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Fall Muse

Although I’m not a fan of the season that follows, I love Fall, especially in the Midwest. Golden light spills through leaves changing color, casting shadowy patterns on sidewalks, streets and lawns, warming hearts against the crisp autumn breeze.. Fall has always been my time to reflect on the year passing and plan to make the most of the time remaining.  I guess it’s no surprise that life changing events in all three of my romance novels occur in fall.  In “Reservations,” Darien meets Ali, the love of his life, at a charity gala held annually in October. The same
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Change for Change

Let’s face it. We all do it. We need, desire, crave a more promising and satisfying result for our efforts.  Yet we go through the same internal checklists and corresponding motions wishing, hoping, even expecting a different outcome. We rationalize. I’m so tired when I get home from work. I’ll finish that short story on my next day off. I’ve got to go through the mail, pay some bills and check my email. Then, I’ll work on my novel. We spend our day off cleaning house, running errands, mowing the lawn and fall into bed. Exhausted.  Too tired to finish
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Big and Little Victories at an Animal Shelter

An overworked kennel worker and caregiver of wet noses and tails with numbers laments the constant challenge of finding an open cage for new arrivals. “One goes out the door and animal control brings in two more,” he said and looped the leash around another shaggy neck. Animal shelter staff sees the sad and sometimes tragic results of pets without homes in our throwaway society.  The friendly ones with and without microchips that no one comes to claim. Breeds banned and shunned without exception. Sickly kittens born to a dying mamma or abandoned before they’re weaned. Senior pets with years
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Remember

I hardly knew my grandfather.  He passed away when I was 3, maybe 4 years old. What I do remember about the immigrant from the former Yugoslavia were his valiant attempts to translate and communicate his thoughts from Croatian to English and his love for my father, the youngest of his six children. George embraced life in the U.S. Despite the debilitating arthritic aches and illness that resulted from decades working in a coal mine, he’d conclude grace at every meal with a spoken prayer that God would continue to bless America. His favorite story described a young sailor in
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Missing Mine

A writer’s thoughts become their characters’ dialog. Ali said between quotation marks what goes through my mind every Mother’s Day. In “Reservations” Chapter 12, her chef husband Darien tells her he’ll be home late on Sunday. “Honey, I have to work. It’s Mother’s Day, remember?” She sighs and says “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a reason to remember.” Like Ali, I’m a motherless daughter.  My last Mother’s Day with Mom was 20 years ago.  A vase filled with lilacs from my backyard contrasted with the scent of bacon-wrapped filets and asparagus in hollandaise sauce a chef I’d
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Yes, I am a Mom

The hostess at the restaurant register. The pharmacist. The clerk ready to help confused customers at the grocery self-checkout lane. Each sent me on my way with the same cheerful wish for the weekend. “Happy Mother’s Day.” I don’t try to retract this traditional pleasantry with an explanation anymore, even though I’m not a Mom in the traditional sense.  My kids have all been adopted. They’ve worn fur coats year round.  I’ve buried the body of one and the ashes of another. The three with me now smile when I come home, whine for a treat, jump and twirl with
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“Ah-huh” moments

Stories shared from life lessons learned originate in a variety of  circumstances from a vast cast of characters. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and colleagues all contribute to the tales in our personal storybook. Our teachers may tuck us in at night, take us fishing, laugh with us over lunch or instruct us in classrooms where curriculum and syllabi try to structure learning. Good teachers follow the rules. Great teachers encourage “ah-huh” moments by stretching rule limits and recognizing when the student connected the dots outside the box. For me, an “ah-huh” moment is a takeaway that lasts
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Careful or you’ll end up in my Novel

My neighbor interrupted my Thursday morning drive to work with an unexpected gift passed through the open passenger side window. “Good morning, neighbor,” she said.  “I saw this and had to get it for you.  It had your name written all over it.” I laughed at the message on the 7-by-7 inch slab of pine, thanked her, and marveled at the pure thoughtful expression of human connection.  She probably picked it up at a thrift store or garage sale.  Neither of us knows who had it, how they got it or why the owner gave it up.  The story of
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Untold Story

There’s a story I’ve tried to tell but never finished.  It isn’t mine. It belongs to John and Irene. They met on a dance floor in 1948. He was a 28-year-old, never married bachelor from a small town 18 miles away.  She was a 29-year-old widow with a 10-year-old son living with her parents in the house with the family she’d lied to get away from. After four years of Wednesday and Saturday night waltzes, they married and began the journey of life and love together that lasted 43 years. A heart attack took her almost 20  years ago. He
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Too Much

This week’s blog is about backpacks, those appendages with straps we slip our arms through, fill with stuff we think we need, and haul around on our backs like turtle’s shells. An author leading a workshop I attended used the backpack example to advise against loading up a novel with stuff the story doesn’t need; scenes that don’t advance the plot, descriptors that clutter, characters that enter and depart for no apparent reason.  She labelled these unnecessary diversions stuff that we ask our readers to haul around in their imaginary backpacks. Have you ever picked up a book you couldn’t
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