Why We Do Things

I spent the morning of my birthday working in my gardens: noting which plants were returning with vigor, which plants were spreading out of control, and which had been happily discovered by the neighborhood bunny, as well as deer, which frequent our yard. Alas, hostas are their favorite, and so far, the deer repellant is only keeping me out of the yard. Solely because of  the stench. A stench that our dog  finds irresistable. To suck in through his nostrils. Roll in obsessively. And run around the yard in celebration, obviously believing he has made himself that much more attractive by coating his white fur in deer poo.

It is not attractive. Nor cute, or even funny. While it hinges on disgusting, I try not to bruise Merlin’s ego. From a distance, I smile at him. He takes notice. Charges at me, and then (thank goodness) veers to the side as if egging on a chase.  And so I go for  the goal. I dash after him (around the property twice), trap him in my arms and hold him as far away from me as possible. Not far enough. And definitely too close to the mail lady who drives down our driveway at exactly that moment to deliver a package. And two rejection letters. With one whiff of the dog, she tosses our mail and makes a run for her truck.

I should be so lucky.

Bathing begins. Water. Soap. Conditioner. He shakes his fur out. Sprays me. And still stinks. I put him back in the tub. Tell him not to jump out. Or else. Open the rejection letters. Read them with no time to moan because I am dealing with life and poo. And . . . there are open invitations to submit more of my work.  And a couple of good suggestions about reworking the manuscripts. 

Then I remember Merlin. He hangs on the edge of the tub looking quite small and sad, and wanting very much to escape. Back to the spots of poo, I am sure. We repeat the bathing process until his scent is what I call manageable. After filing the letters in my sacred rejection binder, I return to the gardens.

With a kerchief around my nose, I begin to add fresh dirt to the flower beds. It is a long and tedious process, and I  find myself getting distracted by the vines overhead, choking the trees. And soon, I find that this is what I am doing: tackling the invasive weeds.  From the ground, they extend sixty feet above my head in various patterns. They have found their way into the birdhouses: the first place I rid my yard of these unwelcome plants. Above my head, squirrels scamper across the ropes of vine, leaping from tree to tree. I feel small and weak when I study the extent of their existence. I want them gone.

No more, I think, and begin to pull.  Yank,  and bear all my weight against the base of one vine. Thorns cut through my gardening gloves, but I persist.  Bring it on! Hand over hand, I tug hard against the rope. Step backwards. Bend my knees. Shake the beast. Move to the left. Then the right. Widen my stance and . . . Voila! One down, which doesn’t seem to make a difference.

I take off my gloves. Pull out the thorns and go in with a vengeance. Dead tree branches are precariously perched above my head, entangled in the vines. Please don’t come crashing down on me, because if they do, and my daughter is the paramedic on call, she is going to be really peeved at me. She’s already been the EMT on scene when I flipped a car on black ice, only to be trapped upside down until they could cut the car apart. I still have flashbacks when I hear the sirens of a fire truck.

With this memory still strong, I lean back, study the dead branches, and decide to not be so careless. I pick another site and put my fighting mentality to work. Hoping for the best, I throw my weight against one of the larger vines. It is tenacious. Fifteen minutes later, I am nearly swinging like a monkey on the darn thing just to get it to fall down. It doesn’t, but I do. Sitting on my bottom, I try to understand why I need to pull these vines down. More than the yard having a better appearance. Beyond rescuing the trees from what looks like strangulation to me, it is about why I need to do this.

The fight within me to battle the weeds has subsided for the moment. And in its place comes a deeper understanding related to my writing. In particular, one of my newer middle grade novels. My protagonist adores something, and when the item is destroyed at the paws of her cat, she becomes intent on fixing them. She is funny and strong-willed, but I always felt something was missing. Until today. Until I was obsessed with those darn vines, which I was meant to struggle with because of where it led me.

While E.B. Louise makes me laugh, and is a pleasure to wake up to, and work on in the morning, the story is deeper than I imagined. Until I tackled the vines and was faced with asking myself, Why am I compelled with pulling down these weeds? I didn’t truly understand.

