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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Caring for the Soul While Getting Down to Business

Photo by Author 
It's that time of year: writing retreat on The Lake. Despite the snow flurries, the sound of the the waves is soothing and the view is spectacular from the desk in my room. You'll have to wait until I'm back home to see it, but here's a nearby magnolia bloom from a different year (the magnolia blossoms are still tight buds outside the house this year). My jaw and neck and shoulders are loose as the stress of the last few weeks slides out into the water, carried away by the wind and the churning of the waves. No phones, no sick animals, no household demands for a glorious four days. Just what my soul needed and my muse required. I have work to do. WHERE THE HEART LANDS is out there, searching for more readers. But, I must get back to work on the next book. There's been only snipets of time and less desire. A nurse at work yesterday came up to me to tell me how much she enjoyed WHERE THE HEART LANDS. After a rather disheartening few weeks of book promotion, these positive words lifted my heart. I wish I could say that I just write for the thrill of it, but the truth is, I need to know that people are reading and enjoying what I write. It makes the lonely journey of filling pages worth the effort. As much as I need to write, it still doesn't always come easily. Almost never, in fact. So, why do it?

I do it to learn about myself and the world. I do it to express all the jumble inside my head in a more cohesive way. I do it because I am compelled to do it. Because the urge never leaves me alone. Because it comes from somewhere else, somewhere deep and dark and scary (sometimes) or from joy (once in a while). Because a story wants to come out whether I mean it to or not. Hallelujah when someone takes the time to read it and especially when they let me know what it meant to them. I am humbled and exhalted that another person is moved to share their experience of the work with me. This is why I write.

Time to get down to business.

If you like, check out my website : or order WHERE THE HEART LANDS from my publisher or through Amazon: or through Barnes and Noble or from two very fine bookstores: RiverRead Books in Binghamton, NY and Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, NY

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Photo of Grosbeak by Laura J. Bear, 2010
What a beautiful spring day! Birds and peepers exploded in song all along our bike ride today. It seems that all the creatures rejoiced in the end of winter this fine warm day. Green is sprouting everywhere with the yellow of daffodils and multi-colored crocuses dotted throughout the landscape. Ahhhh, yes.

Robert Frost was right, "Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold." I know all this will go away again, but the wonderful fact that spring keeps coming back year after year, reminds me that there is life after the long, cold winter. Life after death. Spring wouldn't be as glorious without the cold grip of winter (although, I have to admit, I could do with a much shorter version of the frigid gray season).

The characters in my story WHERE THE HEART LANDS go through their own catharsis. Lucy has to figure out how to reinvent her life after her unfulfilling marriage ends abruptly. Young Addie changed her name and then her life, in order to escape an abusive family. People don't change and grow without the help of others, though. Here are a few more morsels to share from the book:

Lucy's Aunt Jay was an eccentric influence on Lucy as a young girl:

"To Aunt Jay, none of this mattered. She allowed me to be myself and explore every side of my creativity that I wished. Growing up, I spent many summers at her apartment in Manhattan. The city was so exciting, huge, and mysterious. Aunt Jay was a little scary, too. She was tall and stick-thin, with a beak for a nose. She dressed in black, filmy layers, except for a purple shawl or red scarf sometimes pinned together with a huge brooch shaped like a face. It was easy to imagine that brooch coming alive after dark. Many times during my visits, I would lie awake in Aunt Jay's big, old brownstone with the high ceilings and heavy drapes, waiting for that face to float into my room. I'm happy to report it never did."

After Lucy meets Addie for the first time:

"I couldn't get my new neighbor out of my head. I was excited about having such a sweet, pretty friend next door. She was nothing like the nipped and tucked women I knew back in suburbia. I seemed to have a bit of a girl-crush on her and felt a little wicked thinking about her in that way. what was the big deal, though? I wasn't with anyone any more. No one was here to judge me except me, right?"

And let's not forget Tom Anderson, another important friend in Lucy's recovery:

"The man wore stained overalls and his hat almost covered his eyes. His skin looked like rawhide. A cigarette dangeld from his mouth. He was clean-shaven, but a long ponytail trailed down his back. His face had creases that deepened when he spoke.
     'Hello, I'm Tom Anderson.'" ...

..."Tom Anderson put out his cigarette on a little wooden box he pulled from his pocket, slipping the stub inside it. 'I know just a bit about almost everything.'"

That's all for tonight. Have the best night you can make.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where the Heart Lands

Photo by Kevin Tomasello c.2014
A couple more excerpts from my novel WHERE THE HEART LANDS:

"The wind blew strong across the prairie, dissipating the smoke and flapping the clothes on the line. Tom appeared in his truck.

     'What happened?' he asked.

I showed him the pot on the stove. the walls were oily with soot.

     'Looks like Addie had a little spill over with her peyote tea,' he said, scraping at the hardened substance on the burner with his nail. 'She all right?'"

From a different chapter:

"There are times in my life when the picture stops and the film flaps against the reel. An old image, I suppose, but apropos. Everything happened so quickly, yet each piece was slow motion, rewinding over and over in my mind. If only life had a reset button."

If only...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Where the Heart Lands released March 14th through Unsolicited Press
A couple excerpts:

"I'm not sure why I thought I should get a cat, just that a kitten might outlive me."

"As she passed by the slow-moving train, a ragged man with a beard and dark, oily skin jumped off one of the open train cars. He waved at her, but she pretended to ignore him. She kept walking, not thinking too much about him until he appeared right in front of her."

"'Lucy,' Tom took a long inhale from his pipe,' Sometimes a question is the answer.'"

Available from Unsolicited Press

Barnes and Noble:

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Dinghy in a Sea of Yachts

photo of dinghy in Stonington, Maine harbor by author
I was thinking about all this writing business--so much so that I was dreaming about walking 20 miles in the rain with two dogs and an awkward load upon my the dark--and I have found that I have trepidation about the business of this writing business. Okay, I hate it--the part about selling stuff, promoting stuff, trying to get people to buy stuff. I don't like doing it and I'm not good at it.

Writers are generally introverted people. This is probably not a shock to anyone, but it needs to be repeated: most writers (never say "always" for anything or you may be disappointed or insane) are quiet "misfits" who spend a good part of their day inside their heads. It's not necessarily comfortable in there (I speak only for myself, but feel free to relate if it strikes a nerve). In fact, the mind of a writer/creative person can be a dangerous place for the less than timid. (I say less than timid because TIMID is often the fetus-form of the future toddler-monster SELF-DOUBT). So, let me touch upon the imagery of the little boat afloat on the water. Our little vessel is happy, floating there in the calm water unnoticed, serene. Ripples in the water begin to rock the boat, gently at first, but then become stronger and more urgent. The boat responds by riding over each ripple, buoyed by the rhythm of the waves. There is a nice creaking of the wood hull as it rocks on the fluid beneath. Suddenly, a huge cruise ship sails by. There is no danger of collision because the big ship is far away from the harbor, but the wake of that big boat travels fast and hard through the water toward the little boat. As the sea wall rolls into the shore, the little boat braces itself, pointing its bow into the wave. Maybe it gets knocked around, or loses an oar. Water splashes into the little dinghy as the wake overtakes it, but the vessel stays strong and upright. The scene repeats every time another bigger or faster boat goes by, but the dinghy stays the course.

Row, row, row your...sorry, I was daydreaming about floating on the water...where was I? Oh yes, I guess what I'm trying to say is that even if you're a little dinghy, don't let anyone call you crazy for following your dreams. Keep rowing, bail out the bad stuff, and stay afloat.

Hope to see some of you tomorrow (April 4th) at 2:00 at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, N.Y.