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Countdown to THE SPIRIT PROJECTOR’s 2nd Birthday

Come February 4th, my debut novel turns 2! I’m busy working on the second book in the trilogy, with the goal of a mid-late 2022 publication.

I’ve set some benchmarks to help me reach my goal and will be posting here on a more regular basis to keep myself on track.

Stay tuned!!!

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Nov-Ember Writing Spark: A Challenge to Fire Up Your Writing Goals

I don’t know about you, my friends, but I lacked motivation and inspiration to write during the last year and a half. I had the time (plenty of it), and yet my creativity seemed burnt out.

Then an unexpected trip to a local park a few weeks ago inspired me to write two new chapters of book two in my YA Fantasy trilogy. ✏️✏️✏️ I gazed out at the lake, the sunlight dancing across the Fall leaves and water’s surface, and felt energized.

I’ve since written two more chapters, and want to keep up the momentum. With November being the major month for writing challenges, I decided to create one to help spark some writing inspiration.

DETAILS

Create an individualized writing Spark Sheet (aka Goal List) for the month of November; the intention being to ignite creativity. Push past your comfort zone and write for the love of it.

Revisit a work in progress from years ago, or create a new one altogether. Write at your own pace – let inspiration guide you!

FOR EXAMPLE: Set a Goal to…

  • Write {insert number here} hours per week.
  • Put yourself in an environment that interests you.
  • Go to a local park, museum, or holiday festival.
  • Find a writers’ group/research info on a writing conference.
  • Use the weekly prompts (to be posted each Monday in November)

Your individual writing goals may change as you move through the month, and that’s OK! Try not to overthink the process.

If anyone wants to share what their Spark Sheet looks like, please do! It just may inspire a fellow writer. Don’t compare your goals with another’s. This is about your writing needs.

I’ll post a new writing prompt each Monday (starting Nov 1st), and a “check-in” on Fridays.

Kelly’s Sample

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Mommy Marcia: A Love Letter on Mother’s Day 2021

Three generations of love and loss

My mother is resiliency personified. Strength, determination, and the embodiment of “keep moving forward”. She’s known grief I’ve never had to endure; losing her father, stepfather, and mother all by the time she was 32 and then burying her eldest child a few years ago. Through all of her 60+ years, my mom keeps moving forward, weights unseen though certainly carried.

She raised four daughters while her husband’s career required long hours and frequent travel, and did so outside of the community in which she was raised – different from her mother and grandmothers before her. My mother grew up with her cousins as playmates and best friends, large family gatherings, and a quieter lifestyle. After marriage, she moved from the mining/farming ancestral home to the Philly suburbs of her husband’s family. She raised us in a household of love, peace, structure, and comfort. Never did I ever doubt her love for us or her ability to be both a fierce protector and nurturer.

 My mother gives of her time, energy, and love with everything she has – rarely asking for anything in return. She just gets stuff done, and if you don’t do something quick enough, then she’s gonna end up doing it because you took too long. She will do whatever she can to lessen her daughters’ anxiety, stress, or worry sometimes to the point of exhausting herself when she thinks we don’t notice. She rarely asks for help likely because she’s spent so much of her life getting things done herself, without a backup system.

She’s kind, thoughtful, funny, and strict when needed. She braids her granddaughters’ hair, drives her 90+ year-old neighbor to her doctors’ appointments, and makes birthday cakes by scratch. She’d buy extra holiday gifts while teaching so that no child felt left out. She thinks of and puts others before herself, unless it’s a Friday night pre-COVID cause then she’s out shopping at the mall and watching a murder mystery episode.

As much as she is gentle and nurturing, Mama D can be fiercely stubborn. She once unplugged the TV and turned it around because she’d figured out that was why I asked to stay home from school. While she’ll help her grandkids with their fairy gardens, she’ll also hide their semi-smart phones so that they find something else to occupy their time. She will confront her adult children in the face of mental illness concerns and help them face a future path that’s not always easy but worth the journey forward.

I love my mother for all the reasons stated above, but mainly for her unflinching strength in the midst of grief. She’s mourned the passing of her beloved parents (her father when she was but 16) and placed her daughter’s ashes in the same cemetery plot where her mother rests. Others may have crumbled from life’s struggles, but not Mommy Marcia/Marsha. She kept moving forward with her arms open and her heart fierce.

