My Experience with Self Publishing

Fifteen years ago I began writing a novel with the intention to honor the immigrant women that came to Upper Michigan during the copper mining boom. My grandmother was one of those women.

As I wrote I was also comparing childbirth experiences in the early 1900s with modern birth experiences.

In 2009 I signed a contract with a publisher that handled self publishing and in 2010 my book, Aliisa’s Letter: Legacy of Faith was published.

The cost of publishing was more than I expected. My daughter took over the role of editor when I realized the limited editing offered by the publishing company. And she did a terrific job!

When the book was completed I needed to promote it. And the costs increased. There were fees for promotional materials and services. In the end I spent more than I received back in book sales. 

I learned a great deal about the publishing industry and myself. This also was the motivation for beginning a blog—which has helped my writing.  

One store has successfully sold my book over the years—Copper World in Calumet, Michigan.

When the publishing company I was contracted with folded in January of 2014, after a year of troubling rumors and accusations, I bought a final supply of books. 

I don’t regret my choice to self publish. It was a hard but good learning experience. Would I self publish again? I would explore more options and ask a lot of questions.

Recently I read another book about women in Upper Michigan in the early 1900s. A best selling author was intrigued by events in Calumet and wrote The Women of the Copper Country. This book focused on the the experience of immigrant women during the 1913 copper miner’s strike.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: EXPERIENCE

Giving an Encouraging Word

Talent: characteristic feature, aptitude or disposition of a person; the natural endowments of a person

Words matter. They can encourage or deter creative pursuits. I still remember two elementary school teachers that I had. The orchestra teacher told me that I had no musical ability and discouraged me from attempting to play the violin. (I heard don’t try to be involved in any musical activities.) 

An art teacher said that I had artistic ability and recommended that I be included in a special art class. I was encouraged and blessed by this opportunity.

As parents, grandparents and teachers we desire to guide children, helping them to realize their potential. I know I tried to do that for my children. I see it as my role as grandmother, to speak encouraging words.

What about in the church? Do I recognize the talents of my fellow believers and encourage them? 

God has given each of us a role. We can encourage each other along the way.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

This post is shared with Inspire Me Monday and the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Living Word

In A.D. 64 the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome. The Emperor Nero was persecuting Christians and Paul was facing execution.

It is hard to imagine being in these circumstances. What would I do?

Paul wrote a letter to Timothy whom he loved like a son. He gave instructions for going forward in faith. Paul believed that life went beyond physical life on earth. 

Paul once wrote to the church at Corinth: So we are of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Throughout the letter to Timothy Paul anchors his instructions in the scriptures. Paul has completed his role and is passing the torch of faith to Timothy.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

This is a wonderful reason to spend time studying God’s word.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: LIFE

My Finnish Grandmother Was a Copper Country Woman

At the beginning of the twentieth century my grandmother immigrated to a mining town in Upper Michigan, from Finland. She married a copper miner in the Copper Country. Long after my grandmother passed away I learned about the miner’s strike and a disaster that killed 73 people, most of them children, most of them Finnish.

The family story is that my grandmother was at the Italian Hall Disaster in Calumet, Michigan. A Christmas party was organized for the families—the children—of striking miners.

Over five months the tensions between striking mine workers and the mine company had risen to a feverish pitch. The mine company was supported by Citizen’s Alliance (local business owners). Some one shouted fire at the Christmas party, but there was no fire. Children and adults were killed when they ran to exit the building. Bodies fell over each other on a stairway.

My grandmother with her children exited the building a different way, maybe by the fire escape.

I never had a chance to ask my grandmother or grandfather about about this event. It happened before my mother was born and her knowledge was limited.

A friend passed along a newly released book, The Women of the Copper Country, by Mary D. Russell. The book is a novel but the author has done admirable research to bring the year leading up to the Italian Hall disaster to life. The main character is a historic figure. 

Big Annie Clemenc was president of the Woman’s Auxillary of the Western Federation of Miners. The miner’s strike began at the end of July and continued into the following year. The Christmas party was organized by the Women’s Auxillary and  took place on December 24, 1913.

