Five on Friday: It’s Still February

In some ways, the beginning of the year feels like it was an eon ago, yet, in others, it feels like this winter has been a long slog.  Ah, but there are always things to distract. Such as:

What I’m Reading.  My library has a “Lucky Day” shelf, full of currently popular books. You can check out two of these at a time.  I have, upon occasion, had the experience of putting a popular book on hold, resigned to the idea that hundreds of others thought of it before me, only to find said book on this shelf.  Last week’s nab was The Woman in Cabin Ten. I’d heard a lot about this book and it has been on the bestseller list, so I snatched it up.  Um, the jury is still out on this one.  I started it a couple nights ago and thought I’d not finish it. Lo, the main character is a whiny, complaining, hot mess who is not a lot of fun to be around.  And you know how you just get a certain feeling about a book, bad or good as you start reading? I got that bad feeling. But I picked it up again last night and now I’m confused with all the characters on the boat, which is apparently going to be the main setting for the mystery.  I like the character even less but for now I’m pressing on. Maybe because a writer can learn as much from a book she doesn’t like as from one she does.  Have you read this book? Impressions? Leave a comment.

What I’m Watching. This is embarrassing to admit, but a lot of silly sitcoms. I’ve never been that into them–I missed the Friends boat entirely, and don’t throw tomatoes at me, am not a fan of Seinfeld.  But I’ve been watching Modern Family, Life in Pieces, Mom, and a couple of new ones: Kevin Can Wait and Man With a Plan. God, what’s wrong with me? Maybe it is because I always tend to fall asleep in front of the TV?  Or perhaps because after being up since around 5, my brain can’t take anything more sophisticated in.   Though I do also like Hawaii Five-O.  I’m going to blame it on winter. I need some nice long evenings to sit outside, stat!

What I’m Writing In: A good old-fashioned composition book. Here’s an article about the history of this humble little notebook and one designer’s attempts to update it.  I use the cheap kind you can buy at just about any store. My most favorite thing to write in is a moleskine, but I fill those babies up really fast, so I go to the comp book as a favored second. It’s kind of fun to see how they’ve inspired others as well.

What I’m Making: My third pink Pussyhat, for my friend and coach Anne Presuel, who has requested one.

What I’m Doing This Weekend: Teaching all day tomorrow at the Let’s Go Write structure workshop, and then seeing Arun Gandhi speak on Sunday afternoon. He’s the grandson of Mahatma, and I’m looking forward to hearing his message.

What are you doing this weekend? Leave a comment. And I hope your days include some writing.

Five on Friday: Gloomy February Edition

I know, I know, you get back what you put out so I shouldn’t be calling February gloomy. But for cripes sakes, it kind of is.  I mean, we’ve got the Donald, and here in Portland we’ve had so many ice and snowstorms I’ve lost count (give me plain old Oregon rain any day), and there’s just so much going on it is hard to concentrate. But, people, we must. And so let’s chat about good things. (Yes, you may call me Pollyanna.)

What I’m Reading. I’ve had the worst dry spell. Had a few books on hold at the library and when I went to pick them up I found more on the featured shelves. And then…disaster. They were all a bust. So I went back to the tried and true and I’m reading A Light in the Window, by Jan Karon, second in the Mitford series books.  For the uninitiated, Mitford is a charming town where nothing too terribly bad happens.  Truthfully, not all that much happens in general.  Perfect antidote to these times.  Oh, and another trip to the library netted another hopeful armload of books, among them The Fortress, a memoir by Danielle Trussoni. She had this rather wild and wonderful book about angels that I enjoyed a few years back. And, wait for it, this book is set mostly in a small town in the Languedoc region of France, where I go every year. (And you can, too.)  Not having a good book to read is like not writing….

(And don’t forget about my buddy J.D.’s book.)

What I’m Reading Online. This series by Shawn Coyne on love stories just wrapped up.  It is brilliant, and for the record, it is not just about romances.  He makes the point in earlier posts that love stories in one form or another underlie just about every story.  But, for the record, romances comprise 45% of the Ebook market on Amazon.

What I’m in the Market For: A new phone. Oh my checkered history with phones! I was an Iphone girl for a long time, and then I switched to Samsung, because I got bored and wanted something different.  Loved my Samsung Note 4 for a couple of months until it started doing odd things. Like rearranging the icons on my home page. Hanging up on people. Calling people.  And then there are the strange noises that occur in the middle of phone calls. I convinced the phone is tapped.

