An Update on Eleanora

Eleanora, release date Spring 2023

A little bit longer…

At long last, I’m happy to be able to share an update regarding my upcoming book, Eleanora. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the road to publication is LONG. The stretch of time between signing with a publisher and actually holding your book in your hands is only the last mile. It’s now been years since I wrote the final words of this book. And it’s been even longer since I originally played around with the first words of the story that eventually became Eleanora. But the end is almost in sight and if it feels anything like I think it will, all the waiting will be worth it.

Spring 2023

The original plan was for Eleanora to debut this fall. And while I wish that could have happened, I have received an update from my publisher that the release has now been scheduled for the Spring of 2023. Of course, I’d love to introduce everyone to this story as soon as possible, but you know what they say about good things! I am still waiting on the exact release date – tentatively some time in May – and will give an update as soon as it is final.

Eleanora, a preview…

In the meantime, I’d like to share a little more of what this story is about. Eleanora is the story of one mother’s unthinkable tragedy when her son disappears from his bed in the middle of the night. Two years pass with no updates, no clues, no sign of him. For Eleanora, time stopped the moment Owen vanished. But, for everyone else, life just goes on…

It’s been two years since that night. The one where the worst possible thing happened. The nightmare thing. The torment, torture, rip-you-apart thing.  

The night when her son–her baby–her Owen–vanished. 

And every day Eleanora exists in the hell of knowing that she did the one thing no mother is ever supposed to do… lose their child. 

Eleanora has been living a half-life since her 4-year-old son disappeared from his bedroom one freezing February night, the back door left swinging open in his wake. With no clues, no leads, and no news of what happened to Owen, the days and months drag on with no comfort and no closure.

Intuition tells her that Owen is alive and Eleanora shuts out everyone who doesn’t believe. But she fails to see that her blind hope, at the expense of everything else, is tearing her away from who she used to be–a capable, caring woman with a solid career and happy marriage–and everyone who loves her–her sister, her parents, even her husband.

When an unexpected surprise suddenly offers Eleanora a second chance at happiness, she is shocked to feel….nothing. With the unsolved mystery of Owen’s disappearance a constant anguish, peace truly seems impossible.

Questioning whether she is still a mother, even without her child, still a woman, even without her husband, Eleanora struggles to see that life, ugly and painful as it can be, might still be worth living.

The Northern Lights – freezing & in awe at the edge of a field in Iceland

Iceland – September 26, 2022

Under-dressed

It was 80 degrees at home when we packed our suitcases. And, in all honesty, our focus was on the first part of our trip–the 4 days we were spending in Germany to run the Berlin Marathon. We triple checked to make sure we had our race gear, Garmin watches, running shoes and everything else needed to ensure the race would be a success. The second part of the trip–the two days we would spend in Iceland on the way home–was almost an afterthought.

So that is how we came to be standing on the edge of a field just outside of Reykjavik with a van-load of other tourists, staring up at the night sky, freezing our asses off.

We were seriously under-dressed despite wearing every layer we had packed. Our sweatshirts and light jackets, which seemed more than sufficient when we threw them in our suitcases, did nothing to keep out the cold. Teeth chattering, we watched tiny, barely discernible wisps of white float up from the horizon. After an hour we (and everyone else) caved and put on the full body snow suits the tour guide provided, wondering if the whole thing was a bust.

Bring up the lights

Despite our doubt, the guide’s excitement was growing. He insisted we were experiencing exactly what we came to see–an amazing display of the Northern Lights and that it would only get better. He made us line up one by one and pose for photos with his long-exposure camera. My husband and I looked at each other doubtfully. If we squinted, we could barely make out the faint lights he was referring to. We thought longingly of our warm bed back at the hotel.

Another half an hour passed when suddenly, lights began to move across the sky. Green, blue, red and white swirls of color danced from one horizon to the other. They flashed and twisted, disappearing and reappearing. It was impossible to see it all at once–the sky filled completely with movement and color. We all repeated over and over, oh my god, look at that, unable to further articulate the incredible moment.

Freezing but gorgeous!

The tour guide practically danced. He lined everyone up for more pictures and then took off across the field with his camera. He came back breathless and ecstatic, insisting it was one of the most amazing displays he had ever witnessed.

