Weather: It's Fickle, and So Are You

I'm sure we've all made this mistake before, but it doesn't make it any less embarrassing when we're called out on it. One minute our characters are strolling down a lane of glorious golden twilight toward the setting sun, and the next moment ominous clouds are pressing their weighty bulk upon the characters' heads.


What? It was sunny just a minute ago.


Right. My bad.

I distinctly remember having my characters sitting down under the shade of a tree on a completely overcast day. I am sure the problem is linked directly to Disney movies: we like to unconsciously assume that the weather is linked to the moods of the characters or the various levels of urgency developing in the plot. But we simply can't do that. The weather is a character all its own, and you have to not only let it do its own thing, but you have to keep track of it too. Of course, you're perfectly allowed to make the weather do what you want to further the plot of your story. Would she have ever run into that cave and found the magic crystal if a thunderstorm had not broken right over the forest just then? Would he have thought to look in that high cupboard if a shaft of light had not come through the window and shone like the finger of an angel at it? But be careful you don't overdo it. It can't always rain when your character is gloomy, it can't always be gloriously bright when your character is merry. Bilbo himself pointed out that it isn't all hay-rides in May sunshine. Weather happens.

Know your weather patterns. What time of the year is it? What sort of climate is your story set in? You don't need to go as far as mapping out air currents if you would really rather not. I know I wouldn't. But make sure you are clear on seasons, weather-patterns, and temperatures. You can't have your characters suddenly beating against a drenching gale in the middle of a long dry summer, or seeing wildflowers in a field in the middle of December. And believe me, I've done this before. If you happen to enjoy writing British-type climates, the way I do, has an excellent and amusing page here on the weather throughout the year on the island. This will give you a narrower field on what to expect during any given month.

If you don't like Britain, you're on your own.

As far as any given day is concerned, you need to not only know the overarching patterns of weather throughout the year, as you write you need to keep track of what the weather is currently. In Between Earth and Sky I have a slight reprieve because the tribe in which Rede lives is coastal, and coastal weather is notoriously willful. If I want a sunny morning, I can get one - for about two hours - and then I can roll in a nice dense cloud-cover if I like. But regardless, I can't have Rede driving a chariot through sunny glades of blooming cherry and a page later be descending a hillside in which the heather is all blurred to lavender-grey by the shadows of the thick clouds. Pay attention to your weather. Realistically, weather happens totally regardless of the little petty joys and toils of mankind. We all understand this. Make sure your story understands it too.

That's all for today, folks. Happy scribbles!

Christmas Books

I had a most delightful Christmas, I am very glad to say. All the book signings leading up to Christmas went marvelously, my Christmas shopping and preparations went smoothly, and the holiday itself was wonderful. We had a white Christmas! It is my understanding that that hasn't happened in nearly a generation here. South Carolina snows, in my neck of the woods, rarely last beyond twenty-four hours, but we still have some pretty patches of snow clinging on with valiant swan-white hearts. Lovely presents were exchanged among the family, though my niece and nephew, who are both on the young side of youthful, got a bit overwhelmed with all the "Come here and open this. Go there and open that."

But that's all boring stuff that no one wants to hear about from me. "Where's the writing? Where's the news on these books your post title seems so keen about? Get on with it, Jenny. Are you having us on?" All right, all right, here I get. You know how much I love talking about books. Here is what I got (or what my husband Tim got, which is more or less the same thing).

My dear friend Anna sent me a lovely Puritan Paperback copy of Richard Sibbes' Glorious Freedom. We both have fond memories of this book, though mine are by proxy at the moment since I haven't read it yet. Over the summer she spent time with her grandmother, and she would often spend the hour sitting on the porch with one of my letters and Mr Sibbes, hours of bliss and sunshine. So though this isn't the exact book, its pages are infused with the memories of letters and sunshine and maybe even whiffs of tea. She wrote as much (and more, but such things are too precious to tell to all) in the inside flap of my book so that, years from now when I have passed on and my book has not, someone will pick it up and read it and wonder "Who were these young women, and what did they mean, and what were these glimpses of heaven that they caught between the lines of each other's letters?" Such is the power of the written word.

