Well, 2017 was a dumpster fire of a year. I’ve honestly never been so tired of social media, so fried on blogging, so inclined to hide out in a fictional Vermont town.

That said, it was also the year I turned 40, the year my son reached double digits, our return to Disney World, and the year I officially made Thornton a series of novels, not just a novel and some “bulges.” (That’s Diana Gabaldon’s term for the stories that bulge out from the main narrative, and I like it.)

I’ve got some concrete goals for 2018, both writing-related and personally. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but they boil down to more words for you, more balanced me. They’re mostly born from failures from years past and lessons learned. I’ve screwed up more than a few things, but there were some amazing successes, and it’s time to take the reckoning and move forward.

Twice today, I typed “onward!” in conversations with online friends. Twice, before I realized that’s the word, the guiding word for 2018.


I’m sure things will get lost, I like the idea that they will be found by those who come behind, and I will pick things up, too, as I go. Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia is one of my favorite plays, has been since I worked the tech crew for a college production, then took a class on the maths and physics of Stoppard’s plays. Septimus Hodge said it far more eloquently than I, so onward I go.

I hope you’ll stick with me. I like having you here.

Et In Arcadia Ego

Joanie, saw this and thought of you. Who else could I think of? “Yes. We must hurry if we’re going to dance.” – PS, watch the flame.

It wasn’t her father’s tiny, square lettering. This was the hasty scrawl of a passionate man. Marguerite dropped the unfolded page of college ruled paper on the table. Like it’s hot, she thought, suppressing a ridiculous giggle.

When she’d asked her mother if there was anything she could bring, she’d expected a list: the red sweatshirt-bathrobe, her Chanel #5, a Russel Stover sampler, the new Linda Lael Miller. Anything but this.

The endless tests, the needles and fluid lines were taking their toll, and Marguerite sensed her mother drawing inward.

“On the shelf above my writing desk,” Joan had said to her daughter, eyes glittering with pain and some emotion Marguerite couldn’t define, “there is a book, a play. Arcadia, Tom Stoppard. ”

The book lay splayed out on the floor. Marguerite had opened it, intrigued by its plainness. A paper bound Samuel French script, like a dozen she’d used in high school and college, pale blue, like an exam book. She’d flipped to the beginning, skipping the first billings and the dramatis personae, and spent nearly an hour, curled like a quotation mark over the kitchen counter, swept into the play.

When her phone shrilled she’d dropped the book, the note fluttering and skittering across the linoleum like a wounded moth.

“Yes. We must hurry if we’re going to dance.” She’d nearly torn a few pages, feverishly skimming for the quotation, certain it would be in the play. There in the final pages, a young Regency woman in bare feet, waltzing with her tutor by candlelight on the eve of her seventeenth birthday. Watch the flame.

Who else could I think of? Marguerite’s chest tightened. In her thirty-two years, no one had ever spoken such casually devoted words to her.

Joanie. No one was allowed to call her mother Joanie. Not even Dad. And it wasn’t her father’s tiny, square lettering.


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodInspired by Angela’s return to longhand, and the more personal, less-distracted feelings she derives from putting pen to paper, your prompt is this:

A stand-alone scene, fiction or memoir, in 500 words or less, involving a handwritten letter.