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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Writing Connections to Family

I've just finished and published my latest book "Finding Hope, A Reason For Tomorrow" (, which I dedicated to my late cousin Janeen, who was the inspiration for the story of a young woman who died of cancer. And in planning to do a talk about writing about families at this Fall's Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, it occurred to me that I should have a picture of my cousin to go along with the talk; a picture people could see and make a connection to. The person in my head as I was writing was real ... someone I had talked with and laughed with ... someone who was really a combination of both writer and character. So I reached out to my cousin's family to see if they had pictures of her that I might use. And in doing so, I've made a new connection to a part of my family that I have not seen in many years. The feelings that connection stirred up were both sad and happy and filled with memories of my childhood and young adulthood. Those same feelings overwhelmed me as I was writing another book about my family, "Voyage of Dreams, An Irish Memory" (, about my maternal grandmother's emigration from Ireland to Boston in 1904. These family connections are strong and resilient no matter how much time has passed, nor how great the distance between us. And writing about them help us as writers (and hopefully readers, too) rework that connection to make it stronger.