Saturday, June 09, 2007

New Book Published


People are always asking me to write a book. For the last year my parents have collaborated with me to write a book about their years in the wilderness of Alaska in the 1950's.


How did two very young people, at the ages of 19 and 23 manage to go where no man had gone before, to create a home far away from town and from their own kin?
This book explains how they first "tramped out" the land and filed a claim, and then began to build a house, using the resources of the land. "I peeled the logs and Joe put notches at the ends so that we could build the "big house," said my mother. "We didn't know what we were doing, but I was 19 and didn't know any better! We were both from pioneer stock and we were game for anything!"


During the years they homesteaded, they also had 7 children, of whom they carefully guarded, both physically and spiritually. There were many hazards of the area, including wild animals that wandered near us, and swamps and lakes that we could easily have fallen into. Yet, this story is about happiness. Be prepared for your face to ache with smiling about the dog that helped Mama get dinner, and the sticklebacks in our drinking water.


Although this is not a book about homemaking or anti-feminism, there is an underlying message not spoken here: it is about a real family doing real things, and trusting in God. It is about two people who protected each other and lived their roles and responsibilities, taking care of 7 children in the process.


For many years my mind dwelt on this story of the past, but I did not think it worth writing about because hundreds of families at that time lived the same way! It was ordinary to us! Every son or daughter of an Alaskan settler in the 1940's and 1950's, will recognize some of these stories and think, "Hey, we did that too!" or "That is exactly what happened to us!" As the culture today draws us further away from the old ways, I began to see the necessity of writing this all down.


I had consistent dreams about the homestead. I was walking down the home-road and going inside the "big house" (the log house we lived in after the cabin days), and walking up the stairs, looking out the window. I saw the fish jumping from the lake with their silver bellies glistening in the evening sun. I looked out the 7 picture windows that Daddy was so proud of. I heard the dinner bell ringing and the sounds of the children chattering as they ran along the home road to a feast of salmon and potatoes.


One day the dreams began to bother me. I wondered why, after so many years, my mind persisted in dredging up the old life that I could never go back to. I got out some pictures and began to look at them. If the dreams had made the homestead seem real, the pictures made it seem like it was just happening! They were vivid. They were alive. They were bright, even after more than 50 years.


I sat down and wrote a long letter to my parents telling them how beautiful my mother was and how handsome my father was and how happy I was that they had the courage to go to the wilderness and give us this unique life. I wrote almost 20 pages about every memory that I had while sitting there---from the lake with the "thousand sparkling diamonds," to mother's picnic basket which turned ordinary food into a gourmet feast by the time we got to the picnic clearing on our land.


I sent the letter and felt so much better because I don't know if any of us ever really thought to thank them and show appreciation for all that they did--building a house, providing warmth for us by taking turns getting up in the night to stoke the fire, and feeding us with the huge cabbages and potatoes from the garden.


Besides all this, I had never told her the impact of all the life's lessons they taught, from doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, to occupying yourself in a useful way during winter months when most people got cabin fever, had influenced my own decision to homeschool my children. I could not go back to the homestead, but I could embrace the same spirit of adventure and the "can-do" spirit that they had, whether I lived in an apartment or a suburban home.


I remembered her hot bread which we spread jam on from our berry picking days. I could just taste the wonderful, moist cake in one of the photographs. I could hear her talking to Daddy early in the morning while we children still laid in bed. I could hear the dog barking at a bear that was coming near the house and heading toward the goat shed. I felt it all as though it just happened! I marvelled at a generation that went where there was nothing, to create something, even if it was just a memory.


After sending the letter, my mother phoned me and said, "You simply MUST write a book." That was such an encouragement, and I'm happy to say that this book has added to more years to their life and more life to their years. It is a book that is good for everyone. It brings love and peace and laughter into your life, which is what we NEED more that anything today!! She said, "You made me feel like I was back home again, having all that adventure in the wilderness."


This book is one you won't be sorry to have in your family library. Already some people have purchased it just to read to their elderly parents who are shut-ins. The story is partially written by my mother and father, Joe and Lillian, and it truly draws the reader in to experience the wonder of it all.
There is only one review posted about this book, which I will share here.

"In Just Breathing the Air, Lydia Sherman has given the reader a glimpse of an incredible childhood few even in her generation could imagine and few in an older generation would have had the courage to provide. In doing so, she subtly paints a beautiful portrait of her remarkable parents. The book would be a delightful read for old and young alike, but especially for young people growing up in this age of electronic everything,fast food and loosely-connected families. " Jean M. Byars


This is a soft-cover, larger book that would look good on anyone's coffee table! It is an 8 inch by 8 inch glossy covered book with a wonderful photograph. Every other page has a photograph. I've clicked "this book is for everyone," but naturally I assume that wise parents will want to read it first before handing it over to younger children.


You can preview the pages here: http://www.lulu.com/content/478809 Click on the icon that reads "preview this book," and you can see a few pages from the inside. You have to click the large arrow on the right to turn the pages.


We are working on a black and white edition that will reduce the price considerably, but I personally would not want a black and white copy of this book. The color of the photographs were part of our story. There is also a download available and a lower price, but nothing beats holding that beautiful book in your hands and touching the high-quality type of paper that it is printed on. Also, the print is size 14 type, which is easier on the eyes for both young and old.


This book is in the History category, but there are many other categories that apply: home, family, nature, and spiritual growth.


Please click on the back cover in this article, to see if you can get a larger view and read what is written there. It was written by my son in law.


"Just Breathing the Air" can also be accessed by clicking "Books We Like" on the links section on the left.