Another lovely vintage book I received was this, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. It may be recalled that I have been researching British plants through the help of W. Keble Martin's The Concise British Flora in Colour. Well! Given even a passing knowledge of the expansive and wild glory of a British landscape, even the most forbidding, it is hardly surprising that a young lady such as Edith Holden could contrive to put such lovely observations and illustrations on paper. She filled this book up on observations throughout the year, jotting down what was blooming when, where, giving charming paintings to aid the words in bringing the Edwardian countryside to life. She wrote down many poems which suited the occasion, and even included many local observations on the months, such as their more ancient origin of name and various local festivities. For a girl of my interests, it was just the thing. Also, the book is elderly and smells of deliciousness.

I am sure it has come up that I am reading Charles Spurgeon's Morning by Morning. For Christmas, I got a gorgeous little black leather bound copy of both Morning by Morning and Evening by Evening. I am still only reading the morning bit, because I read my Bible in the evening before bed and by the time I being my landing cycle, it's already late. I will most likely switch once I have finished the morning readings. All the same, I had been wanting Evening by Evening, and now I've got both - all the more felicitous because my copy of Morning by Morning is my mother's, not mine. I am not usually one for 'devotions', as it were, for they so easily become a sort of rite for the soul. But Spurgeon, at least, has designs to focus the wayward soul upon the Constant of Christ, so that when we rise up and when we lie down we will be fixed on him always, and keep his words in our hearts. My thanks go to my in-laws and to Mr Spurgeon himself.

A lot of people are put off by the little word 'logic.' Why? Because it hurts, that's why. When we think of logic, we think of painfully intricate syllogisms and Augustine's The Immortality of the Soul and lengthy treatises on mental constructs that no one can understand. But what people often fail to realize is that logic is universal and universally applied. But it isn't universally applied correctly, and that's the problem. Anyone will have heard someone say, "You're being illogical!" and that's because we all fundamentally have an understanding of what logic is, and recognize it when it's being used incorrectly - or even not at all. But Mr Clark, thank goodness, brings the whole thing to the surface so we can look at it properly and have a conscious idea of proper logic. This is one of my husband's Christmas presents, but I wanted it just as much as he. Who knows? When I'm done reading The Hobbit aloud, we may do something unutterably boring like read aloud Logic. Welcome to the Freitag household.

Because yours truly just isn't weird enough! Introducing a gift from my husband, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: just about every mythically creepy-crawly you can imagine is indexed in these pages, cross-referenced, bagged and tagged and scribbled down. I'm not sure I want to be known as the people who spent the time tracking all this down, but as a writer I am certainly indebted to the authors. Not only does the book include a cover-to-cover index on mythical creatures, the authors also put in excerpts on the more prominent instances in which these creatures cropped up in history, as well as excerpts on human interaction, or worship, or whatever. Though I doubt I will read it cover to cover myself, it will be an excellent reference book for future knowledge and future stories. Thank you, Tim!

No, this is not the exact replica of the copy I possess, but it sure looks nice. I think this is probably the first bit of Eastern epic poetry I've got (I haven't even got the Epic of Gilgamesh - bad Jenny!) so this is new for me. Thankfully we covered Eastern philosophies in philosophy class, so I have at least an idea of what fundamental ideas I will be coming across. As far as the poetry itself is concerned, Edward FitzGerald did a lovely job translating.
Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

What lovely opening lines! Abigail, who gave it to me, was cheeky enough to scribble on the inside flap "To Jenny - I'm sure you can make sense of it!"

