Q&A: TIGHT KNOTS. LOOSE THREADS. Poetry

What a thrill it is to see my first poetry book, TIGHT KNOTS. LOOSE THREADS. on my Amazon Author Page alongside my first novel, A DECENT WOMAN. Thank you to Winter Goose Publishing for taking a chance on my novel and this collection of poems. I remain grateful.

I realize it’s an hourly thing and Amazon book rankings go up and down, up and down, but an hour ago, TIGHT KNOTS. was still #1 in the Poetry about Death genre, #2 in Poetry About Love, and #2 in Poetry About Love and Erotica. And a bestseller (#27) in Love and Erotica Poetry. It’s always a thrill no matter how many books one has written.

BUY THE BOOK:

https://amzn.to/3dSiazF

So what am I doing publishing my first collection of love poems at the age of 63? Shouldn’t the art of writing love poems be left to the young? Shouldn’t I be on the couch knitting? I love to knit, by the way. Or maybe defrosting the fridge? Doing anything other than writing love poems that my publisher just added to the love, death, and erotica poetry genre categories? Erotica. That makes me smile.

You know what? I should be doing all those things plus writing love poems that will make you cry, laugh, raise your eyebrows, cause your heart to swell, and make you think. Make you think about your past, the present, and yes, of a future with love.

Love is eternal. Love is magical. It doesn’t matter how old you are — we all need love — and love doesn’t solely belong to the young.

Speaking of young, maybe you’re wondering, “Do Eleanor’s adult children know what she’s been up to all these years with her poetry?” The answer is yes! My kids and their loves read an early draft of the manuscript and they are very supportive. Each one is a brilliant writer.

A friend teased that she will know which poems are mine. I said she won’t because we’ve all had our heart broken. We’ve experienced love. We’ve been married, single, and divorced. And no, I’ll never tell which poems are about me. After all, a lady needs an element of mystery.

So, why publish a collection of love poems now?

2020. Isn’t that reason enough? Tragically, over 500,000 beautiful souls died and it broke my heart. Why not? Life is precious and I am celebrating LIFE.

The second reason is for women over 50 and beyond, who sometimes feel invisible, no longer relevant, or stagnant in their day to day and creative lives. It is possible to write a book and to keep writing at any age. Please don’t forget, there’s no perfect time, it always seems too hard, and your words matter.

WE WILL CARE.

Lastly, I dared to publish a collection of poems at 63 because I have been writing poems and stashing them in folders, in desks, and on Word for twenty years. Long enough. If not now, when? Never doesn’t work for me.

The poems gestated and went through enormous transformation. Light was refracted, bent, and everything became clear that it was time to put the poems together and birth this book.

While I may not know all the ins and outs of writing poetry, my heart needed to speak. I listened. Some may say I’m taking a risk, but it doesn’t feel like a risk to me. It feels great! My heart has carried these poems long enough.

Now, I can write more poems and focus on finishing my second novel, THE LAMENTS.

Thank you for pre-ordering your copy of TIGHT KNOTS. LOOSE THREADS. See? I’m thinking positive!

The official Release Date is 4/29/2021. I hope you enjoy enjoy my debut collection enough to post an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads. I already know book reviews are golden gifts to all authors. I thank you in advance.

Stay well, be happy. Never give up on love.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, and her first collection of poetry titled, TIGHT KNOTS. LOOSE THREADS. both published by Winter Goose Publishing. The release date for the collection of poetry is 4/29/2021.

A novelist, poet, artist, and photographer, Eleanor lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second historical novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1926 Puerto Rico.

When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups for women, tends her gardens, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. Eleanor is the mother of two fantastic adult children and a Chihuahua named Sophie.

Gardening and Writing

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

March 23, 2021

Over the weekend, I opened the upstairs windows to air out the house and enjoyed the birdsong streaming throughout my home. With the first cup of coffee in hand and the sun warming my face on the kitchen porch, I smiled. Welcome, Spring.

