What I’ve Learned From Writing Books – #1

Funny. I know I’m a writer. I know I’m an author. And yet, after years, I still never really felt that I was, in my mind.

Why? I guess it always seemed like this journey was some sort of marathon. And I’ve no training in running. I was going to have to learn from scratch. Wear through a lot of shoes. Further, some of the ways I’ve approached authorship have been unconventional. I therefore believed I would have to run really hard and really far, to prove that I was a real runner. I believed I had to cross some important marker along the way (what that was, I wasn’t sure) before I could really call myself An Author.

This thinking was absurd, of course. But I couldn’t make my stubborn brain accept what it wouldn’t, until it would.


My newest novel Still, will be in readers’ hands shortly (more to come on that soon). But about a week or two ago, while working on edits, I knew. I’d gotten past whatever my imaginary marker was.

This book, it took a piece of my soul with it. And it was genuinely, hard work. I can’t even question myself now. I’m an author.

So as I considered my experience with Still, which will be my 17th title, I decided I wanted to share a bit of my book writing journey with you.

It’s no matter if you are a writer, or not. I think you’ll find my thoughts applicable to anything you have a goal to do.

Your journey may not look at all like mine, nor even your craft, but this is really about inspiration. At my shop The Quill and Brush at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, I meet authors in every step of their journeys. I learn so much from these conversations. So here’s what my experience has been…

#1

I thought I knew the English language well. I was wrong.

Here’s the fact. I LOVE words. I’ve always loved reading, and another great passion of mine was once public speaking. I love hearing how others use words to express a message. I love crafting words to express myself. I love reading words. I love writing words. I’m just nuts about it.

And though I never received any focused education in writing, I thought I understood the English language and the basic spelling of it decently enough.

I was wrong. But it’s so funny! In fact, I laugh at myself all the time.

  1. I write words that I thought were real. But it seems I made them up.
  2. I thought I knew what words meant, but am frequently surprised to learn my understanding was incorrect.
  3. I still have to look up some of the same words, again and again. Like lose vs. loose (even though it’s cemented by now…I think).
  4. I’ve occasionally gone wild, and yes, printed words in my books that are neither ‘real’ nor ‘perfectly applied’. And I’ll do it again. Because I’m creating art. My art. I can do what I want.

I like reviewing a ‘word of the day’. I find it so hilarious every time! They are always long and complicated-sounding, and I like to first guess what they mean and have a giggle inside when I find out what they actually do. I wouldn’t use even a small percent of these words. But it’s such a delight to learn about them anyway. And they remind me, I still have so much to learn about the English language.

What I know? We always have more to learn about our craft than we thought we did. But that’s what makes the journey awesome!

Stay Inspired.

The Salad Hour

Greetings, Greetings!

It’s getting to feel like summer around here, and I’m so glad for it. Spring always seems to draw on for too long. Too many months of damp and chill when all one wants is sun and warmth!

I’ve been just about the busiest, and it’s only going to get more so for me! The Bristol Renaissance Faire opens in 5 weeks, along with my little book shop – The Quill and Brush. What a summer waits ahead! I hope to see you there!

I have a custom. It’s the salad hour.

Every evening I make a salad for supper. Usually accompanied by a little something extra (crackers, or a bite of this or that). I started this habit a while ago now. I guess it’s been some years, begun out of an awareness of what my body needed versus what I was accustomed to consuming.

I’m what one might call a creature of habit, so I don’t get bored with this. As long as there’s a bite of something additional with it (cheese, hard-boiled eggs, a piece of salmon, a piece of toast).

In any case, the right eating choice for my health has now turned into what feels like a habit of self-love and self-care. A time of day to relax, put something good into my body. To say nothing of the fact that making a salad takes minutes, with very few dishes messed. I love that.

Do you have a custom like this? Something good for your body or spirit that is just for you? If you don’t, I encourage it.

Love yourself. Love one another. Stay Inspired.




The Secondhand Purse

Good Day Good Friends! Are you staying inspired?

I love thrift stores, antique malls, secondhand places! Always have.

During the pandemic, I didn’t visit any of the secondhand stores I love. I really missed that. I’m eager (after my busy summer ahead) to be able to browse them again. For me, it’s not about shopping. It’s about finding a special or useful find that will bring joy to my life.

In any case, there is a local consignment shop that more recently, every time I walked by, was closed. Only, there was a leather purse in the window that I just felt was meant to be mine.

At length, after seeing it again and again in the window of this closed shop, I finally found the store open one day and promptly purchased the purse. Great price, and I was really happy.


Only, after getting it home, my house began to smell like strong perfume (understatement). Those of you who read this blog know that I am VERY allergic to perfume. I didn’t notice while carrying the purse home on a walk out-of-doors. But now, I got close to the purse and YIKES! It was as though it had been soaked in strong perfume. I now have to believe that it was sprayed inside, intentionally. This wasn’t a little surface fragrance. It was in the leather.

This was really upsetting to me. I’d pined for that purse for a long time but now it seemed I would have to promptly remove it from my house.

All of this to say, I looked up ways to remove perfume from leather online. And I, after weeks, have almost achieved the goal of removing much of the perfume from the bag. It has required wiping down, filling with baking soda, filling with newspaper, airing in the window, repeatedly. It’s been a chore.

The winner? Newspaper, I think. It seems to take in the perfume. You pull out the newspaper and it is scented. You throw it away, and do it again as needed.

Perfume and I are mortal enemies. But I really wanted to give my new secondhand purse a chance and I’m glad that I made that effort. It’s not there yet, but it’s come a long way. Enough that I can carry the purse around. It is at present however, taking another round of newspaper!

Sometimes there are hard cases in life. But when you love something enough, the extra effort is worth it.

Stay Inspired.

Six Weeks Until The Quill And Brush Returns!

Good Day Good Friends! I hope this message finds you well!

I got two emails from my Mama this morning asking if I was okay. She does that when I get a little quiet – because she’s a good mom. So, I thought I better come up for air and just say Hello to everybody!!

You see, since the very second Bristol announced they would be opening this summer, I’ve been all hands on deck. Everything from car repairs (no breaking down on the way to Bristol for me – I don’t want to end up a damsel in distress), to vaccines (both round one and round two took me down – no joke), to writing nearly every evening after work (more on that soon!!), to getting all my small business odds and ends in order.

I’m still in the thick of it, so I might be just a little quiet for a few weeks more, but then it will be time to bring out the magic! AND THE BOOKS! HUZZAH!

Where’s the costumes! Where’s the glitter? Dust off your fairy wings! Where’s your hair wreath? Where’s your sword?! Practice your pirate yarrrrr! A whole summer of revelry is just around the corner, and I’ll be sure to share it with you here from The Quill and Brush!

Who’s coming to say hello at The Quill?! Say hi here – I can’t wait to see you there!

Bed, Cookies, and Books…

I call this photo…

Bed, Cookies, and Books

Pretty much all you need to solve most of life’s problems!

Stay Inspired!!

{I’m currently reading Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman – Great book, great author!}

What are you reading? Come say hello on Goodreads!


Come along with me…

Hello Friends!

I hope withal that this message finds you well and happy. Here in Evanston, the sun is shining and the birds have been veritably trilling. Several have been showing off. They’re going to get raspy beak by evening and will have to gargle with fountain mist. Or puddle water. I hear that works pretty good. That’s the go-to bird cure.

I’m just happy that they are happy – they make me happy – isn’t that spring song so lovely?!

Today, I digress. But I just wanted to say thank you, for reading.

Thank you, for being a part of Inspired By Venice. Thank you, for turning the pages of my tales. Thank you for coming along on my writing journey. Endless gratitude, to those who have made a visit to The Quill and Brush – my little bookshop at Bristol. Thank you all, for ambling along, with me.

How much I appreciate the inspiration.

I can report, a renaissance is taking hold. The writing bug has bitten. Ouch! I anticipate an outburst of works, to plan an event or two (as it becomes safe), and an uptick in inspired posts.

I hope you will come along with me

For, for all of you that have enjoyed my words – your support means everything.

It is only because of readers, that my characters, worlds, and stories, actually breath, live, and come to life.

All of your smiling faces at The Quill. The treasure of conversations shared. The ideas you’ve exposed me to! Hearing about all of your creative passions and aspirations. All of the feedback, book reviews, and encouragement. Your comments, your emails, your follows.

Please, keep it coming!

But most importantly – I appreciate you.


You can follow Inspired By Venice, via email or the WordPress button, on my main page.

Bonus fun!! Staying inspired on Instagram! @InspiredByVenice

You can also join me on Goodreads, or my Amazon author page, for book updates!

Have you read one of my tales? Your Goodreads or Amazon book review, is a gift that is sincerely appreciated.

And of course, if you are looking for a new adventure, for yourself, or for a gift, please consider being a fairy godpatron in the bookstore.