The stench of the deer repellant permeates our yard. Flower beds await my return. Vines dangle from the trees. Merlin paws at the door to be let out. Off come the gloves while I run to the house.

Yes, the vines will still be here. The dog will once again rub in deer poop. Rejection letters will arrive in my mail. But what matters is that I now have a clear understanding of why my protaganist needs to fix her beloved slippers. It is, after all, the heart of the piece.

So if you ever find yourself compelled to do something, stop and ask yourself why. You never know what you might discover.

And for those people interested in the gorilla photos I promised, go to www.normanthegorilla.wordpress.com

Happy discoveries to all!


Whispering Pines Is Well Worth The Trip

Five days after leaving Whispering Pines, where I attended a writing retreat, I am still reeling from the high quality of the NE SCBWI event.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt was a stupendous leader. Caring and funny, she kept us to our schedule like the best of ringmasters. She always goes above and beyond what you would expect of an organizer and does it with her unique style!

Lynda, I thank you!

Our mentors also went beyond all expectations, offering the best first-page panel I have ever attended. Their thoughtful comments necessitated endless note-taking on how to craft a first page and beyond. Throughout the two days, we were privy to hear each of the mentors individually. Award-winning author Cynthia Lord, editors Connie Hsu and Alexandra Penfold, agent Rebecca Sherman, and author-illustrator Carlyn Beccia offered advice, shared their tools for crafting, and allowed us glimpses into their worlds. Beyond their presentations, the mentors all gave thorough and thoughtful critiques. I walked away with new tools to use and a way to tackle improving one of my manuscripts. Of course, the advice I received is applicable to all of my writing, which I find thrilling.

To all our mentors, thank you!

The inspiration did not end there. It continued with the attendees. All wonderful and welcoming. The basket raffle, coordinated by Jan Kozlowski, and of course, the food. The endless food. As well as the desserts, which I tried to pass on, but once you’ve seen their desserts, you just let go and dive in. The servers did assure me they contained little or no calories, and I was able to suspend disbelief. Long enough to graciously accept  a serving of dessert. At lunch. At dinner. At . . .

Five days later, I am still left with the images of the grounds at Whispering Pines. The rock in the lake. The bare trees. The empty porch awaiting the presence of writers. Writers thinking. Writers talking. Writers writing. And it seems fitting that a writing retreat be held there. In the dead of winter.

And so, with these images fresh in my mind, I think of the middle grade novel I am revising as a tree. A tree in a forest.  In the dead of winter. This is when you see the tree as it is. Tall and strong. Waiting patiently for spring to arrive. 

As a writer, I must protect my tree. My story. I must allow it room to grow and keep weeds from sneaking up around its base. Slowly strangling the story.

While winter still prevails, I can clearly see the vines, which choke my characters. I sit and visualize the core of my story. Then I chip away at the vines, only to discover how deep their roots go. I will need a shovel to dig deeper. And then I yank as hard as possible, sometimes falling backwards. But I get up. Again and again. And I tackle the vine until every piece has been pulled from the ground and my tree, my story, has room to breathe again. New shoots of clarity appear like green buds on branches.  Leaves bring color and life back to my tree. Flowers spring up. Sun warms the earth. Winter comes to an end.

But still, I must continue to protect and care for my story. Watch for new vine to sneak up through the ground when I am not looking. I trim the dead branches. I give the tree room to expand and reach for the sky, until the time comes for me to let go. The time when my story is fully developed and can stand on its own.

When I know I have done my job as a writer.

