Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Elizabeth's Journey an Update


 
 
There are those that do their best work when facing a deadline.  Some who need a target to drive them to get the work done.  I am not among those folks

When “Misty Creek” was released I set a timetable for the completion of the sequel, “Elizabeth’s Journey”, 18 months.  I had a draft and was well into the first revise believing that goal was easily attainable…Silly me.  But life has too many demand and the work required was far more than I anticipated.

When the revised draft returned from my editor, I was surprised by the thousands of comments, many positive, but most raising questions I had not asked myself.  Just because I understood the character’s motivation does not mean it is clear to the reader.  I had expected to finish this revise in four months…September 5th.

Well it is September 5th and to put it mildly the revision is not finished.  In truth I am happy that I have reached halfway through that endeavor.  But the revision is not the final work required.  Though there is much left to do before I have molded earlier drafts into the final, progress is being made.  For those that have read “Misty Creek” and long for the next part of Elizabeth’s story I ask for patience.  I must strive to my best to make “Elizabeth’s Journey” a worthy sequel.

So for all of you that have read “Misty Creek” or are friends of this author, I have decided to give you updates, weekly when possible.  So stay tuned....  

 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A New Traveling Friend


A New Traveling Friend                   

By John W. Vander Velden

When it comes to traveling I guess I’m old school.  Maybe you don’t know what I mean.  Well when I plan a trip, I get out the atlas, remember those, and go over the route.  I take some time before we leave and write down a list of roads and directions and hand them to Jackie my navigator.  But we did things a bit different this summer.  We invited a friend to come along.  I think her name is Alexia.
Alexia doesn’t take much room in the car.  She rides inside my tablet.  But she has very strong opinions and voices them at any moment whether you’re ready to hear them or not.  There are times she is downright rude.  But overall not obnoxious.  Sometimes she rides on Jackie’s lap diligently tracking our progress.  “In one thousand feet turn right on to exit 283A, stay right at the fork and…”  Ooops, I missed that exit.  No problem, if Alexia is one thing she is patient…and persistent.  “In one half mile take exit 284A turn right make a U-turn…” Yeah...maybe.
But all-in-all Alexia is true enough that I come to depend upon her…maybe too much.  Throw the atlas in the back seat, give Alexia an address and off we go.
But sometimes we have a conflict with her.  Friends do that you know.  There are times I would want to travel by a route Alexia feels is less efficient.  Then her persistence becomes a bit annoying.  “Turn right make a U-turn...” “At the next road and make a U-turn...”  You expect the voice to say, “for crying out loud, go back.”  Now, now, now, Alexia, time for your nap.
Jackie puts the dear friend to sleep and sets her on the back seat as we trundle along only to hear her instructions, “turn right and make a U-turn,” her voice calls out from behind us.  Talk about a backseat driver!
Yet it astonishes me how she knows EXACTLY where we are.  It’s not to within a mile or quarter mile for that matter, it is within feet.  FREAKY!  Even when the wi-fi is off, it’s like the car talks to her in their own secret digital GPS language as we watch our progress on the screen.
So Alexia like all friends has some good points and well...other points.  To get the most out our friendship I overlook the annoying aspects of her personality.  I also have to accept her knowing our every move.  A bit voyeur-ish don’t you think.  But I ignore those quirks because Alexia is our friend… 

(431 Words) 8/21/2018

Friday, August 10, 2018

Summer Wind/More Than Clouds


The Summer Wind 

By John W. Vander Velden
 

The hot air in motion…a summer wind.  From where it comes?  To where it goes?  Do we take the time to consider?  It is after all just a summer wind.  The breeze that rearranges our hair that makes the heat almost bearable…nothing more.  Yet the sun bears upon me.  As I wipe my brow and adjust my cap, sweat stinging my eyes and causing my shirt to cling, I reflect.  Watching shadows pass over the open land while the wind chases the high puffy white clouds across the pale sky.  Reminded of my own journey, of life’s wind scurrying me along.  Few know or care where that journey began, only God knows the road ahead.  No, I am like the summer’s wind.  Some will notice my presence others will ignore.  But as I pass I must do what I can…to love…to laugh…and to care.  For just as the hot breath of summer moves on and does not return…so must I.  

