On Stimulus Checks, Crepe Pans, and 1918 Influenza Diaries

April 15, 2020

cooked crepe
Photo by Hakim Santoso on Pexels.com

Good morning, I hope you and yours are well.

Although I wish it were warmer than a brisk 42 degrees this morning, the sun is shining. The lilac bushes are in full bloom and the vegetable and herb seedlings in my living room are standing strong like little toy soldiers. Next week’s weather forecasts promise temperatures in the mid-to-high 60s. I’m anxious to plant the seedlings in the garden plot and in the three-tier wooden planter I ordered from Lowe’s, but surprise snowfalls are common in my neck of the woods until Mother’s Day. So, I’ll enjoy the lilacs, peonies, grape hyacinths, and daffodils in my flower gardens while I wait for consistent, good weather. I will also continue searching for the cortisone cream to relieve my annual bout of poison ivy. Fun.

Other than making online donations, I wish I could adequately express my thanks and gratefulness to the brave souls on the front line of this pandemic, all heroes. We, the American people, can never thank them enough for keeping us safe and healthy, fed and sane. If I ran the world, I’d pay each front line worker crazy amounts of hazard pay and pay them retroactively until we are safely out of the woods. I shudder to think where we would be without them. My local heroes are the trash collectors, the Fed Ex and UPS drivers, and my postal carriers. The best thank you at this time is for us to stay home and practice safe distancing if we can. I will continue to stay home.

Despite reading about a Harvard study that predicts we could be dealing with periods of quarantine until 2022, which seems both unbelievable and totally believable, I felt tentatively hopeful this morning. I can’t think that far into the future; my brain won’t allow it. It’s a day-to-day, new normal type of struggle for me. Although my routine often feels out of whack and forced, the early days of fear and despair, of feeling numb and experiencing immense sadness over the suffering around the world, and missing my children, are thankfully fewer and not as acute. But when I feel happy, I immediately feel guilty for being happy. Welcome to the new world.

I suppose it’s true we play head games with ourselves to get through traumatic situations, and maybe ‘faking it ’til you make it’ can help. On days when I don’t feel particularly happy (blessed, always), I acknowledge my feelings, write my Morning Pages or a blog post, work on my WIP, and I start a project, any project. Yesterday I cleaned out my medicine chest and bathroom cabinets. Tomorrow I might tackle the under the kitchen sink nightmare…yuck.

Some days (particularly on rainy, gray days), it’s more difficult to reach inside and pull out happy thoughts and memories, but I try. Thoughts of my children, family vacations of the past, and videos of frolicking baby goats really help. Whatever floats your boat, right? Oh, and food videos. They always do the trick.

And speaking of food, my crêpe pan and beechwood crêpe spreaders arrived yesterday! I’m off to check out recipes for sweet crepes and savory galettes. On Sunday, I watched beautiful Salma Hayek’s fun video for making no-bake chocolate bites with nuts (she is one of two celebrities I follow on Instagram). I found a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a bag of hazelnuts from Christmas pre-COVID in my pantry and done. They taste amazing and perfectly satisfy my major chocolate cravings.

Well, I have yet to receive my stimulus check. We shall see. This morning I learned about Trump and his insane pulling of funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) during a global pandemic. I can’t stand it. It’s pure insanity. I’m super grateful I don’t live in the states whose Governors refuse to put a state-wide, stay-at-home order in place. What the hell is the Governor of  South Dakota thinking? The depth of ignorance, short-sightedness, and stupidity in some people is mind-boggling. What doesn’t she understand? Doesn’t she care about her constituents? Okay, I’m not going there today. Not today, Satan, stand six feet back.

Be well.

Eleanor x

***

April 16, 2020

mona lisa with face mask
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’ve been a history buff as long as I can remember. As a kid, I read the encyclopedia for fun, so it should come as no surprise I write historical fiction novels and I love doing research. Before I began to write full-time, I was an exhibiting painter. My passion was rendering realistic portraits in pastel and watercolor (an unforgiving medium for portrait painting; actually, any painting). Clearly, I don’t do things the easy way, but I am tenacious.