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Unshelve the Writer: a 7-Week Writing Challenge

Calling fellow writers! I don’t know about you, but writing during this past year has been quite challenging; my level of motivation near non-existent. I needed a boost of inspiration and thought back to when I created writing/artistic spirit challenges to keep myself motivated (111-Day Artistic Spirit Pledge). “I should do that again,” I decided! When I chatted with my library colleagues, some of whom also have a passion to write, they loved the idea of a writing challenge. And so, UNSHELVE THE WRITER: A 7-Week Writing Challenge took form! ✍️✍️📚

Each Monday, starting April 12th 2021, we will post the coming week’s theme (i.e. poetry, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Creative Non-Fiction, Romance/Comedy) in the form of a downloadable document for your convenience.

Visit my HOME page to see the full details and to access the prompts each week.

Join fellow writers as we challenge one another to keep developing our skills and inspire others to nurture the writer within. Share the link and keep the inspiration flowing with #UnshelveTheWriter on social media.

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Aunt Betty Deeny: Our Very Own Valentine

My paternal Great-Aunt Betty would have turned 104 years old today, and she would have been none too pleased to have reached such a milestone!

Elizabeth “Betty” Deeny was a woman strong in mind, spirit, and heart – fitting given her birth occurred on Valentine’s Day. Aunt Betty never married or had children, but she adored her siblings’ offspring – and they reciprocated her affection. My memories of her are plentiful in number and meaningful in their lasting effect on my life. We’d travel from the Philly suburbs to Cape May Courthouse, NJ at least once a year to visit with my dad’s beloved aunt. This was a house where Aunt Betty lived with and cared for her mother until my great-grandmother’s passing in 1987. She remained in that quaint, but treasured home, for more than a decade until she relocated to be closer to her nieces and nephews in Pennsylvania.

I don’t have many role models in my life, because I firmly believe that we should strive to be a reflection of our best self and not of another. However, there are people I’ve known along my life’s journey whose choices, personality, and experience inspire me; Aunt Betty was one of those individuals. She was well-read, intelligent, deeply spiritual, and unafraid to voice her political opinion.  Aunt Betty proudly talked about being one of the few women surrounded by men in the workforce when she worked for the Department of Agriculture in the 1950s. Later in her career, she worked for the Small Business Administration.  

Aunt Betty in her element

I didn’t know Aunt Betty well, and that was my doing. For though I loved and respected my elders, I also felt uncomfortable and inferior. They were like the antique furniture in the home, revered from afar but too precious for me to venture close enough to. I sat back and let my parents ask the questions and discuss current events whenever we visited Aunt Betty. I look back now and recognize the moment I opened my eyes to all the magnificence of my grandfather’s sister. She sat next to my father at own dining room table, this keeper of the family stories, and paged through the ancestral photos my dad had scanned for her – reliving the past and gracing us with the gift of our history.

As Aunt Betty’s mind tired, after decades of extensive and thorough use, she no longer recognized the majority of her family – save for her darling niece Mary whose unwavering love and diligent care remained constant throughout Betty’s failing health. When we were notified that Betty’s time on earth was soon to end, we rushed to her side. I shan’t forget that day for though her body displayed a woman exhausted and frail, I knew that her spirit was just as fiery as it always was. I sat next to her (her eyes never opening) and read from a collection of Irish poems. I closed my eyes, reached my hand to my mother who sat by my side and prayed. In that moment I smiled, because I felt that we were not alone; Aunt Betty’s brothers and sisters who’d passed on before her now stood at the foot of her bed, silhouettes of mist there to accompany Betty to the next adventure.

In the decade since her passing, I’ve frequently paged through Betty’s photo albums – the spark that lit my genealogical flame. I’ve made connections with the distant Deeny relations still in Ireland, thanks to the correspondence she had with them decades prior. Aunt Betty may have been a Valentine’s Day gift, but the love she bestowed upon us is the beating heart of our family. If I never marry or have children, I can only hope that my role as Aunt Kelly is as treasured and beloved as it was for Aunt Betty. One day, I will write her story. I just wish I’d ask the questions long ago. Wherever she is and whatever she’s doing, maybe she’ll spare some time to assist this writer.

We love you, our beautiful Valentine!

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY POEM: Ancestral Connections

Leaving footprints only

The soul’s eye can see

We live in and out

Of your concept of time

Living many lives

In the course of one

We glisten like light dancing

Across the river’s surface

Beauty in color, light and darkness

Sound, music, rhythm

Art painting the spirit

Soaring, floating, existing in between your consciousness

We traverse many planes and cultures

Languages blending into a universal one

Kissed by love eternal

We are magnificent in all our flaws,

Scars revealed to the wind

And healing the soul in time’s pace

We are not perfect, but perfection indeed.

