I’ve been working hard on my blog, “Her Star Forever Shines,” started after my daughter died. The purpose is to provide support and resources for parents who have children with addiction problems and, more specifically, to help them prevent their children from using drugs. Along with the blog, I’m writing a short book to provide resources and support. My goal is to have the book finished by the end of the year. At the same time, I want to work on my novel more regularly, “A Family’s Love Portrayed.” The book is historical fiction and I’m excited about it. The idea came from writing my novelette, “My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette.” I haven’t set a goal for having it finished, but I’ve decided to put more time into it, as the other book is coming along well. “A Family’s Love Portrayed” is about three families who come from Italy, Russia , and Ireland in the early 1900s and settle in Boston. They bring with them their individual cultures and beliefs and, through the years, pass them along to future generations. Strangers in the beginning, their relationships become intertwined through the years.

Happy Fall! Now that we are approaching the holiday season, we can look forward to the next few months and reflect on the last several months and what we can learn from 2020. Life has certainly changed for everyone. I no longer go to the grocery store and see someone in a mask and wonder what hospital they work in. I’m still amazed when I see someone walking down the aisle in the wrong direction against the arrows. Did they not see or are they rebelling against what used to be the norm? The number of deaths from this untamed virus is overwhelming, as are the politics behind it. (I won’t go into my thoughts in that area!!) My personal loss of my daughter in February set the tone for the rest of the year for me. We can’t make plans for trips and do things that we always look forward to doing. Next month is when I’d be doing my annual trip to cold weather. It’s been a horrific year for all of us. But it’s time to ask ourselves what the year has taught us. For me, it’s being kind to others and not taking life for granted, or relationships. It’s realizing that we really aren’t in total control of our lives. It’s not staying angry at our loved ones because we just don’t know what can happen from one day to the next. It’s about achieving our goals and dreams. What has 2020 taught you?

The inspiration for my stories has come to me pretty easily, As I wrote “When Shadows Linger,” I was amazed at how quickly the story fell into place. Thinking back, I’m still amazed. The same was true of my other books and short stories. So, why am I telling you this? Because I’m stuck about what I want to write. I’ve started a few different things but can’t find my way with them. I started a historical novel and also put it aside. While I’ll finish them at some point, right now I am going to start something new. I can’t tell you what it is–because I haven’t decided. I do know it’s going to be suspense/romance and around three hundred pages.

As the months go by and the pandemic continues, time is going by quickly but it seems as though we are at a standstill. Does anyone else feel that way? I hate having a routine because that makes me an elderly person–at least that’s what I tell my husband because he has a routine. But my routines aren’t really routines. For example, on Thursdays I have the thought that the recycling has to go out because there isn’t trash pickup on Friday and Saturday in our apartment complex. And for one of my part-time jobs, I have to submit my hours for payroll every other Monday before 11 AM. I’ll give you an example of a routine: pouring the last of the coffee into your cup, taking one drink of it, and spilling the rest down the drain. Every day. Every single day. That’s a routine, right? I just sit and watch him do it–and realize that he’s elderly. Even my elderly dog has a routine. He has always been an eater and now knows it’s time for him to eat at 3 Pm, 4 Pm , 5 Pm–you get it, right? As you can see, the isolation has gotten to me just like it has to everyone else. I keep busy–working, my blogs, and looking at my writing and thinking I should do it.And oh yeah–movies. I’ve never been a movie or tv person (still don’t watch tv) but I’ve been watching old movies and really enjoying them. And do you know why? Because I don’t have a routine. Take care–stay well.

I haven’t been doing much writing lately. As much as I want to keep up with my blogs and work on my stories, I just haven’t. But once-in-awhile, a special person comes into our lives at just the right time–the time when we might need a little inspiration and encouragement. And tonight my special person sent me a heartfelt email. I have never met Jackie in person. The first time she came into my life was after she read one of my books and sent me a card that I still treasure. She told me how much she enjoyed my book and that she hoped I would keep writing. Tonight she told me that she has read three of my books and reads my blogs. The email came at a time when I was feeling a little down, thinking about my daughter. If we had more people like Jackie in this world, wouldn’t it be a much better place? I think so–she made my world better twice, making me a very lucky person.

Being isolated for the past few months (or for how long it has been) has been an awakening for me–and probably for a lot of other people across the world. It gives us a time to reflect not only on our own lives, but about what is going on in the world. I’ve been working on my writing and trying to keep up the blogs. While I really love to write fiction, I feel an “obligation” to write the support book for parents about substance abuse. As I have mentioned, if I can help one child and family from falling into the world that my daughter fell into, then I will have accomplished something major in my life. I hope you will join me on that journey. And I will be back with my fictions–I’m working on something special.

There are times that writing becomes very frustrating for me. Those times are when I watch for reviews of my books and when I finally get one, it’s not very good (although there are more 5-star ratings than 1 or 2, thank goodness!); when I run specials and nobody contacts me; or when I offer free books and nobody contacts me. But, I keep telling myself that I’m not ready to not write. So, I’ve already written about my new project and website. But my newest idea is to write short stories and novellas and put them all together. I know you’re wondering why, so I’ll be glad to tell you. I’ve found that my novelettes have done better than my novels. And my short stories were well-liked. Perhaps people like a quicker read sometimes–so I’m going to see how that goes. Any thoughts? I’d be glad to hear them.

