What if you did something different today?

DSC00481What if?  What if you hadn’t stayed in touch with your best friend when you moved and didn’t know today how great it was to still have her in your life?  What if you hadn’t transferred to a different college halfway through and met those amazing people?  What if you hadn’t taken that trip that led you to your soulmate?  What if you hadn’t decided to move into a house across the street from your great-grandparents and given them and your children the best years of their lives?  What if you hadn’t done something so small as to make that phone call just to say hi the day a beloved friend was suddenly taken from you?

Those little decisions that we make every day have a way of making a mark on our lives that sometimes take years to realize.  The advantage of being a writer is that we get to explore the “what ifs,” and try out all of the possibilities.  What if Susan O’Neil had never agreed to volunteer to teach a summer computer camp?  Where would Cassie and Ellie have gone for help?  It’s easy to change something in a book to create that opportunity for two people to meet and bond.  But what about in real life?  Are you open to all of life’s possibilities?  Take a chance.  Call that person you haven’t spoken to in years.  You never know when it might be your last chance.  Remember, life isn’t a novel that enables you to change the plot or the ending.

You Can’t Go Home

Morgan Home - Bushwood-001They say you can’t go home again, but I’ve never believed that was true. Until today. As a child, I spent most of my summers at my grandparents’ house on the Wicomico River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. For me, that was the happiest place on earth. Forget Disney World; the only place I wanted to be was at grandma’s house.  I happened to be “down home” today and stopped to look at the house where I spent so much of my youth.

It’s been more than 25 years since my last summer spent on my grandfather’s tobacco farm. When my daughters were little, we would go down for a week or two and spend some lazy summer days trying to recapture the magic that existed in my childhood. Although there were no more cows, and the blackberry bushes were no longer visible through the overgrowth, grandma’s house still held a certain enchantment for me. Granddad was no longer there to take us crabbing and fishing, and my great aunts who doted over me were all gone, but grandma was still there taking care of me as well as my children.

I lost my grandmother a few years ago, and the little house that my grandfather built in 1940 was spruced up and sold. I abandoned my childhood dream of buying the house for myself someday and making it the same kind of cozy little home that it had been when my mother was raised there and when I spent my wonderful summers there. The house has exchanged hands couple of times, and now its age is certainly showing.

When visiting my cousin today (she lives next door), I noticed that the roof needs to be replaced, all of my grandmother’s beautiful flowers and bushes are gone, and the trees in the backyard have all been cut down. There will be no more homemade strawberry, plum, or grape wine. No more fresh apple pies from the tree in the backyard. The tobacco barn has been torn down, and my grandfather’s beloved shop where he built boats is falling apart. But when I close my eyes, the house I loved still exists, and in my dreams at night, Buck and Lil are still alive.

So I guess the reality is that you really can’t go home again. But those memories will never fade from my mind, and I believe that I have finally found what I’ve been searching for over the past few weeks. Yes, I have found the old farmhouse in need of repair in the sleepy little town waiting for some action. The next time I go to grandma’s, it will be on paper, and my sweet dreams will be transformed into my characters’ nightmares. In her later years, my grandmother loved to read, and I think this is just what she would have wanted.

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Fall Musings

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While the calendar may show that it’s still summer, we all know that when school goes back into session, it is unofficially fall.  Soon the trees in my backyard will go from green to yellow to orange and then slowly fall to the ground.  As nature begins its long winter’s nap, my brain starts to wake up to a new year – a new school year full of hope and promise as well as a new year of writing!  While I do work at my craft over the summer, it is difficult to concentrate with three teenagers in the house needing to chauffeured to work, camps, friends’ homes, etc. and the general malaise that seems to set in when temperatures are high and work priorities are low.

Fall is a whole different story.  Once my oldest is settled into her dorm and my other two daughters are back in school all day, my house is quiet.  Imagine that!  A quiet house!  And my creative juices begin to flow.  With my first novel already in circulation, and my second one in what I call “phase three” (my crime experts are currently reading and editing it), I have already begun my storyboard for my third.  Now it’s time to get down to the actual writing, and I have just one minor snag – I can’t decide on the location!  So perhaps this fall will include a few day trips around my home state looking for the perfect setting –  an old farmhouse in the tranquil countryside in need of a little suspense.

In the meantime, I will let my mind drift to the other wonderful thing about fall – curling up in my favorite corner of the couch with a cup of hot tea and a good book while a fire blazes nearby.  What will you be reading this fall and winter?  A Place To Call Home is available, and every Wednesday, I will send you a thought or two about my writings and upcoming books.  Stay tuned and stay warm!

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