Another beautiful, albeit freezing, hour passed before we had to head back to town. We reluctantly handed back our snow suits and sat shivering, even in the heat of the van. It was 1AM and we were tired and still marathon-sore. But we were in absolute awe of what we had seen.

Long exposure

It took a few weeks, but we finally received the long exposure pictures from the tour guide. The great swirls of light the guide photographed when he ran across the field are amazing. And while we look like silly tourists in our matching snowsuits, it’s a memory I’m very glad to have frozen in time.

One page at a time: Trust the writing process

Trust the writing process.

Many writers are asked about their writing process. As with most things that take any amount of effort–working, parenting, creating art, running, marriage–no one seems to go about it in the same way. And while I’m sure there are less-productive ways to do it, there are certainly lots of different ways that work well for some people, and don’t work at all for others. 

Take running, for example. My husband and I started running together back when we were dating. It was something we could do together that was healthy, fun and, even better, free! Since we’ve been married, we have run three marathons and a boatload of other races together. They weren’t all perfect. We sometimes annoy each other or struggle to keep up if one of us is having an off day. But in general it’s something we really like to do. However, agreeing on a route around our neighborhood for training runs? Forget it. He’s happy to include laps around the high school track, repeat the same streets, or hit the steep hills. Me, on the other hand, I’m never one for doubling back where we’ve already been. I think running laps is torture. And I’ll take a long slow hill over a steep one any day. But somehow, we both get our training done. 

When it comes to writing, I’m constantly fascinated by the different habits and methods other writers follow. Some of them I absolutely know wouldn’t work for me. Turning off all social media between Monday morning and Friday afternoon to avoid distraction is one particular one that comes to mind! But I’m sure there are others that I could learn from. In the end, I know the way I write isn’t perfect, but it’s my own particular style and, for now, I’m trusting the process. Here’s a tiny, but honest glance into the way I write.

The Writing Process

Do you write every day?

Definitely not! With a full-time day job, kids, pets, a husband, and a list of things to do that never seems to get any shorter, I don’t write nearly as often as I would like to. When my kids were younger and had a more predictable schedule, I was a little better about fitting it in, but it’s definitely slipped more in recent years. I would very much like to make it more of a priority, because I find it very relaxing and therapeutic. 

Do you have writing goals or timelines? 

I have tried, on occasion, to set word count goals, but I don’t find them to be particularly realistic or motivating. I have to be in the right mood to get productive writing done. Forcing myself to work on something when I’m not in the right headspace ends up being a waste of time. In the end, I just get it done when time allows, one page at a time.  

Where is your favorite place to write?

On my couch with my dog curled up beside me. I sit at a desk all day for work, so I like to put my feet up when I’m writing otherwise it feels too much like a task and not a pleasure. (Gratuitiously cute dog picture, for reference!)

Do you outline a story before writing it?

I have tried very hard to be better about outlining, but I find it just doesn’t work for me. I have written two books and started a third. The first two started as a scene I saw very clearly in my head that I had to write down. From there I built a story around that scene–why were the characters there, what brought them to that moment, what did they do next? 

In the case of the second book, which ended up being the book that eventually sold and is being published, I did a loose outline for where I thought I wanted to take the story. But as I started to write it, the book just didn’t go in that direction and I ended up abandoning the outline. For the book I’m working on now, I started with a type of person in a certain situation that I wanted to write about. I know that there are particular things I want to include in that person’s story. But I don’t think you really get to know your characters until you start to give them some room to breathe. For me, that is what helps determine the arc of the story.  

Where do you get ideas for your writing?

It definitely varies. The most obviously place is from the things or people closest to me, and in a roundabout way that was the inspiration for Eleanora. When my kids were very young I thought a lot about their safety and would worry about something bad happening to them. In the book, Eleanora’s 4-year-old son goes missing from his bed in the middle of the night–really a parent’s worst nightmare. So writing about it was a way to exercise those anxieties in a safe space and say “what if the worst were to happen?” 

In other cases, I’ve been inspired to write about things I like to do, like traveling to different countries. Or in the case of the new book I’m working on, I’m writing about a topic that I find particularly interesting to research. 

What is something you now know about the writing process that you didn’t know before?

That you will read your own book MANY times! Between the writing, drafting, and querying, plus all the rounds of editing, a lot of the time you have to dedicate to writing is actually spent re-reading your own words, over and over. And even then, there are new things you will catch every time!

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