Please excuse the crookidariness of this photo. Barnes and Noble doesn't understand how do to mugshots. Anyway, for long and long I've had the entire boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia, very well used and being to come woefully apart. Now, there is something very endearing about a falling-apart book. It shows that it was loved, that it was well-read, that people really cared about its story. But after a while, like the Velveteen Rabbit, it just gets too impractical to try reading out of such torn volumes. I still have the boxed set, and I hope to always have the boxed set, but goodness knows it is a relief to have something I know won't fall to tinder in my hands. Not only that, this copy is simply gorgeous, rife with Pauline Baynes' illustrations, some of which did not make it into my boxed set.

People use words incorrectly all the time. I do it, you do it; Ambrose Bierce himself assures us that he is not exempt either. But in Write it Right, he takes it upon himself to at least put forward the best foot on a correct use of English words. Appraised and checked against our changing society, the readers gets a look at his grammatical peeves as well as true grievances against the English language. This makes a great companion for Strunk and White's Elements of Style. But even if you get it wrong, don't fret. Bierce, Strunk, and White are out there to help us, and as the writer of Sheldon Comics said, English is a language carefully cobbled together by three blind dudes and a German dictionary.

"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it." This was very clever of Churchill; and really, isn't that what historians have always done? I challenge you to introduce me to a wholly unbiased historian. But Churchill, with his pointed wit, admitted to his amusing crime; and, indeed, history has been kind to him. My parents gave Tim a nice old copy of The New World for Christmas with lovely large print (I hate reading small print); it's beautifully hard-bound with Churchill's signature scrawled in gold on the front. I wonder if they had me in mind too, for this volume covers the English Civil War, an era I was most interested in when I was, oh, twelvishly-thirteen. I still am, but I try not to be quite so outwardly obsessed because then people laugh at me.

So nine lovely books, all just waiting for me to read them. Unfortunately, I have several I am already reading, and several I had planned to read after I was done with those. Aaah, the list just keeps on growing! Maybe I'll ditch all and make a post later on what I'm writing. Except that my brain decided to take a sabbatical and I'm not writing anything at the moment. Bad, naughty Jenny. Scribbles! Scribbles and inkstains!

Another Day In the Life of a New Author

As Abigail said over on Scribbles and Ink Stains, yesterday evening was a success. Not only did we each sell a sizable number of books ourselves, Barnes and Noble was kind enough to have us sign the books that were left, and the store bought them. Thank you, Barnes and Noble! Thank you, numerous people who came by and picked up our books! The evening was long but definitely worth it, and I hope you all enjoy the books your bought. Merry Christmas!

This evening is an hour-long launch party and book signing at our local Spill the Beans downtown. (If you live in Greenville and don't know where it is exactly, it's on South Main squdged up against the Falls Park patio - really cute set up and very cosy). Buy a book, and you get a free coffee! If you don't like coffee, Bi-Lo sells some nice Twinings tea which is equally as good combined with a novel in some warm corner of your home. (I love you, Twinings...!)

So drop on by! Falls Park is gorgeous in the evening, regardless of the cold, and Main Street all lit up during the holiday season is enough to warm Scrooge's heart. Come warm your hands around a free cup of coffee and chit-chat with two young authors. Merry, merry Christmas!


I'm learning more and more about it lately as it works in my life.

But first, an update. I finished NaNo with flying colours, coming out just a little above 50,000 words. Yay me! But I can't boast too much, even though this was my first time through, because the writing was easy, and I know others fought their stories more than I fought mine. But I'm pleased with myself, and I hope to get another crazy month's worth of frantic typing in come February with a few other friends so I can push even farther along in my novel.

In the publishing world, my sister and I just had a TV interview on Your Carolina, a local television station based out of the Michelin building in downtown Greenville. They were some really lovely people, and I had a good time, even though I had the serious jitters being on television for the first time. You can see the video up on their webside if you care to watch it. (Note: Jenny's voice was surgically removed and replaced with the voice of Minnie Mouse.)

And this evening, regardless of how tired I am after the interview, I've got a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in the Shops at Greenridge on Woodruff in my area. (Not to be confused with the town of Woodruff.) So if you happen to live in the area, stop on by! I'll be the gal in a suit of black armour with silver apple-leaf patterns. That's from 7:00-9:00.

