Writer’s Web: Catching Inspiration from Women Writer’s of Charming Family-ish Fiction 🕯📖📜🖊♥️

Betsy and Tacy’s replica bench from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Tacy Series. Mankato, MN ♥️📖

I’ve been thinking about the stories that inspire me and of course, the writer’s behind those stories. I was so excited to recently visit Mankato, Minnesota (Deep Valley in the stories!) and stop at many of the places mentioned in Maud Hart Lovelace’s semi-autobiographical series of children’s stories. Oh, the delicious delight and wonder of seeing the places Betsy (Maud) and her friend Tacy (Frances) haunted and thinking on how Maud captured the specific, odd, charming details that make her stories ring true. It made me think of all the other authors that write these types of stories and how much they inspire me!

One of these lovely kindred souls being Carol Ryrie Brink, an American author, with lovely family stories that warm my heart, so far my favorite being Winter Cottage, a story set in the Great Depression era in Wisconsin, a widower and his children making the best of very hard circumstances. Family Grandstand being a cherished read aloud in our family of an university professor, writer mother, and three kids in a rambling house with a turret and all their adventures. I’ve finally began the sequel, Family Sabbatical with some Booktube friends and the first chapter was SO delightful. Brink, of course, is most famous for her story inspired by her grandmother’s life, Caddie Woodlawn.

An English author that I’ve recently been stalking and been so inspired by is Noel Streitfeild. I first heard of her from one of my favorite films “You’ve Got Mail” in which Kathleen Kelly talks about “the shoe books”. Come to think of it now, Kathleen also talks of Betsy Tacy books in her bookshop and sells some to Joe Fox’s aunt! 😉😄♥️ Streitfeild is wonderful at putting children and families into unique, slightly strange settings and situations. I absolutely was riveted by her story The Magic Summer, about children dumped on an eccentric aunt in the barren Scottish? countryside. Family Shoes (The Bell Family) was delightful as the children tried to help their poor vicar father and mother with money in hilarious ways. There are so many more to explore and I’m currently loving Apple Bough (Traveling Shoes).

Elizabeth Enright is one that I started reading with my older children years ago with her delightful book The Saturdays, but I was reintroduced to her this past summer by my favorite Booktuber, Kate Howe, who also revived my interest in Maud Hart Lovelace. I adored Gone-Away Lake and can’t wait to read the sequel. The nature writing interwoven into this book won my heart.

And of course, one cannot talk about inspiration without mentioning my lovely and favorite Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. The magic of nature, the spiritual edge hovering over life, and quirky characters are just a few reasons I love this writer SO much. Yes, her stories can be a bit formulaic, but oh, the delicious details she packs into them. The Anne series, The Blue Castle, Jane of Lantern Hill, and Emily Climbs are my favorites at the moment, maybe if all time? I was so blessed to travel to P.E.I. for my 15th anniversary with my husband to soak up some island inspiration.

Laura Ingalls Wilder also comes to mind. I’m currently rereading through her famous series with my younger children and Almanzo’s story in Farmer Boy is just as compelling as it was the first time I read it. The hard, brutal life that early Americans lived is so inspiring for our modern lives. The family dynamics are so intriguing to us. I still want to retrace the Ingall’s path out west which we did as a smaller family years ago. We loved especially wading in Plum Creek. 🥰🌿

Gothic-y-feeling, trickling waterfall near Maud Hart Lovelace’s home.

No list of inspiring women writer’s would be complete with another favorite, the English writer, Elizabeth Goudge. Her magical writing in legend and lore of place, her deep, interesting, nuanced characters, her pulling back the veil between spiritual and reality, make her SO beloved. She definitely is a bit more of a dense writer, you have to work hard at her stories, especially beginnings, but persevere, because oh my, you will be richly rewarded. I’ve read most of her backlist, currently my favorites are A City of Bells, Pilgrim’s Inn, Dean’s Watch, and maybe Gentian Hill is creeping up there, too. Her children’s story, Little White Horse is delightful, too.

Train station where Betsy (Maud) traveled to Milwaukee to see her friend!

And of course, Miss Jane Austen, is a must have for this list. Her books are such an interesting study of character and the inner works of Regency era English families. Romance takes over the films, but the books are something else entirely. My favorites are Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey. Although, I reread Mansfield Park this summer and so enjoyed it!

