Beautiful Transitions

A month goes by quickly and lo and behold, it’s time to write another post! As we sit on the precipice of summer tumbling into autumn, I find myself once again pondering the transitional time that is September. [Yes, I know it is still technically August] I naturally rely on my flower gardens to gift me with metaphors and symbolism. My two large hydrangea bushes are no exception. In fact, they are the perfect symbol of transition.

Spring to Autumn…my hydrangeas change color from white to pale pink to rusty blush. The blooms also grow on “dead wood,” meaning I don’t prune these gigantic bushes back in the autumn.

Spring to Autumn…my hydrangeas change color from white to pale pink to rusty blush. The blooms also grow on “dead wood,” meaning I don’t prune these gigantic bushes back in the autumn.

Some changes are cataclysmic: abrupt and furious.

Some are a metamorphic: striking changes after hardship.

Some are subtle and a slow trickle: calm, and not always readily visible to the passerby.

But all changes are certain. They happen. Abrupt, striking, after hurdles, and subtle.

Autumn tends to be my season of change. Yes, it’s still August. And the heatwave is wrapping up here in New England. I love September for its weather. Cool, calm, sunny, an extended summer. For the transitions, not so much. School, jobs, life…all tend to congregate in September. Lazy days of summer (though some summers are just as busy!) give way to hectic new schedules. Shorter days. Crisper nights.

Back to my flowers…(because I do obsess a wee).

Spring comes with anticipation, as shoots and buds of early bloomers erupt from the softening winter ground. Summer bursts with a daily rainbow of peak-bloomers, including my day lilies. With late summer and early autumn, the languid days draw to an end and the rusty golds and oranges emerge in the gardens, as the spring and summer flowers wilt, dry, and brown. Then, I sadly say goodbye to all my leafy friends in November as I prune most (but not all) of the perennials. Many need a good shearing for new growth come spring. Hydrangeas grow on dead wood. Lilies if left to decompose, self-fertilize (but admittedly, I do cut them back a bit, too).

My gardens are a subtle and slow change preparing for the sometimes cataclysmic autumn rush.

My September is:

  • The end of my flower gardens (boo!) but the gift of knowing New England autumn foliage is coming

  • The resuming of a regular writing schedule and more writing productivity, with less daily distractions for a work-at-home-mom

  • New writing projects while waiting on others

  • Kids back in school: homework, activities, the “grind”

  • Cooler temperatures, shorter days

  • Quieter moments, more time alone

  • A return to visiting with writer’s group/colleagues

  • Earlier rising

  • New exercise routine

  • And a few other professional/life changes that come with the territory

How is your end of summer and early fall transitioning? Have you been awaiting news (I feel like I am always awaiting news on something)? Are you jumping in head first to professional, academic, or personal changes? Are you blooming after a long stint of hardship? Are you closing one season and moving to a next?

Heedless, we’re told to embrace the changes. Sometimes easier said than done. But as my hydrangeas remind me, the changes can be beautiful.

And yes, I can load this post with a zillion flower garden photos, but if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you’ve likely seen them all already!

Happy end of summer, everyone! What’s in store for your September?

Timing: Fur-babies and Flower-babies

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, the saying goes.

Timing.

Hundreds of quotations exist on it.

We’re working through a rough season in our home. Like my two characters in one of my books, I ponder whether things happen for a reason (fate/universe/God), or by coincidence. I lean toward the first camp in fate vs. coincidence. Does timing have meaning?

IMO, yes.

Last year, I lost a loved one at Thanksgiving, and a close friendship dissolved shortly before then, too. Some anxiety challenges in our home with one child, transitions galore, job challenges…It was a rough fall.

Then came spring/summer.

Last day in the sun. Saying goodbye to our beloved Indy.

Last day in the sun. Saying goodbye to our beloved Indy.

I was supposed to have been out of state this weekend on a press tour/writing media trip. It got delayed (for some reason by the PR company). Then our 15-year-old cat, our beloved Indy (named after yes, Indiana Jones) took a sickly downward spiral while we were away on vacation over Independence Day. We rushed home while our cat-sitter took Indy to the vet on July 5th; thank goodness they were open! She just happened to be checking in on my cat and gardens when he got very sick. I was grateful she was here. Indy was our son’s BFF and one of my fur-babies before human-babies. My son had to go away to a camp two days later. Thankfully, Indy came home from the vet and made it to see his bestie again. Another week later, after diligent hospice care and TLC, Indy joined the warrior cats in the sky. Now we are all processing the grief. But the timing…we are thankful we were here for him.