My first book, “Envelopes of Hope,” was inspired by my daughter when she went into rehab and sent a letter to me thanking her for not giving up on her. Then came “When Shadows Linger,” my first novel. After that I wrote my first historical fiction and another novel. And I had two short stories published. As I have written, my new book (and corresponding website) is meant to be a support tool for parents who have a child with a drug problem, or to prevent having one who takes the wrong path. As I work on the book, I find that it is similar to writing a research paper. I’m gathering information and facts and, as I go along, I’m trying to find ways to make it interesting enough for parents to want to read. So, while it is factual and informative, I also have to be creative. Like with my other books, it is a challenge. Unlike my other books, my goal is to try to save people from becoming a statistic.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research for my new book. I want parents to have a “support system” that they can keep with them to refer to and get strength from. The drug problem started in this country over one hundred years ago. With the passage of different laws, and all of the resources that are available to people, why has it become an epidemic that is out of control rather than have been stopped? I know that I won’t find the answer to that. However, I’m hoping that others can learn from my research, and from my personal experience, how to save a loved one (or themselves) from the life that my daughter chose. If you haven’t visited my new website, please do. And share it with your friends–you may be helping someone find a better life. Oh==don’t forget to visit “Sara’s Story” and the “Gallery” to learn more about Sara.

Like promised in a previous post, I want to tell you about my new writing venture. I have developed a new website/blog and am writing a companion book to go along with it. My purpose is to provide support for parents who have children with an addiction problem, or to help parents be aware of the challenges they and their children face in today’s world. If I can help one person, adult or child, from taking the same path that my daughter took, I will be grateful for having the opportunity to save someone’s life. Of my four children, Sara was the one who liked school and liked learning. She was bright, had a wonderful sense of humor–and loved to complain. As the years went on, the drugs overtook her entire being. And I want to do my best to prevent as many of these tragedies as I can–in the ways that I know best–through writing and utilizing my clinical skills. Please visit my new website–and share it with your friends. Perhaps you can help me save someone.

The past month has been the most difficult of my life. The loss of my daughter has been overwhelming for me. I’ m unable to focus on my writing or mostly everything else. While I’ve worked on this website and started a new one, I’ve made the decision tonight that I’m going to write a support book for families who are experiencing what mine did for so many years. Before I retired from social work, I always felt that if I could help one child and family a year, I would be successful. (I can proudly say that I did accomplish that). And now, it’s time to go back to that–I want to save at least one child from destroying their life because of drugs. And I want to prevent the heart ache of that child’s family. Do I think it will be easy? Probably not–but what in life that’s worthwhile is easy? “Envelopes of Hope” was inspired by Sara when she was in rehab. She wrote to me and thanked me for not giving up on her. And I still haven’t given up on her. I don’t know her cause of death yet–they are waiting for the toxicology reports to come back. Whether or not she relapsed four weeks ago doesn’t matter because those drugs killed her a long time ago. I hope that you’ll accompany me on my new journey–I’ll keep you up-to-date as I go along.

There comes a time in life when we re-evaluate who we are, where we came from, and the direction that we are going in. Sometimes this means a change in our religious practices, our values, our principles. My aunt’s death in 1960 effected the entire family system because that’s what happens when the system changes. My grandmother became more religious because that’s what comforted her. She no longer had her hair done on the Sabbath or ate out. Just like other families that go through the tragedy of losing someone, my system has changed. Although each day seems to be more difficult for me in handling my daughter’s death, I find myself wanting to be more observant in my religion. Perhaps it is not just her loss, but the fact that her loss has brought me to the realization that I am “supposed” to be more observant. Like my grandmother, the thought is bringing comfort to me. I also am going to get back into my writing because it is something that is important to me. It has been almost a month since she died and the only words that I have written are on this blog and the new one that I created. And I found a new way to communicate with Sara. After realizing that I wouldn’t be able to speak to her any more (which we did several times a day), I write to her every night. While some may think that strange, it has brought me comfort because she is with me while I am typing my letter. That is the path that I am on right now and it may change. But I don’t think so–because, for now, I am where I want to be.

When I started this website/blog, my goal was to have a following for my writing journey. I’ve tried to make my posts both informative and enjoyable at the same time. My following has never increased as much as I’d hoped and that’s been a struggle for me. While I’m tech savvy to a point, I still lack in the knowledge of how to make it grow. I’m positive it’s due to the fact that I didn’t grow up with all of this technology. But as often happens in life, my journey has taken a different course in the past three weeks. One of my biggest supporters was my daughter and I just can’t seem to focus since she left. I’m working on a blog to support other families who have gone through, and are going through, what mine is because of substance abuse. And I haven’t given up on my writing–I love writing. But right now I just can’t put my thoughts on paper. But I will–because that’s my passion and my therapy. When one of my books received a negative review, Sara told me not to let it bother me, that I’m a good writer. And that’s what she would say now–“don’t stop writing, Mom. You’re good.” And I won’t stop–not for myself and not for Sara.