Friday, March 11, 2011

The Wide, Wide World

It’s my pleasure to have debut author, Liz Michalski, visiting with us Over Coffee. According to Liz, in her previous life, she wrangled with ill-tempered horses and over sized show dogs. These days she chases after small children and a medium-sized mutt.

Anyone who has wrangled “oversized” show dogs, even a medium sized mutt, is okay with me. I wonder how she does with Great Danes? Oh, wait, she’s wrangled horses too, so she’s already been trained. I plan on calling her the next time I have to give a bath to my pack, lol!

 Liz is a wife, mom, critter owner, and freelance writer and has written hundreds of articles. If that's not enough to make your head spin she has now embarked on a career as an author. Her book is set in rural Connecticut with dogs and cats, a bit of heartbreak, love, and a ghost.

Liz is very familiar with sitting in front of a computer screen for hours. She shares how she balances the butt in the chair times with things that recharge and refresh her for yet more work.

Most days I worship at the altar of the electronic god. I sit, glued to my laptop, waiting for the next e-mail to come in, typing out a few pages of my manuscript, surfing the internet to see what my fellow writers are doing. I bathe in the glow of the screen from early morning until late at night. Of course, I do other things: I make breakfast, do housework, read, feed the dog, volunteer, visit with family and friends. But because I'm a writer who works at home, the computer has somehow taken on a central importance. It has become my boss, my colleague, my electronic water cooler all in one.

I live in New England, and it's been a long, cold winter this year. In some places, the snow drifts in my neighborhood are well over my head. (Granted, I'm only 5'2, but still.) The computer has served as a particular life line this year, my portal to the outside world when the view outside my window is unyielding white.

But still.

Too much time in front of the screen makes me feel vaguely claustrophobic, as if this World Wide Web is actually shrinking my domain. I know others feel the same -- I've read about resolutions to cut down on screen time this year, to use software to lock out the internet so real work can get done, to banish the computer to another room for a time out.

For me, these strategies aren't enough. To counteract the computer's spell, I need time outside, in the real world. So at least twice a week I bundle up and head for a hiking trail. I take the dog and sometimes a friend and tromp through the snow, which oftentimes has come up over my knees. (I keep meaning to invest in snowshoes....) Because my chances to do this are limited, I go no matter what the weather. In snowstorms, it's often so quiet I can hear the hiss of the snow as it falls against my jacket. Last week, it was freezing rain, and I debated staying home, but the dog looked so woe-begotten I pulled up my hood and we set off. Deep on the trail, the rain fell more softly, blocked by the trees. It was both a peaceful and a strenuous walk and when I'd finished I was glad I'd gone.

I've seen deer on these hikes, rabbits, even an owl, perched at the top of the tree like a lump of wood. He turned his head a few times, blinked sleepily, then closed his eyes against the racket we were making. I've seen the dog bounding in snow so deep it looked as if he were swimming. I've had thoughtful conversations with friends about the lives we live now and the lives we once imagined, about our families and our dreams and goals, conversations that would be impossible in e-mails or IMs. Mostly, though, I've listened to the silence and appreciated the view around me. On my favorite walk, there's a bend where the pine trees tower overhead like the ceiling on a cathedral. The path turns sharply, so you can't see what's ahead or much of what's behind. There's only this space, so small but yet so immense at the same time, and each time I come across it I stand still for a moment and try to impress it upon my memory so that when I'm back in front of the computer I can recall it and remind myself that the world really is wider than my 15-inch monitor.

  • How do you recharge after spending time in front of the computer?  

Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books.a.MillionBorders, Indiebound 
That's what they say in Hartman, Connecticut, where the Murphy women are known for their beauty, willfulness, and disastrous luck with men. No one knows the truth of this saying better than Frank Wildermuth. Fifty years ago, he fell in love with Gert Murphy, but through fate and bad timing wound up married to her sister. He spent the rest of his life quietly regretting his mistake. Now Frank's dead -- but not quite gone—and it's time to do some haunting of his own.

All Andie Murphy ever wanted was to get out of town. But she’s back to settle Evenfall, her Uncle Frank’s estate, where some things never change -- and some things have changed a lot. Aunt Gert, for example, still drives her crazy. On the other hand, Cort, the wide-eyed farmboy she used to babysit, is all grown up -- with a whole new definition for the word sleepover.

But if you're a Murphy woman, love never goes smoothly. As Andie struggles with her feelings, Frank sees a chance for redemption -- one that could cost his niece dearly. They'll both need to decide --

Is true love really everlasting? Is home just an address, or a place you carry in your heart? And if you truly regret your mistakes, can the long-buried dreams of your youth come alive again? Excerpt 

She's been a reporter, an editor, a freelance writer, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and private corporations.

In her previous life, she wrangled with ill-tempered horses and over sized show dogs. These days she chases after small children and a medium-sized mutt.

She likes dark chocolate caramels, champagne, and licorice tea (preferably not all served at once). In summer you'll find her visiting farmers' markets and trying to talk her family out of making her swim at the Connecticut shore.

The rest of the year she's home in Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and son, hard at work on her next novel.

You can find Liz: WebsiteFacebook, and Goodreads


~Sia McKye~ said...

Liz, welcome to Over Coffee. I'm so glad to have you visiting with us.

Help yourself to a cup of whatever you fancy--the coffee is good--I have a few IAM's dog biscuits for the pooch.

I hope your sharing our sunshine.

liz said...

Thanks so much for having me, Sia! (And right this minute, no sun -- just rain. But at least it is melting the snow!)

Mason Canyon said...