Fully caffeinated, I pushed open the shed door and like a wizard, I twirled, swirled, and captured copious spider webs with my broom before entering. Sorry, spiders. I took inventory of pots and potting soil, brought them outside, and checked the vegetable and herb seed packets. I cleaned off my garden spade and inspected the vegetable and herb plots for new growth from last year. The celery I planted at the end of summer has new green growth, and the rosemary, thyme, and oregano plants wintered nicely. I snapped off brown twigs and turned over the rich, dark soil in my garden plots, praying my area is past the possibility of snow flurries, for on this day, two years ago, we had a few inches of snow. Nope, none of that, please. I’m ready to get my hands dirty in the garden and to feel the sun on my bare shoulders.

On Sunday morning, I perused the first Burpee catalog to arrive in my mail box–my sign that spring has arrived. The catalog brought back joyful memories of the day the Sears toy catalog would arrive at my home before Christmas. There was no greater joy as a kid than to pore over the pages and dream of the perfect toy, doll house, or Barbie doll. I feel the same way about gardening catalogs.

I finalized my first gardening order of the year: an apple trees, two Concord grape twigs, and lettuce, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard plants because I want a head start this year. The seedlings did well from seed to garden, but I want instant gratification, smile. I added a white clematis I hope will take over the kitchen porch by early summer.

The Concord grape vines I found when I bought this old house have sadly not produced healthy grapes for three years. I held off pruning the vines for eight years (afraid I’d make a mistake) and had healthy harvests year after year. The first year after I pruned back the vines, not a harsh pruning as I’d been instructed, a virus was introduced. It was devastating. The healthy, heavy bunches of Concord grapes of the past were not to be.

I still enjoy the gorgeous growth and welcome shade of the grape vines over my courtyard dining area, but I must do what I don’t want to do–pull out the old vines, which I doubt will be easy to do. I find that heartbreaking. People passing by have told me the vines have been in place since the 50s. Heartbreaking. So, I’ve decided to prune the vines back to the first major knot and like a good haircut, I am hoping for new, healthy growth before I am forced to pull out the vintage vines.

If you know about growing and pruning grape vines and can offer tips, please let me know. Thank you!

This morning, I’m starting the vegetable and herb seeds in the two trays I purchased last year. I have two large bags Miracle Gro Vegetable Soil and dozens of plastic pots in many sizes for later. Of course, I’d prefer clay pots, but they are expensive and heavy to ship. Plastic pots aren’t used that long before the baby plants are in the garden, so that’s not quite a rush at this time.

Photo by Ann Nekr on Pexels.com

I’ve often thought of how much gardening resembles the writing life. There is research involved, preparation, learning the basics, and just doing it. I’ve met writers who do the necessary research, join writing groups, learn, buy the books, and still don’t write. Or they begin and then stop for many reasons. I find it sad how many beautiful and important stories are never told and shared with the world.

Pruning resembles editing, rewriting, and proofreading. The most difficult phase of writing, but my personal favorite. As my writing mentor says, “Art is in the rewrite.” That’s where I am with my second novel The Laments and with my grape vines. I will do my best with what I know. If that means pruning hard or cutting out unnecessary or redundant portions of the novel that don’t sing, that’s what I will do.

To the fear of failure or fear of doing it “wrong”, I say–there is no right or wrong way to garden or to write. Seeds of creative inspiration and vegetable seeds want to grow! They will grow. Your role is to do it.

Stay safe. Wear your mask. Practice safe distancing.

Write and/or start your garden today by taking small, steady steps. Good luck to you.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing in 2019. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”. Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico. Her debut poetry collection, “Tight Knots. Loose Threads. Poems” is due for release in April 2021. Fingers crossed.

linktr.ee/EleanorParkerSapia

TIGHT KNOTS. LOOSE THREADS.

MY DEBUT POETRY BOOK IN THE PIPELINE: TIGHT KNOTS. LOOSE THREADS.

