December 30, 2018

A House in Haiti: A Counter-cultural Christmas Present

A House in Haiti: A Counter-cultural Christmas Present “Wow…Really? It’s all paid? Someone in Haiti will get a house?” I was dumbfounded… I had emailed Food for the Poor because the money that had been debited from my account each month had stopped. I thought there was a glitch of some kind, it never occurred to me that the cost of the house had been paid. When the woman from Food for the Poor called on Christmas Eve Day to tell me that the year and a half commitment had been paid in full, I was stunned. And maybe even […]
December 23, 2018

Christmas:Contradiction Paradox and Humiliation?

Christmas: Contradiction, Paradox and Humiliation? When watching the ads, listening to the music and wandering through the stores online and off, it’s easy to get duped into thinking that this is merely another excuse for a long weekend. This one special because of what we get. The words “contradiction,” “paradox,” and “humiliation,” don’t fit with Jingle Bells or magic or merriment inherent in our wishes of “Happy Holidays!” to one another, do they? In fact, they are words that make no sense when we ponder the beauty and wonder of these holy days. So why use them at all? Indeed. […]
December 16, 2018

My New Book, I, Claudia is Done.

I Claudia is Done! Kill the Monster! Finishing anything always involves paradox: That oxymoronic combination of relief and sadness. Okay, maybe, but “kill the monster”? A strange phrase to use when completing a long project- one that has taken a year to finish…like a book. Or is it? I’m a writer but the paradox is not limited to writing; instead, it applies to all big, long-term projects. Graduating from college, finishing a dissertation, achieving a long sought after goal, like a promotion, raise, or public recognition of your specific talent… that strange paradox of bittersweet exists- or better lurks- behind […]
December 9, 2018

The Strange Corollaries of Prayer and Writing

My idea of work was once restricted to the days when I worked for an institution. Only after I left that career did I broaden my concept of what it meant to me. Because I'd had a 'career' with an impressive title, everything else seemed like playing around, including the writing I did on vacations and weekends. Work meant getting a paycheck. Once I understood that the 'dream' of retirement was not one I embraced and that I needed to work, I began to broaden my definition of work to include activities that may not pay or may even cost me, if not my own money then surely, my effort.
December 2, 2018

The Why and What of Advent?

The Why and What of Advent? Quietly competing with the banal and boring commercialism of Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays extended sales is another invitation. But it cannot be heard outside in the streets or while listening to CNN. Instead we must silent all the shouts of the marketplace to listen to another voice…more like a whisper. One that speaks of the why and what of advent. This is a different kind of celebration –quieter, more intimate and perhaps for women, more personal…a refuge. Lighting our Advent candles in hope, not naive optimism but the Hope that derives from faith. […]
November 18, 2018

Women of A Certain Age

Women of a certain age. Age is a funny thing. We can think that the phrase- and its associated number – means categories that limit, bound and define. Or we can mostly ignore it and live the life we choose, until we’re too ill to do so. In this twenty-first century, we read and hear the phrase, ‘women of a certain age’, so often that it’s become a trope. We know that certain age is over fifty, or sixty or seventy. Media ads displaying images of ‘senior’ women aged seventy as the new forty are commonplace. Models in their sixties, […]
November 11, 2018

But You Can Retire! Why Work?

But you can retire! Why work? Not infrequently, I ponder my answer to this question. Of course, when I think about it, I write about it. And have done so on multiple occasions through the years. If you are at or getting close to retirement age, have you given thought to the question and how you would reply to it? When asked why you work, what is the first thing that pops into your head? But before you come up with a quick reply…please Take a minute and think about your answer to that question, “But you can retire! why […]
November 4, 2018

I, Claudia Goes Public

I, Claudia Goes Public I, Claudia goes public? It’s now available for purchase? Yes, but just the first fifteen chapters and they are free! Huh? Here’s the background: Several months ago, the friends of the Smith Valley Library  invited me to do an Author’s Forum to discuss the Lindsey McCall mystery series and my latest book, I, Claudia. Great. There are few things any writer enjoys more than talking about her books with interested readers. But as the weeks and days flew by, it became evident that the new book would not be published in time. For months, I’ve been […]
October 28, 2018

No One Can Say It Better: Solzhenitsyn

We would need to be comatose to miss the fact of the upcoming elections: No one can say it better than Solzhenitsyn. The lure of socialism is growing. Understandable in a country, indeed a world, where it feels like only the very rich keep getting more. And those at the bottom of the heap less and less. The temptation to hand over all questions of right or wrong to the faceless state is growing by leaps and bounds. In just about two weeks, the results of vast quantities of money, energy and prayer will be felt in the land. The results […]
October 21, 2018

Could We Have It Wrong?-Is it About Avoiding Unhappiness?

