goals, God, Life Talk, philosophy

Moving Back to Move Forward

This weekend, we made a flying trip back to PA, where we lived for the first four years of our marriage. When we left, there were two weeks between finding out we had to leave, and pulling away from the house with our moving truck. It’s been almost five years, and we’d never made it back for any kind of closure. With Carl starting grad school this fall, and another huge move coming up in a month (EEK!), now seemed like a good time to finally go back, see our friends there again, show Joy the house where we lived when she was a baby, revisit some old haunts.

And go grocery shopping at Wegmans. Because we have MISSED it.

Bringing Joy home from the hospital.
Bringing Joy home from the hospital almost six years ago.

It was so, so good.

We had dinner Friday evening with some of our dearest friends. It was sheer chaos in parts, with ten kids running around and six adults trying desperately to cram five years of conversation into a few hours, but it was so good. It felt like we’d never left.

Friends and soul-sisters
Friends and soul-sisters

Saturday was a more leisurely lunch with more friends, these with two daughters close in age to our own girls. The four of them played so nicely together all afternoon, and Joy cried when we left – she felt like she’d finally found the Betsy to her Tacy, and then had to leave after just a few hours. We told her we would start praying, and KEEP praying, that God would send her a best friend at Gordon-Conwell, now that she has a taste of what it’s like.

Then we went back to where we used to live. NOTHING has changed. I don’t think anybody’s even painted their house a different color or bought a new vehicle. It was so weird, like stepping into a time warp. Milkshake (Carl and me) and chocolate milk (the girls) at the dairy bar down the street (and wasn’t THAT place dangerous to have within walking distance when I was in my third trimester during one of the hottest summers EVER), and then on to the cemetery where all the locals go to walk. It’s the closest thing to a neighborhood park around.

Joy, six months
Joy, six months
Posing just a few feet down from where the previous photo was taken
Posing just a few feet down from where the previous photo was taken

And THEN we did our grocery shopping. Then came home. Then crashed the next day (literally, for me – we got out our bikes on Sunday and mine decided it had had enough of my stumbling attempts to master it, and showed me who was boss. Hint: it wasn’t me).

The entire trip felt both like closure of the past AND reopening of old friendships. We were able to lay to rest some of the miseries that had chased us from PA, remember the good parts of living there, and reaffirm the friendships we made while there.

I also was able to remember that old tombstones are one of my best sources for finding awesome character names, and that ancient cemeteries are beautiful, peaceful, other-worldly places to stroll.

Despite our exhaustion, we came home energized, ready to tackle packing up this house, thankful for all God has done in our lives, and in my case, ready to dive back into writing now that I’ve gotten some more real-life filling.

How was your weekend?

"Rest in peace" feels a bit more tangible, here.
“Rest in peace” feels a bit more tangible, here.
Books, fantasy, fiction, publishing

Elle Strauss Cover Reveal

I was tremendously excited when I heard Elle Strauss was putting her “Love, Tink” serial together in one complete package, with a new cover and everything. I bought every one of the episodes as soon as it came out, and I’m happy to see them all together now. So naturally, I signed up to be part of the cover reveal!

Not familiar with Love, Tink? Here’s a brief synopsis:

Love, Tink: The Complete Set by Elle Strauss
Publication date: July 10th, 2013 
Genre: YA Fantasy

Originally published as six separate novella episodes, Love, Tink the complete series is all six stories together in one volume.

Tink is hopelessly smitten with Peter, the leader of the Lost Boys who’d mysteriously arrived at Neverland two years ago. Unfortunately, Peter is tired of the adventure and especially tired of dodging Captain Hook who is after his head. He just wants to go back to New York City and live his life as a normal fifteen year old

Tink is the only one who can help Peter return, but it breaks her heart to do it. She just wants to make him happy, so she does the unthinkable and betrays the fairy king. Now her heart is filled with remorse. Should she go after Peter? Should she follow him to his New York?

I write fun, lower YA fiction (time-travel and fantasy). I’m fond of Lindt’s sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather. I’m married with four children and divide my time between British Columbia, Canada, and Germany. I also write upper YA (historical and science fiction) as Lee Strauss.
Author Links:
Ready for the cover? Here … we … go …!
Isn’t it lovely? Doesn’t it make you want to read the novellas? The complete series is coming out July 10th!
editing, goals, Life Talk, school, seasons, stories, writing


-My copy-editor send back Magic Most Deadly this morning. This marks the last round of edits on it (whee!). Then I get to move on to formatting (not so whee). Still, overall way more exciting than not.

