Updated: Oct 11
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
While I’ve read a few full-length books since our last monthly visit, it’s this novella and its characters that endure in my romantic thoughts. That’s what defines an irresistible story for me: one that captivates not only while reading it, but also long after those final words tug on your heartstrings. And the last syllables of this story do just that with warmth, hope, and love.
Elle and Graham are two people you relate to immediately. Watching their tender emotions unfurl and authentic love story develop over the course of these pages remind me of a flower blossoming in spring. It’s a treat for all our physical senses alongside the emotional ones that have no name but live somewhere deep inside us.
If you are looking for a sweet romance that envelops you with genuine and tender love, this beautiful story may just help you find that missing puzzle piece in your own reading life and beyond. Join Rachael’s community today and receive a free digital copy of Puzzle Pieces.
What I'm Writing
It would be easy to casually mention I’m working my way through my latest novel and call it a day, but that would be boring. For you and me. So, at the request of several members, I am taking the opportunity to give you a peek behind the scenes of my creative process while developing a new story.
Writing a novel is like cooking in the kitchen without a recipe. With a pantry full of ingredients and spices, it’s the author’s mission to partner with his or her muse, creating something unique yet palatable. It’s a literary dance that involves experimentation, risk, and a tremendous amount of preparation.
In this culinary parlance, I’ve recently pulled several onions from the crisper drawer in my refrigerator, one representing each character, and am peeling layers to discover the backstory that makes each person who they are in the present day.
Even if I might not have a specific recipe in mind when beginning this process, I know the cuisine (Italian when cooking, romance when writing) and experience that I want to convey (savory when cooking, sweet and emotional when writing). These two things guide me along the path to a finished offering, whether in the culinary or literary realm.
People ask me how it all begins. Where does that initial spark come from? My answer… nowhere, and everywhere. You can’t look for it, for me at least. You need to be aware of its presence when it knocks on your metaphorical door and invite it inside for a visit. For this second novel in the Pigeon Grove series, Splendid Chaos, a combination of overheard conversation snippets and thoughts of an impending hurricane in real-life coalesced into the flicker of an idea. It serves as a lamppost throughout the development of a story. I hope it guides the reader along a parallel journey through each character’s emotional experience. That guiding light and theme for Splendid Chaos is…
The secrets we keep hide the most important part of ourselves.
After fleshing out the major plot points, I am presently creating detailed scene cards, diving deep into what happens, but more importantly, understanding why what happens matters to each of the characters. This, to me, is where the power of story and connection with a reader occurs on a deep and meaningful level, when we identify with why someone acts or reacts in a particular way and grows in the process.
While each author’s writing process is different and unique, I’d love to extend an invitation into my writing space and share it with you. Send me an email with any questions you might have, and I promise a personal response. It’s what I enjoy most about writing, having the opportunity to connect with other people through the emotional power of a story.
What I'm Doing
Anyone who has read my collection of flash fiction, Caffeine for the Soul, knows I’m licensed to pilot a single-engine aircraft. What most of you might not know is that I dislike commercial flying. A lot. Ironic, right? But there is a reason.
On a flight nearly two decades ago, the plane I was traveling on encountered some unexpected turbulence that flight attendants lightheartedly mention in their pre-flight briefing. The downdraft we encountered on our approach into Atlanta created a period of weightlessness in the cabin that caused those same flight attendants (and a few passengers) to float to the ceiling, literally. It was a moment of terrifying chaos and still causes my muscles to tense when a plane I travel on today starts to experience unsteady bumps through the air. What does this have to do with what I’m watching this month?
On a recent return flight from California, I decided that trying something different other than staring out my window for the duration of a long flight might be a good way to diffuse anxiety. Enter the in-flight entertainment system and Colette.
While the movie admittedly contains sensitive topics dealing with sexuality, the crux of the movie focuses on the true story of a female French author around the turn of the 20th century. Coerced into beliefs and actions against her soul’s desire, Colette’s courageous actions over the course of the story allow her to break free from binding chains in many forms and claim the life she imagined.
It was serendipity at its best as I continue to navigate down my own authorial path, but there was something more to it. Deciding to watch this movie on that flight, I faced my anxiety associated with flying head-on, breaking at least one small link in that chain of fear associated with it. Small steps lead to bigger things over time.
This feels like an appropriate link between the theme of Splendid Chaos and my experience on that recent flight from California back home. How often do we hide a piece of ourselves that would be better shared with others?
There are certainly things best kept private and protected, reserved for only those closest to us. But there are also occasions, that when shared, have the potential to connect you with someone else in a meaningful way. Whether it’s a particular experience or emotion associated with it, these shared moments and a mutual understanding of them spark a lasting bond between two people that our world needs more than ever today. Shed your mask and share your story. The world longs to know the real you.
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...
Look for a long time at what pleases you, and a longer time at what pains you.
~ Sidonie Gabrielle Colette ~