And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

So where the heck do you find a moment of happiness when you start the week being diagnosed with strep throat, and then a couple days later, get told you actually have mono, with strep as a secondary infection?

Why, at Starbucks, of course.

It didn’t start that way, though. Even when you’re sick, there are still things you have to do. For me, an extra chore – Semi, the car I wrote about last week, needed his emissions tested so that his license plate could be renewed. I’d put it off until the last possible minute, hoping the weather would get better, because I do not drive this car in the snow. My luck ran out this year – it’s still winter outside, but his emissions test is due by the 30th. So despite being sick, since I’m the only driver in the house, I set out today to get Semi taken care of.

Semi’s battery was replaced last week, as it would no longer hold a charge. I knew that everything had to reset in the car with a change of battery, or the emissions test would fail. To do that, you drive. At forty degrees today, I drove with the top forlornly up and went twenty minutes down the freeway, twenty minutes back, and then to the place where emissions are tested.

Semi flunked.

The car guy asked me if I’d had work done on the car recently, and when I explained about the battery, he said, “You were so close. Everything was reset except for one setting. Just drive the car a couple more days and you shouldn’t have any problem.”

A couple more days, when I shouldn’t be out driving at all. The car shouldn’t be out in winter. I should be tucked under a blanket. Sigh.

So I forlornly drove my car with the top forlornly up and decided, as long as I was out, to get Starbucks. In the drive-thru, I called out my usual order. An extra-hot grande latte, with two pumps of cinnamon dolce, and whip, please. (Incidentally, in the news today, Starbucks announced it was retiring one of its most popular syrups. I held my breath until I read that it was raspberry. Whew.)

“Oh!” the barista said. “Kathie! Come on around!”

So I did.

Several of the baristas were crowded at the window. “We saw on Facebook that you’re sick,” the barista who took my order said. “We want you to feel better! Here! We made your drink a venti, and it’s on us!”

Well, forlorn went right out the window. It would have gone straight up, if the top had been down. But through the window was enough.

I drove home, with a smile, and more warming me than my extra hot latte and my car’s heated seats.

A short moment today, as I’m supposed to be, you know, resting.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Cheers! Thanks, baristas!


And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Some see the signs of spring in a robin hopping on the newly green grass. Others see it in the raucous honking of geese, flying overhead to return to the opened water in the river. Some see it in blue skies, white clouds, more sunshine, the time change as we wind our clocks forward an hour. Some see it on the Spring Equinox, coming up next week.

And some, like me, see it in a 2012 Chrysler 200 LX convertible, top down, music up, iced latte in hand.

Some see it…but then that vision is obscured by 8 new inches of snow.

One of my students lives in Wyoming, and she told me this week that they’re just moving into the snow months. “Just moving into,” when they’ve already had 75 inches of snow this winter. “Just moving into,” when April is just ahead, a month (supposedly) of daffodils and tulips, lazy Sundays on the deck, and shirt-sleeve weather. I don’t know how my student stands it.

Here where I live in Wisconsin, I’ve been looking hard for signs of spring. I’ve seen the robins, briefly seen the green grass, there have been some blue skies and white clouds, some sunshine, definitely the time change…and that 8 inches of snow.

But then my friend Darrick came over. Darrick has been my car guy for over 20 years. And he was coming to install a new battery in  my 2012 Chrysler 200 LX convertible, who goes by the name of Semi. When I first brought Semi home, I also owned a Chrysler 300C Hemi, who I called my bodyguard. I gave Hemi the name of Hemi, because there was just no ignoring that engine. So when Semi showed up, my husband said since this was a 200, and Hemi was a 300, the new car was a Semi Hemi. And so Semi is still Semi, even though Hemi is no longer with me. I tearfully traded him in a couple years ago for a 2018 Chrysler 300S, named Barry.

I have a thing for Chryslers.

My very first car was purchased for a dollar from my father. It was a 1969 Chrysler Newport sedan. I was born in 1960, so this tank was only 9 years younger than me. If you’ve read my novel, In Grace’s Time, you know that one of the main characters is a 1969 Chrysler Newport 4-door sedan. When the publisher asked me for suggestions on the cover, I said the only preference I had was that it had to feature that very car, in tan, with a cream-colored roof. Look at the cover.

When that car, known as Tank, went to that great crushed-car Heaven in the sky, my then-husband and I, just out of college, could only afford a used Plymouth Volare, which we bought at a local Chrysler dealership. As we filled out the paperwork, I kept my eyes on a Chrysler LeBaron convertible. I swore I would own one someday.

I did. If you’re currently reading Hope Always Rises, Hope, in Heaven, is given back the car of her dreams – a hunter green 1995 Chrysler LeBaron convertible. That car, and my own, are called LeB, pronounced Luh-BEE.

Then came a Chrysler Sebring convertible, called SeB, pronounced Suh-BEE.

Then Hemi. Then Semi. Then Barry. (Oh, there’s a little white Volkswagen Beetle too, called Little B, bought for Olivia so she could chug herself back and forth to college. She feels about Beetles the way I feel about Chryslers. The fool.)

