Where the Words Come From

Someday It Will Be December

I’m a writer, and I’m asking where do the words come from. And many of you reading this are also writers. When we sit down to create, it can be a slog. And sometimes we ask ourselves: Who truly wants to read what is firing in my brain? 

I think the answer is many of us do, maybe all of us do.

Because writing IS the HUMAN EXPERIENCE—–LIVING is where the words come from.  

So today, while many of you are separated from your mothers because of COVID19, or deeply missing your mothers because they have left us–I thought I would offer some thoughts that might fire up a tear or two, or might stimulate you to write me back and say YES, I’VE FELT THAT. YES, THAT’S HOW IT WAS FOR ME. Because the excerpts below are all from the stories I have written–the experiences I have had, the emotion that boils over from those experieinces–from living. 

SO, I OFFER: JUST A FEW SENTENCES. I won’t take up much of your time, and by the way, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, HAPPY WEEK. 

  1. from: SOMEDAY IT WILL BE DECEMBER        In the depths of July, Claire began to think about sex. Constantly. In the dense smoke of blue moonlight trailing along her bed, the child within her waxing stronger with kicks so definable she wanted to cry out “hey.” Because at first she had been in complete denial–but now the denial stage was over, she in thrall to the pregnancy…
  2. from: FACTS OF LIFE         Then my fourth-grader looks at me and asks: “Mom, do men always want to hurt people?” And I hold her and say, “No, Cara, no. There are wonderful men in the world. There are men who love their children and want to take care of them and their wives. They go to work every day to take care of their families. That man today was sick in his head…”
  3. from: FRAGILE      When she tucks the two of them in bed that night, they are exuberant. As she goes down the stairs to be with Adam, they call over and over the words, “Love ya, see ya in the morning, good night. Love ya, see ya in the morning, good night”… Tess listens, the words falling on her with their weight of wonder. And welcoming all of it, she holds them, keeps them like a charm her two have hung gently around her neck.
  4. from PUMPKINS     Though she could hear Heather’s chatter in the next room and feel the light and space around her, Rachel was still looking down, still seeing her mother-in-law’s face and remembering what a doctor once told her at a cocktail party. “You wouldn’t believe the number of children women are capable of having. Why even after they’re dead, you can cut open the ovary and there they are–all those seeds.”
  5. from WHEN DID MY MOTHER DIE     (Ruth is on the phone with her  mother’s best friend. Both Ruth’s mother and the friend will die within the year, but Ruth is struggling with how to care for her mother.) Tears formed in Ruth’s eyes. She didn’t want Eleanor to leave her. “I want to say things to you. Before. Like thank you for being Mom’s friend, being my friend. Thank you for all the great talks we had and there was so much laughter. And you always liked me. I love you, Eleanor.” The birds were scattering now, climbing up the watery sky. “So bye now, Ruth. Be good, take care of your mother for me,” and the called ended. Ruth turned away, sobbing. But you’re so fortunate to still have her. 

The above are all part of my collection A Mother’s Time Capsule ( available on Amazon)  Photo credits, more photos on my Pinterest Board, BOOMER HIGHWAY. 


Strout’s Olive Kitteridge: A Woman of Our Time

Strout's Olive Kitteridge: A Woman of Our Time

Strout’s Olive Kitteridge: A Woman of Our Time

Writing fiction is my passion. While raising my children, I wrote short stories, finding strength in my work when I rooted it in the emotions and conflicts of my own life. This makes me agree with Michael Zapata, author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, when he comments on what fiction writers are putting on the page: Every telling of an event is a portrait of the teller, not the event itself. 

My interpretation of that statement: The author’s ideas, feelings, beliefs–all reside somewhere in the pages she writes. And going deeper, the actions and statements of a character reveal or mask what and who that character truly is. That’s why we love different authors during different periods of our lives. We change and find those who speak to us. Right this moment, Elizabeth Strout is my favorite.

Strout writes novels, yes, and I’ve read every one. But I also love the satisfying  experience of reading an entire story in a brief period of time. Our life styles can demand it, short stories fulfill it, the writer focussing on one character’s experience, inner thoughts and much more. And as you will see, WE GET OLIVE. 


“Mousey. Looks just like a mouse.” These are the first words of the irascible and yet in many ways lovable Olive when we first meet her–she providing her opinion of the assistant her pharmacist husband, Henry, has just hired. When Henry replies: “But a nice mouse. A cute one,” of course Olive has more to say.

“No one’s cute who can’t stand up straight.” And you’re reading and straightening up in the chair where you are sitting and thinking, damn, she’s right. And that’s only the beginning, for Olive lives fully in the pages of OLIVE KITTERIDGE and now in OLIVE AGAIN. 