In late February 2020, my son, who lives and works in Bangkok, urged me to pay full attention to worrying news out of mainland China. I listened and began preparing myself and my pantry for an epidemic. My blood pressure went up, but I prepared nonetheless. Remember the classic book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson? It’s a wise little story about the two mice named Hem and Haw, who are faced with a disappearing cheese supply. Well, I remembered it and recognized COVID-19 had moved the damn cheese in a dramatic way like only a global pandemic can. I became the curious, forward-thinking Haw, who paid attention, didn’t hesitate, and acted. I embraced (maybe accepted is more accurate here) and began thinking of ways to deal with the coming changes in emotional and physical ways. I recognized that adapting would be crucial to successfully get through the coming pandemic in one piece. It wasn’t always a pretty sight, but I didn’t hesitate to do what I thought might be the next helpful step.

Now…as the number of people in this country and around the world who died from this virus rose, did my new mindset help? No, not every day. Some days were/are harder than others, and each day is a new day for me, my community, this country, and the world. Let’s be clear, COVID-19 has caused MAJOR CHANGE and upheaval in our lives; it’s not as simple as a change of routine or mindset. This time in our history requires herculean efforts on our part to get by; it’s damn hard. We didn’t choose for any of this to happen and it’s more than okay to admit we are struggling. Yeah, I might clean out a closet or two, work on my work in progress, arrange lilac branches in an antique vase, and bake an ugly loaf of bread, but I’m struggling, too.

When the World Health Organization officially called the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, I began thinking about keeping a pandemic diary for posterity’s sake and started searching online for diaries from the past, specifically, diaries from the 1918 Influenza, the Spanish Flu. These days, my favorite past time is reading pandemic diaries as primary source in novel writing. Remember, I read encyclopedias for fun, so bear with me.

If you’re interested, check out the fascinating article in Smithsonian Magazine by Meilan Solly, published on April 13, 2020, “What We Can Learn From the 1918 Influenza Diaries”.

Two excerpts from the article, “History may often appear to our students as something that happens to other people,” writes Civil War historian and high school educator Kevin M. Levine on his blog, “but the present moment offers a unique opportunity for them to create their own historical record.”

“Nancy Bristow, author of American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of The 1918 Influenza Epidemic, advises writers to include specific details that demonstrate how “they fit into the world and … the pandemic itself.”

We writers, specifically writers of historical fiction, use everything we can get our hands on while researching for our novels: diaries, historical photographs, memoirs, letters, journals, government documents, newspaper clippings, vintage magazine articles, and merchandise catalogs. A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about using drone camera videos on YouTube of Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, the settings of my work-in-progress (WIP), THE LAMENTS. They are all primary sources and useful tools for a writer’s research arsenal.

My WIP benefited greatly from deep and extensive research, and from articles like the one written by Meilan Solly, all fantastic resources. As an added awesome benefit, pandemic diaries remind us that people, our ancestors, remind you and me, that they lived through the 1918 pandemic in quarantine with lost jobs, illness, disease, depression, limited food sources, death, losing loved ones, and they survived. I don’t know about you, but that gives me tremendous hope and strength today.

This too shall pass. I will see my children as humanly and medically-safe as possible.

Thank you for your visit. My blog post stats show many of you are reading my posts, which I appreciate. Please feel free to leave a comment. I read and reply to all comments.

Be well, stay safe.

Eleanor x

Me in March 2020

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. She currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is in quarantine, working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Writing, Loneliness, and Morning Pages

