Obsessed with Horses

For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of owning a horse. When I was ten, I tried to persuade (no, beg) my parents to buy one. Convinced that our backyard was big enough for one (it was not) I tried and I tried to find a way to make it work. In the meantime, I would ride my bike down hills, eyes closed (please don’t try this at home) pretending that I was on horseback!

The town library was exhausted by my requests for every horse book ever written. Every book with a horse character, from Black Beauty to King of the Wind was read more than once. And I watched every western, every Mr. Ed episode and any show that even briefly had a horse on the screen. Just looking at horses was a joy. Yes. Clearly it was an obsession.

Learning to ride was a large expense where I grew up, and it wasn’t until I was in my adolescence that my parents finally conceded (or rather caved) to my pleading, allowing me to take my first lesson. That first moment in a saddle was a joy that to this day still makes me smile.

Years later as a young adult, I took up riding again. But the lessons at a different stable took another direction. In a collaborative concept, before I even mounted, I had to groom and saddle my steed. And after the lesson, I had to muck out the stalls. This brilliant concept, taking part in the whole process, brought the connection between horse and rider to a whole new level.

While writing Elke’s Magic, I drew upon my own personal memories to depict the scenes when Elke teaches Meg and Sam how to ride. I knew how much it had meant to me back then, and I hoped that the characters’ first experiences would echo my own. I don’t own horses, and haven’t ridden in ages. But over the years I have managed to sneak several horse characters into my books. And so I have come full circle. I started out reading about horses. Now I write about them!

The Dollhouse

We are currently in the process of renovating a Victorian Era house and soon we will be moving there from the home we have lived in for forty years. While in the midst of sorting through what we’ll take, give away or discard, I happened upon one very important thing that will never end up in the dumpster. The dollhouse.

Lovingly crafted by my father in the 1960s, it had been tucked away in the attic, on its side and unused since our daughter became a teenager. Hoping that it hadn’t become the home for any resident mice, I nevertheless cleaned it thoroughly. Solidly having withstood the test of time, it was basically fine, needing only a few tweaks and repairs. With paints, brushes, glue, and materials purchased from the hobby store, I set myself up to begin the renovation process. This, I could handle easily. Or so I thought.

As I began, room by room, touching it up, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed by memories. It was as if my father were there, right there, in the room with me. Once again, he was by my side and guiding me. As a child, my father was always ready and excited for a challenge or a project. No task or request was ever too much. When I told him how much I loved the photography class in middle school, he created a makeshift darkroom in the corner of our basement, brilliantly using a slide projector as an enlarger. Often on a Sunday afternoon, we would work together, side by side, dipping the tiny prints we had made from developer to fixer.

One room in the basement was later dedicated to his model train setup, complete with landscaped hills and valleys with glass topped lakes. He was nonstop in his creativity. Using kits, he built a television, an organ, a grandfather’s clock and a robot! So, building a dollhouse had been a snap for him!

The attention to detail that he had undertaken in everything that he did was mind boggling. And he was at his best while working on anything miniature. The dollhouse was the perfect example of his incredible skill. He had electrified the whole house, cleverly creating light fixtures out of random nuts and bolts and bottle caps. The staircase railings were made from painted toothpicks, holding the tiny handmade railings. And underneath the staircase, he had hidden all of the electrical wirings. On the second floor of the house, he had carefully etched lines and nail holes into a piece of wood, creating the look of a tiny wooden floor for the hallway.

My only hope is that I have managed to restore it back to its original state. Once we are moved into our new home, the dollhouse will have a place of honor, to be played with and loved by our grandchildren. And a bit of my incredible father will live on, hopefully for another generation or two.


I have always pondered whether or not we were preordained, or perhaps preprogrammed, for the life we have lead. Was there some master plan, laid out in detail in advance, yet unbeknownst to us? Or did we actually have something to do with it? Did we take that fork in the road on purpose? Or by mistake? Or were we prodded by some mysterious entity to take a different direction for some greater, unknown outcome? At the very end of our travels through life, did we wind up in exactly the same place we would have landed anyway? Perhaps that alternate route was meant to teach us something. Especially if it turned out to be the more difficult route, turning adverse situations into lessons learned along life’s journey.