I read her first book, AMY AND ISABLE and loved it. A year later, I signed up for a weekend class with Strout at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival at the University of Iowa. She shared her writing process, which is long, with many versions and iterations that she keeps in boxes in her home. She laughed, saying that her in-laws didn’t seem to approve. Well they must now–Strout being a Pulitzer Prize winner for, of course, OLIVE KITTERIDGE. 


A former high school teacher, Olive is married to a pharmacist. They have one son, Christopher, and Olive always has problems with the choices he makes. They live in Crosby, Maine and Strout often writes about other married couples in that town. She states: Do I enjoy telling the secrets of old married couples? I adore telling the secrets of old marriage couples. A marriage is always a source of great drama for a fiction writer. It is in our most intimate relationships that we are truly revealed.


In the second book, Olive has aged, her pharmacist husband is dead and Olive remarries. But as the book progresses, we truly see the hardening of decision making that does or will affect all of us as we age. We see Olive struggle with wanting to stay independent. We ache when she has to acknowledge she is not as healthy as she once was, all the while being unable to control her sharp tongue. She is now an indomitable character on a precipice: will she reach out and help others or maintain a steely independence that can put her at risk as she ages. 

EXCERPT: …Betty showed up–the first home healthcare aid–and she was a big person. Not fat, just big. Her maroon cotton pants were tight on her, her shirt barely closed; she was probably fifty years old. She sat down immediately in a chair. “What’s up?” she asked Olive, and Olive didn’t care to hear that.

“I’ve had a heart attack and apparently you’re supposed to babysit me.”

“Don’t know that I’d call it that,” Betty said. “I’m a nurse’s aide.”

“Fine,” said Olive. “Call yourself whatever you want. You’re still here to babysit me.”

And then, at the very end of this wonderful book:

Finally Olive stood up slowly, leaning on her cane, and moved to her table. She sat down in her chair, put her glasses on, and put a new sheet of paper into the typewriter. Leaning forward, poking at the keys, she typed one sentence. Then she typed some more. She pulled the sheet of paper out and placed it carefully on top of her pile of memories; the words she had just written reverberated in her head.  

I do not have a clue who I have been. Truthfully, I do not understand a thing.

If you do decide to join other Olive lovers and read these books or have read them, let me know. And thanks for reading. 

P.S. ATTENTION ALL ELIZABETH STROUT READERS: Because OLIVE AGAIN is a book of short stories, Strout does an awesome thing. Every character she has created in her other books, continue to live in her imagination. Thus we again meet Isabelle from AMY & ISABELLE and characters from the BURGESS BOYS. It’s a wonderful reunion to again be with these people and discover how their lives are progressing–or not doing so well. As each story unfolds, the world of the character is revealed in Strout’s tight prose that is truly genius. And as for Olive, she is the most honest, aging woman you will ever meet.



She’s on a ladder, washing windows.

Below is a compressed version of my story WINDOWS, part of my: A Mother’s Time Capsule collection. 

Kate has two children, girls. She’s on a ladder washing windows and stopping to peer into the room of her older daughter, Brynn. Kate’s become a voyeur; on the bed, three books, a stack of notebook paper and a pile of rumpled clothing. On the floor, Brynn’s underwear scrunched and rolled up—and then, almost kicked under her bed but not quite, a box of Kotex. Kate’s talked with Brynn about keeping these things rather secret, not secretive-scary, but reasonable. Jody is only five and doesn’t need to be asking questions. Brynn should put her private things away.

But Kate sees that it is all new to her. Brynn’s had only one period and Kate guesses today is the start of another. But she peers into the room as if to find another explanation. There could be only one: Brynn doesn’t have her period again, the box just got kicked out from under the bed. Kate smiles, starts down the ladder. But then something moves forward in her mind, something she feels more than thinks, like a shiver to signal that she’s about to topple from the ladder—Brynn does have her period and doesn’t need to mention it to Kate—ever again.

Back on the ground, Kate lifts the light aluminum ladder and moves it down the side of the house. She’s almost done. One more window.

Other women have time to shop, I mean shop for parties they’ll attend—or they meet for lunch or play cards. Other women– 

“God, I never want to play cards,” Kate says to the birds in the trees.

Her mother had been smoking a cigarette, the ashtray on the floor near her feet so the smoke won’t bother anyone. She’d just had her hair done, and though Kate is never really sure what that means, she remembers that it looked, was always, the same. Then the older woman had immediately complained: He’s been out of town, right?

Mother, my husband’s name is Ted and yes there was a business trip this week.

