seven-mile trek to the bottom of the canyon. The number of people riding mules into the canyon had also increased. Phantom Ranch, the overnight hotel was being stretched past its limit. It needed an update.
Colter had designed the ranch in 1923 and knew it intimately. She was called to enlarge it and install a laundry, so linens would no longer have to be taken to the canyon rim for care. Mary must have had an indefatigable constitution. She was now seventy-seven. Whether or not she rode a mule into the canyon, we are not sure, but it’s difficult for me to imagine that Mary wouldn’t oversee the whole project in person.
Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter was a tough lady, who could wear pants and boss the construction men during the day, and then put on an elegant dress with more than ample Native American jewelry to have tea that afternoon.

RAFTING

RAFTING

When traveling this week with an Oregonian friend, we came across this sign in a park beside a covered bridge.

“Daniel Skinner and Josiah Parks are credited with running the first raft down the Delaware River to Philadelphia in 1764.” Daniel failed in putting logs together for a raft in his first tries. Then “he developed a method of mortising the ends of the mast timbers, inserting a white oak spindle and pinning the ends of lumber creating a raft.” It took Skinner and Parks eight days to float his raft to Philadelphia where he was paid $29 in gold for each mast.

Rafting became a popular way to get logs to market. The Delaware River was named a public highway for log rafting. It was a dangerous job and many men lost their life.

I grew up near the village of Deposit, New York, so named because all winter logs were “deposited” on the banks of the Delaware to await the spring thaw when they could be rafted to market. Deposit’s high school teams are called the Lumberjacks. The annual Lumberjack Festival each July draws modern day lumberjacks to show their prowess at rolling logs, slicing through a log with an ax, and in other lumbering skills.

My first thought on reading the poster was that young children might like to read about these men and their adventures. My thoughts about approaching the subject haven’t gelled yet. Should it be a strictly factual story or a adventure of a young boy? Writing this makes me think both.

If you want to know more about Daniel Skinner and Josiah Parks see: History of Wayne County, [Pa.] By Phineas G. Goodrich (available on line)