Lessons Learned Walking to the Gym

Alone and invisible while surrounded by hundreds of people

I had a whole plan for today, all mapped out on my calendar. But my walk to the gym put a huge wrench in those plans. And I feel the need to write about it. So here we are…

At around 11:15 AM, I left my apartment, and about a half block ahead of me, I saw an elderly woman with a cane fall in the street near the end of the crosswalk. I quickened my step as I watched her struggle to get up. People walked up and down the sidewalks without even a glance at her. So I yelled out that I was coming, to just stay put and that I would help her. 

She was a bit overweight – I wasn’t going to be able to get her up by myself, so I called over to a woman walking across the street. The two of us were able to get her to her feet. But she was very shaky. I then wondered if she was injured and that we shouldn’t even have tried to get her up. But she insisted she wasn’t injured. Just shaken up.

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Writing Process (Part 6)

Today’s post is the last installment of my series on the writing process of taking Cassandra’s Daughter from idea to print, a process that took years in the making!

If you haven’t read the series from the beginning, you can start HERE. In the previous post, I got my draft pretty darn close to being finalized. The main step that was left at this point was preparing the manuscript.

This was the stage where my experience with Clara’s Journal proved the most valuable. I should probably also point out that what a lot of people may not realize is just how much the traditional publishing world has changed. I had pretty much decided that I would go the self-publishing route. The cons for going with a traditional publisher simply had too many cons on the ledger. 

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Writing Process (Part 5)

First cover attempt

What follows is Part 5 of my discussion of the writing process I went through to get Cassandra’s Daughter to print. In this installment, I am coming close to feeling like I might actually have a final draft. And I should point out that when I say a final draft, by no means did that mean I thought it was nearly finished. I had just gotten it close to a point where I might be willing to let someone (other than my children) read it.

At this stage, the story was not quite told in chronological order. I was still trying to mix things up – for dramatic effect. Each chapter was devoted to the third-person perspective of a single character, and I had chapters devoted to many more characters than just Cora, Leah, and Cassandra. There were chapters for Bessie, Kevin, Dr. Pendergast, etc. 

But I wanted Cassandra’s story to be told differently. I wanted Cassandra to be rendered voiceless and unable to create as a result of the generational secrets kept from her. But as she discovered the truth, she would be able to gain her voice, to create, to tell her own story. This would mean that I wanted her to tell her own story in first person by the end of the book. But how to make that transition?

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Writing Process (Part 4)

Some people have been asking about how I ended up writing Cassandra’s Daughter, and so I started this set of posts. If you are just finding this, you can go back to Part One to start from the beginning. In the previous installment, I discussed some of the “big picture” decisions I was making during the early drafts of the book while living in the Outer Banks.

At this point, I was mostly spending my time imagining, finding connections, solving puzzles, doing research, and telling stories.

As I would read through each latest draft, I would constantly find myself asking questions:

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Writing Process (Part 3)

I made sure to squeeze in a safari when in Africa.

I ended the previous installment of this journey of how the idea of a novel turned into the physical manifestation of the novel in my (and in many other people’s!) bookcase with the decision to move to the Outer Banks where I could begin to do the actual writing. (You can go back to the beginning of the story and start with Part One if you haven’t read that yet.)

As I mentioned in the Part Two, I spent two weeks in Africa at a writers’ workshop. While there, I focused my time on developing the premise of the book as well as pinpointing the emotions that I wanted to elicit from readers both throughout the book and then at the end.

I was curious about what I had come up with while in Africa, so I pulled out all of my notes from that trip to see what I might have jotted down.

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Writing Process (Part 2)

The view from my back porch in the Outer Banks

In my previous post, I explained a bit about my writing process for a screenplay that I wrote before I started working on Cassandra’s Daughter. And the process involved a tight outline and index cards taped to my bedroom wall. That was definitely not the process with this book. 

