Post one, Anticipation. January 4, 2022
Two years ago, I was recovering from having both knees replaced about six weeks apart. Then, the Pandemic hit, and I decided it was past time to finish my first book, The Gift. Writing became my therapy. I'd been working on it for the past two years. Memorial Day weekend, 2020 Mike and I drove down to see Aunt Jeanne, masked and socially distanced, to hand her a copy of the book printed out in a big notebook. She loved it, especially because one of the characters, Aunt Violet, is based on her personality and a little bit of her story. Jeanne was a Rosie Riveter during WWII, building B-17 bombers in Chula Vista, California. Her husband was a mechanic and also worked at Rohr's with her.
My lifelong friend, Beth Lyman, read several drafts of the book, as did author friends Barbara Lounsberry and Gail Kittleson. I worked with a young woman I met at the Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop (CFCWW), Anne Philo Fleck, to reshape the story; we created and killed off a few characters and plot twists and added more, rearranged some chapters, and deleted or compressed others. Over the past decade, I showed drafts to several writers at the CFCWW (Thank you Jocelyn Green, Jolene Philo, Anne Philo Fleck, and Mary Kenyon). After more drafts than I ever thought possible, Gail suggested that I submit it to her publisher. After more waiting, Mr. Parker of WordCrafts Press, said, "Yes, we're interested!"
Now, we're waiting for the Spring of 2022.
Aunt Jeanne, below.
January 23, 2022. My mother, Charlotte, spent several years teaching at the little country schoolhouse up the hill from her mother's farm. Here she is with her children on the steps of the school. She's in the top right, far left. I based Grandma Grace on my mother. Both shared a sense of adventure, My mother helped the electrician wire up the schoolhouse and her parents' farm in Tama county in 1942. She took the train to California to help Aunt Jeanne with her first baby, my cousin Jimmy, and then worked at Rohr's Aircraft as a riveter (just as Jeanne had done), building B-17 bombers. Mom didn't learn to fly but she would have done it, given the opportunity. I saw her as fearless. She was also an independent, strong woman and feminist. And she was a passionate storyteller and family historian. She and my father drove all around Iowa and down into Missouri collecting information on her family tree. She also did research on my father's family, which came from Minnesota.
Feb. 15, 2022
More to come on these lovely potholders, a Christmas gift from a quilting friend, Hope.
Post Three, Grandpa Lee's chest, 1920s
February 15, 2022
Gracie, the main character in the series, works at a county museum, arranging exhibits. She does several quilt exhibits, so I did some research and discovered that it's best to handle quilts with cotton gloves to protect them from the oils on your hands. Several sources recommended wrapping them up in clean cotton sheets to store them. So, I felt a sense of accomplishment over the holidays when I managed to wrap the dozen or so old quilts in sheets, after taking pictures of each one and doing an inventory of them. It's something I've wanted to do for years!
My grandfather on my mother's side, Lee Lewis, was a very intelligent, hardworking, and family man. He also was something of a renaissance man: a farmer, he had two farm trucks and hauled grain for other farmers. He served on the city council in Garwin and was well-liked. He was also a carpenter, and built things, like this nearly 100-year-old chest that holds all of my quilts.
Post Four, Afterword: the story behind The Gift
Last Updated October 18, 2022