All the leaves have gone

It is my favorite season, time to harvest and prepare for Winter. I always look forward to it, but this has been a particularly challenging Autumn.

I found out my grandmother’s brother in Ukraine died tragically in a fire today as he sat beside the stove for warmth. He survived the Holodomor, WWII, Siberia, and the Soviet Union. He was reunited with my grandmother when she returned to Ukraine in the 90s for her first visit since leaving in the 40s. They corresponded by letter and rare phone calls when he would go to a neighbor’s house to use the telephone. My grandmother sent photos of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. He was a widower, never had children, and lived alone.

I always hoped that I would meet him on a future visit to Ukraine. I worry about what this may do to my grandmother. I know that it’s a gift that she’s still here. Incredible that all of my grandparents are still alive, in their 80s and 9os. (knock on wood)

The elders are dying, and many of their stories will die with them. I hope that he had someone to talk to, someone to listen to him. It hurts my heart to think that he died in such a way. Alone.

Life is so fragile. So much dies in Autumn.


Love In Doorways

Life feeds my writing. Writing feeds my life. And so it goes, back and forth.

The lines between the two are blurred of course.

I try to carry a notebook to catch fragments too precious to let slip away when I’m in the middle of playing with my kids, or shopping for coffee, or in the shower, or arguing with my mother, or walking alone in the neighborhood. Because that’s when plot twists or character revelations so often happen, and I mourn the loss of those things that have already faded with time.

I usually feel like I swing between the two: living and writing, but Autumn is the time when I exist most fully in the “in between.” Autumn is coming, and I am relieved and excited. Summer has been joyful and full of connection and community, but I look forward to the shift of the seasons.

Starting this week, all three kids are in school. (My youngest had her first day of half-day preschool today!) This means that I have a few consistent hours to myself for the first time in seven years. It’s only a few hours, but it’s not time “stolen” from the kids or from my husband or from sleep. It’s a few hours of relatively guilt-free time to work on writing, editing, etc., and it’s another reason to be grateful for Autumn.

So I turn back to the work: to look at author photos, write notes on the cover illustration, update websites, follow up with bookstores for tour dates, finish other book-related business.

But one morning this week, after I drop off the kids, I will sit in the garden or in the kitchen or in my office (it doesn’t really matter because the house will be…quiet), and I will write.

Summer’s End and Other Thresholds

September is here, and summer is ending in the northern hemisphere. I’m not sad to see it go, being a lover of Autumn and all that comes with the falling leaves and breezes whispering winter psalms.

It’s the perfect time to gather with friends over mugs to share stories and laughter and quiet moments of happiness. So until our paths cross in person (and I really hope they do), we have this lovely internet for our storytelling and exchanges.

That’s one of the things that I love about Live Journal (as opposed to social networking sites). LJ allows for storytelling–it creates a time and space for expression and revelation and collaboration. Those other sites are great for catching up and sharing news, but for me, LJ is about something a little more substantial, more akin to the dying art of letter writing.

And speaking of lively chats, my interview is up on Between the Lines, a blog that interviews people devoted to literature, from teachers, lawyers, and doctors to academics, novelists, critics — and beyond. Kevin Neilson, a philosopher and unabashed lover of prose fiction, has done a great job rounding up booklovers from different walks of life to probe with fun and provocative questions.

I happen to know that some really fabulous folks are on board to share their love of books and literary insights in the coming weeks.

Check out the site ( and leave a comment so that Kevin knows that you were there and enjoyed the site.

I also invite you to respond to some of the interviews. Truly. If no one responds, it’s a little like standing up in front of a room after a lecture or reading, and being met with silence and blank stares. I taught college Composition and Creative Writing, so I’m no stranger to the blank stares.

Read some of the other interviews, write a note, and stay tuned to more musings about literary passions.

"The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. "Summer is over and gone," they sang. "Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying."

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year–the days when summer is changing into fall–the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change."

~ Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White