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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thoughts After An April Rain

not all
from April
sleeping flowers.

some seep
into bare
or soak
into rotting

some words

in anger,
or sometimes

the tender heart
to recoil,
and the deepest
to decay.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

On Gratitude, Joy and Being Published

Writing this blog under the wire again ~ it's been such a busy and exciting month with lots of good news, some of which I just shared on my fb page, and some which I'll share soon enough. As the seasons keep rolling, I can't help but be mindful of how grateful I am to be spending my days (and sometimes my nights and weekends) doing what I love.

Writing is hard work, but it is also joy. It's the companionship of characters we come to love. It's the creation of a world that readers may want to visit ~ and for me, it's the promise of endings which offer a glimpse of kindness and hope that the non-fictional world  often lacks.

After my most recent talk, a student came up to ask some additional questions. He seemed hesitant to admit that he wrote poetry and reminded me of myself when I was in college. I'd been writing since early childhood, but for a long time was reticent to admit this. 

I repeated to the student—to the poet— what I had said in my opening comments, what I boldly repeat here because it is so, so, SO important. 

Being published does not make you a writer.  I confess that  walking into a bookstore or library and seeing the words I've written in solitude proudly bound and sitting on a shelf is wonderful in the truest, most expansive sense of the word.  I am thrilled to hear that students are reading and discussing those words and that some words have even received shiny notice. But I also know that I was a writer when most of my words remained banded together and stuffed in a drawer. Truth be told, many of my words still get stuffed in that bulging drawer. 

Being a writer, as I told the students who came to hear me speak, as I repeated to the poet who stopped by afterwards, is a way of seeing and experiencing the world and wanting to capture what you see and experience through words and images. 

So many unpublished poets and writers weave their gossamer strands of truth in quiet, unheralded solitude. A week of happy notice is thrilling, but what makes me a writer is here and now, sitting at my table, chasing words that might somehow capture my gratitude and joy.

Thursday, February 16, 2017



my video blog
was too long 
to post,
 but look for 
a book
you love 
the most 


(or, check out youtube to hear 
me reading this month's post  ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dolphins Cycling Challenge Redux

This February my husband Marc and I will  be be riding in the Dolphin Cancer Challenge in honor of Marc's sister Barb and all those whose lives have been impacted by cancer. I'm reposting my thoughts from my first DCC ride because no matter how many years pass, Barb will remain my inspiration to keep pedaling... 

Anyone wishing to donate to the challenge may visit the fundraising link at the end of this repost. Every donation, however small, brings us closer to a cure!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The Dolphins Cycling Challenge ~ We Did It!

Team Barb, Post Ride, in all our Pink-for-Barb Pride
Those of you who read my blog regularly have already met my sister-in-law Barb Burg who died this past April (Remembering Barb Burg). You  also know that in her honor, my husband Marc and I planned to ride 25 miles in the Dolphins Cycling Challenge to help raise money for cancer research (The Dolphins Cycling Challenge ~ Riding for Barb). This past weekend Team Barb raised more than 125K ~ 100% of which will donated to cancer research.

Though it was stressed that the DDC is a ride, not a race, some of the people with whom I cycled were well-trained athletes who sped by me in sleek biking outfits (rider on the left, rider on the left).  Most riders were not athletes, but even these riders (in outfits not quite as sleek) pedaled by me. When I wasn't huffing, puffing, pulling to the right, or wondering if a change in gear might be helpful, I thought about Barb.

I kept returning to one brief conversation that we had long before needles, catheters and ports entered our vocabulary, when we talked of movies, books and my own literary endeavors. We were sitting on her soft nubbly couch surrounded by books. One doesn't need to write a bestseller. Barb reminded me. Do you know how many people tell me that they want to write a book but never do? Every book written is an accomplishment.

One doesn't need to write a bestseller, I told myself as I pedaled and pushed, pedaled and puffed, as I switched from fourth to fifth and back down to third and avoided looking too far into the endless road ahead.  Every ride completed is an accomplishment. 

I believe I was the last of the pink Team Barbs to finish the ride. I wasn't the sleekest or the fastest on the team, but I was on the team and I crossed the finish line.  

I rode in memory of my amazing sister-in-law Barb and for all of us who love and miss her.  I rode for people I don't know who every day face cancer with profound courage and quiet dignity. I rode with the hope that we will one day eradicate this devastating disease.

Thanks to all of you who supported Team Barb with words, thoughts, donations and prayers. Each of you made a difference. Thanks to my husband Marc who slowed his own pace to keep me company ~ and to all those teammates who wouldn't cross the finish line without me. Most of all, thanks to Barb Burg whose courageous voice continues to motivate and encourage all of us to keep pedaling even when the road gets bumpy and steep.

Happy riders: Marc, me, Paula and David

           my fundraising page

Friday, December 23, 2016

Candle in the Window, Wreath Upon the Door

This past Wednesday was the first official day of winter though the birds have been back for awhile now and the cold weather bullied autumn away weeks ago. Hard to believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

Growing up, Christmas preparations could only begin after the magical tenth of December (my birthday). Lately, however, it seems I've begun preparing for Christmas earlier and earlier. More and more it seems that the world needs those candles shining in the window. More and more, whatever our faith or personal credo,  we need to believe in the spirit of peace and goodwill.