Another ‘keep me awake for hours’ issue is the thought of what if we were born into this world with a different set of parents? Are we here intentionally, in this corporeal state? Or is it all simply happenstance, a spin of the roulette wheel? What if our parents had met someone else along the way. What if one of them did take that fork and never ended up with the other one in the end. Would we still be us? Somehow? Maybe in a different physical form, but would the soul within us be the same exact one?

The Existentialists tried to figure it out. And all of the various religions have attempted to give us some sort of answers. Some feel that there is indeed a plan by a higher power and that said higher power is actually laughing at our plans. Maybe that is it! Or maybe it is just that life is one giant and sometimes terrifying rollercoaster, and all we can do is throw our hands up in the air and go along for the ride.

PS. Too many questions. I wish I had even one answer! Sorry if you stay awake tonight after reading this. Call me. I’ll be awake, too!


Total Trust

The feelings that erupt upon meeting your first grandchild create emotions you could never have fathomed, even in your wildest dreams. Others who entered this stage in life ahead of you tried to prepare you for this onslaught, but all of their sage advice was for naught. The moment you laid eyes on this tiny little being, you were instantaneously swept away, hopelessly smitten by this child of your child.

As completely overwhelmed as you were at his birth, nothing compares to the next feelings that strike you as he heads rapidly through his milestones. Then one day, one year later, he begins moving his tiny feet, tentatively navigating forward. Looking up at you with a giant smile, he offers you his hand to hold. He is asking for your assistance. Carefully clutching his little fingers in yours, you guide him on his journey. It may only be from the kitchen to the living room. But it is indeed important for him. It is for you as well.

Because it is at that exact moment when you realize that he trusts you. Implicitly. And it takes your breath away.


I was raised to never use four letter words. Sixty-three years later, I still try not to use them. However, there is one four letter word that makes all of the other words pale in comparison.

“Loss” is perhaps the cruelest word in our vocabulary. Mainly because too often it is placed at the end of “Sorry for your…” Perhaps we say those words in the moment because that sentence is all that we can muster. In our defense, there really aren’t any better words. Especially when the loss was caused by cancer.

At this moment in time, I would love to string together a run-on sentence comprised of only the four letter words I was forbidden to use. You know the words. They could get creatively used as nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. It might help. Or maybe even a full paragraph of them would be enough to give the right balance. But maybe there are no perfect words to properly convey the immense depth of sorrow joined with the abyss of anger that is currently sitting in my heart.

A dear friend passed this week. She was too young, too wonderful, too beautiful inside-and-out to not be walking this planet anymore. Fighting her battle with cancer with the strength of a warrior, she never gave up hope. Never gave up her faith. She has left behind a legion of people who loved and adored her. We have all had tremendous loss.

It isn’t fair.


Denouement. What a fancy word for the resolution of a story! Finding the right conclusion for a plot line always plagues me. Constantly. Did I do it successfully? Or did I hang my laundry out on someone else’s line to dry? Did I leave too much for the reader, forcing them to imagine their own endings? Are they mad at me?

I hope not. I do try to find a way to complete a storyline even while leaving things open. Readers are smart and creative and they read between the lines. I like that they feel compelled to find out what might be and that they like thinking about the characters well after they have closed up the book.

I thought I had done enough for my characters when I wrapped up one of the series. But just when I thought I was totally finished with them, those darn characters started bothering me again. They have wormed their way into my brain and I just have to acquiesce.

I need sleep, and since they are keeping me awake, I have promised them that I would find closure for their storylines. For my newest book, Back in the Before, I have zipped into today, setting the time to 2022 with flashbacks to the past. I am typing as fast as I can at the moment, as this story is just oozing out onto my laptop!

