Blog Talk Radio Show: What’s Happening Now



What’s Happening Now is a new show. They will be discussing the current COVID-19 crisis, writing during the pandemic, and tips on maintaining creativity.

Call in to speak with the host at (714) 242-5259.

Be safe out there.

Eleanor x

Looking Back and Looking Ahead to 2020


Tonight, on the eve before the Full Moon in Gemini, I’m looking back at the trials, tribulations, and lessons learned during 2019. I will be happy to close the door on the past year. Of course, along with the challenges of gall bladder surgery, other medical issues, and remembering why it’s good to be single, my family was blessed with many wonderful events, as well. In June, we celebrated my niece’s wedding; my daughter finished her Master’s degree and became a licensed Mental Health Therapist; and my son created an app that is doing so well that he welcomed a third major airline to his portfolio. Proud Mom moments!


Hands down, the BEST part of 2019 was the epic, two-week family vacation I enjoyed with my kids in Thailand, where my son and his girlfriend have made their home. Did I mention it was epic? We love everything about Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Dao, and Koh Lipe, and we especially love the Thai people, the fabulous food, the stunning temples, the gorgeous beaches, the smiling monks, and the exciting night markets. Now that my son and his lovely girlfriend are working in Bangkok, which is very exciting, we will certainly return to Thailand next year. There is nothing like travel to open your eyes and grow your heart, soul, and mind, and that’s exactly what I needed. Thank you, Matthew and Anna Marie, for the life-changing trip!

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During the second half of 2019, my home was paid off, which was a major surprise to me (and an amazing story). Thank you, Sandy. As you can imagine, it was an incredible relief for this full-time writer! I’d sacrificed, penny-pinched, and managed to hang onto this old house and now I have the option to sell if I choose to move to my forever home for my golden years. Smile. West Virginia was a soft place to land after my divorce and I love this old house, I really do, but it’s never felt like my forever home. I don’t enjoy being landlocked, so I’m on the hunt. Where am I looking? Puerto Rico, the south of France, Portugal, and Spain. I’ve started a new vision board and during writing breaks, I look at homes and I dream. I’ve lived half my life overseas, so this is not a stretch for me; it feels very possible. It will happen.

On the writing front, as always, I’m as content as content can be. My second historical novel, The Laments, is progressing nicely and I’m pleased with the story and love my characters. I’ve had a few challenges in getting the story just right because I’m a Virgo nitpicker, but I’m there. In my humble opinion, my writing and editing skills have vastly improved, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. My writing mentor, the writing wizard Jack Remick, has kindly agreed to look at my draft manuscript in the Spring. I’m ecstatic and honored to work with him. Thank you, Jack, you are a true mensch.

It’s hard to believe I began writing The Laments in 2016, but that’s exactly what happened with my first novel, A Decent Woman, I took my time. I’m most definitely a slow, methodical writer and I always finish strong despite life’s hiccups and detours. I’m also working on a collection of poems, which I hope to see published next year, as well. One thing I learned this year is to stay mum about story ideas until the draft manuscript is in the editor’s hands.

Now, back to the Full Moon in Gemini, the last moon of the decade. This auspicious full moon will be visible on December 12 (the 12th month) at 12:12 am EST and will form a rare, triple conjunction with Venus, Saturn, and Pluto. 12:12:12:12. From what I’ve read, this moon opens a portal, which sounds spooky and fascinating. Some say the Gemini moon can be a turning point in our lives and there’s still time to turn it all around for January 2020!

Notes to Self on December 11:

Shed old skin by acknowledging, dealing with, forgiving, making amends, and releasing behaviors and reactions that no longer serve me. Remove toxic people and situations from my life, get rid of limiting beliefs, self-sabotage, and unrealistic expectations, and recognize that irrational fears hold me back from fully living and appreciating life. Be present. Own it. Speak the truth, always, even if it hurts. Quit hiding behind ‘polite’ behavior–some people will take advantage of that.

I will enter 2020 lighter, shinier, more present, wiser, open to new love, creative, courageous, bold, and ready for many new adventures.

And for God/Goddess’ sake, let us take up a whole lot more room in 2020, in everything we say and do, and assist those who are struggling. Protect all children, the elderly, and empower women.

Asi sea. Ache.

Happy holidays to you and your family. I wish you the best in 2020 and happy writing.

Eleanor x

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Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses.


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My Writing Life: How I Made It Happen


The research material for my work in progress, The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada, rests in three full notebooks, scribbled on scraps of paper, and written on junk mail that day I ran out of paper. My first book, A Decent Woman, was published in February 2015.

On Saturday, after a book reading at a local bookstore, a writer asked me the following question:

“How did you make all this happen?”

I am excited, honored, and committed to doing what I’m passionate about–writing and making art full time. How did I make this happen? I’m glad you asked.

Beginning in 2011, I learned to say no. I sacrificed a lot. I changed my life. I was honest with myself. I trusted my gift. Listened to my gut. I shut out the negative, toxic, and even well-meaning voices, who offered negativity and fear when I said I would give up my job, a comfy life, and healthcare to write full time. I was afraid, but more afraid of what it would mean to never publish my book. I jumped off the cliff to my new life. I had BIG faith. Moved to a new state with lower cost of living. I was brave, tenacious, and firm. Practiced discipline and sat/sit at the writing desk every day, no matter what. I adopted a writing mentor. I refused to join a writing group for many reasons. I grew more patience than I ever thought I possessed. I’d turned 50 in 2006 and realized that time would not wait for me to be ready. I got rid of cable TV. Stopped reading newspapers. Read more books. I believed in myself and my story. I honored my gift; never took it for granted. I felt that what makes my heart soar, cry, and love a story would matter to one reader. I showed confidence on the days when I had very little. I learned from others. I strive to continue improving my writing each day. I work very hard. I play. I trust my gut. And so much more.

Most importantly? I kicked my inner critic/censor to the damn curb. But, that’s just me. That’s what worked for me.

I wish you the very best in whatever you choose to do. Oh, and today, I have health care for those who kindly asked. Thank you and happy writing to you!



Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, which garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is a writer, artist, and photographer, who is never without a pen and a notebook, and her passport and camera are always ready. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Eleanor’s book, A DECENT WOMAN:





Sacred Writing Spaces

I know many writers who are quite content to write in coffee shops and diners, and between their kids’ dental appointments and soccer games. I know a few who can write on the bus, subway, or in between meetings. I am in awe of them. I’ve tried writing outside the home and it doesn’t work for me. The inevitability of major distraction is a fact: I need a sacred writing space.

