I have always been fascinated with the supernatural, especially ghosts.  They show up in the best stories, from Hamlet to The Shining to Battlestar Galactica to Beauty and the Beast, and have been used by the most amazing writers from Charles Dickens through Toni Morrison.

When I was young, I had the Scholastic Book of Ghosts, which you can read in its entirety here. (Thanks internet!)   I paged through it a hundred times when I was a kid, learning about ghost pirates and demon dogs, doppelgangers, haunted battlefields and sacred burials.

We all realize, as we get older, that haunting can take on many forms, and that the restless dead have nothing on the words and memories we each carry with us.  A slamming cupboard, a garden decoration, an innocent word, can cause flashbacks as frightening any phantom.   If we are lucky, psychologists, therapists, and friends can be our real-life ghost hunters.

Suffering, as Vincent said in the pilot, “. . . will make you stronger,” and it can . . . eventually, with the right type of support, but suffering can also make a person brittle.  Trauma can fuel addiction, end friendships, end careers, break up marriages.  If you are at the end of your rope, if you are hurting, if you need help, please call the Crisis Hotline – (775) 784-8090 or 1 (800) 273-8255

Catherine is haunted by what she has endured.  And now, without further ado, Home: Chapter 14.




In the middle of an emergency, do you know what you would do?

No, neither do I.

I’ve recently been to Birth Emergencies Skills Training, (if you are a midwife or birth assistant it is WORTH the money!)  Birth is usually fine, but every once in awhile there is an emergency, something you NEVER want to happen, but out of the hospital, the midwife has to know what to do.  I went to BEST training to get ready for emergencies, because they will happen, and I have to know I’ll be ready.

In 11th grade, I read A Handmaid’s Tale, and from then on, I have always wondered what I would do if I found myself in Offred’s shoes. Could I shut myself down and stay quiet in hopes saving my child?  I’d like to think I could, but after watching the first episode of the Netflix series, I’m not so certain.

Dystopian fiction allows you to wonder what you would do when the worst happens.

If you are looking for some dystopian fiction for some light summer reading, you can check out Cosmo’s “12 Dystopian Books You Should Read if You Like The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Catherine is living her own dystopian nightmare and is trying to figure out how and when to keep her secrets.  She’s trying to figure out what to do when everyday seems to be an emergency.

I hope you enjoy the chapter.

And now, without further ado, Home: Chapter 13

New Characters

Holy crap, here we are at something I dread — creating a new character.  I don’t do it too often because, A., you want Catherine and Vincent.  I get that, in spades.  Not many fanfic writers can weave in new people that are compelling.  Carole’s The Iron Behind the Velvet characters are my favorite exception.    B., Introducing new characters feels like I am floundering in an uncertain universe with no parameters.  The show sketches Catherine, Vincent, Father, Mouse, Jamie, etc. for us.   When writing a new person, it feels like I’m trying to find him or her with no idea what that person could look like.


D.C., the people that brought you Batman, The Joker, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and the Big-Blue-Boy-Scout, (Superman), had this wonderful role playing game that contained the best character generator I have ever used. Each character had motivation – Thirst for justice (Batman), madness (Two-Face), thrill-seeking (Green Arrow).  The gamemakers also gave points for flaws – obsession (Batman, again),  disabling fears (Martian Manhunter’s fear of fire), and so on.  It was really a great game and a fantastic lesson in character development.

I talked a little before about hating Mary Sues, so I am introducing you to Marc Morrissey and Frank Dunn with a lot of trepidation, but with the firm reassurance that I have tried to make them as real as I know how. I promise they are just a part of the story, not the story.  Chapter 10 will be back with our beloved couple again.

So, without further ado, Home: Chapter 9

Balancing Between Worlds

Wow, if you are still out there, dear readers, I give you all my love and credit.  It has been a crazy few months.  I didn’t really realize, (as no one can,) what time and energy I was going to need to devote to my new work as a student midwife.  It has been a whirlwind adventure filled with the highs and lows that only birth can bring.  However, I did devote as much of November to writing as I could and got another chapter and a little more done, so yay!


Right now, I live in two worlds, between the Plain families (Amish and Mennonite) that graciously allow me to be a part of their births, and the rest of the “English” world that my family and my future midwife clients come from.  That got me thinking of a character who lived in two worlds –  Peter.


Peter was a character that I would have loved to learn more about during the series.  He was a caregiver to both worlds.  He had to balance between his rich patients Above and his very low resource ones Below.  Balancing a life in between must not have been easy, and if you would like to read another great take on that you can try, Aliset’s All the Hazard’s We Can Run.

The fact that he knew both Catherine and Vincent when they were babies was something I couldn’t just let sit there, could I?  Just as Catherine needed Father, Vincent needs Peter’s wisdom and memory.

So, without further ado, I give, Home: Chapter 7



Raising the Bar for a Living


Have I ever told yinz I love Doctor Who, specifically, the Russel T. Davies years, 2005-2010?  I am not going to go all into the reasons…well, too much–amazing actors, beautiful story-lines with a bit of an edge, heroes who care, and love, lots of love.  I bring it up because those years of Doctor Who, with Rose, Martha, and Donna, were about people finding themselves and raising the bar on what is possible.  Rose was a shop girl, who no one thought would amount to much.  Martha was a med. student looking for the extraordinary.  Donna was a secretary who yelled at the world.  Then they met the Doctor, who gave them a place, and who showed them that they were greater than they ever thought they could be.  He believed in their strength. Sound familiar?