However quickly this story is coming into light, it is hard to write fiction without at least some kind of connectivity to current events. This is a terribly difficult time right now. Within my chapters, I find myself compelled to touch on the angst we are all feeling. One would be remiss not to do so. The past two years have opened our eyes to a time we will never forget. Finally, it seems that the fears of the pandemic have lessened. Only now they have been replaced by the fears of the dreadful war in the Ukraine.

I hope with all my heart that the leaders of the world create a proper denouement. And soon.

Close Call

It almost happened today while on a thousand mile drive to Florida: that life-flashing-before-one’s-eyes moment. Only it did not happen. It could not happen. Because I was at the wheel and too preoccupied for any sort of retrospective.

Instead of an actual life review experience, I did have an instantaneous recollection of two past near-accidents. One had forced me into a three-lane spin out, the other had forced me off the road onto a narrow shoulder. More through muscle memory than imagery, I could remember how I felt during the other near-impact moments. Frankly what happened back then shouldn’t have happened. There was no explanation as to why or how I was left unscathed. Somehow I had known what to do, but I cannot tell you what actually took place nor how I managed to escape the grim reaper, either time.

Perhaps they were dress rehearsals for what transpired today.

Today was similar to the other times, yet not. This time I had passengers, my husband and our cat. It was my turn to drive and I had gone about fifty miles on I-95. We were chatting away, when I saw it. Right there, inches away from the passenger door. Oblivious to our car, a panel truck was careening towards us, moving left from the center lane to our lane. Even though we were driving sixty-five MPH, it felt like things were moving in slow motion. I braked and shifted over to the shoulder, collision narrowly avoided. With incredible relief we sat there to catch our breath and gather ourselves. All three of us.

Looking across the highway, we noticed that the truck had stopped on the other side of the highway. Mouthing his apologies, the driver’s face looked as stunned as ours. He must have needed a breather as well.

Within minutes, we saw the flashing lights of a state trooper pulling in behind us. The kind and concerned officer asked if we were okay and said that he had been called to the scene of an accident at our mile marker. We explained that there had not been any contact and what had transpired wasn’t an accident. Passing cars must have called it in, assuming there had been an actual collision. Indeed it must have looked like one. And it was then that we realized we were not the only terrified people this morning.

Close calls, not just while driving, happen all the time. They catch us off guard but give us pause and gratitude after the fact. Maybe they are actually a learning moment for us to glean experience for the future. Not only for those in the midst of the experience, but for the observers as well.


Writing is a daunting task. Attempting to weave words into a coherent and interesting combination is like a composer organizing notes in a unique and previously unused manner. Whether working on a speech, a paper or the next novel, the worst part is the first sentence. It sets the tone and can propel a reader to carry on and plow through the subsequent sentences. Or not. And so, a writer strives to make the opening words impactful, hoping to keep readers engaged.

But how to begin? There is nothing more frustrating than having an intimidating blank screen glaring and sneering at you for hours on end. But sometimes luck strikes and a thought miraculously appears in the brain, usually when one least expects it. As wonderful as that is, it can be terrifying as well. How then will you be able to properly capture in words the feeling that was evoked? Doesn’t that happen every time you attempt to explain a dream that seemed incredible to you? You usually end up sounding silly, as your words are incapable of conveying exactly what happened in that dream.

However, when spontaneous inspiration does not occur, sometimes you just need to shut that laptop and take a walk. Try not to think. Or at least stop thinking in a linear manner. Think sideways. Let the universe enter your brain. Stop obsessing and just be in the moment. That is exactly what happened to me when I wrote the last book in The Circle of the Souls series. While walking on the beach in Northeast Florida, I let my mind become a blank slate. While staring at the shoreline, the first two paragraphs of a book I wasn’t even going to write crashed in like the waves before me. Tripping over the sand and racing back inside I whipped open my laptop and wrote the following opening words:

“Rhythmic rolling coils of water cycled their way to the shoreline, gradually drawing the waters in, creating their patient and continuous pattern. Tides high, then low, the same water, over and over made its journey in, only to head back out and repeat the cycle once more. Again and again. Standing, feet in the foam, at the edge of the most recent lapping wave, she realized that the waves themselves gave her the explanation she sought. Waves and life are both in constant renewal. If one believe in such things. And she most certainly did. Life was indeed one big repeat of itself. Forming and then reforming. Over and over and over. Souls coming and going, and then coming back again. And again. Until each individual soul finally got it right. The revolution, leading to the evolution of the soul.”