Saturday evening and Monday evening (18th and 20th) will be busy with a book launch and another book signing respectively, one at the South Main Spill the Beans (free coffee if you buy a book!) and the Laurens Road Books-A-Million. (5:00-6:00, and 6:00-8:00).

So yes, I'm a busy girl. I still have Christmas shopping to do, and then wrapping all the presents I hope to buy. But if there is one thing I am learning, it is that, so long as you are not totally foolish with yourself and your time (and sometimes even then) God's providence is mightily good. My people are hacking time out of their busy schedules to stand by my sister and me, and even my publisher and his wife are dancing out of their routines to come join us. God has been very good to me, no matter how weary I feel.

And now this little unicorn needs to go crawl into her armour and get ready for the evening. Merry Christmas!

Books Can Be Purchased

The books are finally out. After a few problems with the mechanics of the printing, the books have finally been delivered and I have some thirteen boxes containing eight hundred books to my name. If anyone is interesting in buying an autographed copy, please don't hesitate to contact me through email.

On the sidebar is a PayPal button for those who wish to order. Thanks!

Back Cover Summary:
"The Legions have left the province of Britain and the Western Roman Empire has dissolved into chaos. With the world plunged into darkness, paganism and superstition are as rampant as ever. In the Down country of southern Britain, young Indi has grown up knowing nothing more than his gods of horses and thunder: so when a man from across the sea comes preaching a single God slain on a cross, Indi must choose between his gods or the one God - and face the consequences of his decision."

Getting to Know You - Character Fractalling

The dictionary says 'fractalling' is not a word. Well, I did it, so I know it must exist. Contrary to my normal nature, I willingly received a character fractalling sheet from a friend and I set myself down to take the main character of Between Earth and Sky apart and put him back together. I don't not do this on a regular basis because I think fractalling squashes a character. On the contrary, I had no notion that such a thing existed. So, you see, I can sympathize with the dictionary.

Fractalling, for those who do not know, like myself, is essentially taking your character totally apart at the outset, and putting him slowly back together under the guidance of several key adverbs (with the occasional preposition): who, what, why, if, when, where, how. A lovely little cadence it makes. In short, you are doing a character profile the way business folk do it. At first it seems infinitely tedious and repetitive, but as I went along, I realized that each question built upon the one that came before it, and by the time I had squeezed through the inexorable IF and had tumbled through WHEN and WHERE to HOW, Rede was all but a living, breathing, flesh-and-blood figure at my side. He had depth I would not have thought of otherwise, features that were previously dream-blurry. When November 1st comes and I sit down to write that pesky first chapter, I won't be making a character - the character is already made.

I am simplifying this of necessity because the fractalling sheet can be found somewhere in the unfamiliar labyrinth of the Holy Worlds Christian Fantasy forum. (Nice place, by the way: lovely people.) I must say, fractal your characters. Take an hour or a whole morning or a whole day just to answer the questions WHO is your character in his essence, WHAT is your character, WHY is he that way, IF he wasn't, what would he be, WHEN you meet him, what impresses you about him, WHERE does he live and what affect does that have on him, and, lastly, HOW does your character look?

Like any human being that isn't Jason Bourne, a character will have a backstory, a history, a whole up-till-now life's worth of thought patterns which define him in the moment. You need to find out what this is, or make it up, before you begin. Not only does this make for a more convincing character, it makes writing the character a lot easier, and helps protect against those embarrassing moments of inconsistency. Of course, like any human being, your character will have those moments where he acts contrary to the rest of his being and beliefs. We all do that, within reason, and it helps make the character even more realistic - but in general inconsistencies are a breed of bad form. A character's childhood and upbringing define him. His very countryside defines him (New Yorkers, anyone?). Little details which we all take for granted impact us and shape us every day, and they are all very important when you go to make a character of your own.

So take a good long look at your characters before you write the first chapter. You won't be disappointed that you did.

Chariots! Must Have Chariots!