And now, in this winter of a just-dumped 8 more inches of snow, a convertible that wouldn’t start. At all. Dead. I don’t drive Semi in the winter time. He is pristine. He has never touched salt or snow. But his registration always needs renewing at the end of March, a mystery to me, since I didn’t buy him in March. The date is coming up quickly, and instead of steadily warmer temps and bright sunshine, there’s more snow. I knew I was going to have to bring him in for his emissions test very soon. But when I went to turn his key, no resulting roar sounded.


So Darrick came over. He discovered that Chrysler puts batteries in very odd places – under the car. So he had to return with the tools that allowed him to hoist Semi up. I was upstairs working when he messaged me: “I’m done. Car in garage. Key in door. Garage door closed.” He warned me that I’d be needing new front brakes soon, and that I should have the lug nuts torqued in about 50 miles (what’s a lug nut? I thought that was a football player).

For a moment, I sat back in my office chair, closed my eyes, and thought about selling Semi. Living in Wisconsin, I only drive him a few months a year, though I don’t park him firmly in the garage until the temperatures are steadily in the 40s. The car has heated seats, and between those and a jacket, I can handle driving with the top down in 50-degree weather. Michael doesn’t drive; only I do. I don’t need two cars. I love Barry, my 300S. Semi, despite being over 10 years old, is beautiful. I could get some decent bucks for him.

I could.

But then I went downstairs and into the garage. Barry was waiting to take me to an appointment, but Semi, newly powered, was looking at me hopefully. I got in the front seat, twisted my key, and…

ROAR!!!! Hallelujah!

In that moment, despite being in the garage, despite the top being up, the blue skies opened above me. The sun shone down. I propped an elbow on the door and felt the wind buffeting my hair. I heard music, and I knew if I looked at my cupholder, there would be a Starbucks grande iced latte, with two pumps of cinnamon dolce syrup and topped with whipped cream. My winter coat and sweater disappeared and I was in a sleeveless top, the sun warm on my shoulders.

It was spring! Hell, it was SUMMER!

In my car, I raised both fists (knocking into the top) and shouted, “Woohoo!”

And then I turned Semi off. I didn’t drive him; outside of the garage was the newly fallen 8 inches of snow. And 36 degrees. Slush. Road salt.

But in my garage, it was spring. I patted the steering wheel, told Semi we’d be turned loose soon, and then went out into the cold. Where I patted Barry’s hood, so he’d know I love him too.

You get spring where you find it.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Cover of In Grace’s Time. See the Tank?
Author photo for The Home For Wayward Clocks, taken by Ron Wimmer of Wimmer Photography. I’m sitting in SeB.
Hemi. I still miss this car.
And just for Olivia – Little B, the Beetle, Olivia’s dream car. (The fool.)


And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

About a year ago, I started arranging my schedule so that I could take one day off every week. It wasn’t the same day…it fluctuates, a different day every week. This way, I am able to keep my client and class load, but still have a day that I can breathe. And my clients and students know that every five weeks, they will have a week off to either write ahead or take a break. It’s worked out very well, all things considered.

The way I arranged the order of the days, the week I have Friday off is followed by the week I have Monday off. So I regularly get a four-day weekend, kind of. A lot of times, the Saturday of that “four day weekend” is a Saturday that I teach, as I teach two Saturdays a month. But that’s fine.

Last week, I had one of these four-day weekends that included a free Saturday. My husband, who knows that I’ve been exceptionally busy and stressed lately, said, “You should go somewhere. Do something. Something fun that makes you happy.”

So I thought about that. And in the end, I did do something that I find fun and that makes me happy.

I stayed home. And I thoroughly cleaned, rearranged, and redid my office/writing space. It took me all day Friday, all day Saturday, and part of Sunday. Oh, I also went through my clothes closet and took out every sweater that I haven’t worn this winter and donated them.

I am a creative person, but I am also an organized person. My imagination and creativity goes crazy when I write, when I paint, and when I think about student manuscripts. But my organization makes my external world orderly so that my internal world has permission to go crazy. I write lists. I figure out an order for things and I do them in that order. I check the weather so I am prepared. Before I go to bed, I pick out what I’m going to wear the next day. When I was in college, I came home from the first day of classes and wrote in my calendar when papers and exams were due throughout the semester. And then I finished my papers at least two weeks prior to those dates.

And so this last Thursday, when I finished with my final client, I spent some time standing at the entry to my writing space, figuring out what I wanted to do. And then I spent the next few days doing it, even though some of it was very hard.

Several years ago, I bought a burgundy chaise for my room. I pictured myself sitting in it, my legs gently extended, ankles crossed, while I read student manuscripts. That vision was interrupted quickly by a big 18-pound orange cat. An orange cat who is a shorthair, but who somehow has more hair than any other cat I’ve ever known. And a cat who decided his place in this house was laying on my red chaise, his legs gently extended, all four ankles crossed, and orange hair being dumped everywhere, top to bottom.

