No part of our lives is wasted. Thoughts on writing and research.

I had the hardest time picking a major in college.

Everything interested me.

(Well, except for math.)



Just ask my roomate from back in those days.

From medicine to literature, political science to genetics, journalism to plant biology…there is so much wonder in the world…and so much to wonder at…how could I possibly choose just one thing to focus on for the rest of my life?

While I used to feel inadequate about my indecisiveness, I’m finally realizing I’m wired this way for a reason, and that writing novels is the ultimate and wonderful culmination of all my passions.

When I write a story, I can be whoever, wherever, and whenever I want

I can live on a pecan farm in Alabama (How Sweet the Sound). I can be a nationally renowned jewelry artist in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or South Haven, Michigan, or a Jewish boy escaping Eastern Europe in 1904 (Then Sings My Soul). I can be a dairy farmer or a pastor and live in a small town (Lead Me Home).

And all of that takes research.

Glorious, wonderful research in libraries and online, in documentaries and journals, and even in my own back yard.

I have books on pecan farming and I’ve spent hours watching pecan farmers on YouTube. 

I have binders full of lapidary design and stacks of books on rocks and minerals.

I’ve spent hours at my cousin’s dairy farm and I even hauled my family north to South Haven, Michigan one spring break when they’d have much preferred to go south.

And now I’m at it again.

I can’t say a whole lot about the current novel I’m working on, but here’s a stack of some of the reference books I’m using. The fiction ones you see are there not because of the subject, but because I’m studying those authors’ writing styles. You’ll also notice books on the writing craft, wildlife, and more.

Last week I even went on a wonderful field trip to spend a couple of hours interviewing a woman who is a wildlife rehabilitator. (So much fun!!!)

I hope you’ll be able to see the fruits of my current research sometime in 2018. Until then, I’ll share bits and pieces like this.

Mostly, I wanted to encourage you today to know that even though some seasons of our lives don’t make sense, no parts are wasted. Not even the painful parts. 

I agree with Carrie Fisher, who said to, “take your broken heart, and make it into art.”

All things work together, after all. 

That truth is more evident the more I learn, whether studying the life cycle of a pecan or the intricacies of a gemstone; the incredible instincts of rabbits and squirrels to care for their young; the way monarchs migrate for miles and across generations; the birds of prey and ducks who mate for life; and the ability of nature to heal itself. 

We live in a pretty amazing world, don’t we?

So, this is a glimpse into my writing life and what I’m working on at the start of 2017. 

It’s great fun.

It’s a lot of hard work.

And most of all–best of all–the results are a gift to you, dear readers. 

What about you?

What are you working on this year?

If you are a writer, do you like research? Why or why not?

start off. a proverbial poem for parents.

start off with

the only thing more awkward than a classroom full of middle schoolers

is a classroom full of their parents.

knees knocking

under squashed desks

anxious feelings of their own,

ancient and sometimes tragic inadequacies clashing

with the hopeful success and aspirations of their goofy, lanky, gawkish kids.

back to school.

meet the teacher.

who stands before us and says his oldest–a preschooler–started school today, too.


this teacher-parent says,

he knows how we must feel.


he asks

does it ever get better?

do the tears ever separate from the release?

and I shake my head.


the release never gets better.

never an ease about letting a child go.

no matter how big and brawny

solid and sure

he becomes.

all that love

and time

and reddened droplets of fervent prayers

may grow lonely

or transform into

the springtime of another generation

trained up

but never released

from the prayers of those from whom they turn.

 “Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

~Proverbs 22:6~


gold free summer

The yellow goldfinch sits on the edge of the feeder, talons clinging to the sure source of food.

Meanwhile, the fire from last night’s revelry still smolders, smokey remnants of a school year rising into the unknown clear.

Heat of summer presses down already and too soon, and we run into the free weight of it happy and relieved.