WHAT TOOK SO LONG?

I took a deep breath. Here goes! I slid my mouse’s pointer across the laptop’s Kindle Direct Publishing screen to a button that read, “Publish.” I clicked on it. There goes seventeen years of work!

Four months I earlier I visited friends in Central Florida. As I sipped coffee with Anna and George I said, “My editor’s nearly finished with her work. This summer, I plan to publish Finding the Blackbird, my Ireland Pilgrimage book.”

 George and Anna later in 2019.

George and Anna later in 2019.

Anna set down her cup and gave a slow smile. “I can’t remember. When was it you went there?”

I clinked my cup to the saucer, too. “2002.”

Sitting at the end of the table George exclaimed, “2002?” He grinned. “What took you so long?”

What, indeed! I shook my head and chuckled. It’s a long story!”

Looking back, the main reason the volume was delayed is that in 2002 I didn’t know how to write a book! I did have lots of pages written…

Realizing my Ireland experience had been important, when I returned, I wrote and wrote! Three months later, I had produced a hundred and thirty-five pages! While I didn’t know much about being an author, I had joined Florida Writers. I read their quarterly magazine cover to cover. I’d learned that a series of related chapters was not a book.

Not knowing how to proceed, I shelved the pages and went on with my Central Florida life.

In March of 2003, my friend Dottie and I drove over an hour north to Lakeland, Florida. While dancing that evening I met JK.

Dottie
Dottie

The next week, my white-haired dancing partner and I talked on the phone, connecting over the hundred-some miles that separated us.

Two weeks after the dance, JK drove nearly four hours from his North Florida home to visit me in Sebring. Several months later we began traveling to visit each other’s friends and families. We married in 2004.

Our wedding day in 2004

At first, we lived alternately in his Florida house near Williston, and mine in Sebring. Travel between homes and keeping up both burdened me. I pushed to have just one. At last, in 2006, we sold our respective houses and bought the Gainesville home where we still live half the year. I found little time for figuring out a book format in those years.

While living in the university town, I found an active writers’ group! I stepped back on the writer track and joined Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville (WAG). I participated in one of their small group “pods.” Like a thirsty traveler, I gulped learning how to structure a book and create better chapters.

In the midst of slaking my writers’ thirst, in 2007 I rode a Greyhound Bus to Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was the first leg of travel to get to my 45th high school class reunion in Goshen, Indiana. I had planned to rent a car in Grand Rapids, Michigan and visit sons Brian and David who lived in that city. After two days, I would drive south to Goshen, Indiana and attend the revered reunion.

The trip didn’t evolve as I planned!

A Gainesville, Fl. Greyhound

The Greyhound adventure became my first book, An Accidental Pilgrimage. I had not planned to write about the trip. However, I had taken a vow of silence for that travel. Thus, in place of conversing, I observed and took notes. Those jots and scribbles became the basis of my chapters.

Having experienced holy travel in my 2002 Ireland Pilgrimage, once I returned to Florida I saw the Greyhound adventure as a spiritual parallel to the Ireland Pilgrimage. In a blink I understood how to set up my first book! It’s like a pilgrimage: Call, Journey and Return.

From 2007 to 2010, I wrote chapters and met with my WAG pod. During those hours I heard others tell of trying to get an agent to find a publisher for their book. I might die before I ever heard back from one of those hard-to-attract people!

Holding my finished manuscript in 2011, I decided to self-publish and hired an editor. I want my book to look professional. A pod friend had published her book with a local company. I liked the look of her volume and decided to follow her lead. However, when the completed books were in my possession, I faltered. Promoting myself/my book was difficult. My heart is not in selling my product. It’s in sharing my experience!

After I completed An Accidental Pilgrimage, I recalled the one hundred thirty-five pages that still awaited attention. Now I know how to create a book, I can finish that one about my 2002 Ireland Pilgrimage!

While most of the Ireland section was on paper, in order to create a whole memoir, it needed structure. I know the form! It’s the same as my first book.

Of course, the book needed rewriting, and a few new parts added. I want the story to be as readable as an “Inspirational Fiction.”

In 2012, I began revisions. However, over the next two years, I lost my Florida small group pod when others finished their books. In addition, I began traveling back to Indiana to spend more summer hours with friends and relatives. Again, the book waited. Hard to tote the huge pile of reference books, contacts and Ireland information around with me.

In 2017, once more I became involved in my high school class reunion – our 55th. My Ireland story paused … again.

At the reunion, classmate Carol speaks, and I stand by.
At the reunion, classmate Carol speaks, and I stand by.

Finally, just before Labor Day in 2019, I did what I had told George several months before. I published my second book: Finding the Blackbird.

Image from the cover of Finding the Blackbird.
Image from the cover of Finding the Blackbird.

So, why did this book take so long? Since I believe God has a plan for my life, I conclude the pilgrimage story was not “ready” to appear before now. Maybe I wasn’t prepared. Perhaps, it was also awaiting some other unknown factor.

All things in God’s time.

Frances Fritzie

Frances Editor adds,Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and I produced a black-and-white paperback, a color version of it and also a Kindle e-book. If you go to Amazon.com and do an author search, use my pen name: Frances Fritzie Ridenoure. All Finding the Blackbird copies are available there and the Kindle book has no shipping cost. You can also take a look for free!”

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