Hello Friends

photo-1458925140641-48569e57da75My novel, for the purposes of my thesis, will be done tomorrow. I will submit it to my advisor, who will submit it to the department head who will then send it on to the Dean’s office. I can’t believe it!

The last few months I have been working on editing, rewriting scenes and trying to fully define what I wrote so I can describe it when people ask that much-dreaded question “So what is your novel about?”

Now, I can safely answer, “I’m working on it.”

I am so thankful for the opportunity that Dietrich College gave me to write a novel. The time and the resources provided have given me the chance to prove to myself that I can do it. But more than that, it has shown me that I love long form fiction.

This time last year, I asked my friends who were finishing their theses what they had learned during the process. One friend, who had been working on a historical-fiction novel, candidly said, “That I don’t like novels.”

That response stuck with me. But for me, this experience has been the opposite. I have emerged from this year secure in my knowledge that I really enjoyed writing my novel and I can’t wait to write another one.

I am excited to share my work at Meeting of the Minds and with all of you who have supported me through this process.

Thank you!

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Timelines Converging

I’ve been really lucky this week in that I had the opportunity to go home to North Carolina for a little while and visit my family, who I miss a lot! It’s been a great few days so far.

My mom, the biggest fan of the novel even from the time my grandfather was writing it, helped me to fill in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of my grandfather’s life (complete with a free 30-day trial at She explained a lot of the circumstances surrounding his brother Claxton’s death that I never knew. Claxton died when he was just 20 from a blood infection, a complication of an injury he sustained from jumping a train into the next town. What I didn’t fully understand is that jumping trains would have been the only affordable way for young people to make it out of the town to find work, which is what Claxton was doing. I also didn’t realize the degree to which his death divided the family. My grandfather’s mother felt that it was her husband’s fault for not earning the family enough money and therefore leading Claxton to do something desperate and reckless in search of an income.

I’ve been thinking that maybe the most notable part of this family history is the degree to which the book differs from it. The older brother, who is named Daniel in the book, dies a hero in WWII, a death that, although painful, both his parents take pride in. It’s an idealistic version of the real scenario, in which his brother’s death means something, and neither of his parents resents the other. Moving forward, I’ve wondered whether it’s more important to honor my grandfather’s wishes, and keep the novel plot as is, or whether I should alter the plot to be based more clearly on what really happened. In all honesty, I find the real story–the story of the train, the infection, and the money–to be more interesting, and I think it would make a fantastic novel plot. But I’m afraid that by changing the story, I would lose what it meant to him.

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How do you find Inspiration? You stop trying.


I’m back after my vacation on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver city. During my time there, I went hiking, surfing, caving and, of course, did some eating. At the beginning, I thought I would write during this time, just a few hours in the morning. But after the first few days, I realized that what I was trying to accomplish was both impractical and not conducive to my writing.

So, I decided to take a real vacation. I stopped trying to cram writing time into the mornings and let go. And suddenly, I was flooded with ideas. Each new experience brought me a new narrative, begging to be told. Inspiration flowed in from the peace of being below ground, seeing a chance sculpture on a walk, being pummeled by cold ocean waves and listening to the stories of the people who call Vancouver their home.

Flowstone from my caving experience.

Flowstone from my caving experience.

My mind is now filled with scenes, characters and themes from the short time I spent in Vancouver. I did not make much, if any, progress in my novel, but writing is so much easier now that I have been refreshed with all of the incredible experiences I had.

Side note:

One of the really cool things about Vancouver is that it is where Ruth Ozeki, one of my favorite authors, lives for part of the year. It is also where she chose to set her novel A Tale for the Time Being. Experiencing the natural beauty of British Columbia that she describes was breathtaking. I also found the name of A Tale for the Time Being’s main character, Nao, carved into a board on a bridge I was walking across. It has absolutely no relation to the book, as the name beside it is Mike, but it was a fun coincidence.


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