But, glory Hallelujah, this oddity is nearly paid off and I can get a new one! I was all set to go back to the Iphone and then they released the 7 without a headphone jack. People, I spend half my life on the phone coaching, I need to use headphones. So that’s out. I’ve narrowed the field to the Samsung 7 Edge or the Google phone (which I understand I can buy through Google, even though I use ATT. Does anybody have any suggestions? I would love to hear.

What I’m Excited About: Friday night at home by the fire. (Except it has been freakishly warm the last couple of days, so maybe no fire. Damn.) I’ve been out every night this week: Monday to Happy Hour with my biz partner and a new friend, Tuesday to babysit grandchildren, Wednesday to the bi-weekly writing group Debbie and I run, and last night to the Women Without Rules Happy Hour.  This last is a group of women who got together when one of them put out a call on Next Door Neighbor (one of my favorite obsessions).  They meet for coffee every Monday, have Happy Hours every other week, and do other fun activities as well. I don’t go nearly often enough because I enjoy it when I do.

What I’m Amazed About: That, even on the busiest days (and I had some doozies this week), the more regularly I take time out to meditate or knit a few rows on a current project, the more easily I get things done.  I just found an article related to this here. It speaks to the benefit of getting the freak away from computers and smart phones and tablets and having another hobby.

What is going on in your world? Please do leave a comment, I love hearing from you.

The Return of Five on Friday! Snippets for Your Writing and Reading Pleasure

I’m cautiously dipping my toe back in to bring you these Friday compendiums.  I started these last year and liked doing them a lot, but then I wandered away. As I do.  Probably because blogging has felt wonky and unpredictable to me over the last couple of years.

But, like so many others, I am feeling called to step up. And in the connection calls I’ve been enjoying with y’all, I’ve gotten feedback that you appreciate my blog posts, as well as the newsletter. (Thank you!) And my word of the year is launch. And, over the next couple of months, you’re going to see some design updates here.  So here we go, back to Five on Friday. But here’s my new idea: it’ll actually be four on Friday with the fifth thing being a tip or a prompt. How does that sound?  Let me know if you like it in the comments.  And let’s have at it:

What I’m Reading. The best thing I’ve read this year is something you can’t have yet. Sorry! I was a beta reader for my friend Angela Sanders’ latest caper, Cat in the Bag. Loved it!  Quirky, endearing characters, all former criminals of one sort or another, live together in an old folks home of sorts and get the better of anybody who tries to cross them.  Head on over and sign up for Angie’s list (her newsletter is so fun) so you can find out when this title will be released. She’d got lots of other mysteries you can read while you wait.

I also recently finished Leave Me by Gayle Forman and Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple. Both okay, but not stellar. Funnily enough, they both feature privileged white women whining about how hard their lives are.

What I’m Watching. Victoria, on Masterpiece Theater. Loving this series, with stellar acting and wonderful historical detail. I’m in awe of what odds the young Victoria faced and surmounted, as she became queen when she was barely of age. Highly recommended. And I’m in love with Rufus Sewell. Don’t tell my husband.

What I’m Loving. My Wild Unknown tarot cards. I find them uncannily accurate at unearthing my inner state. Can’t lie to yourself with these babies around! I tend to draw the same card repeatedly, and, as in so many aspects of life, keep drawing it until I learn the lesson the card references.  They are also useful for creative projects, as mentioned in my last blog post.

New Site I Discovered. I’m probably way late to the table on this one, but I just found Farnham Street. Fascinating collection of articles, that, as they tell it, “help you learn to make better decisions, create new ideas, and avoid stupid errors.” Their “best articles” tab has about a gazillion things I want to dive into.

Writing Tip.  PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. We need your voice right now.  How can you share your work this week? Write a blog post, submit to an agent, send a story out, write or call your elected officials? If it seems overwhelming, break it down into tiny steps.  (My newsletter this week is on a similar topic. Its been much on my mind lately.  By the way, if you’re not on my list, the sign-up is to the right.)

Okay, amigos, that’s it for now. Remember to leave a comment and tell me what you think of the new-ish format (the addition of the writing tip or prompt).

Five on Friday: In Between Storms

After the storm
After the storm

We’ve been battening down the hatches here. One storm blew through yesterday, with much rain and some wind, and another is coming tomorrow–the remnants of a Pacific typhoon. The last time this happened was back in 1962, Portland’s infamous Columbus Day storm, and it was a doozie.  I’m in my element with all of this because I love me a good stormy day, although I get nervous when it gets too stormy.