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Authorship – A Love Story

Not everyone will love my debut novel – such a statement is not a self-defeating one; it’s one based in realism. THE SPIRIT PROJECTOR is a love story in its subplot, yes, but more so a romance of the author and the words I chose.

I did not set out to win a race or compete against others. I wrote the story inside me calling to the artist within. I crafted visuals I could stand to envision, settings I could imagine living in, and characters whose presence would be welcome. The journey towards publication was a personal one – full of stumbles, doubts, and rewrites. Through all of the “will anyone love it as I do?” wonderings, I came up with all the possible critiques future reviewers might draft. The people pleaser part of my personality caused me to worry so intensely of being judged as a failure that I held on tight to a project I loved.

Rejection in love keeps me from opening my heart – my writing is a reflection of who I am and what I love. TSP is me opening my heart to the world, hopeful that others will embrace it, and thus me, as it is; flaws intact. Letting go and trusting others with the very essence of me remains one of the scariest moments of my life. I could’ve continued to assume all of the negative responses possible or trust that someone, somewhere, would understand what I was trying to achieve – and thus, understand the core of who I am.

Self-love and pride carried me through the initial excitement of debut publication. I felt beautiful, worthy, and loved. And then, slowly but surely, the rose-colored glasses faded to clear and reality set in; not everyone will love THE SPIRIT PROJECTOR. They will find faults, lose interest, and move on to another. My debut creation contains errors, reveals a tangential mind, and a fantastical ideal of love. I’m okay with that. In accepting TSP with all its flaws and beauty, I discovered my own. Not everyone will understand nor love me – especially if I keep my heart closed; to expect any different is irrational. However, the ones who do – they are the keepers; the friends, family, and romantic mates meant to walk alongside as we navigate this life.

I am proud of what I created, typos and simplicity included. I embrace once again the artistic spirit within and the beautiful woman inside and out.  I look forward to meeting the man who loves both the book and the author.

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Aunt Reba and Me: Kindred Spirits 53 Years Apart

Due to a variety of circumstances, I knew very little about my paternal grandmother’s family growing up. All I knew was that it was rooted deep in our family lore that we were of Native American lineage. It’s only within the last 15 years, since I started genealogy research, that I discovered that the family lore was just a tale (thanks a lot, AncestryDNA 😉) and that so many factual stories were there for the telling. When I discovered that my paternal great-grandmother had a half-sister born on the same month and day as me, well, I’ve been fascinated with Aunt Reba ever since.

Reba – pre teen

In May of 1924, my aunt Rebecca “Reba” DeYoung entered the world and made a positive impact on those around her. You only need read the comments from her sister’s son (who lived with Aunt Reba and his grandparents) to confirm.

“At the age of 25, Reba bought us our first car and took driving lessons and learned how to drive…Reba had also bought a house and we would now have a home of our own for the first time and I would have my own bedroom.”

From writings of George E. Chapman, 2008

My Aunt Reba never married, resided with her parents, and was close with her family – a path I see myself walking five decades later.

I had no image to match with her name, because I’d never met (to my knowledge) my grandmother’s mother or aunts and uncles. Plus, there are limited family photos of that side of my family tree. Aunt Reba was a mystery to me, until this past year when a distant cousin reached out to me via a genealogical site. He found a whole collection of family photos of my direct branch of the tree and generously sent them to me. I finally, finally, met my great-grandmother, her siblings, and the woman who stills intrigues me – Aunt Reba.

Aunt Reba

According to her nephew, George Chapman, Reba was an important part of his life – as he recorded a decade ago in writings for his children and grandchildren; a copy of which his daughter-in-law shared with me a few years back. George’s grandma Nina and Aunt Reba were close according to his writings – and the family photos I recently received include many pictures of them together. George recollected with his Aunt Reba before her death about their time growing up as they were but nine years apart in age.

I see her smiling face in the treasured photos and feel a kindred spirit looking back. Perhaps next year, once we’ve slowly found our new normal, I’ll travel to Michigan and visit the places important to Aunt Reba. To pay my respects and honor a woman much like myself. Learning about the women who came before me reaffirms my confidence in the woman I have become. I am honored to share their roots and will continue to tell their stories. Happy birth day, Aunt Reba, and may your spirit be full of love wherever it now calls home.

[Sidenote: I named one of the characters in my debut novel, THE SPIRIT PROJECTOR, Rebekah before I knew about Aunt Reba. The fact that the real person was also a beloved family member, maternal figure to the next generation, and full of joy fits in perfectly with the character who became my favorite (shh, authors do have favorite characters).]