My Writing Room Treasures

What inspires me in my writing space?
1. My books – organized by topics and age groups. Picture books are on the bottom so my granddaughter can reach them easily. Once a month we change the theme on top of the bookcases.
2. My Steiff collection – many are from my childhood. The smallest bears are worn at the tips of their paws, and I love them more because of this.
3. Gifts from my daughters which symbolize their belief in my writing: angels, magnets which remind me to never give up; to listen to my inward voice.
4. Photos of my family.
5.The Critters mug with a shield of my on-line novel critique group. All six of us remain dedicated to writing, to being honest about our work, and to supporting each other outside of the writing world. Thank you, Marie, Kathryn, Faith, Susan, and Paula- my dear Critter family. Kathyrn Hulick designed the shield for us. Marie Tobin surprised us with Critter mugs this Christmas.
6. The angel which appears in my novel, Momma’s Eyes. I happened upon her in Martha’s Vineyard (after the first draft was written) where a song called Savannah was playing in the store. Savannah is my heroine in this particular novel and she had shown me this angel in my dreams. But never did I think I would actually find the angel.
7. Elephant and his tree – A statue I found in a small shop in Athens, Greece. He had to come home with me as I have always been drawn to elephants. One of my favorite picture books is Elephant Moon by Bijou Le Tord.
8. Rocks and sand from places I have been to. Savannah’s spirit was with me when I chose the rocks.
9. Artwork by artists I have met at craft shows.
My desk and computer are in front of my windows so I can look out and see the trees. My writing couch is most always occupied by Norman, the gorilla, Merlin, our sheltie, and our two cats, Joey and Terrapin. 
What inspires you in your writing space?

Rejection: A Reason to Reassess

My husband does not usually ask me questions about my writing. He allows me my space. He understands when I hold up my do-not-disturb hand because I am deep into the character’s head. He is patient when I disappear for hours on end, laughing alone with a story, or crying as I write something particularly difficult or emotional.

When John learned he would be laid off in the beginning of 2010, he was suddenly curious about how I handled rejection letters, and why I never got upset or took it personally. I told him it is a matter of having a positive attitude, and making conscious choices about how you react. For the first time, I showed him the binder where I keep my rejection letters, carefully filed by date and editor. It is a binder I am proud of. It reminds me that I tried against all odds. It shows my determination. My belief in my work.

I have known what rejection looks like since I was a little girl and the mailman would try to push one of my father’s rejected manuscripts through a thin slot in our front door. I would stand there watching the manilla envelope rip as the mailman struggled to force it through the slot. I would pray that he would give up and try again on Monday so our weekend wouldn’t be ruined by my father receiving the bad news. Inevitably, the mailman knocked on our door.  And not only did I have to sign for the package, I was the messenger.  The expression on my father’s face after I handed him his mail on those particular Saturday mornings are images I will never forget.  

Perhaps those memories shaped how I view my personal rejections. I do not see them as that. I see the letters in my binder as reasons to celebrate. They are letters I have learned from, letters which have encouraged me, letters which have shaped my growth as a writer. For every editor who gave me a small piece of their time and attention, or asked for revisions, which allowed my mind to stretch in new ways, or kept a door open for other work, I am forever grateful. 

Rejection is simply a word that begins with the letters re, and I try to use rejection in a positive way. It leads me to other words beginning with the letters re: revision, reassessment, rejoice, and resolution, among others.

I start by reading the rejection. Once or twice. I put the manuscript and the letter away. I rest my mind. I relish in reading or painting or sewing or beading necklaces.  And then I re-evaluate. I renew my promise to my character to write the best I can.  I reassess my writing and then rejoice in the process of revision. I resolve to keep trying, keep learning, and to always reach higher.

In the case of a job, rejection or being laid-off can offer you a reason to change your life. To reach for a goal, long forgotten. To remember what truly made you happy.

The loss of a job is terrifying–at the very least–but a door opens, and with the right attitude, you will find yourself walking through that door and into a new world. A new year. New possibilities. A more meaningful life.

Step through open doors with courage and conviction. The worst that can happen is you get a rejection.

At least, you tried.

