Welcome to our virtual café, where we'll chat about what I've been reading, writing, and doing over the past month. I invite you to have a seat, grab your inspirational beverage of choice, and join me in sharing a leisurely cup of caffeine for the soul.
What I'm Reading
Fair warning: I might just have tipped into a Kristin Hannah binge reading frenzy. After reading The Nightingale and The Great Alone a few years ago, I forgot just how much Kristin’s manner of storytelling resonates with me.
Each set of characters and every historical era or geographic region she depicts touches something at my core and connects with me on a deep level. So, it’s probably no surprise based upon the previous two comments that this will be an overwhelming positive review.
While it wasn’t the easiest read, due to the plight of the characters involved and how closely some of the scenarios reflect our present reality, the literal tears that ran down my cheek while reading many of the parts are a testament to the emotional impact it will have on me for years to come.
Read my complete review for The Four Winds on Goodreads.
What I'm Writing
Writing is a funny thing. You have this idea in your mind. You know exactly where your characters are going and what they will do. You envision the experiences that will cause them to sink to their lowest point before overcoming their deepest fears and becoming the truest version of themselves.
And then it happens: they decide to do something completely different. And you can’t possibly ignore them, nor should you. This is their story to tell, and as an author, I am simply the conduit to share their journey. Such is the case with Samantha Charles in Opening Night.
Originally, in my mind, this was going to be the story of Sam Charles and Luca Moretti. And I’m pretty sure Luca will still be playing a significant role, but another character, introduced in Splendid Chaos, is nudging her way into the picture as a major character. Mia Marobella.
As Austin Evans’ high school girlfriend in my previous book, the parallels between Mia’s young life and Sam Charles’ past have taken on a life of its own that I’m currently brainstorming and plotting for my next novel in the Pigeon Grove series. A combination of dance, theater, and writing alongside themes of imperfection and dealing with confrontation are rising to the surface.
As I’ve mentioned in previous chats, I have a feeling this novel will be one that’s much more personal and difficult to write, but I also hope that makes it one that connects with you, like it will with me, on a much deeper level.
What I'm Doing
Bridges. They take you from one place to another, whether it’s across a river, over a chasm, or more metaphorically, to uncharted territory in your mind that’s outside your comfort zone. I crossed one of those bridges about eight years ago. It’s the moment I picked up a pen… actually, no. It’s when I laid my two hands over the keyboard and began letting my fingers speak my truest thoughts through words. It’s the day I discovered my voice and true passion for writing.
But this isn’t about me. It’s about what I wrote about on that day. The title for one of my first blog posts, Crossing the Bridge, was one of those different kinds of bridges, and it wasn’t me who was crossing it. It was my eleven-year-old son. As a recipient of the Arrow of Light, the highest honor a Cub Scout can receive, he had officially become a Boy Scout. I was one proud dad to see him cross what turned out to be both a literal and metaphorical bridge as part of his ceremony.
Fast forward seven years. On the cusp of a lifelong achievement, we were reminded of his very first day of Scouting as a seven-year-old Tiger Scout. He heard about what it means to become an Eagle Scout and he vowed, on that day, that he’d be one someday.
Seven years. Forty-one merit badges. Six rank advancements. Countless campouts, leadership positions, skills development, and enriching life experiences. That had led my son to the final step on his youth journey as a Boy Scout. The Eagle Board of Review. As a proud dad, I feel obliged to share that after his one-hour discussion with members of the review board, he was honored to hear that his interview was in the top five of over two-hundred conducted to date.
As parents, we never forced him to pursue this goal. It was always something that he drove himself to do, even after taking a year away from Scouting to hike the Appalachian Trail with his mom. As he so eloquently stated, he’s been a Scout for longer than he hasn’t been one.
And now, after being recommended for the rank of Eagle Scout, he will carry that monumental achievement forward with him for the rest of his life.
Bridges. They definitely have the power to take us to new and exhilarating places, if only we choose to take the first step in crossing them.
There are so many things happening around me over the last several months. I’m traveling cross-country on various road trips for college visits, watching my characters twist and turn in new directions, and am being pulled apart and put back together emotionally through some of the stories I’ve been reading. It’s chaotic, confusing, and somehow, beyond explanation, it’s calming.
Perhaps it’s because that experience of feeling everything—the highs, lows, and everything in between—provides perspective and adds depth to each new encounter in a way that reminds me this is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.
Maybe it’s a sign that we only ever attain true balance by feeling a bit of the imbalance. It’s another example of how finding that peaceful equilibrium in our lives is not a destination, but rather it’s a journey.
Until next month, stay inspired! And, as always, I welcome a short (or long) email to say hi or share your thoughts on this month's final sip...
Love is the bridge between you and everything.
~ Rumi ~