The book showed me a period of time in my grandmother’s life. The author’s description of Calumet resonates with my knowledge. In a few places, I found the fiction stretching my imagination. But the author acknowledged the areas that might not be exactly right in her notes at the end of the book.

The March for Life and the President

Over the years I have attended the March for Life in Palatine and in Chicago. I have paid attention to social media accounts of the March for Life in Washington D.C.

Despite the thousands of young adults and families who have turned out year after year, the coverage by the main stream media has been limited. With relief I can say that this year the coverage might be better.

For the first time ever, the President of the United States attended the March for Life and spoke to the tens of thousands of high school and college students, men and women. It was refreshing to hear the President say, “Mothers are heroes.”

When we hear the defense of a woman’s right to choose, the implication is that careers taken precedence over children. An actress at the Golden Globe Awards stated that if she had continued her pregnancy, she wouldn’t have been able to finish the movie she was in. 

Some women choose to abort the life growing in them, but others don’t really have a choice. They are pressured to abort the baby by parents or boyfriends.

My daughter led a young life group. One of the girls became pregnant and called my daughter for support. She wanted to continue the pregnancy. But her parents threatened to take away all financial support, and she gave in to the pressure.

Another woman told me with tears in her eyes that she had forced her daughter to have an abortion.

Abortion is contrary to life and health. The procedure has risks and longterm consequences for women. We know that from conception the baby is developing as a unique individual.

The President said, “Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God.”

I am thankful for growing number of pregnancy centers that offer support to women that are in a difficult circumstances. I am grateful for groups that help women to heal after an abortion.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: RELIEF

What Do We Tell the Children?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my grandchildren. I was happy to join the family for dinner. As we were eating dinner the second grader said, “We might be having world war three.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“A boy in my class said that.”

The granddaughter who is in middle school said, “My teacher spent two class hours talking about what is happening.”

We had a discussion of the current news. The grandchildren listened attentively–they were concerned.

I am very glad to be studying Paul’s letters to Timothy at this time. I explained that  Paul had sound advice and encouragement for Timothy during a very difficult time.

As I mentioned Paul’s letter to Timothy, the words came to me. “God is sovereign. He knows what is happening. We can pray for our leaders that they will do what is right.” 

As I thought about our conversation I am reminded of the importance of time studying the Bible. We can direct our children and grandchildren to be grounded in the Word, sharing scripture with them. We can encourage them to participate in prayer for our country, our President, his cabinet and congress.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: DIRECTION

Family Fun in Missouri

Between Christmas and the beginning of the new year our family had a mini vacation in St. Charles, Missouri. It was such a pleasure to have our children and their families altogether for a few days. The nine grandchildren enjoyed time with their cousins.

We learned that Lewis and Clark left from St. Charles for the Corps of Discovery Expedition in 1804. The town has the Lewis and Clark Boat House Museum with boats that are a replica of ones used by the expedition. The museum elucidates the historical facts about St. Charles, the people of the town and the expedition.

As we walked around town we noted a number of sculptures of a large dog. Meriwether Lewis had a black Newfoundland dog that he brought along on the expedition. 

The appearance of the town is reminiscent of New England towns, with quaint shops.  St. Charles was the capitol city of Missouri in the years 1821 to 1826. 

St. Charles is just outside of St. Louis so we also enjoyed the St. Louis zoo and museums (many have free admission).

The grandchildren had fun climbing on this bronze gorilla.

There was so much to see at the zoo. I only captured a few of the birds and animals.

Linking this post with Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesdays with a Twist

The Birth in Bethlehem

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

God’s amazing design is before us in the birth of Jesus. Jesus did not enter our world as an adult. He came as an infant, fully human and also God. 

He wasn’t born in a palace or a hospital equipped with modern technology. His birth was dependent on the natural physical ability of a young woman to give birth.

God didn’t need human intervention to carry out his plan for our good. This fills me with joy and trust. We can rest, knowing God is sovereign over our world. 

Luke, the physician wrote in his gospel: And while they [Joseph and Mary] were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in manger because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 6-7

Birth in Bethlehem
Painting in a Cathedral in Finland

Have a blessed and joyous Christmas!

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: BIRTH

Also linking with Sue’s image-in-ing and Inspire Me Monday .