Time to go sharpen my quill and spill some ink!

Stay Inspired

The Magic Of Imagination…

I have been thinking a lot, about faire…

The Bristol Renaissance Faire is one of the loves of my life. And I am so especially privileged these days, to have my little book shop there. You cannot imagine how the people I meet at The Quill and Brush, have truly inspired me.

It’s a special story to me, for how I fell in love with Bristol. But to make it short and sweet, when I was a little girl, my mama was curious, creative, imaginative, and persistent enough, to try her hand at a sewing machine. We didn’t have a lot then, but we always had faire. It was something to look forward to, to plan for, to dream about. A singular place in this world, that offered so much magic on a summer’s day. And let’s just say…

Wearing a costume changed my life forever.

It let my imagination run free. The way only books can. But it almost felt, more real. You actually, for a moment, are.

I was a princess. I was a peasant girl. I was a gypsy. I was a lady in waiting. I could be anything I wanted – with just a little imagination, and a dress to play the part.

And the faire itself, was the place I could really be any of these things. Whatever I wanted.

There are many of you out there who know exactly what I’m talking about. Rennies – you’re my people. Cosplay – what you do is utterly cool. Costumers – I endlessly admire you. Historical reenactors – you are rockstars.

Just saying.

But whether of not you have any interest in any of these things, the message here is this…

Even just a little imagination softens the mundane, the bleak, the shadows, that life delivers. Because life is hardly all love and ease, is it? Imagination brings light to the world, a warm hue…and sometimes even, a genuine sparkle.

Imagination will bring you more than you would have had – my experiences are testimony of this.

So I say to you…

Apply some imagination to whatever it is you love in this life. Take a little time. Imagine it…nurture it…plan it…dream it. And why not – go play a little pretend! Because the secret is – using our imagination, can actually makes the magic, become real.

Stay Inspired.

It’s Time To Get Inspired!

Is it summer yet?

Heavens, I can’t wait for some sun on my face, on so many long and lovely outdoor walks. I can hear the Lake Michigan waves crashing as I giddily search for lake glass. And I can just see all of the tables of vegetable splendor at the farmers’ market. How I pine to throw open the windows to a beautiful breeze and cicadas on a summer’s night…

But back to reality. It’s only March.

But I’ve been thinking – and thinking very seriously – that it is time to get inspired. Like, down to business, inspired.

This is a pep talk to myself. And I’m making it public.

After losing myself in a Michelle-why-aren’t-you-working-on-your-projects? Where-has-all-of-your-drive-and-creativity-toddled-off-to? sort of void (the pandemic has played no small part – perhaps you can relate?) I think I’m finally getting my footing, and my goals back in line.

IT’S TIME TO GET INSPIRED!!!

First on the agenda – my mystery novel Still. New York City. A timeworn, venerated museum with many ancient displays…and shadowy corners to hide in…

Bwah-ha-ha!

I’m wrapping it up! With a dusty, creepy, page-turning ribbon. I can’t wait for you to read it. More soon…

Are you staying inspired? Don’t forget to take some time to dream, plan, and do, whatever it is you love.

Spring, lovely spring…

Welcome Friends! What’s going on in your world?

I hope life is bringing you health and happiness, wherever you are!

I just sat down for a quick lunch bite, but soon off to finish my chores. I’ve laundry drying, and some dishes and dusting yet to do. How the dust bunnies add up to be dust tumbleweeds around my house each week, is a particular mystery of interest.

I find dusting very satisfying.

I’ve also learned to be aggressive about chores. Get them out of the way, so I can play (a.k.a. – drink tea, eat cookies, and lay around reading).

I’m reading a book of classic short stories, by Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton, Washington Irving, and such. Delicious. Absolutely delicious. The stories, and the cookies I’m eating while I’m reading, of course.

Maybe that’s why I sweep up so much from the floors. All the cookie crumbs.

But I just wanted to say to you all today, that I wish you a spring full of positivity, energy, fresh air, lovely blooms, blessings, and new beginnings. I really do.

Stay Inspired.

Kind of, Amazing…

I was thinking this morning, about cheese. A specific photo that I took, in fact.

Of cheese.

In Paris.

{Cheese in Paris food shop}

I love cheese.

I also love abundant food scenes. Pictures of fare from everywhere I have ever been. Or even, just at home. Photos of my dinner plate. I’ve captured hundreds, I’m sure. I guess, I just think it’s beautiful. The place. The moment. The taste. The smell. The memory.

My life.

{Eiffel Tower}

I’ve been deeply introspective these last handful of years, and live a very quiet, simple life. A dead stop almost, to the more outward person I used to be. To the more vibrant life I used to live. With so many experiences. This shift began even before the word pandemic was in my vocabulary.

But, perhaps that is just natural in our journeys….once I was like this, now I am like that. Once my life was like this. Now, it is like that.

{The Palais Garnier – Opera national de Paris}

But certainly, I never knew life could deliver such juxtaposition! Did you? It makes me feel I’ve lived multiple lifetimes in one. I have. I really have. And I only knew this just now, in these introspective years, as I’ve looked back.

Looked back…at pictures of cheese. And my memories.

{A Parisian kitty-cat}

And someday my life will be something else. And I will be someone else. Maybe even somewhere else. Who knows.

{Notre-Dame de Paris}

Will I reunite with friends and readers this summer, at The Quill and Brush? Will I go to live with Bigfoot in an off-grid cabin next year, and leave city life behind (as long as there’s dependable internet and a stash of lime La Croix…and cookies…I’m good). Will I resume traveling someday, such a great passion (let’s not think too hard on whether I will be able to afford to – ha!)?

{Shop in Paris. I swoon for this desk. I see bugs.}

When will I embrace my beloved Venice again? Who all, will be alongside me in life? What friends, have I yet to make? What rocky times await me, that I must be strong to overcome? What books will I still write, that I haven’t even begun to imagine? What else? How different will it all be, from before?

{C’est moi – Cafe in Paris}

And who, will I be?

It’s kind of exciting. Kind of baffling. Kind of intriguing. Kind of scary.

Kind of, amazing.

Remember your journey. Hope for your future. Stay Inspired.

It Lightened My Heart…

Good Day, Good Friends!

What are you up to these days?

I’ve been quite focused on my work weeks, and in keeping my quiet little home life. Days of focus, simplicity, peace, and good health – this is my daily goal at present.

And also, to be consistently thankful for my blessings!

Some of my favorite things lately?

I’ve been fitness walking and then stretching in my living room some days – always followed up by a cold sparkling lime La Croix! I love my outdoor walks, as you know, and still traipse about in the snow and ice. But my indoor exertions have been a convenient, healthy, and inspiring lift to life! You know, there are so many videos online. I personally look for low impact, and positivity. These days, I’m not interested in giving myself miserable follow up soreness (no extreme exercising), nor in doing a session that makes me, however unintentionally, feel ‘bad’ about myself (my abilities, or level of fitness, or imperfections).

Let’s just say, I like to smile and feel silly and have fun when I’m swaying my hips!

I’ve also been enjoying reading, which I have been strongly craving lately. I anticipate reading more books this year than usual. I also crave the Bible’s words (Proverbs is my favorite – I nod at the wisdom in every verse). I’ve too, been delighting in several interesting programs and movies. I especially like those that expose me to new places, or experiences. Culture, or past events – things which I may never see, or directly understand myself, but get to learn something about. And, I am writing. Not a lot, but even slow progress gets you to your goal eventually! It is my hope that Still and Dragons At Dusk will belong to the world, and no longer to me, before long.

By the way, have you ever put sugar snap peas on your salad? Lovely. They are so fresh, crunchy, and earthy. I like to munch on a handful with my lunch – and then spend the afternoon with green in my teeth. That’s my pretty look.

Yesterday morning, I heard a bird singing outside my window. It was the song of spring, which if you have known decades of winter like I have, you can decipher. It didn’t matter the feet of snow on the ground, or that it is yet icy. The birds know what’s coming, and that song was filled with hope.

It lightened my heart.

Well, I’ve a bit of reading – writing – hip swaying – dishwashing to do before my Sunday is up. So I leave you with the wish, that you are keeping well and staying inspired.

All of my best.

Whatcha thinking about today?

Good Day Good Friends! Whatcha thinking about today?

I’m thinking, there’s never enough time to read all the books you want to!

I’m thinking that apples have been tasting like candy lately – I don’t remember them tasting like that when I was a kid.

I’m thinking how one should never leave a chocolate croissant unattended in the toaster oven, even for a second. And about how sitting in a cafe in Paris with one would really sound lovely, no?

I’m thinking how nice the house smells after I peel an orange. And about how I like to sniff tomato vines – so fresh and spicy! And about how fragrant the basil leaves I just bought are…

I’m thinking how much I love to spy prints in dried cement. Wouldn’t it be fun to print a book of them? Of precious paws, and fallen leaves, and other natural impressions.

