I can scarcely believe that in just a few short months, we’ll be facing ice and snow. The summer of 2011 has been a difficult time in Virginia. After weeks of sweltering temperatures, there was an earthquake, followed by a hurricane. Untold financial damage was done, and it took days to restore power to everyone in Richmond, VA, where I live. Seeing all the houses in darkness reminded me of times when I was a child growing up on a farm in Southwest Virginia. Even though there was no running water or inside bathrooms, I look back on that time with much affection. There was no television either, so my brother and two sisters and I had to “make do,” as our dear mother would say, by entertaining each other. I will always remember how our mother used to line all four of us up in chairs, then open a dictionary. She would call out words and have little prizes for the child who answered correctly. I cannot imagine how much that expanded my vocabulary and believe that it was one thing that started me on the path to writing. I know it certainly taught me to love words. Over the years, my mother remained my greatest influence and always my inspiration. She never gave up. Never. I remember talking with her after I had become a mother myself and was struggling with several issues. She quietly said, “Sleep on it. Things always look better in the morning.” That is still good advice that I plan to apply as I now enter a quiet phase in my life. Although I am continuing to write my monthly column (Reflections) for Richmond magazine, I am not working on a book. However, I recently finished a young adult historical novel, also set in Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania during World War II, but it is as yet unpublished. It was written as a thesis for my master of fine arts in children’s literature, which I earned in May 2011 at Hollins University. I will always be indebted to Neil November for providing the funding for my education. When the book is pubished, it will be dedicated to Neil, my friend and ardent supporter. For now, I plan to use the next few months to rest, read and recharge my batteries before beginning another project. If you have suggestions, I’d be interested in hearing from you.