Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2017, CampNaNoWriMo, CampNaNoWriMo 2017, Challenges and Contests, July CampNaNoWriMo 2017, JuNoWriMo, Life Writing, Round Three 2017, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom

New Growth; July 2, 2017

Hi there!

It’s a brand-new month, and a brand-new year. I’m still in the process of nailing goals down, since I’ll be drawing them from my writing business plan, still in the creation process. So I’ll be posting those in the next day or two (by Wednesday’s update, for sure).

But, since I’ve been maintaining my twice-weekly update schedule even during the break, I’m here today to offer my July goals, and the progress I managed on July 1 (my personal cutoff for Sunday posts is progress through midnight Saturday).

For those new here, July is a particularly – emotional month for me. My daughter will be 13 on Saturday, and I will become the mom of two teens. Exciting! Three weeks after hers comes mine…

And, between, on July 13-25, the 12 days that encompassed the entire lifetime of our second child, Elijah James, who would be 14 this month, if he had lived.

I mention this because there may be some bittersweet moments on this blog in the coming weeks, and I’d rather not spring them on folks completely unaware.

Are there months in your life that carry a combination of emotional highs and lows?

Drafting:

  • Blogposts: Write new material at least 2 hours/week. Continue on with series in progress/JuNoWriMo words. Secondary goal.

Plotting:

  • Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8):Use a hybrid form of The Writer’s Coloring Book and The Story Toolkit  to finish plotting this novel. 18,891 plotting words; through Protagonist #2; Step 5/22 (TST); just need to do coloring materials for TWCB. Primary goal; solid progress.
  • Plot/outline blog posts as needed to complete the drafting goal above. I have enough material in development to carry me through maybe a dozen or so additional posts. Secondary goal.
  • Play with fan fiction as desired; because Trip and T’Pol say so. Stretch goal.

Revising:

  • Blogposts: Revise JuNoWriMo blogposts one hour each week. Secondary goal.

  • Sea Changes (Kifo Island #1): Organize the manuscript – one of the cats dumped it a week or two ago. Most of manuscript organized; missing some pages. Will look through piles, and reprint if I can’t find them. Stretch goal.

Submitting:

  • Miss Spider and Mister Fly”: Complete any details/authorize copy edits needed for publication. Currently waiting to hear back from the copy editor; should be soon. Primary goal.

  • Read guidelines and sketch rough ideas for the two projects I’d like to submit this summer/fall. One is a novella length story (I think); the other a short story based in the Adirondacks, which I only have the first teasing glimmers of. Secondary goal.

  • Explore Duotrope; https://duotrope.com/ compile list of 25 paying short story/novella markets. This is pretty self-explanatory. I just want a source pool I can research in a couple of months, when the CCM winds down. Stretch goal.

Social Media:

  • Blogging: Polish/package/schedule/publish relevant blogposts to return to restore/maintain regular blogging schedule for July. Primary goal.

  • Other Platforms: Post twice weekly to my Facebook Writer page; and once weekly to Instagram and Pinterest.  Complete Patreon profile and launch. Secondary goal.

  • Continue in Twitter #writingcrew and #AllStarTrek sprints/chats regularly. Dabble in other social media (LinkedIn, Medium, Quora, Wattpad) if/as desired. Answered two or three questions on Quora; read more. Stretch goal; some progress.

Business:

  • Complete my writing business plan using this excellent article by Angela Ackerman as a guide. Step 4/7 in progress from June. Primary goal.

  • Assist my Accomplice with his labeling/branding/platform/marketing (if this is scary for me; it’s completely alien to him). Added to Facebook Business Page; discussed posting, signage, and sales. Secondary goal; great progress.
  • Complete Gwen’s 30 Day Selfie Challenge. This is a means to an end; I’m learning to overcome early conditioning against admiring/ “bragging on” myself. It’s a simple challenge; take a selfie to a prompt, every day. Stretch goal.

Tending goals:

  • Hometending: Spend 30 minutes at least 5x/week in mindful cleaning and/or yardtending; draft kids’ 2017-2018 IHIPs (Individualized Home Instructin Plans) and complete testing submission and reporting; deal with subscriptions and other business that tends to get pushed aside. Lise testing completed; Miah in progress.