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United We Stand Back Up

We are all navigating through the current global health crisis the best way we know how – for ourselves, our loved ones, and the greater community. Our concerns vary according to the immediate needs before us. Some are scared and don’t know when they’ll next be paid (how will they put food on the table or provide for their family), others feel their rights are being infringed upon and want to take their life in their hands – certain their choices won’t impact others.

We’re dealing with the issues facing us in individual ways and yet what may benefit us in the short term may cause serious ramifications in the not-too-distant future. We are the United States of America, trying to form a more perfect union.

Photo credit: Kelly Deeny / Flag from Flags of Valor

In the most challenging of times, when we’re at our most vulnerable, our country becomes stronger when we unite as one; when we acknowledge our differences and unite under a common goal. We won’t all agree about how much government should be involved in our choices or who should receive tax breaks, but we can come together to save the lives of our countrymen and women.

Glimpses of our best selves are all around us: Teachers sitting on a student’s driveway to read to them, groups of community members making/donating masks and other PPE for medical professionals, business oweners coming up with innovative ways to safely provide their services, and everyday Americans following the advice of leaders in the medical/scientific/infectious disease fields.

From South Dakota to Pennsylvania, California’s coast to the Great Lakes, we will overcome what ails us if we agree to disagree and find common ground. If we cannot, I worry the foundation built over 240 years ago will crumble beheath us.

Stay strong. Stay alert. Stay home. Stay the United States of America!

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Debut Novel Coming Jan 2020!

I did it, friends! My debut novel is in the self-publishing process – with a tentative release date of January 2020.

TSP blog announcement image

Those of you who’ve followed along on this journey likely recall my many claims of “finishing” my book; draft after draft after draft. I held it tight, afraid no one could love it as much as I did. What if no one likes it? What if no one reads it? Will critics tear it to pieces? Do any of those questions warrant answers?

To quote one of my characters, “I chose to control that which I could.” I love the story, the tone, the mystical feel of what I created. The characters came to life and will live with me until my spirit and body part – probably even longer.

This novel is a tribute to that which inspires me: genealogy, fairy tales, magic, and love. It’s a story focused on internal conflict, on obligations and expectations, and finding strength through love of self.

I am currently awaiting the proofs for the text, e-book, and book cover. If all goes smoothly, the novel will be published within a month’s time.

I’ll update soon once I have a concrete timeline for publication and pre-sale!!!

Exciting Update: Working on a New Project

Hold on to your pencils, my fellow artistic spirits, ’cause I’m working on a special project! This new venture is in its infancy, but I’m realllllly excited.

All I’ll say is…if you enjoy reading the Motivational Monday poems, you might want to stay tuned for more exciting news in the weeks and months to come!

Days 22 & 23 of the Love Write Now Pledge

LOVE

LOVE

LOVE

Our world’s wounded in ways I can’t comprehend nor heal, and yet I yearn to help. What can one person do in the midst of so much chaos, hatred, and intolerance? Learn and love – that’s a perfect place for me to start.

I do not claim to be a learned individual on topics of politics or religion and philosophical discussions make me sleepy; however, I’m actively changing the above through a love of reading.

I’m asking questions, re-examining long-held perspectives, and seeking a more diverse voice in both fiction and non. At times, the injustices of the world overwhelm me into inaction, and that’s unacceptable from this point forward.

So, I’ll keep writing as a source of clarity in chaos and reading as much as I can to expand my perspectives.

Days 19-21 of the Love Write Now Pledge

Unless I pull myself together and write roughly 1,500 words daily over the course of 37 days, I won’t reach my goal of a finished draft (second book) by April 1st.

I don’t always see goals through to completion: it’s an issue I’m very much aware of. Why do I give up so easily? Lack of confidence? Doubt? Laziness? Poor work ethic? Or perhaps I’m afraid of success more than the safety net of failure.

I wear the label of Writer comfortably, though sometimes the label’s more faded than bejeweled. I write as a source of healing, introspection, and artistic inspiration. I seek to create stories that spark the imagination while providing readers with an opportunity for reflection.

I write because I love the art and act of it; the way the pencil dances across the paper or how my fingers float on a keyboard. I write because it makes me feel part of something profound – an unseen connection between spirit and mind.

So then why haven’t I been writing lately? I lost the passion in the midst of chasing a self-imposed deadline. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

I’m resetting my artistic spirit on this “Twosday”, grounded in the present as I write forward.