For anyone interested in an editor’s take on rejection letters, click on the link for Editor Alvina Ling’s blog. It is well worth the read. Thank you, Alvina, for sharing your process and insight with writers. http://bluerosegirls.blogspot.com/2009/10/decline-letters-101.html

Take Joy in the Journey


Having returned from Idaho, I reflect on my time in Boise, where I helped to make gingerbread houses, attended The Nutcracker ballet at Ballet Idaho, perfected my Girl Scout salute, watched the movie Up for the third time (cried for the third time), was inspired by nineteen girls to find the true meaning of Christmas, visited the cancer clinic, listened to other people struggling in their lives (hugged them tight), read to my nieces, tended to my sister, learned that my husband was laid off from his job , decorated my sister’s house for the holidays, folded laundry,read to my nieces, loaded the dishwasher, unloaded the dishwasher, danced with my nieces, reorganized the refrigerator, read The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt (laughed and cried), reorganised the laundry room, attended the holiday show put on by first, second and third graders (smiled until my cheeks hurt), read Hush by Jaqueline Woodson, reorganised the craft drawers, watched the film Young at Heart (everyone needs to see this), shopped for party favors for the girls’ birthday party, organized the decoration of the party bags, spontaneously found ways to entertain the girls at the party during a lag in activites (my group was sent to another room as we were having too much fun), and had my first experience climbing a mountain to find a Christmas tree. 

Our journey in the mountains of Idaho began in the late afternoon on a Sunday with my sister, her husband, their two young daughters, myself, and Tessa, their very energetic and independent schnauzer. It began with a view of the mountainside, and the knowledge that we had to climb quickly–if we were to avoid the impending loss of sunlight. The girls ran ahead to test the depth of the snow, which was up to their knees. Tessa buried her face in a snow bank, and then shot out of sight. I began to make my way through the snow with my sister by my side. Breathing the fresh air, I realized there were no street sounds: cars honking, music blaring, people shouting. It was remarkably silent, except for the sounds we made. 

In that wonderful silence, I thought about my writing; the peaceful hours in the morning when I begin a journey with a new voice, which grabbed my heart, urging me to follow.  To listen. To write their story. These voices don’t allow me to give up. There is a reason they slip into my mind, and my job is not to question why, but to simply get their story right, even when the path to writing the manuscript seems insurmountable.  

Reminding myself that I have faced writing challenges with success keeps me moving forward in search for the perfect tree. Even when the temperatures dropped and my fingertips stung through my gloves. And even as I paused to wonder whether the two tiny trees we noticed–in the first ten minutes–might be a compromise for one large tree, so we could go home. 

 But then I remembered my nieces. I remembered how the journey through a first-draft can be long and arduous, and how, no matter what, I continue to write.  

I needed to continue to move forward.  

My sister was tired. She made the decision to head back down the mountain and wait for us in the car. I promised her I would keep track of the girls and that we would soon return with a tree, not realizing that well over an hour would pass before we would see her again.  

Twenty minutes went by. The girls began to bicker. They were cold. And tired. They were worried about their mom at the bottom of the mountainside in the car. They didn’t like that Tessa continued to disappear from our sight. 

“We have a tree to find.” I tried to keep my lips from shaking, and wiggled my toes inside my boots to keep them from going numb. “It’s just around the bend. Ahead of us. I can feel it.” 

“You said that already,” said Lili. 

“Yeah,” said Sofi, “at least three times already, and we haven’t found the right one yet!” 

“We will,” I promised. We had to. 

The sunlight was fading. The temperature had dropped. The girls’ cheeks and noses were red. Their father was out of sight, though we continued to call back and forth. 

I slipped my gloves off and held my warm hands to their cheeks, which were as cold as icicles. “We can do this, girls. For your mom.” 

We continued up the  mountainside to find their father. And the reason for this journey: the view ahead of us. A gift we did not expect.   


 Our tree was not far from that view. A tree we carried down the mountainside in the dim light. The girls led us in singing carols, and even when we slipped (more than once), we kept our spirits high. For we had found a tree, and whether or not it was indeed the most perfect of trees, the joy was in the journey. 


I was once again reminded of my writing and the journeys I take with my characters. It is important that I make myself stop and take a step back, especially when I have been in the depths of a manuscript for weeks. Only then do I see the view; the true story I was meant to discover.  

Take joy in the journey.  

Happy Holidays! 