It seems this year has been exceptionally difficult. The radio choir sings children's faces all aglow, but the dusty, blood-and-tear-stained children of Aleppo haunt me. The bandaged face of a young man whose only desire was to live in freedom followed me as I filled my shopping cart with gifts for my family.

Most of what I write is middle grade historical fiction.  If I've learned anything from my research it's that the peaceful times we recall fondly were not really all that peaceful. While I was gleefully opening my Tiny Tears or Chatty Cathy, children in Vietnam were being born with birth defects from the endless war in their backyard. While we continue to sip our champagne, others are struggling to find clean water for their families. While many danced in squares, line and circles, others still labored in the fields.

I suppose this doesn't seem much like a holiday post. This December we are all exceptionally weary, maybe even afraid. Yet, I can't dismiss those candles in the window. That light in the darkness. That's the thing about hope...true hope continues to exist despite condition or circumstance. There is something exceptionally, extraordinarily beautiful in that.

So, this year, as I do every year (although maybe a bit earlier than usual) I placed on my door a festive Christmas wreath. And this year, as I do every year (although maybe a bit more fervently than usual) I hold in my heart a prayer for peace.

Happy, happy holidays to each and every one of my readers! I hope a little light always shines in your heart!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

While Waiting for Take-Off

Unless my thoughts hold a special remembrance of  a particular person or event, I tend to post my ponderings closer to the end of the month. That's because, despite my best efforts, most days charge by me, leaving me astounded that a week, month, or sometimes an entire season is already coming to a close. It seems just yesterday we were packing our car for Long Beach Island— how is it that my son has been in college a month? that already we are bringing in the lawn chairs and stacking fire wood?

This atypical, early-in-the-month entry is my best effort to stay ahead of the darkening days of October.  The next few months will be uncharacteristically busy as I trade my quiet, at-home writing days (with the occasional field trip to the library) for visits to Nashville, Atlanta, and Miami. I'll be packing for a sojourn to the Great Dismal Swamp, and traveling to festivals and bookstores across New York. 

I look forward to all these opportunities. I look forward to meeting students, teachers, librarians and other writers; I'm profoundly grateful for the opportunity to discuss the writing process and the characters I've come to love. This go round I will mostly be talking about Grace and her family, but I haven't forgotten Rebekkah, Matt or Serafina. Writing, like reading, changes us. It is impossible to enter the heart of another without gaining a change in perspective or a deepening appreciation for what it means to be human.

So here it is, late afternoon. The third of October. A copper sunlight shines through the still summer-blue sky. This month, my best effort is rewarded with the realization that no matter how swiftly the days charge by, or how crowded the calendar becomes, I am lucky to be doing what I love...I am lucky to be writing, to be visiting new places and making new friends...I am lucky to know that old friends - both real and imagined - are never far and will be waiting for me when the November sky grows dark.

Friday, September 16, 2016

On My Parents' Anniversary ~ My Own Family Album

A few weeks ago, while going through some of my father's old papers, I came across a neatly-folded, blue onion-skin letter postmarked the Vatican, September 25, 1950. The letter was from a family friend, a priest, who was expressing his congratulations and regret that he had not been able to attend the wedding of my parents. How many times, Father Cavicchi wrote, did we talk about the tree which is planted and watered and tendered for the purpose of getting flowers in spring? Father continued to compare marriage to a flower which unfolds in freedom and selflessness; he closed with heartfelt blessings for my father and mother.

All Father's blessings came true, I told my sister, and was immediately reminded of a poem by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I first read the poem in a slim volume tucked in a hefty stack of biographies and religious books kept on a side table in the living room. I remember talking about the poem with my mother but I don't recall it having the same meaning to me as it did to her or as it does to me today. 

What follows are excerpts from Anne Morrow's tribute to her  parents. 

Family Album 
(on a photograph of my mother and father just married) 
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 

My parents, my children:
Who are you, standing there
In an old photograph— young married pair
I never saw before, yet see again...

I who gaze at you and recognize
The budding gestures that were soon to be
My cradle and my home, my trees, my skies,
I am your child, staring at you with eyes
Of love and grief for parents who have died;
But also with omniscience born of time,
Seeing your unlined faces, dreams untried,
Your tentativeness and your brave attack,
I am no longer daughter gazing back;
I am your mother, watching far ahead...

I long to comfort you for all you two 
In time to come will meet and suffer through,
To answer with a hindsight-given truth
The questions in those wondering eyes of youth.
I long to tell you, starting on your quest,
You'll do it all, you know, you'll meet the test.

Mother compassionate and child bereft
I am; the past and present, wisdom and innocence,
Fused by one flicker of a camera lens
Some stranger snapped in laughter as he left
More than a half century ago—
My children, my parents.

Today would have been my parents' 66th wedding anniversary. Father Cavicchi would be proud. I'm proud. With tenderness, love, and longing, I whisper to the heavens. You did it all. You met the test.