Yesterday I finished the line-edits for my novel, The Edge of Nowhere.  Phew!  I can’t tell you what a relief that was to finally send that document back to the editor!  This process is seriously moving along!

Of all the edits I’ve done up to this point, this one was the most fun, as well as the most heartbreaking.  Why?  It was fun because I was aided in my journey by a new friend from El Reno.  Her mother is widely accepted as the “expert on all things historical in El Reno,” and so Lea (my new friend) helped me to get last-minute answers from her very busy mother regarding El Reno landmarks.  I just can’t thank her and her mother enough.  The changes I  made to clarify specific landmarks have left me enormously pleased with the finished novel and I can’t wait for people to read it!

So why was it heartbreaking?  I guess because — while I knew I was homesick — I didn’t realize the level of homesick I was.  While I enjoy Minnesota I miss Oklahoma and, specifically, El Reno.  It’s the town that built me.

I was home in June, but it just wasn’t “enough.”  As I was working with Lea on the El Reno landmarks, my heart began to ache.  All of those places I’d taken for granted so many years before are now almost painful to remember.

      • My Aunt Gerry’s house on South Ellison, across from the Methodist Church.  I wonder who lives there now.
      • Going to Ellen Delana’s grandmother’s beautiful home to perform with the vocal music class — though it may be larger and more epic in my memory, at the time it seemed like a mansion.
    • Dragging Sunset on a Friday or Saturday night — I’m told the kids don’t do that anymore.
    • The Goff House — I remember how beautiful it was, even before it was restored.  I always wanted to live there.

      “Goff House” by MisterBadmoon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –
    • The old El Reno Hotel — I remember when they moved it from its original location near downtown to its current location (near the history center?).  If memory serves, I think it was originally owned and run by Mrs. Catherine Lemon’s mother.  I can still see Mrs. Lemon in my mind — surely in her 90s and stooped with age.  She was so proud when they moved that building and declared it an historic site!

      “El Reno Hotel” by Crimsonedge34 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –
    • The old Rock Island Railroad — before it went defunct, I remember my middle brother working for them.  They’d call the house when they needed him to work, so we always had to keep the phone lines open.  OH THE FIGHTS over my pre-teen need to use the phone while he was waiting for a phone call that would send him to work. 
Old Rock Island Train, circa 1880
Old Rock Island Train, circa 1880
    • The Carnegie Library — Oh how I miss that building!  Not only is it beautiful and historic, but I spent many long hours there and have fond memories.  Remember Mrs. Diane Costin?  She saved my butt my freshman summer of college when I waited until the 11th hour to complete a huge research paper.  I told her what I was looking for, she showed me where the information was, and then continued to pile reference material on the table I was working throughout that long day.  That woman was a saint, and I made an A on that research paper!

      “Carnegie Library El Reno Oklahoma” by MisterBadmoon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –
  • El Reno High School — even today I find the building to be the most beautiful of any high school I’ve ever seen.

    “ElRenoHighSchool” by MisterBadmoon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

So many memories, and they all leave a huge hole in my heart.

Working with Lea, all of these landmarks came flashing back.  And then I thought about the people — I’d almost forgotten how wonderful the people can be.  I put a simple shout-out on an El Reno-based message board on Facebook and, within minutes, I had dozens of responses and a half dozen new friend requests.  It was awesome!  El Reno people seldom see a stranger, and a person in need quickly goes from acquaintance to friend.  Just one more reason I’m once again thrilled with my decision to base my novel in my hometown.  El Reno residents represent the best of Oklahoma.

I’m excited about the release of my novel, and I hope I’ve done justice to the people and places in El Reno.  I’ve been gone for nearly thirty years, but I think I’d go back tomorrow if given the chance.

So what’s next on the book front?  In the next few days, my publisher — Penner Publishing — should be revealing the final cover.  I can only tell you that it’s absolutely beautiful and I’m so happy with it!  After that, I expect it should go on pre-order fairly soon through major booksellers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.  If you’d like to be kept completely in the loop, sign up for my newsletter by following THIS LINK.  Subscribers to my newsletter will not only receive the information FIRST, but will also have first dibs on information about contests, release parties, book signings, etc. You can also follow my author page on Facebook by using THIS LINK.

January 19th is right around the corner!
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Embedded Music:  The House That Built Me
Copyright by Miranda Lambert from her 2009 album, Revolution.
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