Darkness falls as we tie the tree to the car



From Baa Creations to Writing For Children


For twenty-three years I designed appliques for infant and children’s clothing. Ducks. Baby giraffes. Cows.  Bears sleeping on the moon. Bunnies. Lobsters. Crabs. Penguins, and whatever unique design a customer asked me to do.  Special requests always stirred my imagination and led me to work with different fabrics and designs beyond what I would have ordinarily done.

I specialized in making matching baby gifts as well as coordinated clothing for siblings, from newborn babies to pre-teens. Many weekends, I traveled to sell my work at craft fairs–as far away as Virginia. I personally cut and sewed 12,000 to 15,000 appliques per year. And as exhausting it was, I loved the work. Plain and simple. Financial aspirations, aside from supporting my children and having the ability to stay home with them, never drove my business.

My greatest joy came from meeting and getting to know my customers. Watching their babies grow out of my bibs and holiday sweatshirts, until my creations no longer met their needs. Yet, customers would still come by my booth to say hello, and I will always remember those small gestures.

I miss the personal connection. The frantic calls from a parent to make a beloved dress in a larger size because their daughter can barely squeeze into the one I made her two years ago, and she refuses to hand-it-down to her younger sister.  I miss entertaining the young children while their parents searched my racks. I am not one to sit around and do nothing, so I always brought cutting work with me, wherever I went. If their parents needed more time, I let the kids count or sort my piles of duck pieces, lobsters and a variety of other shapes, or help me put more bibs on display.

And yes, some of my experiences from the business have found their way into my writing.

I still make my creations, on a limited basis, for a handful of gift shops. And for customers who call me for handmade baby gifts. But now, my solitary creative time  is no longer spent at a commercial sewing machine. Rather, I sit in my writing room with a notebook on my lap or follow my thoughts on the computer. Instead of ironing pellon to fabric, cutting shapes out for two hours each night, and sewing for six hours per day, I read. I write. I listen to my characters, and pply the skills I developed while running a business out of my house.  My work process, including my passion, remains the same. Only the outlet has changed.

Children’s publishing is a business. While it could not exist without the multitude of creative talent, it also would not survive without the business aspect.  Baa Creations taught me that creativity alone is not enough. Designing for children was the trajectory to writing for children of all ages, yet the skills needed to sell and promote my creations were just as important. Truly loving what I did made my business flourish naturally.

My clothing business prepared me for writing in more ways than one, and taught me important lessons: Be resilient. Foster patience and persistance. Recognize your inability to please everyone at all times. Be gracious to those you can’t please, and grateful for those you can. Recognize the importance of self-promotion, maintaining mailing lists, and staying in touch with customers about upcoming events. Deal with rejections in a non-personal way. Appreciate your mentors. Listen with an open mind, and apply any advice to your  work with a positive attitude. Always be willing to try something new, even if you don’t agree. With time, you may. Be thankful for your gift. Remain humble. Keep learning. Work hard at your craft on a daily basis. Don’t be hard on yourself when you fall off task. Find your personal style and voice, and be true to that.

Never give up.

To all my past Baa Creation customers. Thank you your kindness, your support, and mostly for understanding when my heart and passion sent me in a new direction.  I look forward to seeing you in the future as a writer.

What is CWORS?



1. Children’s Writer Obsessive Revision Syndrome

This is the place where a children’s writer is stuck. On one page. One paragraph. One sentence. And while meticulous revision is necessary, there is a point when you cross over into CWORS. How do you know when you have left your editorial mind behind and fallen victim to the critical voice?

1. Your eyes are glazed over. 

2. You have spent the last three hours or worse, three days, reshaping a single page–or three pages, if you are preparing a submission for the Rutgers One-on-One Conference.

3. You have sent your critique partner, or whoever might read your work, twelve different versions of the one page. In one afternoon. Of course, with multiple thank-yous generated across the body of the e-mail.

4. Your reader has stopped responding through e-mail. You dial the phone and get a busy signal. You come to the realization that they may have taken the phone off the hook to save themself from your babbling.