  • Selftending: Spend time with my beloveds, friends, and myself; get at least one hour of physical activity 5x/week, and two hours of strenuous activity weekly (including Baby Steps to 5K); meditate and journal 8x/week. Meditation/journaling 1/8.

Kait Nolan’s  ROW80  –

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!
We’re on Facebook, too!

My favorite-so-far photo for the Selfie Challenge – me, on a walk with my son, and being silly.Hi there!  =)
Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2017, CampNaNoWriMo, Challenges and Contests, July CampNaNoWriMo 2017, JuNoWriMo, Life Writing, Round Two 2017, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom

Stop to Smell the Blooms; July 1, 2017

The ROW80 logo appears to be having kittens. So, instead, I bring you more blooms for the break!

Hi there!

It’s July 1 – so that means it’s time to  wrap up my June goals, in preparation for setting  my Round 3 and July goals.

I took a different tack on my goals this month. First, I set fewer goals for June. Next, I focused on only two major goals at a time, with a smattering of smaller goals for seasoning.

It worked well. On the whole, I accomplished more of my goals than I have in past rounds, and in a more targeted, purposeful direction. I didn’t get to submissions in June, but that should be less of an issue as July moves on. At the beginning of the month, I’ll be finishing up other June goals in progress.

But first, I take stock….

Do you do monthly assessments and reshaping of your goals?

Drafting:

  • JuNoWriMo: Write 50,000 words of raw material for blog posts. 50,087/50,000 words! Primary goal COMPLETED!
  • Play with fiction writing as/if desired. Did a snippet of new writing for next week’s upcoming WIPpet post; and a flash fiction story this week’s #SoCS post. Secondary goal COMPLETED!

Plotting:

  • JuNoWriMo: Plot/outline blog posts as needed to complete the drafting goal above. I have enough material in development to carry me through maybe a dozen or so additional posts. Secondary goal EXCEEDED!

Revising:

  • Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel: Complete Lesson 3 (in progress; check beginning point) using “On Any Tuesday Night” as my WIP. Skim Lessons 4 and 5; make decision regarding how much I can reasonably take on, and set an endpoint for this month’s progress. Notes completed (82 pages; 21 scenes). Primary goal nearing completion.

  • Sea Changes (Kifo Island #1): Organize the manuscript – one of the cats dumped it a week or two agoand move forward with the revisions as desired. Most of manuscript organized; missing some pages. Will look through piles, and reprint if I can’t find them. Secondary goal: solid progress.

  • Look at the #StoryADay critique group; choose one of my last two SN stories and submit for peer review. Take action as indicated to polish the story; share for #StoryFest. Revised and posted. I was a little less than two hours late submitting my link, but the form took me, so…Stretch goal COMPLETED!

Submitting: Untouched in June.

  • Miss Spider and Mister Fly”: Complete any details/authorize copy edits needed for publication. Currently waiting to hear back from the copy editor; should be soon. Primary goal.

  • Read guidelines and sketch rough ideas for the two projects I’d like to submit this summer/fall. One is a novella length story (I think); the other a short story based in the Adirondacks, which I only have the first teasing glimmers of. Secondary goal.

  • Explore Duotrope; compile list of 25 paying short story/novella markets. This is pretty self-explanatory. I just want a source pool I can research in a couple of months, when the CCM winds down. Stretch goal.

Social Media:

  • Blogging: Revise/polish/package relevant blogposts in order to return to a regular blogging schedule. Designate reblogged/repurposed posts or work ahead to cover July’s schedule. Posting to par for the week thus far, with a post scheduled to post later in the week; last weekend post in development. Primary goal; solid progress.

  • Other Platforms: Resume posting to my Facebook Writer page,  Instagram,  and Pinterest.   Complete Patreon profile and launch. Secondary goal; solid progress.

  • Continue in Twitter #writingcrew and #AllStarTrek sprints/chats regularly. Dabble in other social media (LinkedIn, Medium, Quora, Wattpad) if/as desired. Sprint Wed. AM.; Chat. Wed/ Thu. AM. Stretch goal; solid progress.

Business:

  • Create a writing business plan using this excellent article by Angela Ackerman as a guide. Step 4/7 in progress; getting close to the end. Primary goal; very good progress.

