Leaps & unfolding: a writing update

Over a year ago, I wrote the first draft of my next book ( S.C.). I loved writing it. It’s different from The Silence of Trees, a whole new world and new characters who came rushing into life onto the page. What a joy it is to learn about them, to write about them.

But then…

We moved back to the US from Germany soon after I wrote it, and I had to put S.C. aside to take care of life. After moving, remodeling, putting out the 2010 issue of Conclave, publishing The Silence of Trees, and organizing the induction ceremony for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, it was time to get back to it.

I knew that when I eventually delved back into the story, I would have to do some heavy editing, and in the beginning, that’s all it was: nits and edits. Then I came to an important scene that needed to be rewritten. It could have gone a few different ways, and I mulled over my options, listened to my characters, and jumped.

I rewrote the scene and another whole section of the world opened up, more of the backstory unfolded, and there were ripples out into the rest of the book! The ripples changed so much more than I had intended. For the better (I hope), but resulting in more work to be done.

During our holiday in Minneapolis, I had some chunks of time to work on the book, and I finally admitted to myself that most of the end needed to be written. I couldn’t use bandaids. It’s more work, but it’s better. I think the story is stronger and more interesting. The characters continue to evolve and become more real. Although it’s taking longer to revise, I hope the book will hopefully be better for the revisions.

So I’m hoping to finish up soon and send it off to my readers (whom I thank for their patience).  There are so many exciting projects on the horizon, and I need to finish S.C. first!

I’ll keep you posted.


The Silence of Trees Chapter 1

After feedback from my agents and a handful of editors at publishing houses, I am thinking about revising my manuscript yet again, I’ve posted the first chapter here for your reading pleasure. Feedback is always welcome.


There is a Ukrainian legend that once each year, on the night of Ivana Kupala, a magical flower blooms in the heart of the forest. Anyone who finds it will be granted their heart’s desire: the ability to hear the trees whisper and watch them dance, the power to make anyone fall in love with them, the magic to make barren lands bear fruit and barren women fruitful. It is a single red flower with several names: tsvit paporot, liubava, chervona ruta. The legendary bloom can grant wishes, open the doorway to the past, and awaken spirits to visit with loved ones.

I looked for the tsvit paporot when I was a young girl. I searched for it in many places, in different countries, over a lifetime. I eagerly went into the unknown, looking for magic, for mystery, for adventure. But sometimes magic finds you. Sometimes it comes in the least likely of forms: in a small black river rock, a deck of hand-painted cards, a sprig of purple herb or an envelope from home.

Just when you think that life is slowing down, magic happens. The universe sends you a message, like a tsvit paporot on your doorstep. The question is, what do you wish for?

At the age of sixteen, more than anything, I wanted to have my fortune told by the mysterious vorozhka, the Gypsy woman who camped with her people on the outskirts of our Ukrainian village. Mama expressed her disapproval countless times, but so many of the young women had gone before me and came back with astonishing stories. The vorozhka told Mariyka that she would travel across the sea in search of kisses heavy with perfume. She told Darka that she would find many children gathered around her feet on her father’s farm. Even Olena, who dreamt of going to school in Lviv to study languages, went to see the vorozhka who told her that she would soon ride a train heavy with hope. After finishing my chores, I would sit with Khvostyk purring in my lap and dream of the vorozhka’s predictions.