5. You close the file and decide to fold the laundry.

6. You fold one shirt, and then open up the document again.

7. You read your one page and sincerely think you know the answer to the problem, but you can’t truly identify the problem.

8. You spend another two hours, swapping words and phrases, and in the end, you revert back to the original, which hopefully you have saved as a separate document.

9. Except for an empty box, you have no concept of how many crackers or cookies you’ve nibbled on for the better part of the day.

10. You curse at the empty coffee canister.

In my case, when I first noticed the symptoms, but didn’t recognize their meaning, I called my father. He has been a writer for over fifty years and since I have embraced writing for children, he has offered me words of wisdom. Sparingly. One of his favorite phrases is: Dangerous Mind. The mind you slip into when CWORS takes over. In a sense, you become dangerous to your manuscript, and more importantly, to your characters.

I had slipped into a state of obsessive revision without knowing why or how I had gotten there. And when I tried to share with my father, one of the twelve newer versions, he stopped me. “Whatever you do, don’t read another word,” he said, “You are a danger to your work in this frame of mind.”

“What frame of mind?”

“The place where you are right now. Revising over and over,” he told me. And then, he offered me five words. “Back away from your manuscript.” Nothing else.

On that day, I learned how to recognize the symptoms of CWORS. They do not often appear, but when they do, I now know how to react accordingly. Along with the date on which CWORS began to take over on a particular piece of writing, I write myself a note and promise that the work will remain untouched for a period of time. In general, two weeks.

And then, I back away from the manuscript, call my dad, who is my sponsor for CWORA (children’s writer obsessive revision anonymous) and thank him.

Finding My Rhythm and a Way Back to My Words

Fairangel (Lili's title)
Fairangel (Lili’s title)
The Welcome Tree
The Welcome Tree
Open Arms
Open Arms


All it takes is one phone call: your sister has breast cancer. The news socks you in the stomach.

I hang up the phone and stare at the large white board in my writing room. I read my deadlines, review my writing goals, realize that time is passing along with windows of opportunity to submit manuscripts to editors and agents I met at recent conferences. Do I stay and meet my deadlines? Do I abandon my job without notice and go to Idaho; help my sister and her young twins get through the surgery?

There is only one choice.

I book a flight on Delta. Pack my suitcase. Fill every inch of my computer bag with my laptop, camera, books and two novels I am revising. On the plane I read Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson. I need to sleep, but her brilliant writing keeps me turning the pages. I temporarily forget where I am going and why.

The second flight is delayed. I walk through terminal C in Chicago. Terminal B. Terminal C. I can’t decide what to buy for food. I wait in line at Starbucks and when my turn is next, I walk off. I wander. The flight is called. I buy a bottle of water and run.

I realize that somewhere between Connecticut and Chicago I lost my appetite. Once I arrive in Idaho, I realize that somewhere between Chicago and Boise, Idaho, I lost my rhythm and my words. I lost the connection to my characters and a connection to myself.

In Idaho, I quickly learn my new rhythm, which is maintaining routines and normalcy:  Laundry. Dishes. Hugging. Reading. Going for walks with my eight-year-old nieces. Listening to their fears. Answering  phone calls. Answering the door. Finding places for all the flower arrangements. Walking the dog. Everything but my writing.

My sister comes home from the hospital. The girls are at school. I pour a cup of coffee and sit on their porch on a red Adirondack chair. I can see the mountains of Idaho ahead. The air is hot. 101 degrees. I sit and sit . . . and sit. My fingers stay frozen on my keypad. My wrists are numb. My words gone.  I go into the house and check on my sleeping sister. I drink a glass of water. Stare at the clock. I let the dog out. Wish for a cure for cancer. Load the dishwasher. I let the dog in. I fold laundry. Read medical brochures. I go back outside, turn off my laptop, and lay it on the bed. I close the door and walk away. Drink a glass of orange juice. Look at the clock. Put laundry away. Organize the girls’ books. Wipe the counter. Cut up the fruit for snack. Write a grocery list. We need milk and chicken. We need laughter to fill up the house. We need music to lull our fears. We need to understand why and how and when and everything else about cancer. Everything we never wanted to know.

