TIME TO HIT THE ROAD …

The writer in me is restless… it’s time to start my next novel, tentatively titled “Amelia 1865″ or “Prairie Rose.” Before I begin, however, I need to hit the road. I need to explore the places where my novel will be set, to learn about the people, the history, the culture.

You see, I’m a place writer of “destination” novels. It’s important to me that my readers identify with the places where my characters live. It means a lot to me when readers tell me that after reading my book, they are planning a trip to the place where it is set.

So…this time I’m off for several enchanting destinations. First, to Walnut, Iowa, officially known as “Iowa’s Antique City.” It’s a small village of brick streets lined with turn-of-the-century historic buildings filled with antiques. Home of Prairie Rose State Park. A refreshing place where small town spirit lives on.

My final destination is the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana. Nestled in the mountains at the foot of Boot Hill Cemetery, Virginia City was a bustling gold mining town in the 1860′s.

The basic premise of my novel is this: WHAT IF a restless spirit comes back to life seeking revenge for her murder in a previous lifetime?

She’s a bored farm girl growing up in rural Iowa. Commitment-phobic, she stands her fiance up at the altar and heads west towards an unknown destination. A mysterious force drives her to the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana.

Why does she finally feel at home here, somehow recognizing old historical landmarks? Flashbacks begin to flow through her soul, driving her to a cemetery nestled in the mountains overlooking the valley. Here she discovers an overgrown gravestone inscribed, “AMELIA 1865.” No last name, no date of birth.

Obsessed with discovering the truth about this long-forgotten woman, Rose finds herself flashing back and forth between two different realities – her current sheltered life and that of a “hurdy gurdy girl” struggling to survive in the Wild West. Rose’s own life depends upon her ability to merge these realities into something that makes sense.

This strange journey becomes more complicated when a love interest materializes and throws her off balance. This relationship becomes a bizarre dance twisting and turning between love and hate. Can she still accomplish her mission? Does it matter?

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay
http://www.watersofthedancingsky.com

Posted in author blog, Janet Kay, new novel, Virginia City Montana, Walnut Iowa, writing | 7 Comments

A CHANCE ENCOUNTER…

The “Sleeping Giant” was shrouded in eerie banks of fog rolling in across Lake Superior. This “giant” is, in fact, the rocky backbone of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park on the north shore of Lake Superior, Canada. Looking across the big lake from Thunder Bay, it appears to be a huge stone figure lying on its back, gazing into the heavens above. This silent giant rises many hundreds of feet above Lake Superior, its sheer cliffs dropping dramatically into crashing waves far below. Canada’s Aboriginal people have passed on many fascinating legends and myths about this sleeping giant over past centuries.

Today, my two oldest grandsons, Derek and Malachi, and I were exploring this natural wonder. We’d driven many miles along narrow winding roads criss-crossing the top of this gentle giant to the very tip of the Sibley Peninsula.

Peeking through layers of fog as raindrops splattered around us, we were surprised to find the tiny community of Silver Islet. Once upon a time, as in 140 years ago, there was an active silver mining community on this site. The old clapboard General Store, built about 1870, still stands on the rocky point that juts out into Lake Superior.

The ramshackle store was closed, but a sign on the door invited us to ring the bell if we needed anything. We did. An elderly man greeted us, inviting us in. It was a step back in time. Nothing much had changed since the days when the miners purchased their supplies here. Surrounding the store, tucked back into the forest, are a number of the original miners homes which have now been converted into cottages for summer residents.

There happened to be another gentleman hanging out in the old store. He sported long hair and a beard, looked as if he’d been living in the wilderness for a while. In fact, he reminded us of a French Canadian voyageur…which was exactly what he turned out to be!

Mike Ranta, a 39-year-old explorer from the little town of Atikokan, Ontario, Canada was on the journey of a lifetime. He was paddling his canoe, alone, with his faithful dog, Spitzii, along the old Voyageur route. His 3,231 mile journey will take him from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada all the way to Montreal, Canada. He will be the first person ever to complete this journey all alone.

The boys (and I) were intrigued, just listening to his stories. Mike is doing this to raise money for his hometown Atikokan Youth Center. He delivers a powerful message to all whom he meets along his journey, particularly the youth.

His message is simple but very powerful – “Anyone can do anything. There is nothing you can’t do! Nothing worth anything comes easy. It takes preparation, confidence, honesty and hard work. But… YOU CAN DO IT!” This gentle man radiates motivation, determination, and self-confidence. He has no doubt, despite the dangers of his journey, that he will succeed and reach Montreal. He reaches out to young people along the way, encouraging them to follow their dreams.

