GATHERING MY FORCES (Why I relaunched my memoir) by Doreen (Dody) Cox


There have been several instances in my life when I’ve woken up from some stupor and realized that it’s time to take charge of something that is important to me. Instead of continuing to be swept along by events and conditions as they were, I’d gathered my own internal forces together in order to direct my own passage through the event. Such reversals are rarely done without the influence of others met along the way. Within this past year, my gathering forces converged and swept me into making some changes regarding writing and publishing.


Adventures in Mother-Sitting was my first published book. After my mother died, I threw my heart and soul into writing a memoir for family and friends, one that told our story. At the time that it was completed, it had only been six months since my mother had died. I wasn’t even online at the time, as I was not sure yet as to what direction to take beyond getting through each day. The world of publishing was foreign to me; I’d never heard the term “indie” author. And I hadn’t planned for the memoir to be published. But then I had an unexpected encounter with an old friend who had just published his memoir. He gave me the name of his indie publisher and the rest was history, or so I had thought.

I’m grateful for all the help that I received in order for Adventures to become a published memoir. It was important at the time that I honor my mother’s long-held wish: for me to write a book. But grief is a powerful force with which to reckon. Caught up in grieving and not knowing anything about publishing or promoting, I relied more on others than I did myself. I didn’t pick up my memoir again for a long time. I did set myself up to be online, but for a while, I merely did whatever I could to make it through my days. It took me over a year to once again feel my curiosity stirring, a surge that told me I was ready to tackle something new.

WhistlingDucks(Whistling Ducks perched on the dock by Dody’s Florida home)

Throughout that next year, I began to explore the world of promoting, signing up to be on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter plus some other writing sites. It was through my connections with authors on LinkedIn and Twitter, though, that I began to be educated. Tweeting became a lifeline, engaging me and connecting me with indie authors of all genres, some who wrote memoirs and others who wrote fiction. For the first time since my mother had died, I began to feel alive with excitement and purpose. Coincidentally, people were beginning to read Adventures and give me feedback on my story via reviews.

It had been easier to slip into a space of viewing my memoir only through my own eyes; that’s how it was for me after I finished writing Adventures. My memoir felt complete to me—family and friends gave me feedback that said it was. Even the initial readers gave it five stars. So I let it be. Truthfully, I really didn’t want to think about having to read the finished memoir much less do a revision. I didn’t even want to write a sequel about life after caregiving, as some had suggested. I wanted to move on with my life and continue to write, but this time, write fiction.

Because of my interactions with other authors and the fact that I was an avid reader, I began to pay attention to book covers. I’d always been drawn first to the cover of a book. If the cover caught my attention, I’d open it and read the first few pages to see if the author’s words engaged me. But I didn’t do that with Adventures. I was being like an ostrich, burying my head in the sand—it was a long while before I acknowledged an urge to take a good look at my memoir’s cover. Whenever I glanced at the cover, I’d only notice our smiles in the photo and remember the moment that this picture of Mother and I was taken. But I was gathering information, and concurrently, my inner force was stirring, preparing for the time when I’d recognize that the cover did not measure up to the quality I wanted readers to see.

This is what I’ve learned: writing is an art, and like all creative activities, it requires study and loads of practice. Writing a novel or a memoir requires different skills than those I’d used previously when writing technical manuals. In order to hone one’s skills for writing books, an open mind to hear feedback from readers and other authors is a key ingredient. I comprehended this while writing my first piece of fiction, a short story titled A Sacred Journey. It was gratifying to get feedback from others, especially from an author whose novels were favorites and whose writing skills I’d come to admire: Julia Hughes. It was very exciting to watch my story go through changes as I rewrote passages that came even more alive for me. The experience was exhilarating. When it came time for me to decide on a book cover, I chose carefully, exploring until my gut centered on Laura Wright LaRoche of LLPix Designs. After receiving such a marvelous cover from Laura, the comparison in quality to my memoir’s cover began niggling at me.


After my short story was published, I began working on a new story. I was over 10,000 words into it when the niggling thought regarding my memoir wouldn’t leave me alone. Laying aside the new story, I gave in to my gut feeling to flip through Adventures and grade my writing skills against what I’d recently learned. It did not surprise me to see that my memoir didn’t measure up to the level I wanted it to have, neither the cover nor the writing. I knew that the memoir told my story well enough to engage readers; their reviews told me so. But the writing itself no longer satisfied me.