And so my eight-year-old nieces and I paint. Why? Because we have to. Because the words are gone.  Because we need to stab our paint brushes into the remainders of a paint box. Because the sound of chalk brushing across an empty sheet of paper is soothing. Because allowing your hands to sweep across the page is like riding a horse without fear. Without a saddle. Just so you can feel the wind against your hair. Colors become shapes. Angry globs of red. Tight dots in black. Yellow splashes of confusion. Sofi splashes water on her paper. Over and over. Lili’s first painting is all about the shades of pink.

We do not talk. Side by side, the three of us paint, until our hands speak for our hearts. And in doing so, Sofi and Lili begin to express their fears. For myself, the activity of painting shows me there is a pathway back to my words. It is crowded with trees and overgrown bushes; feelings and emotions which spin constantly like a non-stop ferris wheel. I coat a sheet of paper with blue and smile.  The paint brush will trim the overgrown bushes and trees. Little by little, clip by clip, I will find my way back.

I know my characters are waiting patiently for me.

Writer’s Block

Dealing with writer's block
Dealing with writer's block

I sit before a pile of photos from my childhood and try to work on my bio for my web site.  Many pictures have faded with time, but my memories are vivid. Happy memories. Yet, for the first time, I face writer’s block.  I asked Norman if he would work on my biography for the web site, but he is occupied at the moment.  We have a family of hawks in our yard which are watching our chipmunks.  Norman is outside protecting the chipmunks.  His presence on our porch is quite effective when it comes to hawks in search of food.

I try to shoo my writer’s block out my window by eating chocolate cookies. It hasn’t helped.  It appears as if I’ve used pound cake in the past.

Unexpected Joys in Boston

May - July 09 Norman 214I spent the last three days in Boston where I found unexpected joy and moments of being in the right place at the right time, without realizing you were meant to be there all along.  I gave Pack, the duck statue stolen this spring, an extra hug.  I admit that I wanted to sit on Mrs. Mallard, in line with all the other children, but I refrained. I had the joy of watching a pair of Mallards lead their offspring around the pond.  Two babies lagged behind by twenty feet–until their momma noticed. Then, like mini speedboats, the wanderers zipped through the water, and in seconds caught up with their family. I watched parents laughing with their children in the frog pond; teens relating to their friends without their heads bent over lost in the world of texting; and I quacked along with all the other passengers on a duck tour, where my newest hero struggles with his love of fast-food. In form-fitting spandex and a cape, he drives his beloved duck, Molly Molasses. Though his humor is irresistable,  his obvious sensitivity for children is what won me over.  Captain SuperSwift made sure that every child on our tour, even the ones hiding in the back, had a turn at driving Molly Molasses, once we were safely in the water. I did hold my breath when one over-enthusiastic young boy turned the wheel too sharply to the left and was obviously very independent, but SuperSwift came to the rescue with compassion.

That evening, my husband and I wandered through the streets of the North End.  We walked by a restaurant and stood next to the open windows. Two elderly gentlemen sang and played accordians.  Soon, there was a gathering of couples on the sidewalk, all of us holding our partners and singing along. My belly full of rich italian food we happened upon a sunset where the sky was an exquisite shade of rich turquoise blue.  As soon as I took several photos, the night sky appeared.

On the way back to the T, I heard a banging of metal, shuffling, and clanging.  The sound pulled me into a circle of people.  And on the sidewalk, in front of a closed florist shop at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, sat a young man. He was deep into his own world.  With his head bent over, he seemed to have no knowledge of his audience, nor did he seem to care.  His hands beat against the white buckets used for cut flowers. To his left were old oven racks, frying pans, metal pots and pans.  His talent was raw and I was privileged to be invited. I was inspired.

This is how a writer should create.  Bury yourself into the words and go deep into the story as if no one is watching. Open up your soul and allow your heart to sing.