Thursday, December 13, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tackling Flaws of Lyme Disease Tests & Treatment in Fiction

What do you do when your journey down the rabbit hole that is Lyme disease likely began with a misdiagnosis of ringworm, led to a possibility of advanced bladder cancer, morphed into several autoimmune disorders that required visits to a myriad of medical personnel, and finally, nearly a decade later, was correctly diagnosed as Lyme?
Perhaps, like many, you write a memoir.
Or you turn to the wisdom of Albert Camus and tell your story in a novel since, "Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth."

Protagonist in I Cannot Play With You Fights for her Health

I've given my 50-year-old protagonist, Anna McGrory, a state director for a U.S. Senator from the Berkshires of Massachusetts, all of the exhausting, perplexing, and often painful symptoms of my own Lyme disease and its co-infections.
When her beloved senator boss winds up dead, even Lyme disease can’t stop Anna McGrory from becoming a self-proclaimed Nancy Drew. With more twists and turns than the Mohawk Trail, I Cannot Play With You is suspenseful, surprising, and a total page-turner
Anna travels from her home in Concord, NH, to the Berkshires, into Boston, and up to the islands off the coast of Portland, Maine, in this tale of intrigue. The story, which begins and ends on idyllic Cliff Island, Maine, features favorite local businesses such as Casco Bay Lines in Portland and Angelina’s RistoranteItaliano in Concord.
Cultural attractions also appear, including MASS MoCA and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which are spotlighted in end-of-chapter summaries with links to Anna McGrory’sPinterest pages. Also featured is the Trustees of Reservations’ Field Farm in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which serves as the fictional U.S. Senator’s home.
I Cannot Play With You is scheduled for release Dec. 13, 2018, by Texas publisher Black Rose Writing. For more information, please visit the author’s website at

Find I Cannot Play With You at these bricks-and-mortar stores: Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NH; Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shops, Bar Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Damariscotta, Freeport, & Portland, Maine; Cliff Island Store, Cliff Island, ME; MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NH, and--thanks to the New Hampshire Writers' Project--at Toadstool Bookshop of Milford, NH.

Borrow the novel from the Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, New Hampshire, the Concord Public Library in Concord, NH, or the Cliff Island Library in Maine when it opens again in June 2019.

Online, I Cannot Play With You is available via the following retailers: Indigo (Canada); Barnes and Noble; Amazon; Black Rose Writing (Publisher)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Feeling a little flush

Today we sign the state application for our septic system design, confirming we are the land owners and that the commissioned paperwork meets our building needs. While this may not be earth shattering to anyone else, it represents a huge step forward in our plans and preparations to build a home for our newly expanded family of four adults--my husband and me, his step father, and my mother. Onward. Upward. I wonder if this is how King Arthur felt when he envisioned Camelot.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Juggling buoys

We're moving. We think. We're actually mostly waiting to see the forthcoming building quote, hoping we can even afford to do this thing that we've already set in motion.

While we wait, our own home is undergoing an upgrade. New siding. A broken window fixed. Painting. A repaired faucet, a replaced lamp shade. A new sliding glass door, a new roof for an outbuilding, several replaced lighting fixtures. Upgrade this, tighten that. And all the while help the dogs cope with loud noises and new people in our daily lives.
A buoy sculpture, Cliff Island, ME.(Photo: JP Myskowski)

We're fortunate we can [kind of] afford to build and move. It's not our first choice--mostly since we have recently paid off the mortgage on our home. But it's not our last choice either, since it is all rather exciting.

When we purchased this home in a lovely cul-de-sac neighborhood on an oval about the size of a high school track with an open field in the center for the neighbors to enjoy, we did so as a temporary house. It was too small for our young family.

But over the years, as you sometimes do, we turned a one-car garage into a master bedroom suite, and finished the basement for an at-home office and an entertainment room for the teens. We planted gardens, fruit trees, bushes, a Japanese Maple. Two sheds were added--one to hold what the too small one-car garage once housed, and one to keep the wood dry for our stove. Privacy fencing popped up along the northwest side of the house to help enclose the backyard, creating a secret garden where laundry hangs and we hide from the morning sun.

Now we are four humans under one roof again. But this time it is two in-laws who have joined us. One from his side, one from mine. They'd never met before. I actually only met my step father-in-law once over our 30+ years of marriage.
Our buoys hanging from one of our peach trees.

And again we find the accommodations a bit too snug. And not at all private enough.

So we wait for the quote to come in to see if we can build our new home on a bit of land we purchased earlier this summer up the road apiece in a nearby town. In the meantime, we improve that land a little at a time--clearing brush, removing dead timber, paying for a septic design--while we daydream about living there, in our slightly downsized home, with just the right touch of privacy and separate spaces.

