Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life...

"Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love, Clarence"

This is a quote from my all-time favorite Chrismas movie, "It's A Wonderful Life." I watch it every year...and every year, I cry.

Clarence Oddbody is an angel second class, transported to earth on an urgent mission that could help him to earn his wings and become a first class angel. His assigned mission is to help George Bailey, a compassionate but devastated businessman who is contemplating suicide over financial ruin.

By showing George how many lives he has touched and all the good he has done throughout his lifetime, Clarence saves George's life. And the many friends whom George has helped over the years now find it in their hearts to help George. In the end, Clarence gets his wings!

What is it about this classic movie, released 65 years ago, that still touches our hearts and souls, and re-kindles the Christmas spirit within us all?

At a time when many are struggling with unemployment, major losses in their investments, health problems, and the loss of family and friends, the messages in this movie manage to restore a sense of hope. This helps us all to see through the fog of temporary problems in life and to focus upon our many blessings, on the truly important things in life.

Nobody ever said that life was supposed to be easy or fair. Perhaps this movie can teach us lessons that will help to build character and pursue our individual missions in life.

As Christmas approaches, many are stressed out, trying to create the perfect Christmas. The reality is that we must contend with the loss of loved ones who are no longer here to celebrate with us. With an overload of events to attend, gifts to buy. Sometimes there's a family fued or crazy relative who manages to put a damper on this holiday.

Perhaps, in the big picture of things...none of this really matters. That's the gift that "It's A Wonderful Life" portrays to the world.

Happy Holidays to you and yours...and always remember that it truly is "a wonderful life!"

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Christmas Gift to You

Here's an idea to help you complete your Christmas shopping quickly, on line, at a seriously discounted price. For one week only, I'm offering an e-book version of my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky, at a 50% discount! For $2.98 (less than a good cup of coffee) you can download my e-book, read it yourself when you need a little diversion from the hustle and bustle of the holidays - or gift a good friend. One warning - many readers say they are unable to put this book down!

To take advantage of this offer (expires December 19, 2011) go to Proceed to check out and enter code SL22W to get your discount.

Yes, I gave in to the e-book revolution although I personally love nothing more than holding a real live book in my hands! If you're like me and would prefer a print version, go to my website -

Reviews of this novel have been excellent and readers are requesting a sequel.

My best to you all for a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with peace, good health, and happiness.

Please stay tuned and stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tis The Season...

Somewhere in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, The Woodlands, Texas was transformed into a magical world unlike any other.

"The Nutcracker" came to life here at the hands of the Woodlands Ballet Ensemble. This holiday classic is based on the story of E.T.A. Hoffman and danced to the brilliant music of Tchaikovsky.

Attending this well-loved ballet is a refreshing diversion from the harsh realities of a struggling economy and the rampant commercialism of this holiday season. The Nutcracker allows us to escape into an enchanting world in which dreams still do come true.

The beauty of the Christmas season is reflected on stage through an innocent little girl named Clara as she marvels at the wonder of falling snowflakes, as she dances with her nutcracker doll. The lovely Sugar Plum Fairy entrances the audience with her magical dancing in the arms of her Sugar Plum Cavalier. It reminds us all of the true beauty in this world. And perhaps leaves us wondering if there still is some magic out there for us all...

Nutcracker season has become an annual tradition for my Texas grandchildren who have grown up dancing in The Nutcracker in Missoula, Montana and The Woodlands, Texas. One of the highlights of my Christmas season is watching them perform, seeing them learn and grow into bigger and better roles. This year, I had the honor of watching grandaughters Abigail and Madelaine dance the roles of Clara and The Sugar Plum Fairy. They performed so beautifully, with so much passion and intensity, that I sat in the audience with tears welling in my eyes.

My congratulations to all the Nutcracker dancers for their great performances, to their teachers, parents, and those behind the scenes who made it all possible.

May the magic of The Nutcracker be with us all throughout the Christmas season!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay

Monday, November 14, 2011


What do you see when you look at this tree? Try to look beyond the obvious...beyond identifying the type of tree, a cloudy day, etc. Daydream. Turn your imagination loose. Clear your mind and tap into the feelings that this image evokes in your heart and soul.

I see and feel a ghostly tree hiding chilling secrets from the past. What about those crumbling tombstones? Who lies beneath - and how did they die? I sense spirits lurking in the you? that an elf playing in the twisted, gnarled roots of this ancient tree?