I tried to keep him off. I covered the chair with aluminum foil. I took some extra car floor liners and laid them upside down on the chair, so that the rubber points stuck up. Edgar found ways to shove these things aside and still make room to stretch out. Eventually, I gave up and just set myself to vacuuming the chair often. But it wasn’t often enough, and soon the chair was more orange than burgundy, and no vacuum, even the ones with special pet attachments, could do a thing. I gave up further and only worked at my desk or downstairs in the living room, in my recliner.

Recently, when we switched storage rooms locations, I reacquainted myself with my rocking chair, the one I bought 40 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. It came from a resale shop and it was covered with thick blue paint. My then-husband set to work stripping it and staining it, and when it was done, I proceeded to rock a total of four babies. Now, I looked at it and ached to bring it home. I admit, my desire was not all nostalgia, but devious planning.

  • the orange cat is old now and would not be able to jump up onto it. I’d bought a set of stairs for him so he could still reach the red chaise. I would not use the stairs by a rocking chair because…
  • …it rocked. If he tried to get on it, it would rock back and forth, and likely dump him to the ground.

So the Got Junk people came and removed the more-orange-than-burgundy chaise. I brought the pet stairs to my storeroom, just in case, and then brought the rocking chair home. Where I proceeded to rip into the rest of my office.

I cast a hard eye on the knick-knacks on the bookshelves behind my desk. Only the most loved remained. Many were hard to let go…but I did it, and I think of them being loved in new homes.

I went through my long bookshelf, given to me by a lovely poet when she downsized, and got rid of the things I was keeping for no real reason. Old calendars. Books I thought I would read, but no longer had the desire to, because there were too many other books I wanted to read. Then I moved a shelf that holds 9 cubbies into another room and brought in a small table to put next to my rocking chair.

And I did the dirty work. I didn’t dust, I washed, scrubbing down shelf after shelf, furniture surface after furniture surface. I drove two slivers from my antique writing table into the palm of one hand, and one sliver still remains. I shredded paper. I got rid of things that I bought once, thinking I would use them, and I never used them, but I kept them just in case I might.


The result:

One unhappy big orange cat. But a place that I’ve fallen in love with again, where I can work without the pressure of too much stuff bearing down on me.

But I do feel bad about the cat. He sits, looking at the rocking chair, and then he sighs and curls up on the rug. I’ve bought two cat beds for him so far, both of which came from online and when they arrived, were much too small. This weekend, I’m going to a pet store where I can eyeball the beds and actually find one that is large enough for a now 16-pound cat (he lost two pounds during his illness a short time ago).

But spending a four-day weekend having fun and doing what makes me happy?


And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Edgar on the burgundy chaise, leaning on his stairs.
Edgar and the chaise the day before it…went to furniture heaven.
Edgar and the rocking chair. Note that he has his back to me.
The too small beds. Muse is in the one on the left. She is only 5 pounds, and this bed is even too small for her.
The view now from my desk.
The view looking in.
The long bookshelf. With room for more books!
My quiet spot.


And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Well, anyone who follows me on my Facebook page knows what this week’s moment is going to be about. (https://www.facebook.com/kathie.giorgio.5, by the way)

Last Saturday night, at approximately 10:45 p.m., I met, face to face, voice to voice, breathing the same air…Richard Thomas.

AKA John Boy Walton.

If I was a squealing type of person, you would have heard my squeal around the world. But I’m not. I was actually very calm, very collected. And very, very happy.

I started actually watching the Waltons when I was pregnant with my first child. I was 23 years old. I’m 62 now. So my connection to the Waltons, and to John Boy in particular, could be said to have gone on for 39 years. But in fact, I first felt myself connected to John Boy in 1972, when the show first aired. I didn’t watch the show then. But the character of John Boy reached to me from the television in the living room of my family home, up the stairs, down the hall, and into my pink room, where I sat at my desk, writing.

My parents watched the Waltons. I didn’t, first, because it wasn’t “cool” to watch them, and second, because I was too busy writing. But John Boy and I became friends, just the same.

He was the first person I “knew” who was doing what I was doing…sitting alone in my room, writing, when I could have been outside playing, I could have been downstairs watching television, I could have been riding my bike, I could have been doing pretty much anything else, doing what most kids my age were doing, in my neighborhood, right outside my window.

But I was writing. And so was John Boy.

While I wrote, the sound of the show drifted up the stairs, and I listened to my family watch The Waltons. And on the show, John Boy was in his room, writing, listening to his family listen to the radio.

I remember this moment so well. Lifting my head and looking out the window. And thinking, I’m not the only one. It was a moment that happened over and over again, until I sat down to watch the show myself in 1983.

At that point, I’d graduated from college with my degree in creative writing. I was married and working part-time, and pregnant with my first child. I worked every day until noon, came home for lunch, and then wrote for several hours. Pregnancy pulled at my energy and in the late afternoon, I took a break to sit on the couch and watch television. Where I discovered The Waltons, in reruns, on the Family Channel.