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“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” – Henry David Thoreau
After enjoying my daily hot water and meditation session, I realized I’ll celebrate a milestone in July. I’ve lived in this old house for a decade. A decade. That’s hard to believe. I have a lot to say today, smile.
While I love my period home and the life I created that allows me to write and to paint full time, West Virginia has never felt like home, certainly not my forever home. Virginia felt like home. Puerto Rico always feels like home, as well as Belgium and France. My kind neighbors were born in this city, and unlike me, their children and most of their family members live nearby. I have no family here. My children live in Northern Virginia and Thailand (which I visited last November), and my sister and her family live in Maryland. Close friends are scattered throughout the country and overseas, so in the summer months, I take a few road trips to visit friends and family, which I always enjoy. This summer will be no different. I’m looking forward to more happy times, creating new memories, and enjoying new adventures.
From my experience, fifteen years of experience as it turns out, writing books isn’t a life path conducive to a busy social life. I’ve become a happy loner, who enjoys working from home and loves writing books. No matter how lonely and isolated it may feel during the winter months, I wouldn’t change a thing about my decision to live a creative life. In the past, friends have urged me to move back to the DC area and return to my job in social services. Though I love the DC area and the availability of great restaurants, museums, and cultural events, my friend’s urgency to “fix my problem” was met with much resistance. No way, I’m staying put. My life may be a quiet life, but it’s my life and I love it.
In January 2020, I realized it wasn’t necessary to subtract from my life in any way to feel happier–I needed to add. I acknowledged I’d become a homebody and less active in winter. I don’t want to meet for lunch dates or to date for that matter. I want to share evenings with like-minded folks and other creative people. What I needed was a creative tribe. Bingo. I ordered my fifth copy of Julia Cameron’s seminal book on creativity called The Artist’s Way (TAW) and then I called two friends to join me in forming a new group. They passed the word along in their social circles, and I created my first Facebook event.
Why do I purchase a new copy of TAW for each group? Because each time I “do” the book, I’m a different person in a different stage of my life, and I view each group as a fresh start. Who doesn’t love a fresh start? I also write in the margins. A lot. I highlight passages and quotes that speak to me.
During the years I facilitated the first four creative clusters, I was an exhibiting painter, a founding member of the first English-speaking art guild in Brussels, Belgium, and I wrote poetry no one read. I was a married ex-pat with two children in high school. We owned a vacation home in the South of France and traveled extensively. I had a large circle of international friends and loved my life. Then, in a flash, it changed dramatically and before I knew it, my children were studying in the US and I shut the doors of my homes in France and Belgium. My idyllic life and European lifestyle had vanished.
In 2006, I moved back to the US, went back to school, worked full time, and put the rough draft manuscript of A Decent Woman, which I’d finished in Brussels during the fourth TAW group, in a box. I got on with my new life as a single, working Mom, but that didn’t last long. I felt like a fish out of water in more ways than one. From 2006 to 2010, I lived and worked in New York, Maryland, and Virginia, searching for my forever home and a way to return to my creative life, but to no avail. I wasn’t unhappy, just unsettled, and I didn’t have a free moment to do anything creative.
In 2010, I jumped off a cliff and bought a beautiful period home in West Virginia. I finally opened the box that contained my manuscript and went to work. A Decent Woman was first published in 2015 and republished in 2017. I painted on the side, but writing became my new passion, my obsession. It still is.
Earlier this month, my fifth creative cluster met for the first time at a local coffee shop. The five women were new to the book, which I’ve always credited for completely changing my life because it did. Actually, walking El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain changed my life. I went on that journey with my children, weeks after my husband left our home–a pilgrimage of the soul that utterly changed me and consequently, my life. I kept a nightly journal during that challenging walk and after my current work-in-progress, The Laments, is published this year (I hope!), I’ll begin working on the El Camino memoir of the most enlightening time of my life. I think I’ll call it, Saving Grace.
Back to the new TAW group. Sadly or just right, only one out of the five participants was able to brave the elements that evening. As always, it was a wonderful experience. I’d forgotten how much I love the book, the exercises, and how much I glean from Cameron’s special and intuitive wisdom. Since then, the participants have shared how much they’re enjoying the book and I can’t wait to meet them next month.
While I read and work with Week Two of TAW, I’m diligent about writing my Morning Pages and hard at work on The Laments, my second novel set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, 1927 to be exact. I haven’t written as many blog posts this year because I’m usually dealing with similar issues and thoughts in my Morning Pages. I don’t know why it’s an either-or situation for me; it just is. And I’m okay with that. The Laments is coming along nicely, and again, I am in love with my story and the unique characters.
During one of my February Artist Dates, I bought a sleek, black Waterman fountain pen (my second) and beautiful, cold-pressed D’Arche watercolor paper. The sun is shining today and Spring will arrive on March 19, at 11:50 pm. I’ve purchased my airline tickets for Puerto Rico and our Airbnb reservations on the island are secured. I’m happy. I hope you are, too.
I guess I did have a lot to say today. Happy creating!
Eleanor x

Me in March 2020

 

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

 

 

 

Summer 2019 Update

Happy Summer to you, dear reader!