Could we have it wrong? Is it about avoiding unhappiness? ” So, are you happy now that I, Claudia is done?” I stared at my psychologist husband and grudgingly admitted. “I was happier while writing it because now I’m wondering what to do in the next book…” We had been discussing happiness. That everyone says they want a happy life, happy marriage, they want. to. be. happy. But when asked how that is defined, often the answer is in the negative…”I don’t want to be poor”…”I don’t want to hate my job like…” or a generic,”I don’t want the life […]
October 14, 2018

Angels- Bible Fantasy or Real?

Angels- Bible Fantasy or Real? The Christian liturgy celebrates the feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Rafael on September 29th. Three days later on October 2nd, we celebrate our Guardian angels. Catholics were brought up believing, even trusting, in their Guardian Angels. For the rest of us, the notion of such heavenly beings was fitting fodder for television or fantasy. Although there are countless references to the existence of angels in both the old and the new testaments., in this post-Christian age, the reply to the question ‘angels-bible fantasy or real?’ lands solidly in the former category of fantasy for […]
October 7, 2018

A Spirit of Silence

A Spirit of Silence In the Rule of Benedict, the saint writes about the crucial need of silence frequently and devotes chapter six to “A Spirit of Silence.” I have read that chapter over 100 times but overlooked the phrase, ‘a spirit of silence’ until now. Usually, we think of silence as an absence. That is, after all, how we define the word-an absence of sound. But the phrase, a ‘spirit of silence’ changes things, and radically. I think about silence and solitude frequently. Both are required for prayer and writing. Because of this phrase, I see that that silence […]
September 30, 2018

Revisiting the Three Rules for Writing A Novel

Revisiting the Three Rules for Writing A Novel As I close in the completion of my latest book, I, Claudia, I need to review this wonderful quip of a writer far more well-known than I. “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” I love quotes like this one from Somerset Maugham. He describes perfectly the illogical, irrational craft of writing fiction. Recently I was interviewed by a writing blogger and promoter. She asked two questions which intrigued me. First, what was my ‘writing process’, then how critical were the names of characters? […]
September 23, 2018

Our Rule of Law and It’s Slippery Slope

Our rule of law and its slippery slope Most of us believe that our rule of law is sacred and that passing laws will fix recurring problems, address unwanted behavior, even establish a universal moral code. Examples of relatively recent legislative activity are texting while driving and sexual harassment. Note the wide definitional range between these two illegal activities. One that presents a quandary of epic proportions and is seldom considered. Our legislators pass laws for specific easily defined behavior-like my example of texting while driving- and for ambiguous and therefore poorly defined behavior like sexual harassment . One law firm defines […]
September 16, 2018

Gratitude: What is It?

Gratitude: What is it? The word gratitude doesn’t resemble what it signifies. Both the noun gratitude and its adverb grateful seem to me to be passive, inert, easily overlooked. Maybe that is why so few of us talk about it. In a world where so many billions live in conditions which would be considered unacceptable in the US, I have been thinking recently of  this word and wondering: Gratitude: What is it? Is it a feeling, Or an emotion? No they are inadequate, it is more than these, much more, isn’t it? In these ‘advanced’ times, the collective we has […]
September 9, 2018

How Do We Package Love?

How do we package love? That question needs a bit of reflection, right? It’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, isn’t it? Or, is it? Three reasons to consider our overemphasis on the packaging of love. Pretty, glitzy paper and ribbons tend to get us much more interested than does a plain wrapper, encouraging us to ignore or prejudge the contents. A package connotes certain dimensions. If it is ten by twelve inches then we cannot fit an item that has the dimensions of thirteen by fifteen in the package…imposing advertent constraints. Result? I want him to look like…I want […]
September 2, 2018

Combative Hope

It’s one of those wonderful oxymorons: combative hope. Makes no sense at all until you let it sink in. Slowly. And then the phrase hits home because combat is part and parcel of life. All life. You disagree? Consider the time energy and sheer grit it took to get to where you are, wherever that is. Weren’t there times that you wanted to just give in? Walk away from needy children? Or suddenly unlovely spouse? Or the education that got you the job you have now? Weren’t they combat? And wasn’t the hemorrhaging from the wounds sometimes a flood? Our […]
August 26, 2018

How Machiavellian Are You?