As a writer, I frequently start with an image like this before spinning off into a bit of fantasy.

While fantasy and mythic stories have always been a part of our culture, there has been an explosion of interest in various genres of fantasy. Think J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter series, J.R.R. Tolkien's work, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Why are so many people today reading and writing fantasy?

As Philip Martin (author of A Guide to Fantasy Literature)writes:"Fantasy is about journeying to strange worlds - but it is ultimately about arriving, in a state of surprise and grace, at a place inside ourselves where we see our own world again with the wonder and the belief of a child."

Yes, fantasy allows us to escape to places where all things are possible. I will never forget my little grandaughter Madelaine's fantasy of being The Little Mermaid. She played the role, sang the songs, perched on a rock beside the pool in a dramatic mermaid pose. However, she got so absorbed in her fantasy that she dove into the pool...she couldn't swim yet! We immediately rescued our little mermaid from her fantasy.

Fantasy allows writers and readers to create and live in make-believe worlds of our own. Here, we ideally learn lessons about good and evil, right and wrong, before returning to the real world.

Fantasy includes a number of interesting categories including fairy tales, adventure, high fantasy, dark fantasy, supernatural/paranormal, and magical realism.

As a writer, I'm not even going to try creating an elaborate world of dungeons and dragons. My preference is "magical realism" which combines magical elements with the real world. The magical or supernatural elements I like to introduce into the ordinary world include paranormal spirits from the past.

I want my readers to come away with a sense of hope and reconnection with the childish dreams that many of us have locked away in the dusty closets of our minds.

I write because there are readers and reviewers like Beverly Pechin of Reader Views. After reading my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky, she wrote: "This novel will keep you intrigued, inspired, and hopeful. The way the author intertwines reality with fantasy simply leaves one to wonder if there aren't such beautiful possibilities out there for all of us."

Love to hear your thoughts about fantasy!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Sunday, October 30, 2011

People Watching...

I recently returned from a 2,500 mile cross-country road trip stretching from Wisconsin to Montana and back again - with stops in Virginia City and Seeley Lake, Montana; and Walnut, Iowa. These locations have become special places for me since my next novel (tentatively titled "AMELIA 1868") will be set in these locations - and frankly,because I've fallen in love with these historic towns of the past! Unique little towns that have somehow found a way to expand upon their historic roots and move into a promising future...

While I, of course, had an agenda - and endless lists of questions that I needed to have answered, I found much more than the answers that I originally sought. While I found fascinating historical information in local libraries and through conversations with local geneologists and historians, and while I discovered perfect places for my characters to have lived and died... I also took time to simply sit back and watch people.

I watched and I listened carefully - on the street or over a cup of coffee at Aunt B's Kitchen in Walnut, Iowa; The Stage Station in Seeley Lake, Montana; or The Outlaw Cafe in Virginia City, Montana. In the process, I discovered a number of fascinating characters, some of whom will most likely end up in my novel.

Let me introduce you to several of the most unforgettable characters I met on this journey. Some are already coming to life in the first draft of my manuscript. Some have actually changed the plot line. Others are still trying to capture my attention...

First, there's Diamondback Dave (the man in this photo.) A vision spiraling forward in time from the 1860's gold mining era in Virginia City, MT, this gentleman still does gold prospecting and placer mining in Montana. Accompanied by his faithful burro, Dusty, he escapes into the mountains every chance he gets along with his pick, shovel and gold pan...the way they did it 100 or more years ago. Dave is also an actor and costumed interpreter portraying life in the Old West. Check out his website at

I'll never forget little Sarah, the whimsical, friendly ghost-child who occasionally haunts Virginia City's Outlaw Cafe and Antique Shop. She loves to play with the vintage toys - frequently turning on the musical rocking horse clock...even when staff have purposefully removed the batteries to prevent Sarah's escapades...

While catching up on email and enjoying a mocha latte at The Stage Station in the picteurespue mountain town of Seeley Lake, Montana, I met a friendly elderly gentleman, a recent widower who stopped in with a batch of chocolate chip cookies he'd just made. This was his way of conntecting with others after the death of his beloved wife. He made his way through the town, stopping at local businesses to pass out his delicious cookies and visit with his neighbors.

Moving on to Iowa, I found new friends who live in a lovely Victorian home in the antique town of Walnut. Dorine owns and operates a quilting business in the heart of the historic Walnut district. I was wrapped immediately into the comforting blanket of a community that still thrives on old-fashioned values of friendliness and neighbors helping neighbors... even during the recent flooding that has devastated so many of the local farmers.