15 years of love…

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Well, hmm, that timing thing? We had planned to adopt a new cat for the kids—a three-month in-the-making surprise. It was all planned ahead of time. When Indy fell ill, we told the kids about the surprise, and the new cat arrived last week per the already planned schedule…and such a joy she’s been to add to our family. Not meant to be a replacement, but rather a companion for Indy, here she is, my new buddy sitting beside me while I write, and a youthful spirit for the kids. She is chatty, sweet, affectionate, and frisky! Another interesting point: the cat’s name is Tres (she was found and fostered; a young 1-year-old momma with three kittens, hence Tres). I am revising a new book where the protagonist has cats; one is named Tres. I do not lie. This naming happened BEFORE we even knew of our new cat’s existence. Eerie…or fate? Timing?

Tres looking out her favorite spot, and over my petunias.

Tres looking out her favorite spot, and over my petunias.

Mother Nature, usually a BFF of mine (as I love everything nature…landscapes, wildlife, exploring our world’s gems), served me a cold dose of reality this summer. My flower gardens are my third love (after family/pets and writing)…they even come before coffee! This year, the rabbits, voles, ants, beetles, fungi/microbes and God-knows what else have decided my numerous and bountiful gardens are their all-you-can-eat buffet.

How can a person become so attached to flowers? I don’t know. Flowers are my utopia. They bring me joy. I baby them. To see meadow sage and phlox I planted ten years ago and have nurtured since, be taken out in one fell swoop—heart-wrenching. Catmint nibbled. Day lilies devoured from the ground up. Raspberries chewed by beetles (still holding hope for a fall crop…), apple trees that have struggled since their planting years ago once again dropping leaves and unripe fruit. Asiatic lilies gave up the fight against the beetles this spring. So much loss.

…I replanted some flowers, repeatedly, only to have the voles delight in another a la carte meal. I hired the Vole Whisperer to come and do his magic…and I *hope* we’ve taken a positive turn after the carnage. I’ve got zealous voles apparently. So-many-holes.

Why all this ramble? Well, it’s been a rough year. But it all comes back to timing. Things happen when they are supposed to…at least I think so. Bummed over my missed trip, I was grateful to be here for Indy’s final days. My cat sitter happened to visit Indy at just the right moment. This weekend, my children’s grandparents had planned to come, in time to help ease the kids’ balms (though that was not the original reason for the visit). Tres joined our family at just the right time. Another missed trip that worked out for the better. Indy waiting for his BFF to return from camp before he passed on to the next life.

Timing.

Now, I am still trying to figure out my timing on the flowers. Hindsight. Maybe this fall I’ll know why. Or next summer.

Timing of course passes over into other parts of our lives, too. I’ve seen it on my road to publication (and still see it while running the course). Hindsight really is twenty-twenty. Until then, I keep doing what I am doing.

Happy Women's Fiction Day!

CELEBRATE THE FIRST ANNUAL WOMEN’S FICTION DAY ON JUNE 8, 2019

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The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) is pleased to announce the first ever Women’s Fiction Day on June 8, 2019, in celebration of women’s fiction authors, novels, publishers, book sellers, and most importantly, readers who appreciate women’s fiction and the power of a great story.

What Is Women's Fiction?

Women's fiction includes layered stories in which the plot is driven by the main character’s emotional journey. The stories occur across genres: contemporary or historical, and may have magical, mystery, thriller, romance, or other elements.

The Women’s Fiction Day logo represents the organization’s inclusivity, the joy of reading, and the infinite number of stories that fall under this vibrant genre.

In honor of this celebration, I am giving away my book!

ENTER TO WIN A SIGNED PAPERBACK or E-BOOK COPY OF

WILL RISE FROM ASHES:

(make sure to hit the right arrow if you wish to enter for the E-BOOK giveaway)

I write across genres including historical romance (with paranormal elements), contemporary romance, and women’s fiction. The stories all weave a similar thread. Love (parental, partner, or sibling), spirituality, hope, journeys & nature tend to be my threads. Will Rise from Ashes is a story of heartache, healing and hope that takes the reader on both a physical and emotional journey with AJ Sinclair and her son, Will.

I would love to hear from you!

What are some of your favorite Women’s Fiction stories or authors?

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Is living more than mere survival?

Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can't lose another loved one.

Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ's fear of driving and Reid's military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ's anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family's present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.