How Machiavellian are you? Never thought about it? Since the word Machiavellian is defined as unscrupulous, underhanded and crafty the question of ‘just how Machiavellian are you?’ isn’t something that pops into the head of the average bear. Unless you’re a cop, or lawyer or have had sufficient experience with the justice system to know that it’s less about justice and more about money and/or winning and losing, like me. Just in case you need a refresher, Niccolo Machiavelli was a sixteenth century Italian philosopher and politician. The origin of the maxim, “The end justifies the means.” His book, The […]
August 19, 2018

One Sure Sign That There is a God

  “Forgiveness is the only thing that is new in the world, the one sure sign that there is a God.” One sure sign that there is a God: To some, those are words that can evoke a number of questions, confusion or even incomprehension. Reverend Ron Rolheiser wrote them in an article about Sister Helen Prejean’s best-selling book, Dead Man Walking, a number of years ago,  As I reflect on his phrase, what jumps out at me is his definition of forgiveness: The only thing that is new in the world.  Because the horrors that humans inflict on one another are not […]
August 12, 2018

Writing the End First

  Writing the end first. Makes no sense, right? Writing the end first before the whole story is told? And yet, I’m doing just that. The thought had been niggling around for several weeks, until it stopped being a thought and took on legs. So yes, I am now writing the end of I,Claudia. Why? Yes, why indeed? Well, it wasn’t exactly first thing I wrote. At least a third, maybe more, maybe less, of the book was written before I began to write what I thought would be the last chapter but will most likely become 10,000, maybe 15,000 […]
August 5, 2018

Which Wolf Do We Feed?

              Which wolf do we feed? It’s an arresting question, isn’t it? Makes you curious enough to continue reading. Simple yet mysterious question aimed at stopping us in our tracks. Countless surveys recount that ours is the safest and wealthiest country in the world. Yet so many are angry, unhappy, depressed, resentful…it is a very long list, isn’t it? So much interest in the problem that happiness books and blog posts appear everywhere, it seems. Some wildly popular, others not so much. So many words written about an apparently elusive subject. Writers claiming that […]
April 1, 2018

Evil Can Only Be Overcome With Love: Paul the Apostle Movie

Photo Paul the Apostle movie It’s sixty-seven A.D. Nero is burning Rome to the ground and blaming Paul the apostle of Tarsus for the destruction. And yet the new movie, Paul the Apostle, has the feel of the 21st century from the very first scene. Although imprisoned in his dungeon, the man called Paul inspires terror in the heart of the Emperor of the Roman Empire. Enough to create ‘roman candles’- Christians being tied to a pole, drenched with a first century version of accelerant that explodes in flames when ignited, along the main streets. And Nero’s ‘circus games’, […]
April 8, 2018

I, Claudia-Newest Book

I, Claudia. For the last six weeks or so, I have been immersed in ancient Greece, Rome and Israel as I work to get a feel for Claudia- that insubstantial shadow behind a 2000-year-old curtain- and her infamous husband, Pontius Pilate. After reading four or five novels about this woman, I told a friend yesterday, “I know who she’s not.” A rather inauspicious start? Perhaps. Most of the I, Claudia books have been sitting in a pile since last March- when I became aware that the next book would not be the fifth in the Lindsey McCall medical mystery series, […]
April 22, 2018

No More Lindsey McCall Medical Mysteries?

Will there be no more Lindsey McCall medical mystery novels? Why have you switched from writing mystery fiction to historical fiction? Will this help your sales? I’ve been asked these questions of late by a few folks kind enough to write and tell me how much they enjoy Lindsey, her husband Rich and their adventures. Or are merely curious about writers, why we write what we do and what is the source of our inspiration. So I wrote an article for Serious Reading last week. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting. I called it Changing Genres in the Middle of a […]
May 6, 2018

Perfect Timing: Are You Lark, Owl or Third Bird?

Perfect timing. Does such a thing exist outside of Tom Brady’s perfectly thrown and received football passes? Or Steph Curry’s three point basketball shots? Or does such a thing  as perfect timing really exist? Perhaps, or if not perfect, nearly so. But of even of more interest to you and me is that the timing for decision making and for creativity can vary considerably. One important predictor is whether you are what Pink’s researcher’s call, a ‘lark’ -early morning, ‘owl’ -night owl or third bird- a combination of both. Dan Pink’s most recent book deals with timing; more precisely, the […]