Me at the wedding June 2019

June was a special month of much joy and long-awaited reunions with my family. In early June, I enjoyed six fun-filled days with my daughter, my son, and his girlfriend in Capon Bridge, WV after their year in Asia. We kayaked and fished on the Great Cacapon River; cooked together and enjoyed Portuguese wines (courtesy of my son and his girlfriend); laughed and hugged, and made new memories. 🧡

Last week, I spent four fun days in Maryland with a cousin and my sister before her daughter tied the knot, and this past weekend, our family members and friends traveled from MA, OH, GA, MD, and VA to share the joy at my niece’s beautiful wedding ceremony and fun-filled reception at Celebrations at the Bay in Pasadena, Maryland with breathtaking views of the Bay at sunset. It was magical. My Polish/Russian and Puerto Rican clans sure can party and party, we did!

Last night, my son and his girlfriend flew back to Asia. Of course, as a mom, I have mixed emotions about that, but they are happy, so I am happy for them. My daughter is thinking about new adventures herself, especially about joining me in visiting my son and his lovely girlfriend in Thailand this fall. We are excited to see them again!

So life goes on, and I do what I always do—take off enough time during the summer months to enjoy life and my loved ones. And to make sure my second book, The Laments, (published next year) is the best novel possible, I will be working with someone special, with whom I’ve wanted to work with for a few years now. More details about that later!

Enjoy your summer and your families, my friends, and keep calling your state representatives—No more family separations at the border! Reunite the families!

Note to self: Learn how to apply lashes before the wedding day 🙂

Be well and be happy.

Eleanor x

Book Release Day!

It’s Book Release Day for A DECENT WOMAN!

Available Now on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

https://amzn.to/2TMjop9

_Deep with delicious detail, scrumptious characters, and full of folklore, this is a unique debut novel._ - Jack Remick, writer (1)

Pre-order A Decent Woman!

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

Dear Friends and Readers,

I have some long-awaited and exciting book news to share – the Kindle edition of my newly-edited novel, A DECENT WOMAN, is available for pre-order today! The Amazon release day for both the Kindle edition and the paperback with the new cover is March 20, 2019!

In the past, you might have seen two other covers of this book on Amazon, and that’s because this is the third printing. Yes, it happens in the book world. I imagine this is what it feels like to send a child off into the world, only to have them return home…twice before. Smile. #shepersisted

https://amzn.to/2F84n8a

So technically, I’m not a debut author, but it sure feels like it with this newly-edited book. The story has not changed, by the way, and in my humble opinion, it’s a better read. What a treat, what a gift, and what a journey. #shepersevered

A big thank you to Jessica Kristie and Winter Goose Publishing for putting my first novel back in reader’s hands, where it belongs. A special thank you to my sister, an ace proofreader, whom I owe dinner and drinks in Puerto Rico when we travel back to nuestra isla querida this summer.

From January 2019 to a few days ago, I read the manuscript, from page one to the end, eight times. I read, edited, and rewrote until my weary eyes went blurry and added a surprise wedding suggested by a lovely reviewer, thank you!

I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for this long winter that has kept me focused and out of the flower and vegetable gardens.

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

I’m grateful to my family, friends, and to readers, who embraced Ana, her lifelong friend Serafina, and the cast of characters of A Decent Woman, which garnered two literary awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. I couldn’t be happier that local and national book clubs chose the book and that readers continue to share their love of Ana’s story with their family and friends, and with me.

