Follow-Up, and An Introduction

Good morning friends! On Tuesday I shared with you an introduction to two of my newest characters – Robert and Hannah Bishop, they are just two of the people you will get to meet in my newest novel (currently still being written) based around the battle of Gettysburg.

I’m doing something a little bit different in this novel by playing around with dual timelines. Part of the novel is diary style – told from the point of view of Hannah Bishop as she chronicles the year 1863; the other timeline is modern – it’s told from the point of view of Molly Williams, Hannah Davis’ great, great (I haven’t done the math yet so I don’t know how many greats) granddaughter.

I though today I might give you a little back story for Molly, and introduce you to her and an additional character…but first you have to know Molly’s history:

When Molly was a child she lost both of her parents in a fatal car accident and went to live with her grandmother in Lakeland, Florida. She lived with her Gram all through her school years before going off to college. Molly has a core group of friends that she relies on heavily – she met them all in college, Ellie, Erin, and Charlotte – they were roommates as freshman and got an apartment together for the last three years. (Trust me, this is very VERY important for Molly’s story going forward). All four of them in some way or another go into writing – Molly writes for Engel Travel, a magazine based in Lakeland. Ellie is a sports writer, covering baseball in Upstate New York. Erin is a novelist, introducing her friends and readers to brilliant characters and stories. Charlotte started out in media but worked her way up to being some big-wig baseball executive’s assistant (again, just trust me…this is important stuff!!).

Gram dies, leaving Molly everything – the house and all that comes with it – but also leaving her without any family.

Molly calls in the troops to help her sort through and clean out Gram’s things – Ellie, Erin, and Char show up bearing junk food and cheesy movies to help sort through the myriad boxes of things that Gram in all her wisdom never threw away.

While the girls set to work sorting through boxes – each of them tackling a corner of the basement – Molly comes across an antique trunk.

In the trunk she finds several quilts, an old sewing box, a dress, and a diary.

The diary of Hannah Bishop.

This discovery launches Molly on a journey to find her family (and possibly love along the way).

Molly’s first stop is Davis Plantation where she meets a young and dashing (somewhat snarky) museum director…


I make my way an hour outside of Atlanta’s city limits to the Davis Plantation; I wind my way up what seems like a mile long driveway, lined with magnolia trees, and catch a glimpse of the house beyond the trees – it’s a formidable looking home with giant stone columns and a sturdy wooden door, I take a deep breath and brace myself as I climb out of my car.

I walk up the front steps, pushing open the massive door and am immediately greeted by a young girl maybe eighteen or nineteen years old.

“Good mornin'” she drawls, her accent heavy, “you here for a tour? We have guided tours and self guided tours, whatever you’d prefer” she says, while handing me maps of the house and the grounds. Looking over the pamphlets she’s handed me I make my decision.

“I’ll do the self guided, thank you.”

“No problem, if you have any questions my name is Laurel, and I’d be happy to help you.”

I walk through the massive foyer, and start by looking at the family portraits on the wall, looking for Hannah Davis.  The first portrait is that of George Davis, the family patriarch – a man with a slim face and a bushy mustache above an intimidating scowl, he does not look like the kind of man you would want to disagree with.

Next in line is Mrs. Margaret Davis, Hannah’s mother; a slight woman with a weary and worn face – a small frown on her lips, and sad eyes.

There is a third and final picture – Jonathan Davis. A young man of nineteen or twenty, with bright eyes and a wide smile. There is no trace of Hannah Davis anywhere – which I suppose makes sense however I’d hoped that the historical society would at least tell the whole family’s story.

I wander around on the main floor a while longer, looking for anything that connects Hannah Davis Bishop to this house and family, but I come up short. Finally, after a fruitless search for Hannah, I make my way back to the front desk to ask Laurel “excuse me,” I interrupt, and she lifts her eyes from the pages of her book. “Am I in the right place? I’m looking for information about Hannah Davis Bishop and my research pointed me here but there is nothing about her mentioned anywhere in the house.”

“Yes, this is the right place, but hang on just a minute…” She says before bolting down the hall to an employees only area of the mansion. I’m left to my own devices for about five minutes before she comes rushing back down the hall toward me “okay, come with me.”

Garnering several curious glances from the other visitors here today, Laurel leads me down the hallway to the office of the museum director, “wait here, it will just be a moment” she says with a slightly nervous tone, before making her way back to the information desk.

“You know,” a smooth baritone voice intones from behind me “in the 1860’s asking about Hannah Davis was a punishable offense on these grounds.”