At the time, I was scared. For the first time, I was on my own with writing. There were no teachers to encourage me. I was no longer in school. There was only me, my Royal Selectric electric typewriter, my worn copy of The Writers Market, my imagination, and rejection letter after rejection letter. I was dogged and determined, but I no longer had “coaches” cheering me on. At college, I’d met others with my same drive and passion, but now, just like I was in that pink bedroom, I was the only one I knew who was doing what I was doing.

And then there was John Boy again.

Suddenly, I had company.

Over the years, I watched The Waltons on television. Then, I owned the entire series on VHS. Now, I have it on DVD. I visited the real Waltons Mountain, met Earl Hamner’s aunt who took me outside the Waltons Mountain Museum to show me what a trailing arbutus looked like. I corrected the tour guide, who got a detail on one of the episodes wrong. As time went on, eBay was born, and I collected Waltons memorabilia. The lunch box, the board game, the Viewmaster reels, the Little Golden books, coloring books, the Barbie-type dolls, the paper dolls. My favorite piece was a book published in 1974, of poetry by Richard Thomas.

I was bowled over when I realized that the real person behind the portrayal of John Boy was also a writer.

I was even more bowled over when the real John Boy, Earl Hamner himself, friended me on Facebook.

And of course, while I was surrounded by rejection letters, I went on to publish. This week, this past Tuesday, my 14th book, a novel called Hope Always Rises, was released. On page 11 of that book, my main character, Hope, newly arrived in Heaven, turns on the television and asks to watch the first two episodes of The Waltons. Because, of course, my vision of Heaven would not be complete without that show.

So I found myself this last Saturday at the Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Wisconsin. On stage was the tour of To Kill A Mockingbird. Playing Atticus Finch: Richard Thomas.

John Boy.

A friend purchased a ticket for me, and I gladly drove the two hours north to the theatre. In the weeks before, I did everything I could to orchestrate a meeting. Richard Thomas isn’t active on social media, but the actress that played Erin, Mary Beth McDonough, is. I emailed her, and she advised me to contact the theatre. I did, but heard nothing back. In the end, I just went to the stage door after the show…and waited.

And then there he was.

I did not squeal.

But I did tell him of our connection. While we talked, his eyes never left mine. And then I reached into my purse and pulled out that little poetry book and asked him to sign it. I also pulled out Hope Always Rises and offered it to him.

He asked me to sign it too. I did.

To Richard Thomas,

Thank you for changing my life.

Kathie Giorgio

And then he asked me if he could hug me.

I’m sure you can imagine what I answered.

Full circle moment.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Me with Richard Thomas’ poetry book. Now signed by the author himself!
Me and Richard Thomas.
Signing my book for him.
The beginning of the hug. Michael was taking the photos. He caught this just at the beginning.
Hope Always Rises. Oh, it does indeed.


And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Last week, I received a phone call from someone who told me he decided it was time to write his book, something he’d been wanting to do for decades. He was dealing with cancer, he said, and the outcome was uncertain, so he needed to do it now, or possibly never do it at all. I arranged a face to face appointment and he came in early this week.

He moved slowly past my window. I could tell he was in pain. If I had to guess, I would say he was in his early 70s. When he opened my outside door, I called out to him to come right on in and make himself at home.

He moved around my classroom table and chose to sit to my left. Placing his manuscript on the table with a sigh, he sat down, and then turned directly to me. “I have to tell you, first of all,” he said before even saying hello, “I just finished reading your book, The Home For Wayward Clocks.” He paused, and then said, “Your book made me cry. And it’s the only time I’ve cried over a book in my entire life.”

So when you write, there is hopefully praise for your book. And then there is PRAISE. Quietly stated. Not gushing. Just stated as fact, in two simple sentences.


We spent our time talking about his life, and about his need to write his book now. His feeling that he’s running out of time. “I don’t know that I want to publish,” he said. “I just want to get it written.”

By the time he left, he knew, and I knew, that we would do just that. We’ll get it down.

I am very aware of the timing of his arrival in my life. The Home For Wayward Clocks was my very first novel, accepted when I was 49 years old, published when I was 50. Next week, my 14th book, 7th novel, Hope Always Rises, will be released. And I am now 62 years old.

This man wants to get his book done because he doesn’t know the outcome of his cancer. About the time I turned 60, I noticed a difference in my own attitude toward what I was writing. Everything I write now is written with the sense that it could be the last thing I ever write. Consequently, I pour everything I know, everything I’ve learned, into whatever I’m working on. As a result, Hope Always Rises is the best thing I’ve ever written.

Though at the time, thirteen years ago, I thought The Home For Wayward Clocks was the best thing I’d ever written. And that was without the pressure of wondering if it would be the last.

And now, that man cried over it, for the first time in his life.

I think, since turning 60 and moving on to where I am now, at 62, I’ve been writing, and possibly living, with forward-facing blinkers on. If you don’t know what blinkers are, beyond your turn signals in your car, they are what you see horses wearing alongside their eyes, that prevents them from seeing to their left and right. I have only been looking at the next thing, not what I’ve done that led me to here.