Liz, first EVENFALL sounds so intriguing. Getting away from the computer is a must and a walk in the woods is a wonderful outlet. Just getting outdoors for a little while is always good. Thankfully we haven't had the snow that you have, but our winter has been colder than normal limiting my time outside. So looking forward to warmer weather. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Sia, you feature some of the most amazing ladies. Thanks for the introduction and another book to add to my ever growing stack.

Thoughts in Progress

Kat Sheridan said...

Liz, the book sounds wonderful! I've added it to my ever growiung (thanks to Sia!) TBR pile! Wishing you every success with it!

What is this "get away from the computer" thing? You mean there's life out there that's non-pixalated? LOL! Living in a new place where I know not a single soul, my cyber friends are my lifeline to sanity!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. and Liz .. love the way you walk yourself out into the land of snow fairies, elves in the trees, owls howling and the old boy (dog) to keep you happy on your trail ..

Your place of magic ... the deep and silent hollow in the trees before they opened out again .. that description is great.

The book sounds fun too - good premise .. all the very best - Hilary

PS hope Spring comes soon for you!

Other Lisa said...

I've had the pleasure of reading EVENFALL -- it's a lovely book! Kat, I think you will particularly enjoy the beauty of the prose. I know I did.

And...yeah. I so relate to needing to get away from my screen. I'm very lucky to live in coastal California, where the weather is nearly always amenable to being outside. I walk everywhere and I try to get out in it every day.

(yeah, I still have my iPhone with. It doesn't count. ;)

VA said...

Aah...our evil overlord. The computer has a way of immobilizing one. I try and get up once an hour or so, make some tea, stretch, do leg lifts, and dance a song or two while the tea brews. A couple times a week I dedicate a chunk to getting out and taking a good long walk along the beach.

With all these great comments, I'm off to read the excerpt.

Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) said...

Liz always blows me away with her descriptive powers. I think I'll dedicate this afternoon's walk to her.

Time away from the computer is essential, and time outdoors an ever-threatened subcomponent of it. Every year I promise myself I won't hibernate, and every year I do. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Liz.

liz said...

Thanks, everyone, for the good wishes! May you all enjoy lots of outdoor time this week. (Safe outdoor time, given world conditions.) And thanks again, Sia!

R. A. Burrell said...

Love the insight into the daily love of a working writer, Liz - given how claustrophobic winter can be in this neck of the woods, it can be tough. My day's a bit more broken up with the day job, but yeah, I feel pretty tethered to the old laptop sometimes. I'm with Jan - nice kick in the pants to get out an become one with the wider world more often :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lisa, I'm looking forward to reading it. You mentioned back awhile that you read it and recommended it.

Liz, I'll let you know what I thought when I read it.

I have horses and dogs so I have to be outside daily to feed and water, even in the winter. Plus, I do have a in and outside dogs, so I have to walk them. But walking is a way to think. Also a way of enjoying peace and observing interaction of nature. I live out in the middle of nowhere so I always have lots of wildlife to watch. Our pond is huge and we usually have ducks. Down below the pond we have a good size creek and a flock of turkeys raise babies there every year and so does a mama coyote. So far the turkeys are still alive and thriving.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

You know, I am always so much happier and energized when I disconnect for a while and interact in the real world with music, people, and nature it makes me wonder why I don't do it more often!! I am totally addicted to email and Facebook though - I haven't even dipped my toe into the Twitter water though because I know that I'd be a total goner!!

Kat Sheridan said...

OtherLisa, you know my weakness, lovely prose. So on your recommendation, I ordered and this is on its way to me (along with Elizabeth Loupas' book, which you had earlier this week!) I'm looking forward to an orgy of self indulgence!

Talli Roland said...

This sounds like a beautiful book - and what a gorgeous cover! Thanks for a great guest post. I really do need to get out more!

Anonymous said...

I recharge by taling a nap. I'm definately a nap person and I swear by them. Even if its only twenty minutes its a chance to close my eyes and go numb in my brain for a while. Of course a ninety minute nap is much better!

Elizabeth Loupas said...

EVENFALL is gorgeous. That is all there is to say about it. So beautifully written and so intensely emotional.

I also walk with the doggies when I need a break. And nap. I like to bake but unfortunately when I do, I end up with all these cookies and brownies and cupcakes, and SOMEONE has to eat them. :)

Kat, thank you! Hope you enjoy!

liz michalski said...

I can second the recommendation for The Second Dutchess -- I'm almost done and I LOVE it. Sia, I was in the best shape of my life when I kept horses -- all that lifting of hay bales and grain buckets plus the daily walk to the barn. I miss it! Stephen, I can only dream about naps right now ... someday though!

aries18 said...

This book sounds like something I'm gonna love. I'm ordering it on my next Kindle order. Thanks for featuring Liz and her book, Sia.

Liz, Your idea of leaving the computer? For hours at a time? Strange concept. I'll have to try it though. It sounds lovely.

Actually, I spend some time outside every day visiting with the cows across the way or in the back yard snapping shots of the many birds to visit us. And of course, the ocean is only 5 minutes away and we go at least once a week.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Liz, The Second Duchess is a wonderful story. Another one who writes beautifully.

While I can't claim to be in the *best* shape, I am active. I enjoy my animals. There's just something...special about being greeted by and loved on by critters. My favorite is a loving nicker of my Sassy--she's an Arab and I've had her since she was born--when I come out of the house. But they are work. I don't have any little ones to chase after, my baby just turned 16 and he keeps me hopping too. Sorry, it doesn't end when they're leave toddler stage, but the toddler stage does give you a glimpse of the teen to come, lol! Good and bad.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Wanda, I take it you're liking the Kindle? Mine is on the way. I've been using Whispernet for PC's to read my ebooks. Limiting b/c I can't take my read to bed. I love to read a bit before I go to sleep. Now I will be able to, yay!

Your hubs is gonna hate me with all these recommendations I'm making. :-)