“Yes, I’m aware of that – thank goodness this isn’t 1863.”

“I’m Eric,” he says, extending his hand, “Eric Lancaster, museum director.”

“I’m Molly” I reply shaking his hand “Molly Williams, writer and avid history buff…and I’m hoping you can help me.”

“Well, if it’s Hannah you’re interested in I can certainly help you out.”

At the quizzical look I gave him, Eric continued. “When I got here a few years ago, fresh out of grad school I made Hannah my project; it wasn’t sanctioned by the historical society but I wanted to find out for myself what happened to her. You grow up down here and all you’re told is that she died young, nothing more – no explanation, no elaboration – she just died. Sixteen years old with her whole life ahead of her.”

“But she didn’t die” I interject “her father sent her to Washington to live with her grandparents William and Margaret Russell”

“Where she met and married Robert Bishop, Captain in the Union Army” Eric volleys back.

“Robert died and his last wish was for Hannah to move north to Gettysburg Pennsylvania; at twenty three years old, a grieving widow, Hannah closed up the dress shop she inherited after the death of her grandmother, packed up all of her belongings and boarded a train bound for Gettysburg. She moved in with a sister she’d never met, and started a brand new life for herself in January of 1863.”

He stares at me open mouthed, at a loss for words “how can you possibly know all of that?” he asks, “I lost track of her in DC. As far as I know she stayed in DC until the day she died.”

I sit back in my chair, place my hand on my shoulder bag, feeling the heft of Hannah’s diary under the quilted cloth of my bag. I do my best to hide the smug smile I feel tugging the corners of my lips; I have information that the museum director doesn’t have, I still have cards in my hand I just have to figure out when to play them.

“What about her brother?” I ask him, remembering Jonathan’s own change of heart.

“Disinherited, just like Hannah. Charlotte Davis, Master Davis’ niece, inherited the plantation; she took over when George felt he was too ill to run the place.”

Cousin Charlotte…exactly as Hannah feared.

“Can you tell me how you know all of that” he asks again.

This diary is the only link I have left to my family, and I can’t let it go – I don’t know that at this point in my journey I’m willing to give it up – on the other hand I know that Eric is capable of helping me. Never one to mince words, I explain…

“My grandmother died a few months ago and my best friends and college roommates traveled to Florida to help me sort through Gram’s belongings and I came across a diary that I think may have belonged to Hannah Davis Bishop and there is some small part of me that wants to believe I’m related to her…I’m hoping you can tell me more. I’m actually hoping you can answer some questions I have as well.”

“Come with me.” He says by way of response. Eric pushes himself away from his desk and takes a key ring from his pocket. Leading me down the corridor, through the main foyer, past groups of tourists, and up the main staircase.

“I probably shouldn’t do this – but since I am the museum director I can,” he smiles at me as he tries to locate the correct key. “Aha!” he exclaims, holding up an antique skeleton key before sliding it in the lock. “At the request of the Davis family this room has never been open to the public but, I think you may benefit from this.” He opens the door slowly, and steps aside, guiding me gently into the room. In an almost reverent voice he tells me “it’s been preserved exactly as she left it when her father sent her away in 1856.”

I take a deep breath and step from the hallway into the dark room. Eric steps in front of me and walks to the windows, drawing open the heavy drapes allowing golden sunlight to fill the room. I can see dust swirling in the sun’s rays, the smell of dust and books fills my nose and throat, and I’m suddenly transported to 1856.

There are bookshelves bending with the weight of books, stacks of books on every flat surface – the desk, floor, and bed – and all manner of pens and ink wells littering the room.

I take it all in – the four poster bed, floor to ceiling bookshelves against one wall, heavy dust laden purple-ish drapes, books on every surface…it’s almost too much to process at once…


What?! Did you really think I would give you more than that?! No way! You’ll have to wait until the novel is finished and published, but stick around because there is a good chance I will introduce you to a few more characters (maybe from some other projects!!) in the future!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed meeting Molly and (what little bit I show you of) Eric, and Hannah and Robert before them! I look forward to being able to share a completed novel with you in the future!

Blessings,

Megan

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Show and Tell Tuesday: Resolutions and Goals for 2015

Happy Tuesday morning friends! I’m linking up with Andrea today for a little Tuesday Show & Tell, and sharing my resolutions and goals for 2015, so lets get to it! 
1.) I know that it’s cliche to do a “new year, new you” kind of resolution but that’s where I’m going with number one: no soda for a year (and beyond). Several years ago I cut out soda completely and it was the best I’ve felt in a long time, so this year I’m resolving to drink mostly water with the occasional tea (iced and hot). 