And there was more, much more ... like the chilling discovery of a gravestone in the Walnut, Iowa Cemetery that linked clearly to one in the Virginia City, Montana cemetery. It's all about "AMELIA!"

Suddenly, all the pieces of my novel were coming together...

People watching...yes, this is the answer to many of the questions that we, as writers, struggle with. People watching... this is where you will find answers to questions that you have not yet thought about...

Please stay tuned and stay in touch.


Janet Kay

Friday, September 30, 2011


...BUT we occasionally need to escape from the fantasy worlds we've created on our computer screens. We need to seek out other writers - sometimes the only people who understand the dual reality that we live within, splitting our time between real and make-believe worlds.

One of the best escapes I've found is belonging to and participating in a good writers' organization. In Wisconsin, we're fortunate to have a statewide organization (with numerous local clubs) dedicated to supporting and assisting both amateur and professional writers in their creative writing efforts.

The Wisconsin Writers Assocation was founded in 1948 (as the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association.) It offers excellent educational conferences, contests, book fairs, promotional and networking opportunities.

I just returned from the WWA Fall 2011 Conference in Stevens Point, Wisconsin - recharged, inspired, anxious to apply some of the things I learned there.

This was one of the best writers' conferences I've attended! There was something for everyone - sessions on flash fiction, memoir writing, poetry, science fiction/fantasy/horror, self-publishing, small presses, freelance writing opportunities, journalism in the e-world, and screenplay writing. There were opportunities to "pitch" your manuscript to an editor/agent and time to network with other writers.

We listened to Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin Poet Laureate, read his delightful poetry. And we were entranced with the success story of Cayla Kluver, teen-age author of the best-selling Legacy Trilogy. Cayla's mother and agent, Kimberly Phifer, took us along on their journey to stardom in the young adult world of books.

The book fair offered an excellent selection of books by Wisconsin authors -and we were pleased with our book sales.

Yes, writers write...but we also need to take time to learn and network at writers' conferences like this one. I, for one, came away inspired and raring to go on my next novel!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11...

"Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward - and freedom will be defended!" President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001

As the tenth anniversary of this insidious incident approaches, an event that rocked the foundations of our previously "secure" world, I, like many of you, still struggle to put this into perspective,to understand what has happened - and why...

Think about people like Jose Bonilla, New York City. In the last decade, he has helped to wage a war, had two children, and has been employed with crews helping to rebuild the soaring skyscraper that will soon tower over the ashes of the old Trade Center. When he looks back at the transformation he has seen since 9/11, he sees rebirth. It's like a phoenix rising up from the ashes, he says.

Think about those who have lost their loved ones in this tragedy, thousands of our friends and neighbors whose lives have forever changed.

While some of us have by now been lulled into a false sense of security and complacency, think again...

Never forget those who have sacrificed their lives for all that we believe in, for those who continue to fight to protect our country and our rights.

May God Bless America!!

Please stay tuned and stay in touch.

Janet Kay

Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting Away From It All ...

Most authors have unique writing processes, little tricks to help them write well. Mine is simple - just getting away from it all. When I've completed my research and am ready to begin the next novel, I plan a writing retreat to some place that will inspire me and feed my creative process.

When I was ready to write my "Waters of the Dancing Sky" novel, I took off, alone, for Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. I brought all my research notes with me, colored pens, and a roll of white paper. It was time to create my fictional village on paper. I needed to know where my characters would live, what the town looked like.

I settled into my room at Rock Harbor Lodge, got my supplies out - but found it difficult to get down to business. There were trails to hike, a lighthouse that beckoned, moose roaming the island, and Lake Superior lapping against the rocks beneath my balcony.

So I headed out to explore this wilderness island, chastising myself for not getting down to work. After all, writers need to write, don't they?

Of course, BUT... it was then that I discovered my secret to writing well. To write effectively, I find that I need to achieve a delicate balance among three things: learning, creating, and being.

"Learning" is the exploration, research, travel, taking in and absorbing of information. "Creating" is the process of shaping that information through your unique perspective, rearranging bits of information into something new and meaningful.

"Being," however, is the piece that we often tend to ignore in our fast-paced world. It is the process of letting go, of clearing your mind, of doing nothing except absorbing the world around you without the need to analyze or fix anything.

