I have just gotten another manuscript ready to go to my poor editor. Well, Maudy is ready to send off except I don’t have a name for the book.
Now, this is the twenty-first century I have several modern options for naming my book. I tried Googling “what to name my book about Maude.” I learned that the name, Maude, means Battle Maid, which is very appropriate for a United Methodist Pastor. I’ve considered doing more research, writing a list of significant events in the story and incorporating something from that. I could poll marketing people or look for the names of best selling books in the romance genre. Alternatively, I could do the same thing I’ve been doing to solve my problems for most of my life. I can ask my friends, “What do you think would be a good name for my book?”
Maude is a widow in her early to mid forties. Her daughter has finished college and her son is a junior. Maude’s husband died of a brain injury ten years before the story opens. His injury caused him to hallucinate so that just before he died, he tried, almost successfully, to kill Maude. Part of her problem is the trauma this event has left on her family. The other part of her problem is that she must learn to find the pieces of her life that went missing while she was hospitalized.
This story begins shortly after Maude has been assigned as the pastor to a church in the small town of Blackfish on the Kitsap peninsula. On a Monday, she runs away to the city for a day where she trips and falls onto Ralph’s chest. From this moment we know she is destined to spend the rest of her life with Ralph.
While Maudy and Ralph are figuring out their relationship, she is kept busy and entertained by her congregation, her family and her cat, John Wesley. When a boy at the high school attacks a girl in the hall causing the girl to suffer brain damage similar to Maudy’s experience, Maude makes certain the family will not be offended by the presence of clergy then plunges into their crisis, using all the wisdom and memories of her own injury, to love and support this family in crisis. She explains her involvement by telling Ralph, “I realize that by helping these strangers--making certain they have meals delivered and sharing what I know--I am helping myself. I am rewriting my own history, only with more love.”
Maude’s congregation consists of twenty-three people. The youngest is only seventy-nine. She is certain the conference is planning on closing this church soon. Her struggles include her own internal battle as to whether to fight for the church to grow or let it dwindle and die along with its elderly congregation.
Part of Maude’s charm is that she has vivid dreams that usually include things she can’t have, like fresh groceries or cute shoes that are too charming to ever find in a store. Ralph figures prominently in her frustrated dreams, not always in a frustrating manner.
She is a bit of a rebel. When we first meet her, she takes conscious pleasure in the feel of Ralph’s shoulder under her hand. We see her giggling in the hardware store with the town’s scarlet woman about the best place for disposing of dead bodies. Ralph occasionally exclaims in frustration, “You don’t look like a preacher and you don’t fit any of my stereotypes about them either!”
Maudy’s Porsche is my favorite of her little anti-social rebellions. To put the matter delicately, her car has had energy-source realignment surgery. She found a mechanic to rip the gas engine out of a Porsche body and install batteries and an electric motor. She plugs the thing into an outlet at night and giggles when men give her silent car funny looks.
The story is a delightful mix of contemporary social commentary, romance, wisdom and voyeuristic fun. Alas, it does not have a title. Do you have any suggestions?
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