The winter here in Midwest Illinois has been a brutal roller coaster ride of every type of weather you could imagine. Down to a negative 24 with high winds, then an upswing of 50 degrees all within a week, the latter felt like pool weather. Freezing rain one day, then melting off and flooding some low lying areas. Our gravel road is so bad we weren’t sure the four wheel drive truck was going to make it into the driveway. All the surrounding schools have been cancelling for days on end, and when there was a day they could go, our buildings had lost power. It seems never ending when you wear long underwear one day and a tank top the next. But challenges in life keep us moving, motivated to think, and keeping us out of that rut that is so comfortable and familiar.
For some time, and I mean years, I was in that rut. Going about my days while they slipped by unapologetically because if I didn’t get out of those days what I could, well that was my fault. After writing my first book and publishing it on Amazon, I entered into a phase of my life where my husband and I finished completely remodeling our house. I love challenges, and with my book published, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and it was on to the next project at that time. When I truly look back and count the number of years I have “wasted not writing” I am a little peeved at myself. Then I also realize what I have actually been doing, and those things have value.
In the span of six years I have written half of the second book of Quest for the Mapmaker, dry walled, mudded, and painted every room of our four bedroom farmhouse. I coached volleyball two full seasons with three in between seasons of club volleyball. We dug a pond and enjoy fishing and boating. My husband and I began a business. Four of our five children graduated high school, the last one is now a freshman. I started the reading challenge on Goodreads, which I do recommend. The first year was 24 books, second year 30 and this year I am going for 40 books, and picking books I really do want to read. I made quilts for all the kids. I attended college at SNHU in creative writing, and then being too busy to finish my bachelors I stopped. Again, I have my eye on finishing that degree soon. I switched jobs twice, from 911 Telecommunicator to County Clerk Recorder, and finally to full time Game Bird Farmer and writer. I am at a point where I will have the time to focus on writing several hours each day, instead of one or two as I did writing the first book.
Challenging myself has always been important to me. I do not always accomplish what I set out to do, but then I try again, or try a different approach. This is extremely important to me. When I tackle a job, I like to attempt to go it alone. Not always the best idea or way to go about things, but it is my approach 99% of the time. So here I am, having written a book, and knowing the challenges of sending it off to editors. I bypassed that when Amazon opened up Create Space and KDP for self-publishing. For those who don’t know, this makes you not only the author but also the editor and marketer. And those my friend are very tough jobs. I learned so much about formatting a book for different venues such as digital, paperback and also the epub files needed to enter markets such as Smash Words and Kobo. Whew. I look back at those moments teaching myself how to format, create cover art, and also beginning the Irish Eyes Publishing website and I am pleased with where I have come from and the road I’m back on. The path feels good and winter is soon to be over. I hail the new spring which mirrors my warm feelings of accomplishment and challenge.
It is February and I am ready to continue with my writing and get real with life. It has been way too long since I have been serious about my life goals. I am pleased to say I have spent a good part of yesterday and this morning updating my blogs and Quest for the Mapmaker cover. It’s funny because it is like I have been in a fog. I look at all that I had accomplished and I was doing really well, then it just faded into that fog. But I can see it again, clear as day. It’s cold outside today, but that sun is just shinning as bright as can be. Here we go!
Bitty quickly and quietly closed the door to her room. She could feel the anticipation of the map making her want to squeal. It was so exciting to have something like this happen, but what did it really mean, and was it really real? She moved over to her desk and with one arm pushed everything aside. She threw the plain piece of paper into the drawer and began to unroll the strange creamy paper that contained the photo of the map. She unrolled the map. It wasn’t the same as when she had printed it. The white frothy bubbles had turned into many different colors. Where the bubbles had been were brown and green, like land. In place of the pale clear bathwater was a rich vibrant blue of a vast ocean. Bitty gasped aloud. Her hands flew away from the map. She was frightened to touch it. She began to pace back and forth in her room glancing at the map continuously. After only a few moments, that felt like hours, Bitty walked briskly back to her desk with the half opened map on it. She sucked in her breath and grasped the corners of the map and straightened it out fully. To her astonishment, words were written in a rich royal red, and more had appeared after she had taken the picture. Bitty pinched her arm hard, hard enough to make a red mark. She wanted to make sure all of this was really happening. She knew that it was really happening and her arm hurt, and the map was forming words and shapes in front of her eyes. Bitty squeezed her eyes shut. She saw images of a sailboat and a vast ocean and flying creatures flipping through her head like pictures on the TV. She opened her eyes and wondered whether it was better to watch the map growing and changing or to let all the strange sights jump into her head. She knew they had to be attached to the map somehow; there was no doubt about that. She just didn’t know what it all meant, or how it was happening. Bitty went to her bed and retrieved her journal from between the mattresses. She had better write all this down so she would remember the images in her mind.