As I settled into the natural rhythm of Isle Royale, I thought about this. I gave myself permission one morning to just sit out on my balcony as waves crashed below me, as diamonds of sunlight danced with the seagulls. I lost myself in the waves, in the magic of this mysterious lake.

I had nothing to show for that morning - nothing except a burst of creativity. I felt that I'd absorbed things deep within my soul and subconscious, things that soon began to surface in the pages of this novel.

Just being... and getting away from it all... Try it, you'll like it!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Friday, August 12, 2011


The writer in me is restless... it's time to start my next novel, tentatively titled "Amelia 1865" or "Prairie Rose." Before I begin, however, I need to hit the road. I need to explore the places where my novel will be set, to learn about the people, the history, the culture.

You see, I'm a place writer of "destination" novels. It's important to me that my readers identify with the places where my characters live. It means a lot to me when readers tell me that after reading my book, they are planning a trip to the place where it is set.

So...this time I'm off for several enchanting destinations. First, to Walnut, Iowa, officially known as "Iowa's Antique City." It's a small village of brick streets lined with turn-of-the-century historic buildings filled with antiques. Home of Prairie Rose State Park. A refreshing place where small town spirit lives on.

My final destination is the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana. Nestled in the mountains at the foot of Boot Hill Cemetery, Virginia City was a bustling gold mining town in the 1860's.

The basic premise of my novel is this: WHAT IF a restless spirit comes back to life seeking revenge for her murder in a previous lifetime?

She's a bored farm girl growing up in rural Iowa. Commitment-phobic, she stands her fiance up at the altar and heads west towards an unknown destination. A mysterious force drives her to the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana.

Why does she finally feel at home here, somehow recognizing old historical landmarks? Flashbacks begin to flow through her soul, driving her to a cemetery nestled in the mountains overlooking the valley. Here she discovers an overgrown gravestone inscribed, "AMELIA 1865." No last name, no date of birth.

Obsessed with discovering the truth about this long-forgotten woman, Rose finds herself flashing back and forth between two different realities - her current sheltered life and that of a "hurdy gurdy girl" struggling to survive in the Wild West. Rose's own life depends upon her ability to merge these realities into something that makes sense.

This strange journey becomes more complicated when a love interest materializes and throws her off balance. This relationship becomes a bizarre dance twisting and turning between love and hate. Can she still accomplish her mission? Does it matter?

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Friday, July 22, 2011


The "Sleeping Giant" was shrouded in eerie banks of fog rolling in across Lake Superior. This "giant" is, in fact, the rocky backbone of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park on the north shore of Lake Superior, Canada. Looking across the big lake from Thunder Bay, it appears to be a huge stone figure lying on its back, gazing into the heavens above. This silent giant rises many hundreds of feet above Lake Superior, its sheer cliffs dropping dramatically into crashing waves far below. Canada's Aboriginal people have passed on many fascinating legends and myths about this sleeping giant over past centuries.

Today, my two oldest grandsons, Derek and Malachi, and I were exploring this natural wonder. We'd driven many miles along narrow winding roads criss-crossing the top of this gentle giant to the very tip of the Sibley Peninsula.

Peeking through layers of fog as raindrops splattered around us, we were surprised to find the tiny community of Silver Islet. Once upon a time, as in 140 years ago, there was an active silver mining community on this site. The old clapboard General Store, built about 1870, still stands on the rocky point that juts out into Lake Superior.

The ramshackle store was closed, but a sign on the door invited us to ring the bell if we needed anything. We did. An elderly man greeted us, inviting us in. It was a step back in time. Nothing much had changed since the days when the miners purchased their supplies here. Surrounding the store, tucked back into the forest, are a number of the original miners homes which have now been converted into cottages for summer residents.

There happened to be another gentleman hanging out in the old store. He sported long hair and a beard, looked as if he'd been living in the wilderness for a while. In fact, he reminded us of a French Canadian voyageur...which was exactly what he turned out to be!

Mike Ranta, a 39-year-old explorer from the little town of Atikokan, Ontario, Canada was on the journey of a lifetime. He was paddling his canoe, alone, with his faithful dog, Spitzii, along the old Voyageur route. His 3,231 mile journey will take him from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada all the way to Montreal, Canada. He will be the first person ever to complete this journey all alone.

The boys (and I) were intrigued, just listening to his stories. Mike is doing this to raise money for his hometown Atikokan Youth Center. He delivers a powerful message to all whom he meets along his journey, particularly the youth.