I recently read two blog posts written by male writers, who said that the idea of a sacred writing space is pure hogwash, ridiciculous. I disagree, and I’m not a diva, thank you very much. The only sounds and images I want to hear and see whilst writing must come from my imagination; directly from my story and characters. How can I hear what my heroine is saying amidst singing baristas, crying babies, and people who can’t seem to speak in low tones in small spaces? And that’s just inside. Add to that, sirens or disgruntled drivers honking car horns. I can’t, but I’ve sure tried because sometimes I need human interaction as much as the next writer.

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Here’s what happened the last time I tried to write at one of my favorite coffee shops on a cool summer morning. I sat at my favorite table, plugged in my laptop and began to work on a chapter of my WIP. I was the only customer for an hour until a man entered the coffee shop wearing a trench coat on a summer day. Yeah, a trenchcoat. Like in the movies. He mumbled something to the owner and I began to panic, looking for the nearest exit, which was behind me. As far as I saw, he didn’t buy a thing, and when he left, I asked the owner what he’d wanted. The man was looking for work, she said. I breathed a sigh of relief, and sat back down, irritated at myself for being afraid. Then, I remembered all the shootings and bombings around the world and gave myself a break. I tried to figure out how I could add the man to a short story I’m working on, and then remembered I was there to work on an important chapter in my work in progress, a novel.

Fifteen minutes later, I became irritated by a young woman who yanked a crying toddler off the floor by his arm. Memories flooded in to when as a young mother I’d dislocating my young daughter’s elbow by pulling her up by the arm as she stepped off the curb, deadset in crossing the street alone. God, I’m so glad my kids are grown! That incident was followed by watching a woman sitting outside feeding her tiny puppy bits of an Everything bagel, and wondering why she’d do that. None of my business, I know, but I am a people watcher. I watch!

When I’m writing, I must live as a cloistered nun, sequestered from the world in a convent atop a Himalayan mountain.

I need the solitude, tranquility offered by nature while still feeling part of the world, without the crowds. It’s fortunate I live alone, so no one is bothered by my late night/early morning writing binges, which is the best time to write as far as I’m concerned. There are few cars on the road, and the only sounds I hear are the click clack of the keyboard, early morning birdsong, and the distant sound of freight trains whizzing past. Heaven.

Alone with stacks of books, notebooks, myriad stray pieces of paper with scribbled notes and quotes, a dictionary, and a thesauraus that litter my oak dining room table turned writing desk, I’m in nirvana. At this moment, there are two empty coffee cups (one from yesterday), one water glass, hand lotion, a small lamp, Chapstick, an ashtray, photos of my kids, assorted pens, pencils, and highlighters, and my cell phone, which is on mute. That’s how I like it. Oh, and a chopstick to put up my hair.

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Last holiday season when gifts, Christmas cards, and rolls of wrapping paper took over the dining room table, I was forced to write upstairs in my bedroom–the coldest room in the house. Most days, I wrote in bed with a cold nose and a toasty body under two down comforters. The following Spring, I moved back to the dining room with a view of the garden, and by summer’s end, I’d finished the draft manuscript of my first book at my river lot on the West Virginia side of the Potomac River. With no Internet, TV, and only one radio station out there, it was perfect tranquility and silence during the week with a river view I adored. Weekends brought the ‘crazies’, the loud party people, who I tried to avoid unless family or friends were visiting. Then, of course, we joined in the merrymaking. By the following autumn, I was writing at the dining room table again.


I’ve since sold the river property, and my dining table has become my #1 sacred writing spot. Christmas 2017 will find me wrapping presents on the living room floor–I’m not moving all that stuff again. I happily write at the cluttered dining room table/writing desk, situated right smack in the middle of my house where I can easily get to the front door to receive packages from Amazon (books, of course). I have a beautiful view of my garden from two windows, and in ten steps, I’m at the kitchen. When I hit the lottery, I’m having a bathroom installed downstairs because as it it now, the only bathroom is upstairs and that’s a major pain. But…as it turns out, besides gardening, climbing the steep staircase of my old house is a good workout since I write for many, many hours on end.

So, if you come for dinner, my writing gear will be safely tucked into two French wicker market baskets, which I’ll hide in the armoire. You’ll never see my clutter as we wine and dine, and I’m a good cook. But I can’t promise I won’t bore you to tears talking about writing, or the book I just finished, or about my new story, book #2, and my awesome new characters.



Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani.

When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. She adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is at work on her second novel, ‘The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada’ and thinking about the sequel to ‘A Decent Woman’ titled, ‘Mistress of Coffee’.






A special thank you to Beth Raps and Raising Clarity for the kind invitation to share my journey.

A Decent Woman Reinvents Herself and Her Situation: A Guest Post by Eleanor Parker Sapia


OK, beloved readers, I have a treat for you: a true inspirational story that just happened to someone we know!

This interview was conducted with our soul-colleague Eleanor Parker Sapia about the life of her first book, A Decent Woman. Eleanor is an author and then some. She embodies “what goes around comes around”; she consistently highlights other writers’ work in her blog, The Writing Life. She is into her heritage and (as each of us is when we embrace who we are fully) universal. Her bio follows at the end of her interview for us on a recent challenge and her amazing turnaround. Blessings to you who read this and may they flow on Ellie for sharing hers with us!

Late last month, my family and friends joined me in celebrating a new publisher for my debut historical novel, A Decent Woman, after my first publisher unceremoniously announced they were closing their doors. My kids asked, “Mom, how did you find a new publisher so quickly?” Well, it didn’t happen quickly, and I had one month to turn an awful experience into a happy ending. I had no idea how in the world I would make that happen, but I couldn’t give up on my book.

I’m of the mindset that we attract people, places, and situations by what we think and believe. What we perceive as negative can often be for our highest good, with lessons usually not far behind, if we care to investigate and learn from the negative experiences. Those beliefs would soon be tested.

I won’t lie; mind-numbing, stunned disbelief overshadowed a fun weekend with my best friend when I received Booktrope’s fateful email on April 29, 2016. By Monday, I was spitting mad. Another dream come true had dissolved. Did I have the energy to gather my wits, listen to my gut, and act without fear while my stomach was in knots? Did I have a clue what to do next? “No” to both questions.

Months before learning about Booktrope’s closing, I revamped my query letter. I don’t know why, but I was thankful I had listened to my gut. By the following Wednesday, I’d sent out two query letters to small publishers, even before the full details of Booktrope’s pending demise became available, which as it turns out, didn’t reach us for a week. I’m sure you can appreciate the stress induced by an uncertain future of an already-published book, a bestseller. Add to that the stress of not only having my book yanked off Amazon on May 31, 2016, but the potential of losing 74 wonderful book reviews in a month’s time. If I did nothing, by June 1, 2016, it would look like my book had never existed.

Well, the weekend was brutal for all Booktrope authors, their families and friends, for creative team members, and for Booktrope staff members, who despite losing their jobs, tried to answer our many, many burning questions. It was a tough situation all around.