March 17, 2021

I hope you and yours are well and soon, fully vaccinated! I am anxious to hug and kiss my kids and my loved ones! I’m excited to travel again! I’m dreaming of lying on a beach in Thailand and Puerto Rico! Four exclamation marks and I don’t care! Spring is right around the corner. I’m happy and hopeful.

I’ve been crazy busy since the beginning of the year. In January, my publisher suggested it was time to publish my debut poetry collection with an April 2021 publication date, just in time for Poetry Month. I am thrilled and grateful to her for taking a chance on me, a new poet.

As my publisher had an old copy of the draft manuscript (I was in the cue for a bit of time) and I like to think I’ve grown as a writer, I did a heavy edit on the collection. I rewrote many of the poems and included several new poems. Half of the poems were written between 2000 and 2007, the rest between 2011 and last month. We decided on the title, Tight Knots. Loose Threads. I love it. It’s the perfect title for this collection. The tentative book cover is wonderful, too. I can’t wait for the cover reveal and to see Tight Knots in print, in reader’s hands, where it belongs.

I am anxiously awaiting the editor’s second pass and trying to keep busy with my second novel, The Laments, which is coming along nicely. It’s such a great story if I do say so myself, smile. I am, however, finding it incredibly difficult to keep my editing pen in the drawer and away from the poetry collection. The word obsession comes to mind…

Reviews from wonderful and very generous advanced readers filled my heart with big emotion, gratitude, and hope that readers will enjoy my debut collection of love poems. I say love poems, and they are love poems with a reminder that love can also feel expansive, sexy, confusing, hopeful, painful, and at times, hopeless.

After my debut poetry collection, Tight Knots. Loose Threads. is published, I will order a big box of books, and by then, I will be able to mail signed copies of the book to readers from a real post office. What a great thought.

Now I understand why the Roaring 20s were so wild–it was the end of the Spanish Flu epidemic. I won’t be that wild (or maybe I will!) but I sure plan on celebrating big when we can travel, dance, and make merry with our families and friends again. Amen!

Stay safe, wear a mask, and continue to practice social distancing. Get your vaccines. The end may be in sight.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing in 2019. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”. Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico. Her debut poetry collection, “Tight Knots. Loose Threads. Poems” is due for release in April 2021. Fingers crossed.

linktr.ee/EleanorParkerSapia

Peeking Around the Corner

March 16, 2021       

A brief recap of early 2020 as I peek around the corner in 2021.

In February 2020, my son and his girlfriend, who live and work in Bangkok, Thailand, called to inform us of a virus outbreak in China. When my son called with the concerning news, I was reading David Quamann’s Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic about zoonotic diseases (diseases spread from animal to human).

That phone call was all it took for me to pay full attention and remain hyper alert for news out of China. My immediate anxiety was fed by my fascination with books, films, and documentaries of the pandemics of the past, disease, and outbreaks of deadly viruses. A decade prior, I’d read Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone and Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs & Steel. I was obsessed with documentaries on the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. Like many others, I was convinced we were about to experience the first pandemic since 1918.

As news began trickling out of China, I grew more anxious. When brave Chinese doctors leaked reports to the world of their fears and the inability to contain the deadly virus, I knew we, citizens of the world, would be affected–our lives would never be the same. When those same doctors, COVID-19 martyrs to me, were detained and soon died of the disease, fear gripped my heart. Tragically, the virus was proven to be as deadly as they’d predicted and feared.

As news reports of infections began to surface in Europe, the UK, then Washington State and New York City, everything I’d read in the book Spillover became real, immediate, and terrifying. I called family begging them to prepare. I ordered face masks, disposable gloves, and bottles of hand sanitizer and spray bottles of Clorox.

Interesting note and proud Mom moment: In 2020, the Thai company my son works for, Open Dreams, won the annual MIT Solve Competition with their incredible and timely app called PODD, Participatory Onehealth Disease Detection, that specifically traces zoonotic diseases in animals throughout Thailand. Amazing~!

So, with my passion for history, reading diaries and journals written during the Spanish Flu of 1918, and my love of writing mixed with a fascination of the great pandemics of our world, I did what came naturally–at the end of March 2020, I began to chronicle my daily life in lockdown.