Anyhoo.  Here’s what’s going on:

What I’m Reading: Casimir Bridge, by Darren D. Beyer.  Darren contacted me after seeing another review I wrote on Amazon and asked if I’d read his book. I’m a sucker for a good science-fiction novel, and hadn’t read one for awhile so I said yes. I’m enjoying it.  Check out his website if you’re interested in space-related stuff, like I am. (If I were younger, I would so sign up to go to Mars.)

What I’m Watching: This is Us, a new TV series. I’d seen the ads for this and finally decided to check it out. I loved it–very inventive storytelling. Really, you should watch it from the first episode, because of the way things loop around and surprise you.

What I’m Reading Online: Lots of good stuff coming out in advance of Nanowrimo (and because there’s always good stuff online):

Hook your reader early

Money and the writer.  Read the links she cites, too.

Nanowrimo Prep. I’m a HUGE believer in doing some prep work for your novel.

What I’m Writing: Speaking of Nanowrimo, I’m doing it this year. I have a fun romance novel I want to write. I’ve got all the pieces of it prepped (see above) and I’m ready to go come November 1. Meanwhile, I’m finishing up a novella I started this summer.  I’ve spent the last couple of morning work sessions re-reading it. The plot has holes big enough to steer a train through, but I like the idea of it and I love the characters. So I’m telling myself all I have to do is finish the draft (I’m maybe 30-50 pages away).

Where I’m Going Next Year: The Let’s Go Write workshop will be held in Collioure, France in September, 2017. You can join us! Collioure is a lovely seaside town full of cafes and shops, and the mountains which rise up behind the town offer plenty of hiking among vineyards and fields.  Stay tuned for more info, but I’m also developing a list of interested writers. If you’re into it, drop me an email!

That’s it, that’s what’s going on with me? What about you? What are you reading? What are you writing?

(Part Three of What it Takes to Be a Writer will continue next week.)

Carry on.

Home at Last: What’s Going On

Pont du Diable, in my beloved Ceret, where I just spent two weeks.
Pont du Diable, in my beloved Ceret, where I just spent two weeks.

After three weeks in France, I’m home again. Even though the Google and my phone still feed me the occasional search result or ad in French, it is nice to be able to understand the language people are speaking around me. (It’s always a shock to land back in a U.S. airport on the journey home and suddenly realize everyone is speaking English.)  It has been awhile since I blogged, with the exception of the prompt posts, so here’s what’s going on (a sort of Five on Friday on Saturday):

Reading — I’m reading the first book in the Cal Claxton series by Warren Easley. It is set in and around Portland, and I think it’s terrific.  I don’t read mysteries or male authors very often, so that’s saying a lot. By the way, he’s reading at one of my favorite bookstores next weekend–more info here.  I read a light novel by one of my favorite authors, Barbara O’Neal, while in France–she is great for frothy women’s fiction.  This one was called A Piece of Heaven, and is set in Taos, one of my favorite places. I also finished Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo, one of the books we taught at the workshop. It is not a quick read, but I loved it.

Movies — I didn’t watch as many movies on the long plane rides to and from Paris, because I was reading, but on the way I enjoyed the Melissa McCarthy movie The Boss and another one I can’t remember. Which says a lot about it, right?  On the way home I watched Me Before You. We taught this book two years ago and I’d loved it and the sequel and really wanted to see the movie. And I did. And I liked it.  A lot.

Writing — I’ve decided to do Nanowrimo. Want to do it with me? C’mon, it will be fun. I have an idea for a romance that I want to get out. Between now and then, I’ll be doing some prep work, and also taking the time to finish a novella I started this summer.  And maybe try to figure out how to rewrite the novel I finished a first draft of last year. That ought to keep me busy for a bit.  And by the way, my Bonne Chance bakery novel is in the hands of an editor, so think good thoughts, please.

Cooking — I woke to rain this morning, yay. I love the rain and I’ve been so looking forward to the return of fall weather.  “Live starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.  This turn in the weather coincided with the arrival of a new cookbook yesterday.  Called 30-Minute One-Pot Meals, it is full of things to cook now that it’s cooler out. (We mostly grill all summer.) You know how some cookbooks you get and there’s some stuff you like, but tons of stuff you’d never consider making? In this cookbook, there’s like two things, period, that I can’t imagine cooking. Score!