His message is simple but very powerful - "Anyone can do anything. There is nothing you can't do! Nothing worth anything comes easy. It takes preparation, confidence, honesty and hard work. But... YOU CAN DO IT!" This gentle man radiates motivation, determination, and self-confidence. He has no doubt, despite the dangers of his journey, that he will succeed and reach Montreal. He reaches out to young people along the way, encouraging them to follow their dreams.

It was a chance encounter, one that my grandsons will always remember. One that I plan to integrate into my own writing. We would not have met Mike Ranta if Lake Superior hadn't been rough enough to force him in to shore that day - or if we hadn't changed our travel plans.

A coincidence? Perhaps...

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Friday, July 8, 2011



Churning kettles of root beer-flavored foam
bubbling, boiling, tumbling down thundering falls
into swirling pools of frosty white geysers
surging like tidal waves against ancient faces
of black granite worn smooth with time

Shaded by clumps of evergreen and sumac
sprouting precariously from prehistoric crevices
dotted with dainty moss roses of delicate pink -
swaying to the rhythm of wind and water
dwarfed by the power of the falls ...

Dwarfed by the power of the falls ...
I, too, shrink into tininess, into insignificance
drifting backward, forward in time
slipping silently through misty seas
diving deeper, deeper yet
until I'm flowing
in sync, once more,
with the spirits of the universe.


Yes, Kettle Falls is a special place for me. I sat by the falls, absorbing inspiration, as I wrote my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky.

Stay tuned, and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'd like to introduce you to a special woman who has become a good friend and an important part of my life over the past few years. Her name is Beth.

She's middle-aged, but still struggling with a tragic past that haunts her. Growing up on a wilderness island on a lake along the U.S./Canadian international border, she was just a young girl when her mother mysteriously drowned in the big lake. Her mother was gone. She had no father -just her grandmother who did her best to raise her right.

Barely grown, Beth fell in love - with the wrong man - and suffered through an abusive marriage for twenty years. Finally, she escaped, and went home to her family's island. Her grandmother had just passed on. Once again, Beth was alone with the demons from her past.

Embarking upon a journey of self-discovery, she found her mother's old diaries which held shocking long-held family secrets...including the identity of her father. Spirits of the past emerged as she struggled through a complex web of emotions and shifting relationships.

She doubted that she'd ever be able to forgive and put the past behind her, much less learn to love again.

While I tried to help her work through her shifting emotions, to gently nudge her along the road to healing,she had a mind of her own. She was intent on creating her own reality, her own destiny...perhaps a good sign that she was, in fact, learning and growing. I'm proud of my friend.

And now,
the rest of the story...
WHO is this special woman exactly? Well, she happens to be the main character in my novel, WATERS OF THE DANCING SKY!She's also become a good friend who has taught me a lot as "we" wrote this novel together. I hope you are able to meet her someday in the pages of this novel - and the sequel that I plan to do in response to reader requests.

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Writing is a journey...not a destination"

I was sitting at my computer, hammering away, trying to meet another self-imposed deadline. Now that I had my first novel out (Waters of the Dancing Sky)my readers were anxious for a sequel. I'm honored! But lately they've been asking how soon it will be available in the bookstores or on Meanwhile, I'm struggling to complete another novel which will be set in the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana. So much to little time. Wasn't publication, after all, my ultimate destination? Isn't that why we all write?

Maybe...maybe not. I belong to a wonderful writers group, The St. Croix Writers, and am learning a great deal from the members. Publication isn't necessarily the goal for many of my writer friends. It's the writing that counts - the sharing of thoughts and memories. It's a matter of tapping into one's creativity, looking at the world in a new way, learning and growing. If publication occurs, that's great. But,it's really more about the process of writing itself and the sense of satisfaction that results.

Yes, "writing is a journey, not a destination." We need to take time to enjoy the trip. Along the way, some of us chose to stop at destination points, islands of publication, before we embark again. But we need to take time to enjoy the journey, I think, instead of obsessing over publication and deadlines.

Today the loons are calling to me as gentle waves lap against the shore outside my window. Diamonds of sunlight glisten and dance across the waves. I think my computer needs a break from me today!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"The Best Time EVER to be a writer!"

One of the key messages that I brought home from Book Expo America in New York City this week was this: "Now is the best time ever to be a writer!"

