Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Concept Cover - The Bigg Boss

Yes, I'm already working on the outline for the 4th Dubois Files mystery. Title is The Bigg Boss. Mr. Bigg is the owner of the canning factory that Cora's father manages in Cherry Pit Junction. But the friends are about to get to know him better. That might not work out so well.

Here's the concept cover without lettering. I'll be delivering it to Linda J. Sandow tonight so she can begin working her magic.

Tentatively, The Bigg Boss will be available at the July 21 Writers' Rendezvous in Ludington!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

What Does an Author Do All Day?

alt text maps, photos, tape

At the event in Pentwater earlier this week I mentioned that while I was writing North Country Cache I had a nice disciplined schedule for writing. Someone asked me how long every day I spent writing. My answer was two hours. They seemed fairly appalled, so I then explained that meant sitting at the computer and pounding a keyboard for two hours. I was always thinking about what I would write next, figuring out ideas and all that.

Here's how I spent today working on North Country Quest. Time invested on authorly stuff-- 5 or 6 hours. Total words written-- 244, none of which may survive once I get this chapter really going.

However, here's what I did:
• Put away the files and stuff from writing Chapter 2- "Meanders and Undulations." Yes, this counts. I'm really bad at putting stuff away.
• Got out the file for Chapter 3- probably named "Chasing Nomad and JoJo Smiley"
• Found the tape of that hike
• Found the pictures of that hike
• Read the brief notes I'd made about ideas for that chapter
• Listened to the tape twice. The first time, I just had to get my head back into that adventure, the second time I began to formulate ideas.
• Re-acquainted myself with those maps, notes, pictures etc.
• Transferred the tape to digital format, which involved finding the right cord.
• Read most of Nomad and JoJo Smiley's online journal since the chapter involves their hike, at least psychologically
• called Marie to see if she remembered a piece of this puzzle. I hiked alone, but visited her on one end
• wrote those 244 words

And, not related to NCQ, I claimed the Dubois Files books on Goodreads, so people can find them to review.

That's how an author spends time. Now my brain will probably wrestle with ideas all night.

See Meanders and Undulations

Friday, April 6, 2018

Meanders and Undulations

Chapter 2 in North Country Quest is done. Title is "Meanders and Undulations."

Joan and Deb in East Fork State Park

This hike was East Fork State Park in Ohio (and a little more on each end). I had a lot of it written already, but as I said in the post linked below I was having trouble making it work. The problem was that although these first two hikes connected geographically, they were separated by several days, were different in character, and needed to be two different chapters. Now I've got it sorted out!

Here's how it starts:

Deb is excited about backpacking together. She is a friend from the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, our home chapter in Michigan. The NCTA works to build, protect and promote the trail, and there are thirty chapters along its length. Thousands of volunteers donate millions of hours to keep the pathway in good shape. But, to my knowledge, usually in the daytime.

Debbie meets me in Williamsburg, Ohio. We take my car to Batavia and I ride my bike back to Williamsburg. Deb sits outside a grocery store and waits for me to return. I recently asked her how she spent the time. “I read War and Peace, helped an old lady cross the street, and started writing a novel based on our hike,” she said.

Dang, that must be the slowest I ever rode eight miles in my life!

I ask permission to lock my bicycle to a post outside the store for the days until we return. Of course they won’t take any responsibility, but at least I can be fairly sure they won’t have the lock cut and take the bike to the police station as abandoned.

We adjust packs, distribute the shared parts of the load and set off for East Fork State Park. After only two miles we find our first obstacle, the East Fork of the Little Miami River. The map assures us it’s usually shallow but has very slippery rocks. We switch to sandals and carefully ford the wide waterway. Neither of us takes a dunking, but it’s always amazing to me how long it takes to walk a couple hundred feet under difficult circumstances.

We soon join the Perimeter Trail of the park, and the map informs us that the trail “meanders and undulates generally, more-or-less...” Deb and I have a laugh at the terminology, but we should only consider ourselves forewarned.

In other good news, the local bookstore took six sets of my Dubois Files children's mysteries today.