The Light of Christmas

Christmas, the day that we commemorate Jesus’ birth, is coming. Last night we attended a concert titled Night of Glory. It was good to pause from my errands, cookie baking, and card writing. I listened to the story of God’s amazing gift, told in song. The concert began with the orchestra playing Farandole (March of the Kings).

The wise men had a star in the night sky to lead them to the promised Savior. We have the Bible—old and new testament. In both prophecy and in the gospels, Jesus comes into the world bringing light. 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

The gospel of John tells about the Savior coming to earth.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. . .  John 1: 9-12

I remember the times that the electricity in our home was disrupted by a storm. When the power was off we looked for flashlights and candles. We needed light to dispel the darkness, to see where we were going. 

In the same way we need a relationship with God through Jesus.  We live in a world darkened by sin. Jesus gives direction for our life.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt is: DARKNESS

Making and Canning Healthy Broth

Whenever I cook a naturally raised chicken or turkey I want to make the best use of it. After the turkey (or chicken) has been carved and served I save the bones to make broth.

The procedure is simple. I put the bones, a few vegetables (a carrot, an onion, a couple stalks of celery), slices of lemon, garlic cloves and fresh herbs (parsley and thyme) into a large crockpot. The lemon provides acid that will leach calcium from the bones.

Then I add water to cover. It is important the crockpot lid does NOT have a vent, because the broth is going to cooks for 20 to 24 hours. All the ingredients contribute to a mineral rich broth.

Throughout the day the crockpot is set at high, and then overnight at low. 

Around 24 hours I turn the crockpot off and ladle the broth through a strainer. The bones, vegetables, lemon and herbs are discarded. The broth goes into a large pot  and is allowed to cool down. If there is fat in the broth, I place the broth in the refrigerator for several hours and skim the fat off the top before beginning the canning process.

NOTE: If you don’t want to can the broth, you can freeze it. Pour the broth into a canning jar, leaving head space. (The broth expands a little when it freezes.) Place it in the refrigerator to chill, and then place it in the freezer.  

Berries and applesauce can be preserved with water bath canning, but broth requires pressure cooker canning.  A couple years ago I wrote about my first experience with the pressure cooker.

I read the farm journal cookbook’s information on canning broth. I read the pressure cooker user’s manual from beginning to end twice. I read the directions for using the pressure cooker to can. I washed the canning jars in the dishwasher and the canning lids by hand in soapy water.

Then I placed the lids with their rings in hot water (that had recently boiled). While preparing the lids and jars, I reheated the broth on the stove top. Then I filled the pint size canning jars with hot broth leaving one inch of headspace. I put the lids on and tightened the bands and then did a quarter turn to loosen the band a little.

I placed a wire rack at the bottom of the pressure cooker to keep the canning jars from touching the bottom of the pot and put 2 + ½ inches of boiling water in the pressure cooker. Then I put my 3 jars on the rack—the water was just under 3 inches deep with the jars on the rack. 

Following the directions that came with the pressure cooker I put the lid on and set it to pressure-cooking, making sure that pressure lock button was set. I turned the burner on high under the pressure cooker. When the button on the lid of the cooker indicated that the pot had achieved pressure I began to time the process. The broth needed to be processed for 75 minutes with 10 pounds of pressure. (The Fagor pressure cooker reaches 15 pounds of pressure.) 

I stayed in the kitchen the whole time. Occasionally the pot began to hiss with lots of extra steam escaping and I adjusted the burner a little, feeling a little anxious. I like to see what is happening, but the only thing I could see was steam escaping from the safety valve. Were my jars breaking? Were the lids allowing extra air to escape and no liquid? I had to just wait and see.

When the 75 minutes was complete the pressure cooker needed to cool down on its own. The directions warned me not to open the cool down vent, not to try opening the lid. It took a full half hour for the pot to cool down and the pressure button indicate that the pot was no longer under steam pressure. With a little trepidation I opened the pot and saw that I had successfully processed my jars of broth.

Since then I have become comfortable with the process. I am able to insert the steps of this process into the day as I accomplish other things. The benefit is having a broth that is healthy—I know what is in it. I can to add it to soups, to chili, and use as the liquid for preparing rice.

Sharing this post with Inspire Me Monday and Tuesdays with a Twist