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Happy Tuesday

As I sit overlooking the parking lot of KJ’s Cafe, the sky gray and clouds hovering, the asphalt still caked with the snow that has iced over, falling snow flakes almost invisible to the eye, I’m letting my imagination go where it will. I’ve begun the first chapter of my next book in my Everyday Goddesses series even as I’m still fleshing out my characters. Breet has occupied many pages of the series so far and readers may think they know her. Waif-like, somewhat timid, a storyteller, a librarian, a woman with the heart of a child, at times innocent, who is finally growing comfortable in her skin. There’s still much to be revealed, and I’m always anxious to get to the meat of the story. I’ve found that in the writing, even when I don’t know the exact direction I’m going in, things unfold in spontaneous ways, sort of like life.

It’s the male lead of the story who no one has met yet. Well, no one but Breet. He arrives in Eden as bold and as reckless as ever, with his confidence and intelligence intact. Nothing much about has changed since she was eighteen, except maybe the crow’s feet that come from age or hard living, and the cynicism in his eyes. When adventure had called he’d answered, leaving Eden behind, and he’d been following it since, across continents and into war zones, chasing after the truth. She was one of the few who knew the reason behind it. He’d been running, as far away as he could, but now he was back, biting humor and all.

The quiet life she’d built for herself is about to become upended. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.

Next…

Yesterday I wrote the last line of Gardens of Eden. It felt good because I’d been struggling with the epilogue. After a couple of days letting it simmer in my mind, it bubbled up and flowed onto the page with ease. This is the first draft, which I’ll let sit for a week before going back to re-read and adapt. It’ll be going to my editor in February so I have time to get it just the way I want it.

So what’s’ next?

I’ve started developing my characters for The Girl from Nowhere. Brigid Frazier’s been part of every story in the series, so anyone who’s been reading the books knows she’s the storyteller of the tribe, who ‘s a child at heart, loves fairies, and cheers on the elementals who live in her garden, playful and mischievous in spite of her upbringing. She’s been working on her fairy tales for years, since she was a kid trying to escape her situation in life. Once upon a time leads her to all kinds of what if’s, some good, some more real than she wants.

I’ve yet to introduce the man who’ll be arriving in Eden very soon, one whom she knows, has a history with but hasn’t seen in ten years. Gabriel Bresnahan comes in like a typhoon, and creates a whirlwind of emotion Breet’s not sure she’ll survive.

As I fill out my character chart, I’m finding that they are exact opposites: Brigid is cautious, tentative, imaginative, inhibited, gentle, and believes in make believe, where Gabe is reckless, inflexible, bold, uninhibited, analytical, and doggedly pursues the truth. The only things they have in common other than their past, is their curiosity and intelligence.

I can’t wait to get started on their story but I have a few books to read first, about foster care and investigative reporting. Then I’ll be better able to answer the dozens of questions I still have about the past, their relationships, attitudes, beliefs, accomplishments, goals and dreams.

Gardens of Eden

The sixth book in my Everyday Goddesses series is set on a twenty-acre garden nursery, where Inanna Rusnik lives, works and breathes. As a fourth generation sower of seeds, she created cherished hideaways in the fields among the wildflowers growing in abandon, or standing amidst the towering sunflowers. If only I had those kind of experiences. I am the person you never give a plant to if you want it to survive, never mind thrive. My son has finally learned this after years of my killing every plant he gave me, usually with kindness. Too much water, too much sun, too much fertilizing.

But the more I read about gardeners, and appreciate their vibrant and colorful gardens, I am coming to understand the importance of surrounding myself with nature. It’s a good thing I live in a semi-rural area where there are trees, shrubs and other things green. I can step outside my door to get what I need. Next year I just might try my hand at a wildflower garden and add to the backdrop.