The end of March also marked the last time I hugged and kissed my daughter, my sister, and my nephew. We’d gathered at my sister’s home on a warm Spring day to enjoy a wonderful al fresco lunch on her sunny deck. I took a group photo to commemorate the day, unsure of what lay ahead.

The year 2020 will be long remembered.

I was vaccinated with the first vaccine in early March. My second vaccine is scheduled for March 30. I have no fear of these life-saving vaccines. I feel hopeful, for the first time in a long time. I can’t wait to hug my kids and loved ones!

My one regret…and it’s a huge regret that revisits me as we peek around the corner in 2021– Trump didn’t do what he should have done in regard to rushing the roll out of COVID-19 vaccinations across the nation. The unnecessary, tragic deaths of over five hundred thousand Americans weigh on my heart and they should weigh heavy on his mind and heart.

Stay well. Wear your mask. Practice safe distancing. Get your vaccines.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing in 2019. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”. Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico. Her debut poetry collection, “Tight Knots. Loose Threads. Poems” is due for release in April 2021.

Eleanor is the mother of amazing adult children and currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia with her Chihuahua Sophie.

linktr.ee/EleanorParkerSapia

First Pandemic Lockdown Anniversary

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

March 16, 2021

I hope you and yours are well. I also hope you’ve received your first vaccine. Even better if you’ve had the second shot. If not, I hope you’re on a short list. That’s a lot of hope!

Two weeks ago, I received my first vaccine. I will admit to higher than normal blood pressure that morning and it rose as I stood in line in a gymnasium with hundreds of folks after a one year lockdown. But what a happy day. A few hours later, I had a sore arm and maybe two hours of a low-grade fever, mild chills, and a dull headache. No big deal! As a person with autoimmune disease, I thanked my body for doing what it does best–fighting disease. I imagined my immune system filled with tiny She warriors with spears at the ready! I joked with my kids that somewhere in my compromised, but beautiful immune system stood Gandalf The Grey on the bridge, shouting, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” Yes, I have an active imagination and I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, smile.

Like many folks, I’d been on several vaccine lists. While it took two months to be notified with an appointment date, West Virginia has had one of the most successful and efficient vaccine rollouts in the nation. Some friends were surprised at that news because West Virginia is a red state. I don’t know about all that–I am thrilled with the vaccine roll-out in my adopted state!

My appointment for the second vaccine is scheduled for March 30. I’m a bit nervous about the reaction(s) that may occur with the second shot, but like Dr. Fauci says, ‘It’s certainly better than getting COVID.’ Amen. Get your vaccines.

March 11, 2021 marked the first anniversary of our US coronavirus-related lockdowns. To say 2020 was horrible doesn’t quite do our experiences justice, does it? I don’t know if there is one appropriate, all-encompassing adjective to accurately describe 2020 as our experiences are so different.

In my January 25, 2021 blog post (I can’t believe it’s been that long since I blogged), I said I wouldn’t rehash all that happened in 2020. Months later, I realize it wasn’t a matter of ‘I wouldn’t’, it was more like I couldn’t rehash all that had happened. At that time, I hadn’t processed it all, not even a little bit.

It’s often impossible to process the past if we’re in the thick of what ails us…and we are still living in a pandemic.

Yesterday, as I began this blog post, 548,058 Americans had died from COVID-19 and worldwide the number of deaths was 2,674,597 million. This morning, 549,484 Americans died. The worldwide number is 2,685,458. The numbers are heartbreaking and difficult to grasp. What my brain (and heart) has difficulty processing is how quickly the numbers rise, within minutes, seconds.

Families and loved ones of poor souls around the world who succumbed to the novel coronavirus have experienced a year of unadulterated hell. 2020 was a year of immense grief, paralyzing fear, perpetual anxiety, and unspeakable suffering. Although the number of deaths continues to rise, the number of cases is slowing down in the US, in large part because of President Biden and the government’s successful vaccine roll-out, and the quick turn-around of vaccine production and distribution. Thank God, Trump is gone.

