Personal Reflection, Writing

New Notebook

I’m choosing a new writing notebook today. I am trying to think of the best way to describe this thrill. Picking this notebook stirs up anticipation much like a fresh adventure. I’ve felt it while packing for a trip to somewhere completely new. I’ve tasted it in the early morning preparation before running a race, and when launching my kayak into a new lake. It is laced with excitement, joy, and a nervous sense of responsibility to make the most of the experience.

This isn’t for writing my current novel WIP. It is the notebook for ideas and snippets that are born in any given moment of the day. It is hauled with me most everywhere and is missed when it’s left at home.

My faithful writing companion.

The last one held numerous unformed ideas, flash fiction stories, blog posts, and seeds and scenes of short stories. Meaningful moments were captured there. Characters were born there. The last pages hold the first draft of a letter that would change my life in a way I’d longed to see for years. There are still undeveloped ideas in it that I will try to turn into whole scenes or stories. It has served me wonderfully well.

It’s an important notebook, you see. I cannot wait to discover what will fill it.

Personal Reflection, Writing

Present Tense

I used to write in places like this one.

The cafe I’m sitting in is the sort of place I used to write in regularly. That’s what I thought about as I walked through the chiming door into the buzz of conversations and the invigorating odor of coffee.

I used to….

The past tense of the thought unsettled me. How else to change it then but by writing in this place? I promised myself that before I left this table at a picture window overlooking the downtown shops, I would write something. I’d write for the sake of transforming my statement to the present tense.

So, here I am, writing something in this small-town coffeehouse with delicious pastries, soothing teas, and busy tables. Just as I should be.

I’m currently living in a meet-the-needs-of-this-day mindset. It neither allows for procrastination of things to be done today, nor for anxiousness about days ahead. That’s not to say I’m free from procrastination or anxiety (wouldn’t that be a dream), but I’m trying. I’m aiming. Some days I land near the target and some days I lose track of it entirely. My brain and my emotions are in recovery mode currently and I find I only have the capacity – emotionally, mentally, physically – for what is truly needed for the present day. Rarely more. In low moments, even that much is questionable, but only in the low moments.

I’m discovering the words and actions that help me silence the anxious, speculative thoughts. There is no ignoring the tension I carry in my muscles from the moment I wake until I eventually fall asleep in the middle of the night. My heels are dug deep in self-awareness, constantly in tune with the ways my body and mind need to be supported. It is both transforming and exhausting. I am counting on the habits I develop now, in this less than ideal place, to help me thrive beyond this leg of the journey.

My personal journal was all I could pick up for a while, but I’m breaking back into the novel WIP and blogging in recent weeks. The energy that writing gives, plus the unshakeable desire to write much, much more, propels me forward while other pieces of life right now are pulling me down. Undoubtedly, writing will continue to be one of my most encouraging companions as I transition from crisis mode to adjustment and acceptance to thriving on a new path.

Living in the present, carpe diem, and all that jazz have taken on new meaning lately. They are less about taking bold chances and more about expecting both God and myself to see to the needs of this day. “Give us this day our daily bread.” How often I’ve prayed that one line in sporadic moments through the last few months. For strength, clarity, wisdom, grace, peace… just for today. Tomorrow is still out of my reach, and that’s probably for the best. Today has trouble enough of its own, to paraphrase Jesus.

So far the track record for that little prayer being answered is as steady as can be. He makes a way and, one day at a time, I try to walk it. Maybe that’s as much as I ought to expect of myself in any stage of life, not only the one I’m navigating at present.

My tea is gone and I’m going home. I’ll be back though because…

I write in places like this one.

Books, Personal Reflection, Writing

Best Walk Ever

The weather yesterday, high 30s and sunshine, had me longing for a run. I settled for a superb, solitary walk on the mostly clear rec trail. I kept at a steady clip around a four mile loop I used to run on a lunch break sometimes.

Once the pavement was under my shoes, the ache to run passed and my mind’s gears got to grinding. It used to happen like that on a really good run and I was giddy over the experience yesterday. My, oh my, it’d been a long time since my imagination slipped into writing mode that easily.

Idea after idea took shape for the novel I’m currently writing. Each one flowed from the one before it. All of it made me grin as I walked through my town and filled my lungs up with fresh air.

Three times before reaching home, I ran through each of the notes and scenes I was writing without a pen. I repeated them to myself in the order they’d come to me, and at the end of each round, more new material came. It was a feast.

When I arrived home, I rushed through explaining to my husband why I had to get to my notebook and pen. I had to write all of it down before any of it disappeared, as unrecorded ideas are apt to do.

I don’t know how long I spent writing. I don’t know why everything worked yesterday when it so often does not.

I know I have eleven pages of new, solid character and plot development and scenes for my novel. I know it was a walk to rival any of my favorite runs.

I’m grateful, and I can’t wait to eventually share this book with you someday.

Personal Reflection, Writing

Breaking Through

I wrote for hours yesterday.

Those words bring tears to my eyes. It’s been almost two years since I could say that, since the words flowed like they did yesterday.

Today I woke up with much contentment in my heart. It’s hard not being able to be what you are and feel like you don’t know how to return to that person. Yesterday was enlivening.

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Intentionality, Personal Reflection, Short Story, Writing

Writing and Reconnecting

At odd little times, I feel a bubbling up of my writing intentions. The water of motivation comes to a boil and I truly believe, in that minute, that I will sit down with my notebook and words will pour out of my pen. On a drive, out in my kayak, in the shower, in the middle of a meeting, and in an array of other circumstances, my lungs fill with an air of faith in my will and abilities as a writer. I smile over each occasion, convinced that this time it’ll carry me through from the intention to write to the act of writing.

