A Whole New World

Spring-Equinox_ss_103777808I did not blog in March 2020. Not because I forgot – not because I didn’t want to – but because I couldn’t bring myself to write, as I usually do, about a month, a time of year that generally brings renewal, hope and great optimism for me as well as every CELT I know.

Madien_Goddesses_countocramThe vernal equinox – a time when light and dark are equal – is a magical, powerful, time of year.

The day after the equinox is especially celebratory because two minutes of daylight are gained.

The bringing of life, of light, of hope – it all happens in the second half of March.

March 2020 brought more uncertainty and more fear than anytime in my recent memory, with the possible exception of 2008 and its fallout, which for my family impacted us for most of the following decade.

Now it’s April. April 15th – tax day – to be exact.

IMG_1935I am more hopeful today than I was last month or even last week. It’s not the weather, it snowed here yesterday and it’s still cold for April. Perhaps hearing the birds everyday and seeing them actively building their nests is inherently joyful and that joy soothes a worried soul. I don’t know.

Our daughter’s May 16, 2020 wedding reception has been re-calendared to May 2021. Her wedding will still take place, but only our daughter, our soon-to-be son-in-law, their minister, and her husband will be in attendance. They will video the ceremony and replicate it next May when hopefully all those who would have attended this year will see it and forever be a part of their union.

We adapt. We move forward.

I’m not sure where we’ll be next month or the month after that. I am hopeful that this time next year we – my family and I – will be better off than we are today.

20200412_113008The daffodils have finally bloomed in my garden, reminding me that Spring and the hope it brings are alive and well. Please love those you care for most deeply even harder. Reach out to friends you haven’t spoken with in a while. Remember all those who’ve gone before with kindness. And, above all, be kind to yourself.

Stay safe. Be well. Until next time, my friends, love deeply, often, and without reservation. Blessings to you now and Always,

Leigh

Motherhood

I’m starting to write again, in earnest, as another chapter in my life – one I’ve been holding on to for too long – is coming to a close.

th (1)My son has two feet out the door on the path to his own life. I am happy and excited for him. He’s wanted a wife since he proclaimed exactly that, quietly, emphatically, at age two. When I asked why, he answered “because I want someone to love and snuggle with”.

Okay.

BEST REASON TO BE MARRIED, EVER……………FROM A TWO-YEAR-OLD. (And yes – I’ve put this in a book).

This beautiful human is about to turn twenty-one. He is in a master’s program for criminal justice at UWM. I’m incredibly proud of him.

And yet, I’ve put my life on hold to try to be a mother who cares, a mother who is present, a mother – who unlike the mother I love who has now passed on – cares to spend time with her children.

I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how we prioritize, no matter how frequently or deeply we engage with our children, we need to let go. We, and by “we” I mean “I”, need to move up on, or just care about what I’m doing more than I care about making up for the perceived – AND I DO MEAN PERCEIVED – losses in my own life.

silhouette-mother-walking-hand-child-vector-87964024It’s well past time I acknowledge that not only am I a good mother, I am the best mother I can be.

Now it’s time to be the best ME I can be.

Happy writing,

Leigh

 

 

 

The End of a Decade…and the beginning of a new one

doorClosing the door on the 2010’s really was an exercise in ending one stage of life and entering another.

We lost both my parents, the last of our first three deerhounds, and started two new businesses – one of which is still growing, the other closed.

Our children are now adults. One an N.D. One entering the master’s program in Criminal Justice.

My husband and I are empty-nesters who still feed and house one child we see sometimes.

A knee – not mine – is scheduled to be replaced and I have more sparkle in my hair that I like (so far).2020

2020. It seemed so far away in 1990. Now, it’s here.I never imagined then I’d be doing what I’m doing now.

Old doors closing…….New ones opening.halo

May every door that closes create an even more beautiful one.

What door are you imagining walking through from now until 2030?

What does the next decade hold?

May it be filled with opportunity and growth.

Leigh

NaNo November, and Writing

tough writingWriting is hard. At least it’s hard for me. I love the flow of it, once I get there. I love going where the characters lead – especially when I don’t know that the path I’ve set them on is the right one.

Invariably (so far) I have to rewrite my first few chapters. Rarely am I right about what makes an amorphous story idea great at the beginning of the first draft.

deadlinesDeadlines help. They help me get out of my head and just write. That’s when the magic happens. Words get written. Stories evolve.

I am a better writer when I write every day – even if what I’ve written is only one page. I don’t know why that’s true – maybe because the story stays alive inside me when i write each day.

However you write, whatever your process, it’s the writing and the resulting story that matter.

NaNo write MoI’m thankful for NaNo. Not because I follow the rules, I don’t, but because it forces me to just sit and write.

Happy writing. Happy Thanksgiving

May your November be filled with joy, productivity, and writing (or reading or both).

Leigh

Reading & Writing Outside the Box

writing1Have you ever written outside your genre?

