All The Leaves are Brown (Thanksgiving and Writing)

Does the title of this post sound familiar? Those of you who remember the Mamas and Papas song, “California Dreaming” will recognize it as part of the lyrics.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in America. In many ways, it’s my favorite holiday of the year. Not just for the turkey and dressing (or stuffing depending on what part of the country you live in). Nor the cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and all the trimmings.

Yes, those things are delicious, but to me what makes Thanksgiving special is family. It’s a time to get together and be thankful.

People have different family traditions. Some have touch football games. Others watch football on television. Still, others might play card or board games. Something my family used to do was to walk through the woods to the top of the hill on our property. It’s been a while since any of us has done that.

Now, back to the title of this post. What do brown leaves have to do with Thanksgiving? For me, there is a connection.

On Thanksgiving 1978, two friends and I flew to Los Angles, California to visit with other friends. I spent the day with my family until it was time to leave for the airport that evening. My brother and father spent part of the day building my brother’s new cabin. Mom and I cooked dinner, and we all celebrated together.

But you can imagine the day seemed long for me as I eagerly awaited my trip. I took several walks through the woods to pass the time. Yes, the leaves were brown, and I spent lots of time dreaming about California.

Other special Thanksgivings include the first one after my husband and I married. We celebrated with his family on Wednesday night and my family on Thursday. The last Thanksgiving before my mom passed away was another special memory. And still another was shortly after my husband was released from a 24-day hospital stay for chemo and a bone marrow transplant. That particular day was cold and snowy.

Thanksgiving and Writing

As much as I love the holiday, I’ve never written a story set during Thanksgiving, Yet. I’m considering including one in the collection of short stories I’m currently working on. I have a title and a general idea for the story.

A Book of Shorts (working title) is a mixed genre collection. Some are ghost fiction, others contemporary, and still others mystery and suspense. But each story seems to have a common theme. The settings are all small towns and many of them have a strong emphasis on “home.”

  • From a Window—a young couple befriends a reclusive and lonely old man during the Thanksgiving season.
  • Coming Home—a fallen hero returns home. (I shared an excerpt a few weeks ago.)
  • Ghost Bridge—a young woman moves to a hundred-year-old house and hears unexplained sounds at a nearby bridge.
  • Without a Trace—a family flees their home in the middle of the night never to be seen again.
  • Summerwood—a road-weary rock star realizes his small-town home is the one place he can find peace and solitude.
  • Allison’s Story (working title)—Allison leaves the city and moves to a small town where she opens a veterinary clinic.

Told you it was a mixed bag. These are just a few of the stories I have planned. I’ll share snippets in the upcoming weeks. But for now, I wish all of you in America a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. Whether you’re traveling, spending the day with family, or staying home, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Merry Christmas

It’s been a rough year with unprecedented happenings. Maybe this Christmas season will be different for you. (I know it is for me.) Many of us won’t be celebrating with family. Some have had to cancel travel plans. Others haven’t seen members of your extended family in months.

But as we pause to reflect on this season, let’s look to the good things. Glad tidings of great joy. Special memories. Our everyday blessings. And let’s focus on better times ahead.

Except for being up at Story Empire tomorrow, I’ll be offline for a few days. Therefore I’m closing comments.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! I’ll be back next week.

The Year That Wasn’t

To say that my New Year’s post is a little late would be an understatement. It’s already February, and I’ve yet to write a blog post this year (aside from having a guest, C. S. Boyack and a reblog of Mae Clair’s post about her latest release).

I started a draft, or at least I had the title, but never got any further with it. And suddenly January got away from me with nothing to show for it.

In a way, that’s a reflection of 2018. It was, for me, the year that wasn’t. At least in regards to writing. I began the year determined to write more words, read more books, post on my blog more often, and publish the third and final book of my Driscoll Lake Series.

It didn’t happen. I don’t want this to sound like I’m making excuses, but life just got in the way. There were lots of changes at my job (the one that pays the bills). My husband and I had health issues. I had emergency eye surgery in September, and he had a triple bypass and aortic valve replacement in late November. During his recovery time, I couldn’t wrap my head around writing.

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. Words are beginning to flow again, so I’m hoping to release Unclear Purposes in the spring. I already have ideas about a new series, and I’m contemplating publishing a book of short stories.

I also plan to blog more often. Some things I want to include are book reviews, guest spots to authors, keeping readers updated with the progress of my WIP, and other random posts. I may even do some character interviews to familiarize readers with my stories.

I wasn’t sorry to see 2018 end. So far 2019 has been good—my husband is back at work and doing well, things have settled down at my job, and in general, I feel optimistic about this year.

How is your year going so far? I’d love to hear from you.

Reunions, Staycations, and The Week in Review

Last Saturday, my husband and I attended a reunion. A very special reunion. Attendees came from all walks of life and were of various ages. All were there to celebrate a special anniversary. For some, it was one year, others five-ten years, and still some celebrated twenty-plus years. Confused yet?

In October 1993, my husband underwent a bone marrow transplant at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He’s a two-time cancer survivor who has now been cancer free for twenty-five years.

Each year, the Baylor transplant program holds a reunion for survivors. For various reasons, we had been unable to attend since 1994, but with this being a milestone year, we made a point to make it. Needless to say, being back in the place where John spent twenty-four days in the hospital brought back lots of memories. We recalled the first day when he went for a consult. We felt an immediate connection to his care team – they treated us like people, not like a number in the system. One of the survivors who spoke said the same thing – he felt like family.

The theme for this year’s reunion was “The Circle of Life.” Entertainment was based on The Lion King, including a fantastic rendition of Elton John’s “Circle of Life.” We had a great time and feel blessed to have attended the event.

I also took a few days vacation this week, or as I like to call it a “staycation.” Making slow progress with Unclear Purposes. I also redesigned my website and blog. I think the new theme fits much better for mystery and suspense.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll have the cover reveal for Unclear Puposes. But for now, it’s time for this week’s links:

From Story Empire:

From Other Writing Sites:


In Honor

Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Today is a holiday in the United States. Many people think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. Schools are out (or will soon be) for the year. People begin to think of backyard barbeques and picnics or trips to the lake. For many, Memorial Day is just another three-day weekend.

Vietnam Memorial. The Wall lists the names of those who were killed in action or missing in action

But that’s not what this day is about. It is a time to honor and remember all Americans who have died in military service.

My husband and I have several family members who have served or are currently serving in the military. Two of my cousins were in Vietnam. My father-in-law was in World War II. My husband’s nephew spent twenty-one years in the US Army.  A great-nephew also serves in the Army. He recently returned to the states after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Fortunately, we haven’t lost an immediate family member to war. But many people, including some I know, have lost loved ones in various wars.

So whether you’re having a backyard cookout or taking a trip to the lake, take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in service to our country.

American Revolutionary War—25,000
War of 1812—15,000
Mexican American War—13,283
American Civil War—625,000
World War I—116,516
World War II—405,399
Korean War—36,516
Persian Gulf War—294
Iraq, Afghanistan, and War against ISIS (2001-present)—6,774
And for those who have died in all other wars

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia