After being absent since August, 2014 I am thrilled to be back. A permanent crash of the hard drive previously serving my blog caused much gnashing and wailing – both from me and from my husband, because I regularly bothered him to try saving my files. He finally relented and, true to his technical genius, saved everything from the useless drive.
My first task was to find a new service provider. I signed up for hosting services with Bluehost. They host all manner of web sites but their specialty is WordPress. They are true experts. After a few days of trial-and-error on my part (and half a dozen calls to Bluehost’s amazing 24/7 tech support) I am back online. (If you are in need of a new service provider, I highly recommend Bluehost. They are affordable and their service is beyond compare.)
Much has happened since my last post. Le me splain. No. There is too much. Le me sum up. (If you don’t get the reference, you must watch The Princess Bride, as you are missing out on one of the best movies of all time.)
* I finished a draft of a new middle-grade novel. I even had Karen Philips design the cover. But my invaluable critique group said it needed more tension and conflict. I trust them, so I set the novel aside to ponder changes. Recently reading Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict & Suspense by James Scott Bell has fired me up and given me great ideas. I will be getting back to Wanda’s New Eyes as soon as I finish my current project, which is…
* I’m halfway through writing a novel titled Virgilante. Here’s my draft “elevator pitch” – Virgil Harris was your typical middle-aged man living in a small Texas town until his mother was beaten nearly to death by burglars. Now Virgil uses his family’s ability to alter the course of events as a way to distribute karmic justice to those escaping their deserved fate through regular means. All goes well until Virgil discovers there are others taking an interest in his handiwork.
* I’ve had seven surgeries and surgical procedures for what is now chronic pancreatitis. I believe in looking for silver linings, and found multiple ones in this case: I’ve lost 50 pounds and kept it off for a year, I wrote my second novel Born Rich while convalescing, I re-evaluated my life and became determined to live it full-out. There may not be a tomorrow. I include focusing on writing and
travel in my new motivation to enjoy all life has to offer. Which leads to…
* I’ve traveled: 3 weeks in Eastern Europe (16 countries), 3 weeks in the Czech Republic, 2 weeks in China. I fully agree with Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clemens’) opinion on travel. We met many wonderful people, had amazing experiences, and ate so much mouth-watering food I cannot even summarize how enriched my life is as a result. That’s the biggest silver lining of my extended illness; I’m doing NOW what I’d always planned to do.
Speaking of the Czech Republic, that’s where the photo of me peeking from the tree comes from. We took a day trip from Brno, where we were attending the ten day Leoš Janáček Music Festival, to visit Janáček’s home village of Hukvaldy. Eric wanted to see the statue of Lišky Bystroušky (Vixen Sharp Ears), the fox featured in Janáček’s opera, The Cunning Little Vixen. It’s located on the extensive grounds of Hrad Hukvaldy (Hukvaldy Castle).
We’ve traveled both on tours and on our own. There are definite pros and cons to each. When visiting a new place for the first time we like to go on a tour. They manage the logistics, get you into tourist-heavy places much faster than could be done on your own, and they provide extensive history and background as you travel. But when returning someplace, we prefer to be alone. We’d been to the Czech Republic with a tour so our experience on our own to Brno and Prague was comfortable and fun. We rambled, explored, visited museums, attended shows, got lost, ate in out-of-the way cafes, and wandered aimlessly. It was an amazing and unforgettable adventure.
What’s next? First I plan to finish Virgilante. Then I will be re-writing Born Rich, my second published novel. (I’m not adding a link to the novel because I’m not promoting it again until the rewrite.) Authors can find inspiration in many places, and my rereading Frank Herbert’s 1983 classic The White Plague really showed me what Born Rich could be. I can’t wait to get back to it. After that I’ll focus on what currently ails my Wanda’s New Eyes manuscript. And I’m working on three different plot ideas for a sequel to my first Mariana Morgan mystery, The Case of a Cold Trail and a Hot Musket.
Oh, and more travel. We’re going to Portugal in September.
Stay tuned for updates right here on Jottings by Janet. Now that it’s back online I will again be doing weekly posts.
A question for my readers: When you find yourself in a major crisis or facing an unexpected challenge, what’s your go-to way to keep a positive outlook and forward momentum? How has it changed your life?
The following is a test post for WordPress support folks to see my issue with embedding graphics. I’m modifying this older post with some rambling text so I can add a graphic that I have not modified in Photoshop to include a white space to the keep the text from butting up next to the image. I am hoping the support folks can tell me how to modify images within WordPress instead of having to open each image in Photoshop and modify it there, then go to the Media section of my theme and add the graphic there. All of this is done one by one since I only had a white edge to the side facing the text so I can make any modifications until I know if the image is going to be left or right justified. Okay I hope I’ve said enough here so that there’s enough text to align next to an unmodified image.