  • Assist my Accomplice with his labeling/branding/platform/marketing (if this is scary for me; it’s completely alien to him). Created a Facebook Business Page,signage, and two simple business cards. Attended local farmer’s market with him; first time. Will be updating/ adding as needed. Secondary goal; great progress.
  • Complete Build Your Marketing Muscles  class; simmer; draft an action plan to apply what I’ve learned, and experiment with early changes/additions to my currently nearly non-existent “marketing plan. Finished up all the course materials I missed during the “live” session. Simmering prior to beginning action plan. Stretch goal; solid progress.

Tending goals:

  • Hometending: Spend time at least 5x/week in mindful cleaning and/or yardtending; complete all homeschool paperwork and testing; deal with subscriptions and other business that tends to get pushed aside; support other indie writers as I’m able. 2017-2018 Letters of Intent submitted; simmering IHIPs. Hometending 3/5. Lise testing completed; Miah in progress. Ran Twitter sprints for #JuNoWriMo.

  • Selftending: Spend time with my beloveds, friends, and myself; get at least one hour of physical activity 5x/week, and five hours of strenuous activity weekly (including Baby Steps to 5K); meditate and journal 8x/week. Meditation/journaling /8. Hour; /5; Strenuous: /5 hours.

Kait Nolan’s  ROW80  –

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!

We’re on Facebook!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Coffee and Conversation, Just for Fun!, Life Writing, Marketing my Writing, Story a Day May Challenge, Weekend Coffee Share, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom

June Gear Shift for #weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee, you might just find me scratching my head and saying, “Wow – June seems to be flying by!’ I may also be scratching my head and staring around me in stark befuddlement….

Or, more likely, I’m at my laptop. I’m finished with #StoryADay May, other than StoryFest this weekend – I’ll tell you more about that a bit later in the post – and I’m about a third of the way through the #JuNoWriMo Challenge (think a more freeform version of NaNoWriMo).

But here I go, putting the conversation before the coffee again. I have a tendency to do that when my mind is busy, and I’m deeply involved in something….or when I have a new passion. Please do come in, sit down, make yourself at home. It’s cold and rainy today (I’m typing this on Tuesday), but it’s snug here in the house, if none too tidy.

That goes hand in hand with my busyness of the mind and overall sense of distraction.

I know, I know. I’m rambling. Haven’t slept much the last couple of days. My sleep/wake cycle seems to be influenced strongly by the moon, and there are a couple of days most months when I don’t actually sleep at night; just take a catnap or two during the course of the late morning/early evening hours. You’re catching me after the second night…and I’m more than a little bit tired.

But that doesn’t mean you’re not welcome. I’ve got a wide variety of teas, coffee, lemonade, and an assortment of snacks. Please, help yourself.

So, in addition to my marketing and revision classes, I’m also still refining my Accomplice’s labels, and now taking a more professional approach to the business side of my writing career. I’ve gotten very efficient at producing first drafts, adequate and gaining skills at plotting, and I’m making strides with revision – which means the only remaining obstacles to publication are production and marketing.

I like to start learning things before I specifically need them, so I’m making an internal shift toward those things. As time goes by, I expect to be putting more of my energy into them.

And that’s a bit of where my JuNoWriMo effort fits in. This year, instead of writing fiction for a third straight month, I’m drafting blog posts (including this one). When I’m in a place of creative intensity, I tend to get too absorbed in the project at hand to focus on writing new posts – or even reblogging older ones. Also, since I’ve been deeply engaged with fiction projects for the past two months, I’m in need of a bit of a breather – a changing of the gears, so to speak.

So I’m using my breather productively to create a blog pool. I’ll use some of the time to get back into the rhythm of my weekly blog schedule, which was abandoned somewhere along the middle of April, and really hasn’t been seen in anything more than the barest glimpses since.

But the rest will become my rough draft inventory, to be revised, polished, and packaged for later consumption.

For the first time, I will have a substantial stock of material ready to develop; once the month is finished, dedicating to a few hours a week of maintenance and replenishment should keep me in good shape. August brings another month without a major challenge, so I’ll use that for developing and finishing posts and ideas.

I think I’m onto something here, and it’s making me very happy.

Oh, I almost forgot!

