Sending Out a Finished Manuscript, by Beverley Bittner [guest post]

From the Help Desk of Beverley Bittner.

PJ has been working a long time on a mystery novel. She is finishing it and wants to know if she should send the whole thing to a publisher.

First, congratulations on actually finishing your story, PJ. That’s the first big step of writing. Marketing is the second (and some say the hardest) part. Here are some ideas that may help you:

Study the markets. You probably read a lot of the kind of story you have written. Make a list of the publishers of some of your favorites. Most are in the annual book, Writer’s Market, available at your public library.

Follow the publisher’s instructions. Many publishers will ask for a cover letter and two or three chapters. If you don’t understand what they want, ask. Always send return postage with any mailing.

Don’t think it will be easy. Expect rejections. John Grisham, in an interview in The Christian Communicator, Sept. 1999, said, “When (my) first novel was finished, the response was one rejection slip after another.” Finally he found an editor willing to take a chance on him. 5,000 copies of “A Time to Kill” were printed. Grisham bought 1,000 of them himself and sold them out of the trunk of his old blue Volvo. His second novel “The Firm” captured the attention of Doubleday and the rest is history. By the way, those first edition copies of “A Time to Kill” are now worth about $4,000 each.

We welcome everyone of like interests to be part of our world of reading, writing, and lifelong learning. E-mail us your questions, comments, or ideas.

—Beverley Bittner
Copyright © 2000


About Beverley

bevBeverley Bittner (1930–2006) was born in Dunkirk, NY, a daughter of Paul and Doris Blakeslee. She was raised and educated in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania where she graduated from Spartansburg High School in 1948. She moved to Corry, Pennsylvania in 1960, and resided there until 1979 when she moved to Cleveland, Ohio, for several years. She was the Associate Editor for the Union Gospel Press in Cleveland, and was a free-lance writer for various religious publications. She had a special interest in history, wrote about veterans of World War II, and wrote and published a series of five novels about the history of western Pennsylvania and the origins of the local oil industry. She founded the Writer’s Block in 1999 after moving back to Corry and served as a mentor to other writers until her death in 2006.

Power That Counts, by Pauline Vaow [guest post]

In our rural area, it is not unusual for the electric power to go out during a thunder and lightning storm. Sometimes the lights will be out for hours and when they come back on, they may still be dim for a while.

Our Lord Jesus tells us to let our lights shine brightly out in the open. He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:15).

A dim light from under a bushel is not good enough. Just as a candle lights up a dark room and a flashlight shines upon a path at night, so our light of faith must shine in our little corner of the world. It will brighten our surroundings and give us and others cheer.

If we put a lighted candle under a container where it will not get oxygen, the flame will go out. When the electric power goes out, we put our candle on top of the table in a holder so it will shine brightly. So our love for Jesus should shine forth for all to see.

Copyright © 2000, Pauline Vaow


About Pauline

If the Writer’s Block had had an official membership list when it started, Pauline Vaow would have been first on it.

Born Pauline Fenton, she is a Corry native and Corry Area High School graduate of 1968. She married Robert Vaow on June 14, 1975. She has the distinction of still living in the house where she grew up.

Pauline also grew up in the Salvation Army. She has attended church there most all her life. You can find her somewhere in the building almost every day, helping out in the soup kitchen, the clothing room, dusting the sanctuary, teaching Sunday school, or even preaching the sermon when the officers in charge are away.

She tells this story, “One day I was cleaning in the sanctuary and I said to myself, ‘Why am I doing this? No one will even notice.’ It seemed to me the Lord said, ‘I will notice. I have chosen you for this work.’ It showed me that all work is important when it is done for God.”

Pauline enjoys Bible study, crocheting, and writing stories about animals, especially dogs. She wants to learn to illustrate her stories herself.

Mittens Writes a Letter, by Lorraine Dahl [guest post]

KENNY!

WHERE are you? All of a sudden your ex-girlfriend shows up and me and all my belongings are HISTORY from our house. I’m scared Where are you? I miss you!

She took me to her daughter’s house in Columbus. I hate it in Columbus! They have a mean cat that chewed off a piece of my right ear when I was a kitten, remember? I don’t know WHY I have no brow over my right eye. Do you? I am so beautiful, why would anyone want to harm me? My grey coat and the white mittens on my front feet (hence the name Mittens) and the white knee socks on my back legs are so unique. I only want to love and purr and be stroked. (Hey, isn’t that what a cat’s life is all about?)

It was HORRIBLE in Columbus. I usually hid behind the warm dryer in the basement. I’m lucky they put the essentials down there. Then two NEW LADIES came to get me. Linda (the daughter) and Lorraine (the Mom) put all my stuff in their truck. I sure was hiding! They found me and tried to stuff me into the plastic box they brought. They got me in there once and (ha! hat) I escaped! But they caught me again.

WHAT was to become of me? WHO were these women? WHERE were they taking me? I was so frightened all I could do was mew like when I was a kitten. I made myself as small as possible. We arrived at their house and they made two trips in. They didn’t like making the trips in the rain as Linda’s natural curly hair frizzes in the wet and Lorraine’s goes straight, but they got the job done and took me in at last! And WHERE were you? Not there. I was so frightened. I was afraid that I was going to be killed! Is this the last trip to the Vet that many animals talk about? If so, I was going to MY death with as much dignity as I could possible manage. I stopped making noise and curled into a tiny ball.

WHAT a surprise! In this small room (they call it a cedar closet) was my food and water dish all filled and my hooded box with fresh litter. My scratching box was in the laundry room (they need to get catnip). Then they took me into MY VERY OWN ROOM! (They call it a library.)