2.) Blog more consistently – and thanks to Andrea and her Show and Tell series I think that might just happen! I plan on linking up for the Show and Tells that I am able to answer – this is one of those times where I feel weird knowing that I read a lot of these parenting blogs even though I’m not a parent…I found Andrea through Shay at Mix and Match Mama and have since fallen in love with both blogs. I love how deeply rooted they both are in their faith and I am so encouraged by their posts even though right now in this phase of my life I’m not a mom. I love the daily encouragement from these wonderful Godly woman! 

3.) Read more. I read quite a bit but with school and work and writing….and more excuses that I could give you but won’t, I didn’t read nearly as much this year as I would have liked. With the start of my winter semester today I had the opportunity to look over the course calendar and this class has a fairly lite work load which is WONDERFUL! I’ve got two books started right now, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Stephen W. Sears’ Gettysburg.

I am absolutely loving both right now! 
4.) Finally, I resolve to take the leap that I’ve been so scared of for so long and Just put my book out there, finally push the button and publish! I have about five chapters left to edit, then the changes need to be made in the actual manuscript and then I will be ready. I think my own fear and insecurity is what’s been holding my back and I’ve been passing it off as ‘procrastination’ but that is all going to change! New year, New year can mean more than getting healthier for me it also means letting go of anxiety and insecurity and this is step one in doing that. Have a sneak peek….
It’s really scary knowing that in a few weeks this book will go from being an idea in my head and words on a computer screen to something that the general public – strangers – can hold in their hand and read…and review…and critique…but I need to forget about that and just get it finished! 
Happy New Year dear readers, thank you for sticking with this little blog even when it seems like I’ve given up!
Blessings to you all this new year, 
Megan 




A 50,000 Word Sprint

Twenty eight days ago I began to write a story – a sequel to my first novel (still being edited), a story that deals with loss, heartbreak, sadness, and family issues among other things…my goal when I started out was to have 50,000 words written by November 30.

There were several days when I was so discouraged, so insecure about my writing that I wanted to give up – just walk away with an unfinished story, I’d done it once before so why not now. When the story got to tough for me to take, the content too intense – too heartbreaking – I stood up and walked away, made a cup of tea and sat back down on the floor to continue writing.

I am not the kind of writer that can be confined to a chair and a desk – I can’t shut myself in a room and expect myself to be productive – I have to write in the middle of chaos. On the living room floor with the dog running around me, writing in a notebook in the middle of the frozen foods section at the grocery store because ideas hit at the strangest times. Making notes during dress rehearsal of a concert because of something someone said that stuck in my mind.

I met my goal of 50,000 words but my story is far from over….I still have a good 10-15 thousand left to write. I still have a lot of story to tell…and I can’t wait to tell it!

It’s November….

…and that means that it is officially National Novel Writing Month! I will be starting my second novel today and hopefully a month from now I will be telling you that I hit my 50,000 word goal, have a sequel that is ready to edit and that my first novel is on a best seller list finally published. So, here’s to November, here’s to productivity…here’s to Pinterest being a good distraction when writer’s block hits!

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Blessings,
Megan

Friday Favorites: Writer’s Edition

Happy Friday, welcome to Friday Favorites, and my first post in a couple months. I’ve been quite for a while because I have been working on a few different projects that I let take priority over the blog. Anyway, now that I’m making some progress on one of my big projects I am hoping to be more consistent in my blogging. To start, I’m going to share some of my favorite writing tools, tips, and tricks….I’m linking up with Andrea to share my Friday Favorites….enjoy!!

Editing

It sounds nuts but editing is one of my favorite things! It always has been. I love being able to read my work again and it’s a kind of stress relief for me to tear my work to shreds with my red pen.

In July I wrote a novel. An actual, honest to goodness, novel. I have spent the last few months editing that thing to death. I cut several scenes, added several scenes, and have been terrorized by grammar. The first round of editing is finished and a proof is on it’s way to my house in the next few weeks. I’m hoping that I managed to find all the little mistakes, fixed everything that needed fixing, and if all goes as planned I will be publishing (!!!) sometime in November. Now, I know that I said up above that I edit with a red pen, but in all actuality I use whatever pen I can find lately I’ve been using these beauties that Andrea recommended on her blog.