Kate again goes up the ladder, balances carefully, works at each window corner where a thick layer of grime has settled. She’s good at pushing away things her mother says, but she better not fall while doing this chore—her mother would explode in front of Ted. And right then Kate gasps as the roll of paper towel slips from her grasp and falls. She holds tightly to the ladder. She’s a story and a half up. Her mother would have to nurse her, watch the children—she’d get to hear about the unnecessary fall every five minutes.

And then, up high, Kate clinging to the sides of the ladder, her mother’s immutable story comes circling back: You were just a little girl; I got locked out of the house when hanging the washing. The door blew shut and I was locked out. You were asleep in the upstairs bedroom and the windows were open to the breeze; so I pulled a ladder from the garage and climbed it high onto the front of the house. I prodded you with a broomstick to wake you up. I knew you were old enough to go down and open the front door for me. I was just frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.

Photo Credit: ourvintagehomelove.blogspot.com; somavida.net; all you.com



Give yourself some down time. You deserve it.

What can I, a mother and grandmother, do on Mother’s Day, that would be a gift to myself? Answer: take a nap. It’s an old family tradition, one my own mother taught me.

While raising and being the only provider for her three children, my mother would sometimes walk into our living room and “collapse”—her word. She would lie on our dark green sofa and instantly fall asleep. If I walked away and came back later, I often saw her struggling to awaken, to get back up and do what she needed to do. I began to understand in my kid-way, that she longed to have a reason to JUST RELAX, to LIE THERE AND DO NOTHING.


Even today, with my children grown, I have to convince myself it’s fine to take a nap, to let other things circulating in my brain simply—go away. And I don’t trick myself into saying I’ll read or meditate. No. I want to fall asleep. All mothers deserve time out, time set aside for their own thoughts, dreams and “collapsed” sleep.


Of course, some of you might want a massage or a manicure. My mom did her own nails, had lovely hands, and even as they aged, her hands became two beautiful symbols of all she did to raise, nurture and love her three children. Hers were hands that soothed us when we were sick, clapped at every piano recital, Scout event or baseball game we participated in and lay gently on our shoulders to encourage a developing skill, to let us know that we were everything to her.


On this Mother’s Day I am blessed, for like my Mom, I have also been gifted with three children. I kept a baby book for each of them, recorded birth weights and size, taped in their footprint sheets, recorded their growth charts, new teeth and first words. Illnesses, birthdays, funny and amazing proclamations–all got recorded.

And even better, each of our three children is wildly different, making our parenting roles more exciting and challenging.


They are loving, thoughtful and amazing. When my husband and I hurt, they are there for us. When we cry, they cry; when we laugh, they laugh. They can get wild and crazy, are always creative, curious and interesting–and all have found amazing life-partners. They love adventure and yet can sit with us on a cold winter night or a warm summer evening just talking–sharing ideas on music, books, film, politics. They all have ideas and beliefs. They all have opinions. It’s wonderful to bask in their knowledge and eagerness.


As we mothers click off the years, the Mother’s Days–we collect more cards, candles, bottles of perfume, beloved books and always hugs and kisses. But concurrently, our hands begin to reveal the hours of hugging and soothing a sick child, diapering and dressing, cooking, driving, encouraging and of course clapping when a child succeeds. My hands, your mothering hands, whether still smooth and soft or lined with age spots and ropey veins are our particular symbols of giving, nurturing and raising a child. Maybe on this Mother’s Day give them a rest! Let someone else make the meal, drive the car while you take a nap! We mothers, grandmother’s and caregivers certainly have earned it.

 P.S. The scene below is taken from my story FRAGILE, which appears in A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE:

When she tucks her children in bed that night, they are exuberant. As she goes down the stairs to be with Adam, they call over and over the words: “Love ya, see ya in the morning, good night. Love ya, see ya in the morning, good night. Love ya…” 

Tess stops. She listens, the words falling on her with their weight of wonder. And welcoming all of it, she holds them, keeps them like a charm her children have hung gently around her neck.     

above photo credit: Ed Yourdon

For Mother's Day--An Invitation to Meet Some Moms!

A Mother’s Day Gift!

Why Not Try a Short Story

Why Not Try a Short Story

Writing fiction has been my passion for decades and took hold when I was home raising my children. It was a time when women’s magazines, Redbook, McCalls, were printing short stories written by women. I could do this! So I set my desk in a corner of the den, bought a decent electric typewriter and before my children awoke each morning, I squirreled away an hour to craft some stories.

Not surprisingly, the strength of my stories increased when I rooted them in the emotions and conflicts of my own life.  I published some in little magazines, later moving on to novel writing.

Retirement has allowed me to make writing my focus and to polish everything in my writer’s toolbox. Short stories stem from a reader’s desire to experience the rise and fall of the story arc in one sitting. Nathaniel Hawthorne published his collection of Twice Told Tales in 1837, probably the first known book of short stories—though not all of them were short!

