They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a village to write a book. On the approach to Valentine’s Day, when we stop to express our love to those most dearest to us, I’d like to share my love and gratitude to members of my village who are helping me write my first novel.

To my brother Mark who is underway with the first round of edits for Part One. Good grief – I’ve driven him to drink. Or, so he exclaims with this photo – serious editing demands a seriously good glass of wine. Should I be inspired or fearful of the amount of red ink on the page? I do trust his judgement as a English major from Williams College, even if he isn’t interested in my genre of women’s historical fiction, I value his feedback and direction.

editing.jpeg To my husband and sons who continue to support my desire to pursue this dream and sit to listen to snippets of a story which they, too, would have no personal interest in reading themselves. Who would have thought I’d have a need to ask Brendan for his opinion on the way I described what a pulled hamstring feels like?

Bent at his waist, he clutched at a searing sensation scorched within his thigh and radiating down his entire leg….”A pulled hamstring for sure. I felt the depression where the string is torn. When I bend your knee, Mr. Shaw, how did that feel? Better or worse?”

To my “sisters”, my Wheaton friends, book club friends and fellow writing friends who encourage me every step of the way to write with their likes and comments on my posts, their push to type out another hundred words during a writing sprint, or listen to my read-alouds for practice and feedback on chapter openings.

I hope I am returning the love to support whatever my village’s passions may be. I’ll start with the recommendation for a Wheaton sister who agreed to read my full manuscript drawing on her own expertise as a published writer of historical fiction. I connected with Ashley Sweeney after seeing her write-up in her Class Notes in our Wheaton alumnae magazine. Of course I had to order and read her first novel, Eliza Waite. Yes – Eliza! And, can’t wait to meet her in May – we share a reunion year. 🙂

Here’s my 5-star rating and review of Eliza Waite.

What would you call a coming of age story when the main character is in her late 20’s? Coming alive. Inspired by the writings of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Eliza Waite discovers an interior strength to move forward from tragedy and loss to choose a life where she is the decision maker, an awakened woman, physically and spiritually. Set in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest’s San Juan Islands, Eliza, the widow of the local minister who has also lost her only child, forges her way further north to the even wilder Alaskan Territory as the Yukon goldrush heightens in 1898. In the town of Skagway, an unlikely woman befriends Eliza, becoming her closest friend, the madam of the local bordello, Pearly Brown. Pearly encourages the quiet Eliza who withholds any glimpse into her former life. Ultimately, Eliza’s transformation from a shunned woman of St. Louis to the proprietress of her own bakery and café aligns with the beginnings of the suffragette movement and modern feminism. Ms. Sweeney deftly weaves in quotes from Chopin’s The Awakening at appropriate scenes, as well as recipes from Eliza’s file box, to blend the non-traditional and traditional resulting in a story of inspiration and self-determination proving that the ultimate freedom is the freedom to choose one’s path. From The Awakening: “There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it?” Eliza Waite finds her something and someone, all of which is worth the wait.

Eliza Waite

Thank you for reading this post. I invite you to follow my blog and join me on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction.  More information in the Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow.


6 thoughts on “I Love My Village

    1. Happy Valentine’s Day, Janis! I am grateful for your many gifts. Thank you for giving us a front row seat on your journey to write your masterpiece. Love, Mariellen

      Liked by 1 person

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