Remember the Ladies–CoronaLife Day 978

I am into genealogy, and I have been exploring DNA matches for quite some time. I was working on my husband’s DNA, and he matched three people in the same family: JLW, PW, and MP. JLW is the father of PW, and the grandfather of MP, who is not PW’s child. PW is MP’s aunt. (See tree below. Boxes with red outlines indicate people with DNA tested.)

This family matched my husband (JD) on his maternal grandmother’s Baldwin line. (See tree.) This family ALSO had shared DNA matches to descendants of my husband’s maternal grandfather’s Hedrick line. The three yellow boxes in the tree are Hedrick siblings.

JLW’s Baldwin connection was immediately apparent, as his mother was a Baldwin. So I went searching for the Hedrick connection. I didn’t find it. Which was frustrating, because it could not be that far back.

Then I noticed something. JLW matched with descendants of VH. His daughter and granddaughter, PW and MP, matched VH’s descendants, but they ALSO matched LH’s descendants. JLW did not, and since children cannot inherit DNA parents do not have, this could only mean one thing: PW and MP’s matches to LH’s descendants had to come through their mother, EBL. (See tree.)

Realizing JLW did not match both VH and LH’s descendants made me think that this Hedrick connection might not be real. So I looked at VH’s husband, CE. And lo and behold, I found the connection.

JLW’s great-grandparents were Abijah Baldwin and Elisabeth Payne. CE’s great-grandparents were Charter Mitchell and Elisabeth Payne. Elisabeth married Abijah after Charter died very young. JLW and CE’s grandfathers were half-brothers through Elisabeth! (See blue box path in the tree.)

Now I turned my attention to JLW’s wife, EBL, trying to find a Hedrick connection to explain her connection to LH’s descendants. Once more, it eluded me. Then I realized something odd: PW and MP matched LH’s descendants, but NOT LH himself!

Again, children can not inherit DNA the parent doesn’t have, so if they matched LH’s descendants but not LH, then the only answer was that they matched through LH’s wife, OB.

EBL’s mother was a Blankenship, and OB also had a Blankenship line. But try as I might, those two lines did not converge.

Which meant EBL and OB probably matched through EBL’s father. Trouble was, EBL was illegitimate, and her father seemed unknown. Then I found her marriage record, and saw she listed her father’s name as Lee Blankenship.

I tried to find Lee, and located him and his family. When I traced HIS Blankenship line, sure enough his line intersected with OB’s. EBL and OB were 3rd cousins. (See pink box path in tree.)

This explained their children and grandchildren’s matches.

So it turns out that the Hedrick connection was a phantom. It was just coincidence that all three sets of JLW, PW, and MP’s matches (my husband, VH’s descendants, and LH’s descendants) had Hedrick siblings in their lines.

The lesson is to always remain open to other answers, as the obvious one is not always correct. And remember to look at the ladies, even though they are often harder to trace–they might hold the key to your mystery.

Diving Deep–CoronaLife Day 971

I won my re-election bid for my local Board of Ed! In addition, I have been working on 2 projects this week that have been incredibly time consuming.

The first was revisiting some school policy based on sessions I had at the NJSBA conference. It is tedious work, and I am only halfway done.

I also got sucked into a genealogical mystery I have been trying to solve for ages. The process of unraveling it will be a blog post in itself, but I finally figured it out!

Add to all this that I spent about 5 hours in the ER with my daughter, who had hurt her ankle. Not the same ankle she broke last year. An x-ray showed no break this time, only a sprain. Whew!

So I have been diving deep a lot this week. I’ll be coming up for air soon.

I didn’t do NaNoWriMo this year, as I knew I would not have time. But good luck to all of you who are doing it!

November Nuttiness–CoronaLife Day 964

The last week of October was insane for me. I had a conference from Monday-Wednesday. I learned tons, but my brain was pretty well fried. I would get home each evening and basically collapse.

Then on Thursday and Friday I spent a total of 7 hours walking my neighborhood hanging my Board of Education campaign brochures on people’s doors. I ended up with 4 blisters and a cut toe, but hopefully I also got some votes!

Then both Saturday and Sunday were taken up with family events.

And of course Monday was Halloween. Trick or Treating with my kid and avoiding the rain.

As I expected, I have spent much of this week catching up on things I didn’t have time to do last week. It’s a similar feeling to when you go back to work after a vacation–you need another vacation after digging out from the under the pile that accumulated while you were gone!

The good news is that I finished the Vertas edit on October 23rd, as I had hoped to. I have much more to do, but the heavy lifting is finished. My plan was to finish the heavy-lift edit before the conference and let it sit for a week or two while I was busy.