I’ve always been intrigued by the flavor that comes with recognizing some encounters as serendipitous. Two events happened concurrently with my dissatisfaction. The first was a four-star review that honored the story itself yet offered suggestions to clean up the writing. I took notice of those suggestions because I’d noted them myself while perusing my memoir. The second was what I consider to be a prominent serendipitous encounter with an indie author whose novel I’d just read. It wasn’t just that the story in Crooked Moon moved me so deeply—it was the high level of skill with which this author wrote, particularly the dialogues between characters. I wanted Adventures to measure up to the high standard of writing that I’d noted in this novel and in the subsequent novel I’d read by this exceptional author. Could I write as vividly, take a reader as deeply into my mother-sitting story as this author had taken me into hers? I wanted to try but was hesitant to even begin.

It was the unwavering encouragement from Lisette Brodey, Crooked Moon’s author, which stoked my spark into a flame for the revision of Adventures in Mother-Sitting. She became the wind beneath my wings; I’m convinced that my mother gave her an angelic nudge from heaven to help me. Even before my part-time GED teacher job ended for the summer, I cracked open my memoir to begin putting into practice all that I had learned.

The storyline itself did not change. I deleted some redundant passages, particularly ones that were too detailed with regard to my care of Mother. I also refined some of the more poignant experiences that I’d had relative to our changing relationship. I’m told that the descriptions of those are more vividly expressed in this new version because of the way that I’ve learned to craft my words. There were two chapters regarding my spiritual focus that just didn’t fit in the memoir. I removed them though didn’t toss the chapters away. They’re in a separate file because I felt that the chapters were well-written and convey my outlook on spirituality quite succinctly. Also, I’ve been learning to temper my habit of writing long, lofty sentences. This style is great for writing prose, but not appropriate for this memoir. I’d like the reader to stay with me in the story, not go off with me on some tangent.

Reading through Adventures and doing the revision was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. It was intensely cathartic for me, taking me back through the experiences I’d had while taking care of my mother. It brought back the joy, the richness embedded in our final few years together. I’ve just completed the upload to Amazon and am ecstatic for what I’ve accomplished.

Midway through the rewrite, an unexpected gift came from Charles Roth of CMRdesign. He created the loveliest book cover. Using the same photo that was on the initial book, Charles skillfully removed the birthday confetti that was draped over our faces, leaving an observer to focus only on our joy. Every time I look at the new cover of Adventures, my heart expands, reminding me that the love shared between my mother and me still remains. This new cover from Charles is priceless—I’m deeply grateful.


In concert with my decision to rewrite Adventures, a surge of desire to become my own publisher set in—I’d done my homework. Making this change in direction happened accordingly. Honesty and respect is a great policy. To this end, Charles came to my rescue once again. The logo for Whistling Duck Books is exquisitely designed—I love looking at it. Every morning when my local whistling ducks wake me up, I think of Charles and this striking logo he designed, one that reflects my decision to follow my heart’s desire.

New_Color_WhistlingDuck_logo 2

I’m thankful to many authors I’ve met in the stream for their friendship, their example, and their support of my efforts. My connection with these wonderful people adds such richness to my life, personally and as an author. In particular, I’m immensely grateful to Lisette Brodey and Julia Hughes, authors extraordinaire, for their unwavering guidance, helpfulness, and encouragement. It is my hope that readers will find that this second edition of Adventures in Mother-Sitting is written in a way that invites them to step into my story with me. Although it’s a hard one to experience, the story is one in which compassion, humor, and love overshadows every tough moment.

 * * *

After a somewhat convoluted career path in various business-related and mental health endeavors, Doreen (Dody) Cox has settled into a later-in-life passion: writing. Her first book, Adventures in Mother-Sitting, is a memoir of her three years as a full-time caregiver to her mother, coping with dementia. It has just been released as a second edition. A Sacred Journey is a short story with themes inspired by her love for nature, curiosity regarding spirituality, and respect for dignity in death.

Dody resides in Florida and is a part-time GED teacher of multicultural students. The class is held offsite in one of her favorite places: a library.