Stabilo Point 88 Pen Sets color parade adjustable set set of 20


These are great for editing! The fine tip allows me to make notes in the margins, make rewrites, and the best part is that they don’t bleed through the paper which was a major selling point for me! 
Favorite Writing Music

I love to work with music on in whatever room I’m in, but if I am actually writing at my desk (which in all honesty is very rare), I love to listen to anything that is instrumental. Right now the staples are Bach’s Cello suites, and the score from Pride and Prejudice. 

Favorite Ways to Keep Writing


There are several tools that I use to keep me writing; Write Track, is an online resource that helps you set goals and stick to them when it comes to creating content whether that is writing, photography, illustration or any other kind of creating. It allows you to set your own goals, update them just like you would a FB status, and it has helped so much with reminding me to edit a little bit everyday when I’m finished with school stuff. I’m a senior in college, I work, and I volunteer every week at the elementary school near my house so a reminder to work on my project when I have time is pretty helpful because I don’t usually make time between work, school, church, and volunteering. Even if I only spend a few minutes editing or writing each day, at least I’m making some progress.

The NaNoWriMo site is awesome, especially in November when you can track your word count by the day. I am the kind of person that is motivated by actually seeing my progress so seeing my little line graph creep up each day is really satisfying and very motivational.

Friends and fellow writers are honestly the best resources that you can have as a writer. They keep you on track, act as a sounding board when you have issues with your plot, and can talk sense into you when you feel bogged down and want to quit. I have a great friend who is also a writer and I have to tell you she puts up with a lot from me. When I was writing my first novel I would send her the most random texts and messages asking about what she thought about certain characters and what they would do in certain situations.

Favorite New Book

This one is not a tip or a trick but I have to tell you about the book that my best friend just published! It is called The Ripple Affair and here is the description from Amazon:

Edward Engel is many things. A prince to inherit a throne. A man betrothed to the beautiful Lady Antoinette. A dashing warrior with no equal in skill. And a man with enough secrets to make his entire world crumble. His life remains uninterrupted until he meets Malina, the daughter of a neighboring king, who quickly sets her gazes upon the prince and his heavy crown. After a drunken night of passion between them, Edward hopes his meeting with Malina will become just another secret to bury, never to be known to anyone but him and the princess. But it takes two to keep a secret, and Malina is not one to let a man get away so easily. Will Edward be able to keep his secrets intact, or will his affair with Malina create a ripple effect that goes beyond the bedchamber

I want you to understand that this is Christian Fiction; it deals with infidelity, but is ultimately a redemption story. You can buy the book HERE (Kindle edition coming soon) and you can find out more about the author HERE. Like I said The author is a great friend of mine – in fact she’s the one that convinced me to start writing again – if you are in need of a good book or a new blog to add to your subscriptions check her out and I promise you won’t be disappointed (not that I’m biased or anything!).  


Those are my Friday Favorites for this week! I’m going to try to get some posts scheduled for the month of November because I will be working on the sequel to the novel that I just finished editing. I will keep you posted on the publishing process and you will be the first to know when it goes on sale!

If you made it this far without me boring you too much I would love to hear from you! Do you have a favorite book, favorite author, or do you yourself write? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for stopping by.

Blessings,
Megan

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 1

Okay so it’s the first official day of Camp NaNoWriMo and I jumped head first into this novel writing project. I’ve got a novel that I’ve been working on for a few months now, but got so stuck on it that I set it aside. I work on it when inspiration strikes but honestly that hasn’t happened in a while, and when it does I usually just write out the paragraphs that come to me in a notebook. I have several notebooks with portions of that novel that need to be typed up and pieced together in the right order. But with Camp NaNoWriMo I’ve already written 2,423 words in just under 12 hours.

The thing about Camp NaNoWriMo is that with this, when I write I move on. I don’t write and then come back and re-write what was already written, with this I am just writing. I’ve had to change my whole mindset when it comes to my process. Usually I would write a few paragraphs before bed at night, go to bed, and the next night I’d go back to what I’d written the night before and re-write it.

My goal of 50,000 words has forced me to just keep writing. In order to write 50,000 words in 31 days I will have to write on average 1,613 words a day assuming that I can consistently write sixteen hundred words a day. As any writer knows, sometimes we hit rough patches and dry spells where the words and ideas aren’t flowing. That’s what I’ve been dealing with while working on the other novel; I’m sure I’ll face that with this one as well, bu I have to remember not to go back and take anything out, or re-write anything…that’s what editing is for.

Blessings and happy writing,

Megan