I’m thinking how I crave a green juice everyday – it’s like, a feeling. But what is a craving, really? What’s the difference between a wanting, and a craving? This is a curious thought.

I’m thinking that though the snow and ice crystals have been magical, they are getting in the way of my treasure hunts! For lost coins, feathers, and pretty insects for my collection.

I’m thinking about how I’m becoming an instant coffee connoisseur! And about how enchanting it would be to be drinking an espresso in Venice right now. Oh, Venezia – you are the beating of my heart.

I’m thinking about how wonderful twinkle lights are, when strung inside the house. Cozy-calming-indoor-fireflies.

I’m thinking about how there are several owls in my neighborhood. Sometimes they hoot and call not far outside my window. Aren’t I lucky?!

I’ve heard a coyote howling, too. I’ve listened to his call on a starry moonlight night.

I’m thinking about how God must have made cotton candy sunsets just for our delight.

And about how I can’t wait for the newest flower on my Christmas cactus to bloom. The last one looked like a twirling pink-red fairy.

I’m thinking how good it feels to have healthy food in my home, and a roof over my head, and to have what I need. I don’t need much – so I guess I could say I have it all.

But mostly, I’m thinking about how important it is to keep counting my blessings…

Let us cherish the good things in life.

Stay Inspired.

Beauty Sleeping – Audio Chapters 1 – 2

Greetings Dear Readers! I hope you are staying inspired?!

Maybe I can help? Let’s throw some fairy dust!! You’re about to get glittered!!!

And chased by monsters

Ok – maybe the sparkle and beasts don’t make an appearance until after chapters 1 and 2. But since nothing inspires me more than an enchanted wood filled with ogres, maidens, witches, goblins, and terribly fierce dragons, I turned through a few pages to record the first two chapters of my Beauty Sleeping, just for you. This tale might be my most magical. A little eerie – yikes! But so, so, so romantic.

A story of eternal love.

Beauty Sleeping by Michelle Novak – The author’s reading of Chapter 1
Beauty Sleeping by Michelle Novak – The author’s reading of Chapter 2

Here’s wishing you, all the love and magic there is!

And forever, Stay Inspired.

If you would like to be a fairy godpatron to the authoress – please be sure to whirl your wand in the bookstore! Enjoy the adventure!

A Little Differently…

So, I’ve experienced what I consider a bona fide miracle. Like, a Jesus miracle. No joke, I’ll be setting aside some on-my-knees-time to thank my Creator.

But, for the purpose of this inspired post, let’s just call what happened a breakthrough. I was struggling forever with something. I applied herculean efforts to hurtle over this roadblock, with little result. So, I’d throw in the towel. Become apathetic. Then I’d get upset with myself, try again, apply more herculean efforts. Still didn’t work. Many times over. Endless disappointment.

It got to the point where last week, I was feeling pretty fierce about it – bursting into exhausted tears one day, feeling really down about myself another, addressing God rather vehemently the next. I believe that was a first. The whole giving God some sass. But hey – I know He understood my frustration. I’ve only been praying about this forever.

Well – I’m certain you know Algernon Sidney’s words as well as I do.

God helps those…

Did you finish the sentence?

And how did I do it? Overcome my impossible? I acknowledged that my approach wasn’t working. And then I asked myself, what could I do just a little bit differently?

…and then I did that.

And now I am Hercules, in the flesh. Except without the muscles.

Unless the muscles in my brain count?!

HA-HA!!

But enough about my flexing my brain muscles. The point of this post is…

I bet there’s something in your life that you wish you could accomplish – improve upon – or overcome. And I’m here to holler all the way to wherever you are – you can. But if whatever you’ve been doing to get there isn’t working so far, take a real moment with yourself and ask…

What can I do just a little bit differently?

Stay Inspired.

A Teaspoon A Day, Sort of Way…

Hello Dear Friends! Welcome and cheerful greetings!

So, I have to say, however Grinch-like this may sound, I am glad that Christmas has passed.

Why?

Well, of course I love Christmas like anyone else. And I especially love the true messages of Christmas. But it’s sort of like this…

Once upon a time, when I was in my young years, around the early-teens, someone in my extended family got married. Now, I’d always lived a quiet, simple life. And I was an only child. And yes, I had a few friends, and a sprinkle of family. And yes, occasionally exciting things happened. But generally speaking, life was just quiet and simple.

Well, this wedding was something new and interesting. I don’t recall there being much of weddings before that point, and to admit, even to this day, I haven’t been involved in or attended, all that many. And, I wasn’t involved in this one either. More, just a young lady watching the excitement of others from a distance, and thinking it was all quite different. Again, my family is small. And my life was always quiet.

Funny, just now, I’m not even certain I attended this wedding! I have some photos, but I didn’t take them. I don’t think. Was I at this service? I must have been. For why did it all make such an impact on me, if not?

How strange, our memories.

But here is what ultimately happened. Right after this wedding day, my spirit plummeted like a swallow falling down through the sky to smash into the earth. It was immediate. I don’t even know that I ever told anyone how I felt? I didn’t even have any crushing emotional attachment to any of the events surrounding the occasion, except as a happy observer of some special-goings-on.

I eventually recovered. But yikes. I was…shall we say…crestfallen and sullen. And what I learned about myself is…I don’t like a shaking up. I don’t like too much excitement. Soaring too high, and crashing too hard. I don’t like surprises either…unless they are very quiet and gentle surprises…and even then, I don’t prefer them.

HA! I’m so weird.

I have since pinpointed other scenarios from before, and many after, that time. After a largely anticipated happening. Full of sparkle and magic. Christmas fits the mold. Or rather, the whole bundle that is the holiday season. The swallow of my soul soaring too high. And even still…this being the quietest season of all times. It’s just the holidays. They can make one overly sentimental, or analyze too closely. Or expect too much. Or become sullen when the glitter is gone.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I live cheerfully and with delight in my life! But more in the a teaspoon a day, sort of way. I think each day should have simple pleasures, gratefulness, amusement and happiness in it. Just nothing to stir my pot too mightily.

Of course, if you’re the type that embraces a good shaking up, and as much as you can handle, or are someone somewhere in-between…that’s awesome. LOVE YOUR LIFE!!!!! And the opportunity to have that again, is just around the corner, I’m certain.

But all I’m saying is…I think the best magic and inspiration really is, just in the every day. When your eyes are open, you see it. And it’s stinking beautiful. That’s my favorite. And it’s enough for me.

Stay Inspired.

Peace and Good Will Toward Men

Good Tidings, Dear Friends!

Today, I am wishing you all of the peace and good will in the world. I hope for you a healthy and blessed holiday season, and a Merry Christmas too!

Today, after clearing my poor-little-cracking-allergy-ridden-throat to the best of my ability, holding back tickles that threatened coughs, I got my reading voice going. Because…I wanted to give you dear readers a gift.

At least, the only gift I have to give you today, wherever in the world you may be.

It’s the Christmas story, selections from the King James Bible. The readings are taken from chapters Matthew and Luke.

I know it’s been a terribly difficult year for so many. So, I thought, perhaps a listen to this Christmas miracle might offer peace and gladness. I hope you will enjoy hearing about the birth of Jesus as it is written, of the wise men, and that star in the sky. Of the shepherds, and the manger. Of praising angels, and God’s love.

It’s a beautiful story.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:14 KJV

Luke 2: 1-39 KJV
Matthew 2 KJV
Luke 1: 26-38 KJV
Matthew 1: 18-25 KJV

The gift that it is, to be…

Greetings Kindred Spirits!

This morning, while running out for some necessary items, I decided I also needed some chocolate doughnuts. Needed them. I also grabbed some chocolate chip cookies, and some chocolate candies. Because, you know, I needed those too.

Humans. Aren’t we something? Ha!

{Starting Catherine Steadman’s Mr. Nobody. Her Something in the Water was a real page-turner. Loved it!}

Have you ever spent an entire day reading a book? I have. As if under a spell. Yes, I’d have been reading a good book, or splitting the time between several. But it wasn’t so much the book. Rather, the place I needed to be in at the time.

Just to sit very still. Very quiet. And give myself away to something other than every other thing we focus on.

I do this with writing too.

Is there something in this world that you do this with? Tinkering, gardening, cooking, binge watching (hey, it has its value)? Something that takes you to another zone?

As I took my evening walk yesterday, I thought…

I love being outside more than anything, at all, ever.

I just feel, better. And not that I’m feeling bad. It’s just, when I’m outside, it’s very right.

I say, thank God for shelter and modern conveniences. I embrace cozy. I love a full cupboard. A cushiony place to rest my head is a blessing. But you know, we weren’t made into that. In the beginning. We were formed in the wilderness. We are nature. And whenever I go outside, I feel it.

Once many years ago, I told my mother that if we ever knew the pending hour that I would pass, that I would want to be outside. You know, if I got sick or something. A lawn chair, the sky, and some trees. Just, outside. She said she’d do her best. I love my mom.

I know that may sound gloomy. But it isn’t. It’s spiritual. I simply share the sentiment, to illustrate what I feel, when I am outside.

What in this world inspires you that way? The sound of your family’s laughter? Moving song? A soul-warming meal? Painting? Running?

Isn’t it beautiful? All the different ways we can sense the gift that it is, to be?

Stay Inspired.

Happy Saturday!

Hi, Hi, Hi!

How is everyone doing today? I hope you are staying inspired?

If you’re a new reader, I just want to say welcome to Inspired By Venice! Be sure to say Hello! So glad you’re here.

In the news this week, I received a care package from my mama on Tuesday.

Doesn’t a care package just warm your heart? Whether filled with treats, or things needed, or in my case, office supplies and Covid survival goods (including a bundle of pink face masks…so I can feel pretty), it’s always a blessing.

Thank you Mom!

In said box, was a huge magnifying glass. Because I have that mom that just sends cool stuff like that!

The thought of smoking ants on the sidewalk crossed my mind (you know I would never – ever), and also a cozy reverie of skimming piles of dusty books fireside with said magnifier. I’d need a pipe, and some fuzzy slippers, and a cat or five, in this dream…

But then I thought…I will magnify all my bugs! So, the glass has an important purpose now. It’s my insect magnifying glass.

With this said, I think my bug book, however faithfully it has served me over the years, and how beloved it is, is not enough.

Christmas present to self – I need a spider book. To start.

You know, spiders are very aware of you. Maybe they think we’re monsters. Maybe we look good to nibble. I think some are curious (jumpers to be specific). I’ve had some pretty awesome interactions.

A jumper who was browsing my books.

Because, spiders like fairy tales too.

It’s true. This one told me.

In other news, and as I have stated here before, anything minty and chocolate is on my list of top favorites in life. Therefore, every holiday season, I go bonkers over the selection of seasonal delights.

These dark chocolate peppermint cookies from Whole Foods? Let’s just say, I’m going back to the store, I’m going to fill a basket, and become a pandemic toilet paper hoarder…only with cookies.

In other, other news…I’ve been a vegetarian for about a decade now! That’s pretty committed for a meat lover.

Yes. I said it. Meatloaf, bacon, and ribs are delicious. (Shhh…don’t tell the other vegetarians I said that). But I don’t eat it. In all these years, the few bites I’ve had has amounted to no more than a plate. And, at least for me personally, I believe my body thanks me for that every day.

I have a love affair with salad. It’s date night every night!

{An American Greetings card I’m displaying in my kitchen for some cheer}

In other, other, other news…Is there anything better than glitter? Can I just roll in a pile of glitter and run down the street skipping, and twirling, just once in my life? Just saying.

Well now, I’m off to other writing. I hope to get Still out to the world very soon. And I sincerely can’t wait.

Stay Inspired!

What just went bump in the night?

Greetings friends! Can you believe it is November 1st? It’s election day on Tuesday, and will certainly prove an interesting (yet I pray peaceful) week ahead, here in the U.S.
Hold on to your hats folks!

In other news, I’m under the weather. It started with sneezing last Thursday and has gone a bit downhill from there. Fortunately, not a straight crashing fall downhill. More of an uneasy tumble. Therefore, I gather, it’s simply hyper seasonal allergies and general fatigue. Or, a light head cold.

Either way, I’m taking it easy and drinking my cure-all (organic juice!). I’m also considering an order of supplies, to keep myself absent from my local grocery for a bit…

Strange times. To be made uneasy by the sniffles.

I’ll tell you what else made me uneasy. I was reading a true book of ghost stories last night…because, when am I not? And just as I turned out all the lights and closed my eyes to sleep, a terrible noise went in my house. Scared me to death. I’m not joking. My poor heart.

[Real Police Ghost Stories by Zachery Knowles – read it in one night – scary stuff.]

My eyes burst open, and I tried to think very hard as to what logically could have just made that noise. I felt relieved to remember that a little suction-cupped mirror with a light that my mama gave me for my birthday (so that a gal can see all the wiry goat-hairs on her chin for plucking…not that I have any of those), sometimes loses hold and falls from the larger bathroom mirror to the floor…


Normally, I would just go check. I’m not scared of nothin’. I’m more the – where’s the baseball bat – let’s check the house – type. Only, I was scared. Of course, I was thinking some pretty ghoulish thoughts just before bed. Therefore, I couldn’t bring myself to inspect. But anyway, it was just that little mirror, crashing against the tub.

Only, when I went to the bathroom not much later, in the dark, I saw that it was not. And I was creeped out enough to have to turn on the lights to wash my hands and peer around for what it had been. There was nothing. No dish to have slipped to the floor, no fallen broom. Nothing.

Yet another visit to the bathroom later, not turning on the lights this time, I believe I see a strange shadow shift in the kitchen when I’m washing my hands. I scurry back into bed. And then I hear something else strange. Something from the kitchen. Like a shuffling of my trash bag…

What the heck.

[Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay]


A few weeks ago, a similar and continual noise kept coming from what I believed was my kitchen trash bag. I imagined settling trash (that kept settling), or that I’d somehow acquired a little house mouse, scratching around for crumbs in the bottom of the bag. It was strange, so I just listened and didn’t go look. Because, then I’d have to go through the whole – I’m here to rescue you – you little house mouse trapped in my garbage bag.

I’m pretty certain he can manage to crawl out if he managed to climb in. And, I don’t need to get bit by a frightened mouse, and have to explain the situation to my doctor when my finger swells up.

Yes, that would happen to me.

To end this story, I still don’t know what these sounds were, especially that awful cracking crash. I know the difference between a muffled bumping from a neighbor above or below. And this was something cracking loud in my house. I still need to review my antique windows for any breaks…


I never felt uneasy here before, until last night. That’s the power of a wild imagination. Or perhaps it was something else
The moral of the story is, I think I’ll stop reading ghost stories for a while. At least for one night, maybe two…

Bwah-Ha-HAAAA!!!

Stay Inspired!

Happy Autumn!

Happy autumn and a festive Halloween to every one of you!

[Image by Melk Hagelslag from Pixabay]

Here’s wishing you a cozy, healthy, cheerful season, and that God provides you with just what you need…

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Matthew 21:22 KJV

Stay Inspired

White Noise Has Won My Medal…

Good Day, Dear Friends!

I hope this message finds you healthy, and hanging in there!

[All photos today, of stonework I recently admired above the doors of Evanston’s Northwestern University]

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As a first mention, I think it right to encourage today, a prayer for your leadership.

Our leadership, President Trump, has fallen ill with Covid-19. This is utterly terrible. I believe, (and no matter how you sway politically), it is important to pray for your leadership. Pray for their health. Pray for their strength. Pray that they will make the best choices for your nation and communities.

God’s hand over you, President Trump. May you be well and strong, very soon.

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I myself, am presently scrambling through the thorns of transition, soon to emerge on the other side. It is very exciting, really. A promotion in position that will shortly have me working from home, barring a few brief jaunts to the office each week.

I’m currently delivering some training to the individual stepping into my previous role, while also learning new processes myself. In fact, I’m entering a new ‘field’ entirely. One I would never have imagined, given what I had always believed were my strengths and weaknesses.

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Life is surprising, isn’t it? Or rather, sometimes we surprise ourselves.

I am very happy.

Even if, I’m going about everything rather clumsily, shedding a few public tears, and feeling rather exhausted.

What have these pandemic months done to us?

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But hey, I’m doing it. And so are you.

Speaking of tears, I grew weepy over the news this morning. Items of one man helping another man. Even typing those words right now, and I need to grab for the tissue. We really need to love each other more than ever right now.

It makes me ask, how can I show someone I love them today? How can I help, someone other than myself today? How can I even, spread a smile?

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In other thoughts, I was dismayed this morning, to see that my monthly Netflix fee went up. You see, Chicago and Evanston have adopted a streaming tax, a part of their entertainment tax, as I understand.

The reason I am dismayed, is that taxes and fees and fines and additions, and whatever…have begun to make me feel squeezed lately. And that feeling must be crushing, to those in any sort of honest financial strain.

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I of course, believe in taxes to support the upkeep and betterment of our public spaces and communities (and accept that I also live in an urban area where taxes are often notably higher).

However, lately I’m feeling rather nickle-and-dimed. I’m afraid to write out an actual list of these items (sales tax on food, spiking real estate tax, mandatory city permits, streaming tax, etc.) to see what I’m really paying. But it’s truly starting to feel that the price of what it takes just to have a basic life anymore, is quite smashing against what one can reliably draw in. Especially if you want health coverage (but let’s not open that roiling and spoiled can of American worms). Certainly the idea of ‘saving for the future’ is no easy task these days.

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To boot, I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who is still blessed with a good job, and is not by any scope of the imagination, much of a consumer. But seriously, looking at the numbers…

Nickle-and-dimed.

I really may have to consider moving my nest at some point down the line, for more financial security. I gather many people are thinking like this nowadays.

I will also be considering extra steps to frugality this winter. But, I’m going to try and make it fun, rather than allowing it to feel like a drag.

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In other news, and I’ve shared this here before, I have the propensity of being over-sensitive to extraneous noise. Something I’ve better come to understand as I’ve gotten older. While lately considering not only this personal factor, but also the notion of general stress (to which we’ve all been exponentially dosed lately), I started to think on how I can ‘drown it all out’ while remaining focused.

I looked up ‘white noise’ music. Life saver. I downloaded some many hours worth of rustling leaves, streaming water, chirping birds, blowing wind, and whirring fans…

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I am already a huge lover of classical music. I personally can’t listen to music with words while I work (I lose concentration). But, as music can soothe stress and level the mind, I have found that classical is the winning card (with the exception of any especially erratic or high-strung pieces)…

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Additionally needing however, something even more basic to drown out the urban sprawl about me, as well as my own mind-chatter, I wanted to see what else was out there. White noise. Check it out. I understand some folks use it therapeutically. Now I will be. This is good stuff, folks. I never took to meditating or yoga. White noise has won my medal.

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With that, I wish you much peace and contentment this week folks.

Be sure to drop a line! Tell me what you like to do to alleviate stress. Have any fun frugality tips to share? Any nice stories this week?

Best to you. You Stay Inspired, now.

Sunday Psalms…

Good Morning Friends!
I recorded a few Psalms. I often turn to the Bible when I need a little peace, guidance, or courage. Thought I would share a few chapters with you!

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[Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay]

{Psalm 34 – KJV – Voice: Michelle Novak}

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[Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay]

{Psalm 30 – KJV – Voice: Michelle Novak}

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[Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay]

{Psalm 27 – KJV – Voice: Michelle Novak}

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[Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay]

{Psalm 23 – KJV – Voice: Michelle Novak}

God Bless You!

I’m a bit of a nuthatch…

Greetings Good Friends! How I am wishing you every good thing today!

Keep your chin up, I say! Keep your chin up!

I, am beat. Yikes! I’ve a literal mountain of laundry to do, but I don’t know if I have enough strength to stir today. My goodness. I think I’ve only enough energy to stir over to the fridge for something good to nibble on…HA!

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Last weekend, I received a sweet package from my dear friend Cira. She took an old flowered blouse of mine, the fabric of which I’d loved, and made pouches and masks out of it. Aren’t they so beautiful? Additionally, the light green zipper-pouch, as soft as velvet, was sewed and sent by my mama for my birthday!

Tell me that homemade gifts aren’t the best? Tell me I’m not spoiled?

I am envious of these ladies’ talents. Only, I’ve never had a stitch of patience for sewing. Pun intended. So, I’ll just continue to admire their talents while sporting my pretty new accessories!

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Someone special also gave me a book of birds for my birthday, the pages of which are magic to me…

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I love nature so much. I stopped the other morning to crane my neck straight back and have a conversation with a striped-headed nuthatch peeping and hopping upside down on the underside of a tree branch. My guess was that he was looking for insect snacks.

He didn’t really have time for me and said so.

I’m certain other pedestrians witnessed this and thought I was a nuthatch myself. Yes. Yes indeed, I am a bit of a nuthatch.

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Though I have my hands full with current writing projects, I am considering to write a book of true short stories. A collection of those magical, bizarre, and even humbling moments I’ve witnessed in my life, and what they’ve taught me or made me feel. Its purpose would be to entertain and inspire readers. An eclectic little treat. I may start jotting notes soon to form a path for the work…

Now, I know not all of you have the same passion for insects that I do (though I’m sure many of you must since bugs are so awesome)…but I’ve a special creepy-crawly tale for you…

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A few months ago, while at the kitchen sink, I witnessed an itty-bitty miracle.

A house centipede, of which I see commonly enough around my dwelling (and who sometimes make even me goose-bump), was lurking at the sink and got himself waterlogged to the point of mush. All his many long legs were a single drenched mass, and I felt poignantly sad for it.

Now, I have saved approximately one zillion little buggies from approaching death. True story. And, I have learned by trial that a corner of paper towel softly dotted to a waterlogged insect can transport it to a better location without squishing it. If it survives after that point is between God and the bug, but at least I did my best.

I thought I’d give this a go, but the creature looked quite pathetic. I may have even said a prayer for it; God loves all creatures, great and small, right?

It took a little while, maybe even a quarter of an hour, but eventually the creature dried out and unfurled. A little twitch here, a little twitch there. Ultimately stirring back to life to run away. I was sort of baffled, but also genuinely exultant by the happening! That bug had been in really bad, quite hopeless shape, just minutes before…

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But I tell you this, not just for the sake of the nearly implausible resurrection that I witnessed, and me so obviously fond of bugs. It was really just, such an inspiring show of resilience!

I know many of you are having a hard time. And even if you’re doing okay, there’s still no way to escape the global stress and worry. Many moments in these last months have made it feel like the whole world is drowning in the second coming of God’s great flood! And no matter where you live, there is no mountain peak high enough to escape to. It’s sort of a, come-what-may, wait-and-see time for the whole world.

Just wanted to say…like that little waterlogged dude…we have it in us. Hold your breath (not literally please), wait it out, keep your faith, keep your cheer, say your prayers, love one another, hug each other (or like…a mime hug from 6-ft. away), thank each other, uplift each other, help each other, laugh, look to your blessings and the bright side…

I am happy to report that I have since had two additional centipede saves, including that striped creature above, the other a baby centipede, neither of which I thought would make it. They really need to stop this daredevil behavior around the tub and sinks. It’s giving  me the nerves.

In other news…my mama bought me two beautiful new lipsticks for my birthday. The very colors I would have bought myself. I love lipstick. I really do. I had already been devising to pick out some for myself, a treat, but then these arrived in the mail.

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Just one problem. 

I can’t go anywhere without a mask.

I don’t even wear blush anymore (which I also love), because it only rubs off and sullies the face covering. So…do I just prance around my house wearing my new lipstick, even though no one will actually see it?

Sounds like a plan! Maybe I’ll just write a whole bunch of letters, plant a few good lip-sticky smooches on paper. If you happen to receive one of these letters, you’ll understand why (apart from the fact that I’ve always been a little eccentric). I was just finding creative reasons to wear my new birthday colors…

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In other, other news…eat your veggies. Just saying.

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In other, other, other news, I was gifted a bushel (what is a bushel?) of farmer’s market autumn apples last week. How lovely! Two weeks’ worth of sweet delights in my lunch bag. The giver is certainly, the apple of my eye! I’ll be sending them a lip-sticky thank you note

Stay Inspired.

 

Shadow And Light…

Welcome, Friends!

I hope this message finds you well and content. I am both, here enjoying some quiet time in the treehouse…

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You know, I have never considered the play of ‘shadow and light’ as an artist must. But sometimes, I notice it with the way the light falls in my house. I think it is such a beautiful thing…

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I’ve yellow and white walls with large windows. It makes the rooms glow when the light casts in so lovely and warm at certain hours of the day. I notice too, the shift of light with the seasons. But no matter the month, the effect is serene…

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I was given a lovely orchid for my birthday. So cheerful the pink and orange-yellow striped blossoms!

Orchids are like people.

Each so very different from another, every one special and beautiful in its own way.

They are also fussy and hard to please.

HA!

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In an attempt to vary breakfast away from blueberry muffins (a.k.a., wean myself toward less sugary options) I sat over granola and berries a few mornings. Though delightful, it only further established that I have a veritable addiction to blueberry muffins…

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Upon my leaving a window screen slightly ajar, a guest buzzed right through my living room, only to find herself crashed in a dusty corner. I, of course, came to the rescue, gingerly pinching cobwebs from her wings.

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When eventually encouraging her release by holding my hand out the open window, as if in a daze, she would not alight. Perhaps it was because she’d just undertaken a crash landing. Or perhaps it was because I am the bug whisperer and she was under my spell…

How did I know she was a she? We had a telepathic conversation and talked girl talk. About wing iridescence and lash extensions and stuff. It’s a bug whisperer thing.

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I was also given a ghost book for my birthday, which I have been slowly savoring each night. There is nothing better than an allegedly true ghost story. Why a book of Wisconsin ghost stories? Perfect gift. I’ve already read every Illinois ghost story ever published.

Which by the way, any recommendations for true ghost story books out there? I’m absolutely bonkers for them, and would love to hear your favorites to consider for my future late night readings…

Bwahhaha….

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I’ve been having dreams about Faire. Ambling in costume. Wandering the beautiful acres of summer and Renaissance splendor. I do sometimes, since this magical place has been a part of my life for decades.

This Labor Day weekend would have been the final weekend of my 5th season in my Bristol shop The Quill and Brush. Our beloved festival did not open this summer, for obvious reasons. The very right thing to do, of course. In fact, it would have been impossible to “Open wide the gates!”. Yet still, what a disappointment for so many…

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My writing focus in the forthcoming months will be narrowed to completing Still, my creepy mystery about the bizarre happenings in an old arenaceous New York City museum…

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Autumn is of course, the perfect season for devising chilling endings. Don’t you think?

Shan’t we just take a quick step down into the museum basement?

With that said, I’m going to go spend a little time in the shadows with Still now. As always, I love hearing from you! Your comments and salutations are always a light!

Be well. Love one another. Stay Inspired.

In A Gentle Breeze…

Good Day, Good Friends…my every well wish to you today!

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Just now, I am enjoying a gentle breeze. After many days of very warm weather, it is welcome. My unit has been called ‘the tree house’, owing to the level I’m affixed amidst the trees. At certain hours, the sunlight beautifully goldens the walls. And on a temperate day, the wind carries through every room, the birds sweetly larking just outside. This is just one of those particular moments, that I especially appreciate my nest. We must all have a place to call our own…

I took photos before walking down to an appointment with a new stylist yesterday. I’ll post the cut soon. My hair is short again, but not very. Technically to my collar bones. However, my locks have a mind for waves and curls when the weight is cut out, so it appears even shorter.

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Let us just say, I am…as happy as a ridiculously happy clam. Though long hair can be pretty, and an accomplishment considering the time it takes to grow to that length…I was at my wit’s end with the tangles and heaviness. Most appreciating the stylist’s scissors! Somehow, I’d managed the patience not to cut half of it off myself in advance…

This was becoming a genuine consideration.

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As I posted last time, I had been ill. Unfortunately after writing, things worsened, ending in a visit to immediate care and antibiotics. I feel I’m still recovering. It is, and I’ve been here before, a reminder of how fragile we are. Obviously, the pandemic has us all remembering this. Yet often, it isn’t until our own health is tested, that our natural vulnerabilities manifest.

How thankful I am for modern medicine, and for my doctors, and for the insurance I am even lucky enough to have. Insurance, and enough money to pay for a doctor and medicine, is certainly never assured. Especially these days.

I revisited the reality that, even a relatively common infection, seemingly innocuous, something your immune system will overcome, can turn down a dark road. My mind wandered more than once to…had I lived in another earlier century without antibiotics.

I don’t like to think about that.

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In everything these days, I am reflective. And in everything now, I see God. He who made me. Me, so temporal and fragile. Me, so human.

I wish more now, for others to be happy and laughing. And I feel more now, compassion when others are hurting. I was not always this way. Or as much, this way.

Sometimes you have to first be humbled…by life. By your mistakes, your weaknesses, your hardships, and even your deepest joys…

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I feel God every time I am in nature…

In every little buzzing life and precious petal.

And all I have been thinking, and feeling, and believing, is that God is all there is. Is all there ever was. All there will ever be. And I am content.

I believe that I, we, are in His hands. And that when we suffer, or are very happy, it is all so that we can feel the life we were given, and live more in awe and reverence of it, and with more grace toward ourselves and others.

I feel this, even in a gentle breeze…

Stay Inspired.

 

It’s Never Too Late To Grow…

Hello Friends! I hope the sun is shining for you today!

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It isn’t shining here in Evanston. We’re in for thunderstorms, and then rain for some days more. That cold wet chill has also returned. But our springs seem always to cling to winter’s hand until the bitter end!

This just means, I’ll have to make my own sunshine!

Fortunately, I’ve a knack for stirring up my own mirth and entertainment. Probably because I was an only child. Today I’m working on something fun that I’ll share with you soon…

 

For now, please excuse my piercing kissing noises in this video, but when this baby squirrel plunked his head down like he was pouting (I think he was trying to get a nap in), it was just a little too cute!

 

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And to the spider that popped out of my Kleenex box early one morning when I needed a tissue, scaring the wits out of me before I’d had any coffee

That’s not nice. I like spiders and all, but please don’t test my nerves.

Another nature sighting, a beautiful mother rabbit and her three babies…

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That’s my car. I had to move it the other day for street cleaning.

Are cities still ticketing if residents are supposed to be keeping to their houses? I wasn’t taking any chances.

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As I pulled up, I saw three itty-bitty-baby-bunnies pressing up against a street utility box. I thought, what a precarious place for a nest of bunnies. But as it turned out, there was a ground nest just beside the street. The babies were spending a little time outside the nest. Mama came back, and all the babies went to her and started nursing…

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Sweetest little things God ever made. I was glad I parked there. I don’t move my car much, so maybe it will give them a little block from the road traffic.

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I digress, but isn’t my mama’s painting so pretty. I wish I could paint whimsical little scenes like this…

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[Make your radishes swim in cold water in the fridge to keep them crisp and fresh.]

I further digress, but I think radishes are one of the most delicious things that grow in the dirt. I’m nuts for radishes. What’s your favorite veggie?

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I roam even further, but if you want the easiest supper ever, and like me, you enjoy a lot of green on your plate, do try avocado toast…

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Simple and made in minutes. I like to top mine with arugula, sea salt and ground pepper. Finish the meal with cookies, of course

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My best friend Jessy sent me a gift in the mail this week. A miniature library to construct and personalize myself! I’m going to have a field day with this one. Some of my own books might appear in miniature in this little library!

Don’t ya’ just love best buds?

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And then there’s my little indoor potted herbs. I’m disappointed to report that the cilantro is beginning to fail. Of the 4 variety herbs I potted, only cilantro and basil grew, and now I fear I’ll just have the basil left…

It’s for the best anyhow; I have a cilantro allergy. You know, it isn’t as easy as one would figure, trying to keep indoor plants alive!

I have a philosophy about that though. Plants weren’t really meant to be indoors. Outside, bugs visit, plant matter decomposes in the soil and brings nutrients, the rain adds its own magic elements I’m sure. Inside, a plant is just stagnant. That’s not right.

Sounds a little like all of us! We all need a bit of sun and fresh air ourselves these days, and visits with others, don’t we? People weren’t meant to be stagnant either

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Nonetheless, as I glanced over my basil the other day, I said a little prayer.

Bless my basil!

Wouldn’t it be glorious if I could get it to flourish?

And about that tiny prayer…

No matter how trivial or dire, small or great, He hears you…just sayin’.

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And here’s something, also so small indeed, but I thought it was special…

See the far left basil sprout? When it popped up, the hard seed shell and dirt never fell away, so that it could not grow. Only the stem stood. One day, I thought I could try to pluck it off with tweezers, hoping I wouldn’t pluck the whole sprout out. I did this ever so carefully, with success. But as I looked at it, I supposed it still wouldn’t grow. It was too late for this sprout.

But you know what? I was wrong. It spread two little leaves, and is now growing out more between.

I was inspired to think…given the chance, it’s never too late to grow.

Stay Inspired.

The Yellow Headed Blackbird

Hello Folks! I hope that you are well…

The weather here is looking lovely, and I’ve replenished my pantry with cookies and some extra cookies, so I’m doing just fine!

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I saw something very special this week, and couldn’t wait to share it with you…

As you may recall, I’ve been manning the ship for many weeks, sometimes all by my lonesome. This week was no different…

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[Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay]

As I began my daily walk in on Thursday, in a spring rain, I was rather contemplative. I observed that I was the only one trailing the sidewalk, something unique to my urban area. I peered in at a singular worker in a darkened coffee shop. Considered the inactive businesses. Wondered over the quiet. I was thinking…

And as I went along, past some homes with green and flowering lawns, all while the rain fell, I suddenly happened upon the strangest creature!

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[Image by Akiroq Brost from Pixabay]

One of these.

What was so special about this sighting, is that this is an extremely rare bird in this area. Not only that, but I had never seen one before, ever. And if you’ve met me, you know, I’m nuts for nature. I notice wildlife. I can hear a jumping spider whispering from 6 feet away (wouldn’t that be cool…can they even vocalize?…I need to look that up).

I notice everything when it comes to bugs and birds. And I’d never spotted one quite like this.

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[Image by 272447 from Pixabay]

I thought it was especially awesome for several reasons. First, I practically stepped on him. He was like a little firecracker near my feet!

As I passed a flower-box and ‘for sale’ sign in the lawns along the walk, I didn’t see him just beyond, right next to the way. He was standing just there on the grass, only a few feet from me. I looked down and halted and telepathically blurted, “Who are you?”

The bird tilted his head, ruffled his feathers, thoughtfully stepped away a bit and said, “I’m me. Who are you?”

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[Image by Souvick Ghosh from Pixabay]

We must have both looked unique to one another. I with my towering umbrella, red raincoat, red purse, neon rainbow-colored sneakers. And the bird, that bird! You cannot imagine how rich the color of that mustardy-yellow chest-plume amidst its ebony wings with strips of white, against a dreary backdrop. He was like, pow-POW! Gorgeous! Oh my word!

Now, as the lone cat at the office, sort of needed to move along. But you know, I had to stop and have a conversation. I told that bird, aloud, how handsome he was, as he kept puffing up, dispelling the rain from his feathers. He just toed around the lawn a bit, tilting his head, listening for worms I suspected, which are ample in the rain. This bird did not hop, or fly off, he just passively and gently stepped about.

Love at first sight. And what if I never saw another like him again?

And did I mention that I was talking to a bird while hovering at the edge of a stranger’s lawn? If they were looking out their window that morning, they might have suspected that the times had addled that woman in the red raincoat’s brain.

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[A Guide To Field Identification : Birds of North America : Robbins, Bruun, Zim, & Singer]

Of course, I was eager all day to consult my bird book once I got home. While on the job, a colleague suggested on our collaborative online meeting, that it could have been an Oriole, but I said, “No…no, it wasn’t.”

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[A Guide To Field Identification : Birds of North America : Robbins, Bruun, Zim, & Singer]

I’ve seen, though only a few, Orioles. But this creature, was like a blackbird.

And it was.

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[A Guide To Field Identification : Birds of North America : Robbins, Bruun, Zim, & Singer]

A male, yellow-headed blackbird.

It appears where I abide is on the very cusp of where these birds may visit to mate in the spring. Further, this fella is locally endangered. Habitat loss, of course. Here’s some information about them regarding Illinois. And you must hear their alien rattle-buzzing song, found here.

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[A Guide To Field Identification : Birds of North America : Robbins, Bruun, Zim, & Singer]

It’s a real treat to see something undiscovered before. For, though this bird might be common elsewhere, I had never seen it, and it really took me by surprise!

The other thing special about it, was where my mind had been just a moment before. The times, the strange quiet, and that feeling of uncertainty in my gut. In an instant, I was riveted by something beautiful. It seemed, a gift. I’m glad to say that these sorts of things happen to me all the time, gifts, or so it seems to me.

With this particular gift, I suddenly felt right again. I rallied.

All of my best to you, friends…

Stay Inspired

A Love So Great…

Greetings, my dear friends…

I hope this message finds you in the very best of health and comfort, in spite of every challenge there is right now. May the sun shine serenity on your life…

I myself, sweetly lament today. But let me assure you, it isn’t with a heavy heart, but rather with a love so great

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My Grandpa Ron passed this week, whom I loved, very very much. My Grandma Ina and Grandpa Ron had a great influence on my upbringing, and on the person I am. They loved and cared for me, so absolutely and selflessly. I will always be so thankful for them.

I love you, Grandpa Ron. Thank you for being so good to me.

And also to those before, forever beloved…

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[Annette, smiling with her husband David, and children Amber and David Jr.]

Your beautiful smile, sweet spirit, and infectious laughter, were the brightest light in our family…

Love you always and always, Aunt Annette.

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[Brian with wife Lisa, and granddaughter Macy]

Thank you for being a part of our rambunctious clan! And for all the love, care, and laughter you brought to it…

Eternal goodness, light, and love to you, Uncle Brian.

 

[Family friend Steve Randahl singing and playing the lap guitar]

Thank you for the friendship, fellowship, and music you gave to my family.

Keep on Rockin’ on, Steve.

 

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And to my baby Tiddo…

Catch all the mousies, feathers, and strings, and wait for me in Heaven…

Mama loves you forever and ever

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

2 Corinthians 2:4 KJV

And to all you readers out there…

Love each other, love yourself, stay inspired.

You’ve plenty of grit, you’ll see…

Hello Friends. I hope this message finds you, above all, healthy. I also wish you a calm spirit, and enduring strength, as all the world’s fortitude is being tested…

I know that for many, life is very strange, strained, and scary right now. And I’ve of course, no more wisdom that anyone on how to find those moments of tranquility, which seem so very fleeting. However, for me, there are a few things that bring a snatch of daily peace…

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[Cheerful blooms I bought myself last year…just love the smell of fresh roses.]

Thankfulness. Thinking on those people in my life that I am grateful for. Remembering all the ways that I am blessed. Being content with small things, and thankful that I have them at all…

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[Ahhh…nut butter and jam! Bringing back those shelf-stable old friends.]

Remembering that ‘It is well with my soul’. I find personal peace in my beliefs, believing that through faith, prayer, and patience, we can endure anything. And at the end of the day, no matter what happens, I rest easier undoubting that my life is in God’s hands…

[New Apostolic Church Orchestra and Choir: Silvertown, South Africa]

Memories. Looking at all the beautiful parts of my life, and believing that it won’t be long before some normalcy returns, even if things look a little different for a while. That brings me happiness…

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[Milwaukee shoreline on Lake Michigan last summer]

Just pretend like you’re camping. Okay, this one’s from my Mama. I don’t know how many times she’s said that in my life. Maybe she doesn’t even realize she’s said that a whole bunch…

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[Image by jplumb from Pixabay]

See, we used to go camping when I was younger. Loved it! There’s nothing cozier than a campfire, and no better a night’s sleep than in the fresh air of the outdoors, and nothing more awe-inspiring than a starry sky…

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[Image by skeeze from Pixabay]

But why has my Mama said that since? Maybe because sometimes in life you have to go without, and have a little less. And, you know, when you’re camping, you may run out of toilet paper and have to use leaves. Or eat beans and marshmallows for supper, instead of what you’d usually have…

This is certainly not to belittle hardship, nor the need for vital necessities. But, for so many of you who are staying in, and perhaps running out of the items you’re used to having, try to shrug your shoulders and pretend like you’re camping. Making a game of things in your mind sometimes softens the strangeness of a situation…

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[Photo by 631372 from Pixabay]

Humour. I’ve a story for you. Taking notice that one of their cats were acting oddly at the basement window the other evening, and assuming it to be another neighborhood feline on the prowl, my folks found to their complete bafflement, a wild turkey pecking at the window. What? At length, it strolled off into a neighboring yard. Though such wild fowl aren’t unknown in the surrounding farm country, certainly that was the first turkey in decades to be on such an adventure. Wish I could have seen that! No wonder the cat was acting a little strange. Never seen a bird like that before! The wildlife really is coming out while the towns are quiet…

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[Lovely pink peonies snipped from one colleague, and a piece of fruit from another, last spring. The smallest gifts can bring such joy to the heart.]

My little offering to say, I hope serenity for you today, in whatever ways are personal. And, I wish you all the grit there is as we wind through the seriousness of these current days.

You’ve enough, I promise you. You’ll see…

Stay Inspired.

Make Your Own Happiness…

Hello my dear friends, family, and readers! Happy belated Thanksgiving…I am grateful for you!

I am also happy today! Can you guess why?!?

(Do you like my little hint?)

Was it because of my morning muffin (pumpkin today!) and coffee? The two things that I undeniably cannot get my day started without? Great guess, but nope…

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Is it on account of the secret stash of holiday-themed cookies I’ve been surreptitiously hiding in my cupboard? (I’m promising myself I’ll give up the habit…after Christmas…COOKIES!!!)

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Yes, cookies make me smile, but that’s not it either…

Is it because I had a hearty, healthful vegetarian Thanksgiving plate at my Grandpa and Grandma Novak’s house yesterday, and spent time with family?

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Well yes…of course I’m happy because of that…but there’s something else!!!

Have you guessed yet? Need another hint?

Beauty Sleeping is here! The most enchanting fairy tale my brain has yet to imagine. It is a delightful gem! I hope it takes you away to a beautiful, mysterious, and magical place…

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This is a snippet from the first chapter…you can ‘look inside’ the book on Amazon and read it for yourself here

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For those of you new to Beauty Sleeping, it is not a youth adventure, neither is it a novel… it’s a novella. Fantasy fans, Renaissance junkies, sword clashers, believers in fairies, those who love love…this one’s for you! Enjoy!

As for me, each day I delight in making my own happiness! I’ll be working on Still, and Dragons At Dusk as the days grow colder and colder and the snow begins to fall…

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For all of my Bristol Renaissance Faire friends, I’m looking forward to seeing you at The Quill and Brush for my 5th season July 2020! New tales in tow…

Making my own happiness lately has not only consisted of writing, but also reading…

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Various books, but also the Book. For many, Psalms is a comfort and joy to read. It is. But my favorites are Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. There’s a lot of wisdom in them both, and as I get older, I aspire to be a better, wiser, more empathetic person.

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I also want to be stronger, more firmly-sound-in-spirit, and a less-anxious human being! The Bible is a place of wisdom for all of those things for me…

Another source of happiness, several Netfix offerings have been quite entertaining recently. I have to tell you, I have never giggled so much as I did at the documentary film, Dancing with the Birds. If you subscribe to Netflix, you must watch it. I was utterly dazzled by these birds of paradise!

I have also been entranced with the documentary series Civilizations by PBS. Never one to think much about art, I’m now completely enraptured by everything I’m learning in this wonderful program. It’s made me want to travel to every art museum and church on the globe! Love it!

Heal, another documentary that moved me, focuses on how much our stress affects our health, and what activities in life can help negate that. It inspired me to think about how I can surrender more to calm, rest, and peace, rather than anxiety, burden, and worry. Love that!

As for holiday favorites, I thought Holly Star was so hilarious! The trailer doesn’t do it justice, it was such a cute movie!

And I also thought The Knight Before Christmas was a holiday delight! But I write fairy tales, so of course I would!

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Otherwise, I am quite happy with my everyday evening salads! Both healthy and satisfying, it’s a nice part of my day that I’m always looking forward to…

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And oh goodness! Here’s a photo of me when a tiny newling on my Mama’s lap, one Christmas long ago. Isn’t that a memory of happiness? Beauty Sleeping is dedicated to her. Without her, I would never have been inspired to write a fairy tale in the first place…

As for you…keep looking toward your health and happiness. There’s nothing more important. I’m wishing this season brings you much peace, joy, and laughter!

All of my best wishes! Stay Inspired!

Inspired by Home…

Happy Sunday All! This morning is quite rainy and chilly. I think I aught to just get back under those blankets!

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[Image by LUM3N from Pixabay]

Do you know, I love home. I could stay home endlessly. Be very quiet. Just write, and read, and take afternoon walks, and cook healthy things, and eat lots of cookies, and create an inspired post everyday, and be so very content…

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[Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay]

You see, it is my dream to be a stay-at-home-writer. You’d sometimes find me hiding in a used bookstore for inspiration, sniffing old pages, because there’s nothing like that smell…

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[Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay]

Or, I might be sitting by the lake, contemplating my next chapter, the waves, the sky, and life…

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[Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay]

But mostly, you would find me at my desk, my most contented place to be…

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[Image by Andrian Valeanu from Pixabay]

That is what home inspired me to think of today…

Someday

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[Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay]

And what are your dreams? I bet they are as wonderful as mine!

Stay inspired!

Inspired By Reading…

Hello All You Amazing, Strong, Creative, Funny, Wonderful, Weird People…oh wait, the weird one is just me! Ha! How are you doing today?! Staying inspired I hope! Do you know what was so very good for my soul this last week?

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Reading. I was under the weather Monday, and thus spent the afternoon reclining in bed with books. And then…I made some more time for some more reading this week, because, you know, I just wanted more. Like M&M’s. Or blueberry muffins. Or French fries dipped in aioli…

Reading breaks my brain. It inspires me. And do you know what else I found? It makes my brain hush up. I need that. Be quiet brain, stop chattering! I’ve decided to apply reading to my life like meditation, for its wondrous calming effect…

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This week, I finished reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, an inspirational book for women, a gift from my cousin Kerri last Christmas. Some of the uplifting advice applied not at all to me, or were lessons I’d learned a long time ago. Yet, other thoughts from the author had me nodding my head in affirmation, thinking, this is good advice. I don’t really read much in the way of inspirational books, but I appreciated this one for being just that. A woman, trying to lift other women, and that is always good. Right on, Rachel!

I also finished Bait and Switch: The Futile Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich. Her Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America was amazing, so when I saw another of her works at the used book store, I snatched it up. Like science writer Amy Roach, this author is an utter inspiration to me. Her research, her wit, her investigative reporting skills…I aspire. Both of these books are about why it can be so difficult, financially getting by in America. Neither book made me smile. Both increased my humility. Both remind me not to take anything for granted, and to be thankful for what I have. Very smart books, very good reads.

Now, I’m beginning Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. Another work bringing to light, an American populace, struggling in poverty and pain. Though it is doubtful I will find much uplifting in it, some stories are simply important to read…

As the days are starting to get chillier, and the sky is growing darker sooner in the evenings…

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I’ve pulled out the tea kettle and am perusing all the books I’ve collected, yet have not had time to begin…

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With that cozy time of year returning, I can’t wait to read, and write, as many adventures as I can fit in this season!

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As a side note for all you book lovers and readers of InspiredByVenice.org, I’m a Goodreads and Amazon author, and would love your follow!

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Even more, if you have enjoyed reading one of my tales, I would so much appreciate your review! Your words, inspire me, as a writer. Thank you!

A Life Of Blessings…

Hello all my dear, dear friends! I know that it has been a terrible long time since I last sat down to share a tale with you! Oh heavens, months! Let’s just say, my summer was a whirlwind; it is always my busiest season! On the go, each and every day! But my stories have kept, and I’ve captured some photos of my adventures too…it is now the time once again, to share them with you…

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But first today, I want to send a sincere message of gratitude to each and every person in my life, who made my 4th season at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, so very blessed and wondrous. Each season, at my little shop The Quill and Brush, I take away so many special moments to fill my heart. I never forget what a privilege it is, to spend this time with readers and friends, both old and new. You give meaning, and great happiness, to my life. Thank you.

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Last Labor Day Monday, the final day of faire, and my birthday, Queen Elizabeth with her ladies and guards, did bless my little shop with a visit! I will share a larger post of it soon, for I received a special gift I want to show you…but I just wanted you to see my smile. That, is happiness. And that is the smile I always have at faire, when I meet so many kind, intelligent, witty, brave, talented, passionate, and generous people. Each faire day reminds me that my life is so full of blessings…

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Did I mention I’m still completely dazzled every time I see the Queen? The child in me, who was once upon a time so excited to meet Queen Elizabeth, will remain with me forever. But I suppose such fairy tale feelings are part of what help me dream up magic for my books!

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Update for the readers of my tales…

Beauty Sleeping will be available before end of September. I’ll let you know the exact day in a beat…

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Four fair princesses, a long time ago, in a castle do dwell. Their father the king, has disappeared, from just right where he fell. The queen, their mother, walked away, floating into the wood. A sorceress watches, from her dark weald, ’tis certain she means no good…

Will-o’-the-wisps, water spirits, and many strange flowers that sigh. Fairies, goblins, nymphs, and of course, tameless dragons that fly. A time from the past, filled with peril, strange conjury, and swords. Just take one step into this world, and the journey ’twill be yours…

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The world of Dragons at Dawn will carry on with a Part II., Dragons at Dusk. Coming later this fall…

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And, for you readers of the psychological thriller…I’ll be working on Still all winter. Available June 2020. My heart quickens

I’ll write again later this week…promise.

Stay inspired!

Ancient is Here! Enjoy the Adventure!

Hello All! Here’s wishing each and every one of you good health and happiness today! I wanted to share something very special today. After an almost two-year writing journey on this project, my newest novel Ancient, is finally here!

When I woke up this morning, one of first things I did was go to my computer to peek and see if Ancient was live, available to all. When I saw that it was, an instant little cry burst forth, tears spontaneously pooling. A total sneak attack cry that I wasn’t expecting. But it only took me a few seconds to understand the sudden emotion…

Writing Ancient felt a little different to me than my other books. Where before, I felt something like a puppeteer, moving my characters where I would, looking at them from above, or like a narrator, this time I felt like I’d taken the journey with my character. And this morning, when seeing that the story was now no longer just mine, I felt like I was letting go. Waving to Hem in the desert, as she disappeared like a mirage, out into a vast landscape of sand. Very bittersweet…

Ancient

For everyone who reads Ancient, it is a wonderful adventure, with a delicious pinch of romance, and many thought-provoking twists of the spiritual. Hem, a nomad in the wilderness of ancient Egypt, loses everything, her family and her life, and is left dangerously and desperately alone. This is her journey from out of darkness, and back into the light. I was with her every step…

Ancient can be purchased here in the U.S., and is available in Europe through Amazon.

When reading Ancient, remember to take along your water bottle and sunscreen, and do beware the asps and scorpions. Maybe don’t wear sandals. Just saying…

And as ever, my dear, dear friends…stay inspired.

Ancient…An Audio Introduction!

Close your eyes and for a moment, imagine the stirring winds and swirling sands, just outside the door. Out there is an endless wild, and there are many dangers in it…

This night with Namma, Hem is safe, but it will not last for long. Still ahead of her, is a very great journey…out into an ancient world…

Ancient

Ancient, coming soon!