Saturday, December 17, 2016


My father died six years ago this month. (December 13,  2010). He was a complicated man and often difficult, but he was also one of my biggest and most consistent cheerleaders when it came to my pursuit of writing. For all his ability to be critical about many things in life, he never suggested or implied or hinted that I should stop writing. I started writing poetry when I was a teenager and during those years I would share my poems with my father. I can see him sitting across from me in our screened-in porch, carefully going over every line and word I wrote, pausing to consider what I was trying to say, and encouraging me to keep on with it. Later, when I was publishing articles in national magazines and newspapers, he was my number one fan. With each publication, I got a congratulatory note and a phone call. I'm eternally grateful to my dad for this gift of acceptance about my passion for books and words. Recently, as I was cleaning out old files, I came upon a letter he wrote to his four children about the importance of pursuing what we loved, how it triumphed over such things as money and status. His letter is wistful, but it was written with a generous and courageous heart. I'm sorry he died before my first novel was published, but with greater clarity I see how my decision to pursue a life of writing truly thrilled him. With thanks, and much love to you, Dad. You can read portions of his letter here:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ancestral Wisdom

I spent the day organizing files and, in the process, found an achingly honest letter written by my dad to his kids, which he wrote in 1982. (He died in 2010.) I've pulled out some of what he wrote here. May the wisdom of his words resonate for you as they do for me:

"My upbringing was centered around money and the pursuit of it...Whatever successes came my way as a result were joyless, unsatisfying and frustrating. I never knew why. I always imagined that it was due to my inability to get further, make more...I began to see what me is all about and parts of why I {was} so involved in a life style that {had} minimal meaning for me.

Of course I cannot deny the habits...of immediate pleasure--good food, quarters, clothing, and certain pursuits. But there has always been that emptiness, that lack of fulfillment.

Now as I stand amidst the final stages of my life and before it is too late, I am going to take what is my birthright--the pursuit of nature, the pursuit of art as I want, the pursuit of writing as I view it...

The point to this is simply--whatever the form of activity you choose, no matter how different from that of your inherent past, it will bring a measure of fulfillment in your scale of values that will constitute the truth of and for your life.  Do not let that truth escape!..."


Searching for Something

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016


It's been 37 years since my bone marrow transplant and this Polaroid picture of me was taken by my dad a few weeks out of the hospital. That look on my face expresses my feeling that I had touched a spark of eternity. Every year I think I won't post anything about this second birthday. I think it will be old news, but it never is. Each year, it's a chance to thank my younger brother, who gave me his bone marrow, which saved my life. I thank my doctor, who is no longer alive, and the 100 plus people (scientists, nurses, family, caregivers) who brought me back to the living. It was a highly risky and experimental procedure when I had my transplant in 1979. I was lucky. It worked out in the most glorious, best possible way.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Mid-flight Thrill

You never know what the day will bring. Over the past few days, we've had a burgeoning flock of black birds filling up our trees in our back and front yards. (Our urban yard is tiny.)  Yesterday morning, for instance, I woke to the sound of their squees and garbles and loud chatter. These visitation have been happening about twice a day. So, this early afternoon, when they showed up again, I ran to the kitchen window with low expectations of getting a picture. Lucky mid-flight surprise.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Strangers In Budapest, a novel

Heading into Production! It's done. Nine years. Countless revisions. Novel-shocked!                          Coming fall 2017, Algonquin Books

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year 2016 - 8 wishes for you

My favorite part about this box of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits handpicked from my cousin's garden in Arizona--aside from the kindness of the gift--are the leaves and twigs still clinging to the fruit. Here are eight wishes that I hope will cling to you all year: 

1) Take care of yourself
2) Give yourself time to grow
3) Seek simplicity
4) Reach for goodness
5) Contribute to a cause you believe can make a difference in the world. It will.
6) Honor the literary arts, the transformative power of storytelling is endless
7) Listen to music that ignites your passion
8) Stay open to the lessons of love