Adventures in Mother-Sitting




Kathryne Arnold holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology, is a licensed mental health therapist and a nationally certified clinical hypnotherapist. Ms. Arnold provides full-time therapy services at an outpatient counseling center in Tampa, FL. She is currently working on her third book in the Samantha Clark Mystery Series, which features the same protagonist as she moves through unexpected life adventures. Ms. Arnold lives on the water in sunny Clearwater, Florida, with Zoe, her toy poodle muse.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

What I like most about writing is that I can turn into myself and get in what is termed “the flow”- an emotional and creative place where time melts away. I become one with my writing space and the written word, hours fly by without a notice. I had a longing to shape a tale based around individuals in my life that I believed would make engaging characters. I had a strong desire to experience a higher level of creativity, to literally produce something out of nothing – a fascinating and challenging endeavor I couldn’t ignore. The part I like the least, and the biggest challenge for me is finding a block of uninterrupted “me time” to engage in writing when I’m not mentally drained, or too physically tired. I work at a demanding full-time job, and being single means I have to take care of every other aspect of my life, leaving little energy left over for creative undertakings. I’ve been very fortunate in that I never experienced the dreaded “writers block.” I’ve been fleetingly stuck here and there, but mostly because something else was going on in my life that was taking precedence. But usually a good night’s sleep or some fun clears my fuzzy brain, and I can get right back into the work of writing.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Follow your own voice, your intuition and style of writing. Develop your unique method of putting words to paper, listen and pay attention to your inner callings. Don’t be swayed by others. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. This also holds true for editing, promotion, developing presentations, etc. It is obviously important to pay attention to experts in the field, those who have your best interest at heart. Learn to really know yourself, and then to believe in your talents, but do take sincere direction, recommendations, lessons from those who have gone through their writing journey before you. Be open, but cautious. Try not to be influenced too much by other writers that you admire, stay true to yourself. You will hear a hundred different ways you should do something. When overwhelmed or unsure of which road to take, and trust me, this will occur many times in your writing life, I suggest that you stand still, breathe, lighten up and guide yourself toward what feels genuine and honest to you.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

That is a tough question, sort of like nature vs. nurture, and I have no definitive answer. But throughout my earlier school years, I did dabble in poetry and short stories, purely for personal self-expression. I experimented with a creative writing class in college, but never pursued my secret desire of a writing career, feeling the vocation was too self-indulgent, not sensible enough for my German blood. Over the next twenty years, I concentrated further on my work in counseling and social services, later becoming a licensed practitioner. Several years ago, due to a deep yearning to express my feelings in a more artistic manner, I literally sat down one day and began writing my first novel. The resultant book, The Resurrection of Hannah, a paranormal mystery, had been based on a series of powerful dreams, along with compelling and coexisting experiences that inspired me to create a story that would capture the strength of my emotions. Once bitten, I could not help but write my second work of fiction, The Fear of Things to Come, a suspense/thriller. I am finally in the process of writing another novel in what I consider a unique collection of adventure stories, the third in the Samantha Clark Mystery Series.


How do you plan your storyline?

With the initial writing, I don’t really map out a storyline. In the beginning I’m often just kind of daydreaming about my book, questioning where it might go. I sort of meditate and clear my head; then think about the past challenges with my writing that I want to resolve before really diving in again. I let ideas flow in and out and try not to censure myself too much, keeping my mind open to new thoughts and possibilities of where the book might go. After all that, I end up with a rough draft in my head, and then I really buckle down and start seriously documenting a major theme, character details, plot(s), point of view, etc. I use Word and make files for characterization, research, short descriptions of chapters, etc as I’m developing them. I’m big into organization and prioritizing generally in life, so this goes also for reviewing and editing as the story evolves.


How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

Quite a bit of research and study goes into formulating the plot/subplots, overall theme of the novel, character development and any historical elements that might be of importance. I want any subject or activity mentioned in my books to sound realistic, and that I am relatively or quite knowledgeable about that which I write, depending on the topic. For example, when writing about the incredible garden at the manse in Massachusetts where the character Hannah lived (in The Resurrection of Hannah), I researched extensively the flowers, greenery, trees, etc. that would have been indigenous to the area back around 1785. It was important that I describe every aspect of the garden in a convincing manner, and it was necessary to find pictures/drawings of everything that was to be in this garden in order to be as accurately descriptive as possible.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

I became aware a long time ago that I am following the writing much of the time, that I do not have complete control over the characters. Not with blind faith, but with a knowing that’s hard to describe. When I take my head out of the whole process and go more by gut instinct, the story and characters point me to where I need to go, the path it should naturally take. It’s exciting and fun to see where my mind and ideas lead me. Often this is when I write my best work and it usually makes the most sense, and if for some reason I later discover that it doesn’t, I can just delete it!

