Down the Valley of the Shadow

I’m still sick.

You have no idea how much I did not want to have to start this post with that sentence yet again.

I really thought at the beginning of October that I’d have Diversion finished by the end of the month–I even went ahead and commissioned the cover art, which you can see along with a sneak preview of the book if you pledge $5 or more on my Patreon. When a worsening flare meant work took up all my energy for more of last month than expected, I thought I’d be able to set aside the first two weeks of this month to buckle down and get the book done, assuming I could keep on top of grading well enough not to need to spend much time on it each day.

It hasn’t happened.

What has happened? Fever. Fatigue. Brain fog. Pain. Nausea. Upper respiratory crud. Struggling to figure out what I can eat without spending the day in and out of the bathroom. Struggling to do more than veg out with TV and crochet or computer games or wandering in circles on the ‘Net. The last two weeks have been the worst yet out of this year-plus slog. I’ve barely managed a paragraph all month.

A week from today, I go for what ought to be the final round of tests to get this mess diagnosed and get treatment started. But I have essays coming in this weekend, and grading those is likely to use up all the energy I have between now and the deadline for getting books published through the various outlets I use in time for holiday sales.

Barring a miracle, Diversion may not get finished this year at all.

I’m crying as I write this. I know a lot of the pressure I’m feeling in this regard is self-imposed, but I still can’t help thinking I’m letting you all down by not getting a book out this year. And I’m really, deeply sorry.

How can you help?

  • Buy things I’m selling, whether books or items from my CafePress shop.  Christmas is coming, after all.   Surely you know someone who needs a journal or a mug or a T-shirt or who likes good books, right?
  • Support me through Patreon.  Anything, even a dollar a month, will help.  (I still need to get my backer acknowledgment page set up; it’s on my to-do list.)
  • Help me get the word out about my works.  Granted, I’m horribly introverted, but even if I weren’t, I’m just too sick–and broke, frankly–to do any sort of full-court press of marketing on my own.  Here again, anything will help, even if it’s just a short tweet or a Facebook share. Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon would help, too.
  • Above all else, pray for me.  His ability is far, far greater than my inability (or disability).

Third Blogaversary!

And I’m still sick, but I’m hoping things will calm down enough once the semester starts that I’ll be able to get Diversion written sooner than later. (This is why I don’t do assetless preorders through Smashwords… life has a tendency to get in my way!)

I’m also making plans for the first Loyal Valley omnibus volume, which–the good Lord willin’ an’ the creek don’t rise–will be out in hardcover in time for the holidays. I intend to launch a GoFundMe to fund both it and Diversion soon, in part because, thanks to the excellent suggestion of a couple of people on the AoSHQ Goodreads group, I’ve been talking with my cover artist about including MAPS with this edition!

Thank you all for your support over the last three years. Here’s hoping for better days, more books, and more content here and at The Frontier Calligrapher in the year ahead!

Sermon illustration, free to a good home

We got stuck behind a gravel truck yesterday, and there was a sign on the back that I completely misread. It was a single word above an arrow pointing to the right (no idea exactly what it was indicating). At first glance, I thought the word was “FUTURE”; only when we got closer was I able to see that it actually said “SUICIDE.”

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man….”

The A Word

Some labels are easy to accept, to claim for oneself.

Hi, I’m Dr. Wolfe. I’m an English professor.
I’m a freelance editor.
I’m a translator.
Tolkienist.
Medievalist.
Calligrapher.
I’m an author. I write Westerns.
I’m a singer, when health permits.
I’m an American. I’m a Texan.
I’m a Christian.

Some may not be pleasant, but there’s a degree of power in accepting them.

I have several chronic illnesses. I battle depression and anxiety.

But there’s one label I’ve been reluctant to claim for a host of reasons. People have certain preconceptions about what it means that don’t fit me at all–what one does, how one does it, how such a person acts and dresses, etc. I don’t have credentials or (much) formal training. I’m not as good at it as some people, as I want to be.

Tonight, though, as I’ve been working on pencil drafts for a project I’ll post more about later, it suddenly struck me that none of those objections really matter. I’ve been experimenting–just noodling!–and getting some results that, on the whole, I’ve been quite happy with. So I think I can finally take a deep breath and say it:

Hi, I’m Elisabeth, and I’m an artist.

Worth remembering

There is a limit to the doctrine of the prayer of faith. We are not to expect that God will give us everything we choose to ask for. We know that we sometimes ask, and do not receive, because we ask amiss. If we ask for that which is not promised–if we run counter to the spirit which the Lord would have us cultivate–if we ask contrary to his will, or to the decrees of his providence–if we ask merely for the gratification of our own ease, and without an eye to his glory, we must not expect that we shall receive. Yet, when we ask in faith, nothing doubting, if we receive not the precise thing asked for, we shall receive an equivalent, and more than an equivalent, for it. … If he does not give you precisely what you ask for, he will give you that which is tantamount to it, and that which you will greatly rejoice to receive in lieu thereof. Be then, dear reader, much in prayer, and make this evening a season of earnest intercession, but take heed what you ask.

— C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Evening devotion for May 19

Goings-on

Still sick, and the potential opportunity I mentioned in my New Year’s post didn’t pan out. 😛 But I’m hoping to be able to get cracking on Loyal Valley: Diversion later this month, and I could really use your support on Patreon. Every pledge gets me closer to financial stability and better health!

Spring’s sproinging! The bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush are blooming, and schools are letting out for Spring Break (BCF’s, alas, isn’t until the end of the month). And March 6-12 is Read an Ebook Week, and I’m one of the many Smashwords authors offering a 50% discount on my books this week! You can view the full catalogue here, and my profile is here (enter RAE50 at checkout to receive the discount).

Finally, I was saddened to learn this morning of the death of Nancy Reagan. And of course, this being March 6, I hope you’ll remember the men who gave their lives 180 years ago for the cause of Texas’ freedom.

The Rainbow Connection and the Inconsolable Secret

For some reason “The Rainbow Connection” popped into my head a few minutes ago, and I got to thinking about some of the questions it asks.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
………………………..
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing,
And what do we think we might see?

Now, of course there are standard Christian answers to some of these questions–“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1), and the rainbow is a sign of God’s promise, particularly the promise to Noah that He would never again flood the earth (Gen. 9:13). But that’s not really what the song is asking about. Instead, the real answer is something more like this:

“Listen to me,” cried Syme with extraordinary emphasis. “Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front—”
–G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

And that, as C. S. Lewis explains in “The Weight of Glory,” is indeed what we’re searching for in the rainbows and the stars:

The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory meant good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.

… At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.

Yes, we do (or should) feel awe at God’s handiwork when we stargaze and gratitude for His promises when we see rainbows, especially unexpected ones. But what keeps drawing us back to such things, resisting those who would tell us that “Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, / And rainbows have nothing to hide,” is that sense that we are seeing only the back of the world, the wrong side of the door, the inconsolable secret that we were made for something beyond this world, that our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.

And thus I say, with apologies to Williams and Ascher:
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
We lovers of Jesus–you’ll see.