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
It’s been an interesting start to my reading year. I’ve decided to dive into two books that are slightly outside my comfort zone. It’s a promise I made myself, to widen my view and explore some of the stories that might lie on the fringes of my favorite genre of women’s fiction combined with literary fiction, in either direction.
While neither one of my two recent books has been my favorite, there is always something valuable to find in any story. The Paris Hours occurs over a twenty-four hour period in the late 1920s. And while the four different story lines were somewhat confusing to follow (I’ll chalk that up to my distracted state over the holidays), I found it interesting that didn’t realize I was reading a book set in the early 20th century.
It reminded me that the problems and challenges we face as human beings, whether physical, mental, social, or spiritual, are as relevant, common, and similar today as they were a hundred years ago. I was disappointed by the eventual close of this novel, but the prose and manner of writing by the author was lyrically poetic. As with any novel, there are as many interpretations and opinions as there are readers, and this may very well turn out to be your favorite read of the year.
Read my complete review for The Paris Hours on Goodreads.
What I'm Writing
Samantha Charles has begun to plant little seeds in my muse’s mind over the past month. Despite the chaos of the holiday season, ideas have sprouted into existence as the next novel in my Pigeon Grove series begins to take shape.
For those of you who haven’t read any of the books in the series yet, Sam is the bartender at Pigeon Grove Country Club and the granddaughter of Hank Charles, the produce shop owner in town. I’ll leave it at that, to avoid introducing any spoilers for those who would like to discover the other elements of her story in Between the Lines and Splendid Chaos.
But the next volume in the Pigeon Grove series will be entirely devoted to Sam and her story. I even have a tentative working title in place, which ties into Sam’s backstory, in many direct and indirect ways. It also hints at her future path and where it might lead her. That tentative title is Opening Night.
So, what do you think Sam’s backstory might be? As with my comments in the What I’m Reading section above, there are so many interpretations, both literal and metaphorical, to that working title, and I can’t wait to share them all with you. Stay tuned as I continue to nurture those seeds and watch them bloom. And feel free to sprinkle a little of your own water on them by leaving me your thoughts. You never know, the information you share just might make it into the story :)
What I'm Doing
I live less than fifteen minutes away from the Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean. And I will admit that I sometimes take for granted the grandeur of what I have on my virtual doorstep. But it’s experiences like those I experienced this past month that remind me how to discover a little slice of heaven in that place we call home.
My son turned eighteen last month. When people say that life passes you in the blink of an eye? Yeah, that. It’s true. I don’t know where the time went between reading bedtime stories to my son as a toddler to him becoming a young man.
For his 18th birthday, we rented a pontoon boat for the day and took it out onto the Indian River. Our son, the newest adult in our family, served as captain of our vessel. He drove the entire day while my wife and I sat back and watched the sights go by. But it was more than just seeing. So much more. The feel of the wind hitting your face, the way it took your breath away, and the simple aura of being on the water provided a perspective that helped me appreciate just how much there is to explore, even in our own metaphorical backyard, and even when it has nothing to do with sights and sounds, and more to do with what’s going on in our thoughts.
We saw pelicans and dolphins. We smelled the earthy water. We felt the rush of adrenaline while skipping over tiny whitecaps in the river. But it was the overall ambiance and feeling of gratitude that overcame me from the entire experience that remains with me long after we docked our boat and returned to land.
There were these ideas tumbling through my mind as we passed this old boat abandoned on an island. It was simultaneously beautifully artistic and strikingly thought-provoking. It’s easy to leave our boat docked on that same island. It’s predictable and certain. We know what we’re getting. And that’s when serendipity greeted me with a different message. What a grand adventure awaits, if only we decide to venture away from the safety of those shores.
This month has been filled with uncertainty and unexpected adventures, of both the pleasant and not-so-pleasant variety (more on that in next month’s visit). It would be easy, and some would say acceptable, to grouse about unfortunate circumstances, unexpected roadblocks, or unpleasant experiences.
But there’s a word that permeates this entire virtual visit (it’s funny how that always seems to happen). That word is interpretation. We can view a bump in the road as annoying and inconvenient, or we can look at it as an opportunity to take a detour (sometimes quite literally) to experience something we never might have otherwise.
I’ll steal my own words from when I posted this image on social media last month because they fit so well. Even when the path ahead of us feels foggy and uncertain, how we welcome it is sometimes just as important as knowing where it leads.
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...
All meanings, we know, depend on the key of interpretation.
~ George Eliot ~