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Birds Fly North

On Campus

The subject line explains the delay since I sent out my last newsletter. It’s been a busy and momentous time around here. And I’ve missed you all so much that I’d really like to try and catch you up!

My oldest birdie flew off to college last month. There is a line in my new novel that speaks to this—it’s about the compression of time. Even if we good and lean in, slurp the marrow out of every moment, still. We look up and somehow they’ve gone. Both birdies and years.


Move-in day went about as thrillingly as such a day can. That this was the right place for my daughter—a place much like the home her Dad and I tried to make for her these past nineteen years—was obvious from the truly delicious banquet-in-a-field they fed the families to the president’s rousing speech about growing your mind, your spirit, and your soul here.

We couldn’t be happier with the place Birdie #1 has chosen to make her nest. So why did I feel so damn hollow driving away?

Gosh, I miss that girl. She is one of my very favorite people on the planet. She makes me laugh—makes me think—makes my eyes goggle with admiration, and has since the day she was born. Not having her here every day is a loss whose silver lining I, a perennial look-on-the-bright-side kinda person, was having trouble coming up with.

Then Covid Hit


I am beyond grateful to western medicine—and to capitalism—for the vaccine, and I still mask most everywhere I go. Having managed to escape this damn virus for going on three years, I was feeling like maybe I’d continue to get lucky,

My daughter tested positive the second week of college. We are lucky enough that this best-place-for-her happens to be relatively close, so I swooped in and brought her home. Her dorm is over a half-mile from the dining hall, just feeding herself would’ve been tough, and plus, we didn’t know how sick she’d get.

Thankfully she didn’t get very sick. And we did a good job isolating in the house. I drove her home, masked, with the car windows down even though it was 50 degrees out. I don’t see how we could’ve contracted the virus from her. So maybe it was a coincidence, but one by one, the rest of us fell. If you’ve been struck by this latest strain, my thoughts are with you. Rest as much as you can. It can be a beast. I’m not even going to get into my own personal Hell Night, but let’s just say that fever and fainting were not the worst of it.

But I’m not telling you my little tale of woe to whine. (Though sympathetic murmurings are always welcome :-)

I’m telling you because during each of the five days my daughter spent at home—while I relished each trip outside and around the house with a tray of food; every call (like, with her voice, not on a phone) upstairs telling me how she felt—I also realized that things were somehow…not right. Of course it’s right that I take care of my little birdies when they need me. But this one is meant to be someplace else right now.

She was missing out on a hella exciting week of firsts, on classes that she longed to be in, on forging new friendships. She felt it and so did I.

So in case no one has had reason to thank this cursed virus yet—thank you, Covid. You’ve shown me where my birdie needs to be.

My New Agent Did Something Wise

Deep Dive

As many of you know, I’ve been deep in the flesh and veins and heart of a novel that is a new kind of book for me over the past two years. It’s been a journey with great benefits, and not a few costs.

When you’re as close to a book as not only I am, but also my agent and her whole team—who’ve read the book multiple times over multiple iterations—it can be hard to know how said book is going to land, going to be seen. What it even IS.

My agent has introduced me to some of the greatest editorial talent I’ve ever met—one person in particular has been instrumental. Let's call her B and send mental gratitude--I do every day. Now at this stage of the game, drawing in pairs of utterly fresh eyes became key. My agent put a great deal into this process, and it had such a profound effect on the book that I decided to echo her wisdom. I called upon two especially insightful book people I know, smart in all the ways this novel calls for, and also completely unfamiliar with it. Let's call them W and K. Thank you forever, W and K.

Then came more deep dives back into the guts of this book.

Some days I feel as if I still haven’t climbed out. Or maybe that I never will.

And yet…something’s coming. I feel that too.

Thank you for being part of it with me, and please stay well.


Love from the Hills of Wedeskyull,


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