Earlier in the month, it was reported that a staggering one in five Americans had experienced a death in the family. The suffering and exhaustion experienced by doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and caregivers is unfathomable. I don’t know how they do it day after day after day. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Stranger or friend, I don’t know one person who hasn’t been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. Most of us still worry about the safety of our children, our loved ones. Unless, of course, you are a loyal MAGA follower, who still believes COVID-19 is one big hoax. In that case, I feel sorry for you.

Doctors and nurses across the US share story after story of patients on their death beds, who at the ends of their lives, still don’t believe in the reality of the virus. I would imagine a medical professional must feel enormous frustration, disbelief, and yes, anger as they care for and intubate non-believers and anti-vaxxers on their death beds.

I cannot fathom this mentality, this selfishness, this madness.

Stay safe, friends. Continue to wear your masks. Continue to practice social distancing and get your vaccines as soon as possible. I need to hug my children and my loved ones.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing in 2019. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”. Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico. Her debut poetry collection, “Tight Knots. Loose Threads. Poems” is due for release in April 2021.

Eleanor is the mother of amazing adult children and currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia with her Chihuahua Sophie.

linktr.ee/EleanorParkerSapia

Celebration and Major Changes

January 20-25, 2021

Happy days. Celebration. Relief. Tears. Hard work. Change. Accountability. Healing. Unity.

For me, healing must happen in that order. For as long as it takes.

Congratulations to President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Devi Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. The Inaugural events were spectacular, moving, and most welcome!

On his first day in office, President Biden signed 15 executive orders.

During his first week as President of the United States of America, Biden signed, barred, repealed, revoked, put a moratorium in place, ordered, asked, and consulted.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty hopeful and relieved to have an adult in the White House. Amen. And Dr. Fauci is back. Hallelujah.

What am I hoping for? I’m hopeful President Biden will be the President to finally abolish the Jones Act. YES. It’s damn time. Thank all your Puerto Rican voters, Joe!

I’m watching, Joe. Waiting. Right over here. Do the right thing, Joe, for Puerto Rico.

Stay safe. Mask up, everyone.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”, edited by Mayra Calvani.

Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico, and an untitled collection of poems about the many facets of love, which often remind her of the complicated relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.

January 19, 2021: Lots of Feels

Thirteen hours from now, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. will become the 46th U.S. President. Kamala Devi Harris will be our Vice President, the first female Vice President, the first black of South Asian descent as Vice President. Tomorrow will be a historic day in US history, in women’s history, and black American history. A momentous day, indeed.

Today I was filled with restrained joy. Cautious hope. Sorrow. I pray for a return to sleeping through the night and not grinding my teeth. Lord knows, I feel hopeful for tomorrow. I do. But this week, that hope was mixed with sorrow, fear, and there’s tension in my shoulders. Our hearts are broken. We feel strong emotions today. We are in mourning. We need time to mourn as our family members, loved ones, friends, and strangers suffer and die from Covid-19. We mourn for those who took their lives last year and this year.

Today, a visibly emotional Joe Biden spoke in Delaware before his journey to Washington, DC. With grief etched on his face, he spoke about his son. I cried. What a blessing and relief to have a decent, compassionate man in the White House. Tomorrow at noon. Thank God.

Early in the 2020 Presidential campaign season, I explained my feelings and emotions to a friend. I felt as if I were dating a textbook narcissist, an abuser. Americans were gaslighted, lied to repeatedly, and we had the rug pulled out from under our feet over and over again by trump and his cowardly administration. We’ve endured a horrific four years under his presidency.

Tonight, I recognize much of what I feel. It resembles the anxiety and fear I felt the night before I left our family home in Brussels, heading to the US with my college-bound children and toward a divorce after a long-time marriage. I could not fully relax until 20, 30 minutes after our plane took off. It was awful.