Many authors do giveaways; have you found them a successful way to promote your book?

For the most part, yes. It’s always been beneficial to engage in Kindle direct publishing giveaways for my second novel, The Fear of Things to Come. A few times it hit No.1 in Psychological Fiction and Suspense, as well as the Thriller category in several countries in free ebooks. After the giveaways end, my ebook often stays fairly high up in the ratings, in the Top 100, for a length of time afterward, so I am now considered an international bestselling author! I also did a Goodreads giveaway for my first novel, The Resurrection of Hannah, and I sent signed copies to the winners, and in return I received more sales and several reviews from happy readers. I also do signed book or gift card giveaways during my book tours, and this is effective in increasing exposure, interest in my books, reviews and sales. Mostly, I just have fun doing it.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

It’s a toss-up. My first novel, The Resurrection of Hannah, is a paranormal mystery inspired by true events. It was my baby, born out of a real need to tell my story of incredible experiences that happened to me, which still feels surreal after all this time. I wanted to write a completely different type of book for the sequel, which includes a serial killer, lots of twists and turns, murder and mayhem. I really wanted to know if I could write a diabolical character and sound convincing. Both books were a challenge in their own right, but I got to use several of the same characters in the sequel, which I loved because I ended up feeling very comfortable with them, like you do with old friends.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

Not at all. To me that would be stunting my creativity. I want to allow my imagination to lead me by the hand, and take me to places that I didn’t know existed. I feel like the story and characters have the say in matters, not me. But I’m a very willing participant! The title is the one thing I most struggle with during the writing process, especially since I know how important the title is to drawing people into wanting to read your story. It has to make just the right impact.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes. Donnie Brickman, the serial killer in my second novel, The Fear of Things to Come. He was bent on revenge and wanting to destroy everything in his path, primarily the protagonist, Samantha Clark, which is basically me at a younger age, and her beloved boyfriend, Todd. It was fun and thought-provoking to make him an evil and pathological character, yet filled with many emotions and traits that Samantha also possesses, such as regret, fear, a relentless drive to succeed, a love of animals, etc. Two sides of the same coin.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I am Pennsylvania Dutch, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. My father was a well-known and respected reverend, and he founded his own church in Bethlehem when he was in his early twenties. At times when younger, I railed against the deeply conservative and religious roots into which I was born. In the end, however, that lifestyle served me well, figuring prominently in the development of my writing and belief systems.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

I love the outdoors, so after work I love sitting on my porch with my toy poodle, playing and cuddling with her, and staring at the wide-open bay, a cool breeze flowing over me, with the wind chimes clinking around, just decompressing. Listening to the sound of nature all around.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

I have so many comfort foods I can’t list them all here. I would say very cheesy pizza loaded with veggies, lobster pie and a perfectly cooked steak are my favorites. My choice for deserts would be white wedding cake and warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Least favorite foods are some of the PA Dutch dishes I was raised to eat, like chicken corn soup and turnip stew. Sorry Mom!

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I now live in Clearwater, FL but have lived several places throughout my life. I would love to move back to Lancaster, PA where I graduated from high school, but that isn’t feasible right now in my life. I will always miss New England and living in Gloucester, MA, but I have no friends or family left there. I would presently choose Savannah, GA and Tybee Island, where my brother and his family live. In fact, if it works out with my new job, perhaps I can relocate there one day as they have an office in Savannah. My dream!

I love to hear from readers! The links to my websites/profiles are listed below:



Facebook Author Page



Amazon Author Page


The Resurrection of Hannah (Amazon US)

The Fear of Things to Come (Amazon US)



After a somewhat convoluted career path in various business-related and mental health endeavors, Doreen (Dody) Cox has settled into a later-in-life passion: writing. On a part-time basis, she teaches an offsite GED class of multicultural adults in one of her favorite places to be: a library. Dody lives in central Florida.

Time to chat with Dody!

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

It is finally sinking in that I completed a book of fiction, a short story titled, A Sacred Journey. I’ve always been an avid reader and must admit that I’d often daydreamed about writing a book myself, but a variety of challenging career endeavors kept me occupied until now. A Sacred Journey embodies four major themes that are central to my outlook on life: first, be willing to see everything and everyone around me with fresh eyes. Second, stay open-minded as to the element of mystery that exists in our world. Third, affirm the sacredness inherent in the time of dying – beyond specific religious views. These three themes are enfolded in threads of humor, the fourth theme.