I did make a few early decisions which served me well. I decided the reasons Booktrope was folding weren’t helpful to know; it just hadn’t work out. The publishing model, while interesting, unique, and hopeful, had failed. I don’t enjoy or see the merit of going around and around in circles with the “why” something has happened…okay, except for dating the wrong man…in the past, which has caused me to go around and around, trying to figure out what went wrong. Right or wrong, these days, I prefer asking “why?” once and moving on.

The second decision was not to get involved in the myriad heated discussions on social media, and not joining in when the name-calling, bashing, and the legal threats started on Facebook. Now, don’t get me wrong, at times I felt unreasonable and childish, and wanted to give certain people a little piece of my mind, but I knew that wouldn’t have been helpful or useful for me. Instead, I followed only useful, positive Facebook threads started by Booktrope authors and creative team members, who offered helpful information about moving forward and finding new homes for our books.

It was very tempting to sit on my river porch with a wine bottle, tearfully watching the boats sail by. I thought of going on vacation, burying my head, doing anything, anything, but restarting the tedious query process. I knew if I sat passively on the sidelines, I would hurt myself, my book, and my writing career, but it was tough to move.

Some situations require action and others require gathering information, thinking, and sorting things out before moving forward. But I, we, 639 authors, didn’t have the luxury of time…correction, Booktrope hadn’t given us much time. We had one month to sort ourselves out, get over the pity party, and find new publishers for our books or self-publish. Sink or swim time. I had to preserve my sanity AND save my book that had taken me years to write and see published.

So, as much as it pained me to step away from the great momentum I’d reached with my current work in progress, I set it aside. Regaining my footing was crucial as the initial shock wore off, before my emotions careened out of control due to paralyzing fear, self-doubt, and a loss of self-confidence. Worrying was fruitless. Being proactive helped me regain my balance and composure, and believe me, Booktrope’s announced closing ranked right up there with the time I dropped my only laptop on a concrete sidewalk. The hard drive had shattered and I’d lost most of my documents and all of my photographs. I began querying publishers before something worse happened.

Interestingly enough, starting the odious query process gave me the time and breathing room I needed. Baby steps made me feel more in control of my life, and reading the weekly emails from Booktrope, turned out to be far more appetizing and easier to digest than one huge info dump. While waiting for replies from publishers, I learned what I could about self-publishing from generous fellow writers, editors, and cover designers, who’d either helped put together a self-published book or had self-published themselves. I contacted a few trusted author friends, who like me, had never self-published, and a few who’d self-published several successful books. My friends replied with gracious information and assistance, if I decided to go that route, and most importantly, they offered the emotional support and friendship I desperately needed. I also reached out to a few Booktrope authors who I knew were struggling, hoping to be helpful and supportive. I am very grateful to all of them.

To keep myself clear and balanced while I waited to hear back from publishers, I practiced self-care. I didn’t isolate, but I sure thought about how my foundation had crumbled under my feet…again. I’d survived a financially devastating divorce after 25 years of marriage; I’d left my dream home in the south of France to move back to the US with my kids; and I’d survived on very little money as a single, working Mom of two college-aged kids. I’d graduated from massage therapy school at age 50 (trust me, it’s a pre-med course), and had reentered the dating game at age 50, which wasn’t easy! I’d bought a house in West Virginia, where I didn’t know a soul, and I decided to write full-time, which meant many, many sacrifices. Yes, it all worked out, thank God; much better than I’d ever dreamed possible, but it was tough going for a few years. How was I back to reinventing myself? Why?

I’d turned struggles and challenges into goals met in the past. I could do it again. Life was good, I’d tell myself in the morning, only to feel overwhelmed again by the afternoon. I continued writing out my blessings until I felt better. It became a mental game—a combination of being my own cheerleader and “fake it until you make it.” But Ego kept a good grip by reminding me of all I’d given up for writing, and then whispering, “It’s not worth it, Ellie. Too hard, too hard.”  Yes, there were many sacrifices to living the writing life. I’d accepted the solitary life of a writer with its myriad publishing woes because I love to write. I didn’t have much of a social life and wasn’t traveling as much as I like, but I was happy. My kids were happily thriving; my health was much improved, and then BAM. I found myself on my knees, yet again, at 58 years of age. The negativity reentered. Whatever happened to enjoying my golden years in peace and tranquility? Wasn’t it my turn to breathe free and easy for a while, after years of strife and heartache?

Well, I spent the first week in April licking my wounds, enjoying daily naps and lots of movies. I gardened, read, and followed the Booktrope story on social media, which wasn’t looking pretty. We were now called the Booktrope survivors and had a hashtag, which felt like a label. I used it once and disregarded it, but it was true—we were publishing orphans in a tough publishing world. We were frightened, angry, and lost, but I knew we’d survive.

My fears were temporarily assuaged by joining a Facebook support group page started by Booktrope authors. The members offered answers, hope, support, and information. I kept my hopes up, but it seemed the more I knew about the publishing world, the worse I felt. I started to feel unbalanced and a bit out of sorts again. How in the world would I find a new publishing home for my bestselling novel by May 31, 2016, Booktrope’s final day? Enough already!

To keep my sanity and clarity, I continued my regimen of self-care in the forms of prayer, meditation, and practicing Usui Reiki on myself. I gathered the ancestral, spiritual arsenal available to me and went quiet. I protected myself and blocked out the confusing, outside world of too much information coming at me from too many directions. I was still. I listened. I prayed. I waited. I walked and listened. I protected myself.

I rewrote my list of blessings and meditated on them, remembering how blessed I truly was despite the new bump in the road. I practiced gratitude and reconnected with family and friends. I gardened to my heart’s content and reconnected with friends on social media. I lit candles and recited prayers of protection and for guidance. I prayed the right people would enter my life.

Two weeks after the publishing fiasco, I emerged stronger, more in balance, and open to receive. I was clear enough to sift through and recognize good, useful publishing information and advice. I was ready to receive the blessings I knew were coming, and when I felt fear nudge me, I physically swept it away from my mind, body, and soul with Reiki. And then new blessings came to my life. Synchronicity and serendipitous events happened left and right. I was ready to act. I’d managed to see my book, A Decent Woman in print once; and I would do it again.

Well it turned out, unbeknownst to me that the fabulous editor of my book, Ally Bishop, had started a small publishing press called Scarlet River Press, which is now an imprint under Sixth Street River Press. When I told Ally I planned to self-publish my book, she sent me an email and an open door. A week later, I signed a publishing contract with Sixth Street River Press.

Two weeks later, A Decent Woman was selected as a Finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now.

In one month’s time, my book, which had been in danger of turning into a ghostly relic of the past, became an award-winning book. I can’t honestly tell you how that happened, but I can say I was open to receive and I didn’t give up on my dream. I also entered the competition in February 2016. We do have to act!

