Finally, A New Book — Through Another Door

“Being a writer is a very peculiar job: It’s always you versus a blank piece of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” -Neil Gaiman

I am the first to admit that it has been a long six years since I wrote the following in a blog post titled: Let the Journey Begin dated 1/18/18.

Book Three does not yet have a name but it does have a working first line: “So it’s true. You really do play with dolls.” I leave you to wonder who it is that says that to Franny.”

Book Three now has a name: Through Another Door. I finished the book at last and it’s ready to take its place in the Lynton Series, set in fictional Lynton, New Hampshire.

What took so long? It may have been as simple as what Neil Gaiman says above. “Quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

Of course, there was the great scourge of our time: The Covid Pandemic. As much as I would love to blame those two years of fear, sadness, and inertia on my failure to keep writing, I can’t. It was the author who was the problem and that would be me.

I so envy “the spreadsheet writers” as I call them. These are the writers who have detailed colored-coded spreadsheets filled with characters and plot points carefully laid out to be studied and manipulated. I wish I could be one of them. Alas, it’s not in me. I am a “pantser”, that is a writer who flies by the seat of her pants, never sure what’s on the next page and I suspect I always will be. When I began my first book, MacCullough’s Women, the first line I wrote was the beginning of chapter five. I still find myself checking the correct spelling of Sofia’s name. And that’s the truth.

Through Another Door builds on themes of change and growth. The story unfolds as both Brid and Franny confront questions and unexpected challenges in their lives. Both women discover that change is often painful. 

Meanwhile, Franny’s “found family” continues to grow. One of the joys I find in writing comes from suddenly discovering a new character (or two) pulling at my sleeve. Readers will discover three new faces in Through Another Door.

I enjoy them all, but it’s Damien I was waiting for. I hope you will love him, too.

If I had a dime for every time I have heard, “I’m not in your book, am I?” or “Where do you get your characters?” I would be a wealthy woman.  So where do writers get their characters? Writers do not “put” people in their books. My characters are “informed” by the people I’ve crossed paths with, both past and present. What do I mean by this? I borrow an expression, a stance, a smile, a tee-shirt or an attitude and give it to a character I am creating. Every fiction writer I know does this. Only God can create from nothing. Relax. You are not in the book. 

Through Another Door has a cameo appearance by a real person. When I was writing the book, I read the memoir “When Hell Was In Session” by the late senator from Alabama, Jeremiah Denton, Rear Admiral, US Navy. I was so moved by his courage and leadership that I included him in the story. I feel confident the act I have him perform is something he would have done if the situation were real.

I hope you enjoy reading this latest addition to the Lynton Series as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Through Another Door is available first as a Kindle Edition on Amazon on 13 February. You can order one now for $0.99. I will wait a few days before raising the price.


The Heart Thief

Heaven is a place where all the dogs you’ve ever loved come to greet you.”Oliver Gaspirtz




Arleigh died last summer.

It’s not that I didn’t think she would ever die but she was only four years old. Tibetan Terriers are expected to live 12 years. Some live longer. She was the first of my dogs I thought might outlive me. It turned out that was not the way things ended up for Arleigh and me.

I picked her up from doggie day care on a summer afternoon and she burst through the door a bundle of Tibetan Terrier energy, thrilled as she always was to see me. Twenty-four hours later she was admitted to one of the premier critical care veterinary hospitals in New England.

For three weeks we fought a pitched battle we began thinking we had a chance to win. “It’s treatable,” the neurology team told us.

She never stood again and grew steadily worse. Until the senior neurologist sorrowfully told us that she was suffering and we had to help her go. And of course we did.

It was only much later when the results of the autopsy came in that we learned we had been fighting the wrong enemy.  Arleigh died of an infection so obscure that it was not on the panel of infectious diseases they tested her for that first night in the ICU.  The neurologist told us in practicing medicine in New England for fourteen years he had only seen one case. And that was Arleigh.