Why? Because the publishing world is changing radically. In fact, the balance of power seems to have shifted to the author! In 2010, more titles were published by authors than by traditional publishers! There has also been a dramatic increase in e-book sales with both Amazon and Google reporting that e-books are now selling more copies than printed books!

Guess I'm slow to move into the world of e-books, although I now offer a Kindle version of my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky. Still, I love exploring physical bookstores, holding a book in my hands. But I do plan to break down and buy myself a Kindle soon.

With so many books and authors out there, how will anyone ever find your book? The good news is that there are unprecedented marketing opportunities unfolding on line everyday. Think e-books, websites, blogs,'s Author Pages, social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn,and Twitter. (Yes, I need to learn to "tweet" or so they tell me!)

There are also many good non-traditional or alternative publishers out there to guide you along your writer's journey. Check them out carefully since there still are some of the old "vanity presses" around which you may want to avoid...

Did you know that The Shack was initially self-published? So were Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and a number of prolific authors.

Yes, today is a great time to be a writer! If you've always dreamed of becoming an author, you can do it!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Despite the fact that Old Man Winter doesn't seem to recognize the fact that it's time for him to go away... my thoughts have turned to spring. After all, it is May 1st today!

When I think of spring, I can't help reflecting about springtime on Rainy Lake along the Minnesota/Ontario international border. This is the place where my novel, Waters of the Dancing Sky, is set, a place that I fell in love with as I researched background for my novel.

A good friend from Rainy Lake recently sent me his copy of a book entitled "Ober and his Rainy Lake World." It's a collection of articles from the Rainy Lake Chronicle newspaper that was published in the charming Rainy Lake Village of Ranier from 1973 - 1982. It includes numerous "Drumbeat" columns written by Editor Ted Hall, whose work I greatly admire. I'd like to share excerpts from one of Ted's columns with you today:

At the end of a warm day that was kissing our northern winter good-bye a thunderstorm rolled in from the west and stamped winter's exit visa. In that wild wet night the gray ice plain began to darken and along the shoreline of the lake the band of open water widened.

The prudent traveler slides a canoe beside him and is ready to sprawl into it when the squeak of ice underfoot sounds a warning note. A man watching his footprints deepen as he stands in them meets aloneness face to face... It is winter's corpse he walks upon, the rotting ice, but all around is life. The greens of the forest are brighter now and the blue juniper berries are plump and perky. A doe heavy with fawn moves serenely along the inner rim of a small beach, then slips back into the woods. A pair of Mallards fly away, circle back, and land precisely where they'd starated from. Ranier herring gulls have come to begin early patrol.

Here on the mainland the ice has retreated from the shoreline and a canoe moves easily down the avenue curbed with ice on one side and granite on the other. From a notch in the cliff a slender thread of water falls forty feet to the lake.

The earth is turning and it turns only one direction. It is tilting our northern band slightly toward the sun, just enough for the water to run again, for those mallards to nest again and for a man to journey out to see up close some of the detail work that goes into the changing of a season around here.

Along its edges the black ice crumbles into sparkling needles. They ring like crystal bells. The bells are playing the recessional for winter. They're playing the processional for Spring.

Spring seems to bring out the writer and the poet in many of us... Happy Spring to you all!

Stay tuned...and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane...

"There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever before." Elizabeth Lawrence

I recently took a trip back in time...a journey into the childhood I left behind some 40 years ago! My goal was to do some geneological research on my ancestors whose roots were deeply embedded in this Minnesota town. I needed to understand more about their lives and the places we all lived, before I could write my family history and memoirs.

As I approached my hometown, reminiscing about childhood days spent roaming freely around the neighborhood, exploring and building forts in the wild ravine below our home, swimming at the little lake on the outskirts of town...I was rudely awakened from my day dreams. Lanes of traffic streamed past me on a maze of interstates. The countryside and woods that previously surrounded my hometown were gone. My town seemed to have sprawled out and been swallowed whole by surrounding cities.

Still, I found remnants of the past, including the 100-year old church my family had attended. While the homes of some of my relatives were now buried beneath large hotels and condos, I did find my childhood home intact. Sitting outside, lost in memories, I realized that it had perhaps shrunk over the years! The ravine was now developed...but my memories there will always remain. Flashbacks drifted in and out of my mind...reading books beneath the old weeping willow tree, swinging as high as I could- trying to touch the sky, the fragrance of my mother's rose garden, writing in my locked diaries, and playing with neighborhood children.

