October Reflections

We’ve had some quite pleasant days this month. Full fall color still isn’t out yet, at least in the few places I have been. We’ve gotten down in the forties a few nights, but no frost yet.

We’ve had a pretty full month. We started with a trip to Ohio for the memorial service of my husband’s former pastor and father of his best friend. This was our first overnight trip in the RV, which went okay. I don’t think I’d want to take long trips across the country in it, but a night or two is fine. This was also the first time we had seen some of these folks in years, so it was a little like a family reunion. Though we were sorry to hear Pastor Bob was gone, we’re glad he’s with the Lord, united with his wife, without discomfort and dementia. We rejoiced in his testimony and his life. And we thoroughly enjoyed catching up with his five adult kids and their families.

Then Jim, Jesse, and I were sick, and that took up the bulk of the month. Jesse’s Covid test came back negative, and we think our illness came from him, so we didn’t get tested. Some have told us he may have received a false negative since he was vaccinated. But we pretty much isolated as if we had Covid anyway–even if that’s not what we had, we didn’t want to spread it to anyone else.

Our church went back to Zoom meetings only for a few weeks because several people in our congregation had Covid. I think we’re going to try to meet in person again this week.

So in some ways, we felt as we did at the beginning of the pandemic.

We finally felt well enough for a family outing to see the Pinta, a replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship, last weekend. It was the first time we had been all together as a family for about three weeks, and it felt so good to be out and to see each other. We topped the day off by going out to eat.

I had another interview with the very kind and gracious Kurt and Kate of the Moody radio station in Florida. I am not quite sure how they discovered me, but this is the second time they’ve invited me to their program. All went well—thanks so those who prayed about it! My son recorded the interview and made a link to it here, if you’d like to listen.

One big change this month makes me a little sad. We have one of those big, unsightly transformer boxes on the corner of our property, right as you turn into the driveway—so it’s the first thing you see when you approach our house. I don’t know why they didn’t put it on the other side of the driveway or property, which has open grassy areas. Anyway, the previous owners had planted some little trees around the box. There was a sign on the box saying not to plant any vegetation that would obscure access to the box. But since the plants were already there, we figured we’d leave well enough alone. If the utility company had a problem, they’d let us know.

The trees were the same height as the box when we moved in. Now, after 11 years, they were six or seven feet tall.

We enjoyed putting lights on them for Christmas every year, and sometimes wrapping the box up for Christmas.

From Christmas 2011

But we finally heard from the utility company. They have to replace all the lines underground. And they had to take out our little (now big) trees. Our front corner looks all shaven and shorn.

Some time after they’re done, we’ll have to figure out a way to make the corner more presentable. And I know there are bigger concerns in the world, but I am going to miss that corner Christmas display.

As a aside, these guys only seem to work Tuesday through Thursday. No wonder these things take so long to complete.

Creating

I didn’t make any cards this month—no birthdays or other occasions for them. We didn’t do anything in the guest room since neither of us was feeling up to it at the same time. But I should be able to finish it out soon.

Reading

Since last time I finished:

  • Only Glory Awaits: The Story of Anne Askew, Reformation Martyr by Leslie S. Nuernberg, a fictionalized account of Anne’s testimony, life, and death.
  • Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund, an interesting and helpful study of Jesus’ assessment of himself as meek, or gentle, and lowly which does not de-emphasize his righteousness and holiness.
  • Woman Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue by Kathryn J. Atwood, short true accounts of several women and their activities during WWII.
  • Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, musings about finding balance.
  • Be Strong (Joshua): Putting God’s Power to Work in Your Life by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson, audiobook, a touching time slip novel. One plot takes place in WWII, when two children try to escape Germany on foot. They make it to the English Channel, but are separated. In modern time, one of them hires a reporter to search for the other, who finds unexpected links to her own past.
  • Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson, audiobook, another WWII time slip novel about a group of friends in the Resistance in Amsterdam and their modern-day descendants trying to research what happened to them.

It wasn’t on purpose that I read so much about WWII. I love that era, and some of my favorite authors write almost exclusively of that time. There’s plenty of scope for drama from that period. But I’m ready to read of another time for a while.

I’m currently reading:

  • Be Right (Romans): How to Be Right with God, Yourself, and Others by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, audiobook, true account of a pastor’s family terrorized by a disgruntled member of their congregation.
  • Treasures of Encouragement: Women Helping Women by Sharon W. Betters
  • 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety
  • Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan, first in a series of novels about friends in a small town in GA.

Blogging

Besides book reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Laudable Linkage, I had these posts on the blog this month:

  • Thoughts From a Memorial Service, ponderings about life, what we can learn from the end of it, realization that the “old guard” is slipping away and we’re supposed to take up their banner.
  • I Know God Promised, But . . . Having God’s promises but not relying on them doesn’t get us anywhere.
  • How to Read Books and Support Authors Inexpensively. Books ARE a worthy investment, even at full price. Authors and publishers work long and hard to provide books. But for some who like to read beyond what we can afford, here are some ways to read more inexpensively and still help authors.
  • From “What If” to “Even If.” We can scare ourselves to death with “what ifs.” But when we face them full on, we realize that even if the worst happens, God will provide help and grace.
  • What Light Reveals, two childhood stories when light helped distinguish between reality and imagination. We need the light of God’s Word to do that in our hearts as well.

Writing

There has not been much going on in that area, with everything else going on. I did make one decision, though.

