Why Attend a Writer’s Conference?

wd2016

A few months ago I accomplished a major “bucket-list” item: I attended a large writer’s conference in New York City.  That’s me at the 2016 Writers Digest Conference holding up a glass of white wine after I successfully pitched CIRCLE OF THE SILVER BIRCH TREES, my debut 94,000 word multigenerational family saga/women’s fiction novel to six agents at the conference’s pitch slam.  I’m posing with other writers (and fellow pitch slammers) – one of whom has since become a fantastic long-distance critique partner. Continue reading

Treasures of Ellis Island

Recently an article popped in to my Facebook newsfeed taking me back to a visit I had made to Ellis Island, the United States’ early 20th century massive immigration processing center.  Photography restoration artists from Dynamichrome have unlocked the colorful secrets beneath the black and white photographs taken between 1906 and 1914 at Ellis Island.   Continue reading

Iceland: Home of the Saga and Destination for Writers

This summer marks 10 years since my sister and I went on an epic backpacking journey on the Ring Road of Iceland.  We carried with us only the essentials which included camping gear, winter coats, hiking boots, bathing suits, travel journals, and the allotted 6kg of food per person as we’d been warned about astronomical prices at the grocery store.  On our quintessential coming-of-age sister adventure, we also brought with us our hopes and dreams for the future.

Glacier Sisters

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Improvised Steps

I waited in the wings of a stage on a recent Saturday night.  With my hair pulled tightly into a bun under a headscarf and silk flowers bobby-pinned behind my left ear, I paced on tip-toes in my character shoes and worked out some last minute kinks in the steps I was about to perform.  I did not feel chatty, nor did the other dancers waiting with me.  We mimed choreographed steps and sequences.  I am certain some of us were wondering: Why can’t I remember these things the way I used to?  Continue reading

Pysanky

IMG_0308One of my favorite Spring-time rituals is making Pysanky Easter eggs.  When the days begin to lengthen and the nights hang on to the last bites of frost, I pull out my dyes, waxes, and kitska tools.  During most of the year, my creative energy is devoted to writing.  But this one time each year, I indulge in the the calming effect of the scent of melting beeswax and a steady hand.  I keep my designs simple with folk symbols and colors representing luck, the cycle of life, abundance, and strength.  I usually make just one or two eggs each Spring.  Although I take pride in my creations, I’ve found that making Pysanky is more about the process than the outcome – as I sketch the ancient patterns of waves, spirals, triangles, flowers, suns, and spiders on an egg in wax, I slow down, reflect, and recharge.  In that space, I connect to a forgotten world explained through nature and bound to the rhythms of light and dark.

The Yard of House 29

On July 2, 2015, after a year of planning, I returned to the Muranska Planina region of Slovakia with several members of my extended family.  On July 3 we visited our ancestral village Muranska Lehota and on July 4 we explored the Muranska Planina forest and the ruins of the Muran Castle, concluding the day with a surprise meeting of long-lost relatives.  July 5 was the last day of our visit.

Sunday, July 5, 2015:  Having agreed to meet up with our newly found relatives at church on Sunday morning, we returned to Muranska Lehota for early morning mass.  We squeezed in the pews amongst the locals and easily followed the familiar, universally Catholic stand, kneel, sit cycle of the service. Continue reading

The Muran Castle and Grandma’s Cousin

On July 2, 2015, after a year of planning, I returned to the Muranska Planina region of Slovakia with several members of my extended family.  On July 3 we visited our ancestral village, Muranska Lehota, and had experiences beyond anything I had imagined for the trip.  Our adventures the following day were no less magical.

Saturday, July 4, 2015: Our guide Samuel led us to the heavily forested back entrance to the Muran Castle park.  Jergus, Samuel’s forest ranger friend, proceeded to lead our caravan into the park further than tourists are usually allowed to travel by car.  We slowly crept up a dirt path barely wide enough for a single car, let alone Jergus’s Land Rover.  There were few guardrails and many steep drop offs.  So when we reached a clearing, a large lush meadow, I exhaled.

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