There are chariots in my NaNo, because everything is better with chariots. Would Ben-Hur be nearly as famous as it is now without the chariot-race? (All right, that's kind of a pity, because the rest of Ben-Hur is pretty awesome too.) But think about it: the living drum of wheels and hooves and standing nearly on top of your horses while you're driving is simply exhilarating! Where can you go wrong putting that in a story?

I won't be using Roman chariots, however. My NaNo, Between Earth and Sky, is Celtic-based; Irish, specifically, being a sort of fantastical re-telling of Saint Patrick's story. "Sort of" being the operative phrase. I was inspired by the legends surrounding Patrick, but otherwise I have run with my own ideas. But the Insular peoples had chariots, so it was the easiest step in the world to pull them into my story.

This is perhaps the most daunting of my stories to date. Because of the nature of my main character, I will be delving into theology on a regular basis. I enjoy theology, but because I am so young and so inexperienced, the room for error is big enough to be the mud-room at Versailles. I have already warned Daddy that I will be running to him frequently for help, but hopefully I know more than I think I do. It will, at the very least, be a good exercise of my knowledge. So it is daunting, but I am excited about it. In a way, November first can't come fast enough, and in a way it is approaching all too soon. So here's to the Irish landscape, waters, and her airs, and here's to my pen that it may not run dry through November.

Amazon and Release Date

The Shadow Things, along with Abigail's The Soldier's Cross can be found and pre-ordered on The release is scheduled for October 29th, so keep an eye out if you feel like picking the books up in bookstores instead of ordering online. If you want a signed copy, email me ( and send me your address, or some address remotely related to you, so I can send you an autographed book. The price of The Shadow Things is $12.99, but direct buyers will also be paying the shipping fee. If you want an autographed copy, email me and tell me how you want it shipped and I will factor that into the price.

Of course, since I'm also doing NaNo this year along with Abigail, I may not live to enjoy seeing people read my book...

Approaching Printing...and British Herbs

I am approaching the final stages in publication. I've seen the inside layout of the book, and I've seen the almost-last drafts of the cover. The closer it gets, the more I realize I've actually done it: I've written a book and it's getting published. I can't imagine what it will be like to hold the thing in my hands. I suppose it will be fairly surreal for a bit, until I've lived with it for a while. Meantime, I'll be dropping the last payment off at the office later next week, and we'll begin discussion promotional venues - which probably includes me meeting and talking to people, strange people. Now, no offense to the strange people, I just haven't met you before, so try not to scare me. In a way I am looking forward to it, not only because it's my book and I want to see it distributed to the world (who wouldn't?) but because of the challenge.

Meanwhile, while my wheels grind about on Valentia, I've been turning botanist. Not a botanist in the strictest sense, but I've been studying British plants, mainly herbs and fruit trees, and I think that counts as botany. I have W. Keble Martin's excellent The Concise British Flora in Colour, my own little notebook in which to scribble down my findings, and the wide world of the net to scour. So far the venture as been thoroughly enjoyable. I think horehound, particularly black horehound, is the runner-up for the most interesting. It seems it can be used to cure just about anything, including the things you don't discuss in polite company. Crab apple must be my favourite, because that's what Mother and Daddy planted for me when I was born - and it can be a lovely, hardy tree - and chicory must sport the loveliest flowers I have seen so far. Britian is quite a fascinating isle.

General Update

I've written up my author biography (or, rather, Abigail wrote mine and I wrote hers), and I've sent that and my author photograph to my designer. Now I'm working on a map for him, and putting together a glossary. The glossary is a lot harder than I expected. I know what I mean, but I have no idea what all my readers may be scratching their heads over. I hope I wasn't too confusing in general, because that defeats the purpose of the story.

In other news, so far as I know, we are keeping the original title "The Shadow Things."

