The Editing Process

For a good part of June, I was immersed in editing “Flight to Ohio: from Slavery to Passing to Freedom,” my novel for which Tayea Lane Publishing has now set a publication date of July 1, 2016, though some sources say July 15, 2016, notably They allow one to pre-order, as does Barnes & Noble. But what I really hope is that you will go to your favorite independent bookstore and ask them to order a copy for you. Or any old bookstore!

Editing was a process during which I had frequent email communication and a couple of phone calls with Kermit Heartsong, the head of the publishing company. Tayen Lane is a small, local company. Kermit is a fascinating person, one gets to know more about how somebody thinks when you work together, and I found him wonderfully supportive and respectful of me as the author, insightful and helpful in his suggestions. These were the final edits, we had already been through first edits earlier. having signed a contract in October.

The book won’t seem real to me until I hold it in my hands. I will know then that it exists! I am getting more anxious by the day, by the hour, to see the UPS truck drive up in front of our house. Maybe there will be fireworks!

Will let you know when it exists.


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I May Not Have Been Clear!

It’s a good thing I’m not running for office. Not only do I fail to “make myself perfectly clear,” but I don’t know how to set up a website in a normal way. The way this one works is: you highlight what you want to read by clicking on it in that long list that makes up the home page, i.e., the first page. You won’t hear anything or see anything change, so you may think nothing has happened. HOWEVER, if you then scroll down the righthand side of the screen, at the end of the long list you will find the highlighted item you wish to read has appeared.

My short story “A Knock at the Door,” to which I called attention in the recent post “Here’s Another Story,” is now at the bottom of the aforesaid list. (Am I muddling things up even more? Sorry!)

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Here’s another story

While we wait for whatever’s coming next, here is a story I wrote in 1988 while living in Washington D.C. It was published in the journal “Mildred.”

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There is nothing more important than human emotions–for other animals,for plants, for one another, for the Earth itself. Nothing. We must allow ourselves to FEEL or we will be left with nothing.

Caring, compassion, fear, sorrow, love, hate, anger, desire, passion, remorse, yearning, loneliness, they’ll visit us in their turn. Don’t be afraid to feel them!

And don’t be afraid to reach out. We are all in this together.

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A Man I Met on the Train

Did I ever tell you about the train trip I took in April 2015 from Emeryville, California to Tampa, Florida? Please bear with me. Last night I awoke around 3 a.m., thinking about Donald Trump saying how “appropriate” it was for his supporters “to swing back” at people who had shown up to protest at his rally in Chicago last night. I’ve stayed up thinking about the lines he keeps crossing, lines we never noticed were there. We’re getting a glimpse of what our country might be if he were elected. Would he grab more and more power and call in the police, even the military to silence those who disagree with him, meanwhile urging his supporters on to violence? Would we become a police state? I’m remembering a man I met on the train from Chicago to Washingon D.C., an overnight train. Traveling coach, I was delighted to be assigned a seat all to myself in an empty car. I soon found out why the car was empty when the attendant ushered on two French high school rugby teams, their exuberance and energy overwhelming.

Then my own seatmate joined me, muttering about what a useless waste of time rugby was. He began a conversation, more of a discourse really, which was to last during all his waking hours. He was 68, he told me, and had been at a convention in Chicago. He was trained and employed as a nurse which together with his acute business acumen and superior intelligence would make him a million dollars in the next year. This would be the year. Then he could have any woman he wanted. He admitted not having had longterm success with women. His ex-wife and ex-daughter hated him. I interrupted to ask how it was possible to have an ex-daughter. “She won’t speak to me,” he said, “or have anything to do with me.”

I should tell you how he looked. Dark hair, somewhat dark complected, wearing a suit that seemed much used, polished dress shoes. Of stocky build, he took up a fair amount of space, and when he fell asleep for the night he snored, moderately but steadily. He was half German and very proud of having grown up on the streets of Detroit and being a “street fighter.” He had a rather pugnacious countenance and appeared ready to take on anybody who got in his way. (Except the rugby players.) He was a student of history and told me he had especially focused on the rise of Hitler.

He seemed vaguely amused by me and my occasional comments, questions. He felt utterly alien to me and I’m sure had no idea of the extent to which I was holding back. He never asked me anything about myself. He did exclaim once in surprise, “You know, you’re not stupid!”

This is his plan: to take over a hill in New Hampshire. “You can defend a hill,” he explained. “You can see people coming.” He will settle there with “like-miinded friends,” to create a self-sufficient, well-armed group with a huge supply of water, food, guns and ammunition. They’ll be ready when disaster inevitably comes. They’ll be the ones who saw it coming.

The next day, knowing we were in West Virginia and would soon arrive in Washington D.C., I asked him to please be quiet for a while because I wanted to do my 20-minute morning meditation.”I love West Virginia and hate to miss any of it but I always practice transcendental meditation twice a day.”

“Oh that’s great,” he responded enthusiastically. “I’ve heard that helps a person focus and be more successful in business.”

I closed my eyes. He kept talking. I opened my eyes. “You can’t talk to me while I’m meditating,” I said.

“Oh, are you doing it right here, now? I thought you’d go somewhere else to do it.”

“No, I’m doing it right here.”

The still sleeping boys around us were quiet. When I came out of meditation he said, “You missed a sign that said: “Meditators are missing this.”

It took me a moment to realize he was making a joke. He seemed happy when I laughed.

I’m wondering now who he’s supporting for president.

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Flight to Ohio

I have been busy with edits of “Flight to Ohio, from Slavery to Passing to Freedom,” due to be published by Tayen Lane Publishing in the spring. I still don’t know how the publisher defines “in the spring” but we shall see!

I am going to give you again the link to the webpage the publisher set up for the novel because it now contains the four-minute video my son-in-law helped me prepare. I was asked to talk about what motivated me to write “Flight to Ohio.” This is not material that will be in the book itself, which is a work of fiction.

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Hope for Humanity

The hope I see for humanity is for each of us to look into ourselves and be the best we can be. These are times that call for searching deep. What does it mean to me to be the best I can be?

It means doing the best I can at any work I’m lucky enough to have to do. My mother always said it’s a blessing to have work to do, and to be able to serve others and I think she was right, though at the time I may have wondered what she even meant.

And certainly it means striving to meet other people with kindness, getting a little beyond the surface. A simple question like “How’s it going?” can be enough, then listening to the answer, looking  into the eyes of the person I’m talking with to show I see him or her as a human being who matters.


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Fiddling with “Woman at the Window”

This morning I have done some rewriting of Chapter 50 of “Woman at the Window.”

Soon I will be removing several of the last chapters of “Woman at the Window” from the website, so anyone anxious to finish reading it should get busy.




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The Video is Up

Tayen Lane Publishing has added the video I made to the website they created for “Flight to Ohio.” Above is the link. Just click on it.







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Sending a Passionate Note of Compassion

My heart bleeds for you, la France de liberté, fraternité, egalité.


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