For all I know, Hope Always Rises might be my last piece of writing that people read. Or…it might be Don’t Let Me Keep You, the novel I’m working on right now. Maybe it will be “River’s Edge”, a poem that was just accepted for publication this morning, or “Retreat”, a poem that was accepted for publication a couple weeks ago. Or “The Greatest Of These” or “First”, short stories that were just accepted to a magazine and to an anthology over the last few weeks.

The point is, after I escorted this man out my door, I came up here and stood for a bit, looking at the shelf where my published books sit between A to Z bookends given to me by my husband. I tapped each book, quietly saying the titles out loud.

And then I put the blinkers away.

Everything I’ve ever written, I put everything I know and I’ve learned at all those points into it. Instead of just looking forward to what I hope the next piece is, I need to broaden my view to all that has come before.

The Home For Wayward Clocks made this man cry over a book for the first time in his 70-odd year life.

And, to broaden my view further, I am going to pour everything I know and I’ve learned into him too, as he works to get his own book written.

I think I’m going to like seeing without blinkers.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

All 14 books, plus the anthology I edited, in my A to Z bookends.
Book #1. The Home For Wayward Clocks.
Book #14. Hope Always Rises.
Author photo for The Home For Wayward Clocks. Photo taken by Ron Wimmer of Wimmer Photography.
Author photo now, for Hope Always Rises. Photo still by Ron Wimmer of Wimmer Photography!


And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I don’t know how many non-writers know this, but when writers have a new book coming out, that book literally arrives at our door. Because there are events, i.e. book clubs, conferences, and so on, that don’t have booksellers associated with them, writers need to have their own copies of their books on hand.

So this week, when I received an email from UPS saying I had a delivery from my publisher, my heartrate instantly revved.

Hope was coming!

People have asked me if the fourteenth book (and all the others, all the way back to #2) is as exciting as Book #1. Of course it is. No matter who you are, no matter how many books you’ve written, the book you’re working on is not guaranteed to come out. Even writers with multiple book contracts can’t say with absolute certainty that their book will come out. The publisher could read the book (that you’ve put everything you have into) and say, “Hmmm. Nah. Not quite what we want. Send us the next one.” A multiple book deal only says it will publish multiple books. It doesn’t refer to specific books.

So every book written is written with uncertainty coursing through the writer’s veins.

This book, #14, aka Hope Always Rises, had its own special level of uncertainty, as written about in the 1/19/23 blog. And more happened after that blog, that basically involved me wrestling the book out of the grips of the original unscrupulous publisher to lay it into the hands of the publisher that believed in the book and in me and rescued me. I’m not going to go into details here, but leave it as this was the most stressful, unbelievable series of events I’ve ever experienced in a publishing career that spans back to 1975.

So knowing the book was actually on its way to my front door…well, I lived my title. Hope always rises.

I fell ill this week, no doubt caused by the amount of stress I’d been through, and so when I received the notice from UPS that the book was arriving the next day, I was elated…but also worried. Our UPS driver has a habit of ringing the doorbell, waiting two seconds, and then leaving with the package, as if I didn’t have three stories to run down to get to the front door. And this time, with my illness, I was likely to be in bed and sound asleep when the doorbell rang.

I needed to see that book. To make it real. To count its pages the way a mother counts her new baby’s toes.

So I left a note on the front door, telling the driver I was ill and to please wait after ringing the doorbell.

On Tuesday, the doorbell rang. I shot out of bed and ran down the stairs, already seeing that no one stood on the outside. “No!” I yelled. “Don’t you dare leave!” But when I flung open the door, no one was there.

But there was a stack of boxes.

I hauled them in, then opened the first one. And there it was.

Hope Always Rises.

Book #14. Novel #7.

Every book, for me, is a validation. My father once told me that my college education, a degree in English with a creative writing emphasis, was the biggest waste of his money in his life. When I first went to college, I was told that if I majored in creative writing, my parents would not support me. I had to major in something that would get me a job, and I wasn’t good enough to treat writing as anything other than a hobby. In my second semester of my sophomore year, after majoring in special education (with a focus on autism, ironically enough) and then switching to a social work major, I changed my major again to what I wanted to be. To who I already was. Creative writing. A writer. I told my parents that if they no longer supported me, I would drop out of school and work until I could afford to return. This was one of the scariest, bravest moments of my life.

My parents did continue to support me, but whenever someone asked them what I was majoring in, they said, “Oh, she’s getting married.”

By the time my parents passed away, my father first, my mother second, I had hundreds of short stories published in fine magazines. I’d become well-known as a short story writer. But both parents were already gone by the time my first book, The Home For Wayward Clocks, was released. It’s a regret, really, that they never held any of my books, that they never saw me present to an audience, and that they never saw me start a small business, focused on creative writing and writers, that is anything but small.

But here’s the thing. Of all the doubts I’ve had in my life, over what I can do, over what I should do, over my own worth, I have never ever ever doubted my ability as a writer. I knew what I could do. I knew what I was capable of. The day I told my parents that I was going to put my heart and soul into writing, into myself, was the day I fully felt comfortable in my own skin. I was in the right place. I was doing the right thing.

Of course, there have been knock-downs. But I don’t see these moments as a reason to doubt myself. I see them as insults. Many times, I’ve said out loud, “You have no idea who you are dealing with.”

