See You At The Gaithersburg Book Festival On Saturday

The big news here this week is that the rain came and finally we are no longer in a mild drought situation. But the even bigger news is that next Saturday, I will be in taking part in a Memoir Panel Discussion at the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland. I’m excited.

Joining me on the panel will be fellow She Writes Press sister, Betty Hafner. Betty’s memoir, Not Exactly Love, published last year, is about her first marriage and the unpredictable domestic violence she lived with for far too long. For the multitude of women and men who live with physical abuse at the hands of their spouses, this book is a poignant guide revealing how Betty took back her own life, leaving the abuse she suffered behind. It’s a moving narrative filled with the stuff of real life. I found it hard to put down.

Seema Reza, author of another page-turner, When the World Breaks Open, published by Red Hen Press in 2016, will join us in our discussion about writing memoir and abuse. With raw honesty, Seema examines her own role in her dysfunctional and abusive marriage, as she struggles with fear, regret, love, loss, and motherhood. Written as a series of short essays, poems, and notes to herself she brings to life the lessons she has learned and the infinite wisdom one finds amidst suffering.

My own book, Scattering Ashes, A Memoir of Letting Go, about living with my mother during her last seven years of her life, sheds light on how domestic abuse by parents effects their children throughout their lifetimes and how the chain of abuse within a family can be stopped.

If you are in the area it would be wonderful to see you there. The panel will start at 11:15 AM and run until 12:00 PM, followed by a book signing.

Go to the Gaithersburg Book Festival’s website here for directions and a schedule of other interesting book events.

Family Trees

img_0499It’s that wonderful time of year when the leaves turn from their summer green to shades of gold, red, yellow, orange and everything in-between. The colors are especially beautiful in Vermont and New Hampshire at this time of year, when the roads become gridlocked with Leaf Peepers. Like me, those who travel from far away to view the spectacular show of color get the chills at first seeing them and can’t stop pointing out the magnificence that surrounds them as they fly into or drive through the Green Mountains.

Here in Virginia we do have an array of fall colors but not the stunning Crayola colors that we see when going to northern climes. Still it’s lovely and amazing to watch. One of my favorite things to do is to walk slowly on a windy day as the leaves drift all around me. I love the crunch underfoot and the storm of falling foliage overhead, just as much as I love walking through the first snowfall of the season, when my breath steams away and the building layers of snow on the ground quiets the sound of the passing world.

Bill and I both love trees and have always used them to welcome in new babies. After Mark was born in Vermont on a fifty-below-zero night in February, 1967, we planted a tiny weeping willow the following spring to honor him. Three years later when Lisa joined us, we planted another near the first one. We also honored our granddaughter Zoe, with a willow on her first birthday. And three years later when Noah, arrived from Guatemala as a one-year-old, we planted a red bud to honor him.

DSC01649.JPGI’ve just finished reading, The Hidden Life of TREES, What They feel, How They Communicate, Discoveries from a Secret World, by Peter Wohlleben. If like me, you are a nature lover, have been mystified by the life of trees and plants in general, and weep whenever land is cleared of trees for more buildings, here is the story of how these marvels of nature live there lives through hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. They communicate with each other, as they nurture their children and friends through an underground mycelial network of underground fungal species. It’s a marvelous read.

It seems we humans treat our tree and plant friends as badly as we treat our animal friends. It’s time to learn about them and come to their aid. You won’t be disappointed in what you learn in the marvelous book.

Are you a tree hugger?  I am.

Celebrating A New Life


I never dreamt in a million years that this day would come.  I’ve been in labor for six long years and today, SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, has officially been born.  Someone asked me yesterday, how it feels to have accomplished this magical feat, and all could say was, “It’s unreal.”

I’ve written a book of two-hundred and thirty-six pages, and I can’t find words to describe how I’m feeling? Humpf! But I know I’m not alone. Every author who pens a book and sees it through to publication is filled with pride and are sometimes wordless when it comes to describing the feeling of having done it.

I can tell you this: I am excited. I am proud of myself. I’ve done something I never thought I would or could do. And I did it!  If I can write a book and get it published, I can do just about anything!

Shall I go for another?  We’ll see.  I have some ideas, but first I must raise the book I’ve just given birth to and send her off into the world.

Please check out my guest blog post over at Create Write Now.

If you’ve read my book or intend to, I’d appreciate it you could write an honest review over on Amazon and Goodreads.  It helps us authors when the word gets out.  Thank you!

My Book Addiction and Reviews

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In case I haven’t told you before now, I am a bookaholic. I’m also a sugarholic, but that’s another story. However, there is something that the two have in common. The sweetness of both reading and savoring a piece of chocolate draws me in. I have a very difficult time leaving them behind. The more I read good books or eat sweets, the more I want them. I work hard on my sugar addiction, trying to control my cravings. But I can’t seem to control my hunger for books, and since it isn’t affecting my life negatively, I don’t worry about it much.

Even as a kid, I loved books. The best days were those when I went to the library and chose two or three new ones to bring home. I lived inside their covers, following stories that I was sure were written just for me. These days, though, I want to own the book I’m reading in case I want to make notes in the margins. Books are companions that I want to keep nearby. If the book and I don’t connect then it goes in the box that I send off to the library book sale or give it to someone who might like it.