I have read there is really only the first death. All those that come after, painful as they are, never hurt you quite the same. That sudden searing pain never catches you by surprise again. Not quite. The first death for me, one sultry summer morning, also with no warning, was that of my father. God’s small gift was the last thing I ever said to him was “I love you, Daddy.”  I thought of that morning when forty-five years later, once again on the twenty-sixth of July, I watched them wheel Arleigh into the ICU.

She was my thirteenth dog if I count Teal, the dog who came for dinner one night with my daughter and left four years later.  I loved them all and grieved when I lost them. But Arleigh’s death was different. Arleigh’s death tilted my world and took my breath away.

I kept only her collar and leash, and two toys.  All the rest went —to friends, to the Humane Society and to the landfill. OUT. But at every turn, she was still there. Waking in the morning, before remembering, I would reach for her, seeing for just a moment her sweet fuzzy face on the pillow next to me. Passing the living room, if I looked quickly, I would see her perched on top of the sofa, vigilantly guarding the street. And then when I blinked she was gone.

People tried their best to be kind. I was told it would get better. I was told to remember how much fun we had and how happy she had been with us. I was reminded of how much joy she gave us.

I was told she was only a dog. I have lost both my parents and my first husband. So I knew she was a dog. I understood the difference. But…I explained to my sister, “I feel the same.” And she said, “Of course you do. Love is love.”

I said loudly to everyone that I would NEVER have another dog; rudely cutting off anyone who suggested I should at least think about getting one. I had a list of reasons all very logical as to why I felt that way, but mostly I was afraid.

I drifted. I stared at the pages of my unfinished third book and found myself unable to add more words to the story. I started projects only to leave them unfinished. I was sad.

I began to furtively look online at the available dogs at the Humane Society and other shelters exiting the sites quickly in case I was caught.

In early November, I corresponded with a breeder in Maine located about sixty miles south of the Canadian border. I told her I might be looking for an adult dog in the spring. Maybe.

Shortly before Thanksgiving I visited the site again. And there I saw a dog available for purchase. She was born the same year as Arleigh. Her name is GCH Trisong’s Always After Me Lucky Charms.  Her call name is Dublin.  I asked my husband to have a look. “Buy her,” he said. So I did.

On New Year’s Eve, we met the breeder’s husband at the Portland Jetport.  He was there to pick up a dog and offered to bring Dublin with him. We were delighted because picking her up in Portland shaved over four hundred miles off our trip to the northern reaches of Maine.

“You’re going to love this dog,” he said as handed her over to me. “She’s an angel.”

She really is.  And we already do, love her that is. I wonder… Did Arleigh looking down from heaven send me an angel to heal my broken heart?

GCH Trisong’s Always After Me Lucky Charms – Our Dublin



The Journey Begins

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ― Ursula K. Le GuinThe Left Hand of Darkness

Two confessions to begin with: I have a writer’s crush on Ursula LeGuin and I have never read her fiction (yet).

I spent the weekend reading her latest book of essays published last month – No Time to Spare: Thinking about What Matters.

Ursula LeGuin is an inspiration for any writer but at eighty-eight, this is especially true for writers like myself who begin to write later in life.

January is traditionally the time of year for both reflections and new beginnings.

If I were to pick a word to describe my writing in 2017 it would be MIRED. I could also us STUCK (as in a hole) but I prefer mired. I tried my best to salvage Maggie’s Girls but in the end, I came to the realization that Maggie’s Girls is not the third book in the Lynton Series.

I had elective surgery in September. I knew I would be stationary for at least six weeks as a result and I had planned to write, write, write. The joke was on me. Between the drugs and the aftermath of surgery, no writing took place.

Instead, “laid up” as I was, I re-read the novels of the writers I view to be the best of my genre: Jo-Ann Mapson, Katrina Kittle, Barbara Samuel and Rosamunde Pilcher- the writers I love. I returned to the lives of the Wilder sisters, Penelope Keeling, Luna McGraw and Cami Anderson. All old friends waiting on my bookshelves to meet once again.

Series are tricky and probably not the best place for a first-time writer to start. It is too late now and so I continue to write on. I love Maggie’s Girls and hope to publish the story as a stand-alone novel but now I have to return to the journey and work on Book Three, as promised.