Fiber — I carefully toted my knitting with me to France, because I found the year before that it calmed me in times of anxiety (like when I had to mail a package at the post office).  But this year I didn’t pull it out as much.  Now that I’m home, I’m back at it.  I’m actually going back to the basics and trying to re-learns some things. I’ve knitted all my life, but first learned from my 4-H teacher and then taught myself stuff, which has meant picking up bad habits and missing a lot along the way. So I’m following the simple patterns on this site and I’ve already learned some cool new things.  There’s a lot to be said for the beginner’s mind.

And that’s it, that’s all I’ve got, except for this: Debbie and I are meeting on Monday to begin planning our 2017 writing workshop in France. We already know where it will bee–Collioure, where we stayed last year, a wonderful seaside resort town full of picturesque scenery, cute shops and fabulous restaurants.  Leave a comment or pop me a line if you’re interested and I’ll put you on the list.

What is going on with you? Do tell. I’ve missed you.

Five on Friday: July 8, 2016

RocksWell, howdy. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Five on Friday, mainly because I’ve been busy doing stuff but no particular things stand out, if you know what I mean.  But since I know you’re just dying for an update (ha, like you don’t have five million things going on yourself), here goes:

What I’m pondering: Podcasting. As in, good ones to listen to. Podcasts for writers and creatives. Got any recommendations? Also, as in, maybe I’d like to start one. Do you listen to podcasts? Would you be interested in one on motivation, inspiration, productivity, etc., for writers and creatives? It is somewhat of a big production so I’m pondering this even longer than usual.  I get these big ideas and then realize how much work they are going to be and forget about them.

What I’m watching: Le Tour de France. I’m so excited to be returning to that beloved country in two short months (I just booked my Paris hotel today) and I adore the shots of the glorious countryside. There’s only one problem–all those bicycles zooming along are like the best soporific ever. Hub and I both fall fast asleep.

What I’m reading: Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo, so that I can read his newly released sequel, Everybody’s Fool. And because we might use it for the France workshop.  And books on organic gardening, weaving, and food.  Oh, and Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt’s book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes. 

What I’m looking forward to: A writing retreat on the Oregon coast with my friend and biz partner Debbie. Two full days to write! I’ll be working on the most recent rewrite of The Bonne Chance Bakery.  And a few other bits and pieces here and there.

What I’m excited about: Rocks! Some time tomorrow, God and the delivery truck willing, we will have gotten a yard of small river rock dumped on our driveway apron. We have an awkward spot in the backyard by the fence to our neighbor’s backyard. We love our neighbors. Our visiting dogs love their dogs.  So much running about and barking in this area ensues, leaving it unsuitable for gardening.  So it is going to become a sculpture garden.  It is likely that I am more excited about this project than hub, because my job is to rake rock as he loads wheelbarrow load after wheelbarrow load and transports it to the backyard. Fun times!

What are you working on? What has your attention?  Please leave a comment and let me know. Also–there’s one spot left in the France workshop. It’s going to be awesome!  Let me know if you’re interested.

Five on Friday: Itchy Edition

Behold, the lion cake.
Behold, the lion cake.

Good morning. It has been another week of lovely weather, though the record-breaking high eighties we had at the start of it were a bit too much for me.  Here’s what’s been going on:

The best thing that happened: Making a lion cake to celebrate my three-year-old granddaughter’s birthday. Her four-year-old cousin came to help, and his mother, thank God. (We were both exhausted at the end of the day.)  The cake idea comes from an ancient pamphlet distributed by Baker’s coconut waaaaay back in the day. It shows a variety of animal-shaped cake ideas, all sprinkled liberally with coconut, of course.  Olivia loves pouring through this little book. So we decided to make on. You can see the results.

What the lion cake was supposed to look like.
What the lion cake was supposed to look like.

The worst thing that happened: Chiggers. Never in my life have I given any thought to the chigger. You probably haven’t, either. I didn’t even know they existed in these parts. Until yesterday, when I told my naturopath about the massive mosquito attack I’d endured earlier in the week. She took one look at me and said, “Those aren’t mosquito bites, they are chiggers.” Okay, that made sense. Because, A. I didn’t know a mosquito could bite me in quite so many places (my legs are covered) and B. never in the whole entire history of the world, ever, have I itched so much.  Ever. I didn’t sleep for two nights.

Chiggers like shady spots with high grasses and low bushes and I picked them up on Sunday when I spent the afternoon at the park to celebrate the above-mentioned granddaughter’s birthday.  I’ll spare you the gory details, but thanks to two scrubby showers and lots of cortisone cream, I slept last night and I think the chiggers are on their way out.

