instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Random Musings

So much to do. So little time.

Francesca age 19
"Remember to breathe," my ex used to tell me, the one piece of good advice he ever gave me. Oh yes. Stand straight was another. I remember this midst the flurry of marketing activity surrounding A View of the Lake,my newest book. Meanwhile, the sequel to the Scent of God: Looking for Francesca the story of the search, after her death, for the daughter I lost when she was a teen, has moved to its next important stage. I received a $1,500 McKnight/ACHF/ARAC Career Development Grant for an editorial critique of this manuscript. This manuscript, after a frenetic rush to receive and incorporate first readers' insights, is now with Alison McGhee -- Pulitzer Prize nominee and NYT best selling author -- who plans to return the manuscript next week and has already sent me great suggestions about tightening the structure. Meanwhile, the weather here on Lake Superior shimmers in summertime glory and tempts me outside and away from my computer. A glorious excuse to catch my breath, stand straight, and open my arms to life. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Launching a new book

It's out and officially celebrated. Last night the publisher held a wonderful party for me at their offices in Duluth. I was nervous at first, not knowing what to expect. I wonder if it's always like this, the author and event coordinators hoping and praying that people show up. I had one reading in Chicago (for the Scent of God) that was attended only by staff and 4 readers. Oh, the inner distress at having to give this news to the publicist. I felt as if it were my fault for not being the hot author they'd envisioned. All that money spent on sending me to Chicago and putting me up at a swank hotel. The launch party was FUN. While not attended by hundreds, it was a roaring success and the book (and I)got mentioned on Duluth TV. Here's the link should you be interested. There's a short ad first so don't give up. Read More 
Be the first to comment

When your kids are Frazzled

Don’t let the modest size of TFC for Frazzled Kids by Nancy Goodell and Ann Garrett fool you. Its 104 pages are packed with so much wisdom that, while reading it, I kept asking myself “Where was this book when I needed it?” This mighty little book could also be titled TLC for Frazzled Parents of Frazzled Kids. Every page within every short chapter throws a lifeline to parents and caretakers at their wits end as to how best help their children during difficult times. Goodell and Garrett have spent their lives working with children who exhibit out-of-control behaviors. During her 40 years as a teacher serving at-risk children during which Goodell developed a model that help grownups help kids. Garrett, the author of six published children’s books, spent years working with severely disturbed children and began using Goodell’s model while working with her at a therapeutic school. “We cannot protect our children from the challenges they face, but we can support them to learn strategies that will enable them to be safe and successful, even when they are stressed,” writes Goodell. Over the years, her definition of frazzled kids has broadened to include all children who at one time or another lose control. Delightfully illustrated by renowned cartoonist Gaspar Vaccaro, TLC for Frazzled Kids provides adults with a step-by-step process to use with “frazzled” children. The techniques are simple. For example: set clear limits to ensure safety and success; issue comprehensible guidance and offer affirming feedback; apply logical and natural consequences to reinforce personal responsibility; encourage honesty in a non-punitive environment; maintain a calm, balanced, non-threatening demeanor; establish routines; have realistic expectations; encourage children to recognize their bodily responses to stress and to develop calming strategies. Not all of us are prepared to be the parent our children need us to be. This book can help rectify that situation. Parents and children can build the bridge together. Read More 
Post a comment

It's About Time

I've been so busy working on finishing the sequel to The Scent of God, and connecting with the publisher on my soon to be released A View of the Lake, that I've neglected this blog which, if properly utilized provides a great tool for keeping me focused and on track. We've been enjoying a several months hiatus in Florida with its attendant delights -- beach, pool, parks, bikes, nearby access to everything from food to movies (I mention the latter two items because on the North Shore of Lake Superior "nearby" access does not exist). Visits from friends and family seeking to escape the blustery brutal winter that's prevailed elsewhere across the nation provided yet another excuse to neglect my blogging here and elsewhere. Nevertheless, I've almost finished the second (well actually 4th) draft of Looking for Francesca with its attendant letting of blood, tears, and laughter. Because the manuscript has grown unwieldy with stories, each of which to my eyes is important, I've applied for a Arts Board Grant for editorial critique by a professional with a sharp eye and merciless hand.  Read More 
Post a comment