Each of us is on a personal journey, where some paths are straight and narrow, others are wide and curving. Up the mountain and low in the valley we go; it’s life. Sometimes we hike up, reach the goal, and sit on the plateau for a good long time. Other times, it seems there is no rest in sight, but the momentum is good, so we keep putting one tentative foot in front of the other.

I believe it is necessary and useful to reinvent ourselves several times in one lifetime. While I didn’t plan on reinvention, I’ve done just that several times since 2006. Last month, while awful, wasn’t life-threatening, although it sure felt like it. I have faith and hope that all will go well.

Blessings to you and yours.


Award winning Puerto Rican-born novelist Eleanor Parker Sapia was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s award winning novel, A Decent Woman, set in turn-of-the-nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Scarlet River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now! Eleanor is featured in the award winning anthology, Latina Authors and Their Musesedited by Mayra Calvani. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reading, gardening, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time. Eleanor adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Laments of Sister Maria Inmaculada, and the sequel to A Decent Woman. Find her on Twitter @eleanorparkerwv and on Facebook at . More information about her, her work and the blogs she writes for are at

PS: I asked Ellie about the image on the cover of the book. It’s of a wooden, hand-painted statue of Our Lady of Montserrat, which Eleanor purchased while volunteering at the Catholic shrine of Lourdes, in France. The statue is made by Artisanats des Monasteres de Bethleem de l’Assomption de la Vierge et de Saint Bruno and Heather Parker, Eleanor’s daughter, is the photographer.

Rays of Hope and Understanding

footsteps in sand prIf I had a time machine, I would press a button and erase last week. It was one of those weeks you’re ready to block from your mind or forget completely. I can say with total certainty—I hope it never repeats itself. If I’d known my world would be in such turmoil, I would have holed up on a remote island or in an isolated mountain cabin and shut out the world. Everything seemed to go wrong and nothing worked—nothing I said was helpful, nothing I wrote was pleasing, and nothing I did helped me move forward. There was no movement in any positive or clear direction. For three days, I floated in some limbo-like place, where for every two steps forward, I was forced to take five steps back. My tub stopped draining, my washer pooped out again, and a necessary check was beyond late. I prayed for answers and relief.

Maybe the planets were lined up in a strange astrological configuration, precluding me from accomplishing good, necessary, and helpful work because nothing I did changed the way things were going down. So I put those situations on the back burner. Denial and being still can be beautiful states and very helpful when nothing else works, or when we can’t see our way forward. It was a bleak time with no relief or end in sight. I had to look away. By sitting quietly, I realized how low my energy was and how shaken my confidence levels were in a few areas of my life that I’d previously thought were fine and dandy. In some areas, I had some semblance of control, yet in a few others, I was helpless to change events, thoughts, or perceptions.

I realize I’ve written the word ‘nothing’ six times so far in this blog post. Enough already. Well, I’m happiest when writing, but to work on my novel at that time would have been wasted time as I was having trouble focusing and counting my many blessing, for which I’m very thankful.

It was time to fill my dry well with projects and activities that usually take my mind off troubles. As it turned out, it was too cold for working in the flower garden, I couldn’t focus enough to read, and who cleans to relax? Certainly not me. I decided to continue researching for my novel called, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Immaculata’, set in 1900 on an islet off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico called Isla de Cabras, The Island of Goats. I find the process of researching both interesting and satisfying (nearly as much as writing), but I already had a bunch of research material. Wouldn’t that be wasting time? Oh, I don’t know, it seemed a better option than jumping into bed and pulling the covers over my head for the rest of the week. At least I’d be moving forward for a very good cause—my book, and in the process, hopefully I’d improve my mental state and lift my spirits.

I write historical fiction, Historical Caribbean, Hispanic, and Latin America fiction, to be exact. In my stories, I strive for accuracy in setting, the historical timeline, history of the era, and period details such as, customs, food, music, social and class structure, dress, religion, architecture, and so on. My job as a novelist is to help the reader become immersed in the world I create for them as they step through from real life to the past. My goal as a storyteller is to enable my readers to connect with the characters on page one by giving them enough juicy details so they can see, hear, feel, touch the world and characters I’ve created as they enter my fictional world. At the same time, however, bogging our readers down with large information dumps is never a good idea. Information and details must be carefully woven into a story so the reader’s eyes don’t glaze over, causing them to lose interest in the story with too many facts, figures, names, and dates so we can show off our awesome research skills. Not a good idea. We want our readers to learn new things about our chosen setting and characters in a seamless, organic way. Many fiction writers believe we are preachers, teachers, and historians, and that’s true in a way–we have ideas, beliefs, and messages we wish to convey to the world through our books, but first and foremost we are storytellers.

So, I fired up the laptop and began with the Library of Congress, which led to the Hispanic Department, which led to searching for information about the leprosarium on Isla de Cabras, where my current story takes place. I don’t know if I felt any better, but the search was gratifying and took my mind off my troubles. During the research, I discovered several doctoral dissertations, which I thought might be helpful, so I emailed the Hispanic Department for help because I couldn’t access one pertinent dissertation. The next day, someone from the Department emailed back with access information and included a link to another doctoral dissertation. Thank you, person at the Hispanic Department of the Library of Congress! Well, that was exciting news because the student, now a Doctor of Anthropology, had also written a paper that included difficult-to-access Governor Reports of the time period I needed, complete with lists and inventories from the leprosarium, maps of the islet I hadn’t seen before, charts, and details of buildings on the island at the time—priceless information.

la jungla beach

As I understood, I had two options: ask my local library to order the dissertation, or visit the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Both options involved more energy than I had in reserve last week, so I went on and emailed the Doctor of Anthropology, requesting a copy of her dissertation. A day later, she kindly replied, graciously offering to forward several documents. I was grateful for her generosity, and hope her dissertation will be one of the attachments. Pesky closed doors were finally opening. My hope, spirit, and mood were bolstered and uplifted.

I spent the next few days reading articles and papers that filled in missing pieces to my story. The information aided in adding more concrete images to my story and in fleshing out characters. So now when I say the boat approached the dock, I now know which side of the island the only dock actually stood and where the disinfection sheds stood for disembarking patients, called inmates at the time. The mother lode of information is priceless for creating rich description, a vivid setting, well-fleshed out characters, for creating mood, and for historical accuracy.

So, it’s Monday. Have things improved in my world? I’m hopeful things will sort themselves out this week, and I pray things improve around me, but for the moment I’m lying low. I’m buying a new washer, finally, and I’ve returned to my story, excited and armed with loads of delicious detail and interesting information, which I hope will please my readers. I’m happily writing again.