And so, after a battle I was never expecting, never even knew could happen, I was holding my latest book in my hands. Book #14. Novel #7. And I’m at work on the next one.

Hope Always Rises.

Indeed it does.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Hope Always Rises will be officially released on February 28, 2023, by Black Rose Writing publishers. The launch will be on April 27th, as a Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books Special Event. It will be at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Waukesha campus, in the Hub at 7:00. We will be joined by a national suicide prevention organization, and I will be interviewed on stage by Philip Chard, well-known therapist and columnist with his Out Of My Mind column. Details will be appearing soon.

Hope Always Rises is on pre-release sale at the publisher’s website, when you enter the code PREORDER2023. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/literary/hopealwaysrises?fbclid=IwAR2ZxIhHXbuHA1XuJOJbdrxkhR3xfs1AhFYBwRnWwlmgZyNWbfjLP_yUTf4

It can also be pre-ordered for Kindle on Amazon.

There she is!
It’s in my hands. It must be real.


And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

There are so many milestones when it comes to raising a child, and even to enjoying a grandchild. But there are also so many milestones that we don’t hear about, or that we don’t see celebrated in the baby memory books or in greeting cards.

This last weekend, Olivia and I went what she calls “thrifting” and what I call “scrounging”. Which means we headed out to our favorite St. Vinnie’s and started digging through “stuff”. But most importantly, we dug through “clothes”. Olivia was looking specifically for some nice button-down blouses. She will likely be interviewing soon for grad school, and possibly for jobs, so she wanted to prepare.

She found some nice shirts really quickly, but then I suggested we look for some pants as well, and maybe even shoes. Going through the racks, I found some lovely professional slacks, in herringbone and in pinstripe and a solid. Olivia, who is typically in leggings or jeans, looked at them a little doubtfully. But off we went to the fitting room.

Which should have been called the transformation room. Because my little girl, who I’ve seen go through some mini-transformations with the purchase of such things as prom and homecoming dresses, suddenly went through a major transformation. She became…a professional person. A professional adult.


In the mirror, she turned this way, and she turned that way, and in my eyes, she turned completely into a new realm. She became someone who, someday soon, would have a daily wardrobe of, not jeans and t-shirts or hoodies featuring bands, video game characters or Anime characters, but crisp blouses and tailored slacks. She wouldn’t wear her Vans sneakers, but nice low-heeled oxfords or loafers. She wouldn’t haul a backpack over her shoulders, but a purse, or maybe even a briefcase.

She looked in the mirror and smiled. I looked in the mirror and marveled.

Ohmygoodness. The road it took to get here. But the road we never doubted.

And then there was the grandchild. Grandgirl Maya Mae, formerly known as Grandbaby Maya Mae, turned ten years old a few weeks ago. A decade of grandparenthood already gone by! Her parents gave her her heart’s desire for her present: a cell phone.

Which made my head spin a bit. Ten years old. A cell phone?

When my big kids, now 39, almost 37, and almost 36, were young, cell phones were really just coming into the picture. By high school, my kids really wanted their own phones, but I held off until they were in college, or in one son’s case, tried college, it wasn’t a fit, and he moved into a professional life. I just didn’t understand the need for the phones before then. I didn’t have a cell phone. The landline hanging on the wall would do just fine, thank you.

But then Olivia, born when my big kids were 16, 14, and 13, was a different story. By the time she was a teenager, cell phones were commonplace. I had one. My husband had one. The big kids, now adults, each had one. So in high school, Olivia received her first phone. But I never would have considered it in elementary school or middle school.

And now, Grandgirl Maya Mae has her own phone. And she’s ten years old. I shook my head with the puzzle of it.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve Zoomed with Maya most every night, and we read a book. Right now, we’re devouring our way through all of Katherine Applegate’s books, which are stunning. Typically, I message her parents at 8:30, asking them if Maya is ready. Then she heads to Zoom and so do I.

But now…I could text Maya directly. She has her own phone.

Which led to this interaction:

ME: All set, big kid?

MAYA: Yep!

MAYA: Yep!

MAYA: Yep!

Me: On my way!

MAYA: Yay!

MAYA: Yay!

MAYA: Yay!

(we read on Zoom)


ME: Guess what? I just ordered 3 more books by Katherine Applegate! And her new book is coming out in May!

MAYA: Yay!

MAYA: Yay!

MAYA: Yay!

Me: Love you, grandgirl.

MAYA: Love you too!

MAYA: Yay!

Me: Yay!

A whole ‘nother way to communicate. And a whole ‘nother way to see her enthusiasm for reading and…for talking to me. Grandma Kathie, formerly Gamma Kaffee.

And a whole ‘nother way to see our connection. Any time I want. Even when she’s not in front of me.


Milestones. A part of motherhood, a part of grandmotherhood. Amazing.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Olivia in turquoise button-down blouse with cuffs, black pinstripe pants, low-heeled oxfords. A grown-up!
Grandgirl Maya Mae on her 10th birthday.