Prior to this, in 1836, Charles Dickens found great success when he serialized in magazines and newspapers his novel The Pickwick Papers. Critics have said that at that time there was no insinuation that the work would lose quality when presented in so commercial a fashion—that came later. Dickens’ work was popular and thus must have affected the rise of shorter pieces of fiction.

Then and today it can be very satisfying to experience a character’s struggle right through to the denouement in a short period of time. Our life styles—working men and women, tired at the end of the day, a list of to-dos drumming in one’s head—has added more credence to the experience of completing a story in one sitting—or rather, propped up on pillows in bed. Short work fills a need. When creating a short story, the writer works with the same elements that make up a novel—but there is some tweaking.

The story will most often have one main character who is also the POV character—you experience the story through the eyes of this character. In my story collection, A Mother’s Time Capsulethe average number of characters in each story is three—most interactions occurring between two of the three. My longer stories have four or five characters, the POV character encountering the others briefly. The longest story, Angel Hair, based on the old tale in Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper, has as many as eight characters. A writer could create a short story simply using one character. Length: that is up for debate, ranging from . 30,000 words to 10,000. There is also flash fiction and other newly created forms that can be as short as 500 words. The shorter the more difficult.

Short stories are not only limited to characters but also to passage of time, while novels often span years, even decades. My stories Pumpkins, Thaw, Windows and Making Change take place on the same day—though to enrich content, there are references to the past. When Did My Mother Die? takes place over a year’s time—but the trajectory of the story moves in a straight line.

Plot is essential even in short fiction, and focus must be endemic. Get in and get out. But regardless of its short length, writing the short story is not simple. I can speak directly to this dilemma as some of my stories were taken from novels in progress. Someday It Will Be December required lots of editing and rethinking of the material to create the emotional arc the story demands. The first sentence has to grab the reader: In the depths of July, Claire Emmerling began to think about sex. Constantly.

Or from Angel Hair: The coffee gathering at Liz Grimm’s house was the first time anyone had been out in the small New England town of Hamilton since Pia Piper was fired from the local preschool, accused of fondling a boy-child in her classroom.

In Thaw, I use a quieter beginning that will build to the heartfelt emotions of the story:Her landlord said maybe she’d imagined it. She doesn’t think so. They argued about the age of the townhouse, the condition of the roof. She was late for her shift and had to hang up. “You’re the one with squirrels in your attic,” he had yelled at her.

Endings? They tantalize, inspire or make you weep. Endings are part of the reason I fell in love with the short story form. In high school, I read J.D. Salinger and John Cheever. After college, it was Ann Beattie, Alice Munro, Bobbie Ann Mason and Raymond Carver—they all published in The New Yorker Magazine.

In a novel, lots of things happen—often because of a complicated plot structure with twists and turns the reader does not expect. In the short story, something has to happen, or at the very least you have to feel that something has happened, though often it’s a small movement, a brief change, a symbolic gesture. But the brevity of the text reflects a smallness that in actual living is truly gigantic, monumental. Ann Beattie in Running Dreams, leads you into a world with few words—but at the end—wow! The soccer-punch. The narrator reflects on losing her father to cancer when she was only five. This is the last paragraph—the father is bending over in pain, to help put on his daughter’s gloves.

I remember standing with him in a room that seemed immense to me at the time, in sunlight as intense as the explosion from a flashbulb. If someone had taken that photograph, it would have been a picture of a little girl and her father about to go on a walk. I held my hands out to him, and he pushed the fingers of the gloves tightly down each of my fingers, patiently, pretending to have all the time in the world, saying, “This is the way we get ready for winter.”

This is so lovely, the main character finding closure in this simple remembrance of her father’s love. I surveyed the endings in A Mother’s Time Capsule and discovered that I  often use a symbolic action to pull the story to its closure. In Someday It Will Be December, Claire is uncertain about being a single mother. The ending finds her lost in a place she is familiar with: But she raised her head and walked on. She would reorient herself. She would find her way.In Fragile, Tess is a fearful mother. The ending: Tess stops. She listens, the words of her children falling on her with their weight of wonder. And welcoming all of it, she holds them, keeps them like a charm her two have hung gently around her neck.

Though novel endings are often muscular and dramatic, short stories present the conclusion using a quieter voice, though you know and feel that something profound has truly happened. Happy Reading.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Why Not Try a Short Story



Breaking Into The Conversation

Breaking Into The Conversation

You’re with a group of people. It could be family. It could be a gathering of friends. Or even your work buddies out to relax or maybe form a group to complain about something going on within the office walls. Then consider: you want to break into the conversation, but you can’t. Even with family gatherings this happens–no one is giving you an opening because someone is the leader, someone is choosing the topics and you find you are no longer listening but just waiting, waiting for a chance to break in. You lose the thread of the conversation. Or after a while you don’t even care.