Do you read outside your favorite genre?reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading for me is easy. I love it. Reading fiction or non-fiction is escape – MOST OFTEN. I’m rarely invested beyond my enjoyment and the edification to be gained. If what I’m reading I don’t like after about 25 pages, I stop. That number used to be higher, 50+ pages. As I get older, I’m more conscious of the time I’m spending – or maybe it’s a product of instantaneous things to read. Good things.

 

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Reading is easy.

Writing – for me – is hard. I’ve chosen a path which has required more business writing these past few months. It’s informed my fiction – which coincidentally isn’t easy either.

What writing outside my comfort zone has taught me is that when I do have the time to write for me, I need to focus on what I love. What I’m proud of. What makes me excited.

As life moves forward this October – I’m reading more and giving myself the birthday present of writing what stirs me.reading1

What are your thoughts on writing and reading?

Happy October,

Leigh

Celtic Celebration & Prayer

The third week of August marks the last few weeks of summer here in Wisconsin. It’s also four of the best days of the year for me.

MIF-30_LogoNEG-Color

The World’s Largest Celtic Festival, Milwaukee Irish Fest, ran last Thursday through Sunday at Milwaukee’s Summerfest Grounds. This is not only a celebration of my family’s culture, it is time I spend every year with those I love – singing, dancing, volunteering, eating, drinking and praying. It is at its heart a celebration of life and love and everything that binds us together.

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In honor of that spirit, I’ll leave you with an ancient Celtic prayer called: “The Deer’s Cry” (also known as: St. Patrick’s Breastplate”).

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven, light of sun,

Radiance of moon,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea,

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.

Love & light,

Leigh

 

Full Moon Blessings

full moonOn July 16th, this past Tuesday, there was a full moon. This July full moon is called the “BLESSING” moon. Alternatively, July’s full moon is called the “MEADOW” moon.

I have meadows in all of my WARRIOR books. This meadow, adjacent to a lovely pond, is featured in the home setting for Potters Woods in SPARRING PARTNERS.

meadowThis meadow, pond and many, many full moons were the setting of my childhood and early adulthood. I cannot think of this sacred space without feeling the joy of place; the budding of heart-stopping, earth-shattering romance – the kind you only let yourself feel once.

That meadow, that pond, the many full moons, shaped the woman I am today. A sentimental, soul-deep romantic. An elemental sensualist who enjoys being one with my environment. One who takes every full moon as a blessing to be danced under.

How could I not write about them?

I hope this week’s moon was visible to everyone – it will still be a spectacular sight throughout the weekend.thWherever you may be this week, wherever life circumstances and the moon find you, may you be blessed.

Leigh

Home Again

Happy June everyone!

We haven’t quite hit summer in Wisconsin yet – still cool here.

Normally I  post about my garden and the upcoming solstice – but I thought I’d share some of my work-in-progress instead.

At its heart, HOME AGAIN, is a romance. Big surprise. Yet the jumping in point – the inciting incident – is author, and relationship guru, Garrett Oakley’s estrangement from his father, Robert, and his being forced by circumstance to come home and confront it head-on.

 

HOME AGAIN: A Door County Novel

April 2019

Chapter One

     Robert Oakley was a kind of man who needed a woman, often many women, around him, to make his life complete. Unfortunately, everyone he loved, with the sole exception of his second grade crush, had up and died on him. Leaving him an empty core of the man he had been with them in his heart, his life, and his bed.

     Robert’s father had been the kind of man who worked hard, was often seen with his paper and his pipe, who loved his family in that quiet way of the men of his time—more hands off than openly supportive.

     Douglas James Oakley, veteran of the war to end all wars, Robert’s father, made a habit of kissing his wife on the cheek first thing when he came home from work. Before he’d even set his briefcase and lunch tin down on the kitchen table. He often ruffled Robert’s hair affectionately before making his way into his study for an evening cocktail before dinner. No one bothered Robert’s father as he sat alone in his study reviewing the days thoughts and actions. Robert certainly wouldn’t have dared to do so. Instead, Robert spent his time with his mother. He helped her make dinner. He helped her in the garden. And after school when he was done playing with his friends, it was his mother who helped him with his homework. It was his mother he told his hopes and dreams to. And, ultimately, it was his mother loved him more than anyone else in the world.

     Robert believed then, as he did now, that it only took one person to love you with their whole heart to elevate your soul and increase your capacity for love. Those changes to one’s spirit were indelible and lasted well beyond one lifetime.

     He hadn’t been that person for Garrett. And for that, he paid a heavy price. Garrett seemed determined to see to it. Rarely had he seen Garrett put more effort into anything, than he had in casually hating Robert.

     Garrett no longer spoke to him, and hadn’t about anything real, for nearly a decade. Robert regretted his role in making that reality. More than he regretted anything since missing his mother’s funeral. He’d been unconscious in a medivac unit at the time, so it couldn’t be helped, but sometimes things you couldn’t help, hurt nearly as much as those you could. Robert knew he’d let his long dead mother down with his treatment of his son. She’d be ashamed of Robert. Quietly ashamed, but ashamed no less, for his abdication of his parental duties following the death of his wife. And then, the death of his second wife whom Garrett had clung to after losing his own mother. She’d been like the only ship on a stormy sea that may never settle again for Garrett.