That way, I will have fresh eyes when I return to it. I know I have some continuity things to review, as well as at least 3 more scenes to add.

After that (and any other tweaks I see needed) I will let it sit once more while I read a craft book my editor suggested. If it prompts any other edits, I will do them.

At that point, I may be ready to have my editor look at it again.

I’m pretty pleased with where I am. And although I am not doing NaNoWriMo, I do intend to make progress this month!

Any of you doing NaNo?

Closing in on the Finish–CoronaLife Day 950

I did get the writing time I had hoped for last week, and made good progress. I currently have 47 pages of the original manuscript left to get through.

This week was busy, with Board of Ed work as well as other volunteer work taking up much of my time. But I do hope to get at least one more writing session in before next week. Probably not enough to finish the revision, but close.

Next week, I have a conference Monday through Wednesday, so no writing those days.

My goal, however, is to have this revision done by the end of October. Then I can read through this version for continuity and tweaks.

What then? Then I will put it aside while I read a book on writing craft that my editor suggested because she felt it addresses the main problem I am having with the manuscript.

Once I have read that book and absorbed its wisdom, I will return to Veritas and apply any lessons learned as needed.

After another read through for polishing, I will likely be ready to have my editor look st it again.

A slow process, this, but this revision was a monster to tackle. I am willing to take the time to try and get it right–because I don’t want to have to do this level of revision again.

For me, I am happily coming to the end of my revision, as well as the end of another hectic October.

How is your autumn so far?

Mid-October Breather–CoronaLife Day 943

It is hard to believe the middle of October is only a few days away. October is often hectic for me, and the next two weeks will certainly be, with meetings, a 3-day conference, anniversaries, a birthday,  Halloween festivities and Halloween itself!

This week, however, has been relatively quiet. Got some Board of Ed work done. I finally got around to cleaning my work area, which always feels good. This forced me to organize some things and reminded me of some genealogical mysteries I wanted to pursue.

Now that I have things in relative order, I hope to get a good bit of writing done on Thursday. There are about 75 pages of my original manuscript left to revise.

This revision is not the end, but I am pleased with it overall. The last revision left me feeling down and upset, so the positive feeling I have with this revision is a nice change.

I don’t expect to have much time to write the last few weeks of October, so I’m eager to see what I can get through before October hits the accelerator!

Work aside, I am enjoying the beautiful fall weather after the tremendously hot summer we had.

I hope you are also enjoying the autumn!

Book Fair Fall 2022–CoronaLife Day 936

Last week was IN. SANE. I had meetings or activities every night, plus it was the always busy BOOK FAIR! This Fair was Lego-themed, as we are building better readers.

Book prices have been rising over the past few years, and we definitely saw far fewer books at $5 or less. Book fairs are already becoming events of priviledge, and if prices continue to rise, the divide between the haves and have nots will become starker.

Disadvantaged children are often the very children that struggle with reading, and who do not have books of their own at home to practice with. Many studies have shown that one of the main predictors of academic success is the number of books in the home.

In an effort to bridge the divide, our school is trying to establish a fund to ensure that kids in need walk out of the Fair with a book in their hands. We did well with it this year, and hope to extend its reach next Fair.


Our next Book Fair will be in 2023. As an example of why I love working with our kids, I had this gem of a conversation with a Kindergartener:

Me: You can use the rest of the money in your account at the next book fair.
K: We’re having another one?
Me: Yes, we are having one in February.
K (looking sad): But I don’t live in February.

I then explained it would be in the same library, but in winter. She was much happier!

I have spent much of this week recuperating from the long days last week, and catching up on a thousand things I had no time for.

I’m hoping to get back into the swing now, but Octobers are historically crazy for me, so we shall see how it goes!

I Barely Blinked… CoronaLife Day 922

How is it blog time already? I feel like I just wrote the last one yesterday!

That “clear week” I thought I had to write last week? I have no idea where it went.

I got no writing done.

My Board of Ed duties and medical stuff ate up many more hours than I expected, which left me too frazzled and scattered to focus on my writing.

I am approaching some of the more difficult edits in Veritas, so I need some solid quiet time to be able to think these things through on the page.

And, no, I was not avoiding the edits through creative procrastination (this time).

I am actually eager to tackle these edits, as I am confident I can improve the story as I barrel toward the end. I am about 85 pages from the end, so I can feel it!

Once I finish these edits, I have farther to go. I will have to re-read it again for continuity. I also have other, smaller threads I want to weave in.