Lake Superior in Advent

Lake Superior’s North Shore is a craggy, rugged land with only six inches of topsoil on some of the oldest rock exposed rock on earth. Over 90 % of the land is state and national forest. Two thousand square miles of land with an average population according to the latest census of 3.6 persons per mile. Towns are small. The town where I live boasts fewer than 200 residents. It’s quiet up here, the predominant sound that of waves crashing against ledge rock, and the peregrine falcons and ring-billed gulls cruising above. It’s a place where you’d better love the out-of-doors because there is little indoor activity to distract you. TV reception is inaccessible unless you have satellite and that’s expensive. Night life focuses primarily on lodges and taverns, when they’re open, the occasional community theater production or visiting musical group. Those who don’t live here wonder what we do with ourselves. There’s little industry save tourism. Mostly the area caters to tourists, artists, people wanting to escape city life. In warm weather we hike, pick berries, watch birds, canoe the boundary waters and challenge Lake Superior in kayaks. The lake is too cold for swimming. In winter we hunt, snow shoe, ski, run sled dogs, watch the night sky. Deer, wolves, bear and an occasional moose wander our woods. It’s a perfect place for a monastery, here where God’s bounty is so clearly visible. Contemplative living should flow naturally in such a place, one would think, yet perfect places do not guarantee perfect lives. Always we lug ourselves around, not seeing clearly, not listening closely, always dependent on God’s love to rekindle the fires of yearning within us. Advent approaches, reminding us that the Incarnation was willed through eternity as an expression of God’s love for us. In a beautiful meditation on Advent, Sallie Latkovich CSJ writes that in Advent we contemplate the three ways of Christ’s coming: in history, in our daily lives, and in the second coming. “I’ve been thinking that we’ve got it all wrong,” she writes. “We need not wait for God. God is always present, always with us . . . this Advent I’ve come to see that it’s GOD who waits for us . . . [God who] waits for us to notice the myriad ways in which God is with us, always.”  Read More 
Post a comment

The Aniversary of her Death

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of my 24-year old daughter Francesca's death. Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun was bright, the air clear, the weather crisp. My husband Bill and I hiked to the top of Lookout Mountain where we ate a picnic lunch. Back home, I walked our wild labyrinth, then sat on the big cedar swing where she and I sat the last time I saw her. The swing is next to the place where we buried her ashes -- a gorgeous spot on the other side of our footbridge and overlooking Lake Superior. Yesterday was a good day, but the day before, the ninth anniversary of the day she was supposed to have arrived home, was harder. The same weightiness that troubled me that day bound me in an inner darkness. I haven't felt that dullness for years and was surprised at its reappearance. All one can do in such instances is enter into the silence. Read More 

Good Intentions

The time spent in my writing shed has yielded fruit. I've finished the final draft of A View From the Lake which will be published next May by Port Cities Inc. And, after a cursory rereading of my first three drafts of The Girl Behind the Mask, the sequel to The Scent of God, I am moving with more certain steps across that rocky terrain. With thousands of pages of journal entries to guide this journey back into the events, decisions, doubts, and regrets that would eventually lead to my daughter's violent unresolved death, I have the data. Now comes the hard part: getting to the story beneath the story where insight lies and healing takes place. Read More 

I live in my writing shed

My friends and neighbors think I've moved. When they see me they ask how long I'll be visiting. I tell them I've been here all along. I have moved, in a way . . . to my writing shed where I write -- not emails or blogs or twitters but books and articles. I work in the writing shed because it has no internet or telephone to distract me. A desk, computer, several shelves of books, and piles of research materials comprise its furnishings. My writing shed sits next to the attached garage, maybe 50 feet from the house. I head there after my morning rituals (stretch, meditate, read) and sometimes emerge for lunch, or to take a hike to air my brain cells. Rarely to visit. I'm heading back there now to finish the final edits on my next book: A View of the Lake: Living the Dream. Filled with laughter and learning and conflict, A View of the Lake should interest anyone who dreams of moving to a gorgeous locale and wonders what such a move entails and how it will impact their lives. Meanwhile, I keep working on the sequel to The Scent of God: The Girl Behind the Mask a journey to understand and forgive the decisions that led to my daughter's violent and unresolved death at the age of 24. To uncover, after her death, the beautiful tormented daughter I never really knew.  Read More 

Morning Light

Every morning, for the past week, as I sit to meditate and raise my face to the rising sun, an eagle has soared past -- so close its wingtips seem to brush the window.

What color are you?

Remember the days when color consultants popped up like mushrooms throughout the nation to coordinate skin tone for wardrobe and makeup. These Color-Me-Beautiful consultants analyzed clients’ skin as being spring-, summer-, winter-, or fall–toned. Don’t remember? Well I do. I fell for that fad and went for my own analysis (Fall, in case you’re curious). This morning while reading the Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, I was reminded of that Color Me Beautiful analysis when I came across a story adapted from Anthony De Mello’s Song of the Bird. “A preacher put this question to a class of children. “If all the good people in the word were red and all the bad people were green, what color would you be? Little Linda Jean thought mightily for a moment. The her face brightened as she replied: “Reverend, I’d be streaky.” “Streaky.” Isn’t that a wonderful description of being human? Linda Jean knew she was neither all good nor all bad but was a mixture of both good and bad. Despite the fact that we all play host to a similar combination of good and bad we seem more inclined to view things as "either/or." For some reason, judging someone (something or some nation) as bad seems the more dangerous. Substitute “evil” for bad and we make seeing “good” almost impossible. We had the perfect example of such blinding to goodness the day President Bush slapped the term “axis of evil” onto Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. Though we can be incredibly hard on ourselves, we are not quite so tough on the people we’ve already judged as good. When we see evil within them, we make excuses. They are only human we say. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of being streaky. Read More