A Light at the End of the Tunnel

I spent most of today reading through Draft 4 of my novel. I'd finished the draft last weekend and then set it aside. I even paid to have Office Depot print out the manuscript so I couldn't sneak a peek at it. I wanted a true break.


Today, my goal was to read through that draft and make notes for Draft 5. I expected a long list. When the premise of this story first planted its seeds in my brain, I imagined a dark, fraught tale and by Draft 4, when the tale wasn't that, I was feeling disappointed and overwhelmed.

But today I had an epiphany: my story is good. Its tone is just right. It's not meant to be dark or fraught. These characters would not work in that kind of story, and this story is theirs, not mine.

I felt both relieved and pleased. I still have work to do in Draft 5, but the list of substantive changes is much smaller than what I had anticipated. (I do, however, have an embarrassing number of typos to correct.)

That means the manuscript will be ready for beta readers much earlier than I had anticipated, and--depending on the feedback I get--I might actually be able to start querying agents before year's end (which is my deepest, darkest hope).

What a great way to start my writing year.

2017: My Year in Writing


I’ve been doing my annual end-of-year inventory, looking back at what I hoped to accomplish and what I actually did accomplish this past year. Some things—like selling my house—didn’t come to fruition; others—like getting a salaried job with benefits—did.

When it came to my writing, it felt like I hadn’t done much. But when I looked through my writing folder, I realized I’d done a lot more than I realized. 

Since January, I have: 

  • completed a major plot revision draft of my novel  
  • progressed to the finals of the NYC Midnight 2017 Short Story Challenge 
  • queried two articles to a children’s history magazine (neither was accepted) 
  • entered two short stories in a Writer magazine contest (Neither placed but both did make it past the second round of judging.) 
  • submitted a short story for consideration for a 2018 anthology  
  • attended a writers’ conference  
  • heard Stephen King speak about the craft of writing  

My hope now is to continue this momentum in 2018! 

The Best Book I Read This Month: The Good People by Hannah Kent


The best book I read this month was a work of fiction: The Good People by Hannah Kent. Having read and loved Kent's Burial Rites (about a young woman accused of murder in 1829 Iceland), I was eager to read Kent's next book. It's been four years between books, but it was worth the wait.

The Good People is set in Ireland in the 1820s, and it focuses on three woman: a woman caring for her disabled grandson, the girl she hires to help, and the local healer.  The story focuses on women--these three and the other women in their town in County Kerry. The men in the story are on the periphery, and on the whole are not as fully developed as characters as the women are.

I read the book quickly--it was an engaging read--but it stuck with me. It's not a happy story, but it is a rich one. There is much to unpack about superstition, grief, and society's views/treatment of women. Two days later, I was still thinking about it. Even now, more than two weeks after I finished it, bits and pieces still come back to me in odd moments. This is definitely a book I want to reread someday.



The Best Book I Read This Month: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

The best book I read this month was a captivating murder mystery--and a completely true story. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann tells the story of  murders of members of the Osage nation in the 1920s and how the fledgling FBI solved them.


In the 1920s, the Osage in Oklahoma were among the richest people in the country, thanks to their shrewd management of the oil resources beneath their land. Then they started dying. Some deaths were blatant murders; others were suspicious accidents. Local law enforcement got nowhere. The FBI was brought in.

At the time, the FBI was relatively new and J. Edgar Hoover was newly appointed as director. Both the agency and its boss had a lot to prove. They needed to prove not only that they were a capable law enforcement organization, but also that they were free of corruption. The Osage murders tested them on both fronts.

One recurring theme in the  book is the rampant institutional infantilization of and discrimination against Native Americans to serve the white community’s unquenchable greed for wealth and power. It's a combination that has plagued Native American communities since the first European colonists set foot on North American soil. It reached fever pitch in the story of the Osage murders.

I could not put the book down. Grann crafted a page-turner, with dramatic descriptions, vivid turns of phrase, and well-timed cliffhanger chapter endings. And the wild, almost unbelievable story that Grann uncovered through his research and interviews prove the adage that truth can be stranger than fiction.