Dear Yvonne…


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Stick to  your writing today. I know you’re afraid of the plot intricacies in the WIP, All In Bad Time, tearing your hair out because incorporating the first two books of the  trilogy into this third book is exacting and frustrating. You can do it. Just plunge ahead with the action. If you don’t like it when you read it over, you can change it. You’re the goddess at Wisdom Court.

(Easy for you to say. Why the hell did I create so many characters? What possessed me to think I could manage them? By their natures they’re independent, contrary–well, some of them. They keep doing things I hadn’t planned, saying things I didn’t know they thought. WTF?)

Stressful business woman working on computer at the office

This always happens when you write. The characters start coming to life, and once they do, they want to help shape the narrative.

(Right now the narrative looks like that old joke about a blind man describing an elephant.)

Come on, stop whining. Imagine you’re walking through a forest and the goal is to get to the other side. You don’t stop to hear the birds sing, nor to marvel at the fungi. And stop trying to find that bubbling spring to drink from! Just keep going. That means you have to quit noodling around with this blog post.

(Crap. You’re right. I’m sitting here. My fingers are on the keys. It’s time to write. Thanks, I guess.)

You’re welcome. One question: why did you pick a youngish blonde woman for the graphic?

(She reminded me of J.K. Rowling. Not a bad example to have in mind, right?)

Get to work!



Here’s another year…



Happy New Year. (Yes, it’s January 2, but what the hell? I can still wish good things for us all.)

I love the feeling of new possibilities, fresh starts, good things to come. Even the thought of taxes can’t suppress enthusiasm. My only questions is, if a day on the calendar can be so easily declared a good thing, why can’t I summon the feeling whenever I want? Ah, the mysteries of life.

Here’s to you and to me and to us all. May your writing fill the pages, may your revisions fill your souls with joy, and may wonderful ideas flow in your mind like a river of promises.

Here we come, 2016.

The ornate calendar dial, showing the 12 months of the year, in the Prague Astronomical Clock

The ornate calendar dial, showing the 12 months of the year, in the Prague Astronomical Clock


And to all a good night…



Wreath decoration at door for Christmas holiday

Wreath decoration at door for Christmas holiday

This time of year brings joy and melancholy, too. I am filled with memories of people no longer here, grateful that they were, sad at their absence. I cherish the times I get to spend with those I love even as I miss the far-aways, geographical and emotional. As the carols wash over every location, I recall singing most of them in choirs, yet their endless repetition pushes me into annoyance before the season is half over.

It’s hard to prevent the hope for a “good Christmas” from becoming a race to check off the lists of gifts, activities, traditions not to be forgotten. The older I get, the less able I am to reach all those goals, thereby saving myself from the harried days of previous years. Yet that realization is edged with the knowledge that many of those tasks no longer must be done, thanks to the shortening list of family and friends who were here to appreciate them. But to let that sorrow define the changes defeats the purpose of the season.

To all of you in my life I say thank you, I love you, may the year ahead bring you joy. To the ghosts who visit me I say, bless you for having been in my life, for teaching me how to live, for memories-good and bad–that made me who I am.

May we all rest our heads on soft pillows and dream of the things we love.

Darkness and light


This time of year takes me aback. The colors of autumn have faded into camouflage for the birds. Brown is pale khaki, orange sickly, and yellows are like old paper. Now they lie beneath snow, and a cold wind controls the air, keeping the dark in place, it seems.

Each day is shorter, light diminishing as the sun hurries on its way, its path barely skimming the treetops. But we have the company of the planets in the east, Jupiter, Mars, Venus. Mercury already hides in the hint of early sunlight along the horizon at five-thirty. The moon hangs like a smile below their sparkle for a couple of days, and then moves on.

The morning march of planets angles upward, losing their brilliance in the coming of the sun. They’re invisible in the light of another day, waiting to shine when night falls again.





(Photo credit: Beckstrom Observatory, LLC. 2013-15)

Making lemonade from formidable lemons…




Earlier this year I wrote here about our daughter’s stay at the Michigan Head-Pain and Neurological Institute. (Taking a long walk off a short pier and And then you find a bridge, both on view below.) Misty’s had many ups and downs since she returned to Colorado, but to date she’s had the same migraine for eleven+ months and it’s taking a toll.

While it hurts to see her paring down her life due to her illness, it makes me proud to witness Misty’s determination to maintain the things closest to her heart. She lavishes love and support on family and friends, but helping the denizens of the Colorado Prairie is her passion. She doesn’t have the energy to work at her job and to volunteer for the prairie as well. Her solution is to try to raise the money to get paid for doing what she loves.

Misty has created a Crowdrise campaign to generate the money to pay her to work half-time for the coyotes and tarantulas, the pronghorn and painted turtles, and her beloved prairie dogs of the Southern Plains Land Trust during the upcoming year. If you would like to participate in helping Misty raise the funds to meet her goal, please click on the link below.

You can follow Misty’s campaign at…/…/21/donate-and-enter-to-win

Thanks so much for the love and support shown to Misty this year.

Now as darkness extends its grasp…



Skies are blue, foliage still yellow and orange, but soon light will leach out of autumn days, dregs of darkness in its place. Leaves already fall from skeletal branches, scattering across aging gardens, gathering in sullen piles along curbstones. A few brave flowers stand their ground, deepening their colors in defiance of cold mornings.