On the single bed they had made me a nest of blankets. It is SO cozy! They had salmon for dinner and brought me some bones and juice and skin. It was wonderful! It was 50000 good I ate real fast and most of it ended up on the carpet in MY room but it was OK. Linda cleaned it up and never even yelled at me.

They finally told me that you were in JAIL and I could stay with them until you got out. They called me their “loaner cat.” It sure could be worse. I could still be in Columbus.

I will wait for you and write to you. I miss you!

Your beloved cat,

Mittens

Copyright © 1999, Lorraine Dahl


About Lorraine

Lorraine Dahl is a charter member of Writer’s Block, and an enthusiastic booster of the club.

Affectionately known as “Grandma Fred” to her many friends, Lorraine is the writer of the popular “Mittens Writes a Letter” stories on our website.

Lorraine acquired her nickname at her workplace. She was one of the first women to take on a “man’s job” in the shop at Associated Springs in Corry. Lorraine earned the respect of her male co-workers and stayed at the job for many years.

For several years, as a United Auto Workers representative, she wrote a monthly column for the shop newsletter, the Springboard. Now retired from the shop, she still participates in union and shop retirees’ activities.

Never idle, Lorraine enjoys crafts and has many ribbons from fairs for her work. Like many writers, she is a voracious reader. Some favorite authors are Dean Koontz, Robin Cook and John Jakes.

Area History, Chapter 10, by Beverley Bittner [guest post]

The Corry Building That Wouldn’t Stay Put.

By Beverley Bittner.

It was built by William Brightman in Wayne Township before the Civil War. Brightman’s father was a Methodist preacher and the 32 by 45 foot building was to be a Methodist church. It was located about one mile northwest of Corry beyond Macadam Hill at a fork in the road, one road leading to Carter Hill and the other to Wheelock – on the south side of the fork. It was built of hand-hewn red beech. An old account says, “The whole surrounding neighborhood, regardless of their spiritual condition, whether saved or not, turned out to help” with the building project.

Before it was finished, the church was used as a recruitment post for the Union Army. An eyewitness reported later that so many young men enlisted that the front cross sill gave way and dropped about five feet to the ground below “carrying with it a company of astonished men and screaming women.” (Corry Evening Journal, August 29, 1917)

The great 10 by 14 foot timber was spliced. Many years later, Rev. John Hatch, who was born and raised in Corry, and pastored here from 1914 to 1919, removed the splice and erected an iron pillar under the “long, splintering break,” as he described it. He remarked that the building was so strongly constructed that ‘‘the builders said it could be rolled end over end without damage except to the plaster.”

The First Move

About 1875 the Methodists decided to move the church to North Corry. Special preparations had to be made for the descent down Macadam Hill. With horses and oxen placed behind the building to create a slow descent, the church made it safely to its new location on East Columbus Avenue, across from Pine Grove Cemetery. For the next forty years it was part of the Methodist circuit at that location.

In 1914 the Corry Christian & Missionary Alliance church, which had been meeting in homes and rented store fronts, purchased the lot at the corner of East Washington and Maple Avenue. The Methodists were willing to sell the building. The optimistic CMA group bought it for $1,000 and prepared to move it for the second time.

The Second Move

Rev. Hatch said, “We hired mover Del McEntarfer of Union City to undertake the job.” The move took three weeks, being completed on November 2, 1914 at the cost of$335. “We had fine cooperation from the men of the church,” Rev. Hatch said. “Fred Shrader, Will Rhodes, Bro Harrison, among others.

“We called upon the contractor to see to it that under no circumstances was cursing and swearing to be permitted,” he added. “The building was so much heavier than the mover anticipated that when it was loaded and the horse started the building didn’t move; instead it just straightened out the pulley hook of the great iron block he was using. However, he got a much heavier pulley and hook and with this performed the job.”

“The Fair Association gave us permission to cut forty feet off their shed stables and move them out of the way so we could come across lots and on to their racing track (now Snyder Circle) and up the track to the south end of their premises and down on to Elk Street. Then we came east on Elk to Wayne, down Wayne to Washington and up to the present site.”

Thirty-six electric, telephone and telegraph poles had to be underdug and tilted at an angle to allow the building to pass. Because of the width of the building the workers had to travel in the ditches along the road all the way to Washington Street. On East Washington six huge poles of the Postal Telegraph Company had to be underdug, jackscrewed between the pavement and curb. The poles were 90-feet tall and embedded five feet into the ground. They were tipped at an angle to permit passage of the building.

Because of fire regulations, Rev. Hatch recalled, it was necessary to cover the wooden structure with brick veneer. “It was so cold the bricks had to be heated and salt put in the mortar to prevent freezing.”

A Corry Evening Journal article on August 29, 1917 said, “It is still in splendid condition and not one stick of the original structure had to be replaced when the building was placed upon its present foundation.”

If you happen to drive past the corner of East Washington Street and Maple Avenue, take note of the brick building and give her a salute. From Army recruiting station to church to business offices, the venerable old building has earned our respect.


About Beverley:

bevBeverley Bittner (1930–2006) was born in Dunkirk, NY, a daughter of Paul and Doris Blakeslee. She was raised and educated in Spartansburg, Pennsylvania where she graduated from Spartansburg High School in 1948. She moved to Corry, Pennsylvania in 1960, and resided there until 1979 when she moved to Cleveland, Ohio, for several years. She was the Associate Editor for the Union Gospel Press in Cleveland, and was a free-lance writer for various religious publications. She had a special interest in history, wrote about veterans of World War II, and wrote and published a series of five novels about the history of western Pennsylvania and the origins of the local oil industry. She founded the Writer’s Block in 1999 after moving back to Corry and served as a mentor to other writers until her death in 2006.