“What I did on my summer vacation” has been replaced with “What I did during the pandemic.” Some writers couldn’t concentrate on their craft during the lockdowns, the shortages (I am still stockpiling toilet paper), and the warnings to mask. I, on the other hand, hunkered down and hammered out the first draft of a novel like nothing I have written before. That was the beginning of UP THERE.

Like so many others, I was seeking comfort and love in uncertain times, and this story brought me both. It was crazy to fall for a woman born with the gift of flight in a time when no one could go anywhere, but I did. When my character, Ariel Lee, soared, so did I. She was a creature of nature, and we both were passionate about saving our planet. Born with the gift of flight, she could ride the wind when I could barely open a window for fear of some virus sneaking in.

The pandemic did us one favor: it helped many of us reconnect with nature. Walking in the woods was safe. Sure, we had to give others a wide berth on the trail, but still we could get out of the house or wherever we were hiding. Thank goodness that we had nature, that we hadn’t destroyed all the parks and green areas. And as I walked and wrote, I discovered that in my story, Ariel had a need to reconnect with the natural world too. Finding out who she was—a woman of wind and sky—in a changing world became the heart of the novel.

I think many of us wonder who we are in this changing world of ours. We don’t understand the contrary weather, the strange political leanings of our neighbors, the invisible and constant threats to our health and our families, the anger that seems to be boiling just below the surface of so many people.

We are all Ariel Lee, and so the question becomes: How do we find ourselves once we are lost?


Up There, which explores love, small-town life, the environment, and one woman’s quest to find herself, is available in paperback and eBook. This post is a “Story Behind the Story” of Up There. Find other inside peeks into my work in On Writing.