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While I’ve made a good start on the holiday cards and have even purchased a few gifts, to me my holiday preparations aren’t underway until I’ve gotten out my “Christmas Memories” book by Susan Branch and made my first entry. I love this journal/scrapbook! It holds five full years’ worth of Christmas memories and pictures. I’m on my third volume now. A treasure, it is worth its weight in gold–especially as the years go by and folks who are in the pictures from Volume 1 aren’t with us anymore. I have always had everyone in attendance at the holiday gatherings write their name and a little something on one of the pages. Oh, you should see how the handwriting of the children changes from one year to the next. Figure, they first signed in nearly 15 years ago, scrawling over half the page with barely-formed letters. Now, they’re in college. Yikes!
A few years ago, I took the chock-a-block full volumes along on Christmas Eve and Day, so everyone could turn a few pages and remember when. I’m big on Remember When, never more than at Christmas. I was pleased to see, late in the evening, someone sitting quietly, leafing through, reading an entry here and there.
The thing I love about this book, other than the totally beautiful format (well, everything Susan Branch does is just so charming!), is how it allows me to capture in just a few pages all the details of each year–from the look of the tree to the new dessert someone made to the Christmas song most in my head this year. And I include a few photos, of the tree, the pets, all of us or just some of us, depending. Little girls in matching pajamas, the new puppy asleep under the tree, three generations–you know, the pictures that make up a celebration.
This year, I already know my song of the year is by Gloria Estefan, “Christmas Through Your Eyes”. And my favorite ornaments will surely be the vintage ones my brothers attached to the grill of my car while I was at work one day. What a cheery surprise!
So, here’s to happy holidays, and the tradition of writing about them in a favorite space.
Over the summer, I took a class on writing and enjoying poetry. The emphasis was on finding ways to bring poetry into everyday life. Our instructor, the always-inspiring Jo McReynolds Blochowiak, suggested we read a poem every day and write some poetry of our own each day, as well. Haiku, three lines, seventeen syllables, are wonderful. What can you say and how can you say it in such a short, Twittery fashion?
Well, I’ve been trying lately and now find myself thinking up a sort of “My life in Haiku” nearly every morning. I’m posting them on Twitter and can’t help wondering if anyone else will try the experiment, writing their own poetry Twitter posts. I hope so.
Here’s one effort, from a walk by Lake Michigan:
While out on a walk
Butterflies on the asters
Colors of the fall
And here’s the one I’ll post today, combining my poetry-writing goal with my writer-outreach goal:
Come, friend, to Facebook
I’m at “Kate Fellowes, Author”
Try to write each day
Give it a whirl and see if you like being an everyday poet, too!
With the way one day follows the next, I was surprised to look at the calendar this week and notice it’s Labor Day weekend. The end of summer. The start of another school year and the intro to autumn. I remember as a girl being so sad to see the end of long summer days at home, reading in the back yard (or on the front porch, or in my room, or…), swimming in the afternoon, ice cream sundaes in the evening. All the things that make summer summer. But it was also an exciting time, thinking about being back in the classroom, wearing a new school outfit from top to toe, carrying a new binder and notebook and brand new pencils with no teeth marks on them–yet!
I must say, I still buy a new notebook every back-to-school season, and a few folders, too. I wear new pencils behind my ear, when I’m working, until they end up with teeth marks, which indicate intense concentration, now as then.
Like everything in Life, there is happy combined with sad, now at the end of summer. Anticipation of things to do in fall, regrets at the things I didn’t get around to over the summer.
I used to have a favorite season. For a while it was spring, with all that promise. And then, for even longer, it was autumn–cool and beautiful. Now, I’m not sure I have a favorite any more, because each season–even quiet and breathtaking winter–contains reasons to take notice and celebrate.
“Look for the wonder and joy in a moment,” a dear friend told me long ago. Those moments come all year.
Happy End of Summer! Welcome to Autumn!
There’s nothing more fun in the summer than reading books set in the summer, if you ask me. The last few years, I’ve been reading women’s fiction “beach books” at this time of year, really enjoying the sense of place. Maybe because, living on Lake Michigan, it’s easy to relate to that place. Just last weekend, I took my notebook and headed off to the sand. I always mean to write and write and write when I go there. And I do, but not until I’ve soaked up the view to the horizon, watched families set up colorful umbrellas in the sand and unpack picnic hampers, stopped at the snack bar for a little something. Only then can I click on my pen and get started. When I leave, I take a bit of the beach with me. Not just in the sand I inevitably bring home in my tote bag (how does it get in there?), but in the sight of the beach, the scent of water and suntan lotion, the sounds of the seagulls just overhead. It’s magical at the beach in every season, but especially in summer.
It’s hard to believe an entire year has come and gone since the launch of Crimson Romance and the release of my novel, Thunder in the Night.
I’ve been writing since my student days and have been fortunate enough to publish a variety of things—short stories, essays, even some poetry—in a lot of different places. Thunder in the Night, my fifth novel, was a launch title with Crimson Romance, debuting on June 4, 2012.
That publication capped an amazing spring for me: I’d had a short story in Woman’s World Magazine in April, an essay in a Chicken Soup book called “Here Comes the Bride” in May and then this new novel with a new publisher in June. Pinch me! It was unbelievable and I’ll never forget it, that’s for sure.
There was such excitement along every step of the way with Crimson Romance—signing the contract, seeing the fantastic cover, being part of the online community and ramping up my participation on Facebook and Twitter.
Since the book came out, I’ve written half a dozen short stories (look for “Don’t Take That Chance” in the Sisters in Crime anthology “Fishnets”), won a contest with my essay “A Life in the Library” and co-hosted an author table with mystery writer Sheldon Russell at the second annual Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon just last month.
I’ve met so many wonderful readers and writers and just have to say, as both a reader and a writer, there are no better people to know. You can always count on having plenty to talk about and finding a place to connect. Books bring people together, whether you read them in paper form or on a device or listen to them, instead.
Because my day job involves working in a library, every day is a busman’s holiday for me. I see so many fantastic books to put on my “to-be-read” list!
S much as I enjoy reading stories, as a writer I’m inspired by them, as well. I try to pay attention to details like story structure, character development and a well-turned phrase, so I can improve these in my own writing. More often than not, though, these well-laid plans fall apart as I am taken in by the story itself.
It’s summer now, so I’ll be looking for books set in the summer. Easy, breezy reads for afternoons on the patio.
But before I settle in to read, I’ll settle down to write.
Currently, I’m working on a mystery novel. I’d like to say I’ll have that book finished by the end of the summer, but, to be honest, it will be more like the end of the year. I’m a pokey writer (all that reading, you know!)
And I got a great idea for my next Crimson Romance just the other day, so there’s plenty of writing in my future.
One other thing is certain: every ending will be a happy one. That, I guarantee.