She just finished writing down the last few details when she heard her mother knock on the door.
“Just a minute.” Bitty called grabbing the map and throwing it with the journal under her mattress. She moved to open her door.
“I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t changed your mind about the movie.” Her mother glanced around the room quickly then let her eyes rest on Bitty’s.
“No. I’ve got a book here that I’ve been wanting to start reading.” Bitty’s eyes shifted to the blue floral comforter on her bed. She had failed to let it fall back into place after hiding the map and journal under it. Her eyes flew back to her mother and she smiled.
“Are you ok?” Her mother stepped closer to her and looked into her eyes. “You are acting a little strange, if there is something wrong you can tell me.”
“Nothing mom, I’m just not up to a movie tonight.” Bitty smiled and hugged her mother, hoping to relieve her worries.
Her mother stepped back from her and smiled back. Then she walked to the edge of Bitty’s bed and began to straighten the comforter. Bitty bit her bottom lip behind her mother’s back.
‘Don’t find it, don’t find it, don’t find it.’ Bitty’s brain echoed loudly.
“Mom, you don’t have to do that.” Bitty touched her mothers purple blouse on the shoulder. “Here let me.” Bitty nudged her way in front of her mother and quickly smoothed the soft blankets then turned around to face her mother. “Well, maybe I can come down for a while; it does sound good to watch a movie together.” She knew that would be the best way to keep her mother away from her room.
“Really, are you sure?”
Bitty nodded her head and said, “Let’s go mom”.
During the middle of the movie, Bitty’s best friend Jelly called. “Hey, what’re ya doing?” She asked Bitty.
“Mom and I are watching a movie.”
“Oh, I was wondering if you wanted to spend the night?” Bitty liked Jelly a lot. She loved to spend the night at her house. Bitty didn’t have any brothers or sisters and Jelly had two of each. It was fun to have so many kids; they could play games of all kinds. Last time she stayed they played Monopoly and Bitty even beat Jelly’s two older brothers. But now that she had the map, she didn’t want to stay there and have all those other kids knowing about it too.
It was hard to do but Bitty said “Not tonight, maybe another night, ok”.
“Sure, well, bye.” Jelly sounded disappointed to her, but Bitty would explain it all later, she would understand.
“You don’t want to stay with Jelly tonight? That’s definitely odd.”
“Nah, it’s loud at her house.” Bitty smiled and continued watching the movie.
“I think I’m going up to bed now. Goodnight.” Bitty yawned too for good measure.
“Goodnight Bit.” Her mother called after her as she rounded the steps to her bedroom. She shook her head as she watched her only child shut her bedroom door.
Bitty locked the door of her room. She sped over to the bed and pulled out the map. The image was beautiful and pristine. Everything was outlined and named, charted with an amazing accuracy. She marveled at the pure beauty of the paper and ink in front of her. The map looked ancient. It looked as if it was from another world. She grabbed a scrunchie and threw her hair up out of her face. She gathered the journal from its little hiding place and sat down at the desk. She began to list the charted areas of the map. First she counted the oceans and the largest land masses. It appeared that there were three large bodies of water. The Sea of Ganthra, The Mightic Ocean and The Largonian Ocean were listed in large scarlet letters over the mass of blue oceans. She viewed several other smaller areas of blue that seemed to be smaller lakes and then rivers too, but she wanted to first list the biggest areas of land that had names. Two shared their names with oceans. Largonia and Ganthra were the two largest areas of land but there were three more worthy enough in size to list with them. Woodenthra, Draconvi, and Merchindia Bitty listed from the largest to the smallest. She also was excited to see that there were many islands peppered throughout the map with queer names like The Islets of Barognia and The Deserted Islands. She was lost in the map and didn’t realize the time was so late. She heard her mother coming up the stairs slowly and snatched her light off in time. All she needed was more questions. She lay awake in her bed, as she shut her eyes visions of water speeding by so fast covered any thoughts she was having. This time she relished the images of another place. She saw a battle of many people with swords flashing and bodies falling down. She became sad. Was this place in turmoil? Her wondering overpowered the sights and she drifted off to sleep.
So just tonight I searched Google for my name. I was very pleased to see all the links back to Amazon and other places my book is available. Of course there are no other Mauras where I am from, although I know there are more out there in the world. I was appalled and worried when I saw a link that said FREE ebook and FREE epub download! I thought how in the world is that so? I clicked on the link and it took me to Amazon to buy my book. Wshoo… Thank goodness. Although it did seem strange that a link stating my book was a free download really went to Amazon… curious!!