See Too Fast at Car Speed- chapter 1

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Pentwater Library Program

author Joan H. Young discussing her books in a small group setting

Hanne Kelley (holding book, left of center) is turning out to be a fantastic moderator for author events. Having someone to ask questions and say nice things without the author always being the one to harp on the good qualities of one's books is priceless as far as I'm concerned.

There were about ten people at this gathering, which was a good sized group for the discussion. Not a disappointing evening at all, given the venue.

And afterwards, I was invited to Hanne's house to visit, and we got better acquainted. I think we have quite a lot in common. Fun times. (and her dog likes me too).

See previous Pentwater program

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Signing Books with Linda

 author Joan H. Young and cover artist Linda J. Sandow holding books

If you have signed copies of the first three Dubois Files books coming your way, they are one step closer. Linda and I spent two hours today signing books. Single sets are in mailers. If I'm hand delivering to you, you'll get yours tomorrow or Thursday depending on how long work is on Wednesday. Others will be in the mail, ditto.

Thank you so much for this early support! If you read the books (as well as your kids or grandkids), a review at your favorite book site would be much appreciated.

I also worked on North Country Quest a bit today, too.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Too Fast at Car Speed

swamp at sunrise swamp at sunrise in East Fork State Park, Ohio
(photo by jhy)

I'm sitting here surrounded by maps, files and a box of photos. Yes, I'm working on North Country Quest again. There have been several false starts, over the past seven (yes 7) years, but I'm hopeful this won't be yet another of those misfortunes. That said, I'm leaving town for three weeks on April 23, and this is not a good project to work on while away from home base. But at least I'll get a few chapters done before then.

I figured out what was wrong with my previous opening chapter. I was trying to force it to be something it was not. Of course one can tweak a chapter to give it a certain flavor, but above all, my account in North Country Cache was honest, and I want to continue that plan.

So the previous first chapter will now be the second chapter, and the new first chapter is "Too Fast at Car Speed."

And, except for tweaks, I think it's done. Here's how it starts:

“The world moves too fast at car speed,” I grumble into the tape recorder, the annoyance clear in my voice.

North Country Cache ended with an eagle “seeing” the whole trail. North County Quest begins with a grasshopper who can’t see where it’s going.

Two heavy green thighs push out, then thrust backward in unison, propelling the slim body of the grasshopper through the water with a frog kick. I laugh out loud at the absurdity of its cross-species motions. Who knew that grasshoppers can swim? He has taken on a daunting task, this little summer insect, to swim across a creek hundreds of times the length of his body. I wonder if he is even aware of the far bank, or is he just responding in desperation to an unintended watery landing after a careless jump?

I feel a bit like a grasshopper myself. Here I am again, sitting in the damp vegetation on the bank of some unnamed creek, soaking my hot feet and eating a crackers-and-cheese lunch in the middle of a hiking day, in the middle of a hiking life, in the middle of a hiking trail.

The trail is, of course, the North Country National Scenic Trail, and I’m beginning a theoretical second half of my quest to hike the whole thing. It’s theoretical because this trail will be under construction for many more years. The exact length changes every year as new sections are built and taken off road, or previous routes changed for various reasons. Just two weeks ago my distance hiked-to-date totaled 2300 miles, half of the 4600 estimated miles of trail which stretch from New York to North Dakota. Thus, I’m now, like the grasshopper, past the point of no return. Every step and every day on the trail from this point forward will be a countdown to completion. It looks as if the grasshopper will make it across the stream before I finish eating. My journey will take longer.

In fact, I’ve already been working on hiking this trail for thirteen years. Mine is not a race to the finish line. Rather, I choose to sample the seven states of the NCT in smaller bites, savoring the local flavor of each piece. However long it takes is not the issue for me. Instead, I want to know this trail: its moods, its secret places, its windings through history and the local cultures. If it takes another thirteen years, so be it.

I'm trying to act more like a serious writer... writing nearly every day, not just when the muse is hot. I've managed that amazingly well for the past three months, actually getting the first three Dubois Files books out on my planned schedule. Now it's time to keep that going.

And, yes, I'm glad you noticed, this picture is the one used for the cover of News from Dead Mule Swamp. I took it at sunrise after a night in the car at East Fork State Park, in SW Ohio.

See Picking Up the Quest