Days 17 & 18 of the Love Write Now Pledge

I’m more a Spring kind of girl, and yet, most of my creative inspiration this week has come from Winter’s beauty.

I created a winter wonderland in the draft of my second book, watched documentaries about the Nordic regions, and took pictures of ice crystals on my windshield.

I’ve learned to be more present, aware of what I see, hear, and feel. It’s so easy to get immersed in the busyness of life; stopping to smell a rose just isn’t productive.

And yet, I needed such a moment. The world seems so big and every decision a daunting one, but when I stare through my camera phone at the intricacies of ice, I feel amazed. By science, nature’s magic, an unseen yet felt spirituality.

Days 15 & 16 of the Love Write Now Pledge

Two days ago I wrote about my issues with low self-esteem, and it’s taken 48 hours for me to knock it the heck off! 😉 Sooooo, today’s blog post entry is a celebration of ME. Not in a “Look at me” way; more like “I’m awesome even when I don’t feel awesome.”

I’m Awesome Because…

  • I love musicals
  • I believe in fairy tales
  • I’m empathetic
  • I use turn signals
  • Puns are my friends
  • I write, sing, and make jewelry

That list is but a sampling of what makes me, me. I encourage you to do the same, especially if you are also struggling with low self esteem.

Day 14 of the Love Write Now Pledge

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with self-doubt and low self-esteem. I see a scarred woman in the mirror who’s pretty but not beautiful, artistic not talented, and content but not fulfilled.

I see my beauty when I’m my most joyful and passionate; when I am in my element. my head, and countless self-help mantras, remind me that I AM beautiful. I AM worthy. I AM loved. Yes, quite true! However, knowing it and feeling it are rather different.

I imagine many of you out there experience the same dilemma. Just in case you need a reminder, you are beautiful and worthy of love!

Days 12 & 13 of the Love Write Now Pledge

I spent yesterday and today surrounded by that which I love: family, writing, books, and genealogy.

Between watching my 7-year-old niece cheat at basic card games and breaking through a genealogical brick wall, I fell asleep with joy and pride in my heart.

Today, Valentine’s Day, I shared this day with some of my favorite people. My current “Valentines” are my family and friends – those whom I love and who love me unconditionally.

I guard my heart when it comes to romance, which is why I’ve yet to delve into that aspect of love. I’m fulfilled with the love of family, friends, and art – that’s plenty worth celebrating!

Day 11 of the Love Write Now Pledge

Every now and again, when in need of a writing boost, I seek out the beauty of nature. Such was the case today!

I found a bench near a nearby lake, gazed out on the frozen water, and felt refreshed. I wrote feverishly as seagulls squawked and the crisp wind blew, reminded that beauty exists everywhere.

Suddenly, inspiration came swift and a new chapter of my book began. I envisioned my main character (Graysea) on a frozen lake, visiting a Nordic-esque ancestral homeland. I infused color, sound, and movement into Graysea’s environment. I’m excited to build this new fictional world.

I left the park reinvigorated in mind and body, my artistic spirit energized to keep writing!

Day 10 of the Love Write Now Pledge

Fun fact about me – I will randomly burst out in musical theatre songs. I. Love. Musicals. 🥰😍🥰🎭

My love affair with musical theatre began as a young child whose parents played soundtracks for me when I was sick. From then on, my spirit knew its home.

I’ve written many times about the various shows I adore, and you can find them over on my entertainment blog (An Entertaining Idea). There’s something so magical about sitting in a theater’s house as the music swells. It reaches me in mind, body, and soul!

As much as I love being in the audience, I love singing the songs wherever I go. Whether I’m driving with the windows down, putting away dishes, or performing for a local talent show.

I don’t claim to be Broadway ready, vocally, but the joy musical theatre gives me is life-sustaining. Singing makes me happy, and we could all benefit from more of that these days!

Day 9 of the Love Write Now Pledge

Well, it happened – I fell asleep last night without posting a Day 9 update. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️😴 So today you’ll get two for one!

I had almost the entire day to do as I wanted and yet I wrote absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Squat.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying. I opened the draft of book 2, scrolled down to where I’d left off, and stared blankly at the screen.

I kept thinking and rethinking every story idea to the point that nothing “felt” right. I allowed my head to take the lead when it’s my spirit that truly holds the pen.

Soon enough tedious tasks like laundry and doing dishes pulled my attention away throughout the day.

The past is just that; I cannot go back and write my 1,500-2,000 word goal. However, today I’ll be bringing my notebook with me to work!