Then I have an entire craft book to read, to see if I can (or have) incorporated the ideas in that book, as suggested by my editor.

Will I get to this in the coming week?

No. No, I will not.



My favorite event, creating and encouraging readers.

Veritas will wait one more week.

Settling In–CoronaLife Day 915

Whew! Back to School Night was Tuesday, and it left me drained. Having to give 2 speeches will do that to me. An introvert writer who hates public speaking?! Who would have guessed?! Plus just being there for 5 hours was a lot.

So today I didn’t do much. Just necessities, like getting my kid off to school, ordering groceries, and saving an unaccompanied toddler from running into the road. (She had Houdini-ed her way out of her house.)

However, my overall progress on Veritas has been good. I am past the halfway point, so I can see the end.

Some of the remaining scenes will be among the hardest to fix, but I feel that the thought and fixes I have put into the scenes leading up to now will help guide me correctly through them.

I hope to get back into it today, and continue to chip away. I will have a pretty clear week ahead to make headway.

Then the Book Fair will be upon us and that week will see little writing. But that’s okay, because it will be full of kids with books!

Now that we are settling into school, I hope to settle into a writing rhythm where I can get something done every day.

I usually set my goal to a chapter a day. For me, that’s about a thousand words. When I am revising, I very often can get more than that done, but by setting realistic, achievable goals I feel better about my progress.

How about you? Are you settling in to Fall?

The Writing Ghost–CoronaLife Day 908

I always wrote, but it wasn’t until I met Donna H. in freshman year of high school that I really dove in deep.

Donna was also a writer, and nothing can crank up the phone bills like two 14-year-old writers in the age before email. We were the reason both of our parents invested in call waiting.

Our writing process evolved organically. It was a constant churn of ideas, writing, editing, more ideas, more writing, more editing, until finally we had completed something we were happy with.

In this manner, we churned out 11 novels in 18 years. Some of them were even good.

They were all fan fiction, but we learned a great deal by writing them. And all the while, our intertwined writing process became as necessary, and as unconcious, as breathing.

Then Donna died.

Her death was hard in so many ways, but one of the hardest was learning to write without her. It was like I had lost one lung. Breathing was neither easy nor unconscious anymore.

But life goes on, and a writer must write. I pushed on, pushed through. And I have published three books and two short stories without her.

This week, though, the ghost of our writing process ran me over. I had an idea that really excited me, so much so that I typed it all out first thing in the morning, after it stewing in my mind during a largely sleepless night.

I wanted to share it with Donna. And I couldn’t.

I have writing buddies, people I am comfortable sharing my works-in-progress with. People whose opinions and critiques and friendships I value. But I have never found another “idea” person. Someone I can rush to in all my enthusiasm and have them listen, join in my enthusiasm, and then tell me if there was anything to the idea, or if I had jumped the shark. Because as excited as Donna would be, she would never hesitate to tell me if I’d gone off the rails in some way.

And then she’d help me figure out how to keep the core of the idea, the piece that had gotten me so excited in the first place, and make it work.

I no longer have THAT PERSON, and I felt the loss keenly. I don’t think it’s something you can make happen. It happens organically, somehow you just click.

I thought I had figured out how to write alone.

Looks like I’m still learning.

The Whirlwind Begins–CoronaLife Day 901

By the time you read this, it will be September 1st. It’s pretty amazing how quickly August flew by. August 1st still felt like September was so far off, but here we are!

Monday our PTA hosted a Meet-n-Greet for our Pre-K through 1st grades to meet their teachers, do some crafts, and feel a little more at ease coming to school. We had a great turn out, even if it was predictably crazy. I roped my daughter into helping, as well, which she did even though she is “scared of the 3-year-olds.”

This week we also had our first Board of Education meeting of the school year. It was long, because we had a lot to cover. We don’t have a July meeting, which means several months of topics to review and discuss. It was productive, and it felt good to get back into it.

September 1st is the first day the teachers are back. So I have to get up early (for me) and be at the school to give a speech (oh, joy) to the teachers. Then I’m back at lunch time to help the PTA with their Welcome Back Teachers Luncheon. We love our teachers, gotta keep them fed while they work so hard for our kids!

Add in my daughter having activities a couple of the evenings, and it has been quite a busy week!

It is but a taste of things to come. As school hits fully next week, there will also be homework and eventually extra-curricular clubs.

But I will have a quiet house during the day, so I hope to find a writing rhythm where I can work at least a little every day.

Does September bring a wholesale change in your schedule, or doesn’t impact you at all?

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