Now I buckle down to finish my second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico. The characters, Sister Inmaculada, Fray Ignacio, Doctor White, and the tiny community at the leprosarium on Isla de Cabras are more than ready to be presented to readers. I hope to finish the book later this year.

For those who’ve kindly asked, there is a sequel to A Decent Woman; it’s called Mistress of Coffee. The story continues in the mountains of Jayuya and in Ponce, Puerto Rico and will include events that led to the Ponce Massacre, which occurred on Palm Sunday, 1937. I am ten chapters in. #neverbored

Muchísimas gracias for your continued support and friendship!

Eleanor Parker Sapia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning historical 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. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015, and Eleanor is proud to be featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and poet, Eleanor is currently working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1926 Puerto Rico.

When Eleanor is not writing, she tends her garden, travels, reads, and tells herself she will walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. Eleanor is the mother of two amazing, adult children and she lives in her adopted state of West Virginia.

Cover Reveal: A DECENT WOMAN

I’m thrilled to share the new cover of A DECENT WOMAN!

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

The story of midwife Ana Belén, her lifelong friend Serafina Martínez, and the women of turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, is coming soon in paperback and e-book, republished by Winter Goose Publishing.

la jungla beach

I searched high and low for an image that reminded me of Ana, the heroine. To me, the image is not only how I envision Ana in her white tignon; it also expresses the mystery, loneliness, tenderness, sensuality, strength, courage, and mysticism that is Ana.

la receta y cosas de la botanica

I was grateful for the opportunity to reread my debut novel, which, of course, encouraged me to rewrite several chapters in the book. Encouraged? Who am I kidding? I can’t read anything without editing it.

As a special surprise, the new book will feature a wedding–a request from a kind reviewer. Thank you for the lovely idea!

I look forward to seeing A Decent Woman back in reader’s hands very soon, where it belongs.

Thank you, readers!

Eleanor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Greetings!

christmas tree coffee

Holiday greetings to you!

The time has come to reflect on the past year and to acknowledge events in my writing life and my personal life. There have been challenges and setbacks, and plenty of wonderful surprises and great book news with my first novel, A Decent Woman, and my work-in-progress, The Laments. I am grateful for it all!

Book News:

In early 2018, I finally “broke into” my Belgian writing desk with the missing key and discovered more than 30 poems I’d carefully stashed while finishing my first novel. It was a thrilling moment for me. Now I have a fun writing project in the wings, which I will tackle in 2019. I didn’t cause much damage to the keyhole, but the letter opener is kaput—a small price to pay for a stash of poems!

At the beginning of March, my second publisher, Scarlet River Press, closed their doors. I was thrilled for their new adventures but sad that A Decent Woman was no longer for sale on Amazon. Luckily for me, a friend and fellow author kindly offered me a tip and by August, I’d signed with Winter Goose Publishing. I’m happy to say they will republish A Decent Woman in early 2019 with a new book cover (my third).

winter goose publishing logo

I enjoyed rereading A Decent Woman and getting it ready for the editor. Although I didn’t make any changes to the story, I was grateful for the opportunity to fix typos and finesse sentences, and for visiting with my beloved characters, Ana and Serafina. I’m grateful Winter Goose Publishing will also publish my second novel, The Laments, in early Fall 2019. I look forward to receiving the editor’s changes and suggestions, as well as thinking about the new cover, which is always exciting. I very much look forward to working with WGP in the coming years.

Now, if you’re a writer and you’re like me, you’ll appreciate that while I was extremely happy to sign with a third publisher in such a short time, it was a stressful, anxious, and distracting period of time. My second historical novel, The Laments, still a work-in-progress, had to be put on hold a few times while things were sorted out. At that time, the WIP was two-thirds finished, right at the point where the words were flowing nicely, the research nearly complete, and I was getting into the writing groove. Unfortunately, I’ve never been great at multi-tasking when it comes to writing—when I’m writing, I’m writing. I write best with blinders on and distractions give my inner child a chance to binge-watch shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Guilty as charged. I’ve now finished Season One and Two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Goliath, and I’m excited for The Crown to begin in January. It’s historical fiction, so I put that under ‘Research’.