     Garrett was a man now. He no longer needed a father the way he had when he was young. Robert didn’t miss Garrett’s childhood, but he had missed most of his son’s adolescence. Now Garrett seemed determined to isolate himself from his father. Robert wasn’t going to let anyone, not even Garrett, rob him of knowing his son in whatever time Robert had left on this earth.

     Robert didn’t blame Garrett for sidelining him to the role of distance observer. Robert knew he’d earned that. Earned or not, Robert simply wasn’t willing to tolerate it any longer when he could do something to change his relationship with Garrett. What was the worst that could happen, he wondered?

     Perhaps he shouldn’t have asked.

     But he did ask and he did jump right in and it was a fault of his long dead mother appearing to him in a dream saying as clearly as she often did in their garden, “You can’t grow what you don’t plant, Robert. And you can’t harvest what you don’t tend.”

     Right on the heels of his mother’s unsolicited gardening advice, Astrid, the seven-year-old daughter of his manager, Poppy, came barreling into his office and asked him why his son wasn’t helping with the renovations at The Red Robin Inn. Robert told her he hadn’t spoken to Garrett in a long while and that Garrett lived far away and didn’t have time to visit. And he was way too busy writing books to help with building new cottages at the Red Robin.

     “Then you should put Garrett in a time out,” Astrid said emphatically. “A really, really, long time out.”

     Robert leaned down toward Astrid and said, “Garrett is a grown man. I can’t put him in timeout.”

     Astrid cocked her head at him and replied, “you should’ve put him in timeout before he got to be a grown man. Then maybe he’d come home now.”

     Robert had never put himself or Garrett in timeout. He probably should have done both long before he lost his first wife. He couldn’t change that, although he would certainly do so if he could.

     What he could do was actively plant and start tending the garden he wanted to flourish.

 

What themes intrigue you in your writing? What types of fiction are your favorites? Family ties always play a role in what I write, and I’m a fan of reading romance with strong family ties and over-arching friendships. How about you?

 

May your June be filled with love, adventure, and some really great summer reading.

 

Leigh

Where’s the Romance?

I walked into one of Milwaukee’s last independent bookstores this week. It’s a lovely place filled with “Indie Books” published by offshoots of traditional publishers. It has a section for books by local authors, and books about Wisconsin and Milwaukee.

thThe “Thriller Section” is small – I own, or have read, roughly 90% of the thrillers displayed. The “Essay Section” was the exact opposite. If I recognized 5% of the titles, that would have been generous.

They had a “Children’s Section” (enormous), and a “YA Section” (impressive). Also well represented were: Philosophy, Criticism, Cooking, and self-help.

What they didn’t have – not a single title – was Romance. NO ROMANCE! REALLY?Perhaps this lack of display, and quite frankly respect, for one of the most widely-read genre’s, is indicative of a space reserved for “Higher Thinking”.th (3)

Perhaps it’s short-sighted, willful stupidity.

Whatever could be the impetus behind this glaring lack? It is a lack. A lack of heart. A lack of sheer escapist joy. A lack of critical thinking.

th (2)The store even had three shelves dedicated to Tarot. I’ve got a full shelf in one of my bookshelves dedicated to Tarot – I’m certainly no Tarot snob. Still, more people love and devour romance novels than will ever crack open a book on Tarot.

On the upside, however, they did have one copy of my favorite book for giving, “Anam Cara”.

I also picked up “How to Stop Time”, by Matt Haig, for ten bucks. At its core, it is a book about love.

I’m not quite sure where to go with this. NO ROMANCE SECTION! What I am sure about is, reading great love stories, or even just good ones, can turn an otherwise dismal day into one worth living.

So, buy and read more romance. Any one of mine will make you smile. You can find them here: https://www.amazon.com/Leigh-Morgan/e/B004F9AT9Y?ref=dbs_p_pbk_r00_abau_000000

Happy reading – Happy May -May love find you no matter how hard you may hide or how lacking your community bookstore.

Leigh

Daffodils and a Grand Dame

is (1)The world is coming together to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral. That is testimony to humanity and what living history means to so many.

There are many parts that cannot be recreated with exactitude. That leaves room for creating something beyond compare – a testament to human creativity and the search for beauty in today’s world.

I think that’s beautiful.

gary-smith-daffodils-flowers-covered-in-snow-norfolk-ukIt reminds me of the daffodils peeking out from this week’s snow here in Wisconsin. Hope and something wonderous rises despite adversity. Not because of it, but in spite of it. The daffodils in my garden are never the same, year after year, even though they come from the same bulbs. This year they are shorter than last, yet just as plentiful. That may have something to do with the snow. It might have something to do with age. It doesn’t matter – the daffodils blooming now always bring a smile.

isAnd in the fall, I’ll plant more bulbs, eagerly waiting for them to usher in Spring 2020. I am also now saving to  visit Notre Dame Cathedral in 2026 or 2127. With any luck and a whole lot of human heart put into action, that grand dame will open her doors once again.

 

Happy Eastertide for those who celebrate. May hope rise in all our hearts today and throughout the year.

Leigh