I had been considering changing my “official” author name for a long time. There is another “Barbara Harper” who writes about water birth, something I know nothing about. I had thought our content would be different enough to distinguish between us. But people continually link to or follow my Facebook author page when they meant to link to hers. Plus, one article I read suggested looking up one’s name, which a potential agent or publisher is sure to do. When I did, it was six pages into Google results before anything of mine came up—all the rest were this other Barbara. So, to avoid confusion and distinguish myself, I decided to add my middle name and go by Barbara Lee Harper instead.

Some have mentioned the similarity to Harper Lee. That wasn’t intentional. My parents didn’t know I was going to marry a Harper when they named me Barbara Lee. 🙂 But if the name is associated with a good author, well, I don’t mind. 🙂

Another decision I’ve been pondering: I have a Facebook page for the blog here, and all my blog posts automatically go there for those who prefer to follow in that way. Then I created a separate Facebook author page (maybe prematurely? I’ve read different recommendations), which was meant for writing-related news and updates. I post my my devotional blog posts there as well and occasionally others. I’ve considered merging the two, but keep going back and forth.

There’s a writer’s group I looked into, but decided not to join. Their fee was pretty expensive, plus I didn’t feel their services were worth the price. But since I had registered for a free seminar, I still get occasional offers from them. Last week they offered a “summit” (which turned out to be some of their older recycled videos, but they were new to me). We could listen to them free, but the free link was only good for a day—unless I wanted to pay $67 for lifetime access! I didn’t, so I listened while resting or cleaning and sorting.

In one of those videos, an agent said that for a new author to be considered by a publisher, they needed to have about 10,000 followers with about 10% engagement—meaning at least 1,000 of those followers comment, “like” posts, etc.

Well. I have nowhere near 10,000 followers. And the necessity of “seeking followers” seems a wrong emphasis, though it also seems a reality the way things are set up in the business of publishing today.

I’ve considered self-publishing, if a publisher wouldn’t be interested in me due to a small “platform.” Plus, it takes a year or two for a manuscript to be published from the time it’s accepted. And I am not getting any younger. 🙂 Self-publishing would be quicker, though I would still want to pay for an editor and have the highest quality end product I could.

On the other hand—I’ve heard that if you self-publish and your book bombs, that pretty much guarantees a publisher will not be interested in your future books.

So, if you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate your prayers for some of these “behind the scenes” decisions, as well as for wisdom in carving time to actually finish writing the thing.

And I hope you’ll forgive this longer than usual monthly round-up. 🙂

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

18 thoughts on “October Reflections

  1. Ugh
    I don’t blame you for being disappointed over the loss of your pretty trees…
    And we are pondering some of the same publishing questions and reaching similar conclusions!

  2. I’m glad you were able to attend your friend’s memorial service. And I’m happy for your family that you were able to see each other again. Thanks for sharing about the Pinta replica, I have never heard about it’s existence. I looked it up and enjoyed reading all about their tours.

    Awwww, I’m so sorry to hear about your trees. I like the way you wrapped the utility box like a present at Christmas time. Perhaps you can still wrap it and add a few more “boxes” for multiple presents on your lawn or add a wooden snowman by your one present.

    One thought for the future, you could “enclose” the power box with some kind of temporary cover i.e. lattice type structure or faux boxwood. Then perhaps put decorative rocks or mulch to accent the corner, yet make it easily accessible for any future work. You could add a bench or statues instead of shrubbery. Anyway, brainstorming out loud – you can tell I like to solve landscaping issues!

    I’m glad you distinguished yourself from the person with the same name. A person with my name tried sailing solo around the world, so she gets all the google searches. May the Lord give you wisdom regarding FB and self-publishing.

    • Thanks for the ideas! My husband is considering something with a partial fence that would hide the box from view yet provide room for some landscaping in front.

      I had not heard about the Pinta, either, until my husband heard it was here. It was neat to see. I still can’t imagine traveling on it across an ocean. I think what we consider base-level normal these days, they would have considered luxuries.

  3. It sounds like getting your book published and out there is as hard as writing the book itself! I do like your “author” name. I’m glad you and the family are finally feeling better.

  4. I’m sorry about those beautiful trees, Barbara. I was excited to read about your radio interview and hope to find time to listen this week. I totally empathize with your conundrum about books, publishing, platforms, etc. My current strategy is “write the book and think about what happens next later.” (Which I realize could very well be “absolutely nothing.”) I will pray for you though, as you make decisions and continue the writing.

  5. I loved reading your monthly round up. I feel like I know you now. I’m sorry to hear about the trees being pulled up. That was beautiful. We just moved to a neighborhood with those boxes and I’m thinking about ways to hide it. I am a member of the Compel writers group and I also read everything I can get my eyes on around publishing. I have found that publishers are looking for engagement more than the numbers. You have great engagement. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Praying as you decide to self-publish or seek a publisher. I’m in the beginning stages of my book so I have a while to struggle with those thoughts.

    • Thanks so much! I’ve been reading several writing blogs and a few books to try to learn about the publishing side of things. As I read writers’ stories, I am reminded that God will work out His purposes in His time.

  6. Barbara, your trees were really lovely so I can see why you are going to miss them. Hopefully, after they are done working, you will figure out how to make the corner lovely once again. Praying for the Lord to show you the right publishing path for you!

  7. Read your post and you’re a pretty busy lady. Thank you so much for sharing your post at our Senior Salon Pit Stop.
    Pinned to Senior Salon Pit Stop InLinkz Linkup Shares board and tweeted @EsmeSalon with #SeniorSalonPitStop

  8. Congratulations, you will be featured on the upcoming Senior Salon Pit Stop post, Monday Nov 8th as one of the top three bloggers.
    Thank you for your support and participation. Please invite your fellow bloggers to also come and participate, thanks in advance.

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