Dear Practically Strangers,

Man in a Bowler Hat,  Rene Magritte 1964

Some of you out there, you might just be going about your life. And then someone like me, a writer, I hear you laugh, catch some mannerism and you stick. You standout for this reason or that something I can't quite pinpoint, something endearing or attractive (or repulsive because we need enemies, too.) 

You get me dreaming up concoctions and scenarios, scenes and conversations. Conversations you’ll never have but in my writer’s made-up world, fiction in the bookstore maybe someday, baby.

I mold the real you, the one maybe I know just a little, or more, or not at all aside from pleasantries and greetings, observations here and there.  I  grasp at little things and twist and turn and pull them and then I spit out some clone of you which I need in written form, in this story.  Some part of you will live forever in this other world. This resemblance of you, big or small, will remain locked amongst tens of thousands of my words, within hundreds of pages.

So, I’m sorry if it always seems like I’m watching you, trying to get eye contact or a few words. It’s not you, it’s the ghost of you I made up, and I sorta need a charge of you every now and then to remind me of so-in-so in the book.

Most people, they just give me a phrase here, a scene, a pet name.  But you, you helped me create a whole pretend person.

Are you on to me, muses? I think if you figured it out, you might just blush, a shake of the head, rub of the chin. Well, okay then. A chuckle, head tilt, eyebrows raise. So, there’s that. I uh, huh, I don’t know.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

So, if you ever get bored with your real life, let me know, and I can tell you about your pretend one. You sail, did you know that? You don't live here, you live in Chicago...and it goes on. 

Mostly True.

I try to make the bed first thing in the morning.
The rest?
True dat.

Is Today Tomorrow?

The four year old got out of bed this morning, all warm and rosy cheeked, damp thumb and blanket  still tucked close. "Mom, is today tomorrow?"

And then just now fourteen hours later, same little Miss, thrusts open her bedroom door in the darkness shy of midnight. I turn and she's running down the hall to me, sobbing, frantic and confused.

"I had a really bad dream," she's in my arms. "I went in a rocket ship but you were at the bottom and I was never going to see you again."

I'm here. I'm staying with you, my loves. Today, tomorrow, 
forever and ever and ever.

Today is almost yesterday.

I'm a Sailor Seeking a Yacht to Race the Mack

I did this today.  All in the name of research, kids. If this book truly has some chance at being a "really big thing" I better be sure I've got these sailing/race scenes tight.

My husband and mother promptly sent texts that they love me (with subtle reminders about the risks.) 

I'm waiting for the phone to ring. Stay tuned.

(Learn more about the Race to Mackinac here. )

Time Management

We were eating dinner last night and Elizabeth looked up, a carrot in one hand.

"Mom?" She paused, took a bite. "Why don't princesses wave fast? Instead of slow?"

I stopped to take this in. I laughed, careful not to to make her feel bad about her question. But I pictured a fairy tale princess, a beauty queen, Will's wife Kate, waving really fast, like I would,  if I were forced into a life of polite hand waving.

Hey, hey, hi! Gotta go, gotta run! Let's go, let's go, let's go! Kids, school, groceries, work, laundry, love, the book, life. Ta, ta!

You understand? Muah! 

Image by Ben Van Hook found here 

All Aboard

Dear Amtrak*,

I was 11 and it was June 1983 and our family had round trip tickets on Amtrak from Tomah, Wisconsin to Seattle, Washington.

The train boarded at dusk in front of the old Tomah depot. My younger sister and I were giddy with excitement, an adventure ahead of us, a train ride on the Empire Builder headed out west.  Family and friends came to see us off, everyone caught up in the excitement of our journey by train.

My writer's mind can still picture the scenes that passed by, and the small towns,  the wafts of summer evenings that drifted up into the cabin at every stop, pick-up trucks stopped at train gates, the train whistling hello, strangers lifting caps and waving up at us, lonely prairies, the simple thrill of walking to the dining car, the wilds of Montana and snow capped mountains, the mystery of these different worlds passing by under the comforting rhythmic hymn of the train tracks below.

It is thirty years later. I write. I suppose I fall under the classification, the generalization even of a struggling writer, of course I do. I struggle because I'm a mom of three, and I work full time and writing comes at the end of every day, at 9 pm, when children sleep and crumbs have been swept up and the house is quiet and the laundry and the dishwasher hum their end of day tunes. I write past eleven, past  midnight, some nights closer to one, when I glance at my word count and 48, 097 seems like enough progress. We are getting there, me and this book, this story that won't stop.

That's my journey now. Another trip, alone, me and the laptop and the train, it would seem a luxury, words spinning by, adding up and up and up. I might just reach my destination. And then I'd have another story to tell.


I need it to be Spring.

Like you need it to be 5 o'clock 
or Friday
a mess to be cleaned up
the laundry put away
more money in the bank
more time more time more time.

I need it to be Spring.
I need to smell the earth at work
feel the tickle of a breeze
see some change, like green of leaves.

So let's hurry it up, I'm ready to start over
let's skim past 10 degrees, more snow
Been there, done that
moving on and now...

23 days the calendar right here says so.

Spring you hear that?
Come on, let's go.

Original painting by Kristina Wentzell available to purchase on Etsy here.