And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I have to tell you that, despite living from the age of six years old to twelve in the way northern part of Minnesota, and from age twelve until now in Wisconsin, I hate snow. It was okay to play in when I was younger, sure. But now…ick. By the time I was in high school, I had absolutely no love for the foofy white wet freezing stuff.

When I lived in Minnesota, I was immersed in snow culture. My elementary school flooded a sizable section of the playground every winter to make a skating rink, and it was commonplace to pack your ice skates along with your lunch and schoolbooks as you left in the morning. There was a warming house built right into the school that was open after school let out and on weekends. The school was also built into an amazing sledding hill. I had an old wooden sled, which did really well on the snow, but also this weird rectangle of blue plastic that skimmed the surface and just flew. I had a saucer. And we had this thing that I was told was a Finnish toboggan. It never did much of anything in the snow but look pretty.

Sure, I went out and played. I built snowforts and snowmen and made snow angels. I wore boots and snowpants and really heavy jackets and mittens and a winter hat that had eyeholes and a mouth hole cut out of it so my face could stay warm. The little town I lived in, Esko, had a winter festival that included huge draft horses pulling sleighs and I loved anything to do with horses. If I wasn’t in the sleigh, I was sitting on the snowbank at the end of our property, watching the horses go by and begging for a chance to feed them a carrot.

I moved to Wisconsin in the 6th grade and when recess was no longer a part of winter, my love for snow soured. It became about shoveling and slogging through unplowed snow to the school bus stop, standing there in boots that were ugly, my feet wrapped in old Wonder Bread bags to keep my socks dry, which they never did. My bellbottoms would get soaked and sometimes freeze, and they’d dry in time for me to be dropped off after school and have to retrace the slog home.

Then came college at the University of Wisconsin  – Madison and having to walk over that entire huge campus in the dead cold of winter, and poof, any romantic notions about snow were gone. This was followed by having to get my own children dressed and ready for school, and well…I hate snow.

But then this last Saturday.

It was the day after the AllWriters’ first Friday Night Free For All since the beginning of the pandemic, and it doubled as the studio’s 18th birthday party. It was a great event, and I was as satisfied as if I had a fabulous meal. I was off on Monday, so on Saturday, there was nothing I had to do. We were predicted to get up to four inches of snow. We got nine. Michael was at work. Olivia stayed at school. I was home alone, except for two sleepy cats and a lazy dog. And I did…absolutely nothing.

Sitting in my recliner in my living room, I looked out our floor to ceiling windows and just watched the snow fall. Remember any scene in any movie or television show that features snow, and how the characters turn out the lights and look outside and it’s just so silent and beautiful? That’s what it was like. There was no traffic, because no one was going out. The snowplows hadn’t started yet, and wouldn’t, until the next morning when the snow stopped. It put me in mind of, in particular, one of the last scenes in A Christmas Story, where it’s the end of Christmas day and Mom and Dad are on the couch, drinking wine, and they shut out the lights and look outside where it’s snowing. And Mom says, “Oh! Isn’t that beautiful!” And it was.

My living room was A Christmas Story beautiful.

I didn’t harken back to the days I played in the snow, when it was fun, but also cold, wet, and noisy. I didn’t harken back to walking around campus, mitten in mitten with my boyfriend, when it was romantic, but also cold, wet, and noisy. I didn’t even harken back to the days of going out with my kids, helping them build snowmen, watching them make snow angels, and knowing that my dryer was soon to be filled with snowpants, jackets, mittens, and hats. Supposedly moisture-resistant winter boots were soon to be leaned up against heat vents, trying to get the insides dry before the next day’s trek to school.

I did remember the awful winter when my now ex-husband threw all the wet stuff in the dryer, set it for blasting hot, and melted every plastic zipper in the winter jackets and snowpants. It was February, and I had to face the awful task of trying to find winter clothes for my kids, when the stores were full of swimming suits and tank tops and shorts, to remind us all that summer was coming – though not for months. Thank goodness for Goodwill. The event brought tears at the time, but set me to laughing now, at the memory. I wondered if my son knew not to throw Grandgirl Maya Mae’s wet outerwear into the dryer and set it to blast furnace.

So I just sat there, warm, dry, and happy, surrounded by quiet, and absolutely no need to go out in it.

And that made all the difference. I could appreciate it. And I did. Oh! How beautiful.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

In Minnesota, even going out to fetch the mail for your mother meant bundling up. That’s our driveway!
Me and my friend Diana ice skating at the school.
My 3rd floor deck, no longer the lovely flower-filled summer sanctuary. Look at my poor windchime in the middle – the wind has blown it to pieces.
Little Leo Literary Lion, who guards our Little Free Library, is also not so thrilled with the snow.


And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Well, actually, not so much. This is going to be very short. I was in a car accident last night. I was at a full stop when I was rearended by a Ram truck going full speed. Driver was a kid still on his probationary license. And of course, he has no insurance. My car, my beloved 2018 Chrysler 300S named Barry, because he’s a berry color and if he could speak, he’d sound like Barry White, will need a new rear driver’s side side panel, a new bumper, and I’m not sure what else yet. I’m being treated for whiplash and muscle strain. Today, I went into a full fibromyalgia flare-up, so I’m basically just one big ache.

