If you'd asked me two years ago if I'd ever write another book, I'd have told you I didn't know. For two or maybe three years, I wrote weekly devotions for our church's Facebook page. Maybe I'd keep writing more, and one day go through them and create a book.
I'd be asked if I planned to add a third book to the Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast series. I didn't think so. I left the first sequel, That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland, with more to come regarding Sam and her love interest. But I didn't know if I had another angle to tell. The books had satisfied my ache during my prolonged adjustment to the empty nest. I no longer felt passionate about a third visit to my beloved fictional inn.
Not far into 2020, I still had calls about providing book or writing programs. At this time one year ago, I was busy finishing up the planning with devotional writer and friend Debbie McCray on a devotions workshop at my church, I had been asked to provide programs for four other organizations in the months to come, and I was still working at the newspaper. It was plenty on my plate, along with some other personal hobbies and studies.
Then my brother, Tim, unexpectedly passed away in March, a loss I will always feel. I miss him so much. Tim was laid to rest on St. Patrick's Day. I think of that day also as the beginning of the pandemic. The realization hit me, oddly, when a masked face or two was spotted at the burial site, and there was no place to gather to visit with family and friends--the restaurants were closed to eat-in customers. The boys came back to our house and we had pizza.
The next day I went to work only to learn that we were all being sent home to work. No one knew for how long. I had no idea how I'd get it all done from home without in-person interviews or photos. But we learned and the paper came out every day it is supposed to with no blank pages inside.
As a feature writer, I had to find more to write about more than mask making, although I was happy for those stories. There was one about a nursing home resident who was more than 100 and who recovered from Covid. Things were scary and sad, and soon, I might not even be able to spare a square of toilet paper, but I needed to find a silver lining. I am a seeker of silver linings. So I started writing a series called Lighter Side of Isolation. Brian and I found projects around the house, or observations about being on the hunt for toilet paper, or Zoom, or changing out our lightbulbs for LED ones. We had most of the entire downstairs interior painted. We moved Ben from Indy to Carmel.
Then I told Brian I had an idea for cleaning out the attic.
The idea involved one tote a week. But what I found interested me so much that I looked forward to climbing those stairs once a week or even taking that hike several times a week as I got into the swing of it.
I started writing about some of the finds and more than the objects, the stories about why they were elevated to the lofty status of attic storage. I found things I thought were lost. (hello, Gladys Rude's original painting!) And got rid of stuff I once thought deserved saving (goodbye prom dresses).
I collected story ideas from those attic finds. If only I had time to write about them, this might be ... a book.
It was published last night and just like that, the Kindle version posted. I posted on Facebook a "life event." The night-owl friends started commenting ... and finally I just had to get to bed.
Earlier today the morning people chimed in ... and to my delight, some offers to host me at some meetings and banquets have presented themselves. This is what floats my boat! Soon I'll be out there visiting with people -- those in my hometowns of Brownsville and Liberty, and my career hometown of New Castle and other Henry County locations. Some new venues have also emerged, and I'm awaiting specifics. In case you're wondering, I'm fully vaccinated, to include the booster.
When I finalize dates, I'll start a calendar for upcoming programs, closed or open. And I'll be spending lots of time writing programs tailored to their (and maybe your) specs.
Meanwhile, here's the winter issue of the magazine I used to edit, now the charge of editor Katie Clontz. I'm grateful for the cover plug. It will be inside your Saturday New Castle Courier-Times and I'm sure they'll have extra on hand at 201 S. 14th St.
The books are up on amazon, and I'll be stocking them for sale on this end too.