What did I learn last week? I was reminded that there are things in life we cannot control, no matter how hard we try to reign stuff in and how much we worry. Sometimes we have to let go because we might not get the answers or solutions we want, when we want or need them.

We share our world with lots of people and people can and do impact our lives in positive and negative ways. Our job is to weather the storms with dignity, honesty, and clarity, while remaining as humble, open-minded, and compassionate as we can with what we know. And when we find life is still difficult and doesn’t make sense, it might mean we don’t yet have the necessary tools or skills, or that we weren’t given the entire story with which to make a decision. So we forgive ourselves and others, and try to understand with an open heart, a newly-expanded heart, which is entirely possible and worth growing.

Writers, check out Academia; you just might find what you’re searching for. Happy writing to you!

About Eleanor


Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and a refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, she loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is happily writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Inmaculada’.

Lily Pulitzer Reading Glasses and Getting Older

20150405_160228Last night while eating dinner, I realized my reading glasses were still perched on the bridge of my nose. I lifted the reading glasses and looked at my dinner plate. Fuzzy. My tuna salad looked like a green, congealed mess with flecks of black and red. I lowered my reading glasses and voila–tuna salad on a bed of crisp, green Romaine lettuce with bright red tomatoes and black olives. I looked across the room, out the window, and spotted my neighbor’s daughter, the one with curly brown hair and cute dimples. My reading vision is getting worse, but my distance vision is 20-20. Now. But that wasn’t always the case.

In 2004, I decided it was time to look into laser surgery for my failing vision–I had -7 vision in both eyes, which put me in the legally blind category. My vision was so bad that without my eye glasses or contact lenses, I couldn’t see the nose on your face if you stood three feet from me, and if I lost, broke, or misplaced my eyeglasses, I couldn’t drive home even if I was the designated driver that evening. My life with eye glasses started in the third grade after a teacher noticed I was squinting at the black board, so believe me, by 2004 I was ready for laser surgery.

I contacted a highly recommended eye surgeon who lived near my home in Brussels, Belgium and made an appointment for a consultation. Sadly, he informed me that I wasn’t a candidate for laser surgery because my corneas were too thin. I was so disappointed. But as it turned out, he was one of five eye surgeons in the world at that time who performed lens implants–quite a new procedure. Now, the idea of having my eyeball cut and a foreign object placed inside my eye gave me nightmares. What if his scalpel slipped? Then where would I be? Completely blind. Well, it took me two weeks to decide if it was worth submitting to this extremely delicate procedure. I made the appointment. One of the perks was that in Belgium, this type of surgery wasn’t considered cosmetic. Hallelujah. My insurance would cover it. The only issue I might encounter, said the doctor, was a bit of trouble driving at night, and that I’d probably need reading glasses, which at that time, I didn’t need, but had always thought were very cool. No problem.

As I sat in the surgeon’s waiting room, I was given a Valium and on the operating table I went. The worst part was the apparatus to keep my eye open, but the lovely Valium helped a bunch. The procedure took thirty minutes per eye, and when I sat up, I was handed dark sunglasses to protect my delicate eyes. The surgeon asked me to look out the window and I could see. I mean, I looked out the window and saw the narrow stripes on the store awning across the street AND I could read the signs all around his office. I cried like a baby and hugged the surgeon and both nurses in the room. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. In a day or so, I was able to remove the dark glasses and he was right, I soon needed low-prescription reading glasses. My first pair was a black pair like Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo wore, who happen to be some of my favorite actresses. I loved those glasses. Then, an addiction reared its’ ugly head.

I became and still am addicted to reading glasses. I know, it’s nuts. I’m owning and admitting it. I have reading glasses in light aqua and brown (stolen from an old boyfriend), brown, turquoise, tortoise-shell, black, silver, and gold, and I used to own a pair of reading glasses in Lilly Pulitzer colors. Remember her preppie, pastel-colored vacation clothes? Yuck. I must have been insane to wear those clothes in the seventies. I gave that pair away. Well, I’m always on the lookout for a new pair of reading glasses. When I travel, I look for new colors and must pack at least three pairs because there’s nothing more irritating or unseemly as trying to read a Washington, DC, Paris or London subway or street map with your face all scrunched up. Lately, I’m craving a lavender pair of reading glasses.

As a writer, I can easily sit at the laptop for eight to ten hours a day and in that time, my little reading glasses rarely leave bridge of my nose. Every now and then, like when I run to the kitchen for a cup of tea or coffee, let the dog out, or take a walk, I take them off, but pretty much, they’re on my face. I have reading glasses in my car, by my bed, in the bathroom, near the couch, by my laptop, and in several purses. Actually, I should leave a pair at my son and daughter’s houses, too. I can think of no other item that I have as many duplicates of…well, okay…I have a helluva lot of shoes.

Twelve years on, thank God my vision is still 20-20, and I still drive at night with no problem. I’m adapting and accepting my age. I’m getting used to my fluctuating weight, creaking knees, gravity, and my more than taut than muscles that need constant stretching, but my eyes are special. I take good care of them. So since I know I’m never giving up writing and blogging, or wearing reading glasses, I’m enlarging the font and getting on with it!

This week I might check out the mall for reading glasses. Maybe they’ll have a lavender pair that come with a cute case, and maybe it’s time for an eye glass chain. Look, the way I see it, because I was brave, I saved money on what I would have otherwise spent on contact lenses, eye glasses, and opthamology appointments, and I spend $10-20 a month on my addiction–reading glasses. See what I mean?

About Eleanor


Puerto Rican novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and a refugee case worker, inspire her stories.

‘A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, and is listed in Centro Voices, The Center of Puerto Rican Studies, ‘Essential Boricua Reading for the 2015 Holiday Season’. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, she loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor adores her two adult children, animals, and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Immaculata’ and working on a collection of short stories.




Why Do These Things Happen To Us?

In 2010 I left Northern Virginia where I’d worked as a Spanish language Family Support Worker with 27 clients and their beautiful children. It was a rewarding and busy job, but tough in that I was required to make home visits once and twice a month to each family. As you can imagine, driving around the DC area and getting caught in lunch time and rush hour at the end of the day made for a stressful job. I practically lived in my car. Not to mention the enormous binders I had to keep updated for each of the children of my 27 clients, which included their shot records, school and medical information, and a detailed, written account of each of our home visits. I felt I could never catch up.

Our manager Nancy was a wonderful, kind woman who understood when I told her I loved my job, but I’d decided it was time to return to my creative life as a painter and a writer. Nancy, a jewelry designer in her spare time, supported my decision wholeheartedly, and my co-workers also understood, despite their personal fears about what I’d be living on monetarily in the future. I didn’t care. I’d felt like a round peg in a square hole for years. I needed my creative life back.

