Thursday, May 2, 2013

European Update & Cutting Characters from My Novel

My friend K and I are back at her home in Wien (Vienna) for the weekend before my flight back to the US on Monday after spending a few days in Hungary on our way to and from Romania. I can't remember when I've enjoyed a trip more!

We stayed in Gyor, another Hungarian city I was unfamiliar with and would visit again. What a lovely little jewel of a city! K and I didn't have time to take a proper tour, but walking through the town square and down little streets is usually all I need to get a good sense of a town, village or city. We sat in the town square sipping Radler beers, eating amazing goulash soup with crisp frites and people watching while the sun set behind the main church on the square. Amazing.

K and I had both been to Budapest, Sopron and the Lake Balaton region, so we headed home early to have more time in Vienna. I still wanted to visit the house my ex-husband, children and I lived in 25 years ago. I also have several churches and the Belvedere Museum I would love to go through and enjoy before my departure on Monday morning.

                                                          . . . .

So, yesterday was May 1, also called May Day in Europe and Labour Day in England. K and I decided to head back to my old stomping ground of the 19th district in Vienna. We bought two gorgeous lilac bouquets along the way and found my old street address on her map. Nothing looked familiar as we approached my old street, but when we turned the corner and looked up the steep, cobblestone street, I remembered...memories of pushing the English pram that held my three year old and one year old came back to me. Some things you never forget. My body remembered the strain and I remembered how difficult it was for me, a young mother with no German language, living in Vienna at the time. Vienna was our first overseas posting as a young married couple and the first time I lived in Europe as an adult, not an Army dependent. My children are now 28 and 24 years old and I am happy to have photographs to share with them.

As I write this blog post, my long-time friend is still in hospice in Northern Virginia. Her daughter and family have decided to take her off antibiotics that aren't helping with a severe infection that is coursing through her body and the last thing I heard was that the family had also decided to take her off the feeding tube...all very emotionally charged and strained. I don't know if everyone in the family is in agreement with this decision. I will only support their decision and my very private opinion will remain that...private. I've asked the necessary questions (to me) and I'm leaving that to the family and God.

I also received a very kind note from the agent who had the exclusive read on my manuscript, A Decent Woman. His recommendation to take out the chapters of Serafina, the second most important protagonist in my novel, is spot on. I've often thought that my two female protagonists were vying for first place. Years ago, I wondered if the story would be better served by focusing solely on Ana and have Serafina be a minor character. I will do just that. I highly concur with him. It is Ana's story to tell. The narrative momentum must remain strong.

I've decided to save the original manuscript and make a copy where I remove Serafina's chapters and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Last night, I emailed the agent to ask whether he would accept a second look at my manuscript once I make the necessary changes and beef up Ana's story. He said yes last night. I was thrilled.

This morning, I have renewed faith and again, have hope that I'm on the right track with this book and this agent. He has seen something in my story worth pursuing...or he's been super polite. Regardless, I am highly encouraged by the agent's quick responses to my emails this week and his "yes" in answer to my question about resubmitting.

Early next week when I depart Vienna and arrive in the US, I begin the rewrites after I am reunited with my precious children and visit the hospice on my way home to my furry babies in WV. 

My lifelong friend's battle with life is precarious at this time and I am again reminded of how precious life is. This trip has reminded me of how beautiful life and the world is. I'm very thankful to my friend K and her family for the kind and gracious invitation to spend three weeks with them. She gave me a beautiful gift.

Peace and love,


  1. I'm so impressed with your enthusiasm about rewriting your story. Where do you get all this positive energy? I thought I was a pretty upbeat person, but you put me to shame. I wouldn't know where to start with removing a character from a book. You have fun with that. I'll be looking forward to your next post. Have a safe trip home, E.

  2. Hi Ellie -- Praying for safe travel, as you make your way home. Enjoyed catching up with you and reading about your trip. Hugs - Jasmine

  3. Hi Linda, Positive energy and thoughts are the only option for me as to my novel :)I'm saving the original manuscript and will copy and paste it, so that I can rework it. Taking out the second female protagonist won't be difficult, this is a labor of love and the agent was correct, the momentum must continue for the story to succeed. I'm well rested now and will jump right in :) Thanks, L!

  4. Hi Jasmine, Thanks for your good thoughts and for keeping up with me. Always enjoy your visits :) Be well and enjoy Spring! x