I flew to Ireland for Christmas. Leaving my Kindle at home, I brought two paperback books with me to read on the plane: MacCullough’s Women and Francesca’s Foundlings.

The Lynton Series Book One and Book Two

It was a unique experience. I have read a lot books on airplanes but it was admittedly a tiny bit thrilling to sit there reading one I had written. It was also the first time I had read the books one after the other the way a reader would.

Finishing Francesca’s Foundlings, it was clear to me that Book Three will be Franny and Nick’s story, even if I am not sure yet what their story will be. Most likely readers will also see more of Lilah and Dave and, of course, Brid and Neil.

Signs turn up where you least expect to find them. We had a small party at the beginning of the holidays and one of my neighbors sent me a lovely thank you note.


At the bottom she wrote: “Looking forward to the next sequel of MacCullough’s Women.”

Book Three does not yet have a name but it does have a working first line: “So it’s true. You really do play with dolls.”

I leave you to wonder who it is that says that to Franny.

The Muse and I wish you a Happy New Year.

The Muse and I

I am looking forward to the journey.




Turning Away From the Noise

“Though there are torturers in the world, there are also musicians.” – Michael Coady

It has been several months since I wrote on this blog, although not for the lack of trying. I have a number of the digital equivalent of crumpled wads of paper strewn about my office to prove it.

The state of the world on so many levels both at home and abroad has left me unable to move forward. Many, dare I say most of my fellow writers, have leaped to grab a banner and champion their cause whatever it may be. Sure, so very sure, of what is right, of what is true. I confess to envy them.

I am anything but sure. We are all constantly connected, aware at all times of what is happening in the world. Oddly this immediacy, rather than bringing people together, appears, at least to me, to divide us even more. Social media promotes a smallness and lack of civility that continues to astound me.

I spent most of the month of August in Ireland. The circumstances required that I curtail Internet usage and caused me to turn inward away from the constant clamor of the digital world. That “timeout” convinced me that my path back to writing is to seek out a way to stimulate my creativity and leave the noise of political protest and turmoil to others. At least for now until I am more sure.

Visiting the National Gallery of Ireland in Merrion Square West, I discovered a book called A Year in Art – A painting a day. Each morning, armed with my coffee, I open to the masterpiece of the day and study the image displayed there. Some works I recognize and others are new to me. Some I love and some I find myself thinking, Really? All have carried me away from the news of war, political strife, cruelty, horrendous weather and daily pettiness.

My solace and inspiration

In addition to my “picture studies” as we called them so long ago when I attended Rose Hawthorne School in Concord, Massachusetts, I have returned once again to reading poetry. In Ireland, the land of Louis MacNeice, Patrick Kavanagh and William Butler Yeats, poetry is never hard to find.

No trip to Ireland for me would be complete without a visit to The Winding Stair bookshop on Ormond Quay. Named for the poem by William Butler Yeats, The Winding Stair is one of the oldest surviving independent bookstores in Dublin. I picked up a volume of poetry by Michael Coady, a contemporary Irish poet from Tipperary.

Summer has always been about reading for me, and this year proved to be no different. I powered through all thirteen of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache mysteries, finishing number twelve only hours before the thirteenth, Glass Houses was released.

I read them not as a reader, although they are certainly most enjoyable, but rather as a writer studying carefully how Penny wove her cast of characters introduced in the first book, Still Life, through the subsequent twelve books in the series.

And at last we come to my own book, as yet unnamed, the third in a planned series of four. If you have been following this blog, you know there was a third book well on its way to completion. It even had a name – Maggie’s Girls.

Reluctantly, I came to realize that as fond as I was of Maggie’s Girls and of Maggie Kennedy the main character, the book didn’t belong in the series. I hope to publish Maggie’s Girls one day, but I owed it to the others to finish their stories.

Book Three picks up the characters first introduced in MacCullough’s Women about two years after we left them at the end of Francesca’s Foundlings sitting in La Boulangerie staring across the street at the wreckage of Coel agus Craic, the Irish bar where Brid Sheerin grew up. Most of your favorites will be there: Brid, Neil, Franny, Nick, Lilah, Rose Malone, and Sofia. As well as a couple of new characters, too.