What I’m reading: The Charles Duhigg book I mentioned yesterday, Smarter, Faster, Better.   Also, a novel by Cathy Lamb I’m not quite sure about. I’ve never read her before so I don’t know for certain, but it seems like a departure from previous books.  I’m reading it on Kindle and there are weird jumps that happen all in a rush and I can’t tell if it’s the formatting or the book.  I think it may be a crappy formatting job, because she’s got a gazillion books published. I have a couple more in a to-read stack from the library, so we shall see.  Oh, and the main character of this one is not immediately likeable–she drinks way too much and has anger management issues–despite the fact that she has suffered a terrible tragedy that makes her act these ways. I’m interested in how other authors handle unrelatable characters since I have a tendency to write them.  At least that’s what happened with Emma Jean.  The book is called The Last Time I Was Me and there’s a pretty interesting Q and A about it here.

What I’m Sad About: The death of Prince, of course.  I was never an uber-fan, but I do appreciate how he has stretched the boundaries of music, the music world, and creativity.   He died way too young.   I also, shockingly, just heard of the death of a friend who spent time at our retreats in France.  I feel really bad about that. RIP, Joe.

What I’m doing this weekend: Teaching How to Write a Book at Another Read Through bookstore in Portland. It is a very small group and we have room if you want some individualized attention to your latest effort. Join us at the store at 9:30 AM Saturday.

What’s going on in your life? What are you reading? What are you writing?

Five on Friday: Glories of Coffee Edition

Writing OutsideGood morning! Let’s dive in.

What crisis occurred this morning: I woke to the news that the electric coffee pot was not working.   This was not good. This was very, very bad. I pulled out my phone and looked up the hours of the nearest Starbucks (luckily, we’ve got at least three within a very quick five-minute sprint) while hub plugged and unplugged the pot and pressed the on button repeatedly. It didn’t help. Finally, he had the brilliant idea to boil water and pour it through. That worked. I have coffee.  I will not not murder anybody.

What I’m picking off my computer: Fir needles. It hit 85 degrees here yesterday, a record, and I sat outside beneath the fir tree and worked all afternoon. My computer was also covered in pollen when I came in, like absolutely every horizontal surface in this town. Which is why every human who lives here is sneezing, blowing their nose or itching their eyes, like me.

What I’m working on: I have a ghostwriting project that I’m really enjoying. Its an intense subject, but lots of good ultimately came from it.  We had some wonderful new students at our bi-weekly Wednesday Writers group this week, and we now have a good number sitting around the table talking about writing, all of whom are doing wonderful work. And I have several amazing  students and clients (Hi Mitch, Hi Courtney) who are producing regularly and several working quietly behind the scenes.  At least they better be working. (You know who you are–you’re working, right?)

And workshops–I got workshops! There’s the three-day Mapping Your Novel at Sitka Center in June (which is close to half full), France in September, which is one person away from being full, and COMING RIGHT UP is a workshop here in Portland called How to Write a Book. It is April 23, all day Saturday and it’s going to be a ton of fun, so if you live here, join us.

Oh, wait, what, you want to know what personal projects I’m working on? Well, um, er, I haven’t decided yet. I’ve got so many ideas for novels and stories in my head I’ve had a hard time landing on one. But I think I’m getting closer. I totally kind of drive myself crazy in the between-projects stage.  I can tell you another cool project I’m working on, though. It is going to be a series of prompt journals that I’m very excited about.  I’m creating these with my cousin’s wife Nancy, also known as the Sister-From-Another-Mother.  Look for them to be out soon.

What I’m reading: Honestly, a pretty silly romance.  But the reason I’m reading it is that I’ve realized, duh, that women’s fiction grew out of the romance genre,  so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go to the roots and see how books are constructed. The bare bones of the structure in a romance makes it easy to parse.

And then there’s a book I’m not really reading, but more using as a reference. It is James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication.  But really, it is about a whole lot more than revision. What I like about it is that he has short sections on various topics, such as character, setting, etc., with bullet pointed information that makes it easier to process. There are also longer swaths of exposition, but those are easily ignorable if you are so inclined, as I am. I got this book from the library and I’ve renewed it a couple times but I think someone else now has it on hold and it is overdue. So if you’re the one waiting for it, I’m sorry! I’ll get it back soon.

What I’m doing this weekend: Organizing my office. I know! I’ve said this every Friday for the last few weeks. But I’ve made progress, I swear. (Though if you saw the stacks of boxes on the floor of my office, you might not think so.) Last weekend we got the area where the boxes had been stored cleaned up. And there’s just a few odds and ends left over to move down.  Things I rarely use and thus don’t know what to do with.