As surprising as it feels now, it would take a few years to stop looking over my shoulder and thinking in a more positive manner. I believe Joe Biden’s presidency will feel like that for most of us. For as long as white supremacists, far-right extremist groups, and Q-Anon believers live among us, we must remain vigilant. They’ve already shown us who they are.

We will mourn our dead and we will never forget. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in this country. The 400 lights along the Washington Reflecting Pool are beautiful. I hope they remain in place as a forever tribute to the over 400,000 COVID deaths in this country.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. I pray Joe Biden and his administration begin work immediately to find all the missing immigrant children and reunite them with their suffering parents and families. Innocent victims of trump and his callous, ruthless, and heartless administration.

Finally, we will celebrate trump’s final exit from the White House at the butt crack of dawn. I can’t wait for tomorrow. I can’t wait for his trial(s). May he never ever hold public office again. Nor his daughter. smh

Praying and thinking good thoughts for the swearing-in ceremony tomorrow. Prayers tonight for those who lost their lives to the novel coronavirus and their loved ones. Prayers for those who are suffering tonight. I send you a warm virtual hug.

Stay strong, be well.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”, edited by Mayra Calvani.

Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico, and an untitled collection of poems about the many facets of love, which often remind her of the complicated relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.

2020. What Can I Say?

December 31, 2020

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Welcome to the end of 2020. Trump’s sideshow. The reality TV presidency. The hellish year. The year of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The year the majority of Americans woke up or finally believed the epic past and present greed and corruption perpetuated in this country by voting. The year most Americans finally acknowledged or looked at the abuses committed against minorities, the poor, LGBTQ folks and against immigrant families. Even my staunch Republican family member, who voted twice for trump, voiced her distaste for trump. That’s saying a lot.

I’m not going to write about 2020 in this blog post–the good, the bad, and the ugly of this pandemic year. We lived it. We’re still in it. You, me, and our loved ones. Our neighbors, friends, and strangers. Many of us are suffering, dying, and on the verge of emotional meltdowns/break downs. Too many have died. This year was a royal bitch and we’re nowhere near out of it.

American hospitals are in crisis. Our healthcare workers and healthcare facilities are overwhelmed and exhausted. In LA County, 14, 000 people a day test positive for Covid-19, that’s every 10-15 minutes. A new, more virulent strain of this virus is in the US. Two cases already. I heard a frightening report about a shortage of oxygen tanks in California. Oxygen. Holy God.

The goal to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of the year? Not happening. Only 2+ million Americans have received the first vaccine. So. Stay home. Wear your mask and keep doing your part to stop the spread of this virus. Hang on and stay safe. Vaccinations are coming. When? Well, that remains a big unknown. I pray our heroines and heroes on the front lines of this pandemic have already received their vaccines and that the rest of us are vaccinated by Spring 2021.

I started writing this 2020 Pandemic Diary on March 15, 2020. I’m amazed I kept it up. It wasn’t easy. I’m saving all my pandemic posts for my children and those who will come after us.

I honestly don’t have a lot to say on the last day of 2020, except that I’ve learned many important lessons. Living alone, which I’ve always enjoyed for making art, was an absolute bitch.

The first pandemic blog post:

https://thewritinglifeeparker.wordpress.com/2020/03/15/pandemic-diary-working-from-home/

I wish you good health in 2021. Good health. As I’ve always believed, that’s everything.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”, edited by Mayra Calvani.

Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico, and an as yet untitled collection of poems about the many facets of love, which often remind her of the complicated relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.