When it will be finished and titled, I can’t yet say. But my sharp turn away from the noise, confusion and sadness of this world has helped to move things along and allow me back into the heads and hearts of the folks in Lynton.

Finally, the Muse is well.

Arleigh will be four years old in December. Now where did that time go? She is, as my husband is quick to remind me, an ADULT dog now. Well sure, but she will always be my baby. Arleigh, like Thatch in Francesca’s Foundlings, is a Tibetan Terrier. For her, this summer the living has been easy. She does occasionally open her eyes to make sure I am writing.

Do yourself a favor and listen to There Are Also Musicians. You will be glad that you did.


The Third Book Takes a Sharp Right Turn

Writing a series is like when a dinner guest becomes a roommate. Writing the first book is like having a dinner party with exciting and stimulating guests, carefully planned menu, atmosphere – but the guests get to go home. And you get to put your feet up and relax. Writing a series, the guests stay permanently. You have to think of exciting things for them to do, vary the menu, invite different guests for them to play with.” — Rebecca Forster

The Lynton Series so far.

Book One and Book Two

Four books set in a fictional city in New Hampshire centered around the lives of a group of women brought together by fate. That was the plan. At the time, I had no idea how ambitious an undertaking it was for a first-time writer.

I am a series reader and have been since being introduced as a child to The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and Trixie BeldenI love to follow the characters and I hate it when a series ends. I miss them.

Recently, I re-read (I think I already told you that I am a dedicated re-reader of long-standing) the Tradd Street Series written by Karen White. There are five books in the series and I am hoping she will keep going because I want to know more about what Mellie and Jack are doing. The series is set in Charleston. If you like ghosts and quirky characters, these books are a treat not to be missed.

This second time I read the books as a writer not as a reader and I learned a lot about what it takes to write a successful series. The biggest “Ah ha!” I had was the need to stay with the characters you start out with. In The Lynton Series this would be: Brid, Franny, Sofia, Neil and Brendan.

Maggie’s Girls, the story I have been writing (and fighting with) for the last year, doesn’t follow this rule. The story introduces a new main character along with her complicated family and friends. The usual Lynton ladies do make an appearance but only in supporting roles. Having read the Tradd Street Series again, along with readers often asking me what is happening with Franny and Nick, I realized this was not the right book to be number three in the series.

The wonderful thing about writing fiction is very little is ever completely lost. Writers smush things together and move them around or, worst case, shove them in a drawer. I intend to come back to Maggie’s Girls one day.

Book Three, as yet unnamed, will focus on where the relationship between Nick and Franny is going. Brid, Sofia, and Lilah will have a lot to say. As Rebecca Forster indicates in the above quote, I will have to think of exciting things for them to do and maybe sneak in a new face or two along the way. Faces that I have been writing about in Maggie’s Girls.

Meanwhile, the Muse is delighted that I have finally figured out what was she tells me was obvious to HER and I am tapping away at the keys once again.

“I could have told you…”


Knitting My Way to Clarity

Knitting’s addictive and it’s soothing, and for a few minutes anyway, it makes me feel closer to my mother.” ― Anita Shreve, Light on Snow

I am knitting.

“Not writing?” You might well ask.

No, I’m knitting. Knitting, I have discovered, is very conducive to writing, which, for me, always happens after a lot of thinking. Knitting allows you to sit and think.

Here’s my dilemma. Maggie’s Girls has too many characters. Some have to go. Maybe they will show up in another book but now they have to leave this one. The problem is, I have become fond of them. So, I’m knitting and I’m thinking. Who should I kick out?

Thinking is one of the great benefits of knitting, second only to the fact that you can’t eat while doing it. Something you can do while writing. Unfortunately.

I have a friend who often refers to “my culture”.  As in, “You know how in your culture…” Huh? I thought we were from the same culture. Obviously, from her perspective, we are not.

We have come through, more or less, months of nastiness, name-calling, finger-pointing, and shaming. Life-long friendships have been shattered and families polarized because it turns out that maybe we didn’t know each other as well as we thought. And those cracks continue to widen as we head into a new year.

