Welcome to our virtual cafe, 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
Most of the compelling books I read draw me in through the lives of the characters. Their flaws, predicaments, and unique life views help me identify with their path. And as with all good fiction, it not only helps me escape reality, it helps me navigate it.
This book was different. While the characters were developed and complex, it was the peculiar circumstances and plot points that carried me from one page and scenario to the next.
It wasn’t until I experienced the secret thoughts and lives of each character in the final third of the book that everything pulled itself together to make sense. While this wasn’t the most evocative read I’ve consumed in the last several months, it did remind me that each of us has our own story to share, and we need to summon the courage to do so in a way that best represents us as individual human beings.
Read my complete review for The Last Book Party on Goodreads.
What I'm Writing
While Splendid Chaos continues to be a splendid writing experience, it also latches on to its surname as well, chaotic.
This volume in the Pigeon Grove series feels different. It’s deeper, and it’s helping me realize the difference between genre and literary fiction. Authors are asked to place their work in a nicely formed box: mystery, thriller, horror, romance.
What do you do when none of those labels fits your style? You keep writing anyway. After several reviews of my previous stories, Fly Away Home and Between the Lines, I’m beginning to recognize that I don’t live in one box. Instead, I pull elements from different ones and make my own, with temporary walls that I break down from time to time.
My creative muse appreciates the way a sentence sounds as its being consumed by the reader. The way it rolls off the tongue and swirls with the thoughts in one’s mind complements what I hope are emotions that remain with the reader long after turning the final page.
So, as I ponder the philosophical and psychological elements of the human condition through Drew and Maria’s story, I hope the romantic undertones complement the complex family relationships and emotions to provide a poetic and meaningful reading experience for you, the reader.
I’ve just finished intersecting Drew and Maria’s paths for the first time in Splendid Chaos. And while it’s taking time to fully digest how their individual and combined stories play out, I’m looking forward to carrying them through both the literal and metaphorical storm that approaches on the horizon.
What I'm Doing
Sometimes, we get so caught up in the details of everyday life and our to-do lists that we forget to breathe. Well, not literally, because our bodies are kind enough to do that for us. But mentally and emotionally, we need to exercise our free will to inhale and exhale.
For me, that was imposed upon me through a last-minute opportunity, perhaps at the moment when I needed it the most. The universe has a way of looking out for us like that.
With my teenage son ready to take a day off from homeschool life and spend a day at Disney World with a good friend, I was the chauffeur for their adventure. As it turns out, I was given the chance to experience my own fantastical journey, without nearly as much movement.
After dropping them off the two teenagers at the entrance of the Magic Kingdom, I found my way to the Grand Floridian resort. Winding along the pathway through the Polynesian Resort and past the Wedding Pavilion where I wedded my beautiful wife, the stroll was emotional therapy in itself.
With the grand piano being played in the lobby and cup of freshly brewed Disney coffee beside me, I opened up my laptop and began typing. Even amidst the chaos of tourists coming and going, random outbursts from toddlers, and an overall disorganization to the environment, the calming influence of that piano and a gentle tilt of the head skyward presented me with the view in this photo.
I wrote over 2000 words while seated at this location, not something I expected from myself in this seemingly unsuitable setting. It’s in this spot that I was transported from an early 20th century Victorian-style lobby to a contemporary small Southern mountain town in north Georgia. Drew Stratton and Maria Caldwell’s first meeting with each other, although somewhat unsteady, was authentic and revealed emotions neither was anticipating. It reminded me just how curious and imaginative the mind can be when you give it the opportunity to explore.
I received conflicting thoughts when I posted this quote from my debut novel, Second Chance, and I completely understand the perspective offered.
We shouldn’t need to share our experiences with others for them to be meaningful. There is an inherent joy, satisfaction, and sense of pride associated with the things we choose to pursue and accomplish. We can be both social and private beings. But…
I speak from personal experience, and it’s something I’ve slowly come to realize over time, but we (and by we, I mean I) can become so absorbed and immersed in the process of chasing that elusive dream that we forget there are other people on this adventure with us.
Sometimes they’re holding our hand along the way. At other times they’re walking beside us, giving us the tiniest nudge to take that next step. They might be vocal and outgoing, or they might be silent, encouraging us by providing the space we need to keep moving in the right direction.
We don’t need others for our successes to be meaningful, but is it possible that being aware that others included as a part of that process might enhance our experience and enjoyment of that magical moment even more? And that it’s not so much about the thing shared as it is the relationship that’s nurtured in the process.
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...
Breathing dreams like air.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald ~