You Make Your Own Magic!

How do you make your own magic?

I like to take walks and dream about my little bookish plans, or browse book cover art and imagine stories I’d like to write. And of course, I pen tales that take me far away and then share them with you!

Take time to dream ~ you make your own magic!

Such A Sweet Treat!

What a lovely read! Only a quarter the way through, but such a sweet treat!
{check out the author at: https://jenturano.com/}

One of the interesting things about being an author, is discovering different writing styles and genres than your own through reading. Once, I only read books. Now, I both read, and consider the writing with the eye of an author. Reading is even more inspiring to me now, if that could even be possible!

Stay Inspired!

Very Special Plan Brewing

I love my simple home. My simple pursuits. Simple as they are, this summer felt yet again – busy!!

As fall makes its way in, I’m looking forward to slowing down. To reading and writing more, being on-the-go less. I still have several events yet for October, so I hope to see some of you yet. Then it will be back to my writing season, and planning ahead for next year! I have a very special plan brewing – but nothing confirmed yet!

For a list of events and my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

What a day!

What a day! Thank you @donovanscherer of Studio Moonfall for hosting the Kenosha Book Festival yesterday!

Incredible meeting so many other independent authors!!! And it was yet again, such a joy sharing time with readers, both old and new! These bookish days, and the people I meet, bring so much inspiration and happiness to my life. It’s everything to me – thank you!

Forget Magic Wands

Forget magic wands. This is my magic pencil.

Stay Inspired!

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/mnovak

New Facebook page!

Back in this spot I wish I could be more often than not…

Who loves coffee? I LOVE coffee. Black, no stuff in it. That muffin is vegan. I just finished it and it was so wonderful. Oh, blueberry muffins. I love you. I LOVE you.

So – I prefer to write my short adventures by hand. I feel like a kid with a giant pencil, my tongue sticking out the side of my mouth, eraser bits everywhere. Writing anything I want, anything I can imagine.

My novels – computer only. My brain operating more like I’m in some darkened corner of a vast library, studying hard. Oversized glasses falling down my nose. All my reference books splayed around me. Deeply focused on the scene I am creating.

They feel different. And I love them both. That’s why I write both novels, and tales. Two sides of my personality. I bet there is some place in your life you can to relate to feeling like that.

Oh! New Facebook page in case you prefer your updates there! https://www.facebook.com/inspiredbyvenice

Kenosha Book Festival!

Friends! Kenosha Book Festival! Next weekend! I’ll be a guest author at Studio Moonfall on Sunday Aug. 28th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This is going to be an INCREDIBLE bookish blast!

I can’t wait for the fun, and I can’t wait to see YOU!

I’ll be selling and signing my tales. For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Kenosha Book Festival: https://www.studiomoonfall.com/kenosha-book-festival-year-zero/

That’s my place, man.

Authoress Advice – # 1

When coming up with a plot for a novel, you’ll consider one or even a hundred wonderful ideas. Tales that would be amazing, and which you and others would love to read! But there needs to be something much more.

Writing, editing, publishing a book is a marathon. Imagine it. That you are running, for a very, very long time. In spite of the reasons you are running, even that you love to run, you’re going to get tired. Maybe even want to give up along the way. Because while you’re in it, in spite of the love, it’s a lot of work.

When deciding your project/idea – consider which will inspire you, drive you, keep you going, until the book is one day in your hands. Great ideas are great! But is it one that will endlessly fuel you?

My Still, a mystery in a New York City museum…I love it so much. I could stay there forever. Write another and another in that world I made up. That’s my place, man. Let me go THERE. Those people, they are real to me.

Will the idea you are considering make you feel that way too? Trust me, you’re going to need, and want it to. Look for THOSE bright stars.

Stay Inspired!

My Eyebrows Know

Today I got in a few minutes of writing during my lunch hour and realized I was doing the funniest thing! My expressions were totally reacting to what I was writing. I mean, do I do that? Eyebrows going a little crazy every time a dragon screeches on the page?

This can only mean one thing. Dragons at Dusk is turning out an awesome adventure! My eyebrows know.

With Sparkle and a Smile!

Upcoming bookish fun!!! Selling and signing my tales with sparkle and a smile! I hope to see you there!

A September event may yet sneak in, and there’s a December event that is quite likely, but I’ll update when I’m certain.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

And now I can go eat some candy…

I took myself into the city yesterday for a spot of art and quite enjoyed my adventure! And have you watched the new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion on Netflix yet?! Oh my word, so lovely! I’m reading an eerie ghost book (when am I not) just now, and I’m also sort of convinced I might have caught something ghostly on camera yesterday (maybe I shouldn’t announce that on the internet).

I’m heavily deciding on new writing projects this minute, as well as heavily procrastinating on some important paperwork! Oh, and I had toast with lots of raspberry jam this morning. Isn’t jam so swell? AND! I went to the dentist Friday – love my teeth cleanings! Because I’m weird like that. And now I can go eat some candy. How’s that for an update?!
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Stay Inspired!

Still is Available Now!!

Still is available now!! And, up on Goodreads to add to your To Read shelf! Thank you for reading and supporting Indie Authors!!

Still on Goodreads

Still on Amazon

Still by Michelle Novak

Roe works as a backer, a jack-of-all-trades in one of New York City’s oldest museums. Housing a legion of ancient treasures, its dim and mysterious halls have been venerated for long over a century. Her father before her, an esteemed historian in the museum for decades. It was from him, that she learned everything.

In this place, Roe’s whole life has been spent. Exploring every shadowy corner, gazing over every priceless piece, sneaking a glance inside every creaky drawer. So, she thought she had discovered all of its even most secret of secrets. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In a museum, there is always more to find. Or more to find you. And here, something has been hiding in the basement for a very long time. Something that has now begun looking, for Roe.

This Author Journey…

This author journey is an incredible one, and keeps getting better with every day! Thank you to Studio Moonfall for today’s wonderful event! And thank you to the readers – every single one of you. It is a privilege to be able to share my stories, with you.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Studio Moonfall Tomorrow!

Who is going to be selling and signing her tales at Studio Moonfall in Kenosha, WI tomorrow?! She’s someone who is writing ALL the fairy tales! Someone who loves dreaming, and imagination, and sparkle! Someone who thinks reading is magic! Someone who loves to see your smiles and talk books!!!

Studio Moonfall ~ Kenosha, WI. ~ Sunday June 19th, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Author Updates ~ Summer 2022!

~ Authoress Michelle Novak ~

Author Updates ~ Summer 2022!

To learn more about my works please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/
Stay Inspired!

A Wonderful Bookish Day

Had a wonderful bookish day at the Oak Brook Artisan Market last Sunday! I’ve said it so many times, but I have to say it again – book days are the best days.

To all the readers on this author journey of mine – I sincerely appreciate you.

Stay Inspired!

Literary love, Smiles, and Sparkle!

Had a great time at the Evanston Made Maker’s Market last Sunday. As I always say – book days are my favorite days, and this one was no exception!

Here’s a photo of my trusty bookmobile and parking lot book display. The bookmobile and I are always ready for a bookish pop-up (see that event tent temporarily crushing my passenger-side seat?)

Local event (Chicago-ish, Milwaukee-ish)? Send me an invite! The bookmobile and I will drop in to spread some literary love, smiles, and sparkle!

Just 2 Days Away!!

Just 2 days away!! Evanston Made Maker’s Market with all of its incredible treats, crafts, and art! Novels and fairy tales too!!! I hope to see you there!

Thank you Evanston Made for this lovely graphic, and for welcoming this author to the fun!!

My Bookish Briefcase

Maybe I should renovate an old ice cream truck and instead of cold treats, sell fairy tales. I know some of your are saying – If anyone would do this, Michelle would. And they would be right.

I mean, I already have my old rusting bookmobile. (Can I sell books out of my trunk? Need you ask?)

I have my book tent. (A first trial setting up of which yesterday, nearly gave me a concussion and completely defeated me physically. I’m still recovering. But I think I figured it out. Hopefully. Maybe.)

And there’s my bookish briefcase here! Traveling tales saleswoman. Wonder what the reception would be if I tried to sell books door-to-door?
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Keep Smiling! Stay Inspired!

Those Words Will Still Be True

Occasionally I get stuck for an eternity working on one-single-sentence. One I just can’t get right. Just a dizzying puzzle of moving letters. I put in a struggle but get nowhere.

The next day I revisit it, and it takes moments to rewrite. Way better than what I could have spun the day before.

As a writer, struggle only sharpens my pencil, making the sentence come easier the next go around. But apply that to just about anything in life, and I’m certain those words will still be true.

Stay Inspired!

Keep Making A Splash!

Here’s to all you strong and amazing mermaidens out there!! Keep making a splash!!

The Mermaiden by Michelle Novak

{For a list of all my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/}
{Please join me on Goodreads}
{Please join me on Instagram}

~ Thank you for supporting Independent Authors! Stay Inspired! ~

Not Just With Words

I’m not just a writer. I can also bite hearts right into my apples. I know, I know. A pretty special talent. I agree. I can share feelings not just with words, but with chomps!

It’s How I Got My Start

I’ve been an author since I was a child. Here’s the proof. I think I’ll be doing a video reading, because A Lizard Named Tom needs to be heard by the world!

For your kids, for yourself, pick up a few blank books. To write and draw one’s own stories! Trust me. It’s how I got my start.

Stay Inspired!

Novels and Fairy Tales Too!

May 1st ~ 12 – 5 p.m. Evanston Made Maker’s Market with all of its incredible treats, crafts, and art! Novels and fairy tales too!!! I hope to see you there!

Thank you Evanston Made for this lovely graphic, and for welcoming this author to the fun!!

I write myself away…

Each day, I write myself away to places I imagine…

One of the best parts?

Eventually sharing those places, with you.

{For a synopsis of my forthcoming Still, and other works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/}

Not Sure I have That Kind Of Grit

The Stranger In The Woods by Michael Finkel – Incredible read.

And speaking of hermits, I sometimes like to look at remote little places for sale online and dream of moving away from the urban to be a recluse writer. But then I scare myself imagining it just being me out in the woods with Sasquatch, bears, wolves, TICKS. And 7 feet of snow and being stranded. And running out of La Croix and toilet paper. Not sure I have that kind of grit?

Fairy Whisperings

How does their language sound? Like little precious fairy whisperings? And I wonder what they talk about. Perhaps I’ll imagine it, and write it into a fairy tale someday.

Stay Inspired!

{Butterflies and moths at the Field Museum}

I’m getting fancy!

Received a little shipment of postcards today with my author photo on them – oh goodness! I’m getting fancy!

A step up from the handwritten ones I gave out last season, which were quaint but not practical!

Getting ready for bookish fun!!!

Watch out! I’m learning stuff!

I have been voraciously listening to independent-publishing podcasts and LOVING IT!

I’m really enjoying hearing other writers share their authoring stories. A bonus – I’m learning SO MUCH at the same time.

Watch out! I’m learning stuff! HA!

A Season Of Bookish Fun To Begin!

I sure am ready for spring weather and a season of bookish fun to begin!

Confirmed ~ Evanston Made Maker’s Market – Sunday May 1st – 12 to 5 p.m.
Confirmed ~ Oak Brook Artisan Market – Sunday May 15th – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I Just Dig This Story!

I’m working on Dragons At Dusk, the follow-up to my Dragons At Dawn. I reread Dragons At Dawn last week as a refresher and I say…I could just live in that world! Scary screeching dragon in my village and all, I’m there!

I won’t pick one of my beloved tales over another, because they really each are special to me. But I have to say, I just dig this story, and I’m really excited to soon be sharing its sequel!

What would it be about?

Have you ever thought about writing a book? If you did, what would it be about?

Still by Michelle Novak ~ Releasing Soon!

For a synopsis of Still and my other works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

To My Very Dear Readers…

~ To My Very Dear Readers ~

I wanted to share with you before I began announcing my forthcoming 2022 event schedule…

My little bookshop, The Quill and Brush, where I’ve signed and sold my tales at the Bristol Renaissance Faire for 5 incredible summers, will be sitting out the 2022 season. As many know, the faire is one of the loves of my life, and has been since I was a little girl. And my tented shop? Don’t get me started! Some of the best memories of my life were made there, making friends with so many of you, on so many beautiful festival days. It is because of these experiences that my tales have gone out into the world, and lived.

I will never be able to express enough gratitude for the patrons and friends of The Quill and Brush. But know and believe, how much I sincerely thank each of you.

Yes! There are magical future possibilities for The Quill and Brush! But for now, I am fully embracing 2022 as a year of learning and growth as an author, new opportunities and different experiences. I’ll be popping up everywhere, toting my tales along. It would fill my heart to see you! Thank you for being right there beside me on this incredible journey, which continues to amaze me.

Now, with all of this said – let the new books, new events, new announcements, excessive silliness and sparkle, commence!

Who is the author…

Who is the author that you would read anything they ever, or will ever write?

I know, I know, your first obvious answer would be Authoress Michelle Novak, right?

{tee – hee – hee}

Mine is Mary Roach, writing a great many things science.

She, is amazing. My author hero.

Though sometimes her books make me want to pass out.

Read one and you’ll get what I mean.

Veleno Giveaway on Goodreads!

Goodreads giveaway for Veleno started today! Head here to enter.

~ Veleno by Michelle Novak ~

There once was a great Venetian palace. The name of which, everyone did know. Inside its walls dwelled an esteemed noble family. All revere, ’tis the House of Orso!

Its patriarch, a rich and powerful merchant. With a wife very clever, such a beautiful sight. His daughters, four, a precious gift. How unfortunate now, each should meet their plight…

Orso dead? Perhaps by plague! Mirella turned strange, a widow made.

Fina gone, for a courtesan’s life. Noemi must escape, or make a woeful wife. Mafalda will rise in a cold, cruel pit. Paola sent off to a nunnery, might lose her wits.

Venice’s year, 1575. Pestilence arrives, Venetians fear for their lives! But in Orso’s house, strong daughters were made. Yet can courage be enough, to escape the grave?

Just Being Proud

I’ve learned that the way to reach your goals is not by huge bounding leaps. That would make anybody tire out fast and feel like giving up. It’s with little steps, consistently, one foot and then the next. Never being down that the progress was so small that day, but just being proud that you did indeed, move ahead…

Stay Inspired!

Final Days of the Beauty Sleeping Giveaway!

Final few days of the Beauty Sleeping giveaway on Goodreads! Be sure to enter (and join me on Goodreads while you’re there!!). Here’s the link

Beauty Sleeping by Michelle Novak:

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…

Could you fight a dragon?!

So, the question of the day…

Could you fight a dragon?! Cause I’d be hiding in the safety of that church way back there, screeching from a window for that knight to look out!

{Dragons At Dusk by Michelle Novak – Coming 2022}
For a list of my other tales, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

I’m a nerd. I know things.

So, if you don’t have one of these, you aren’t scoring all the nerd points. And we should all really want to be the best nerd we can be. You know?

This is my vintage spell checker (it’s a Franklin). I’ve had it for decades. I asked for it for Christmas as a kid. True story. I love this thing.

Writers, let me tell you why you want one. Yes, you have spell-check on your program. No, it won’t catch everything. Sometimes my instinct and a fast type into this magical instrument (faster than dictionary online, or thumbing a real dictionary – both which I also regularly do) and you have your answer.

I may do a future post listing the 50 reasons why you need this thing. But for today, just trust me. I’m a nerd. I know things.

I’m going to try anyway.

You know those things in life that are simultaneously exciting, and terrifying? This would explain my shaking hands as I wrapped up Veleno for shipping. I’ve entered some Independent Author Book Awards. Competitions really, though I don’t want to think of it that way.

A book award would be like winning the golden ticket in a chocolate bar. But I’m going to try anyway. Something to keep me on my toes. Keep me trying harder with each new book I write. Keep me inspired.

What Events Do You Suggest?

Hi Friends!

Man…is anybody else ready for spring?! I sure am. I need some warm sun. It’s been a winter, that’s for sure!

So, I’m thinking about events in 2022 and beyond and thought I’d ask you all – what do you suggest in the Chicagoland – Milwaukeeland area that I check out? Fairs, festivals, markets, conventions, independent-author-bookish-fun-stuff, etc.? Please mention in the comments and I’ll absolutely take a look! And, thank you!

Stay Inspired!

Giveaway on its way!

The winners of the 5 author signed copies of Ancient will be receiving their book shortly! Enjoy the journey!!!

I’ve another giveaway starting on Goodreads later this week! Can you guess which tale? Announcing soon!

Best BEST!!!

It’s Something I Just Don’t Have Words For…

It’s hard to describe the feeling you get as an author, when the first copy of your book arrives in the mail. Before, your work was just endless words on a bright screen. For months, sometimes years. And then one day, the book is real. And holding it in your hands, it’s something I just don’t have words for. Even as a writer…

Still by Michelle Novak ~ Release date announcing soon ~
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Roe works as a backer, a jack-of-all-trades in one of New York City’s oldest museums. Housing a legion of ancient treasures, its dim and mysterious halls have been venerated for long over a century. Her father before her, an esteemed historian in the museum for decades. It was from him, that she learned everything.

In this place, Roe’s whole life has been spent. Exploring every shadowy corner, gazing over every priceless piece, sneaking a glance inside every creaky drawer. So, she thought she had discovered all of its even most secret of secrets. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In a museum, there is always more to find. Or more to find you. And here, something has been hiding in the basement for a very long time. Something that has now begun looking, for Roe.
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For a list of my works, please visit here.
Join me on Instagram.
Join me on Goodreads.
Follow my Author Page on Amazon.

Merry, Merry My Friends

A long holiday weekend spent reading and writing?! WHAT a treat!! Happiness – here I come!!!

Merry, Merry my friends ~
Stay Inspired!

Smart Joy

I lean more toward soft goals for a new year (if I make them at all). I remember writing a list as a child. Like – that was the thing people did decades ago. HA! But you know, after the 2nd of January, goals were forgotten.

My goals for 2022 are almost singularly author goals. Goals set around an outlet that gives me joy in this crazy world. See how I’m setting my sights around happiness rather than discipline here? HA!

But I have another goal. I’m not a great consumer. I’m a minimalist. More than ever nowadays. I do buy books & music (that whole joy thing). But my primary spend is food and personal care items.

The goal? I know you’re feeling that inflation like me. Yikes! 2022 will be a year of considering value vs. convenience, and comparison shopping, etc. And that’s the way it’s got to be. But I’m still going to make sure there’s joy. Just smart joy.

Stay Inspired!

Only Two Goals Today…

I have only two goals today. To eat that sandwich (check!) and to sharpen those pencils (I’ll get there…maybe this afternoon…or tonight).

I’m not aiming high. I need rest. And some days, we just have to say, that’s okay.

Yes. Dull pencils drive me bonkers. Quite bonkers.

Author asides: Still releasing soon!! Oh my gosh – oh my gosh – oh my gosh. Who wants to get creeped out in a museum?! ME – Me – ME!! Early 2022 – date coming in a blink!

Dragons at Dusk – first quarter of 2022! Other new works? A glimpse is just around the bend. New events? Will announce the 2022 bookish fun as it is scheduled!!

Bonus: 5 author-signed copies of my Ancient are on giveaway NOW at Goodreads! Here’s the link.

For a list of my works, please visit here.

Stay Inspired!

My Holiday Wish…

What would make my holiday wish come true? A book review, from you!

Dear Friends ~ If you have read and enjoyed one of my tales, I would warmly appreciate a book review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or both! I genuinely appreciate these. Even just your rating and a sentence or two is so meaningful to this independent author who started this writing journey from scratch! Today, I am so excited about where I am, but also for all the stories I have yet to share! So please, make this wish come true! Your support continues to mean everything.

Thank you, thank you. Happy Holidays ~ Michelle

To learn more about my books, please visit here.

To join me on Instagram, please visit here.

To join me on YouTube, please visit here.

Ever Humbled and Thankful

Book day today!! Book days are the best days!

Can’t every day be a book day?!

Thank you to all the gracious folks I met in Skokie at the Holiday Fair Extravaganza today! And for your support, each of you new readers. I ever hope that each tale that walks away, brings with it as much adventure, inspiration, and happiness, as always seems to come to me. I, am ever humbled and thankful.

All my best – Stay Inspired!

Smelly Cheese and Fancy Crackers

Holly jolly! Glitter and gold! Sparkle and lights!

I’ll be in Skokie tomorrow for a little holiday fun, talking books!

If you aren’t within a sleigh ride’s distance, please consider being a fairy godpatron this season with an online order. Because everyone wants a book in their stocking!! Of course!

And chocolates. Of course! And new fuzzy socks…
I’d appreciate some smelly cheese and fancy crackers in my stocking. Is that weird?

Merry, MERRY!
For a list of my tales, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Merry, Merry You All!

Here’s my tiny Christmas tree! It’s real. It drinks a lot of water. Or maybe it just evaporates fast? I enjoy sniffing my tree. That pine scent – oh my word!

I’ll be talking books this Saturday in Skokie at the Holiday Fair Extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.! I would wear my ugly Christmas sweater, but it was so ugly I think I made it disappear from my closet. HA!

Merry, Merry, you all!

Still by Michelle Novak

Roe works as a backer, a jack-of-all-trades in one of New York City’s oldest museums. Housing a legion of ancient treasures, its dim and mysterious halls have been venerated for long over a century. Her father before her, an esteemed historian in the museum for decades. It was from him, that she learned everything.

In this place, Roe’s whole life has been spent. Exploring every shadowy corner, gazing over every priceless piece, sneaking a glance inside every creaky drawer. So, she thought she had discovered all of its even most secret of secrets. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In a museum, there is always more to find. Or more to find you. And here, something has been hiding in the basement for a very long time. Something that has now begun looking, for Roe.

Still by Michelle Novak – Coming 2021

Fairy Tales Make The Best Stocking Stuffers…

Next up for me? Some sparkly festive cheer talking books at Skokie’s Holiday Fair Extravaganza! Fairy tales make the best stocking stuffers, you know! I’ll be there signing mine from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.!

Stay Inspired!

A Magical Mention!

Thank you to Studio Moonfall for hosting this author yesterday. My new Moonfall mug filled with hot cocoa (and refill!) was a treat, and proprietor Donovan Scherer a true mentor to the independent author.

A magical mention!! A selection of my books are now available at Studio Moonfall. Presently – Beauty Sleeping, Veleno, Dragons at Dawn, and Once Upon a Star! If you haven’t yet visited this gem of a bookstore in Kenosha, WI – you really must!

New books, new events, more magic coming soon! But in the meantime, Stay Inspired!

Guest Author at Studio Moonfall Tomorrow!

Guest author at Studio Moonfall in Kenosha tomorrow between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.! I’ll be taking in the fresh air just out front, talking books. And probably eating Halloween candy. Wait – who is bringing the Halloween candy?! There HAS to be Halloween candy! I better find some Halloween candy!?!

Best to you all – and a very Happy Halloween!

Halloween Event!

As my bookish schedule changes, I’ll keep you in the loop. Next up – Studio Moonfall for Halloween!! Can’t wait to see you again – Kenosha! Various vendors for a special day of festive fun! If you haven’t visited this bookshop yet – it’s truly a place of creative delight!

More special announcements just around the bend – and they glitter and sparkle!

Stay Inspired!

Mini Shop in the Parking Lot

Set up a mini bookshop in a parking garage next to my faithful bookmobile today – and I loved it!

Wish everyday could be a book day. I really do.

@evanston_made – thank you for bringing together so many amazing artists. You – are an incredible organization.

And to the new readers I met today – I hope every page turned is a wonderful adventure. And how much I appreciate your stories, your generosity, and your smiles!

Evanston Made This Saturday!

This coming Saturday October 2nd, 12-5pm! Excited to gab about books and creating with my fellow Evanstonians! And hey – the farmer’s market will also be going just outside until 1pm. What a wonderful community gathering! I hope to see you there!

Thank you @evanston_made for this lovely graphic, and for welcoming this author to the fun!!

Be sure to check out Evanston Made! What an organization!

What A Wonderful Adventure…

What a wonderful adventure I had at Studio Moonfall today in Kenosha, WI. Thank you @donovanscherer for graciously hosting me and welcoming my tales to your wondrous bookshop! And a special thank you to the new readers I met today. My goodness – I won’t ever forget this sunny, welcoming, bookish day!

Friends! Special updates coming soon!!! What a magical season this has been! This author’s cup runneth over! How much I appreciate you all…

Stay Inspired!

Studio Moonfall Tomorrow: Sept. 19th!

Though I will not be dressed in historic garb (or will I?), I will be selling and signing my tales tomorrow at the very fantastic Studio Moonfall in Kenosha, WI from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Check out this awesome bookshop at:
https://www.studiomoonfall.com/
 @donovanscherer

All my best!

Studio Moonfall next Sunday, Sept. 19th!!

An exciting update to events! I’ll be a guest at Kenosha’s Studio Moonfall – Donovan Scherer’s House of Art & Story, next Sunday September 19th from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.! Selling and signing my tales, alongside some other super fun vendors! And this bookshop!!! Be sure to check out this amazing place at https://www.studiomoonfall.com/

Gratitude for the invite @donovanscherer and I’ll be seeing you soon, Kenosha readers!

Stay Inspired!

Thank you, thank you!!


Friends ~ Thank you for THE most amazing Bristol season my little bookstore, The Quill and Brush, could have ever hoped for. Your generosity, kindness, ideas, smiles, laughter, and inspiration, were incredible this 2021. My 5th season was truly, a dream.

I wish that every tale that walked away with you, will entertain, lift, delight, hearten, and inspire. Such a hope, is what fills my heart and moves my pen! More stories are very soon on the way!

My next event – Evanston’s Maker’s Market – October 2nd.

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Just Two Festival Weekends Left!

Just two festival weekends left at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Don’t let the heat keep you away from these last magical days. I hope to see you at The Quill and Brush!

Stay Inspired!

For a list of my works, please visit: https://inspiredbyvenice.org/about/

Offering just a little bit…

Do you know what fills my heart? Boxes of books. My books. The loves of my life. The works of my soul. The hundreds of hours spent to give them breath.


They may not look like much in the cardboard, stacked in their paper and plastic. But when I place each individually into someone’s hands, and they walk away, I somehow feel I’m doing what it was I’m here to do. Offering just a little bit of magic, love, happiness, adventure…This is what I have to give.


Stay Inspired

Festival Cheer…

What an amazing season so far at The Quill and Brush at the Bristol Renaissance Faire! The energy this year has been incredible. Thank you for the support of every guest, all of your endless creative inspiration, and festival cheer!

Two weekends left. I hope to see you there!

The Quill and Brush’s beautiful sign was made by Cody Zibung.

I’ll be announcing some new event dates soon. Stay Inspired!

Three More Festival Weekends…

Another magical weekend at The Quill and Brush at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Thank you to every visitor for such an amazing and supportive season!

I sincerely hope each and every one of you is enjoying your reading adventure!

3 more festival weekends yet ahead!

Keep bringing your smiles and all of your creative conversation! How you inspire me!

All of my best ~ Michelle

What I’ve Learned From Writing Books – #3

Dear Friends…5 more beautiful festival weekends yet to visit Bristol, and my little bookshop The Quill and Brush. If you haven’t stopped by so far, I hope you will for a bookish chat – and perhaps even leave with a fairy tale too!

But wherever you are and whatever you’re doing this summer – I hope you’re enjoying life and staying inspired!

Now onwards with our short series of what I’ve learned from writing books, which again, may be considered general thoughts for just about any craft!

#3

Arguably, the most important thing when writing a book, is the trust you must place on yourself.

What’s that mean? Well…

  1. If you think you’ll remember that great idea you had as you were falling asleep last night, no…you won’t. I’ve fumbled around in the dark more than once for a pencil and scribbled a note in the pitch. I tell you, whenever that thought enters your brain, write it down. Don’t trust yourself to remember, trust yourself to write it down.

2. If you think you’re going to recall to fix that sentence during edits later on, no…you won’t. Take a few moments to give that sentence a little love in the moment. Don’t trust yourself to remember to do it, trust yourself to make it your best, as you’re working.

3. Think that word seems like the correct spelling? That you can probably pass on by while you’re writing/editing? I wouldn’t. Check and make sure. Don’t trust 100% in your spelling skills, or that it’s probably correct. Trust in yourself to take the time to check the word. And that goes for the meaning of the word too. If you only knew how many times I was way off, when I thought I was right on.

4. Think you’re sure what history was really like, and you can paint your story with it and then call it true? Oh my goodness, it’s hilarious how many things I put down from my imagination, thinking it was historical. But they were really only theatrical ideas I’d gleaned from movies and reading. Not so much history at all. So, challenge yourself to find out the truth. It’s SO MUCH FUN!! Of course, you can write what you like in your book. You don’t have to be accurate. Have fun being outrageously incorrect if you like, because it’s your book. But if you dig something a bit more true to history (I often do), trust yourself to give some time to research and let go of your assumptions.

5. Trust yourself to read your work from different viewpoints, not just your own. How might someone, other than yourself feel, when reading your words? For example, I’d once phrased a paragraph that later made me reflect that it didn’t sound all that empowering for my young female character! And since my character might be an example to some young lady out there someday, I was quick to make edits. But it was only after I’d reviewed the words from a different view, that I’d even seen this. This isn’t an easy skill! We all come from our own voice and experiences. But trust yourself to give more time to reviewing your work, as another might.

I could keep coming up with examples on self-trust, but they are endless. So let’s just say this…

Each time I sit down to write, the most important thing is to trust that I have my own back. If I care up-front, what I produce in the end, is more likely to be what I was hoping for.

Take A Journey…

It may have been hotter than is bearable this past weekend, but with all those special moments at The Quill and Brush, it seemed nothing at all…

6 more festival weekends at Bristol. I hope to see you there!

And speaking of heat…take a journey through a vast Egyptian desert in my supernatural tale, Ancient. For a description, read here.

Keep cool. Stay Inspired.

What I’ve Learned From Writing Books – #2

Hello Dear Friends! All of my well wishes to you!!

I’ve been focused on preparing for the opening of The Quill and Brush’s 5th season at the Bristol Renaissance Faire for many weeks now. For such a simple little shop, you’d wonder what all takes so much time to prepare?! But let me tell you from experience, even the smallest of small businesses always has plenty to do!

Saturday I was up at Bristol with my folks, making sure all was prepped for opening day, July 10th. Man, those Bristol grounds are beautiful!

Yesterday, I tied up loose ends at home, including bringing out bins of costumes from storage. Hanging them up, I realized how real this all was. Just a few days more!

Who is ready for Bristol?! Rennies say hello in the comments!

But onwards with this mini series of posts about my experience writing books…

(Remember, I think much of these will apply to any creator.)

#2

Writing books takes guts and grit and nerves of steel. If you don’t have those, well, start pretending you do and don’t look back…

What do I mean by this?

First – Writing, editing, and completing a book alone, is very hard work. Hundreds of hours in solitude creating a single novel? Easily. You need to love it that much, and develop great patience. It will be more patience than you have, so just keep finding more. From where? I don’t know. Just do.

Two – You’ve got a lot of learning to do. Everyone does. Being a writer is a continual journey of development. And learning is often arduous and can mess with your confidence. Don’t let it. Just keep moving forward, just keep growing.

Three – What you write will never be as perfect as you want it to be. And I know I have an imagination that I can’t quite fit into a book. That’s hard to accept. But the important thing is whether or not you put your best into what you produce. And you know whether or not you did. Give your best, and you’re doing great!

Four – Giving your work to the world is provoking. That’s my nice way of saying, there’s a lot of emotions when a book is published. It’s exciting and I feel proud, yes. I can’t even describe how it feels to hold that first copy in your hands! But it’s also terrifying. Once you put it out there, it’s not yours anymore. A book has a life of its own for everyone who reads it. And that will bring out both scrutiny and praise, and other unexpected ripples. You must learn to embrace all of that. It’s scary, but beautiful.

Five – Writing books is lonely. But it has to be. It’s you – your mind – and the page. Of course, writing can be terribly exciting and entertaining! But it’s inherently a quiet endeavor. If your personality doesn’t like quiet and solitude (and even if it does), this can be a difficult part of writing.

Six – It’s possible you’ll do all the work, and yet not many people will read your book. Listen – the world is oversaturated with as many options in reading and entertainment, and other things to do. So this shouldn’t be a surprise. Rather, remember to write because you love to, and simply appreciate when others do pick up, read, and even go the extra mile of responding to, what you wrote. If you think of it this way, you’ll keep finding the rewards in writing.

If you’ve read this post, my guess is you love to create something, whether it’s a book, or otherwise. So here’s what I say to you. You just keep doing what you love, no matter what. Even if it’s small steps, or only for yourself, or just as time allows, or with its difficulties. It will always be worth it. And for those of you who have already reached the stars with your craft, keep going for the next universe!

Stay Inspired.

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.

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!

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

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.

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!

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!

October Musings…

Welcome Friends! I’ve missed you! How are you?

What a few weeks it has been! No, I’m not talking the larger world out there. If I started thinking about that, I’d sink. Oh geez. I got anxious just watching Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix last night (terribly chilling), so I best not pay too close attention to the news…

[Here’s the summer haircut – shoulder length and simple.]

I have fully transitioned into my new position, and into remote work along with it. An empty room in my home, which I had always been leaning toward having as a writing room (for over two years I was ‘deciding’…HA!), is now officially OFFICE.

The first week, I was teetering a bit with the change, but a second week in, and I’m quite in stride. All systems go. And being the home-body I am, and also very regimented by nature, remote is working out brilliantly. I still head down to the office for some brief visits. But I love my walks…

[Little Michelle – Whose favorite holiday has always been Halloween!]

Last night, I was digging into some boxes. I’m a nuthatch for minimalism and organization, so I like to review and keep ‘all that I have’ tidy and manageable at all times. Of course, digging into boxes (especially of photos or letters) seems to ever be a nostalgic, and often doleful, experience…

[A handmade Valentine’s card from my mom and stepdad Charlie – images cut from candy bar wrappers – my favorite card.]

I have some hundreds of cards and letters. And I’m sure they hardly scratch the surface of those I’ve received, since I’m pretty certain I didn’t keep a great many prior to the last 10 years. Further, I’m not one for digital communication – I will always prefer a handwritten card or letter.

[Christmas card – the artist my mother Lita. So very special.]

My father alone (who may never have sent an email in his life), has mailed me many piles of notes and cards and newspaper clippings. He, has sent me the most. I could publish a vast book of them.

[Me and my father, Frank]

I had this wistful half-smile on my face as I flipped through little bundles, and what I opened only made a dent.

[A sweet Suzy’s Zoo greeting card from my Aunt Lisa.]

And do you know what I thought? I thought…

I’ve been so loved.

I am so lucky. I’ve so many loving friends and family, and even random brushes with kind people who wanted to say something nice. So many memories and experiences. And so much love.

[I love you, Mama!]

It inspired me to sit down this November (as holiday card time approaches), and really do get a note out to a very many that I want to let know – I love you too, and you are ever cherished.

This is going to take a whole lot of stamps.

[Little Michelle the cave girl on Halloween many moons past.]

In other news, Halloween is just a week away. I have always loved Halloween. Further, I’ve been bonkers for costumes since birth. I was born wearing a costume. An 18th century wig, face powder and beauty patches, of course.

Only…things just don’t feel the same now.

[Me with my mom and stepdad – We take Halloween seriously in this family.]

Irregardless, I plan to at least eat a caramel apple on the occasion, which will likely render me a terrible sugar shock. It wouldn’t be Halloween otherwise…

[My baby, Tiddo – Went to Heaven October 30th, 2018 – I love you forever.]

I have been pondering the past a lot. About how things used to be. Wondering how they will be. Glad that I have already experienced so much in life, and wondering what is next, and how it will look…

[Photo from a decade ago – My Chicago event planner days. Events – at present, a thing of the past.]

What are my goals now? What would I like my next decade to look like? If nothing can be the same as it was, how will I make different be wonderful?

For, we must make life beautiful and magical – no matter what.

I think I will take out a handful of old Christmas cards from my treasure of letters, and set them out again sometime in November. That will be both festive, and special, as I ponder the past, and dream for the future…

[Being goofy…entertaining myself…staying inspired.]

Thank you to all of you, kind hearts, who are walking there beside me…

Do drop a line in the comments! I always delight to hear from you.

And as ever…
You Stay Inspired.

Holding Down The Fort…

Hello, hello! Are you staying inspired today?

Some days, I’ve got to dig a little deeper for my inspiration. Like today. I can’t look outdoors for it, that’s for sure. Here in Evanston, we’ve got a snowy, wet, blustery, dismal ick going on. But that’s the Midwest in January!

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Want to know the not-so-nice place my non-stop-imagination-crazy-brain went this morning? I was thinking about how quickly the snowstorm blew up yesterday. I had mentioned to a co-worker late yesterday afternoon, that I believed we were expecting 3 to 5 inches. That’s what the report said anyway. At that moment, there wasn’t a snowflake to be seen. Within ten minutes, I kid you not, the world outside was going white, we were in a snow globe, a layer already on the ground. Within about an hour, the conditions were bad and the snow already quite accumulated…

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[Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay]

I walk to and from work, so I was worn after a long week, and a great trudge through the cold and snow last night. I was so thankful for the safe, warm, cozy little home I have. And, I’d just picked up some new and very delicious vanilla black tea! As I looked out the window, sipping away, spreading out all the things I’d traipsed home in to dry out, I thought yikes! What a storm!

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[Image by Lense_n_Pen from Pixabay]

So, what was that awful thought I had this morning? I was thinking again about my cozy nest out from the elements. And then, I thought about how hard it would have been for pioneers back in time, who built their little homesteads in the middle of nowhere, out on vast flat fields, with nothing to see for miles around…

Well, I’d learned as a kid in school, just how life-threatening instant blizzards were for pioneers. How, a hapless individual could walk just a short distance out from their house, and be immediately lost, unable to even see well enough to get back to their front door. Uhm, that’s terrible…

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[Image by mbll from Pixabay]

So, which teacher when I was a kid, put that everlasting, horrible thought into my head? The idea that dozens of homesteaders who’d stumbled out of their doors in a blizzard, to tie up a horse or a cow or something, froze to death in the snow, mere feet from their houses. And there, a loved one was waiting, fretting from the threshold, unable to step out from the safety of the shelter, lest they became lost too. That’s really tragic.

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[Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay]

Well, I guess I’m inspired today that I’m not a pioneer from the 1800’s…

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[Image by Successful4 from Pixabay]

It was probably that same teacher who gave us the most awesome assignment ever! Each student had to pretend they were a pioneer, traveling across the U.S. in a wagon with their family. We had to write a journal, and draw pictures, of our imagined journey. It had to be filled with both the good and the bad. A fatal snake bite one day, a swim in a refreshing stream the next. A broken wagon wheel alternating with making new friends with another caravan, etc. I had a field day imagining all the wild things that were happening to my little pioneer self!

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[Image by Jackie Samuels from Pixabay]

Moving on from luckless pioneers…

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Do you know what smell I think is amazing? Another item sparked from my childhood. Tomato vines. They have this spicy, earthy, strong scent that is difficult to describe. I remember it from my Grandma Ina’s garden on a hot summer day. And now, I sniff my tomato vines when I make a salad…

That may, or may not, be a true story.

Moving on from sniffing tomato vines…

I wanted to share a film that I thought was a real gem. The Good Catholic.

A new priest covering a late night confession meets a young woman who confesses something unexpected. His life gets a bit of a shake-up from there, as he continues to encounter this gal. All the while, his interactions with the two other more senior priests that he works alongside, add another interesting layer of things for this priest to ponder…

I liked it so much for the way it spoke on faith, love, and compassion. Also because it was funny and witty throughout. I thought the acting between the three priests was perfectly executed. And too, there’s a sweet friendship. A really nice movie.

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To digress, have you ever paired walnuts and cheddar cheese together? Best snack ever.

Well, I’m off to get things done, while staying cozy in my house. I’ll just hold down the fort right here. Most likely with a veggie pizza…

Stay Inspired!

Fill My Pen With Fairy Dust…

Good Morning Friends! This morning I’m dreaming of writing fairy tales. It is only 6 very short months until The Quill and Brush’s 5th season at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. I am hoping to refresh my book display this year, and am anticipating multiple new tales to showcase within it. 6 months seems a long time, but it actually goes by heart palpitatingly fast when you’re tying up new stories! But, I love it. I truly and dearly love it…

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Still is coming along quite creepily. To all the fans of Veleno, another delicious thriller is just around the corner…

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One New York City museum…a bizarre string of strange happenings…always of course in some darkened, deafeningly quiet, vulnerable moment for the main character. Because what’s more thrilling than that? I’m having a blast

Dragons At Dusk by Michelle Novak

I’ve also pledged to craft a follow-up to Dragons at DawnI will be keeping that promise with some very grouchy and tameless monsters, and some brave knights to get in their way, in Dragons at Dusk…

Beauty Sleeping by Michelle Novak

And of course…copies of the sweetest, most magical, most adventurous little novella my brain could have ever imagined, will be waiting too…I absolutely cherish the newly published Beauty Sleeping

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I’m also considering some other short delights…we’ll see how much fairy dust is left in my pen before Bristol’s opening day, Saturday July 11th, 2020!

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!

Ancient: Coming Soon!

There is a place where the sands run deep. High above, a scorching sun beams. Far below, the ancients sleep. Scorpions scuttle and the ibis stalks, Egyptians chant and the gods, they watch…

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Thirsty jujube leaves stir under the slightest breeze. A lost woman cries out, hands risen as she falls to her knees. Where will she go, how will she survive, now parted forever from her only tribe? 

Sleek statues stare and vipers slither. Incense streams like an angel’s whisper. Hem has a perilous journey ahead, with no choice but endure. Whether or not she will live, of that only the fates are sure…

Waiting For Spring…

Here in Evanston, I’m sure waitin’ on spring! I’m awful tired of wearing a big coat with all my winter trappings and sloshing around through the snow and slipping around on the ice. I want some sun on my face, I want to wear my flip-flops, I want to walk through a garden! Know what I mean?! I’m doing my best to be patient!

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In the meanwhile, I’m working on getting back on the vegan bandwagon, and let me just say that lunch was pretty delicious today! Nowadays there are so many great vegan products out there to help you craft a satisfying and healthy meal, it just takes a bit of getting used to…

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Today I had two crispy Boca vegan chicken patties topped with melty vegan Chao cheese, a spread of Vegenaise, some crisp Pete’s Living Greens lettuce, sliced yellow onion and tomatoes. On the side, celery sticks and a can of cucumber melon fizzy water by Soleil! Just some of my favorite brands when I’m eatin’ vegan!

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In other news, I moved into a new home back in early January and things are quite cozy! I’ve figured out most of the quirks and charms of my new house and Tiddo the cat has adjusted with ease. One of my favorite parts are the large vintage windows that let in so much bright light!

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When Tiddo isn’t scratching up the furniture or racing around like the road runner, he quite enjoys the windows and light too. It’s impossible to believe that he is 18 years old, which means he’s 88 in human years. Let’s just say, he doesn’t act his age!

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In my new home, there is a charming nook for my writing desk. I’m still arranging my home office just how I would like it to be, but I’m loving this quiet little alcove to write in and it gives the room a little more space with the desk set into the wall…

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My newest novel is coming along swimmingly (out early July). It is a romantic odyssey set in ancient times. The title, quite fittingly, is Ancient. Tiddo frequently offers writing advice. He thinks there should be lots of mice in the story. I’m not so sure I can fit that into the plot, but if I devise to add a plague of some sort, I suppose mice could do in place of locusts or pestilence?

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And here’s a sneak peak of the cover art for Ancient before the title and author name are set into place. The screen shot doesn’t do it justice, but it’s really attractive. I can’t wait to share the finished cover and synopsis for Ancient, as the next few months progress!

The Angel In Your Midst

My newest novel (I’ll be releasing the cover and title soon), is a romantic odyssey that takes place in ancient days. I’ve been enjoying the research more than I can say. Research is truly one of my greatest joys and I’m having a blast learning what life was like while the ancient Egyptians were building their pyramids…

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I hadn’t a clue that this would happen, but the novel inexplicably began to saturate some Biblical stories into the weave. It just felt right. Now, I’m certainly no Biblical scholar, but I have read the Bible through several times (completely through…even every verse of ‘who begat who’ which I thought would go on forever and ever)…

In any case, my mind is now buzzing with both the ancient past, and a sprinkling of Bible passages that have left me both awed and haunted…

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Consider for a moment, angels. There’s a verse that has made my eyes grow wide with wonder every time I think of it, for some years past. I think with the holidays in full swing, and all the goodwill that it is about, this verse is quite applicable to the current season…

[KJV: Hebrews 13:1-2]  Let Brotherly Love Continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Think about that for a second…

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A few years back, I participated in a Sunday morning Bible study that spoke on this verse particularly. The main question posed, was whether it was safe to entertain strangers in these times? Just being charitable to a stranger in public on the street, can sometimes feel dangerous. I understand these feelings, though I absolutely believe that Biblical times and our current times are equally scary in their ways. For instance…

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Let us pretend for a moment that it is long, long ago. A wayfarer knocks on your door in the middle of the night, a stranger calling out in need. You quickly light an oil lamp, your family scurries behind you in confusion and trepidation as you consider what to do. Could you admit entrance to a stranger into your humble dwelling, to eat amongst your loved ones, to partake of your meager staples with those ever looming threats of plunder or worse, that were so frequent? Man, you had to be pretty brave (or be housing a brood of burly sons with fast and sharp daggers)!

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I haven’t the answer to ‘entertaining strangers’, whether now or then, except that I believe we must all remain charitable, while doing our best to remain safe.

But let us consider that part about angels. While writing this week, I deeply pondered these words from Hebrews. I find them both fascinating and terrifying. Could you imagine such a powerful creature of God sitting before you in a soup kitchen, while you helped to prepare and serve a meal for them? They all the while, appearing as a downtrodden, regular person?!

My brain just broke…

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My first thought is that I’m quite humbled by God’s reminder to be charitable, for I don’t consider myself charitable enough. Further, would I fail such a test if God sent an angel in disguise before my path? This verse challenges my bravery, my willingness to give, and my personal judgements about my fellow man. Humbled, humbled, humbled am I…

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Second, the angels in the Bible aren’t quite like those cute chubby cherubs or prettily robed ladies in white that might come to mind. If I’d later discovered that the man asking for a dollar on the street had been an angel in disguise, I’d certainly fall to my knees in trembles, cry my eyes out, and potentially go mute for a month. Angels are mighty creatures that serve God, and I have to admit that I’d be mighty terrified to have been in the midst of one…just saying…

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Now it is not exactly comparable (particularly owing to the spiritual component of angels), but it might feel a little like the reaction you’d experience if aliens landed on earth tomorrow, and one approached you in your backyard. My guess would be that anyone would be quite terrified. Encountering a being not of this earth would likely challenge your ability to remain standing…

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But all of this to say (and whether or not you yourself believe in angels or aliens), this verse inspired my writing and excited my thoughts. How would my ancient characters react to the presence of an angel? How can I be more charitable today? What if I have been in the presence of an angel before, and didn’t even know it!? Just a little fun for thought! Every time I spy an angel topper at the height of a Christmas tree this season, I’ll be cautiously glancing around me for secret angels in my midst…

Stay charitable folks! Happy holidays, love yourself, love your neighbors, stay inspired!

That Mummy You Didn’t Know Existed

While in the midst of writing my newest novel (to be released in July 2018), a romantic odyssey that takes place in ancient days, I’m experiencing the usual excitement that I feel when researching a bazillion fun facts that make my stories historically more believable. Researching is a very big part of my writing. It’s a good thing I’m nuts about it! You wouldn’t begin to believe some of the crazy things I’ve learned while ‘digging in a little deeper’…

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That brings me to the creepy thing I recently learned, that I kind of wish I could unlearn, because it gives me the heebie-jeebies. Of course, a romantic odyssey in ancient days must have some mummies, right? As I always say, nothing screams romance more than a frightening scene or two, filled with tombs and all that sleeps within them!

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So…there is more than one kind of mummy in the world. Types of mummies isn’t something that I’ve ever really thought about, mainly because the Egyptian variety are the most widely spoken of. And oh, how I’ve always loved to see the exhibit at The Field Museum titled Inside Ancient Egypt. I’ve visited it since I was a kid!

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What types of mummies are there? Well, there are the kind that people intentionally make, and then there are those that nature makes. Anthropogenic and Spontaneous. The ancient Egyptians made anthropogenic mummies by taking great care to preserve their elite after death. They painstakingly tended to the bodies and provided them with incredible resting places filled with goods to keep them in comfort in the afterlife…

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[Photo Credit: Sven Rosborn]

But then you have the spontaneous mummies, like the hapless folks who fell into acidic bogs a few thousand years ago, and were preserved by nature. Look at how amazing Tollund Man from the 4th century BC looks! He was uncovered in a bog in Denmark. But in spite of his restful repose, this man met with a very sad end. He did not fall into the bog. He’d been hung by a rope, and then left in the bog. Further, evidence seems to indicate that he’d not been hung for a crime, but that he’d been sacrificed…yikes!

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[Photo Source: Pedro Groover]

I’m horrified every time I stumble over history about human sacrifices. Take for example this perfectly preserved young girl. La Doncella above, was just 15 years old. She is also a spontaneous mummy. Around 1500, in an Incan religious ritual, three children were drugged with coca and alcohol and left to freeze to death in the Andes mountains. After exposure to the elements, they were placed in a tomb, where they each died in their sleep. The particular climate of the region was the key to the children’s preservation (not people). Even every tiny braided strand in this girl’s hair are still perfect. Those poor little souls…

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There are also a great many cases of mummification that fall somewhere in the middle, both anthropogenic and spontaneous. For instance, family taking some steps to preserve the body of a loved one, and then the conditions of the burial place doing its part to keep the body in good condition as well. The air quality and dirt makeup inside a cavernous crypt beneath the alter of an ancient church, for instance, might be a good place for that…

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But let us speak of another kind of mummy. The kind that when I learned about it, quite frightened me. First however, revisit what an ascetic is. An ascetic is one who for religious reasons, either denies themselves the pleasures in life (rich food, fine things, companionship, etc.) or goes even so far as to hurt themselves intentionally as a method of denial and lack of pleasure (whipping oneself, for instance)…

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Now, even though I could never deny myself a good meal or basic comforts on purpose, I can definitely see the beauty in living a simpler life intentionally, so as to focus on something higher and more important than the need to acquire more in this life. As they say, you can’t take it with you! But I digress…

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Of course, hurting oneself as a method of denial and discipline..no way! Can’t fathom it. But as for that unique set of mummies I spoke of, they go much farther than simply denial or pain. It is called SokushinbutsuFrom the 1000’s through the 1800’s, Buddhist monks in Northern Japan sometimes chose to mummify themselves. By denying oneself regular food, and eating only small portions of natural things that do not induce weight gain (tree resin, pine needles, etc.), the body would become thin, all fat decimated…

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Months, and sometimes years of denial in this way, while dedicating life to meditation, yielded a starved body. Eventually, also denying the body water was introduced, and the body became dehydrated…organs would shrivel, skin would grow dry, muscle cramping would be extreme…

I drink approximately a gallon and a quarter (or more) of water a day…this sounds like a horror story!

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Now, we can all guess where this story leads. After a time of this, the body gives up. But all the while, the monk remains in his sitting meditation state while chanting, until death occurs. Because of what the monk’s body endured, it is preserved. Such a long duration of minimal fat intake and dehydration = self-induced mummification. A form of anthropogenic mummification, on yourself. These mummies can still be viewed today. You can see them in their temple settings here

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There is mention of monks sipping poisonous tea (to keep their bodies from decay after death), or monks allowing themselves to be holed up in a tight space with only a straw extending out from the space to breath from, and many other terrible things. Such denial, such loneliness, such agonies! I’d have died of terror before the poisonous tea and dehydration got me! This form of suicide was banned in the early 20th century…

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Now, I must note that some Buddhists continue to revere those ascetics that died in this way and are preserved in this fashion. Therefore, though I personally cannot comprehend it, I must allow that it is considered a sacred act by some. But oh, I’m sorry for those monks! My 13th century self would have snuck those monks some big bowls of rice and vegetables, and begged them not to carry through with their plan!

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So there are your mummy fun facts for the day folks, because I know how eager you were to learn all of this. And now that you’ve learned it, you can’t unlearn it, just like me!

…back to writing my ancient tale. Stay inspired folks!

Stabbed By A Pencil, More Than One…

If you laugh a bit as you read this post, I wouldn’t blame you. As a matter of fact, I might laugh myself if my arm weren’t so sore. After all, when people meet with silly mishaps, I sometimes giggle (as long as they aren’t seriously injured of course). If I fall down, believe me, I’ll be the first to laugh…

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Evanston had its first snow yesterday morning, which reminds me of one mishap that I keenly remember giggling over when I was little. My grandma once told a story about her father (my great-grandfather). In the story, it was a freezing snowy day, and he was walking a distance. Great-grandpa had his hands in his pockets for warmth. He slipped in the snow and fell forward. Frantically, he tried to pull his hands out of his pockets, but he couldn’t pull out his hands in time and fell face first…

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Oh my goodness! I was itty when I heard that tale. And grandma told it more than once. Great-grandpa received a good scraping up, but I’ll guess he wasn’t worse for wear…he was an able-bodied farmer that likely’d had more than one such scramble in his life! What made me laugh so hard that I was in tears? Grandma’s description of great-grandpa trying withal to pull his hand out of his pockets as the snow came closer and closer while he stumbled. Oh heavens!