This weekend is StoryFest – the “virtual recital” of the StoryADay May Challenge. If you’re a fan of short fiction, stop by the homepage anytime before Monday morning (EST), and enjoy a nibble, or a buffet, including my 1,100 word story, “Broken.” Writers write for readers to read! =D

There’s probably a lot more I could say, but I feel like I’ve been talking your ears off already, figuratively. Now I’d just like to sit here quietly and sip my drink while you tell me what’s been going on with you. If my eyes start to drift closed, feel free to just leave your cup on the table. I’ll get to it….later.

As you venture out on your way, I wish you a week that’s filled with all the joy you can imagine – and then a little more!

This post is part of the #weekendcoffeeshare, hosted by #nerdinthebrain. Clicking the link will take you to more conversations – and please leave a comment in the box below, because it’s not a very good conversation if I’m the only one talking. =)

Posted in Uncategorized

I’ll Admit It…#SoCS and StoryFest for June 10, 2017


Okay, I’ll admit it. I really don’t have any idea what I’m going to write. It’s a full moon, and it’s been nearly a week since I’ve had a regular night’s sleep.

Things are a bit off-kilter this week, and, despite trimming back my monthly goals significantly. I’m feeling like I’m going in way too many directions at the same time, and the result is that I’m feeling a bit mired and at a standstill.

Also, my Accomplice isn’t feeling well. He hurt his back at work earlier in the week, while doing some heavy lifting, then he mowed the lawn. The pollen count was quite high, and he’s a transplanted West Coaster with no native immunity to our allergens. He’s also dealing with an upset stomach, and chills….

So there’s just an “up in the air” feeling here. Even my phone apparently agrees – my health app doesn’t show my 3.07 mile walk with my daughter, despite running the entire program and giving me the proper end-of-run cues. So it’s telling me that I missed a scheduled workout, despite logging the time spent in the activity.

I’ll admit it. That’s frustrating. I was working toward a perfect record, but I’d have to do five miles tomorrow to finish the week with my schedule full- and I don’t think I quite have the fortitude for that…even if I felt I could spare the time.

You see, the homeschool reports are due in five days, and I’ve barely started them. That means there must be time devoted to that legal requirement during the next few days. I’ll admit that I’m not exactly looking forward to that dull, dry, largely lifeless writing…but it’s the law, and the price of our getting to live a live that fulfills each of us.

I’ve finally, after what seems like a huge amount of learning, frustration, experimentation, and more failure than I was hoping for, managed to create a label prototype my Accomplice loves. There are still a couple of minor changed to make, but I’ve topped the wall on that one, and now I have a template we can adapt for all of his sauce flavors….

I’ve also managed to get my story revised for the #StoryADay May StoryFest, which is this weekend. I polished up my Kifo Island story, “Broken” after submitting it to the mini-critique group, where I garnered good suggestions, great insights, and some favorable response.

If you’d like to read my story, and/or other short stories, head over to the StoryADay site. The StoryFest posts will be on the front page all weekend – read one, read all, read somewhere in between. It’s up to you – but writers love feedback, and to know people are reading our words. Won’t you make a writer happy this weekend?

I’ll admit it – that was a rather shameless plug.

On that note, I’m going to admit defeat. I never really found a cohesive thread in this post – but I did add another 500 words to my #JuNoWriMo word count, so there’s that.

I’m tired, and I’m thinking about admitting myself to dream-land.

This post is a part of Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week’s prompt is “admit,” used any way we want. Find the rules of engagement here, and take a dip in the stream here.

Want to join the conversation? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. When have you felt mired? Do you have strategies to move through and past it? Your ideas just might be what someone else needs to get out of a stuck place, so feel free to share!

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2017, Challenges and Contests, JuNoWriMo, Life Writing, Marketing my Writing, Round Two 2017, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom

June Blooms: June 4, 2017

Hi there!

We’re four days into June, and I haven’t checked in for a week. I needed to relax and reset after I completed #StoryADay May and eased into #JuNoWriMo.  I’m past the halfway point of my Creative Chaos Marathon, and I’m a little fatigued.

Last year I pushed on – and burned out before July was over.

So, I’m shifting direction, and taking June largely away from fiction. I’m building a pool of blog posts (these words are part of that effort). I tend to stop blogging when I’m in the midst of an intensely creative period. Soon, I’ll have raw posts to polish, package, and publish when I’m too fictionally focused to write them.