The sun hurries across the sky, blown by a chill wind, dreading the  darkness to come.  Soon trappings  of death will deck windows and fences. Pumpkins will shine gaping grins into black nights where the hidden wait. A cold anticipation sharpens with each passing hour. Change crouches in growing shadows. It will come.

Muddy beach and dead forest at twilight

An October fancy…



photodune-5768835-horse-park-ranch-in-the-fall-sWhen I envision autumn, the smell of wood smoke is in the air and I’m walking through orange and red, yellow and magenta leaves piled on forest ground. Overhead mottled green leaves wave at me. Squirrels scurry among scattered acorns, carrying them up tree trunks for storage in their picturesque holes. Inside each one, I’m sure, is a living room suite designed by Arnold Lobel where the squirrel families spend evenings in overstuffed chairs, drinking hazelnut tea and eating walnut bread. (Look inside Lobel’s Owl at Home if you want to see the squirrels’ decor. They’re always after the owls for decorating tips.)

Those visions of my favorite season were formed by books, from Little Women to A Separate Peace to Winnie the Pooh, and augmented by two years spent living near the Hudson River. The images have little to do with what autumn is like in Colorado. Our high temperature yesterday was eighty-two degrees. Residents are making pilgrimages up the Front Range of the Rockies to see the yellows of the aspen trees, bright against the backdrop of evergreens, but the scenic palette can’t compare with the explosion of colors on the East coast.

While rain is forecast for the weekend, we’re more likely to have sunny days, and here is where Colorado achieves glory. We have the sky. The sheer sweep of crystalline blue, set off by the quaking aspen leaves, fills the soul and dazzles the eye. Every October the Rocky Mountains bare their shoulders of leaves and bask under a blue that extends forever. I’ve searched the Thesaurus, trying to find the perfect word to describe that shade, but none will do. The closest, lord help us? Skyey. Every place has a sky, but in the West, it is more than scenery. It is a character affecting the story, setting the scene, flavoring the air.

And yet I rhapsodize each year over the colors of the leaves in my mind’s eye even as I revel in the vast sea of sky overhead. In the way we see and respond to such things as autumn, how much is owed to the power of words and the impressions they make on our memories? How much has to do with the immediate sensory appreciation we have of our surroundings? Is it fiction versus reality? Perhaps it is the best of both.

My ducks were all over the place and yet…


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Ducks swimming

Ducks swimming

I’ve been redoubling my efforts on All In Bad Time, having got a huge boost of motivation from last week’s Colorado Gold Writers Conference. The speakers were terrific, the panels were timely and, for the most part, dead-on. But what made me excited about getting back to work (aside from abject terror at not being finished yet) was hanging out with my fellow attendees.

The writers I encountered were hellbent on writing their books. You can’t be around that flavor of determination for three days without revving up your own dammit-I-can-do-this spirit. I churned out a fair number of pages this week, despite a crash of our entire communications system, from phone to internet to TV. It was like living in 1960 again. I found myself looking for an apron to put over the house dress I wear to clean house (not!) and had to restrain myself from leaning out the front door to yell for Beaver to come home. (I have no son named Beaver.)

The important thing was, my Word program still worked and–Holy Distraction, Batman–since I couldn’t play any of the games I use to “get my ducks in a row”, I just wrote. My ducks were all over the place, but I wrote. Could it be that my sacred build-up to writing has been yet another way to put off writing? Surely I wouldn’t do that to myself. Would I?

The simple truth? The ducks have been trying to tell me for years they do better on every project when they’re all over the place. Guess I’d better listen to them.


Watching from the shore…or is it from the river?



One of the images I have stuck above my computer screen comes from The X Files.  (Which is returning to television in January, I believe.)

Postage receipt





As I recall the plot, Scully (in the black coat), is tethered to shore where the woman in white waits for her to decide whether to survive. But the image reminds me of something else. I’ve always imagined writing as tapping into a river of words, ideas, and emotions. That river flows somewhere–in my mind, overhead, in the blue, blue sky. When I’m working, it’s as though I set out in that small boat to look for what I need to find the truth of my story and to tell it.

The woman in white? She stands in for a number of things, from a generous goddess of creativity to the unforgiving editor on my shoulder, depending on my mood. Though I can’t see her face, there are days I know a tear or two fall down her cheek at the unholy mess I’m making of what I’ve fished from the river. On the rare days when everything works? It’s golden, life is wonderful, aren’t I cool. And the river flows on.

Summertime, and the livin’ is wishful


a reflection of sky is in the quiet river

a reflection of sky by mycola

Wish I were riding an inner tube, straw hat on my head, jug of lemonade attached to the tube with a string. I’d have a book resting on my belly and the water would rock me like a cradle. The sun would go behind a bank of clouds  and the current would turn me toward the weeping willows bending over the river. Would I see an owl peering from a thick old stump? Eyelids heavy, I’d check it out later.

Honeysuckle and flowering elm would perfume the air and my thoughts would thicken like custard. With closed eyes I’d see the deep purple of meditation and hear the droning of bees gathering pollen from the Bouncing Bettys.

Would a fish swish by my foot? I’d wiggle my toes in the cool water and swish it back. A mourning dove would grieve from a tall cottonwood and I’d wonder what secret sorrow moved her to weep.

And then I’d sleep the thick, caramel-rich sleep of a childhood nap. I’d drift through it, serene in the summer day, content to rest and do nothing.

I wish.


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