  • We all anticipate being with people we care about and sharing conversation.
  • Often we are tired at the end of the day and eager for something fun.
  • And to add to our eagerness, we dressed up to be with friends for some meaningful exchanges.

This is part of being a member of society–the anticipation of TALKING to one another. You might even have some news you want to share and you’re just excited to be with this group and see their reactions and how they will support you. (Come on People, we still like the warmth of camaraderie and don’t have to open our minds and souls through Facebook all the time, but can wait for that gathering of hugs and smiles to give our news.)

We all crave that small spotlight when people will focus on us and listen to what we have to say. The KEY is the exchange. And friends and family can be so generous about our news or our opinions. From youth to old age–being able to steer the conversation is empowering and helps us grow no matter the topic:

a new job; the choice of a school or a career; the person we are dating or going to marry; the person we just broke up with; the death of a friend or someone being ill or someone injured or someone recovering. We made money; we lost money. We just met someone the group already knows; we have a new idea for our art work, writing project, music presentation. There are millions of topics. So enough–you get the idea.

But what if you’re having a bad time and you can’t break in or you suddenly don’t want to break in. There are a variety of reactions to this.

  • you give up and walk away
  • you try even harder to break in
  • you find yourself getting angry
  • you attempt to peel the person sitting next to you away from the group

I’ve been in situations with friends when the conversation was all about people I did not know. Everyone else was comfortable with remembering these folks, but since I didn’t know them, I sat quietly wondering when the conversation would take a turn into a topic where I could join in. Has that happened to any of you?

I think if you care about the group you are with you tend to be patient, maybe help yourself to another drink and wait for things to change. But if this happens to you a number of times, you tend to become sensitive to groups that do that. Your awareness of making a conversation COMFORTABLE for everyone in the room becomes one of your goals. When you are the host you are very aware of this. Conversation can be hurtful. Unfortunately it goes with bringing a variety of people together. Drinking can loosen tongues. You intended to have a fun party and maybe there are people leaving your gathering with hurt feelings and unless they tell you, you will never know.


There are going to be many situations in the next six plus months where the main topic of conversation will be politics. I think in some situations we will have to decide to preserve the friendship and so if the person is on the other side–better not to go there at all–or give it a try?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Again, what will you do?

It’s a hard choice. Strong feelings about a candidate can make us want to get up on a bully pulpit and shout to the world. If only we could always stay on an intellectual plain of ideas. Tricky, tricky stuff.


I found this note in one of my notebooks: Each of us has a pool of stories, opinions that we offer in conversation when there is an opening, when we find the space to express our views. But what if this pool would become so narrowed down that we might be expressing 20-25 ideas. There is never an excuse for not reading and learning about possibilities. The world is wide open inviting us to read, consider and take new things in our minds and hearts. Maybe that will help us break into the conversation of living–and people will no longer ignore what we have to say. They will be eager to give us an opening–they will be looking to us to YES, guide the conversation.


Photo: Merlot Marketing.comBreaking Into The Conversation

Breaking Into The Conversation

For Mother’s Day–An Invitation to Meet Some Moms!

For Mother's Day--An Invitation to Meet Some Moms!

In FACTS OF LIFE Cara knows about fireflies, mosquitoes and bats. But is there more for her to learn?

We all come into this world because of our moms, and often we define what a mother is from that first experience: we are all a child to a mother. Today I invite you to meet some moms–five of them. Some you might immediately identify with, some you might criticize, pity or weep for. But all of these women are moms and they all have a story to share with you.

Anne: She is in her thirties and divorced, a working mother with one child–twelve-year-old Cara. Her co-wroker Mark wants a relationship. But is she ready? Is Cara ready? When an attempted kidnapping occurs near Cara’s school, Anne has to ask herself if any of the decisions she is making are the right ones. How will Anne answer that question. Find out in my story FACTS OF LIFE.

Claire Emmerling: Unmarried and unsure, Claire is in her early forties and pregnant for the first time. The father is neurosurgeon Christian Farr who Claire has worked with for many years. She will not reveal the pregnancy to him. But when she finds Polaroid photos of her own mother pregnant with her–Claire realizes that baby was incidental to the sex, but the child that moves within her is everything–the sex incidental. How will Claire move forward? Read SOMEDAY IT WILL BE DECEMBER.

Hazel Enright: Hazel cannot eat hard-boiled eggs or stand the smell of scorched linen. These and other experiences plunge Hazel into the memory of being pregnant at sixteen and her parents forcing her to “go away”, have her baby and then give it up. Has this experience changed Hazel’s life? Read HAZEL’S CHILD.