Knitting my way through two small sweaters, ironically, one red and one blue, I have thought a lot about “my culture”.  And where I do come from and, upon even further thought, how that culture formed the values I try to live my life by.

I learned to knit when I was ten. Here’s what I remember: bright pink yarn, cream-colored needles with black tops, and lots of holes that were not supposed to be there. I remember my mother, my beautiful, hardworking, talented and extremely frustrated mother, trying to teach me what to do with my hands, the needles and the yarn I kept tangling.

Here’s a snapshot of “my culture”.  I am a blue-collar girl born in what was then considered to be a working-class suburb of Boston, two generations removed from Ireland, Italy and Switzerland. I was the second in my family to go to college, following my cousin to Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts. My parents worked four jobs between them to pay for it.

My mother and father came of age in the heart of the Great Depression. Life was hard and nothing was taken for granted. They used and re-purposed – although it was not called that – everything and never missed a chance to earn a little extra money. For years my mother spent her evenings after working all day managing a bakery, making Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls – popular then – to earn some spare cash.

My grandmother was a dressmaker who carried her sewing box into the homes of wealthy Boston women in order to measure them and then make their clothes. My mother, too, was a talented seamstress tackling things liked bound buttonholes and French darts. I, on the other hand, was a disaster when it came to anything involving the needle arts.

Still, as was expected from girls of “my culture”,  I slogged my way through it all: several ill-fitting skirts and dresses, one quilt, a hooked rug, a crewel picture and numerous knitting projects. None of the output was more than marginal. My head was always in the book I was reading or the story I was making up. My mother despaired, often taking whatever I was making a botch of from my hands to fix and then finish for me.

Maggie’s Girls is a story of mothers and daughters and of sisters – several groups of sisters. This should not come as a surprise as I write Women’s Fiction. The older women, the Hudson sisters: Honoria, Grace, Stasia and Charlotte come from the heart of “my culture”.

It turns out that I do a lot of ripping out when I knit. Sometimes, I lose my way in the pattern and as the Irish say, it all goes wrong. Not at all unlike what I have to do as a writer when a character takes an abrupt right turn from the plot.

So I sit and I knit and I think about which characters have to go.

Sometimes, for just a moment,  I feel my mother’s hands gently guiding mine and then she’s gone.


When the Writer Goes Missing

It’s Gerard,” she called over her shoulder. “St. Gerard Majella. He’s the patron saint of women in trouble in childbirth. My mother was devoted to him.  Brid Sheerin  – Francesca’s Foundlings. 

Two years ago, I wrote a story, Francesca’s Foundlings, about a young woman who developed a life-threatening complication during her pregnancy.  I try to make sure that my fiction is as accurate as possible and I did considerable research on this condition before inflicting it on my character.

Last July, in a twist of fate where life mirrored fiction, my daughter faced this same condition as she awaited the birth of her child. There are 2,986 miles between Boston and Dublin, Ireland. Never have I been more thankful to live in a time of texting and instant messaging as I awaited news of the latest scan of the baby or reading of her blood pressure.

“Do NOT come,” she kept ordering me from her hospital bed during that seemingly endless week when I learned the true meaning of words like: harrowing, terrified, courage, hope and, at last, very early on Friday morning, pure joy.

I spent the month of August in Ireland, watching the swans glide along the Royal Canal, helping one very tiny boy discover the world he arrived in so precipitously. When you are taking care of a newborn, that’s really all you do. Life stands still. It provided me with a lot of time for quiet reflection. Ideal conditions for a writer.

McCullough’s Women and Francesca’s Foundlings are stories of friendships between women. Some are related and others start out as enemies. Maggie’s Girls, the third book in the Lynton Series, continues this theme but also explores what it means to be a mother. Toward the end of Francesca’s Foundlings, the reader meets Maggie Kennedy.

Maggie’s Girls is her story. Holding my grandson, I thought a lot about the bonds that develop between and a mother and her child. I think you will like Maggie. I hope you do.