It hurts to move. And my shoulder feels like a dead weight on my neck, and so it hurts to type.

So this is all I’m going to say today, for my Moment. I’m glad my car wasn’t totaled. I’m glad I’m not more injured. I’m glad I’m alive.

And in the middle of all this today, I received what my new cover of my novel, Hope Always Rises, will look like. I wrote about that book last week. And today…I saw its face.

And I read my own words. Hope Always Rises.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” Julian of Norwich.

“Hope Always Rises.” Kathie Giorgio.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

The cover of Hope Always Rises! Ignore the blurbiage on the back cover. That still has to be added.


And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I often say to my students and clients that writers are the most confounding conundrum of absolute ego (“I’m writing the best book/story/poem/memoir/whatever! It’s genius!”) and an absolutely crippling lack of self-confidence (“Why did I ever think I could do this? It’s a waste of time. It’s waste, period. It should be in the garbage. It’s not good enough for the garbage. I’m not good enough for garbage.”). I see this over and over and over again.

And of course, though this surprises many people, I experience it myself. Over and over and over again.

One would think that by the time a fourteenth book is due to come out, there have been awards and exclamations and stories performed on stage and poems included in art exhibits, that the self-doubt would be completely gone.

Oh, no. Dream on.

Fairly recently, I went through a deep crisis of confidence. My novel, All Told, was released. For the first time, I had a hardcover edition. I’d been given an advance. All looked right with the world. But then, when I went to turn in my next novel, Hope Always Rises, the publisher told me they’d decided to turn the publishing house into a hybrid. For those that don’t know, this means that the author pays a partial, but substantial, hunk of the publishing costs. It’s a step up from self-publishing, but a step down from traditional publishing. As a longtime firm believer that writers should be paid for their work, I said no and walked away.

And then realized that this was like starting all over again. Where was I going to go with the new book?

It only took me two weeks to land a new publisher, which was a boost to the ego. But it remained dented, along with a sense of exhaustion and distrust. I wondered for the billionth-billionth time if I was doing the right thing. All Told was my 12th book. Shouldn’t I be able to just focus on writing by now, and not on who was going to take what I wrote?

I had trouble writing. I’ve always said that I’ve never had writer’s block, that I don’t believe in it, and that’s still the case. This was not writer’s block. People with what they call writer’s block want to write, but they don’t know what to write about. I knew my topic. I knew what I wanted to say. But I simply didn’t want to write.

I thought I was done. Which pretty much shook me to my toes.

But I did start something new. When I can make myself sit at my desk and work, I leave with great enthusiasm for what I’ve done. But the next day, it’s a fight to sit back down again. Still, this newest book has eked past 100 pages now.

Then this week happened. A message from my publisher came through, saying there was a medical emergency, but that they thought the release date was still safe. However, they offered me the chance to dissolve my contract.


The odd combination of that – the book is safe, but you can dissolve the contract – set all sorts of red flags off in me. If I stayed with the publishing house and something happened to the publisher, my book could be held up for a long time, even years, before everything was straightened out. I knew writers this happened to.

But…to be without a publisher again? When the release date was set and an amazing launch was already scheduled?

I didn’t sleep at all that night. Again, the questions hit me hard. Shouldn’t this be easier by now?

In the morning, after talking to a few people, I emailed one of my previous publishers. A favorite. I explained everything that was happening, and that the book was ready to go. “Would you consider publishing it?” I asked. “It has to be out in time for its launch. The launch is a pretty big deal.” Which it is. It’s slated for April 27.

Within a half-hour, this publisher answered. “Let’s do it!” he crowed. He sent a contract.

For a book he hadn’t even read yet. He sent a contract based on…me.

I think I sobbed for at least an hour.

And then…and then…

Today, an envelope showed up in the mail. It was from a literary magazine I love, called Thema. Inside was an acceptance for my short story, “First”, which I submitted for their “So That’s Why!” issue. And you know what that story is?

It’s part of a chapter in the newest book that I’m writing, the one I have to convince myself to sit down to write.

So. Within a 48-hour period, I rode the waves of devastation to elation. My novel, Hope Always Rises, a book which I can unabashedly say is my most beloved, most favorite, most everything I’ve ever written, is safe and coming out on time, with a publisher who hasn’t even read the book, but who has absolute faith in me. And a story, lifted from the novel I’m currently writing, the novel I wasn’t even sure I had the energy to do, is coming out in one of my most favorite magazines.

These moments, these sand dollar moments (a reference you’ll understand if you’ve read this blog or read my book, Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News; A Year Of Spontaneous Essays) are the ones that keep me going. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, one word in front of the other, one page in front of the other, one more day of being who I am, despite so many crippling years as a kid, being told that I wasn’t anything.

Oh, I’m something.

Now…I can’t wait to sit down at my desk and work.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

In my happy place – minutes before doing a reading and presentation of All Told this last summer, at Pearl Street Books in La Crosse.
All 13 books. Just waiting for #14!