How about you? What authors highly inspire your work? Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list for me, Bradbury, Tolkien, Lewis, and others come to mind, but one of my favorite things to read and write is family and children ! And I think these ladies get it oh, so right! Have you done literary travel? Any inspiring places you recommend or you want to visit? I’ve also been to England, but would love to go back, especially to Oxford. Please chat with me in the comments! 📖♥️🖊📚

Happy November! 🥰🍂🕸🕷✨{writing/creativity challenge to myself…will you join me?}

Journals and current writing reads! ✒️📚📓📖📝

Something about a new fresh month always super excites me! This year has been a challenging year for me with my writing and creativity. I’ve had some setbacks in my health journey, bad habits creeping back in, and sleeplessness. Unfortunately, that lends to my creative pursuits being put on the back burner. I’m challenging myself here at the blog to post something three times a week for November at least, prayerfully till the end of the year. Just to get the habit rolling again!

How about you? Do you have writing or creativity goals currently? Anything you want to revive? Are you reading or practicing any habits that are helpful? I’d love to hear!

Currently reading and loving! 📖♥️ Anything feeding you?

I’m currently continuing all the autumn/ Victober reads{a Victorian literature read along during October}, and enjoying my large TBR stacks. I’ve been enjoying Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on YouTube. I’ve also been drawn to Hercule Poirot episodes. What’s currently filling your well? 😄♥️🔍

Favorite Reads {3rd Quarter 2022} 📚🍁📚

Shadows 🍂🍃🌾🌞

Hello Friends, here we are again, another chunk of our yearly pie gone and enjoyed. What a glorious summer! Here’s what I really enjoyed reading in July, August, and September. 🍃🍁🍂🌾🦌🌞🐈‍⬛🌚🌛🍄🪵🌲🔥

Glass 💙

July was a quieter reading month as we were so busy traveling, visiting, and enjoying the summer weather! My friend Kim suggested The Summer Book by Tove Jansson and I absolutely loved this gentle book about a grandmother and her granddaughter’s relationship with each other and the island they live on. It explores aging and youth, intimacy with nature, and many deeper themes. I still think about this book. Tove’s gentle pen & ink illustrations are superb. I also loved the coming of age story, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. This story was weirdly lovely and I loved Cassandra’s thoughts as a writer. The quirky cast of characters were so fascinating. All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner was historical fiction, a pleasant surprise from a Booktube recommendation. It follows a Michigan family dealing with Vietnam and race tensions in their small town. This was done gently and so well, I really want to try more from this author. I also dipped into a lot of various things for Jane Austen July, a readathon on Booktube/Bookstagram.

August brought gorgeous weather, scrambling to complete summer projects, plan our homeschool year, and read all the things. I read a lot this month, but there were a few gems that shone. I really loved the main girl protagonist in Jake Burk’s Greetings from Witness Protection. A foster teen who is asked to help a family hide. She is so brave and kind, even though she has to overcome a lot of challenges. So heartwarming! ♥️ I finished my reread of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and I thoroughly enjoyed diving into the characters. I found the Crawford siblings, Mrs. Norris, and Sir & Lady Bertram to be such interesting character studies in what not to be. I absolutely adored the slightly creepy and introspective story of a little girl trying to dig her family out of grief and finding solace in nature and her books. The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange was so lovely!

September brought a definite shift to the air, and we slowly have been easing into our school books. Bouquet of sharpened pencils ✏️ anyone? I was so excited to see a You’ve Got Mail themed readalong over on Booktube, as that’s one of my absolute favorite autumn movies. I finally read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, a lovely memoir of a English veterinarian on the Yorkshire Dales. It was humorous, the characters so fascinating, and I loved Mr. Herriot’s gentle air of never ending patience. I also enjoyed Gerald Durrell’s memoir of his childhood in Corfu. My Family and Other Animals brought gorgeous writing and the wonders of the minutiae of the natural world. Durrell’s family situations were hilariously crazy and it was fascinating and disturbing to get a peek at English family living in a British colony. I was so curious about the play Lover’s Vows by Mrs. Inchbold which was so scandalous in Mansfield Park. I finally found it via kindle and it’s also on Project Gutenberg and I really enjoyed it. A young man comes back from the military to find his mother destitute and reveals a secret! I also read Family Shoes by Noel Streitfeild, my third this year by this author and she is fast becoming a favorite! It follows the Bell family, a poor vicar’s family and their hilarious adventures trying to wade through relatives and help their parents with money.

What did you absolutely love reading the last few months? 🍁📚🍁 I’d love to hear!