HistoricalFiction Centro de PR image

In October, the Center of Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY, kindly invited me to sit on a historical fiction panel. Despite a heavy downpour that evening, there was a full house and wonderful discussions about reaching/teaching new audiences for historical fiction; in this case, Puerto Rican history. I was proud to participate and happy to share the table with two talented and enthusiastic Puerto Rican authors–Dr. Virginia Sanchez-Korrol and Dr. Vanessa Perez-Rosario, who moderated the event.

From the flyer — “Two authors speak about their books using historical fiction to relate the female narrative in the 19th Century (one in NYC and the other in Puerto Rico). Dr. Virgina Sanchez-Korrol’s newest book “The Season of Rebels and Roses” is a historical novel for teens which follows women’s involvement in the nineteenth-century independence movements to free Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spain.  Eleanor Parker Sapia’s first novelA Decent Woman”, a 2016 & 2017 International Latino Book Award winner, is set against the combustive backdrop of 19th century Ponce, Puerto Rico. The book explores the battle of two women from different backgrounds who defend their dignity against the pain of betrayal in a male-dominated society resistant to change.”

Personal News:

In April, I spent two fabulous weeks in Puerto Rico with my sister. We enjoyed three wonderful days in Old San Juan without our rental car being towed (very limited parking in OSJ!), and finally, I made it to Isla de Cabras, the setting of my second book, The Laments. What a thrill to explore the ruins of the old leprosarium, walk the islet, and to speak with an older gentleman, who shared fascinating historical tidbits with me, “For the book!”

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Sadly, the after-effects of Hurricane Maria were still evident on the islet and on the mainland as we drove along the coasts and through mountain towns with non-working traffic lights, piles of debris, abandoned homes, and hundreds of blue FEMA tarps. Everyone we met had a story. We listened with constricted hearts and tears, but there was also hope for better days and joy as we swam in beautiful waters and enjoyed wonderful meals. We made new memories with family and friends in Ponce, and as always, we missed Puerto Rico and our family as soon as we boarded our flight back to the DC area. It’s a horrible feeling to leave mi isla. I feel as if I’m leaving my mother, grandparents, my family, and ancestors, all over again, until the next visit.

In August, my intrepid son and his girlfriend decided to travel throughout Asia for a few months. They managed to escape the monsoons and heavy floods in India and two major typhoons in the Philippines and Taiwan before returning to Thailand, where they intend to stay for three more months. While I’m happy for them and I love the photographs and stories they’ve shared of their adventures, the stress levels are a bit higher than usual at home, smile. Before he left on his adventure, my brilliant son developed an app he says I won’t understand and still owns an IT company, so I know he won’t starve.

In a few months, my daughter, a brilliant therapist who lives and works in Northern Virginia, will receive her licensure after years of study (a Masters degree in Mental Health) and hard work. She is well-deserving and we couldn’t be happier for her or more proud of her. Her clients and supervisors love her and of course, I already knew they would, smile. My daughter is happy and in love, so the world looks rosy and hopeful. We look forward to our first trip to Thailand next year to visit my son and his girlfriend. I’m one proud Mama!

After seven years of living in this old house, I’m painting again, walls, that is. I’m tackling one room at a time and I stop when my shoulders tell me to quit. It’s slow going, but I’ll get there. And with winter in full swing and writing full-time, let’s face it; it’s the only exercise I get! My Chihuahua named Sophie still snoozes in a chair next to me as I write. I can’t imagine life without her.

Dear Reader, I wish you and your family a safe, happy, and blessed holiday season and all the best in 2019. This time of year is tough for many, so please reach out to others who might need a smiling face, a little conversation, or an invitation to share a holiday meal. I’ll be doing the same in my neck of the woods.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the “new” edition of A Decent Woman and the release of The Laments. I hope you’ll like my books as much as I enjoy writing them.

A tip: If you subscribe to my writing blog and my website, you’ll get new book news much quicker, smile. Thank you in advance.

Happy Holidays!

Eleanor x