The prologue wrote itself. The rest of the words followed suit. The book that I never intended to write, “Circles” , the sequel Split Soul was born. Sometimes what we write is out of our hands. And out of our heads. It just is.


Words. Spoken, they have the power to calm, console and reassure. Alternatively, they have the ability to crush. Once words are liberated, the speaker often finds themself relieved, perhaps with a lessened burden. However, once spoken, words released can never be reclaimed.

The recipient of spoken words may feel pacified. Or tormented. Perhaps inadvertently. Perhaps not. Either way words can have an impact. Sometimes the words cause a temporary consequence or setback. But sometimes the words can create a repercussion that lingers eternally.

The speaker of those words may be satisfied that the words used were only meant to help the person. Or the purpose of the discourse was simply an honest conveyance of feelings they had held deep inside. A justifiable release. What they said was accurate. Necessary. Wasn’t it?

They were just words, weren’t they?

Decades ago, while reaching up high on a shelf, a box fell, landing painfully on my foot. Not a ritual swearer, I yelled out a word I seldom used. That four letter “s” word. Three times.

Hours later, in the midst of constructing a tower, my toddler watched as the blocks fell around him. He yelled out that same word. Three times.

Words. Just words. Right?

Written words possess similar super powers. Only they are even more potent. Spoken words can be lost in translation, not quite fully heard nor accurately remembered. But the written word is for forever, never ceasing to exist. The words remain, living in time and space in a permanent state.

Be careful what you write.

As an author, I try to be certain that the words I write are there to calm, console and reassure. While still telling a story. Sometimes the words may be at times too honest, too forthright. But they are chosen specifically to convey a message, to bring fiction to life and to create a world in which the characters exist.

Words are powerful. Hopefully we choose them wisely. Or, better yet, that we choose never to share irrevocable words.

Losing and Finding

“In every losing there will be some kind of a finding. There always is. Sometimes you have to wait for it, but it will come. In the end, you will discover that there is a perfect balance between what one loses and what one finds.”

Those words were spoken by Mary Reynolds in The Rule of Thirds.

We lose so much in our lifetime. The lost, replaceable material things, although crushing in the moment, become fleeting and forgotten in the future. Mattering not in the entire scheme of things, a lost article is simply a lost something. We often find joy in the next stage that occurs when we fix the situation with the discovery of something new. Sometimes the next find is even more rewarding than the initial loss. The passed over promotion has led us to land an even better job. Our new home becomes even more special than the one we lived in for decades. Or that brand new car is safer and more reliable than our old trusty yet rusty heap.

It is the loss of loved ones that leaves us shattered. A lost someone is a weight that often becomes more than one can bear. When someone you are dating has left you in the dust, or your spouse moves on to another, or when you lose the beloved family pet, you are desolate.

But the finality of a loved one dying is beyond devastating. How does one replace the irreplaceable? One simply does not. But what one can do is find solace. That takes time, and a lot of patience and faith.

Life circles around and in its continuous rotation, the souls of our lost loved ones have a sneaky way of returning. Subtly and randomly, they lead us to discoveries, reminding us that they are still here with us in spirit. Somehow we find that misplaced letter tucked in the back of a drawer, its words reiterating how deeply we were loved. Then, in the midst of a long road trip, we hear that song that we had danced to with our parent at our wedding and we are jolted back to a different place and time. One morning we awaken from an almost palpable dream, one filled with cherished moments of being with them again. Then, late one afternoon, a persistent butterfly remains perched for hours on the plant in the kitchen window box. Fluttering its wings, it shows us that our loved one is still looking out for us. And then that incredibly joyous day arrives when we look into our newborn grandchild’s eyes and we catch a glimmer of recognition. They are here with us, always.

We lose often. But we also find renewal.