It was a chance encounter, one that my grandsons will always remember. One that I plan to integrate into my own writing. We would not have met Mike Ranta if Lake Superior hadn’t been rough enough to force him in to shore that day – or if we hadn’t changed our travel plans.

A coincidence? Perhaps…

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay
www.watersofthedancingsky.com

Posted in author blog, Janet Kay, Mike Ranta, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Waters of the Dancing Sky | 3 Comments

AN ODE TO KETTLE FALLS, VOYAGEUR’S NATIONAL PARK

THE FALLS CALLS …

Churning kettles of root beer-flavored foam
bubbling, boiling, tumbling down thundering falls
into swirling pools of frosty white geysers
surging like tidal waves against ancient faces
of black granite worn smooth with time

Shaded by clumps of evergreen and sumac
sprouting precariously from prehistoric crevices
dotted with dainty moss roses of delicate pink -
swaying to the rhythm of wind and water
dwarfed by the power of the falls …

Dwarfed by the power of the falls …
I, too, shrink into tininess, into insignificance
drifting backward, forward in time
slipping silently through misty seas
diving deeper, deeper yet
until I’m flowing
in sync, once more,
with the spirits of the universe.

*********************************

Yes, Kettle Falls is a special place for me. I sat by the falls, absorbing inspiration, as I wrote my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky.

Stay tuned, and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay
www.watersofthedancingsky.com

Posted in Janet Kay, Kettle Falls, Voyageur's National Park, Waters of the Dancing Sky | 1 Comment

HER NAME IS BETH…

I’d like to introduce you to a special woman who has become a good friend and an important part of my life over the past few years. Her name is Beth.

She’s middle-aged, but still struggling with a tragic past that haunts her. Growing up on a wilderness island on a lake along the U.S./Canadian international border, she was just a young girl when her mother mysteriously drowned in the big lake. Her mother was gone. She had no father -just her grandmother who did her best to raise her right.

Barely grown, Beth fell in love – with the wrong man – and suffered through an abusive marriage for twenty years. Finally, she escaped, and went home to her family’s island. Her grandmother had just passed on. Once again, Beth was alone with the demons from her past.

Embarking upon a journey of self-discovery, she found her mother’s old diaries which held shocking long-held family secrets…including the identity of her father. Spirits of the past emerged as she struggled through a complex web of emotions and shifting relationships.

She doubted that she’d ever be able to forgive and put the past behind her, much less learn to love again.

While I tried to help her work through her shifting emotions, to gently nudge her along the road to healing,she had a mind of her own. She was intent on creating her own reality, her own destiny…perhaps a good sign that she was, in fact, learning and growing. I’m proud of my friend.

And now,

the rest of the story…

WHO is this special woman exactly? Well, she happens to be the main character in my novel, WATERS OF THE DANCING SKY!She’s also become a good friend who has taught me a lot as “we” wrote this novel together. I hope you are able to meet her someday in the pages of this novel – and the sequel that I plan to do in response to reader requests.

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay
www.watersofthedancingsky.com

Posted in Janet Kay, Waters of the Dancing Sky | 1 Comment

"Writing is a journey…not a destination"

I was sitting at my computer, hammering away, trying to meet another self-imposed deadline. Now that I had my first novel out (Waters of the Dancing Sky)my readers were anxious for a sequel. I’m honored! But lately they’ve been asking how soon it will be available in the bookstores or on Amazon.com. Meanwhile, I’m struggling to complete another novel which will be set in the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana. So much to do…so little time. Wasn’t publication, after all, my ultimate destination? Isn’t that why we all write?

Maybe…maybe not. I belong to a wonderful writers group, The St. Croix Writers, and am learning a great deal from the members. Publication isn’t necessarily the goal for many of my writer friends. It’s the writing that counts – the sharing of thoughts and memories. It’s a matter of tapping into one’s creativity, looking at the world in a new way, learning and growing. If publication occurs, that’s great. But,it’s really more about the process of writing itself and the sense of satisfaction that results.

Yes, “writing is a journey, not a destination.” We need to take time to enjoy the trip. Along the way, some of us chose to stop at destination points, islands of publication, before we embark again. But we need to take time to enjoy the journey, I think, instead of obsessing over publication and deadlines.