The spark for this book came not with a desire to write a book. It began as a self-imposed writing exercise. My mother passed away in 2013, so this exercise must have taken place quite a few years prior to that, probably in the early 2000s. At that time, I challenged myself to regularly write, whether I had a project I was working on or not. So I would go to the dentist for a root canal and then try to describe my experience using all my senses: the aesthetics of the office, the TV loudly playing as a failing means of distraction, the pushing and pulling on my teeth, the taste of chemicals, the horrific sounds of the drill and the saliva sucking tube, and finally, the smell (of burning flesh? Tooth? What IS that smell??). Or other times I would people-watch and single out someone to ascribe a personality to. And then I would do a character sketch of that person. One of those writing exercises ignited the spark for what became Cassandra’s Daughter.

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Thoughts on My Writing Process for Cassandra’s Daughter

Now that my novel Cassandra’s Daughter is available on Amazon, I thought it might be interesting to document the process of bringing this kernel of an idea to fruition.

And that is exactly how it started – as a very small kernel. Previously, I had spent my writing career focusing on nonfiction essays and narratives. For some reason, I had made the decision in high school, if not earlier, that I was not creative and was incapable of doing any type of creative writing. I have no idea why I came to that decision. But that decision led to ridiculous poems about rocks in English class. Clearly, rather than change my belief that I was incapable of writing a poem by putting some actual effort into the writing, I instead purposely produced doggerel in record time.

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Reflections on My 1996 Essay About My Future Family

Searching through a box of essays, opinion pieces, nonfiction narratives, and endless notes on scrap paper of ideas to write about, I found an essay I wrote in early 1996 when I was pregnant with my first child. In it, I reflected on my life with my own family as well as what the future held for this new family I was creating. 

I thought it might be interesting to write a follow-up blog post today, in 2022, 26 years and two children later. If you haven’t read the original post, you can find it HERE.

First of all, the baby I was pregnant with turned out to be my daughter Emily. At the time, we didn’t want to know if she was a boy or a girl, so there was no gender reveal party, cake, or unintentional wildfire. I wanted to do it old school. Also, nearly three years later, I had a second baby, a son. This time, we found out the sex because I thought it would be better for my daughter to prepare for and to be able to accurately visualize the new baby is she knew it was a brother or a sister. Besides, I thought if she had her heart set on a baby sister and it turned out to be a boy, that might be an issue. This way, she could have her heart set on exactly who he was.

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Thoughts on Moving 2,000 Miles Away from Home

*Author’s Note-see end of post

Pregnant with my first child, I can’t help but try to see in the future. I spend hours (or rather waste hours) imagining not only what it will be like to be a mom, but also what my child will look like, what his or her interests will be, what our relationship will be, etc. The list goes on. I realize this is a very dangerous endeavor. Kids never live up to their parents’ expectations. But I try to convince myself that it is just a game to help me get used to the new role I will be playing. But I find my mind wandering as far into the future as when my child is all grown up, perhaps married, but certainly independent. And an important part of this fantasy is that he or she lives down the street or across town – somewhere nearby!

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Cassandra’s Daughter NOW available!

Available on Amazon

It’s HERE!!

Cassandra’s Journal is now available on Amazon as both a paperback and an ebook!
This is a book that has been five years in the making. I did take a year off in the middle of writing, however, to write Clara’s Journal: And the Story of Two Pandemics, an unexpected project but one that called to me when we were in COVID lockdowns.

It is a bittersweet moment to get to this point. This novel has been such a big part of my life over the past few years, including my time in the Outer Banks, which was devoted entirely to working on this. 

And now I have to let it go. I have to let it go out into the world where I lose control of it and leave it vulnerable to all who come across it. It is an overwhelming realization. But it is time.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the time writing on it. I am planing on writing a blog post (probably a series of posts) about the writing process that I went through with this book. I thought it might be interesting to document that.

But right now, I think I am going to get some rest. I am exhausted.  In the past two weeks I have read the book at least 7 times, pouring through it for typos, mistakes, formatting problems, etc. I even found an error last night at midnight right before the book went live. So I am sure I missed some, and I have to be ok with that. 

Thanks to you who have supported me in this journey! It means the world.

You can buy your copy HERE.