There's nothing like a trip down memory lane to reconnect with your inner child. As a writer, I believe we all need to make that connection now and then. While I found a wealth of historical information, I also got in touch with feelings and memories that will someday surface in my novels.

I leave you with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: "The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark."

Stay tuned -and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In The Wake of Disaster...

This is not the blog I'd hoped to write...but one that must be written.

It's difficult to focus on the relatively petty events in our lives when the world is rocking after Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunamis. Now, massive waves are even crashing over our West Coast.

It is difficult, from the comfort of our cozy homes, to comprehend the magnitude of this tragedy. What must it be like to be in Japan today, searching for loved ones who have disappeared, trying to locate towns that have been consumed by the sea? Now, amidst the relentless after shocks, as death tolls continue to climb, Japan struggles with nuclear explosions and the threat of a potential melt down. How much worse can it get?

My thoughts and prayers are with the survivors, with all who have lost loved ones. I urge you all to keep them in your prayers and to contribute whatever you can towards Japan's recovery efforts.

If there's any possible lesson to be learned from this tragedy, it is this: Disaster has a way of bringing us back to reality, of reminding us of what is truly important in life. Be grateful for all that we have - family and friends, food, shelter. Everything else is secondary. Perhaps our little problems really aren't as important as we once thought they were.

In the wake of disaster, it's time to put our squabbles and grievances aside. It's time to come together, to focus on what is truly important in life.

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Full Moon Mania

This is the night of January's "wolf moon."

Well aware that my fellow "Luna Chicks" are gathering someplace in the frigid northwoods of Wisconsin to celebrate this event tonight, I can't help peering out from the balconies of my condo on Galveston Island, Texas, to see the infamous Wolf Moon. I miss my Luna Chick friends...and it's hard to connect with them tonight as the moon darts and dodges behind and between cloud formations that shimmer seductively across the endless waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

I thought about going down to the Beach Club to sit in the outdoor hot tub overlooking the ocean, with a glass of wine to toast my old friends back home. But... the sky is eerily black. The wind howls. I can no longer see the full moon.

Instead, I will bury myself in a new novel, one that I cannot put down, one that will undoubtedly impact my writing in the future. They say that one of the best things that writers can do to improve their writing, and their chances of publication, is to READ.

It's not always easy to find time to read... BUT, I have recently discovered a novel that speaks to me - and compels me to spend the night of this full moon devouring its messages, poetic images, and insights. The title is "Sea Music" by Sara MacDonald. A resident of Cornwall, England, this is the first of her novels to be published in the United States. Check it out!

Here's to "happy howling" and all the blessings that a full moon can incite within us all!

Stay tuned and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Beginnings

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life!"

I've always loved this quote,from an unknown source. As we enter a New Year, I think it's appropriate to think about what that means. Perhaps some of you wrote New Year's Resolutions... and have conveniently forgotten about them already. You know, the same resolutions that many of us make year after year... dieting, exercise, speending less money, etc.

This New Year's Eve was a special one for me with two of my three children's families gathered here with me on Galveston Island, Texas. We made New Year's Resolutions for each other. There was a sheet of blank paper for each of us. We passed them around the room and took turns creating resolutions for the others. At the end, each person (including 6 of my grandchildren) read aloud the resolutions made for him or her. It was hilarious at times. We laughed until tears ran down our faces. Other resolutions were serious and set some important goals. One of the resolutions that family members made for me was to write another novel this year! Yes, I will take that one very seriously. Seven-year old Jared even gave me the gift of a special pen to write my next book!

Whether you believe in resolutions or not, a New Year can still be an important "new beginning" in life. Maybe it's not all about what we do or don't do. It begins with how we think, how we choose to view the world and to react to other people and situations. It's about learning to see, and appreciate, the silver lining in every cloud. About turning challenges into opportunities. Life's problems are frequently blessings in disguise.Only YOU can decide how to view your world - and what choices you will make.

Speaking of choices, it's easy to get into a rut, doing the same old thing. Trying to juggle impossible schedules and demands. No time to pursue old interests or new friendships. BUT, we can re-evaluate our priorities. It's a matter of understanding the natural rhythm of life. Sometimes we need to let go of things that no longer work in our lives (including relationships) or things we've lost interest in. By letting go, we free up space in our lives to pursue new adventures and follow our dreams.

Here's to new beginnings! Please stay tuned and stay in touch.

Janet Kay