What I Learned from a Pooka

Pookas. Pookas are British, mythical creatures, shape-shifters, usually looking either like a black horse or a black goat. They are not typically malevolent unless you really get under their skin. Now, mythical creatures, particularly shape-shifters, are by nature slippery, annoying creatures, and what possessed me to incorporate one into Adamantine still confounds me. I surprise myself sometimes. But nevertheless, the pooka got in, and finding it an interesting character, I decided to work it to my advantage.

At first I was concerned. I already had a chief antagonist for my main character, and I thought a fickle, capricious pooka might be too much. I did not want to detract from the oppressive power of my antagonist nor steal his limelight. In a smaller story, it might have been disastrous; but Adamantine is somewhere over 200,000 words (and still growing a little), so that gave me plenty of elbow room. And in the end, the pooka turned out to be an excellent asset for the plot. It could hound my protagonist in ways my antagonist could not, and both the pooka and my antagonist could have their agendas loosely woven together so that, while they still remained separate with two entirely different goals, they could work together to a common...evil.

In the end, the pooka gave me the unpredictable, changeable evil influence that I needed to keep my protagonist on her toes, while my main antagonist lent the constant undertow of evil to the story. Factoring in the size of the story, I had enough time to pull it off without either character being too shallow.

Beowulf and the Sovereignty of God

For long ages past - longer than I've been around - people have been arguing about whether or not God is completely sovereign, or if Man has a say in the whirling of the spheres. I don't know about the whirling of the spheres; I'm not sure I want to be responsible for how those massive structures chart their dance. In brief, I must say that my view is thus: that God, being God, must by his very nature be totally, utterly, and completely sovereign, and that Man, in some way, must be responsible and be held accountable for his actions: i.e., he must have a self-functioning will. Both are necessary. How they work together, God alone knows; but that is not the point of this musing.

The point is Beowulf. More generally, the old, old writers, but I will stick with Beowulf. Now, I am sure that Beowulf's original tale was not so clean and God-fearing as it has come down to us today. I am sure Christians got a hold of it and tidied it up. But I like the tidiness, and I'm not going to argue. What I like about Beowulf is the lack of arguing. As the writer narrates, whoever the writer may be, several times there crops up remarks on God's firm, unfailing, foundational sovereignty. Most vivid in my memory is a passage concerning the dragon's tower:
All this ancient hoard, huge and golden, was wound about with a spell: no man could enter the tower, open hidden doors, unless the Lord of Victories, He who watches over men, Almighty God Himself, was moved to let him enter, and him alone.
A beautiful and poignant image. Not a footstep was allowed inside that tower unless God had so ordained it, and then in his own self-sufficient pleasure. It is a message rarely heard today, a message I find refreshing. Beowulf, in a free-will-of-man sort of way, pronounces his own ability to vanquish the dragon; yet not long after he also acknowledges that his fate, the fate of the dragon, and the fate his kingdom all rest under the dominating will of the Almighty God. While ancient almost to the point of being culturally incoherent to us, Beowulf's message is as true today as it was then: and possibly more urgent. How many of us, with so much required of us, find ourselves facing our dragons, not knowing the outcome, only knowing that somehow we have to win, even if we go down winning, remember that all rests finished and good in the hand of God? How many of us can find solace in that? Knowing that all is finished, we can take comfort in Beowulf's own assurance as we, like him, go out conquering and to conquer.

Fifteen Things That Inspire Me to Write (Adamantine)

Not to be left behind, I'm toddling in Abigail's footsteps, writing up a list of the fifteen things that inspired me to write Adamantine. While not my first piece of writing, it is Leah's Joseph and the apple of my eye. So here we go, a patchworky peek at what inspired me to write the darn thing.

1. A year and a half after reading Beowulf in literature class, I got it into my head that people needed to remember Beowulf's story. So, as Inkyscrubs puts it, Wiglafwin was born, and he gets a book, while he only got the last couple of pages in the original tale.

2. The Roman Empire. Easy as pie, it's something I know well. It was the perfect foundation for a vast, efficient, and overpowering civilization on my new world scene.

3. Victorian England. Stereotypically stark in class-ranking, Dickensian literature aside, I wanted to throw a well-bred Victorian girl into a startlingly new world.

