Monday, September 30, 2013


Writer friends are good at asking, "How's the writing?" and truly caring about my answer. Even my non-writer friends ask about my writing occasionally, although they don't totally get the writing thing I do. It's fine that they don't get it because it's the asking that counts. But lately, when people ask about my writing, I struggle with an answer. Because I've been struggling to actually write. Struggling even wanting to write.

Just to be clear:
  • I don't have writer's block.
  • I'm working on a story I love.
  • I do have time to write (at least sometimes).

So, what's my problem? Why don't I want to write? Have I given up? Has my love of writing spiraled down some unseen toilet? Or is it something else? I even have answers to all these questions: I don't know what my problem is; I don't know why I don't want to write; I haven't given up; I do still love writing; and yes, it is something else.

That something else is this, I think: I stopped believing in my writing. Believing it's good enough. Believing others will want to read it. Believing I have stories worth telling. Believing anything will come of the stories I'm writing.

And you all know this is a dark place. A lonely place. A broken place. And I know all writers come here. Some come here many times.

And I know what to do about it. I do. I know I need to write. I need to write through this dark, lonely, broken place.

But will you please remind me?

Monday, September 23, 2013

There Is Still Much to Love

Fall arrived this past Sunday, although you likely knew that. But for me autumn's beginning is September 1st. September 1st oozes fall. No matter how hot it is that day, what color the trees are when I wake up, or what calendar day depicts the actual autumnal equinox, September 1st is fall--probably because my life winds around a school calendar.

Here's a photo I snapped in mid-October last year at a local lake, so in a few weeks it will look like this where I live:

And it's pretty, right? Even downright beautiful. I'd think so too if I could see it the way you probably do. But I've never liked fall, so to me it looks lonely, even a bit sad. I do like many things that take place in the fall, but the cooler days, even cooler nights, and changing colors of leaves that most people adore all remind me that winter's on its way. And winter and I are not pals.

But this fall I'm choosing to focus on all the things I do love that take place in autumn. High school football games. A more scheduled schedule. Not smelling like a post-game football player after I walk my dog. Making homemade soups and stew. Baking with all that piled-up zucchini. Crunching into Honey Crisp apples. You get the idea. So even though it's fall, which I don't love, there's still much to love during the fall.

This is true of any thing, any time, any problem, any anything, don't you think? In the middle of something we don't love, there is still much to love.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Girl from Felony Bay

Here's a book about a girl, written in first person point of view from a girl's perspective, but is truly a book that boys will love. Granted, I'm a girl, but The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson is an adventure and a mystery -- and an action-packed one. That's why I know boys will love it. As well as girls. It's also a book I checked out from my local library but by page 88 I knew I needed my own hardcover. And by page 156 I did have my own.

The premise: Abbey Force has lost almost everything in the last nine months. Her dad's been accused of an enormous robbery and her home, Reward Plantation, has been sold to cover his debts. Worst of all, Abbey's dad's been in a coma since all this came about and can't even clear his name. Then the 'No Trespassing' signs show up on Abbey's old property and she and her new friend Bee start poking around. Turns out what's going on dates all the way back to Civil War times and just might right the wrongs done to Abbey's dad.

What I loved: The adventure. The mystery. The action. Abbey's bravery. And I also love how J.E. Thompson blends the contemporary with the past and weaves needed healing with recent times and the long-ago. It's brilliant. The Girl from Felony Bay is reminiscent of Three Times Lucky with its mystery and its setting-that-becomes-a-character. A great, great story and one I'll read again and again.

For more middle grade recommendations, follow the links on
Happy middle grade reading!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Returning from Summer Camp

With the way my summer shook down, I took a break from many of my usual things. I wish I could say cooking supper was one of those things, but the people in my house need to be fed on a regular basis, so that one didn't work out for me. But I did break from blogging for the most part, and the one thing I took a break from that surprised me was . . . writing.

I haven't written in three months. Three months.

This wasn't a planned break or even a necessary break; it just happened. And it's been okay. I think it will even turn out to be a good thing. We'll see.

The thing is, it's time to dive back into the project I'd been working on--a middle grade adventure with a touch of magical realism. And I'm ready. Those lazy days of summer I love so much are behind me. The sun sets much sooner so darkness falls much earlier. Autumn brings more schedule to my family's life, so even though we're busier now than we are in the summer, it's actually easier to carve out writing time.

The other thing is, since I haven't written for three months, this project and I feel like strangers. Well, maybe not strangers exactly, more like best friends who've been away at different summer camps and now we're together again and things feel a little weird. I've never left a writing project for three months before, so I'm hoping the weirdness fades quickly, and I think the best way to make sure that happens is to read my project. From the beginning to where I stopped writing in June.

But I'm open to advice. When you've taken a writing break, how do you hop back in?