Today the loons are calling to me as gentle waves lap against the shore outside my window. Diamonds of sunlight glisten and dance across the waves. I think my computer needs a break from me today!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay
www.watersofthedancingsky.com

Posted in Janet Kay, Waters of the Dancing Sky, writing | 3 Comments

"The Best Time EVER to be a writer!"

One of the key messages that I brought home from Book Expo America in New York City this week was this: “Now is the best time ever to be a writer!”

Why? Because the publishing world is changing radically. In fact, the balance of power seems to have shifted to the author! In 2010, more titles were published by authors than by traditional publishers! There has also been a dramatic increase in e-book sales with both Amazon and Google reporting that e-books are now selling more copies than printed books!

Guess I’m slow to move into the world of e-books, although I now offer a Kindle version of my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky. Still, I love exploring physical bookstores, holding a book in my hands. But I do plan to break down and buy myself a Kindle soon.

With so many books and authors out there, how will anyone ever find your book? The good news is that there are unprecedented marketing opportunities unfolding on line everyday. Think e-books, websites, blogs, Amazon.com’s Author Pages, social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn,and Twitter. (Yes, I need to learn to “tweet” or so they tell me!)

There are also many good non-traditional or alternative publishers out there to guide you along your writer’s journey. Check them out carefully since there still are some of the old “vanity presses” around which you may want to avoid…

Did you know that The Shack was initially self-published? So were Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and a number of prolific authors.

Yes, today is a great time to be a writer! If you’ve always dreamed of becoming an author, you can do it!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay
http://www.watersofthedancingsky.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

"The Best Time EVER to be a writer!"

One of the key messages that I brought home from Book Expo America in New York City this week was this: “Now is the best time ever to be a writer!”

Why? Because the publishing world is changing radically. In fact, the balance of power seems to have shifted to the author! In 2010, more titles were published by authors than by traditional publishers! There has also been a dramatic increase in e-book sales with both Amazon and Google reporting that e-book sales are now selling more copies than printed books!

Guess I’m slow to move into the world of e-books, although I now offer a Kindle version of my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky. Still, I love exploring physical bookstores, holding a book in my hands. But I do plan to break down and buy myself a Kindle soon.

With so many books and authors out there, how will anyone ever find your book? The good news is that there are unprecendented marketing opportunities unfolding on line everyday. Think e-books, websites, blogs, Amazon.com’s Author Pages, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. (Yes, I need to learn to “tweet” or so they tell me!)

There are also many good non-traditional or alternative publishers out there to guide you along your writer’s journey. Check them out carefully since there still are some of the old “vanity presses” around which you may want to avoid…

Did you know that The Shack was initially self-published? So was Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and a number of prolific authors.

Yes, today is a great time to be a writer! If you’ve always dreamed of becoming an author, you can do it!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay
http://www.watersofthedancingsky.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SPRINGTIME ON RAINY LAKE

Despite the fact that Old Man Winter doesn’t seem to recognize the fact that it’s time for him to go away… my thoughts have turned to spring. After all, it is May 1st today!

When I think of spring, I can’t help reflecting about springtime on Rainy Lake along the Minnesota/Ontario international border. This is the place where my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky, is set, a place that I fell in love with as I researched background for my novel.

A good friend from Rainy Lake recently sent me his copy of a book entitled “Ober and his Rainy Lake World.” It’s a collection of articles from the Rainy Lake Chronicle newspaper that was published in the charming Rainy Lake Village of Ranier from 1973 – 1982. It includes numerous “Drumbeat” columns written by Editor Ted Hall, whose work I greatly admire. I’d like to share excerpts from one of Ted’s columns with you today:

At the end of a warm day that was kissing our northern winter good-bye a thunderstorm rolled in from the west and stamped winter’s exit visa. In that wild wet night the gray ice plain began to darken and along the shoreline of the lake the band of open water widened.

The prudent traveler slides a canoe beside him and is ready to sprawl into it when the squeak of ice underfoot sounds a warning note. A man watching his footprints deepen as he stands in them meets aloneness face to face… It is winter’s corpse he walks upon, the rotting ice, but all around is life. The greens of the forest are brighter now and the blue juniper berries are plump and perky. A doe heavy with fawn moves serenely along the inner rim of a small beach, then slips back into the woods. A pair of Mallards fly away, circle back, and land precisely where they’d starated from. Ranier herring gulls have come to begin early patrol.

