Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Morning Antlers, 

 Below you'll read the prologue for the book I am writing now about how a horse forced me to grow up, be better, and heal broken things. It doesn't have a publisher and no one my agent has spoken to is interested in it. I am writing it anyway. I want to share this story for all the other women who apologize too much and expect too little, especially from themselves.


Trolleys were supposed to drive down the streets of my hometown. Actual, god damned, trolleys. Palmerton was a company town for New Jersey Zinc and a crackerjack team of civil engineers had high hopes for it back in the early part of the 20th century. Blueprints for public bath houses, lavish parks, and gravity fed water (just like New York City!) were sketched and stamped. And the crown jewel of this little mountain town; public transportation in the form of trolleys parading down the streets on wires just like San Francisco. So the streets were planned twice as wide as any reasonable city planner would dare. Trees were planted along the sidewalks and an upgrade to "Avenue" was printed on the street signs. The avenues were named after universities the engineers respected, adding a level of chin-raised pride to the whole shebang. That was the spender I grew up on. The 300th block of Columbia Avenue in Palmerton, Pennsylvania. A tiny city of a couple thousand people that mostly mined zinc and whose forefather’s dreamed of trolleys. A suitable place for reckless idealists.

The trolleys never did arrive, nor did the public bath house but the gravity fed water is still going strong and the central park is nothing to sneeze at. Not as flashy as the other goals but appreciated during power outages and summer picnics. The avenues were built extra wide, and three cars could drive abreast down them with vehicles parked on each side, trolley-prepped. As a girl I would ride down those tree-lined streets on the back of my bike as fast as possible. I felt invincible. Traffic was rare and in the fall the Beeches would turn a brilliant gold and seemed large as the red woods on television. The street turned saffron from their fading leaves after a rain storm and that visual post card sticks with me fresh.

God, I loved that pink and purple bike, whose brand and origin I can’t remember but I do remember it fitting me perfectly. Mounting up on it felt like putting on a favorite jacket. It had streamers and a basket and I felt like with a little planning I could load it up for the entire day and take it anywhere. I could pack up a bologna sandwich and a Ssips juice box and just hit the wind.

It was the early nineties and I had the kind of free-range childhood that allowed a ten-year-old to jet-set. I road to the end of town and back. I rode in parks and abandoned, wooded lots. I rode past barking dogs and dodged fat gray squirrels eating beech nuts in the street. I rode past the bully at the second-to-last house that once ran out of his yard and shoved a stick in my spokes and I hurled over the handlebars and onto the pavement. That bike knew sweat and blood and made beech-fattened squirrels tremble in our wake. I felt strong before I knew what to do with strength.

I still remember parking it on my parents’ wrap-around porch and telling it, no, promising it, that I would write about it someday. There on the slate-blue paint leaning against a white railing I promised a bike from Kmart that I would write a book about her. So that’s what I’m going to do. Kind of.

Let’s hit the wind.


Blogger Jennifer Paul said...

What about Birchthorn? You know, the book you promised to have in our hands many months ago, and that you received over $15,000 for from Kickstarter donors? You working on that at all, or did you take the money and run?

March 15, 2016 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Paul said...

What about Birchthorn? You know, the book you promised to have in our hands many months ago, and that you received over $15,000 for from Kickstarter donors? You working on that at all, or did you take the money and run?

March 15, 2016 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Moonwaves said...

Have you heard of Unbound already (unbound.co.uk) - assume your agent probably does know about it but thought I'd mention it just in case. Might be another avenue to try. :)

March 15, 2016 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Chelsea Tarver said...

so much depends upon
a pink and purple bicycle
graced with a basket
beside the white railings

Lol the line reminded me so much, I couldn't stop myself! Not a bad thing, at all :) unless you aren't a fan of William Carlos Williams haha then it might be horrifying, in which case... SAVED YOUR LIFE.

March 15, 2016 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Robin Follette said...

Maybe self-publish? You've got books on the market, you know how this works, and you have a big following.

March 15, 2016 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Jennifer: Birchthorn has been written and is being edited by a professional now in New Jersey. She began earlier this month. The process of writing took a lot longer than I thought it would (this was my first work of fiction) and getting it out fast wasn't as important to me as doing a good job. Updates have been posted on the Kickstarter page.

That said, right now there is nothing else for me to write so I have moved onto this while it is in the editing and layout phases of the process. In the past I had myself, an editor, an entire publishing company and more and it still took us over 18months to get a book out with a full staff. Now it's just me and Heather in NJ. It'll take longer, but I expect it will be worth the effort.

March 15, 2016 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I will look into Unbound, thanks!

March 15, 2016 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Robin, I won't do any more self publishing until I learn the ropes with Birchthorn, but it takes a long time and a lot of work - so I would prefer to sell the book out if possible.

March 15, 2016 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I do know WCW, thanks Chels!

March 15, 2016 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

Love the prologue! Hope it gets picked up so we can read the rest.

March 16, 2016 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I would buy that book. Certainly.

March 16, 2016 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger kz. said...

Palmerton!! I'm from near Fleetwood. Plus I'm your age + a designer dreaming of my own homestead. No wonder I've always felt you're a kindred spirit. :-D good luck with the book!

March 16, 2016 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Andria M said...

Love it, can't wait to read more

March 17, 2016 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Andria M said...

Publish this comment or not, it's for you: I get upset when people make comments like the first one above. It's negative, assuming the worst, sarcastic....mean. Ouch. Hope your hide was thick enough that it didn't hurt you too bad.

March 17, 2016 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Andraia, those comments hurt my feelings, too. But I publish them unless they come from certain people who I know are only interested in tearing me down. I don't know this person, but she seems to be a normal reader who is assuming the worst, didn't follow the Kickstarter updates, and wanted an explanation. So I explained.

Part of having this blog is accepting comments like that. My skin has gotten a little tougher over the years, but ALL comments reflect the person saying them, not the subject of the comment. Maybe she had a bad day.

March 17, 2016 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

I love the voice of this piece, and I would love to read the whole book! I always thought you were a good writer, but it seems that your writing has grown even stronger and deeper. Don't ever stop.

March 17, 2016 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger aart said...

Great prologue...struck some strong chords.

Ah, the bike..... deliverer of bliss and power, vehicle of escaping the chaos and pain.

April 3, 2016 at 9:05 AM  

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