The cover picture shows me at age 8 with my first catch, a rainbow trout. I still think of it as one of the happiest days of my childhood. I personally did not want it on the cover, but my son in law, who did the editing for the book, thought it expressed the happiness that envelopes the entire book. I wanted the picture of the lake shown on this page (the lake with the thousand sparkling diamonds), showing my father rowing his daughters across the lake, which was just downhill from the big house, and which we looked at daily from our windows. I joke and say that we fought over the cover like Michael the Archangel fought over the body of Moses! It was a struggle for me to give up the lake picture as a cover. When my parents got the book my Dad immediately told me that the cover picture was just perfect, and was his favorite picture. So you see, dear ladies, it is good for the old to cooperate with the young when you are all headed in the same direction. They have a lot of good insight in many things!

25 comments:

Julie Fink said...

I'm looking forward to reading your book. I am going to Alaska in July and I can hardly wait!

LLS said...

The price may increase later on, so be sure to get it if you can, from www.lulu.com. Unfortunately, if you get it through a book store it will be much higher priced!

Anna S said...

It sounds like you had a beautiful and special childhood! I think that if more children had even a bit of that - and as you said, you don't actually have to live in Alaska to make it happen - our society would be so much better off.

Lydia said...

We are having some problems on the lulu site right now so you might see "not available" when you try to find the book. It should be fixed soon.

Lydia said...

It is all fixed now so you can order books when you like.

Yes, it wasn't so much the place we lived as the people and their character that made it unique.

Lydia said...

The site is fixed.

Yes it wasn't so much the location as it was the character of the people that made it a unique story.

Linda said...

Congratulations! You and your parents must be tremendously excited and your book will be an inpiration for generations of your family. I look forward to reading it.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful book! It will be a treasure to read.

Trixie

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I was easily addicted to angling. I think if I ever get the homestead back I will turn it into an artists and angler's paradise.

Mrs. Brigham said...

Your parent's story sound fascinating! My husband and I will have to check out this book. What a blessing that you are able to share such a special story with us all :o)

Mrs Pea said...

Oh Lydia, it sounds just wonderful. Truly what a special childhood you had. Thank you for sharing it with us. Love from Lucy P in England.

Anna said...

Ever since you mentioned you were writing this book I have been anxiously waiting for it to be published....so glad that day is here. Your mention of sharing or reading it to our older friends and relatives is a good idea. It may make them relate stories of their youth we have never heard of too! Sometimes my relatives do not relate their lives with us. We have noted that when we share a Reminisce magazine or such with them they get to talking. It helps them to laugh and smile at the many good times of their life and we get the joy of learning about them and the past. This book will be well worth having in any famiies library. Thankyou.

Wendy WaterBirde said...

Wow, this sounds just like what happened to Laura Ingalls Wilder...her "ordinary" memories of home kept calling her till she just had to write her amazing books. And look what a legacy that left : )

I think tangibly sharing our actual memories like this can be such a wonderful thing, and it also takes real care to do. Congratualtions on your book : )

Paix,

Wendy

Anonymous said...

Wow, why on earth is the book so expensive? I can't recall any paperback I've ever heard of costing over $30.00. I wouldn't pay that amount for any hardback book, much less paperback.
It sounds like a good story too.
:(

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

It isn't really a "paperback." It is a glossy cover without a jacket,and not a sewn cover...there are many books like it. It is full of color photographs and it always costs more for color. It is not at all in the class of "paper backs"...it is like some of the books at Vision Forum in its class and style. It costs me $28.00 just to print it (for the paper and the fee fromt he publisher) so you aren't paying much over my own costs. If I lowered the price I'd be paying you to buy it. Money is no object when it comes to something worthwhile...and I've seen people go to movies and ball games pay much more and come away with nothing worthwhile for their library. Also we are paying two brilliant authors, my parents, for living the life that is written about.They were so brave. Can you imagine a 19 year old girl and a 23 year old man doing that today? It would be rare. They mostly want to be comfortable and play video games and shop...

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I also chose high quality paper and a larger print size for greater comfort in reading the book. All this added up the cost of production. It is almost 3 times larger all around than a "paper back." I mentioned "paperback" because that is the description on the site where it is sold. I said,"DOn't let the word "paperback" FOOL you," because it isn't technically a paper back. It has a glossy cover that is attached with a book glue, and not stitched. and the cover is soft. It should have been labelled "soft cover" rather than paper back. It is a book of qualilty.

Anonymous said...

it's beautiful.
I love the picture on the front cover, it brings tears of rememberance to my eyes.

Mrs Nehemiah

Anonymous said...

Who ever complained about the price of the book ,hasn't priced books in the book stores recently!

Sherry said...

Such a labor of love! It looks wonderful. I think my parents, who really want to travel to Alaska, would greatly enjoy the book as well.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Someone has asked why I did not want the fish picture on the cover. I had a big gap between my two front teeth, for many years and always felt very silly when I smiled. The gap finally went away when I was in my late 20's! However I think my kids liked this picture because of the fish!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

As soon as anyone reads this book, I'd appreciate you posting your impressions on this thread. I plan to collect them and mail them to my parents.

bjcindy said...

I tried to order the book from lulu, but they responded and said they could not print it. Something to do with a source file or something. And would be refunding my money. Is there somewhere else I can get it?

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Cindy, the same thing happened to me. I found out it was a time when they were adjusting some things that we had sent for the book, and had temporarily taken it down. Please try again!! It should work now.

Lydia

Anonymous said...

How do I get the book in Australia? Jacqui Taylor: taylorerjac@hotmail.com

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I just sent you an email. Sorry, I spelled your name wrong. We are working on trying to get it published to order in Australia. Hopefully it will occur soon. In the meantime, lulu.com will send it, maybe book rate so it won't up the cost too much.