Two months later, I bought an old house in Berkeley County, West Virginia and three months later, I moved to a state I’d only visited once in my life. It felt like I’d jumped off a cliff, but I trusted myself and the Universe, and never once have I felt I made a mistake. I finished writing my first novel, it was published in 2015, and here we are today. I’m still happy with my decision–the only decision for me–to paint and write full time.

Taking control of my life, adapting to new situations, and remaining flexible is nothing new to me as I grew up an Army brat, who moved and thrived every two to four years until college. I raised my kids abroad for 13 years, traveled extensively, and I took control and easily adapted to become a 50-year old single mom. I sacrificed until my children graduated from university and found good-paying jobs, and then moved to West Virginia. It was an easy decision. I knew it was time to focus on ME for the first time in my life.

So, fast forward to 2016. When my step-mom Rebecca, a lovely woman who has cared for my 84-year old father, who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s, called me in early January with an invitation to visit them, I jumped at the chance. Rebecca was concerned that my father wasn’t interested in eating and that his roommate’s death a few days earlier would negatively affect him; it was important to fly to Florida. I knew we’d be busy, so I decided to leave my laptop at home to concentrate on my family. Rebecca graciously paid for my airline ticket and my sister was able to get a week off from work, so off we went to offer moral and physical support, where we could. For five days, we visited with my dad, who now lives in a wonderful assisted living home, and enjoyed our time with Rebecca, who treated us to three days in Key West, Florida near the end of our visit. We had a great time, enjoying the warmer weather and each other.


Then we heard the news: a blizzard in the Washington, DC area which would also affect my adopted town in West Virginia. We watched the Weather Channel every few hours and on late Wednesday, Jet Blue called us–our Saturday morning flight was canceled. I’d survived the back to back blizzards in Northern Virginia alone with my dog in late December 2009, and knew this could be bad. Here I was thousands of miles from my house built in 1907, and my next-door neighbor was pet sitting for me. I had visions of my old roof caving in, of frozen pipes, and a leaking roof, which I know didn’t help my nerves. Then I realized that my neighbor and her husband would be shoveling for me, as well. I felt just awful. Thinking we’d avoid the blizzard by flying a day earlier than our scheduled Saturday flight, we changed our tickets to Friday morning. I called my neighbor to let her know. She told me that my Friday flight would never leave the ground. She was right–late Thursday evening, Jet Blue called about the canceled flight on Friday. And the representative informed us that the next available flight out of West Palm Beach Airport or Ft. Lauderdale would be Wednesday. Six extra days. Wow, we couldn’t believe it. What could we do?

Now, I’m a firm believer of not freaking out about such things, as I believe things happen for a reason, but…it was glaringly obvious my poor neighbor and pet sitter and her husband would be in deep kimchi with their own home and trying to shovel 35 inches of snow to get to my animals. I called my neighbor with the bad news, but she didn’t miss a beat. She was several steps ahead of me. If the power went out, she’d take my Chihuahua and cat to her home, where she lives with two large dogs and two cats, and two kerosene heaters. I felt bad, but there wasn’t a thing I could do. I thanked my neighbor profusely, and promised to give her my firstborn…who is now 30 years old! That’s what I call true friendship from a woman I’ve only known four years.

The weather reports were correct and for once, hadn’t exaggerated–my West Virginia town had 35 inches of snow by Sunday. And since I’d expected to be home by Friday, I now had an interview with The Center of Puerto Rican Studies to finish by Sunday evening, and I had no laptop. Rebecca graciously offered me her brand new Apple computer, which I wasn’t familiar with, and then I realized she didn’t have word processing capabilities. I didn’t want to fool with that, so I finished the interview in an email and did the best I could to find copies of my author photograph and a copy of my book cover, which were on my cell phone. It all worked out, but not without the fear that I’d lose the interview because the server kept shutting off. Lord, what a headache. But I got it done and was never so happy to press, ‘Send’.

As a full-time writer and blogger, I really missed working on my second book during my winter vacation. It was tough to put my new characters on hold, but it was a great time and opportunity to put pen to paper and write out scenes longhand. Sitting on the beach on our last day, I told my sister about my second book, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Immaculata’, and received good feedback. She loved the story. It was the first time I’d spoken my story out loud and it really helped in discovering weak links and missing information. I was newly inspired and anxious to get back to writing, but I also knew this visit could possibly be the last time I’d see my father. I vowed to enjoy every minute. Every day, I tried to remain in the present and not sweat the snow or my lack of a laptop.

Wednesday morning, we headed to the airport and the flight took off during a thunderstorm, which is NEVER my idea of a good time. The captain informed us that the extreme turbulence would most probably last the duration of our flight–two hours. I can’t tell you how terrified we were with the plane dipping, shaking, and careening left and right. I laced my arms through my sister’s arms, we prayed and kissed our butts goodbye. At one point, my sister asked me to please stop repeating, “Ay Virgen, ay Virgen” because that frightened her more, which I understood! But I guess all that fear bottled up inside was more than I could handle and I began to cry. The young woman to my right rubbed my arm and asked me what I did for a living, probably to distract me. I laughed and replied, “When I’m not crying on flights from hell, I write books!”

We landed safely, the Metro was working, and miraculously enough, the spot where I’d parked my car before we left for the airport had received enough sun because my car was entirely clear of snow! I drove right out of the spot and decided to park closer to my sister’s townhouse. When I reached a cleat parking spot, I turned off the engine and made my way inside. When I returned with my luggage, my car wouldn’t start. I couldn’t believe it! I don’t know where the hell I keep my reserves of patience, but I found it. My poor, long-suffering neighbors would have to add one more day of shoveling and caring for my home and animals, and my sister had to put up with me for one more night. Luckily, my area didn’t lose power, and I drove home on Thursday morning. I was happy to see the mounds of snow around my house. I love snow and had hoped I’d see a bit of it. Well, I wasn’t disappointed–there was at least 30 inches in my front and side yards.


I will never be able to repay my awesome neighbors for their tremendous kindnesses, and I am blessed to know them. My furry kids were happy to see me and my home was toasty and warm. I do wonder, however, why the Universe chose to preclude me from experiencing Blizzard 2016. I guess some experiences are meant to be, and it isn’t until much later that we see the Great Plan. It is often later when we realize the ‘why’ and are able to nod our heads and say, “Oh, now I get it.” I believe that to be true, but I’ll never leave the house without my laptop again.

Stay warm out there, my friends.



About Eleanor


Puerto Rican novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker, inspire her stories.

‘A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, and is listed in Centro Voices, The Center of Puerto Rican Studies, ‘Essential Boricua Reading for the 2015 Holiday Season’. Book clubs across the United States continue to enjoy A Decent Woman. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society, and she is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, she loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor is a mother of two wonderful adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Immaculata’, and a collection of short stories.