As usual, I’ve chosen a theme I knew little about for this book and as always I’m learning a lot and not only about plants, vegetables and trees. I’m beginning to understand that the process of planting effects us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Planting a seed, is like planting a miracle. The seed knows to burst out of its casing, sprout, and pierce the earth before inching its way toward the sun. It’s a kernel of potential, that if left to its own devices, will do exactly what it was meant to do.

Ina’s finding out, she should hang back, and become the seed, letting nature takes its course. Grow

Happy Tuesday

Someone who’s reading my Goddess series asked me recently if a lot of what I’ve experienced ends up in my stories. And in a word, the answer is, yes. How could it not?

In Thrown For A Curve, Melinda, Crackerjack’s mother, catches him during high school, when he practices at home. When she tells Izabella that she earned a lot of bruises during the sessions, it came from my own catching days when my son was a pitcher for his high school. My arms had circular black and blue marks for days on end, but it never caused me to stop. I loved the connection, and being athletic myself, it was a way for me to participate.

Magic Bean Cafe mirrors my son’s process when he opened up a coffee shop a couple of years ago. I was taking notes, knowing that I would be introducing Rhea as a cafe owner in my first book. I wanted Magic Bean to be the meeting place where the friends would meet up for coffee and gossip.

Dogs play a big role in some of the stories, many of the anecdotes coming from the antics of my own.

My baseball series contain numerous tidbits that I learned growing up with a baseball loving father. Carl Yastrzemski, a golden glove left fielder for the Red Sox back in the sixties, was the template for Gilbert Demers, the Greenliner who’s number was retired.

The titles of some of my Goddess series come from the work I’ve done in the realm of the Divine Feminine. Once Thee Was a Tree features a women warrior, and the tree of life, a symbol of strength and protection. In Can’t Be Tamed, I use the lioness as a symbol of power, ferocity and courage, as shown on the cover. Each of the goddesses are aligned with a symbol: scales of justice, labyrinth, bee, wheat staff, bird, and spiral.

In the Fire and Ice series, Mia grew up on a farm with horses. I have connections to a horse farm in Florida and have never felt more at peace when there. Horses are magical beings and Mia has the kind of symbiotic connection that comes when riding. I vividly remember my son riding one of the horses at the farm, and being awed by the harmony between animal and rider. I once took lessons, and when the trainer was answering a phone call, the horse I was riding took off, galloping around the corral. It was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time. I somehow was able to keep my seat but I think it was because it was one of those times, I let go and went with the flow and it worked to my advantage. (That experience ended up in one of the books.)

I studied the Tao for a while, actually writing my own version of the tenets. In Gardens of Eden, I had the opportunity to introduce “the way” and how it impacted my life.

They say to write what you know. I don’t exactly follow that rule, wanting to learn all I can about subjects that interest me, like Cuba, gardening, our troops in Afghanistan, and beekeeping but I do end of bringing part of me into each story as well.

It’s been a while!

I haven’t come to this particular page in months and I as we head toward the end of this year, I’m getting excited about turning the page for a fresh start.

Some may think that isolation is good for a writer. Isn’t it easier to imagine a mental scene without any distractions? In normal times, I’d say yes, but these are not normal times. Now that I have an abundance of time, my imagination seems to have dried up. Without being able to people watch, create snippets of what if’s, or be swept up in life affirming activities, there’s an absence of the necessary stimulation needed to get the neurons sparking.

But I still come to the page of the book I’m writing as faithfully as ever, writing pages, then going back and re-writing, and going back and re-writing, trying to dig for emotional responses that have been buried beneath layers of inactivity and boredom, and revive senses numbed by living in an insulated world.

But with every walk I take with the dog, I am breathing in the cold wintery air, moving at a brisk pace, making my limbs sing. I listen to the caw of the crows flying overhead, and connect again with the world around me. With each Christmas CD I listen to in the car, I am awakening to the spirit of the season: love is blossoming in my heart, and gratitude for all I I have continues to expand. Life is good, family is important, friends keep us tethered and grounded, and it’s a great time to be alive.