Then I sit down with that notebook. I hold that pen in my hand. And nothing happens, save a few crossed out words and sometimes a few corresponding groans of aggravation.

I think it’ll be a while before I’ll be joking again about writer’s block, as writers are apt to do. Or maybe I’m learning the lesson that if I’m able to genuinely joke about it, then any block I have can probably be broken with the right effort.

Either way, this week it came down to this: Write something. Anything. Just write it.

Do I want to write a novel? A novella? A short story or flash fiction piece?

Yes. To all. I have one of each started.

Alas, all of those stories are still hiding inside the pen, unwilling to show the rest of themselves on the page. I’ll coax them out. I believe that. They will come. In the meantime, in this dry season, I must write or go mad. Or sad. Or bad. (“Maybe that’s already begun,” she mumbles to the empty room.) So, I’m writing here, to my readers, whomever you may be.

While I’d much rather have any one of those stories to offer you, I thought I’d start by introducing you to them. Seems reasonable to hope that writing about them could kickstart writing them. Fingers crossed.

Now, temper that excitement, my friend. Anyone who has asked before knows I prefer to share very little of my works-in-progress. Think teaser rather than trailer.

*The flash fiction story is inspired by a pregnancy test in a Walmart bathroom (not autobiographical).

**There is a multi-part short story of an overworked med student in need of renewal and romance.

***The novella idea formed during Mass one Sunday in Advent. Its themes are a bit gut wrenching for me as I write… in a good way. It is a story of family, healing, and faith at Christmas time. A novella is a new endeavor for me and I’m excited about it.

****Lastly, the novel. The project I most wish would begin to flow. The project of which I’m least willing to divulge details. It is a standalone story, not a sequel to The Hidden Legacy. It is a contemporary story set in Michigan. And that’s about all I’ll share for now. Please don’t hold it against me.

This is good. Writing at all is good. Reconnecting with readers and directing my thoughts toward my projects is good. Thank you for being part of it.

To be continued. I promise.

Fiction, Personal Reflection, Writing

Story Surprises

This morning, in amongst my notifications of friends’ reactions and comments, I had a pesky little reminder from Facebook that it’d “been a while” since I posted anything on my author page. Now, I’m not too keen on paying any attention to those things, but this one bothered me a bit.

What it really did was remind me that I haven’t written any new stories for you all in a while. A long while. Here’s the thing though: I tried! I really tried.

A week ago, I had what felt like a splendid idea for a story. Maybe a quick flash fiction story that would only take a day or two to write and polish and share with you. Maybe a multi-part short story. Either way, I was sure I’d have a new story to post for my readers. So, I got started.

Then something happened. Two paragraphs into this little tale, it hit me. I was not writing a new short story. I was writing a game-changing missing piece in the plot and character development of my novel. I was stunned. I stared at the screen, my fingers resting on the keyboard, and questioned if it was only wishful thinking.

It wasn’t. It was perfect. It answered questions and propelled the story forward in ways I’d been struggling to identify.

Sometimes a story, and especially a character, has to reveal itself to its writer. That seems strange, I know. I’m the one who created the character. I’m the one who thought of the story. How can I be completely surprised by it? That’s the nature of writing fiction though. In fact, it’s become something I look for now (and look forward to). Having a piece of the plot or character development take me by surprise is a sign that the story is working, that it’s worth writing. It’s a sign of life. When there are no surprises, no a-ha moments that I didn’t see coming, there is a flatness to the characters and a mediocrity to the plot.

So, you have my sincerest apologies for the lack of new fiction posted here on this site. I do hope to write something new for you soon. However, I also offer the bit of brightness that the first draft of my second novel is progressing much better than it was before a week ago.

Until I hit on a new idea, if you need a little short fiction in your life, maybe you will find something you haven’t read yet (or forgot that you already read (or enjoyed enough to reread)) amongst the flash fiction and short stories already gathered here.


Books, Gratitude, Personal Reflection, The Hidden Legacy, Writing

Oh, What a Day!

My collection of author-life experiences is limited. Growing, thank goodness, but still limited. It could be my lingering newbie status that makes the events of last Tuesday so edifying. Or maybe, no matter how long I’m on this adventure of establishing myself as an author, the shine will never wear off opportunities like these.

After dropping my kids off at school, I rushed up the rainy freeway to Manitowoc for my first radio interview! I walked into the building eager but nervous. Craig at WCUB 980 AM set me at ease though. Once we got rolling, the nervousness evaporated and I felt only the rightness of donning my author hat as I told listeners about The Hidden Legacy. You can listen to the podcast of my interview here. I wasn’t embarrassed while listening to it afterward, so I’m calling it a genuine win!


The primary reason I had the opportunity to interview on WCUB was to promote my author visit to the Manitowoc Public Library on that same day. That’s right! I didn’t have to remove that author hat after the interview. I kept it in place as I spent an hour with readers at the library. In the previous months, the library quite generously acquired about twenty copies of The Hidden Legacy and chose it for September’s “Morning Book Talk.” Rendering me both humbled and proud, I was told by the facilitor of the group that all twenty copies were checked out! I still can’t state that without grinning.


Ten individuals who had read the novel, along with Therese (the wonderful and helpful facilitator) and me, enjoyed a thorough discussion of the book, as well as my writing process. It was a dynamic, non-stop conversation that was the stuff of legit author-life. The group had numerous questions for me (we didn’t even touch the prepared discussion questions), and it was a special privilege to hear a few of them share their favorite parts of The Hidden Legacy.

I’ll wrap up this joyful post with a thank you to WCUB 980 AM and Craig on “The Breakfast Club” morning show for the chance to interview. An even bigger thanks goes to the Manitowoc Public Library for their ongoing support of authors and their promotion of literary arts.

Next up, Plymouth Public Library on September 23rd at 6 p.m. See you there, readers!