I've been sorting through decades of memories and the stuff you accumulate when you sit still for 17 years. My rule is: if we haven't used it in a year, it goes to the town's swap shop. If it's an item that conjures a memory, I weigh whether or not it brings enough joy to lug around any longer, or whether one of my children might want it. I'm growing surprisingly better at cutting stuff--35-year-old yearbooks from the three high schools I attended in Oklahoma, New York, and Massachusetts included.

If it's something that both my hubby and I have a history with, we decide together. Currently our challenge is trying to decide which buoys to keep. They represent nearly 17 years of going to the seashore as a family. But my husband's not quite as fond of them as I am, which has made me sour on them too just a bit. Should they stay or should they go? Only time, and whether or not we can even afford this venture, will tell. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Ends of Chapters

I've been reading mysteries for decades (never mind how many!). In the past couple of years I began reading chick lit murder mysteries that offer recipes at the end of each chapter. While I usually breeze past the ingredients and the how-to directions in order to get to the start of the next chapter and see where the cliffhanger takes me, I often return to the most memorable yummy snacks to try my hand at the concoction. Or at least to drool over the ingredients. 
Located at the end of Chapter 25 in my novel, I Cannot Play with You, due out from Black Rose Writing, December 2018.

In my debut novel, I decided to create a Pinterest account for my character, and conclude each chapter with a little snippet that sums up an aspect mentioned in the story. I created the profile and board more than two years ago as I wrote the novel to see how it felt. I really enjoyed jumping into the character of Anna in both my writing and via the social media board. I also like highlighting some of my favorite things in life, like the BritCom Miranda, created by and starring Miranda Hart

Here's a snippet of a conversation from an earlier chapter--number 23, I believe. The main character, Anna, and her best friend, May, really do quote from the show quite a lot. If you haven't seen Miranda, I highly recommend you watch it. Now. With a cup of tea. That's not too hot...since you may find yourself spitting it out as you laugh aloud.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Judge a Book by its Cover. Please.

The publisher I've signed with is willing to look at up to two possible designs for my book--a Lyme Disease Murder Mystery set throughout New England, from Cliff Island, Maine, to Berkshire County, Massachusetts, as well as in Southern Vermont, Concord, New Hampshire, Boston, and other points in Casco Bay, Maine.

Would you pick up any of these designs? Which cover most entices you? Please cast your vote via a comment here or on my Facebook post. Thank you!
Anchor Chain
Casco Bay Lines Ferry
Snowy Bucket
But how will we feed the children?
(My daughter.)

Thanks to Black Rose Writing for its belief in my story. And to Canva, where I was able to create these possible cover designs. Maybe even to Lyme Disease, which has hit me FOUR times and continues to challenge me now, but which has helped me to slow down and appreciate the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) times with family and friends.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Koan for a Spring-Like Day, 2018

As she hung the sheets on the line strung between the fence and the peach tree, a songbird landed on a branch above her, seemingly there to watch the middle-aged woman.

"Don't poop on my sheets!" the woman said.

"Tweet, trill, chirrup!" the bird sang.

"You're right. I can wash them again." And in that moment the woman knew she'd taken a giant step toward enlightenment. To celebrate, she threw the sheets to the ground, stomping and dancing on them as she sang at the top of her lungs a silly tune she'd learned as a child.

When she was at last exhausted and her sheets brown with dirt and green with grass stains, she looked up at the bird. It met her eyes, holding briefly on her gaze before flying off.

The woman gathered up the sheets and headed inside to wash them again. More enlightened or not, she knew the sheets were not going to wash themselves.

She was glad for the task.

# # #

Today's meditative writing eventually took the form of a koan. Or at least my attempt at one. I've been reading daily from The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women, edited by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon (Wisdom Publications). I originally discovered the book and information about the authors via Natalie Goldberg's website listing of her 2018 Workshops. The three of them are hosting a weekend workshop I would dearly love to attend in September this year at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Sante Fe, New Mexico. While I probably won't be able to get away, I will continue to enjoy my daily dose of koans followed by the insights of modern-day women teachers. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Meditative Drawing

Today's meditative writing session included a sketch assignment: Put down the book and sketch something you see now or everyday.

Using my reMarkable tablet, I drew our shower stall, complete with the shark sticker that our daughter created years ago. And dots of water droplets from our morning showers. 

Draw what you see/write what you see. Either way, we're painting a picture. Thanks to Natalie Goldberg for that lesson in her book Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing.   

POTUS-proof shower. Thanks, Sharkie!