(166 Words) Posted 9/7/2012
 
 
More than Clouds    
By John W. Vander Velden
 

Have you taken the time lately, on a lazy hot summer’s evening to look at the sky?  Often great masses of white float casually on the breeze.  Do you see…truly see…see more than clouds?  Oh, a childish pursuit, you say…. Reserved for the young or foolish dreamers, you say…. For the responsible, time wasted, you say….  Perhaps.  Maybe we are surrounded by walls blinding our vision.  Walls, of time clocks, bills, promises, future plans, that limit our view.  Our focus upon reality…is there more?  For the world hurls reality in our face…the news…TV…at work…at home…all around, numbed yet feeling strangely content.  Secure that we understand the facts and facts are all that matter…facts make us wise.  Foolish to see great sailing ships, castles, or grand ranges of white and gray mountains; ever changing as leisurely they drift past.  Life is too intense…too demanding.  We are grownups…met our obligations…made the sacrifices.  But have we surrendered the ability to see more than clouds?
 
(168 Words) Posted 8/24/2012


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Flawed


Flawed                           


By John W. Vander Velden

 

Within the human condition it is easy to overlook our own imperfections.  How simple to scan past our mistakes when we focus on those we feel blunder far worse than we.  Besides we know how we came to fail.  We know that there were reasons for our actions…logic led to the minor disasters of our lives.  Perhaps we had the best of intentions, but left the actions undone.  We like to think we were good enough and better than we could have been.
There is a logic to those thoughts, yet there is something faulty within that logic.  I, for one, recognize my imperfections.  I understand that I am flawed.  But that honest assessment to does remove my responsibility for my errors.  No, I must recognize that my actions result from my failing rather than my failings are caused by something beyond my control, that I just couldn’t…no matter how hard I tried…have done better.
No, I am an imperfect man, stumbling along, driven at times by less than stellar, selfish desires, placing my needs ahead of someone else’s…sometimes everyone else’s.  I should be ashamed, and at times I am, just not as often or as deeply as I ought to be.
But there is the redeeming factor that should not be ignored…faith.  For within faith there is an acceptance of the flawed, as I am…if…  If I take responsibility for my actions.  If I strive to learn from my mistakes.  If those errors are used to teach me, and learning I improve.  Faith does not make me “instantly” perfect.  Faith does not erase the stupid things I will do tomorrow…or the days after. 
For I know that GOD loves me flaws and all.  And my love of GOD drives this flawed man to try just a little harder, doing my part to over come my weaknesses.  I will never be perfect, but I should never stop my journey on the road toward perfection…even flawed as I am.  

(334 Words)  6-21-2017

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Road Led North


The Road Led North

By John W. Vander Velden

 

Those that know us were surprised that our first escape came so late in the year.  They remember how we venture “away” in mid-March or there abouts.  But circumstances beyond our control stole those opportunities...or rather postponed them.  October was a long time ago, and that was the last chance we had to “get away” just for the sake of getting away.  Oh there were a couple of overnights since, but a real get away...no.
The hotel at Gordon's Lodge sits on more than 100Acres
along the edge of the North Bay
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 

We learned the story of why there are goats on the roof
of Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant 
Last week we ventured to new places, not that they had just been created you understand, but they were new to us.  The praise we had heard about Door County Wisconsin peaked our interest.  The peninsula that forms Green Bay was all we had heard and more.  The three days we spent there was mostly a “see what’s
 