It’s easier to work with my nature than against it. So this month’s goals will be simpler, in keeping with my need for a breather before the return to fictional intensity with CampNaNoWriMo.

I’m also taking a more businesslike approach to my writing career, and these goals reflect that transition.

Drafting:

  • JuNoWriMo: Write 50,000 words of raw material for blog posts. 5,085/50,000 words. On target. Primary goal.
  • Play with fiction writing as/if desired. I’ve been intensely focused on fiction for the last two months. My mind needs freedom to play or not. Writing might include my two WIP novels, short stories, and/or fanfiction. Secondary goal.

Plotting:

  • JuNoWriMo: Plot/outline blog posts as needed to complete the drafting goal above. I’ve done some sketching out of the first several posts. I expect to pick up steam as I settle into this new direction. Secondary goal.

Revising:

  • Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel: Complete Lesson 3 (in progress; check beginning point) using “On Any Tuesday Night” as my WIP. Skim Lessons 4 and 5; make decision regarding how much I can reasonably take on, and set an endpoint for this month’s progress. I’m leaning toward a time-based weekly goal rather than an endpoint based on lessons completed. Read Lesson 4; about half of Lesson 5, Primary goal.

  • Sea Changes (Kifo Island #1): Organize the manuscript – one of the cats dumped it a week or two ago – and move forward with the revisions as desired. Began organizing the manuscript. Secondary goal.

  • Look at the #StoryADay critique group; choose one of my last two SN stories and submit for peer review. Take action as indicated to polish the story; share for #StoryFest. In my ongoing quest to grok revision, I need to push the envelope a bit more. Asking relative strangers to review a story I wrote in under a day seems like a very good way to do that! I’ve joined the group; received an invitation to collaborate, and chosen my story. It needs a quick revision pass, then I’ll send it on its way. Stretch goal *

*Stretch goals are that “little bit extra”; things that might make me uncomfortable, but will facilitate further growth. They will be in the background, mostly, so they don’t scare me too much! =)

Submitting:

  • Miss Spider and Mister Fly”: Complete any details/authorize copy edits needed for publication. Currently waiting to hear back from the copy editor; should be soon. Primary goal.

  • Read guidelines and sketch rough ideas for the two projects I’d like to submit this summer/fall. One is a novella length story (I think); the other a short story based in the Adirondacks, which I only have the first teasing glimmers of. Secondary goal.

  • Explore Duotrope; compile list of 25 paying short story/novella markets. This is pretty self-explanatory. I just want a source pool I can research in a couple of months, when the CCM winds down. Stretch goal.

Social Media:

  • Blogging: Revise/polish/package relevant blogposts in order to return to a regular blogging schedule. Designate reblogged/repurposed posts or work ahead to cover July’s schedule. Began revisions of the first post or two (including this one). It’s still very early in the month, though. Primary goal.

  • Other Platforms: Resume posting to my Facebook Writer page, Instagram and Pinterest. Complete Patreon profile and launch. Patreon video: created relaxed script; polished, and Miah shot the video “on location” at Saratoga Battlefield. Will be editing/polishing during the next week or so. Secondary goal.

  • Continue in Twitter #writingcrew and #AllStarTrek sprints/chats regularly. Dabble in other social media (LinkedIn, Medium, Quora, Wattpad) if/as desired. It’s almost magical to be able to share my Trek passion with others who “get it”, since my family really doesn’t. Plus, I’ve been invited to role-play a crew position, which is an extra layer of playful Trekgeek fun). I’d like to find similar vibes in other places where my quirks will add value. Joined #writingcrew sprint Friday; #AllStarTrek Thursday. Stretch goal.

Business:

  • Assist my Accomplice with his labeling/branding/platform/marketing (if this is scary for me; it’s completely alien to him). I worked out one complication; moving forward. Secondary goal.
  • Complete Build Your Marketing Muscles class; simmer; draft an action plan to apply what I’ve learned, and experiment with early changes/additions to my currently nearly non-existent “marketing plan.” Worked through items I’ve missed during the end of May. Stretch goal.

Tending goals:

Note: Customarily, I’ve separated these into separate categories. This month, I’m trying more general categories, and being more mindful. None of these goals has a priority designation.