Holiday Newsletter with Coquito Recipe

Happy holidays to you and your family!

christmas tree coffee

What a wonderful whirlwind of a week leading up to the Winter Solstice and before I travel to Maryland to share Christmas with my family. Last week, I enjoyed sharing great meals with good friends, catching up with family and friends via newsy Christmas cards and long phone calls, and last Thursday, a thoughtful friend treated me to dinner and a magical Holiday concert at the charming and cozy O’Hurley’s General Store (opened in 1899) in my favorite West Virginia town, historic Shepherdstown. The concert at O’Hurley’s (new to me) was the highlight of my month leading to Christmas. I felt a bit overwhelmed as I entered the back room with the vaulted ceiling. I was misty-eyed, actually, as most everything I love–history; charming architecture; an enormous, freshly-cut Christmas tree; holiday smells of cinnamon and apple; a warm atmosphere complete with a huge potbelly stove; lovely music; good company; and rustic elegance–were in one place. Simply magical. And since it’s still a working general store, all your holiday gifts are there, as well. You’ll find hand-knit sweaters to scarves to decorative items for the home, Christmas decorations, and local jams, honey, and jellies. O’Hurley’s is truly a one-stop shopping experience.

If you’ve never visited charming Shepherdstown, make your plans now for next year.  Plan to stay at the gorgeous German-owned Bavarian Inn and Restaurant that overlooks the Potomac River, complete with an authentic Rasthskeller; enjoy a sumptuous dinner and a great wine list at The Press Room on West German Street, and then head to O’Hurley’s General Store for the 7:30-10:00/10:30 concert. Jay, the owner of O’Hurley’s, is a musician, who invites local musicians to play every Thursday, year-round. And the concerts are free. So make it a long weekend and include a Thursday in your plans.

Every year, I tell myself I will be super organized with all my gifts wrapped by December 18 and the Christmas Day grocery run will be done that week. Right. The truth is, every year like today, I have a gift or two arriving on 23 December and some Christmas cards will go out in January. Early this morning, I was at the supermarket picking up baking supplies and the ingredients for Coquito, our Puerto Rican version of eggnog. In my humble opinion, it tastes better than eggnog because I love coconut. My favorite recipe is at the end of the blog. You’re welcome, smile.

In 2020, I intend to stop trying to be (pretending to be?) super organized at home. It is what it is. Mind you, this is not a New Year’s resolution. Instead, I will embrace ME, all of me, to include my spontaneous, creative, messy, and fun-loving sides. I’m okay with my unruly, wavy hair, the stacks of books on each step of the staircase, and a few cobwebs here and there. My dining room table/writing desk is almost always covered with dozens of notebooks, reference books, candles, fountain pens, bowls of crystals, tarot cards (I’m a beginner), and my two laptops. My art supplies are close by in an antique Austrian chest and the Christmas tree might be up until March…or April. All that makes me happy and productive. Art is not for the timid and most artists I know enjoy a bit of organized clutter!

Despite waking up early every day this month with a determination to write, the impeachment hearings won out. What can I tell you? I was glued to my laptop and yes, I’m pleased. More than pleased. My writing muse had the same idea–it was historic and that was that. I’m happy it happened before Christmas.

Now, for those who find this time of year difficult, I send you a warm hug. During certain times of the year, I often feel nostalgic and sad as I long for my mother and dear relatives who’ve passed on. You are not alone.

As promised, here is my no-egg Coquito recipe, which is enjoyed from November to the end of January. There is nothing like a Puerto Rican Christmas, smile.

Puerto Rican Coquito

  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 15 oz. can Coco Lopez cream of coconut or Goya cream of coconut
  • 1 cup or 1 1/2 cups Bacardi or Don Q white rum (unless you prefer a virgin Coquito)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Pour all ingredients into a blender and mix well. Chill for 2 or more hours before serving. Sprinkle cocktails with cinnamon and/or add a cinnamon stick to each highball glass.

I would love to hear your comments if you decide to try this beloved Puerto Rican holiday drink. Happy holidays!

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

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.

Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico. Look for The Laments in 2020.

BUY THE BOOK:

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

https://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia/dp/1941058876/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=a+decent+woman+by+eleanor+parker+sepia&qid=1576099888&sr=8-1-fkmr0

 

Looking Back and Looking Ahead to 2020

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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!

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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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ABOUT ELEANOR:

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.

BUY THE BOOK:

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

https://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia/dp/1941058876/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=a+decent+woman+by+eleanor+parker+sepia&qid=1576099888&sr=8-1-fkmr0