Emily: She feels abandoned and lonely, her husband constantly on business trips, her children off to college and her doctor telling her she must have a hysterectomy. But when her old friend Veda calls and asks her to meet, Emily learns that maybe she is not in the autumn of her life. Because there is always change, Veda revealing her own life is not the fantasy Emily thought it was. No life is. The tables are turned in MAKING CHANGE.

Sunny: She’s a landscaper with a cheating husband, a daughter of her own and an adopted daughter, Colette who one day takes too many pills and is rushed to the hospital. Now Sunny’s life has one focus–to understand and help Colette. Can she find the right words to make Colette see that there are good things in life? Find out in YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG.

Meet and read about these moms and eight others in A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE, a perfect gift for you or a mother you know for MOTHER’S DAY, May 8th. To purchase A MOTHER’S TIME CAPSULE from Amazon, B&N, kobo etc go here.  And don’t forget the dark chocolate–one piece to go with each story.

To read a story from A Mother’s Time Capsule go here.


What a wonderful book this is – filled with heart memories, a perfect gift for Mother’s Day for yourself or someone else! I love Elizabeth A. Havey’s writing! Carol Boyer

Beautifully written. Emotional, thought provoking tales which are the perfect length for dipping in and out of. Cathy L.

This author has a unique voice and writes with such profound emotion it’s as if she’s left a part of herself on every page. Susan Haught

The extraordinary imagery of these stories is evocative of the early years when I was raising my two sons. “A Mother’s Time Capsule” artfully describes the woes and wonder of being a mother. I will read it over many times. Kelly M.


For Mother's Day--An Invitation to Meet Some Moms!

A Mother’s Day Gift!

Writing, Nostalgia and Spring

Writing, Nostalgia and Spring

She listened to the steady pounding of her feet along the roads. And after a while, she could feel it running in her veins, something that turned backward to rituals of spring–Lent, events of her childhood, like painting rain-washed colors on hard boiled eggs. The sky would scuttle from grey to blue to grey, rain spitting just as intermittently. But the air was becoming velvet, enveloping, warming the skin and when she walked now crunching spring detritus, a hollowness opened up inside her, a sweet opening as if she were ready, also, to suffer, to feel pain, to live and embrace. (from The MOON DOCTOR)

Writing about SPRING

I wrote those words years ago. They are part of a novel that sits in a manuscript box under my desk. I love those words and many springs I come back to them. But words of published writers also speak SPRING to me: “It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.” John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga There is simply something about the season that pulls words from the mind to the page.

Writing and Nostalgia

In a recent piece by author Jonathan Lee, he writes about the disquiet that occurs when a book is written AND published. Finally, it is out of your hands. You can’t mess with it anymore and yet something pulls at you about this fact. WHY? Anxious, Lee went to the library: looking for a book with a title like How To Get Through The Period Between Finishing A Book and Seeing It In A Bookstore Without Losing Your Entire Grip on Reality. But Lee failed to find it. He did find The Book of Disquiet, a collection of opinions of various writers. He decided it was a very sad book, drenched in nostalgia.

NOSTALGIA. Curious about the roots that formed the word, Lee looked them up and discovered: nostos (return home) and algos (pain). Writers, especially fiction writers, almost always deal in nostalgia. They are constantly attempting to return home, to reassemble in words the pain of life–and yes, the joys. But LIFE always seen through the lens of their own experience. The drug for writers is remembering–remembering who we are and where we come from and what we have experienced.

As Lee so beautifully states: We all know by now that the past is as much a work of imagination as the future. We re-form. We invent. We chase after moments that have already fled. We can never quite recapture the passion within the passion, nor the grief within the grief, but we make a version we can live with, shape, touch with color, and we start to exist within its architecture.

Reshaping Our Reality

All of us do this–not just writers. We shape our memories so that we can live with them. Sometimes to a fault, as we struggle to assign to ourselves a minor role in some conflict when truly we needed to accept more guilt. But that “remembering” allows us to move into the future with our recreated selves.

Writing by Committee

I am currently polishing and working toward a final rendering of my first novel–with the goal of publishing. I have rewritten the first chapter over six times. Writing is plastic, yes, but what affects writers today is the chatter about HOW TO WRITE. If the drug for writers is remembering, the antidote for that drug is all the VOICES on the internet imposing their views on what an agent or a publisher wants. It messes up your memory. It’s tougher than tough.

Writing by Committee occurs when a friend or fellow writer or agent who has rejected your query complains about your VOICE, or says the writing is too CLIPPED, or can’t fall in love with the character after one page. I do listen. Thus the changes. And thus I understand even more why some authors self-publish–they don’t want to write by committee–this is the book they have created, the book they love. But again, after it has escaped from the writer’s hands–the characters might still be walking around in one’s head, maybe changing their actions, altering their words. The only cure is for the writer to immediately immerse herself in another story and “forget those people”–or at least decide you did the best for them that you could possibly do.