  • Hometending: Spend time at least 5x/week in mindful cleaning and/or yardtending; complete all homeschool paperwork and testing; deal with subscriptions and other business that tends to get pushed aside; support other indie writers as I’m able.

  • Selftending: Spend time with my beloveds, friends, and myself; get at least one hour of physical activity 5x/week, and five hours of strenuous activity weekly (including Baby Steps to 5K); meditate and journal 8x/week. June began on Thursday; so 3/5 days for activity (all walking/hiking), with about 1.75 hours strenuous. Meditation/journaling 3/8.

  • Lifetending: Continue developing professional goals and connections; reading and audiobook listening, and The Star Trek Chronology Project. Onward w/marketing, #writingcrew, #JuNo, and revisions.

Kait Nolan’s  ROW80 

The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life!

ROW Along, or Cheer Us On!
We’re also on Facebook!

Dawn of a new month, and a new direction!
Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Lavender? #StoryADay May; Day Thirty-One

The Prompt:

  • Write A Story About A Writer.

  • This story is the thirty-first in a series of explorations for my upcoming novel, Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8) , which I will be drafting in July.

Today marks the final story in my expedition to learn more about my pending novel’s characters. So it seems fitting that we’ve come full circle, all the way back to what began this series – a postcard of a tropical beach, written in lavender ink, and carrying a shocking, presumably impossible message.

It’s time to meet the author of that postcard, and learn something of the reason for it…

But, before we do that, please let me take this moment to thank everyone who came by to read some or all of this story. Things got a little crazy between physical and fictional realities, and I haven’t been as prompt at responding to comments as I’d like to be.

I’m going to take a few days of (relative) rest, though, and, during that time, comments will be high on my agenda, because I really do love reading and responding to them.

And now, I present…

Lavender?

Ophelia tapped the edge of the postcard on the play table. She looked at the clay, the sinks, the tools, the paints. It was all bright and lovely , and she had it pretty much to herself – the young woman who ran the place was out on the attached beach with her husband and twins.

She hated being here. It was so much like home. But so poisoned, to her mind, by everything that had happened here, ten years ago.

She had to know.

There was no way that Lavender could be alive. She’d held her while she died, while Marilyn was off in the bathroom shooting up her last-ever dose of opioid poison. She’d always wondered which of them had died first, or if it had been at the same time.

She also wondered why that mattered to her. Dead was dead; the end.

Unless, somehow, Lavender was alive.

The bells at the door tinkled, and it opened. A girl who looked barely into her teens came in.

She was blonde, blue-eyed – and she was wearing lavender – a sundress that slipped gently over new curves. She had a wide sunhat with a lavender band, and she looked around the room, then, apparently noticing Ophelia, she came right up to her table.

“I see you got my postcard,” she said, softly, ducking her head. “I wasn’t sure you would come.”

“Why did you write this? Who are you?”

“It would be easier to show you. Can I sit down?”

Ophelia nodded. She hadn’t expected a child – or someone who looked almost like Marilyn brought back to life the way she’d looked in some of those old family portraits in that mausoleum of a house where she’d grown up. Maybe she should be on her guard – but this girl could be Lavender – if Lavender had been a quick developer…

“I brought you a little gift. Maybe that will help me explain.” The girl reached into the handbag slung over her shoulder – it was made of denim, and trimmed with embroidered lavender flowers. She pulled out a long box, gift wrapped in silver paper with lavender hearts, and tied with a satin bow, also lavender. It seemed a bit like overkill, until Ophelia remembered being this age, and how forcefully she’d identified with certain things.

She took the package the girl offered. “Thank you.” A pause, and the child ducked her head. “With all my heart. Please open it.”

Ophelia did as the girl asked. Inside was a bed of – what else? – lavender tissue paper. When she lifted it, she discovered a purple stethoscope.

“I don’t understand. I’m not a doctor or a nurse.” She didn’t add that she also didn’t see what any of this had to do with Lavender.

“But you had a baby niece. Ten years ago. She died.”

“How do you know this? And why did you write this postcard?”

“I – didn’t know how to meet you. And I wanted to.”

“Why?”

“It’s been ten years. I thought you might want to hear your niece’s heart beating.”

What does the girl mean by that?

Who is she?

How does she know about Lavender?

Any guesses?