Over the last eighteen months, as I have been so busy with the writing/editing/publishing/marketing process, I have not taken as much time as I should, or as I would like, to read books by other authors. I do read a lot professionally, but I hadn’t picked up many other books in a while.

This last two months, that changed. I have read and read, and read some more. I have read novels, motivational texts, pieces from authors I have gotten to know along this journey, books recommended by friends, and books that just caught my interest. I have enjoyed some of them greatly, had issues or grumbled about some, and found some that I wish had been through a more stringent editing/proofreading process as typos or misused words took my mind away from great stories.

As the summer winds down, I know my reading time will get shorter and shorter with the ramping up of the school year. But, it has been a wonderful time this summer, and I have so enjoyed the books I have read.

Here’s hoping you’ve read some great books this summer!

A Farming Kind of Day

Yesterday was a busy, busy day around our farm. We had gathered the drop apples from our trees and decided that we should press cider or they would go to waste. For some reason this year, our apple trees are dropping apples way more often than normal.

So we pressed cider. We hoped that we would make maybe a gallon, but in the end, we pressed more than four gallons. After putting some aside for family members, we then froze a gallon in quart jars and made a gallon of spiced cider. Then we went to check our supply of our homemade apple cider vinegar, and divided up what we had left, and added fresh cider, so in all, we now have three gallons of the vinegar fermenting for the fall/winter. Then we took the remains of the apples and gave the alpacas and non-laying chickens a treat.

Then we picked the garden, cleaned the hay barn, and did the normal chores, finally settling down with our sons for a great meal together. It was a great day!

At long last!

Today, I finally handed in Of Grief, Garlic & Gratitude for the internal design lay-out. What does that mean? It means that as of today, I can’t fuss over the wordings any more. I can’t move sections around any more. I can’t move people within the acknowledgements any more, trying to make sure that placement of their names doesn’t cause hurt feelings. And that is both terrifying and exciting!

To be clear,  I could fuss over my books forever. When I look at my three published romance novels, I could go at them now with one of my purple pens and edit away. In my mind, I am never completely, totally done writing and editing my books — they are living documents in my mind.

But this book? This is different. In my mind, this book is both the story of my journey through my first years of grief after Sam’s death, but it is also the story of my love of/for/with Sam. That’s why the subtitle is “Sam’s love story.” The weight of writing this book has been immense. Yes, it was helpful to me in my grieving process, but it also is putting myself out there in terms of exposing my vulnerabilities in a way I have never done before. I wanted it to be perfect. Perfect. I wanted every word to count, and the editing and proofreading to be absolutely perfect.

So now it is in the hands of the publisher, and it is up to them to take that document that is as near to perfect as I (and my amazing team of editors) can make it. Hitting “send” on that email with the file was almost like the last push of giving birth. I am exhausted, terrified, and relieved — all at once.

Now I wait. I wait to see the first internal design layout, then the galleys. Yes, I get to double-check everything at each step, but the writing and re-writing are done.

What will I do now? I think I will go work on my next novel…


A 25th Birthday

This past Monday was our Sam’s 25th birthday, and the fifth one since his death. Someone, the big numbers hit me really hard. I kept telling myself that 25 really wasn’t that different than 24, or 5 than 4, but it was.

We went into the past weekend with the joy and anticipation of going to see the band Twiddle at their Tumble Down festival in Burlington, Vermont with our two sons, but with the sadness that we never went to see them with Sam in person. The day was hot and a bit humid, and as we (my husband and I) settled in with our lawn chairs at the park, ominous clouds rolled in, and we waited to get doused. A little bit of rain fell, and we thought it would be okay. Then they stopped the group playing (pre-Twiddle) and announced that we all had to evacuate immediately due to lightening in the area. Sigh. Thousands of people had to leave through a couple security gates.

So we walked back to our hotel, knowing we would get an update online when/if the concert could resume. We called our sons (who hadn’t arrived yet) and told them to hold on, and we settled into our hotel room for a few minutes.

The all-clear came, and we walked back down to the park, meeting our youngest son unexpectedly as he came down the street, and we looked up to see a beautiful arching rainbow — and as you know, rainbows often appear when Sam is somehow involved… Laughing, crying a bit, we walked back to the concert, commenting that Sam needed to make his presence known.

The concert was perfection — Taz and Kat Wright joining Twiddle on stage, laughing with our sons, seeing good friends. It was a Sam night, full of love, great music and happiness.

The next day, Sunday, was hard, just plain hard. I remembered the day, 25 years before, when I had been in labor for so long, just waiting to see that baby in person.

Then Monday dawned, and I admit, it was hard to get out of bed, but we had decided that we were going to have a “Sam Day” to honor and recognize his birthday. We kayaked around the Goshen Dam, paddling in almost complete silence so we could hear the loons and the other wildlife. Then we hiked to Silver Lake, saw his tree, and ran into friends — again all things Sam loved.

Finally, we came home and harvested Sam’s garlic for this year. Every single clove of garlic we planted last fall grew into a full head of garlic. Sam was right all along, growing garlic is truly a magical process!

Five birthdays after his death, the loss is still so fresh, still so raw, but we honored his memory by doing things in nature, listening to great music, being with great people. Friends/family called, texted, emailed their thoughts and told us how they celebrated him on that day — and in the end, it was as good of a day as it could possibly have been.