Finding Home: Other Voices

THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015 reblogged from author, Arleen Williams’ blog

Finding Home: Other Voices

Please welcome Eleanor Parker Sapia with her lovely guest post based on her memoir-in-progress titled, Home in Three Acts.

ACT I: 1957-2005: Military Housing

By my eighteenth birthday, I’d lived in four countries. This Army brat’s idea of home was a temporary place, where my roots had grown accustomed to remaining shallow, but with strong runners that grew horizontally outward and downward from the plant. As far back as I can remember, every three to four years, I was carefully uprooted, tenderly cut from the main plant, and transplanted at the family’s next duty station, where again I’d thrive as best I could.

My mother’s habit, which later became my own, was to set up the children’s bedrooms first to make us kids feel comfortable, safe, and secure in a new place. Invariably favorite curtains wouldn’t fit the new windows of our next military quarters, the bathroom colors had changed, which meant new towels were added to an already large mismatched collection, or I was forced to share a bedroom with my youngest sister, but I was a flexible child. A house didn’t mean all that much to me—leaving new friends was an expected part of the life my parents had chosen. Besides, I loved meeting and making new friends at new postings, vacationing in exotic places, and traveling back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean with stops in Puerto Rico to visit family.

I graduated from college and worked in the DC area as a single woman for seven years, where I met and married an Army officer. At our wedding reception on Fort Myer, overlooking the Potomac River, I thought my new husband was my soul mate. Maybe he was, and with him came the promise of more travel and exotic vacations, a lifestyle I wanted for my children. When the kids were nine and seven, my 57-year old mother died suddenly, shattering a lifelong dream of living close to her. She was the epitome of home to me, where love, safety, fun, and warmth lived. Home and the world no longer felt safe, fun, or warm without her.

With my mother gone, the Army sent my little family on one more Army tour and we moved from Northern Virginia to Brussels, Belgium, where we lived in a vibrant ex-pat community for the next thirteen wonderful years. Our stay in Brussels was the longest I’d ever lived in one place, and it was a great place to raise children. I was again responsible for creating a home for my growing family.

In our ninth year in Brussels, when my oldest child left for university in the United States, early stresses in our marriage were no longer shrouded and were impossible to ignore. We bought un mas in the Provençal village of Uchaux, in the south of France, the way some people believe a new baby can ‘fix’ a broken marriage. For the next four years, we were blissfully happy. Plans were made to turn the mas into a B&B, where I would lead art workshops in the French countryside and write a novel. My husband would relax under the platain tree in the garden, watching the farmers next door till the soil for new grapevines after nearly thirty years in the Army. The word idyllic was a close description to what I planned for us in the home where we’d retire in a few years time. But sometimes you can’t see what is coming toward you at warp speed.

ACT II: 2006: Abandoned Home

Standing on the balcony of a rented townhouse, overlooking a black-topped parking lot in Syracuse, New York, I stared blankly at the white geraniums and variegated ivy plants I’d planted in three, green plastic flower pots. How in the hell had I ended up in this place? I pushed an exposed root deeper into the dirt and wondered what happens to our past visions. The kids were now at their respective universities, friends and family were happy to see me ‘stateside,’ but I wasn’t so sure. There had been no time to assimilate, make concrete plans, or weigh the options of leaving Europe. It had happened quickly—I’d been a healthy, thriving plant and was yanked out of the ground and thrown onto a musky compost heap amidst other debris. One morning, I was married and by that evening I was separated from my husband of twenty five years.

A year later the contents of the rented Belgian house and our French home were packed into an enormous truck and before I knew it, I was on a plane bound for the US with my worried teenagers and two freaked out cats.“Everything will be fine. Don’t worry; we will be fine,” I told them, but I didn’t believe my thin words. I had no choice—I was now mother and father to two children who had known HOME for thirteen years. As Brussels became a tiny spot thousands of feet below, I wondered if my husband, who’d remained behind, would come to his senses. My throat threatened to choke my shallow breaths and I prayed. Hard.

Another errant root pushed back into the soil, I watched the neighbor park his car, and struggled to remember the garden in Provence with the lavender-lined walkway, and how sweet the morning air smelled when I pushed open the blue shutters of our bedroom. It would be time to cut back the lavender and rosemary soon, but I knew the house and grounds sat abandoned. An abandoned home. I realized how close to the edge I was; how close I felt to losing myself, so I chose anger because it was always safer than sadness. No one would know of my secret pain, but I dreamed of France—the palm trees in front of my daughter’s bedroom, the kitchen counters and sink hewn in the same stone as the custom-made, floor to ceiling fireplace. Memories of picking plums, nectarines, figs, and peaches in the orchard to the right of the in-ground pool with the stone surround that Thierry, the maçon had lovingly installed using old tools so the house would appear older than it was. I remembered night swims with the deafening sound of the cicadas’ songs around me. Let it go, I told myself as tears stung my eyes.

One should never grow attached and accustomed to HOME. One couldn’t trust it. If I hadn’t loved my home so much, this sickening, intense homesickness and the stabbing pains in my heart at having realized a life dream only to lose it, would subside. I didn’t miss my husband; I missed my home, my life overseas. Never again would I be attached to home. This, I told myself.

ACT III: 2011 to Present Day – Fear and Freedom.

Despite repeated, tiring attempts of pushing the idea of home out of my head in the weeks and months after my divorce, I unpacked dishes, a few of my mother’s knickknacks, photographs of my children, but I vowed never to unpack my writing journals or family photo albums from 1994 to 2006. Forget about watching films and reading books set in France, especially Provence; that life was over. A good friend advised me to think of my time in Europe as a goal achieved rather than a vanquished dream. I agreed but told my friend to convince my heart; it wouldn’t listen to logic.

Once again, my roots were thin, delicate, shallow, just beneath the surface as I roamed from New York to Maryland to Virginia, trying to find a place to call home. Hell, not even home; a couple of years in one place so my children had a home to return to during summer and holiday breaks from university would have been nice. Instead, a year here, two there, and I divorced, but with every move, I was closer in distance to my beloved children who lived in Virginia. When the French house was bought by a French lawyer, a single woman with no children, I cried for days.

No more soul mates; only endless first dates, job interviews, and the same dull DC conversations of the high cost of living, the Redskins, and the ridiculous traffic—stories I’d heard in 1994 when we left for Belgium. I nodded politely at the man, my dinner date. He insisted I select a bottle of wine for our dinner. I decided on a bottle of Saint Emilion I could no longer afford, but he was buying, and I slowly sipped the blood red nectar until I began to feel myself uncoil. As he spoke about his football glory days, I remembered a beautiful evening in France feasting on oysters, a tagine of lamb, couscous, and grilled vegetables. Suddenly, the harsh words of my expensive divorce lawyer rang in my ear, “Most women never recover from divorce because they refuse to change the lifestyle they led as married women. They end up in one bedroom apartments with no money in the bank. Be smart.” What did he know? Jerk.