I have always wanted to be a midwife, I just didn’t realize it.   Modern medicine can be amazing for emergency situations, but birth is an everyday miracle.  It is, in most cases, not an emergency, and by looking for emergencies all the time, we tend to muck it up.  For healthy women and healthy babies, I have always believed, birth can be easy when health professionals lifeguard the process rather than try to control it.  I just didn’t think I was the one who was supposed to do that.  It took some special people in my life who, like The Doctor did for his companions, like Vincent did for Catherine, to remind me that I have the strength and the drive to raise the bar everyday on what I think is possible.

Of course, starting a (newish) career at forty-one does have its challenges.  I have to drive two hours for my practicums because that is where the only midwife certified to teach me practices.  And while I knew mechanics of the process from a teacher’s and doula’s perspective, I didn’t know the medical terms.  I didn’t know charting, and how to blood type in an Amish lady’s kitchen, how to measure according to dates, and palpate for twins.  My head feels like Swiss Cheese.

Midwifery takes a lot of my time, but I also have to let off some steam and keep writing.  Why?  Because this is who I am as well, and because, someday, I want to write about my experiences in the hope it inspires others to raise their own bar.  I can’t write as much as I want, because I am devoting part of everyday to learning and my family, but please believe me, I am writing.

All the skills we acquire along the way, whether we think are relevant or not, help us to create ourselves.  We use them to become, and it takes a long time, as the beautiful story of the Velveteen Rabbit tells us.  Catherine is becoming, and that can be a hard process, but she isn’t alone.  There are people who believe in her, including someone who had misgivings about her place in his son’s life not too long before.  I hope you enjoy his perspective.  So, without further ado, Home: Chapter 6.  

It’s Been a While…

…a long while…

Sometimes, smack in the middle of writing, (and rewriting, and rewriting,)  I worried it just might be forever before I posted again.  It’s been too long between the preview of Home and the first chapter, I know, bad Crowmama!  When things weren’t working, when ideas weren’t coming, when all the words ran away, I doubted I would ever get to this point.  However, somehow, when you think of something everyday ideas start flowing.  After months I got an outline, then chapters and now I have the basis for a new story.  At some point in the process I realized it took me twenty-five years to write Union, in fact, it took me that long to think I could write anything.  It’s still early in this story, and I still doubt myself a lot, but if we can get through this second big one before another twenty-five years, friends, we’re breakin’ records.

It is lovely to see you.  Thank you so much for coming back.   I’ve been thinking of you, and glad we get to visit again.  I hope you enjoy your stay.  If I could I would offer you tea.



We don’t have that technology yet, but I can offer you a new story.  It’s called Home, the sequel to Union, and here is its page.  It’s angst, a whole bucket full.  There’s lots of love too, but the honeymoon is over.   The work begins.  Just warning you…

Without going further, I need to thank everyone who created the stories on this site with me:  All my friends on the Beauty and the The Beast Facebook pages and the bbtv mailing list; my amazing editors who shall remain nameless, (or else would be inundated with requests, they’re that good;) my inspirations, those that still write and draw B&tB after all this time, because love lives on and stories still need to be told; my family who put up with dinners being late, a mom who goes out of town to see her “freaky friends”, and all the damn zines lying around a messy house; and, finally I want to thank you.

This story would not be possible without all of you.

So without further ado, the first chapter of Home.

Write what you know

terry gross

They say write what you know. It is the first rule of writing, and the one that was drummed into my head during my only fiction writing class in college. I dropped the course. I was, to put it nicely, a red-hot,mess back then.  I couldn’t have written what I knew, since I wasn’t sure of anything.  I took 19th Century English Art instead.  It was a much better fit at the time.

Fast forward twenty years. I know a couple things now.   Writing what I know, at least for me, is a matter of asking myself a lot of questions, Fresh Air, Terry Gross style.  (Could you tell I’m an NPR junkie?)   Lots of internal dialogue and back and forth.

When I was eighteen years old, I was too unsure of myself, held back too much of myself, thought too little of myself to write what I knew.   Since then I have had enough successes and failures to know life is about taking chances and failing, failing spectacularly, then getting up and trying again.   I know having kids and helping new families grounded me in a way that nothing in my life before could, and I know that most things are simple, not easy.

Writing teachers say “Write what you know,” but that is only half of it.  You need to want to write something, and that may be about cowboys in space, or plumbers in hell, or dogs in Valhalla, or about Beauty and the Beast, and within that, you write what you know.

Imagination is more important than knowledge, Albert Einstein.

If you want to write, find what you love and learn, learn all you can, and then use it as fodder for your writing.  Take everything in, mash it up into a new recipe and unleash it on the world.

Thank you all for hanging in through this story.  Just two more chapters after this.  It is my own mash up of what I know.  It has brought me pain, and strain, but a lot of joy.

And now, without further ado, Union: Chapter 21.