Cana Island Lighthouse is a gem
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 there” expedition.  What we saw and learned will prepare our next longer stay because we will be back.
The unreachable...for now,
Copper Harbor Lighthouse
When the window for our vacation materialized, I felt fortunate to have found us a room.  But on our arriving we discovered that Gordon’s Lodge on North Bay was more than just a find...it was a fabulous room in an unbelievable gorgeous location.  We overlooked the sun bursting out of the waters of Lake Michigan from our room each morning, and watched it set across the bay a few steps from our door.  Perhaps it’s just a bit out of the way, but you can be assured we’ll be back.
The road goes up and up, then you park and walk even higher
The Lake of the Clouds
After just a taste of the lighthouses and wilderness of Door County we ventured north to another peninsula...Keweenaw, in Michigan.  The year was 1982 when I last saw the northern most part of the U.P..  I was thirty when my brother Jim and I motorcycled up to Copper Harbor, the place the highway ends.  I had yearned for years to return to the place that becomes buried in snow for nearly half the year.  A sign ”post” (literally) displayed last winter’s white stuff total of more than twenty-five feet.  I should never complain about winter again.  The highway wound between stands of pines and birches as we drove beneath a brilliant blue sky.
The jacket limited the insects access.
The lighthouse at Copper Harbor is unreachable at this time.  Sealed off by privately owned land the boat service that had taken sightseers over has ceased operations.  Clouds moved in as we made our way south along the cliffs on Superior’s edge and a stop in Eagle Harbor after some fourteen miles traveled offered us a wonderful lighthouse on the rocks overlooking the water.  We were directed to the “Mountain” eight miles north, the highest point on the peninsula, and there at nearly two thousand feet on a blustery afternoon threatening rain we overlooked the wide and wild northland and the lake not so many miles away.
The following day we went west to Porcupine Mountains, our first stop Lake of the Clouds. Though the day was overcast it was warm and the view will be one we will long remember.  We spent the day hiking to the mountain top and searching out some waterfalls only scratching the surface of an amazing place.
We hustled about the Upper Peninsula for six days using Houghton as our base camp.  Lighthouses, waterfalls, hikes along Lake Superior’s shoreline, an outing to Marquette, and a mine tour filled the days to bursting. 
There are many waterfalls in the Porcupine Mountains
Overlooked Falls
Time came to turn our back upon the “North Country” and so, regretfully we returned our sites on home and work and fetching our dear sweat dog from her visit to the spa (kennel).  No one would say our trip was a restful respite, but that’s not why we go to the places we choose.  We go to see and to do, and are grateful for the road that led north.   

A view few will venture to see.  5.5 miles of private unimproved
single lane road and a two mile hike along the top of the cliffs
brought us a chance to see Lake Superior from near
Montreal Falls 
We're going in!
University students enlarged the drainage tunnel in the Quincy
Copper Mine, Hamilton, MI.
We went a mile into the side of the mountain and reached
the old mine's seventh level.
The air is COLD (42 Degrees) and water is dripping from above
The 85 levels below are now flooded

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Fiction


Fiction           

By John W. Vander Velden

 

I write fiction, and at times I wonder from where my stories and characters come. 

Imagination is an amazing thing.  It drives new thought, new ideas, and moves our race forward.  Imagination is the central location for fiction’s growth.  My fiction comes out of my imagination.  So fiction might be called fantasy…and it is, even though fantasy is a specific genre’ within the fiction spectrum. 
I use the disclaimer “in this is a work of fiction…”, all references to…“reality” is purely coincidental.  The reality includes people, places, and events.  And that is true, as far as it goes.  But I believe that all fiction grows from “seeds” of reality.  Misty Creek is set in the American frontier of the late 1800’s, a place that existed.  But as far as I know my Misty Creek did not exist…I made it up.  But I shaped it by what I had seen or read of the land that existed at that time.  You see, I used the seed of reality to grow a new place, a new situation, new people…and a new story.
Writers are in some ways an “odd lot”.  In other ways they are just like everyone else.  They move about like anyone.  It would be difficult, most of the time, to pick writers out from a crowd of people.  They are ordinary people…sorta’.  But writers, particularly fiction writers, continually jump from the reality that surround them into imaginary places of their creation.  They watch someone buy a magazine and picture another person in a very different time or situation, buying a magazine.  The seed of reality becoming something else entirely.
Careful what you say or do around a writer.  If they’re worth their salt they will notice.  You are offering seeds they might use in the growing of another story someday. 
And not all the seeds used are acquired by conscious effort.  Years of living have provided me with a treasure trove of subconscious “seeds” that flow through my fingers and into my stories.  My past makes up a veritable warehouse of “seed” waiting for me to draw out one packet or another. 
But I feel that fiction is more than “just” fantasy.  I feel that fiction presents reality in its own way. Revealing truths through events that haven’t really happened…at least not exactly the way I tell it.  I want my stories to be something which the reader can relate to.  I want the reader to say…”Oh that character reminds me of Uncle Mitch,” or “I would have told that guy off when he did that,” or “I’ve face that too.”  The greatest thing I could accomplish, would be to have some part of my stories connect with the person turning the pages.  It would be the place where fiction reaches within and offers a reality not known before.  It is a high target I shoot for…a high target indeed and likely well beyond my abilities to hit.  But does that mean I should not draw back the bow?  Does not lofty goals require not only hope, talent, and effort, but also the desire for the attempt?
So I take my feeble GOD given talents, hone them as best I am able, and seeing the prize take my best aim.  For if I am to use my fiction to reach the hearts of those that foolishly search within my words for…something, then I owe them the best I have.