How this writer feels.
How this writer feels…

Home now, once again thankful for the videos and photos that greet me every morning, I am trying to get back on task and focus on Maggie’s Girls.

I want to thank all of you who kept checking my Facebook page for updates over the last few months. I am sorry I neglected you but as you now know, it was for the best of all possible reasons. I promise to be better about posting on the page. I am excited to get back to writing.

I am also grateful to St.Gerard for hearing our prayers. My mother, like Brid’s, was devoted to him.


How Characters are Made: Meet Jake Kellan

It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.”  – William Faulkner

People are always curious about where my characters come from. I suspect some of them are worried they might see themselves. People are not unique and often share both good and bad traits. We often see these traits mirrored for us in the books we read without them having been stolen from us. We are drawn to characters like us and are often put off by those who are not.

Desmond Sheerin in MacCullough’s Women shares similar traits with other elderly Irish-American gentlemen I have known including my own grandfather. But Desmond is not Pa, although Pa could play the piano like Desmond.

There are a few new characters showing up in Maggie’s Girls. This is what it is like to “trot along behind” one of them.

Cookie Kennedy was Franny’s college roommate. The reader first meets her in Francesca’s Foundlings. Cookie needed a significant other. She’s a wonderful person and really deserves to be appreciated and she’s lonely– her character is based on nobody I know, in case you’re  wondering. It’s about time the right man crosses her path. Jake Kellan stood up to be that guy.

Organized writers, like my friend Sue, begin with a character sheet. And I do applaud them. Goggle character sheets and you will come up with a number of options, ranging from the simple to the complex. One example I saw was nine pages of questions be filled out for each character. Had I answered all the questions asked, I would have had a document stretching to close to five times as many pages as the original template. That’s right, for each character.

I am a “pantser” meaning that I write by “the seat of my pants.” I don’t know if Mr. Faulkner was,too, but he describes the way one writes – as he would– beautifully. I “trot along behind” the character madly typing as we go. An example of this would be that I had no idea Brendan Feeney’s college roommate had an Italian grandmother until I found him making her “gravy” recipe one night in Franny’s kitchen. That’s the kind of information you would find on a character sheet, if I had created one.

So who is Jake Kellan?
So who is Jake Kellan?

Here’s Jake talking to Cookie on their first date in the current draft of Maggie’s Girls:

             For the first time, Jake seemed uncomfortable, almost guarded. “Well, I’m a pretty boring guy. No Made-for-TV movies in my past.” Cookie just smiled and said nothing.

            “Fine. I can see this is the only way I can get back to the aunts.” He took a sip of his scotch, appearing to gather his thoughts. “Well, here are the basics I imagine most women want to know: I am forty years old, not married, have never been married, no children. And yes, I like girls. I was born here in Manchester. I have a younger brother and sister. My brother lives in Manhattan. My sister lives in Bedford. I have three nieces and a nephew. My mother still lives in the house where I grew up. My father owned his own company here. He died last spring.

I know. Boring, right? Except that Jake has a couple of definitely NOT boring twists in his past. I think he may be one of those characters interested in dragging me into writing a sex scene, too.

You’ll just have to read the book to find out.





Between the Sheets: When Characters Want to Have Sex

“In essence, a good sex scene is usually a dialogue scene with physical details.” ―Diana Gabaldon


“I really liked your book,” the reader told me. “I hope the next one has more sex in it.”

The book she was referring to is McCullough’s Women. There are two sex scenes in the book. One ends abruptly and the other plays itself out, as sex scenes do, across four pages employing all the required words: naked, suckle, nipple, tongue, climax…and more. The first time I read it aloud to my Writers’ Group, which consisted of four women and two men, I had to sit in a chair with my back to them. And even then, my face was scarlet when I finished reading.

I have been a prolific reader since I was nine years old, sometimes reading as many as four books every week. I am often reading two books at the same time, picking up whichever one is closest to me. Over the course of my life, I have read across all genres. I can safely say that, starting with those first sneaked “dirty” books as a young teenager – which in hindsight weren’t really that sexy – I have read a lot of sex scenes, some of which were more pornographic than “romantic” or “artistic”. Reading them in the privacy of your bed or a secluded chair is one thing. Writing a sex scene for other people to read with your name attached to it, is quite another and not for the faint of heart.