How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

Transformational in theme, A Sacred Journey is a fantasy with a touch of paranormal; it began its life as a 5700 word short story titled, Wrapped in a Long-Ago Dream. In late March, Words Unlimited featured a short story contest: a pre-made book cover was revealed and entrants had 72 hours to write a short story, any genre. As soon as Laura Wright LaRoche’s book cover was revealed, the stunning image of a figure in a red cloak standing in a forest immediately triggered a tumble of memories. My mother had favored an old red robe, and she had loved our natural world. Through conversations we’d had, I knew that death was something she had not feared. For much of my adult life, she had pestered me to write a book – any book. At the time of the contest, these memories and thoughts coalesced and a story emerged. One aspect is true – a dream my mom once had about my dad, deceased shortly after I was born.

My mother’s bout with dementia acted as fertilizer for the plot. During the end phase of her dementia, she’d often woken during the night, caught up in delusions. As her caregiver, my task had been to keep her safe. Night-time was tough; it was hard for me to handle her physically and both of us, emotionally. To my mother, the delusions were real. It was difficult to do, but I learned to let her delusions be – to acknowledge her garbled words and frantic movements, to play along until she was comforted by my validation of what was true for her. At that point, the delusion would fade and she would fall back into sleep.

Since her death, I’ve often wondered about what was going on in my mother’s mind during those delusions: who was there…where was she going. All I had gotten were pieces. I could pick out only a few of her words, guessing meanings by her gestures: the baby, people in the closet, her brother outside. So writing the story was cathartic and, mid-way through the 72-hour period, I had an illuminating thought: if I had been able to understand my mom or been less tired, I’d have been entertained by a great story. Wrapped is the story that I finally wrote for my mother. Much to my delight, my story was one of the runner-ups.

After the contest, an author whose writing style I admire, and whose stories are favorites of mine, did a read-through of Wrapped. Offering feedback and encouragement to enhance the story, Julia Hughes’ comments stayed with me for several months. Although working on another story, Wrapped kept intruding until I laid aside the current work in progress. The 5700-word story turned into one with over 14,000 words. During the course of the re-write, Wrapped came alive for me in an even more personal way; it became a story I was writing for me.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

Similar to a dog’s reactions in Pavlov’s experiments, my eagerness to open a book is enhanced at the sight of its cover. Laura Wright LaRoche at designed my fabulous cover.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do?

Truthfully, yes, because it’s another task to complete. Yet the challenge of capturing the essence of my story in a few paragraphs is motivation enough. As an avid reader, the synopsis of a story is often what prompts me to purchase a novel; once my curiosity is whetted, I’m in. Writing a synopsis for A Sacred Journey actually gave me a bit more perspective on my own story.

What else have you written?

My first published book, Adventures in Mother-Sitting, is a memoir of the three years I spent as full-time caregiver to my mother. I was working as a group counselor at an alternative school for at-risk students when my mom’s physical and mental condition deteriorated. Although my decision to let go my job, income, health insurance and identity was difficult to make, I did not hesitate to make the choice – the bond with my mother had always been strong. The dance that she and I had with her dementia challenged me in ways I had never imagined. The word, “adventures,” in the title depicts the experiences I had. With dementia present, the daily care habits and reactions of my mother were so unpredictable. Even more challenging to handle were the unpredictable eruptions of my own emotions – unwanted meltdowns, embarrassing at the time. The last year of my mother’s life – when she was ‘my child’ and approaching death – was incredibly tough yet so amazingly rich for me, emotionally and spiritually. Being my mother’s care bear was like a final gift she gave to me. My gratitude became expressed when I fulfilled her long-held wish for me: write a book. I often sensed her presence, guiding me as I wrote.


Were you ‘born to write’ or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

Writing sections of and editing technical manuals and business proposals – years ago – is the closest I’d come to writing a book until now. During mother-sitting, scribbling in a journal was merely a way to keep me sane, an outlet that steadied me. After my mother died, I found a cache of letters that I had written to her while in college and, later, from wherever I happened to be. As I reread the letters, old memories came vividly to life and an urge to try my hand at writing a book took hold. This was several months after my mother had died. I was struggling to make it through my days and needed a new focus to temper the onslaught of grief over not only the loss of my mother, but also the loss of my role as caregiver. So I sat down at the table one day, tore out the pages from my journal, and began.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

My writing approach is one that I term as a “jigsaw puzzle process.” When mother-sitting, my mom read to me from children’s books, The Bobbsey Twins for one. Because of dementia, her speech was quite garbled and she’d often read the same sentence over and over. Her affect, though, was priceless – animated and infectious. Surprisingly, it was doing 1,000-word jigsaw puzzles while she read that gave me contentment.

