Where did the years go?

Empty suitcase.So, it’s down to this. Empty suitcase, empty Kleenex, empty nest. But how can empty be the right word, when I’m so filled with emotion? My husband Ed and I are back home now after delivering our “baby” to college–more than 1700 miles away. Chicago may feel distant, but her brother is even farther, having left just this week to study abroad in Nottingham, England. I haven’t checked the exact miles, but it’s eight hours ahead of us, so he’ll often be sleeping while we’re awake and vice versa.

Empty seats at the table

So here, we are: braced for a Thanksgiving missing both of them. Yes, I know I’m not the first and many others are going through it, it’s just that now I can relate. And now I look back from a perspective of wistful knowing, like gazing at mothers with babes in strollers, or passing a Little League game and longing to be there cheering them on.

All those years, where did they go?

But look at that smile!

Turnquist daughter smilingPassing through the Northwestern University arch with throngs of new freshmen, our daughter looked so happy–and so grown up. Was this the same little girl who called me “the best mom in the whole world even including the aliens,” the same voice that asked, “What’s for dinner, mom?” so many times? One and the same, though it’s hard to accept.

A mother’s woes

I have to admit I worry about her. Probably more than usual–no, a lot more than usual. Since the day she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I’ve worried. How can I not, knowing her blood sugar can plummet to life-threatening lows? She’s a champ, though, at taking care of herself, calculating carbohydrates and administering shots of insulin, and that helps.

Amelia, Ed and me at Northwestern.Still… when Ed and I said our last goodbyes on the campus lawn in the midst of the crowd, I wanted to bawl my head off. Instead, I held it together, no more than a few loose tears. It isn’t about me, and I know that. More than anything, though, I’m happy for her. Overjoyed, to tell you the truth. She has so many adventures ahead, and so many opportunities: new studies, new friends, falling in love maybe, and, eventually–dare I think?–a child or two of her own. It’s hard not to go there with milestones like this.

Adventures in England

Turnquist son posing in Nottingham, England.I feel the same for our son. He’s having a blast, that’s plain to see, only a few days in central England and already seeing the sites and making friends. Is this the same kid who, as a towheaded boy, called me his “hero”? The same who in the seventh grade hit a gorgeous grand slam only to miss, through all the excitement, home plate? Oh, the angst and the laughter, the memories and the fun. He’s a young man now, seizing the day. And he’s seizing it so hard it overwhelms me with pride.

That’s Nottingham Castle!

Turnquist son in England.No, empty is not the right word. Full is more like it: full of emotion, full of hope, and full of anticipation for my children’s futures. Sure, it’s quiet around here and I’ll need to keep busy, but that’s not a problem. I’ve got a second novel to finish!

Plus, Ed is here to keep me company. We’ll have time now to get reacquainted as middle-aged folk. I see more date nights in our future, perhaps the proverbial class on ballroom dancing, who knows?

Time keeps on slipping…

And yet, the past few mornings when the high school bus stopped at our corner, I couldn’t help looking out. I crept to the window and stood there in my robe like some Gladys Kravitz. I had to watch all the new kids getting on board. Friday morning there were nine. All of them sons and daughters, climbing those steps, whether they know it or not, into the future, nearing the day when they too will leave home.

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Incredible 5-star review of The God of Sno Cone Blue–please share!

Best book I’ve read in years, it says, then:
Cover of the novel The God of Sno Cone Blue.I have not been this impressed with a first novel since Michael Chabon’s Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The characters, the plot, the pacing…all spectacularly well done. The writing is mature, confident, lyrical…it reminds me of Mark Helprin, an author whom I think writes like an angel. But the thing that impresses me most is how the narrator, who is only a child for most of the book, comes across as a child in her understanding of the adults around her and in her friends, while also conveying the angst of her mother, who is dying and writing of her own life to serve as guidance to her daughter. Marcia Coffey Turnquist juggles these counterpoints so successfully she makes it look easy, and natural, which lets the universal themes of family, life and death, friendship, and growing up shine through. This is an astonishing, beautiful book. Everyone should read it.


No, I’m not sounding much like a writer at the moment, but that’s my honest response: Wow. To be compared to a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize winner? To have my writing Continue reading

500 copies sold of The God of Sno Cone Blue

Marcia at the Cedar Mill Farmers' Market.A big thanks to all the readers driving sales of my book: we’ve smashed the 500 mark! If you took all those books and lay them end-to-end they’d stretch to–just kidding, though it does feel like the moon. Better yet are the comments from readers I’ve never met. Here are a few of my favorites from my Amazon book page:

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What happens after we die?

Heavenly cloud with sun in sky.The question fascinates me. For some, the answer is “nothing.” They dismiss afterlife experiences as unscientific, tricks of the brain or hallucinations. But does that really explain it? One account I’ll never forget is that of a woman who Continue reading

The God of Sno Cone Blue is in Two Book Stores and Another Newspaper

Cover of the novel The God of Sno Cone Blue.

A newly-published review of my novel calls it “A deeply engaging and satisfying read” with “well-paced suspense, interesting and well-developed characters and a vivid re-creation of time and place.”

The writeup in The Valley Times newspaper describes how the story unfolds and how it’s, ultimately, about “the pivotal moments in life that can define all that follows.” If you’d like to read the entire review, find it here in The Valley Times. Continue reading

Are You in a Book Club? What it Says About You

I love book clubs. I’ve visited four so far that have read my book, The God of Sno Cone Blue. They’ve opened my eyes to what book clubs say or don’t say–about us. This, by the way, is my favorite picture so far, thanks to Linda Kalimanis who had us toasting with sno cones of blue. Book club members laughing with blue sno cones. Are you in a book club? If so, I’ll guess a few of the things it may say about you. Continue reading

The God of Sno Cone Blue is Now on YouTube

Click here to play if you haven’t seen it. It’s the piece by KGW-TV running about a minute and a half long. What about you? Have you thought about self publishing? I’m happy to answer questions about my experience, especially since a minute and a half can only cover so much. The avenues I used were Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle, as well as additional eBook retailers that you can check out, if you’re interested, on my Buy Books page. It’s the future of publishing in my humble opinion. So, if you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to reply below with any questions either about my experience or about self publishing in general.


The God of Sno Cone Blue is Featured in The Cedar Mill News

The Cedar Mill News article on The God of Sno Cone Blue.What a nice surprise! Check out the first article about my novel, The God of Sno Cone Blue. In print, it’s a quarter-page piece, ultimately describing the book as “a good read for mature young adult readers and parents alike…” In what is probably the best insight yet, The Cedar Mill News alludes to the letters in my novel as “a story within a story” and goes on to describe my background, the novel, and its inspiration. Continue reading

Father’s Day, Mine, Yours

The meaning of father–of dad–is different for all of us, as individual as our own experiences. Was your father a role model? Nurturing? Or something else altogether, perhaps troubled or abusive or never around? The inventory of Father’s Day cards covers a wide spectrum. You’ll find a few that are gushing sentiment… next to others from “across the miles.” Still others take a lighter tack, highlighting sports or beer, camping and hunting or tinkering with cars and carpentry–all things my own father has enjoyed over the years.

Clayton and Hazel Coffey.

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Look Forward, Graduate, But Don’t Forget to Look Back

Sometimes I think I’m too sentimental, the sort of person who can get teary-eyed in a 30-second commercial. Maybe it’s age or menopause, though the truth is, I can’t remember when I wasn’t this way. This week it’s coming at me like gale-force winds. “You’re about to be empty nesters!” I keep hearing, and, yes, it’s true. Our little birds–who aren’t so little anymore–are leaving the nest in their own gusts of wind. Continue reading