Four years later, it was the same routine—work, home, dinners out, work, home, dinners out. The idea of home seeped into my consciousness once again. I felt more settled, but not settled enough. My children graduated from college, found good jobs, and my work, though rewarding, didn’t feed my soul. I longed to paint and write again. Why not? That’s what I loved, that was my life’s passion, but how could I make that happen? I pulled out a map, tied a string to a straight pin and taped a pencil to the end of the string. I inserted the straight pin into the map, in the city where I stood and drew a circle. I would search for an available home within the circle, which would be two hours from my kids. West Virginia. According to the young man at the bank, that was where I could afford to buy a house. My pain-in-the-ass lawyer had been right.

All signs pointed to West Virginia, where I knew one person, a good friend. I didn’t hesitate. In three months time, I’d quit my job, bought an historic house with good bones—not my forever home, but a soft place to land and rebuild my life. My kids with their busy lives and my family visited me in the new, old home for family holidays and weekend visits. I was happy again.

Sitting in a French country armchair in front of an oak table bought at a Brussels flea market, amidst family photos in old silver frames, French and Dutch oil paintings on the walls, with my memories and thoughts of family roots and home, I finished that novel. And then my son moved to the Netherlands just like I’d always known he would, in search of home.

BOOK COVER SEPT 2014 (2) (1)

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

Puerto Rican-born novelist and painter, Eleanor Parker Sapia was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Her passion for travel and adventure, combined with her careers as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, and a Spanish language social worker and refugee case worker inspire her writing. She loves introducing readers to Latina characters and stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she enjoys facilitating The Artist’s Way creativity groups, and has taught creative writing to children and adults. Eleanor shares her passion for telling stories at her blog, The Writing Life and her website,

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut historical novel, has garnered rave reviews and currently sits on several Amazon best seller lists for Hispanic, Latin American, and Caribbean Literature. She has two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia.

The Dreaded Blank Page

Merry Christmas you filthy animals

Early this morning, we were blessed with cloudless, blue skies and a warm sun.  There is an inch of snow on the ground with a fine layer of ice beneath, and the winds are still blowing like crazy. Normally, this type of day energizes me and puts me in a good frame of mind, but today I closed all the curtains. For self-preservation, I will become a hermit for a few days, nursing what January usually brings me–feelings of joy mixed with nostalgia. My negative feelings and emotions can’t be helped, so I allow them to wash over me today.

You see, my son was born in California on January 14, 1988, and my mother passed away on January 22, 1992. My son is moving to Amsterdam on January 16, 2015. Yes, in a week’s time, I’ll be driving him to the airport, and I don’t know when I’ll see him again. He has been coming and going for years now with work-related travel, and a three-month stay in Thailand, but this is different. He says he’s not coming back. It’s not that we’ve quarreled or that he’s running away from home, nothing like that–I raised my kids overseas. What did I expect would happen? One or both of them were bound to travel extensively and live abroad; it’s what I hoped for.

Well, it is what it is, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. My daughter and I send him off with much love, admiration, and enough hugs and kisses to keep him warm in Holland until we visit. Maybe we’ll return to Holland for a Spring visit, in time for the tulip festivals, as we did during our many years of living overseas. I try to look at the bright side of returning to Europe with my daughter for family visits with my son, but today it was hard to see the silver lining of his decision. I wondered how many decisions I’d made as a mother that caused my children the same pain.

So, after taking a week and a few days off to celebrate the precious Holidays with my beautiful children and my wonderful family, I sat at my desk this morning. I opened the new journal I bought in early December–one hundred and twenty blank pages of journal, to be exact, and closed the book. I’d vowed to begin writing on the morning of January first, but I couldn’t. I knew it would help me tremendously as I’ve journaled for over twenty years as an advocate of keeping a journal, but every time I sat down to write–I froze. There was too much swirling, swishing, and slopping around in my brain to get it down on paper. I’ve felt overwhelmed this first week in January. What a pain in the ass. It’s not like I have tremendous burdens on my shoulders, we are all happy, safe, and healthy. I am looking forward to my novel, A Decent Woman, coming out this Spring, my daughter started a great new job as a therapist, and we three are embarking on personal journeys, but life is changing. Our family dynamics are changing and deep inside, I don’t like it one bit.

What did I do after closing my journal? I prayed hard. I cried even harder. I released. I counted my blessings. I shoveled my sidewalk, laughed at my Sophie’s Chihuahua antics in the snow, and I stroked my cat, Pierre. I made a tough phone call, one that I’ve been avoiding since early December, and I called to check on a new friend who just found out she’s in stage four of lung cancer. Please pray for my friend, Myrtle. Then, I sat with my unopened journal and realized I hate blank pages. I’ve experienced this fear of getting back on the creative horse before with my painting, after a long holiday. I’d sit in front of the easel, staring at my full-size, D’Arches, hot press, watercolor paper stapled to the board, hating the whiteness of it. The blankness of it. And I’d stress the mistakes I was sure to make as watercolor is such an unforgiving medium, but to which I took to like a duck to water. I like a challenge.

Bite-size pieces, I told myself after lunch. Own it and just do it for God’s sake. But, the words didn’t come. As much as I hate routine, I am a stickler for routine. My usual routine is to pray, meditate, journal, and write long into the night with breaks for walking the dog. What the hell was I so afraid of? That I might start writing, crying, and never stop? Was I pissed I hadn’t followed through with my plan of starting the journal on the first of January? It’s a Virgo thing. Was I grieving the past…again? Enough.

I gathered old magazines, found a glue stick, and created a mini-vision board for 2015 on the inside cover, which includes the cover my book. I thought of crossing off the numeral one I’d written in anticipation of starting the journal on January first, but instead, I changed the one to a seven. I christened the journal. I added the weather and temperature in the right-hand corner, as I’ve done for years, and I wrote three pages of my thoughts, hopes, and dreams. I added St. Michael’s prayer and the Memorare for protection, which felt great, and I closed the journal until tomorrow.

No, 2015 didn’t start exactly as I’d hoped, but that’s okay. I will celebrate my daughter’s new job in Northern Virginia; I will celebrate my son’s birthday and new life in Holland; I’ll cry for my mother on the anniversary of her death; and I’ll wave goodbye to my son as he disappears through airport security with tears in my eyes. I will continue celebrating and honoring life, and continue counting my many blessings, which includes my creative life. I look forward to launching my book, holding it in my hands, and sharing it with the world.

I tackled the beast today. No more will the blank page cause me anxiety and fear. Eff it; I’m stronger than that–I wrote a freaking book.