In a strange way, my puzzle activity set the stage for my writing. For both the memoir and the novelette, writing was akin to doing a jigsaw puzzle: fit this segment here and that one there – add, delete, and adjust until finally, the segments had a smooth flow. This is my favorite part of writing: juggling the segments into chapters and the chapters into a satisfying whole. When I step out of the way, stop trying to force a piece to fit, my inner muse takes over; this energetic sense of flow is infectious. I no longer do jigsaw puzzles; instead, I write.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

To be sure, there were differences between how I wrote my memoir and the fictional story. In my experience, however, there were commonalities to both; the first, of course, was to sit down and write. Getting started is still my least favorite part of writing. Once involved, however, the process of writing the memoir and the story turned into a fascinating adventure.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

My writing approach is one that I term as a “jigsaw puzzle process.” When mother-sitting, my mom read to me from children’s books, The Bobbsey Twins for one.  Because of dementia, her speech was quite garbled and she’d often read the same sentence over and over. Her affect, though, was priceless – animated and infectious. Surprisingly, it was doing 1,000-word jigsaw puzzles while she read that gave me contentment.

In a strange way, the puzzle process set the stage for my writing. For both my memoir and the novelette, writing was akin to doing a jigsaw puzzle: fit this segment here and that one there – add, delete and adjust until finally, the segments had a smooth flow. This is my favorite part of writing: juggling the segments into chapters and the chapters into a satisfying whole. When I step out of the way, stop trying to force a piece to fit, my inner muse takes over; this energetic sense of flow is infectious. I no longer do jigsaw puzzles; instead, I write.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress?

I didn’t think that I would ever allow anyone to read my work as it was being written. Writing the memoir was very cathartic, so I kept it to myself until it was complete. When I decided to enhance my short story, though, I discovered that there was merit in having a trusted friend, another author, read chapters that were near completion. In that case, I followed the urging of my gut. Trust of another’s opinion is the key if my gut urges me to ask for it. Basically, I plan to remain open-minded.

What do you like best about the books you read?

I have always admired authors of various genres who have the ability to weave words in a way that pulls me into a novel. The stories I enjoy have a tone, a quality beneath the storyline that sets up a hum in me. When it’s engaged by a story, the editor in my head disappears (and I do love to edit). My hope is that readers resonate in some way with my story.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

On a whim, in my late thirties, I quit my job as a hospital recruiter in order to head out West and hike the national parks of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. In an old Fiat convertible, I set off in July on a sabbatical to find myself…I was at some crossroad. The best gift was 100% acceptance by family, friends, and coworkers. This was before the availability of cell phones, and I would be on my own. No one tried to talk me out of taking the trek. It is also the best gift I’ve ever given myself. I was gone for three months.

What is the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

In my mid-forties, a close friend gave me the coolest surprise ever: a free ticket to skydive for my birthday. The day of my birthday was sunny, in the mid-70s and gusty. It took most of the day before the winds died down enough for my group to go up and make the dive. As luck would have it, a group of professionals were gathered for a day of fun. They put on quite a show, ramping up my excitement. We finally got the go-ahead, so around 3:30 in the afternoon, I jumped out of the plane and screamed in absolute delight! The freefall phase was my favorite – it felt as if I were flying, not falling. The sensation was so glorious that I almost forgot to pull the cord that would pop the chute. Luckily, this was a tandem jump. The guy on my back tapped my shoulder, I pulled the cord, and we floated safely back to earth.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

One of my favorite words is “perspective,” and I’ve been told that my middle name is “curiosity.” If I could be invisible for a day, an expectation is that my judgments and sensibilities would be tamped down. There is no doubt in my mind that I would head to various hot spots in our world, for example: neighborhoods where gangs clash, sections in the Middle East and Africa where rebellions against tyrannical rule are occurring, and refugee camps where displaced persons struggle to survive. Although there is no clear way to walk in another person’s shoes, see circumstances through their eyes, being invisible – walking beside them without judgment – would be the next best thing.


Amazon: Adventures in Mother-Sitting

Amazon: A Sacred Journey

Smashwords: A Sacred Journey

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