My theory as a writer is that when it comes to sex, less is more. This explains why there is not a lot of sex in my books. I try to get the characters into bed when they really need to be there for the sake of the story. I am huge fan of Gone With the Wind. I consider it to be the great American novel. Margaret Mitchell believed in leaving things to the imagination. Here she writes the beginning of what remains one of the most romantic love scenes ever brought to the screen.

The following excerpt is taken from Gone With the Wind:

 “He swung her off her feet into his arms and started up the stairs…Somehow, her arms were around his neck and her lips trembling beneath his and they were going up, up into the darkness again…

 And after that, Mitchell leaves you, the reader, to imagine the rest.

We live in a world were every human act is documented and displayed for the world to see. You don’t believe me? Check your Facebook newsfeed this morning. Sometimes it is hard as a writer to resist the urge to put in “more sex”. Everyone does it after all, or if they are not doing it now, they most likely have. And readers certainly seem to want it.

There are two complete sex scenes in Francesca’s Foundlings. And there are four couples in Maggie’s Girls who would love to climb into bed together. I guess you will have to read the book to find out who makes it there. I suppose this must mean that my writing is getting steamier.

I have been told I do good job writing about sex. The problem is whenever I finish writing one of these scenes my first thought is, Thank God my mother is dead.


























In Pursuit of Balance

“Writing is not a matter of time, but a matter of space. If you don’t keep space in your head for writing, you won’t write even if you have the time.” ― Katerina Stoykova Klemer

Trying to find the balance...
Trying to find the balance…

These last few months I have been struggling in every sense with space and balance. This year has not been a good year in a life that can only be described as never having been known for either. Starting last September, I took three spectacular falls. Once you receive your Medicare card, which I did this June, the concern is that falls may be caused by cognitive issues. Oh, no!

When I mentioned this to my sister, she said, “What about that time I watched you walk across the cafeteria and throw your used lunch bag in the trash and then fall flat on your face?” She was fourteen and I was seventeen. Reviewing the long list of times I ended up on the ground over the course of my life, I suspect this year of epic falls were a combination of my not paying attention because I was thinking of something else —like what a character should or should not be doing— or because I am and always will be a klutz.

“Incidents” that I bounced back from earlier in my life with nothing more than a bruise or two now require weeks of ice packs, elevation and physical therapy. Something I have not found conducive to writing.

The latest fiasco occurred in April. I fell down the basement stairs. Really, this should not have been a big deal. I was carrying the cat’s bed in one hand and hanging onto the railing with the other and then I missed the last two steps. I slid down and slapped my left foot on the cement floor. Hard. Should not have been a big deal and would not have been a big deal once upon a time but now involved great drama including a trip to the ER, x-rays and disheartening orthopedic “stuff” i.e., knee immobilizer, walkers, canes, etc. It wasn’t funny. I did learn a new medical term “acute effusion” which is a complicated way of saying “swollen” which I filed away to be used in some future novel.

The balance Katerina Klemer is referring to comes down to finding the time and the space to write. I have the physical space – an office I am delighted with. Finding the mental space and the time continues to elude me. I understand why writers leave home to seek refuge in libraries and cafes to write. Home presents too many distractions. I am working at eliminating those. When I retired from my job as a corporate training manager, I (foolishly) thought I would have so much time I might be bored. Ha, ha. The joke was on me.

I try to write every day. There are days the writing does not happen because other things crowd in. I’m working on Maggie’s Girls, the sequel to Francesca’s Foundlings. I’m struggling with finding balance in this story, too. Writing a series is challenging. You need to include the characters from your previous books and introduce new ones to keep the story interesting. I’m trying to find the balance of who goes and who stays. They all beg to be included. The plan is to bring all of them back together in the fourth book currently planned as the series finale.

Meanwhile, in an effort to keep myself balanced, I have been practicing Tai Chi. I am doing the shorter form of 24 -Yang Style Chuan. I love it so much that I think you will see a character take it up soon.

I wonder which one?