(571 Words) 8-5-2017

 

Friday, May 25, 2018

I'm Never Moving...Again


 I’m NEVER Moving…Again

By John W. Vander Velden

Oh, I don’t know where I will spend all my remaining days.  It seems unlikely that I will stay at this location forever.  But the events of the past ten days have taught me an important lesson…I’m not moving. 
Our son’s achievements resulted in his location to a new state.  Beginning your career is a big deal and he was SO excited.  We should have known the drill, we had moved him before, three times before. But things were a bit different this time.  Distance for one thing and Nick, like all of us, had with the passing of time gathered “things”.  There were his things and there were “our” things.  So, it turned out for our good fortune that the things were divided so we needed to move less stuff each day.  On a Thursday, we rented a U-Haul and Jackie and I rumbled down the two hours to campus and near day’s end rumbled back…and unloaded our furniture.  My back will remind me for weeks that hauling a chest-of-drawers upstairs alone was a mistake.  It was only thirteen steps for crying out loud.  Once it would not have caused a sweat, well, maybe a sweat, but nothing more.  But now…the task was pure insanity.
On Monday we started early, drove that two hours to “college” town and rented the truck there.  Nick lived on the ground floor.  I had forgotten just how big a plus that was.  We had him loaded by noon.  A quick lunch and Jackie and I were on the road.

A truck driver would have thought driving a 15 foot U-haul a piece of cake, but I’m not a truck driver.  So interstates, bumper to bumper traffic at speed, and construction narrowed lanes made an interesting four and a half hours.  It must have been crowding five when we entered a really nice quiet apartment complex and the _____ began.
Yes, I knew that the ground floor in West Lafayette simplified things, but…
Nick has a really nice apartment on the THIRD floor.  Oh by the way, did I mention the six flights of stairs.  I GUESS NOT!  I had help…thank goodness.  And Nick handled the heavy…downward ends…but I’m never doing that again…I MEAN NEVER!
It was after eight when I nearly passed out.  Upper eighties and 114+% humidity, with a thunderstorm on its way.  Maybe it was the heat, OK the heat didn’t help.  Maybe it was not eating for nearly nine hours, likely, my sugars had to be in the basement.  Maybe it was all of the above, but my world spun and things began to get dark.
Food!  There are times when it is EXTREMELY necessary to take the time.  Microwaves, and frozen stuff can be lifesavers…
We nearly beat the storm.  I did say NEARLY.  But we got the truck unloaded.
No matter how much stuff you have, you need something.  A Target run provide a couple of vitals so Nick could make the night.  Steak and Shake fed us…officially.  It was well after 11:00 when the U-haul found its way to the hotel where Jackie and I would rest our weary, and in my case “OLD” bones.
But through it all I learned an important lesson.  I’M NEVER MOVING AGAIN!   

(544 Words) 5-25-2018