Will Rise from Ashes is Available from AmazonBarnes and NobleiTunes, KoboGoogle Play

Into the Wild: An Extroverted Introvert's Day Out

I’ve been delinquent in keeping up with my blog posts as of late, while on the heels of three new book releases. I still have a topic floating in the back of my mind about “Life on Plan B.” That one will come. Today, something different stirred me. I was going to post about the “writer’s life” as I work from home and juggle family, house, and all the stuff life slaps at you. Instead, I want to write about being out in the wild. As in…home-bound authors who venture out! (p.s. yes, I’m talking to you other writers who hole away in seclusion for too long…I personally go a bit nutty being home with just me, myself, and I most days.)

I’m an extroverted introvert meaning I prefer to stay home for some R&R with family, gardening, writing, TV, or books but I do love to go out and talk with other humans. I miss the camaraderie of an office (but not the drama). Not big parties or loud events (though I can navigate those just fine), but rather if I do go out, my #1 place is to enjoy nature either by boot, paddle, or pedal. If needed, I can also rock it in the extroverted world. Hence I’m an extroverted introvert. I write in cafes, waiting areas, doctor’s offices, coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, my car during parent pick-up at school or at the bus-stop….the list is long. If I can tote my computer with me and I have some down time, I write…with or without noise and distractions. I can filter them out (or pop in earbuds).

I also observe in the wild.

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Newborn baby crying next to me…momma ushering her two or three little ones through the door: both tug at the heartstrings because I have been there (and I’m still there sometimes). They aren’t distractions to me (perhaps because I’ve been writing around the “chaos” in my house for the past ten years). Instead, they are reminders of life. My observations of the world outside my house.

Out in the wild today…I visited a new mechanic’s shop to deal with a recurring problem. I was at my wit’s end with this ongoing issue with my SUV. At 180K miles, it has kid stickers plastered on the windows, stained seats, and ground goldfish on the floor (okay, those were vacuumed up yesterday). It has also seen many years in my family’s life. I arrived at the mechanic’s shop with Plan B: I wore my sneakers in case I needed to go for a walk while waiting, and I brought my laptop in case the shop had a waiting area. Score! My first choice prevailed (writing).

I sat, dug into edits, but soon found myself chatting with the mechanics. One talked all things books. He loves to read and I am a writer: instant chitchat! The other one and I conversed about travel…we’ve ventured to a few similar places such as Yosemite and Yellowstone. Though I came prepared to work (or walk), I ended up working for just a fraction of the time, carrying on lively conversations instead. Car fixed, I now have a new mechanic’s shop to go to. And for a writer who spends most of her time at home or talking to her children, it fed my need to socialize and connect with others.

What finally spurred me to write the post today was what I saw today at lunch. After the mechanic detour and some errands, I needed to eat before heading off to an appointment. I stopped at a fast food joint (nicely remodeled with comfy chairs and service). I located a cozy spot (watching the door) and prepared for a 45 minute editing power session.  

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Beside me sat a middle-aged man with his two senior parents. Maybe it’s because I am a mom to two sons, but I found myself drawn to their interaction. Part of being in the wild is people-watching. The man tenderly, lovingly took care of his mother and father. Answered their repeated questions. Treated them with respect, nurturing, and compassion. I’ll be honest, I got teary-eyed. It tugged at my heartstrings. I can only hope I will raise my sons to be the same gentle-spirited, kind adult souls.

[Side tangent: My 12-year-old son with special needs patiently taught me how to ride a bike this weekend after he just only got his training wheels off at age 11 this fall—wow, he is a sweetheart! And what a humbling, heart-squeezing moment. “Mom, this is how you change gears…” he said as I made him promise to not let go of my handle bar while he walked beside me. The display of the older man with his parents reminded me of my son and fed my wish that he will grow up to be that type of human being.]

Where am I going with this disjointed ramble? Not sure. All that I know is some days, when we are harried by frustrations like overbooked schedules and missing our editing deadlines and dealing with the same old car issue, life shows us the beauty of the wild. Friendly chats, tender adult sons, snapshots of life among the chaos.

My power session flew quickly and I wrote this blog post instead of editing. Then I rushed off to the appointment, dealt with the kid after-school-hustle, yada yada. I hope to snatch a few crumbs of time here and there to keep editing this evening (around the chaos).

Did I enjoy my venture into the wild, away from the isolation of home? Yes, yes I did. And I highly recommend that we all take a break from the workload, even if we need to force it (I know this can be more difficult for some people) and get out into the wild.

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I’d love to hear from you. Are you an introvert, extrovert, or some mishmash between? How do you get out into the wild, explore the world, and feed your soul?