Thoughts on The Reader 

Writing will always be a form of communication. But the question will also always present itself: do I write to communicate with myself or with future readers? Jonathan Lee concludes his piece:” …writing can be a beautiful and conflicted act—a private process through which we try, even with our most ridiculous lines, to reach an understanding with others.” So I write-on. And I read, always. Wishing for all of you a book that offers a tender rendering of life, an immersion in conflict, a perfect SPRING of a book. Let’s hear it for nostalgia.


Writing, Nostalgia and Spring

This one is in print. I have let go!

Gifts from Where You Live

Gifts from Where You Live

I’ve kept my early publications.

On any given day, writing is my escape, my amazing friend, my intellectual stimulation as I seek and often find the right word, the exact phrase–or dream about finding it. Either way I go to writing to find myself, always hoping to give back something of value to my readers. I think of writing as a special gift and yet I have often referred to it as THE JOYFUL BURDEN, because I cannot walk away from it–even if rejections and disappointments are part of the entire process. Writing is something I want to give anyone who will read it. Writing is a gift from where I live.

A Story Here an Article There — My Writing History 

There was that two page story about a tornado, written in pencil in the fourth grade. There was an awful poem, written in freshmen year of high school that won a prize. There was my creative writing teacher in senior year, who knew I would always raise my hand with an offering, but encouraged me to be more judicial in what I considered FINISHED or WELL DONE. She taught me not to LOVE everything that went down on the page.

Things were more challenging in college and I struggled through my Creative Writing course. When I thought I had a gift and could breeze through assignments–I wasn’t even close. And there were a lot of people who could write better than I could. Still I had two things accepted in the literary magazine and my writing dream stayed afloat.

I taught English grammar, writing and literature at the secondary school level, which did not afford me much time to write. But in the Illinois community where we lived a newly chartered university, Governors State University, offered me another opportunity. It was the early 1970s and a woman named Helen Hughes started a literary magazine entitled THE CREATIVE WOMAN. I was introduced to Helen, started sending her stories and articles and again, I was published.

As a young mother raising two daughters I was able to squirrel away early morning hours to  write short stories. They were big in the eighties and my goal was to publish in REDBOOK or McCALLS. (I actually was on a first name basis with the fiction editor at both publications, but never made the cut.) So I gave my work to little magazines, one called GREEN’S MAGAZINE. I also had a few columns published in THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Bottom line, I kept writing.

From Fiction to Medical Writing

After going back to school and becoming a registered nurse, I wrote CEU’s for Nursing Spectrum now called NURSE.com. A totally different kind of writing, it required a lot of research and footnotes. But I enjoyed it. During that time, I also co-wrote and then published through Meredith Books, MIAMI INK–text and color photographs that complimented the television program about tattoo artists.

The internet changed everything about writing and publishing. In the late eighties and beyond, I was composing at a keyboard and loving the ability to erase large blocks of text in seconds. Spell check was a bonus too. From 1998 to 2007 I wrote three novels. By 2009, I was blogging and have been contributing to Boomer Highway weekly ever since. I am back to  writing fiction and published a collection of my stories this last May–entitled A Mother’s Time Capsule, it actually contains some of the work I had written in the 80s.

Finding Those Gifts 

Writing and publishing has moved into a new world since I began writing. Before, I used to hold my breath for the mail–waiting for that letter from a magazine editor. Now it’s an email. But the internet has allowed so many people to find and develop their own personal gifts, and from where they are living and working. Etsy has moved product from studio, backyard, shed, garden, sewing room out to the general public. Blogs do similar things, allowing artists, sculptors, screenwriters, novelists, seamstresses and people with a new idea to shout to the world–here I am, see where I live and what I have to offer. Abundant gifts.

So this is just a thank you to my readers for hanging in there with me as I find new topics and research and write about them.

Do you have a health issue I could research? Have you written some nonfiction that could benefit from a read and an analysis? Leave me a comment. I’ll let my fingers walk the keyboard and see what I can find. Now it’s back to my fiction. See you soon.

Comfort Versus Rejection--Which Do You Choose?

Thank you always, Charles M. Schulz

From the Creative Woman: Table of Contents in the late 70s.