4. The Romanish empire had to have enemies, particularly peoples they hadn't quite conquered. Tweaking actual tribal names, I came up with my cat-like people, the Catti. Since their warriors could crush your skull with one hand, please don't say that's cheesy.

5. One of my favourite authors, she was my mentor and pretty much taught me how to write a decent story, even though we never met. She died when I was one year old. But many of her stories have glimmers and inklings inside my own writings now.

6. The best tea ever. Enough said.

7. Loreena McKennitt's music is as wild and otherworldly as Rosemary Sutcliff's literature. I find the combination of the two a great mix for making up new worlds.

8. The English countryside: inspiring authors for millennia.

9. Since my ancestry is partially Sicilian, I felt inclined to tie in some Mediterranean culture and 'scapes.

10. John Newton's famous hymn "Amazing Grace" wound up being an important thread in my sequel to Beowulf's epic.

11. No matter what I am writing about, horses always seem to worm their way in. There is something magical about them. Here's to the horses.

12. Lena, from George MacDonald's The Princess and Curdie, was a great influence for one of my characters. While I gave my character fewer brains than Lena, I owe a lot to MacDonald's curious Ugly.

13. Another George MacDonald, North Wind has a sort of cameo in my story, the Windress.

14. King Arthur and the General Mythos of Britain. Again, inspiring authors for millennia.

15. The last one doesn't really have an image. I owe just about everything to Christ and the work of the Spirit, without which this whole story would another pack of words on pages without any real meaning. Because of the Truth, I have Something Worth Writing About.

Under Contract and Doing Homework

We went down to the publishers today, Abigail and my husband and myself. It was a whirlwind meeting: in and out, scribbling our lives away on a sheet of paper. My husband got to meet my publishers, if only briefly, and he likes them, which is wonderful. So there it is, I'm under contract. Now I'm rifling through book covers, pulling together an idea of what I like to send to the designer, so he can figure out what he is going to clothe my book with. It would be a lot more fun if I did not have a cold, but this too shall pass. Onward, ever onward!

Messrs Lowry

With some anxiety about meeting new people, which is something I will have to overcome eventually, I went down to my up-and-coming publisher and met the proprietors today. Since my sister Abigail had already been there, done that, I had no real qualms about meeting the fellows themselves. It was the newness of the thing that made me get up this morning with an upset stomach and butterflies in my middle. A new chapter - or a new paragraph - in my own story. It had not yet dawned on me until that moment that I was moving ahead into the wild, uncertain rapids of the publishing world. I could not gauge how I was going to react, though I promised myself I would conduct the affairs with an admittedly bewildered smile and as much decorum as I could.

I found Messrs Lowry to be charming. Both of them are gently-spoken and articulate, something a young lady appreciates. I have had people speak very firmly and frighteningly at me, which does nothing in selling one's services. Added to that, they had paintings and wood-cuttings of many of the great lights of Christian history hanging in their building, such as Wycliffe and Cranmer, Knox and Luther. It helped to dumb down the feeling of strangeness to see so many familiar faces looking back at me. So with these illustrious fellows watching over us, we discussed the matter of book-making.

Mr Lowry, the father, had read through The Shadow Things. He found it similar in style to Abigail's book The Soldier's Cross, which is a compliment, and discovering that Abigail and I are related, he was adamant about having the two books come out simultaneously, in time for Christmas. Thankfully Abigail and I get along swimmingly, two peas in a pod, so jealousy will be at a minimum. Mr Lowry, the son, very kindly asked me if I had any questions and, since I'm new to all this and can't even formulate questions, answered the most common ones for me. They are down-to-earth, God-fearing folk, and it is rather a relief to have my book washing up on their doorstep so favourably.

The next leg of the trip is to run over the contract and sign it with them, sealing my story's fate in their hands. Their designer, Mr David, has asked me to look over book covers that I like to give him an idea of what I would like for The Shadows Things. Never a dull moment!