Here on the mainland the ice has retreated from the shoreline and a canoe moves easily down the avenue curbed with ice on one side and granite on the other. From a notch in the cliff a slender thread of water falls forty feet to the lake.

The earth is turning and it turns only one direction. It is tilting our northern band slightly toward the sun, just enough for the water to run again, for those mallards to nest again and for a man to journey out to see up close some of the detail work that goes into the changing of a season around here.

Along its edges the black ice crumbles into sparkling needles. They ring like crystal bells. The bells are playing the recessional for winter. They’re playing the processional for Spring.

Spring seems to bring out the writer and the poet in many of us… Happy Spring to you all!

Stay tuned…and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay
www.watersofthedancingsky.com

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SPRINGTIME ON RAINY LAKE

Despite the fact that Old Man Winter doesn’t seem to recognize the fact that it’s time for him to go away… my thoughts have turned to spring. After all, it is May 1st today!

When I think of spring, I can’t help reflecting about springtime on Rainy Lake along the Minnesota/Ontario international border. This is the place where my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky, is set, a place that I fell in love with as I researched background for my novel.

A good friend from Rainy Lake recently sent me his copy of a book entitled “Ober and his Rainy Lake World.” It’s a collection of articles from the Rainy Lake Chronicle newspaper that was published in the charming Rainy Lake Village of Ranier from 1973 – 1982. It includes numerous “Drumbeat” columns written by Editor Ted Hall, whose work I greatly admire. I’d like to share excerpts from one of Ted’s columns with you today:

At the end of a warm day that was kissing our northern winter good-bye a thunderstorm rolled in from the west and stamped winter’s exit visa. In that wild wet night the gray ice plain began to darken and along the shoreline of the lake the band of open water widened.

The prudent traveler slides a canoe beside him and is ready to sprawl into it when the squeak of ice underfoot sounds a warning note. A man watching his footprints deepen as he stands in them meets aloneness face to face… It is winter’s corpse he walks upon, the rotting ice, but all around is life. The greens of the forest are brighter now and the blue juniper berries are plump and perky. A doe heavy with fawn moves serenely along the inner rim of a small beach, then slips back into the woods. A pair of Mallards fly away, circle back, and land precisely where they’d starated from. Ranier herring gulls have come to begin early patrol.

Here on the mainland the ice has retreated from the shoreline and a canoe moves easily down the avenue curbed with ice on one side and granite on the other. From a notch in the cliff a slender thread of water falls forty feet to the lake.

The earth is turning and it turns only one direction. It is tilting our northern band slightly toward the sun, just enough for the water to run again, for those mallards to nest again and for a man to journey out to see up close some of the detail work that goes into the changing of a season around here.

Along its edges the black ice crumbles into sparkling needles. They ring like crystal bells. The bells are playing the recessional for winter. They’re playing the processional for Spring.

Spring seems to bring out the writer and the poet in many of us… Happy Spring to you all!

Stay tuned…and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay
www.watersofthedancingsky.com

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A Trip Down Memory Lane…

“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever before.” Elizabeth Lawrence

I recently took a trip back in time…a journey into the childhood I left behind some 40 years ago! My goal was to do some geneological research on my ancestors whose roots were deeply embedded in this Minnesota town. I needed to understand more about their lives and the places we all lived, before I could write my family history and memoirs.

As I approached my hometown, reminiscing about childhood days spent roaming freely around the neighborhood, exploring and building forts in the wild ravine below our home, swimming at the little lake on the outskirts of town…I was rudely awakened from my day dreams. Lanes of traffic streamed past me on a maze of interstates. The countryside and woods that previously surrounded my hometown were gone. My town seemed to have sprawled out and been swallowed whole by surrounding cities.

Still, I found remnants of the past, including the 100-year old church my family had attended. While the homes of some of my relatives were now buried beneath large hotels and condos, I did find my childhood home intact. Sitting outside, lost in memories, I realized that it had perhaps shrunk over the years! The ravine was now developed…but my memories there will always remain. Flashbacks drifted in and out of my mind…reading books beneath the old weeping willow tree, swinging as high as I could- trying to touch the sky, the fragrance of my mother’s rose garden, writing in my locked diaries, and playing with neighborhood children.

There’s nothing like a trip down memory lane to reconnect with your inner child. As a writer, I believe we all need to make that connection now and then. While I found a wealth of historical information, I also got in touch with feelings and memories that will someday surface in my novels.

I leave you with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark.”

Stay tuned -and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay
www.watersofthedancingsky.com

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