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The Long Way Home, A Novel

“Norris writes with a lyrical pen, painting landscapes and intense emotional moments with easy grace.”

Self-Publishing Review

The Long Way Home is a compelling work of fiction set in 1950s Madison County, Nebraska.

At the heart of the story is Maggie Davis, a middle-aged widow and recent heiress to a grand Victorian manor. The stately home, which Maggie shares with her spirited nine-year-old daughter Jenna, also serves as a bed and breakfast to a once regular, but now transitory, clientele.

The kitchen table is the epicenter of lively, often contentious, dialogue where no topics are off-limits. An outspoken neighbor and routine visitor delights in keeping everyone on guard with her opinionated tirades but is frequently reigned in by an elderly, equally forthright family member who has recently become a permanent dweller at the manor.

Maggie finds herself struggling with the painful memories of her husband’s tragic death, as well as the stirrings in her heart associated with a new house guest. A scandalous scheme to swindle her out of her property rides on the heels of a sudden, unexpected death, pointing to a member of the family as a suspect. Set against an intriguing backdrop of family secrets, scandal, and love, the story culminates with an emotional twist.

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The Pursuit of Peace

Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.     

Brian Tracy

Merriam-Webster defines peace of mind as ‘a feeling of being safe and protected’. However, it also means the absence of worry, stress, and anxiety. The very phrase, “peace of mind” involves a wide array of emotions.  

It begins with a feeling of security. From this sense of being secure, emerges a feeling of genuine happiness. This happiness cannot be artificially achieved, but must be experienced naturally and within. Finally, this happiness also brings about a sense of optimism about what the future holds. 

Why do we need peace of mind?

The importance of peace of mind cannot be overemphasized. With stress levels on the rise, peace of mind is a challenging pursuit. But, psychologists believe that experiencing peace of mind in daily life is crucial for overall wellness:  

  • Reduces stress: Stress can lead to a wide range of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Hair experts say that stress also happens to be the primary cause of hair loss and hair damage. Reducing stress leads to physical wellness and allows you to lead a healthier life.
  • Promotes optimism: Attitude is the key to success. A positive attitude fills you with hope and energy. You can accomplish things that you previously thought were impossible.
  • Reduces fear and anxiety: Feeling anxious or fearful can sap your energy and affect your working ability. Possessing peace of mind can lessen your chances of being fearful and can significantly improve the overall quality of life.

When you are at peace with yourself, those around you experience an increased level of happiness.

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A Panoramic View

Visionary thinking provides a broader perspective. It’s like a panoramic view, expanding the picture of what you are able to see.  Visionary thinking calls for three things: (1) Learn. Be sure of what you know and value it—but never settle. Form new relationships, read new books, and learn new skills. Challenge yourself to become a lifelong learner. (2) Listen. Seek out those who have expertise in areas where you are lacking. Partner with people who can do things you can’t. Ask questions that broaden your understanding, and then listen carefully. (3) Look. It’s hard to see the big picture while you’re inside the frame. There’s an entire world beyond your own, so look for ways to view it through the eyes of others.

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Fly Away

My sweet dad passed away early this morning. He was 94 years old. For all accounts and purposes, one could say that he lived a long and full life. That’s true. But, I still wasn’t quite ready to let him go. 

He was born on Monday, March 15, 1926, at a time in American history when Calvin Coolidge was the President of the United States, when you could buy a new house for $7700 or rent one for $20 a month, buy a new car for $360, purchase gasoline for $.12 a gallon, and pick up a loaf of bread for $.09.  A simpler time? Not according to stories told by my dad through the years. Life was difficult, and not for the faint of heart. He managed to live through the respective Dust Bowl and drought eras of the Midwest—and later survive a near-fatal bout of Scarlet Fever and a kamikaze attack on his US Navy ship Goodhue in the Asiatic Pacific. He eventually made his way back to the states to meet and marry my mother – a blessed union that would last for 72 years. My sister and I made him a wonderful, long-suffering, patient, and caring father. Seriously.

Because of advanced dementia, he has spent the last three years in a local memory care facility where he soon secured the title of “one of our kindest residents.” It didn’t take much to make him happy—a comfortable chair, a warm blanket, a nourishing meal, a short conversation involving current events, a friendly voice, a gentle touch, and a handful of unsalted peanuts. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the facility has been on lockdown for several weeks. I’ve missed him terribly. Last evening, the care center called and asked if I would like to see him one last time and say goodbye. With mask, gloves, and gown, I entered the room to find him in a deep coma. I told him again how much I loved him, and that I was more than fortunate to have called him dad for so many years. He struggled to open his eyes. I told him it was okay to go home, to fly away with the angels. A few hours later, he did just that. – D. L. Norris

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Moods of Mind

“There are certain half-dreaming moods of mind in which we naturally steal away from noise and glare, and seek some quiet haunt where we may indulge our reveries and build our air castles undisturbed.”

Washington Irving
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Caring for Others

“The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.”

Tenzin Gyatso

One of the most valuable things we can do for ourselves during these challenging times is to help someone else. There is such need. Thankfully, opportunities abound to reach out and help others. Each of us can do something—no act of kindness is too small. Be the reason that someone feels hopeful TODAY.

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The Long Way Home Review

Author D. L. Norris invites readers to slow down and enjoy the view, and perhaps spin a story or two, in The Long Way Home, an insightful and memorable novel about family, grief, and growing up.

Maggie Davis stands like a proud pillar at the heart of this tale, a recently widowed mother running a bed and breakfast in an out-of-the-way corner of Nebraska. Guests come and go, with their stories and burdens, grateful for a home-cooked meal and conversation, but small-town life for Maggie is far from simple. In addition to her own battle with loss and loneliness, she must navigate the constantly changing landscape of gossip, residents, and the temperamental moods of the family members still living. As old secrets about her ancestors are revealed, and deeper connections with townsfolk are built, Tilden begins to feel like home, until someone tries to take it all away.

Norris writes with a lyrical pen, painting landscapes and intense emotional moments with easy grace. Every character that appears in this world is vividly shaped and summoned in readers’ minds, whether we are familiar with the archetypes of small towns or not. There is also a slightly heightened formality to the narration, consistent and compelling, as though this is a novel from another time.

Whether we are witnessing Maggie’s self-examination and stirrings of guilt over a new passion, or putting together the pieces of the book’s ultimate twist, Norris’ writing is entrancing and polished. While some of the plot developments are classically predictable, The Long Way Home resonates with mystery, nostalgia, and promise. ~ Self-Publishing Review