Fertile Goddess by Tobi Casselman 24

The Goddess in Three Bodies by Tobi

Casselman 24

Waiting for Christine by Elizabeth A. Havey 25

Creative Lives: Lynn Thomas Strauss by

Margaret Brady 28

Book Review: Dreaming the Dark: Magic,

Sex and Politics
by Starhawk

Gifts from Where You Live










Nothing Better Than A Book

Nothing Better Than A Book

No matter where you are in holiday gift giving–there is nothing better than finding a good book to stick in a stocking, wrap up and put under the tree or offer for one of the blessed days of Hanukkah. Thanks to author and friend, Normandie Fischer, this post is bringing you seven amazing fiction choices to add to your Gift List. Check out the summaries below and head to your favorite book seller–after all tomorrow is Cyber Monday! And please join our author group for our Facebook Party on December 10th at 1:00 pm EST for Giveaways and chats.

Normandie FischerTwo From Isaac’s House, A Story of Promises Journey with Rina Lynne who though recently engaged decides to spend her inheritance before settling down. Her travel adventure starts in Italy where Rina meets Tony (aka Anton) an engineering geek whose Israeli cousins have convinced him to become a sort of spy.  When Rina comes on the scene, Tony loses a grip on his assignment and Rina, who is part-Jewish, forgets her fiancé, allowing herself to become involved with this Arab-American. Against the gathering storms of the Middle East, certainly more storms are brewing.

Ashley FarleyMerry Mary This novel explores a theme that is perfect for Christmas. Investigative journalist Scottie Darden longs for a child. While photographing the homeless for a series she calls Lost Souls, Darden comes upon a tent in a downtown city park were an infant child is alive, but the mother dead. Lacking her cell phone, Scottie follows her instincts and takes the baby home. She promises herself she will report the child’s situation, but as a strong bond forms, she rationalizes her decision to keep the child, knowing she might face a life on the run or worse–imprisonment for abduction. Farley’s story examines the connection between a woman who stumbles into the role of mother and the child who definitely needs that person.

Wendy Paine Miller–The Short and Sincere Life of Ellory James Ellory James has six months to live and she is only seventeen. As her mother frets and worries, Ellory agrees to create a bucket list for her remaining time on earth. But Ellory is mischievous, asking her neighbor Pete to help her make it look like she’s truly carrying out ten of her lifelong dreams. She’s actually decided to fake the entire bucket list concept, until she completes the first one of the ten, which just might be the most important one of all. Miller’s book asks the question: what if life isn’t about the things we do as much as it is about WHY we do them and who we do them with.

Me, Elizabeth A. Havey–A Mother’s Time Capsule Yes! I’m included in this lovely seven author group, but because you’ve heard about my book before, I’ll make it truly short. The book of 13 short stories about motherhood includes: a hyper-fearful mother; a mother struggling with the life-chore of revealing what sex is; an empty-nest mother facing surgery and loneliness;  a mother whose daughter attempts suicide; a pregnant single mother; a mother whose child goes missing–and more. “Lovingly detailed, sometimes heart-wrenching stories of real women who come alive on the page. Moving and powerful.” Anne R. Allen, bestselling author of the Camilla Randall Mysteries

Jane Lebak–Half Missing  As an arsonist inspector, Amber Brickman sifts through burn sites looking for evidence, working against the memories of weeks before her wedding when her fiancé was murdered. But family history never departs and Amber’s mother insists that Amber had a twin, stolen at birth. When a woman on the news looks and sounds like Amber, her mother is convinced–this is the missing twin. At first Amber wants nothing to do with what she considers insanity. But as her mother pursues the past, Amber is drawn into the search–one that requires she risk everything, her job and her heart, in the process.

Heather Webb–Rodin’s Lover Known for her historical fiction, Heather Webb’s Rodin’s Lover is the story of Camille Claudel, an aspiring sculptor who becomes the apprentice of the amazing and world-renown Auguste Rodin during the Belle Epoque in France. Claudel becomes his muse and as their love affair proceeds they inspire one another to create groundbreaking works of art. But being a woman in a time period unable to honor female achievements, Camille’s success is pushed aside by Rodin’s rising star. When she finds herself caught in a tragic dilemma, obsessed with him and with her art, crossing the line into madness just might be her only escape.

Robin Patchen– Finding Amanda  Seduced as a teen by her psychiatrist, Amanda Johnson is now a chef and a popular blogger. When she decides to write a memoir that will include the devastating events in her teen life and help her heal, her estranged husband Mark, a contractor and veteran soldier, tries to stop her, worrying that the psychiatrist might reenter her life and attempt to silence her. Amanda fails to listen to such advice and to hear that Mark still loves her. Vulnerable, she travels and does encounter her abuser from her past, only to have a stranger rescue her and offer protection. Now Mark must save Amanda from the psychiatrist who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.

As December approaches, I wish all my readers warmth and happiness. Holidays can be joyous–but they can also be stressful. Remembering the important things, like the love of family and friends, is what should truly be our focus. Sounds like a topic for another post!