-On Saturday, Carl, the kids, and I went to the fabric store to pick up supplies for my sister’s baby quilt. Carl is, surprisingly enough, absolutely the best person to go quilt-fabric-shopping with. He has an unerring eye for colors and patterns that will work well together. Most of the prettiest quilts I’ve made have been ones he helped with.

Like this one
Like this one
And this
And this

-I’ve started packing up non-necessity items around the house. Pictures came down off the walls last week, and I’m starting to eye the bookcases, wondering what books we can live without for the next month and a half. (Answer: not many) Winter clothes are already packed away, and pretty soon I’ll be putting extra linens away in totes. Despite the many, many moves we’ve made in the almost-nine years we’ve been married, I still loathe packing.

-In related news, holy cow the end of July and our big move is coming up FAST. We’re going to be traveling three of the weekends between now and then, too. Yikes.

-As the work I need to do on MMD winds down, I’ve actually started writing, not just plotting and researching, my next book project (working title: Wings of Song). I’ve written, deleted, and re-written the first chapter already. Exciting! It’s odd but fun to be working on something without any magic in it at all. It’s also just sheer delight to be writing something set in the same era and general location of my grandfather’s childhood. I think this book will be dedicated to all my grandparents, in thanks for the stories and memories they’ve always shared.

-I’m backing off on the full load of school I’d been attempting with Joy. I think we’ll be fine doing that once the move is done and we’ve settled, but everything is too crazy right now. We’ll just keep doing a little bit here and there (working mostly on art lessons, because that is what she loves the best), but not try doing full weeks until sometime mid-August.

-I love all the fresh fruit starting to be available now. I’ve a big batch of rhubarb in my fridge waiting to be made into rhubarb crunch, and I made a strawberry cake for Grace’s birthday party that was amazingly good, and just to be able to open the fridge and indulge in fruit without worrying that it means we’ll run out before our next grocery trip is a treat. It’s so much easier to stay healthy this time of year!

Although this isn't technically health food, I suppose.
Although this isn’t technically health food, I suppose.

-It’s also pretty fun to be back browsing at the farmer’s market every Saturday (the ones where we aren’t traveling, that is). I came home this weekend with a pot of thyme and a tiny bottle of fresh cream. SO good.

-There’s not much else for news on this front! Posts are probably going to be scattered and/or non-existent from now until after we move (early August), so don’t get alarmed if a week or so passes without hearing from me. I will try to stay active on Twitter and Facebook just so you all know I’m alive!

-Have a fantastic week, all.

Books, fantasy, goals, heroines, publishing, stories, writing

Responsibilities and Inspirations

The thing about being an independently-published author (or at least journeying toward that goal – Magic Most Deadly, is so, so close to being ready!) is that you still have to be responsible about your writing.

By which I mean, if you have two books planned for this year, and two more planned for next, and you know that you are a slow enough writer it will take you all year to get those books written and ready for publication, you cannot, no matter how much you want to, hare off on a side trail and write something completely different. Because you have responsibilities just as surely as if you have a contract with an outside publishing house.

Which is why I am not writing that heavily female, POC, straight-up high fantasy quest-and-battle novel I want to write after seeing this, and reading this and this.

But I want to.

And so I am jotting down notes and character ideas and possible plots in my handy-dandy notebook here and there, as I think of it, and maybe, just maybe, once my self-imposed contracts are up, the spark will still be there and I will be able to write it. Or there’s even the possibility that I might be spurred to write these stories that much faster, so I can get to that one sooner.

In any case, it’s always nice to have inspiration bubbling, even if one can’t go chasing every will-o-the-wisp idea that floats across one’s path. Not, in any case, if one wishes to be that responsible writer one is trying so hard to achieve.

Seriously, who hasn’t read LOTR and wanted to see Eowyn get her shot at adventure? She would be an amazing protagonist.


(I am also, in trying to be responsible, not taking up my Welsh language studies again. Though that has more to do with homeschooling/packing/moving/I have no time for a new time-consuming hobby than it does with writing!)