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So what happened to me two afternoons ago? Well, I’d cleared off my desk for some serious work. I’ve got books to wrap for next weekend’s participation in one awesome holiday extravaganza, and some documents to review that just needed a blank space to look over clearly. My supplies were in the way. So, I set my desk items just next to my desk, atop a plastic bin…

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I’d ripped up some paper and tossed it toward the trash, but one little scrap didn’t make it into the garbage bag (hanging over said plastic bin). So, I reached over the plastic bin to retrieve that errant piece of paper, which had floated to the carpet. I was immediately met with a fierce, fiery pain in my bare arm. Holy cow! Pencil stabbing to the extreme

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So, I’m a writer. I have a cup of super-sharp pencils. About ten in total, sharp as sharp, ready to scribble. I keep the points up so that I don’t dull or break the tips. I’ve now learned that this is a serious mistake. Sort of like the common sense law of put-your-knives-upside-down-in-the-dishwasher-cutlery-holder-so-you-don’t-reach-in-and-stab-yourself…

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Oh my word…I pulled up my arm and two pencils were dangling from my flesh. These weren’t the only pencils to stab me, but they’d gone the deepest and remained clinging to my skin. What was my first terrible thought? Tend to the wounds quicklylead poisoning

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I pulled out the pencils in a way that was reminiscent of pulling arrows out of one’s arm while under attack, and ran to the bathroom. Holy beans, I was bleeding pretty good from one of the punctures (which mind you was clearly blackened from the metallic tip of the pencil). I rubbed and washed out the wounds, poured antiseptic over them, swiped antibacterial cream, and then bandaged up. Now, being the researcher I am, I had to look this up. Stabbed by pencils…what’s my risk? Lead poisoning? Blood poisoning?

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Ok…let’s preface my reaction. First, somewhere sometime when I was a child, some educator must have frightened my classroom with threats of lead poisoning if we didn’t stop chewing on our pencils, or if we were contemplating poking one another with one. Second, I research history all of the time, and sadly, many a person in the past met with trouble over the smallest, mundane injury. That’s why my sweet Martinella in Veleno succumbs to a little nick of a knife in the palazzo kitchen after it causes her some long suffering. Of course, we have blessed antibiotics today, but how surreal would it be to go to the emergency room because a pencil stab-wound got infected?

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Further, my father (one tough, decades-long metal fabricator and foreman) once got a metal sliver in his finger that would easily have taken his life from the terrible infection that ensued, had it not been for antibiotics and modern doctoring. The incident was serious. In history, such happenings weren’t so uncommon, and they didn’t end well. Though I don’t freak out over minor injuries, let’s just say I keep watch over my cuts…

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So what fun fact did I discover? Yes, in the past lead was involved in the construction of pencils, putting people at continual risk for poisoning. However today, pencils aren’t poisonous. Though a puncture wound is a wound and should still be monitored, the likelihood of something nasty happening because of a pencil is likely to be rare indeed. (Tell that to my throbbing arm…when I pulled the pencils out, it looked like a vampire had sunk his fangs into my arm.)

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Back in ancient times, sticks of lead were used for drawing and writing. But as far as pencils go in later times, it wasn’t the internal source of the pencil that was dangerous (graphite), it was the outer source. That paint on the outside of pencils once contained lead. And well, sometimes the wee ones enjoyed chewing on pencils as they studiously contemplated their school work. Even handling a lead pencil each day, would have had its threats to health…

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Just thought I’d share this interesting information with you, just in case you inexplicably (like me) believed your life was in danger around a pencil. But all jokes aside, turn your sharp pencils upside down in their holders (and any other sharp objects in your home that are the wrong side up for that matter). Because, you never know when you’ll meet with a freak incident like mine! Why didn’t I learn this lesson in grade school? “Walk with your scissors facing down, children.” Believe me, you don’t want to know what it feels like to meet with such sharp points…

Rock on friends…stay healthy, stay happy, stay inspired! Beware of sharp objects. Have a good laugh on my account. Carry on…

Come Say Hello At The Holiday Fair Extravaganza in Skokie, Illinois!

Hello, hello! The holidays are coming! Once Halloween passes this Tuesday, every store will be filled to the brim with decorations and everything to fill your gift list. Jingle Bells will be playing on the radio and those warm and fuzzy commercials tempting you to buy, buy, buy, will begin. Oh my!

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I always love the sparkle and the meaningful themes that this season is truly about. But don’t you feel like the holidays always come too fast and then are over in a flash? If only we could enjoy the merriment a little more, without all of life’s constant hustle and bustle, and stress. That is my wish to you, that you’ll enjoy this season to the absolute fullest, surrounded by friends and loved ones!

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I wanted to share a special event, with hopes that you’ll come by to see me! Just a few weeks away, I’ll have a table for book signing at the Holiday Fair Extravaganza in Skokie, IL. The event will take place at the Weber Leisure Center and supports local crafters and artists. Taking place on Saturday, November 18th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., there will be lots of handmade fare, hot drinks and baked treats! Good ole’ holiday craft fair fun to start the season out in the most cheerful way!

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I just had a sudden craving for some peppermint bark and a raspberry linzer cookie (or five). Linzer cookkieeessss…..mmmmm….nom, nom, nom. I digress…

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My books will be available for purchase, with hopes that some of my tales will make it into a stocking or two, inspiring some winter reading and adventure! I may or may not be wearing an ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ for my own amusement…

If you live in the Chicagoland area, I sincerely hope to see you there! Click here to see a list of my works, with many more harrowing adventures to come!

My very best wishes to you from the very start of this season of goodwill and cheer!

Veleno Giveaway on Goodreads!

There is currently a special giveaway on Goodreads for your chance to win one of three signed copies of Veleno, sent straight from my desk to you! The giveaway ends on Halloween at midnight…

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There once was a great Venetian palace. The name of which, everyone did know. Inside its walls dwelled an esteemed noble family. All revere, ’tis the House of Orso!

Its patriarch, a rich and powerful merchant. With a wife very clever, such a beautiful sight. His daughters, four, a precious gift. How unfortunate now, each should meet their plight…

Orso dead? Perhaps by plague! Mirella turned strange, a widow made.

Fina gone, for a courtesan’s life. Noemi must escape, or make a woeful wife. Mafalda will rise in a cold, cruel pit. Paola sent off to a nunnery, might lose her wits.

Venice’s year, 1575. Pestilence arrives, Venetians fear for their lives! But in Orso’s house, strong daughters were made. Yet can courage be enough, to escape the grave?

To check out my Goodreads author page, click here! For your chance to enter the Veleno giveaway on Goodreads, head here! Good luck and happy reading!

The Blessing Of A Friend’s Garden

I’d set aside today as a strict writing day and nothing was going to pry me away from my desk, nothing! I’m working on my newest novel, a romantic odyssey set in ancient days, and the perilous passages were just ready to spill from my fingertips (because I’ve decided a romance needs lots of peril). But then I got a text from a girlfriend across town. I brought the garden for you today!!

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My friend doesn’t have a garden. These greens actually come from her friend’s garden. My friend is house sitting and some greens were just calling to be picked and eaten before they went to waste. And if anybody has any extra greens, I’m all too happy to eat them. Granted, I finished the chapter I was working on before I hopped in my car to zoom across town…

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I was gifted with a bag of lettuce, Swiss chard, dill, rosemary, chives and itty bitty tomatoes. Life is good! Have you ever sauteed Swiss chard with a little olive oil and garlic? Takes 2 minutes and tastes heavenly

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Tiddo the cat was checking out the herbs before I even knew he was in the kitchen with me. He wanted to see if the greens were some of that fresh catnip I nab from neighbors’ front lawns from time to time…

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Earlier in the week, this said friend also gave me some zucchini from said garden. Tonight, it took me all of 10 minutes to prepare supper. I made a vegetable tian with one zucchini, some Campari tomatoes I had on hand, and the fragrant rosemary. Drizzled over a little olive oil, sea salt and balsamic. It’s in the oven now…

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Rinsed the Swiss chard, plucked off the veiny tough stems, and will toss in the skillet just before the tian is ready (it wilts like a side of steamed spinach, but tastier)…

Goodness is it a blessing to have a friend with a friend who has a garden!

Stay inspired, eat your veggies, show someone you care!