For the last couple of years my actual reading time was minimal, due to work on my own book and the plethora of other things I had to do. But the the stack of books by my bedside and on the bookcase across the room just kept growing taller. This past spring when my memoir was well on it’s way to publication, I slowly began taking one book at time and opening its pages, bathing in stories and language. At first I felt guilty for not “working.” Surely I should be doing laundry, filing away the stacks of papers in my studio, or unpacking a few boxes that still haven’t been emptied since our move here six years ago. But then I remembered that part of a writer’s work is to read.

Back when I was writing mostly poetry, the easiest way for me to get moving with my writing was to pick up a poetry book and read for at least thirty minutes if not an hour. At the end of that time, I’d be so inspired by the power of words and how they were put together, that I’d sit and write for hours. These days are no different. I get inspired by reading prose, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. And the stack of books I mentioned above is slowly, yes, slowly dwindling. I guess the slowness is because I keep adding one or two whenever I see ones that I MUST read. And there are plenty of those. The two books I’ve reviewed below are those that just recently took their places on the stack.

FASTEST THINGS ON WINGS, Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood, by Terry Masear, is a goodie. It is a thriller. Not in the sense that is has murderers or spies in it, but in the sense that I have always loved those tiny winged creatures, and wanted to know more about them. I was thrilled to learn about the mysterious lives of these pinky-sized wonders. This book, however, goes beyond the facts about one particular bird.  It also tells the story of a compassionate woman who gave her life over to saving the lives of thousands of hummingbirds. It’s about her special relationships with those who spent time recovering from near death under her care. I call it a “Thriller/Memoir.” I don’t think those who love nature, memoir, and especially birds, should miss this one. It’s a delight.

THINGS UNSAID, by Diana Y. Paul, is a novel that could be a memoir. It is the universal story of a dysfunctional family, how they tear each other apart, and how if not stopped, their instability could bleed down through generations to come. It is a story of the conflicts between a set of elderly parents, their three grown children, and their granddaughters. All of them soaking in the sour brine of relationships gone bad. In today’s world of Baby Boomers taking over the care of their aging parents, it’s a thoughtful tale we can all  learn from. Do we give our all to those who brought us into the world despite their toxic behaviors? Or do we need to let them go their own way in order to preserve our own lives and those of our children? Every caretaker story is different, but this one holds a bit of everything that could go wrong and then some. Highly recommended to me by several other She Writes Press authors, I found it hard to put down.

I’m still choosing which book to begin next. I used to split up my days reading two to three books at a time, but I can’t seem to do that anymore. My brain is telling me I can’t multitask anymore. So now only one book at a time has to do. At the moment I’m being drawn to The Art of Work, A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To Do, by Jeff Goins. I think that being in my seventies, it’s high time I figure out what I want to do with my life. 🙂

Tasa’s Song by Linda Kass, A Review

We can grow anywhere if we never give up.

We can grow anywhere if we never give up.

Last month at Book Expo America in Chicago, I met a number of fellow She Writes Press authors. We took turns greeting passersby and promoting our books in the SWP booth. During my first session there I was accompanied by Linda Kass, author of Tasa’s Song, a novel set in Eastern Poland, about a young Jewish girl, caught in the cross-hairs between Communist Russia and Nazi Germany, during WWII. This book was awarded the 2016 Bronze Medal in Historical Fiction by the Independent Publisher Book awards.

Having spent two years living in Germany just after the war as a young child, and seeing the destruction of that country, I have always been interested in the Holocaust; searching for answers as to why it happened and how the survivors who were targeted by Hitler’s horrific regime came through such an unspeakable time. As the daughter of an American soldier who fought and liberated a number of concentration camps, the focus of my interest has always been on Germany itself. But I have been mostly unaware of how the people of Poland lived through the upheaval and mass destruction of innocent lives as a result of the war. And being of Polish descent myself, I have felt remiss in my ignorance.

Kass’ beautifully written story, inspired by her mother’s life and how she came to America, has filled in many of the blanks for me. I now understand the intensity of the sudden invasion of Poland by Russia, making everyday life a challenge because of the many changes that the Russians forced upon the Poles. When the Nazis drove the Russian occupation back, and started rounding up the Jews to be taken away, Tasa’s family hid underneath a friend’s barn, away from the light of day for an extended period of time. This is a story filled with loss, love, and the grace it takes to keep going in a shattered world.

For me, what is most engaging about this story is how Kass, weaves in the music that Tasa, an aspiring violinist, always carries with her in her head. Through her constant moves and the unending months when she cannot play her violin for fear that any sound she makes could give away her family’s hiding place, it sings in her heart. Using exquisite, lyrical narrative, Kass explores the way a life filled with music can bring us through life extreme adversity, helping the human spirit to shine and endure. Filled with detailed descriptions of daily life in war-torn Poland, this book should not be missed.


As often as I can, I plan to read and review books by authors already published or is in the process of being published by She Writes Press. I feel extremely fortunate to be included in such a group of talented women writers. Brooke Warner and all of the women at She Writes Press have given me unending attention during the sometimes difficult process of getting my book off the ground. From the editors to the publicists they recommend, I feel well supported and grateful that they are there to answer the simplest questions and help as my book moves toward publication.  To learn more about She Writes Press go here.