I will admit that I spend very little time on the organizing during the week, because I’m so busy and important. That’s a joke, by the way.  But it just always seems that the things I’m working on take priority.  If I were a brave woman, I would share photos of my messy office. But I’m not, so I won’t.

That is absolutely all I have today. What’s up with you?

Five on Friday: Mind Miasma

My brain is like a boggy swamp.
My brain is like a boggy swamp.

How I’m Feeling: The title of this post. I’m in a mind miasma.  I finished the rough draft of my novel, which was such a non-event it barely even registered. No glowing feeling of satisfaction or bragging to family and friends. I just quietly wrote the last word, fell on my office floor and cried “Thank you, God!” as I genuflected. Not really, but I am glad to be done with it.  I just know the rewrite is a huge job and I’m putting it on the back burner for the moment.

I have projects galore that I’m excited about. The whole time I worked on the novel all I could think about was how I wanted to be done so I could move onto the new things. And then I finished–and suddenly the new things aren’t so shiny any more.  Mind miasma. Does that ever happen to you? It does to me all the time when I finish something.  It means I just need to take some time off and give my brain a rest.

What I’m Excited About:  We’ve had a couple more people sign up for the France retreat and that’s made me think about it anew and get excited. If you are at all interested, now is the time to raise your hand because slots are filling fast.  You can reply to this email if you’ve got a yen to write in the south of France come September.

But maybe you don’t want to go so far? How about three days at the Oregon coast? Registration for my Sitka workshop is open, and several wonderful people have already committed. The workshop is called Mapping the Novel and it is going to be a ton of fun.  Here’s the link.

What I’m Disappointed In: My knitting. I went to Knit Night on Wednesday with only one project which was a big mistake because I ended up ripping it out and then I didn’t have anything to knit so I had to go home early. Ever since then, my knitting has been kind of like my writing: all my fun, shiny projects seem dull and boring.  Maybe I’m in a creative slump. Nah. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the eons and eons I’ve been a writer, its that creativity is a process. And part of that process is ebbs and flows. Right now I just have to be in an ebb.

What I’m Obsessing About: Organization.  Not macro-wise, but mini-wise. As in, should I put those notes I want to take about that book on index cards, the computer, or a min-binder? The issue is ease of retrieval, as in, where will I be able to find them again? (This is my the desktop of my computer is covered with icons–out of sight, out of mind.) Yeah, such are the things I worry about when I’m not writing.  Which is why it is VERY GOOD that most times I am writing. Because I drive myself bat shit crazy when I’m not.

What the Weather is Like: It is full-on spring here, sunny, a light breeze, 70 degrees, everything that blooms or has ever thought of blooming is abloom. There is no place better on the planet than Oregon in the springtime. But whatever you do, don’t move here.  We can’t take many more people! The population is expected to increase by another 50% by 2020 and already our housing prices have increased higher than anywhere else in the country. Trying to buy a house in Portland these days is about as easy as training a cat or selling a book.

What’s up with you?

Photo from freerangestock.

Five on Friday: Happy Easter

So, yeah, Happy Easter, if you celebrate. (And as I mentioned in my last post, even the non-religious types among us can surely celebrate Easter as the coming of spring.  AmIright?)  It’s a busy weekend for many and here’s what’s going on around here:easter_candy_chocolat_242057_l

What I’m fussing about: Apostrophes, freaking apostrophes. The overuse of them is a pox upon the land. I’ve written about this before, but apparently I need to write about it every day for forever to stop this scourge. A story: Wednesday night is pie night at Shari’s, which for those of you who do not live in the Pacific Northwest is a restaurant sort of like Denny’s, only better. Not the least because every Wednesday night they offer a free slice of pie with every entree. Num. So my sister and her husband invited me and my husband to go with them to pie night, and we said yes, because, pie night.  (And because usually my Wednesday nights are taken up with my writing group or knitting, both of which were canceled due to Spring Break.)

We were not disappointed, especially because we had the most entertaining waitress of all time. Ronda did a “Ta-da!” with every armload of food she brought to every table and engaged in hysterical waitress-ly banter.  So it was all good.  Except for the blackboard by the front desk which announced specials and MISUSED APOSTROPHES. I was in such a state of shock to see this happen again (I had just read a blogger who should have known better do the same thing) that I forgot the particulars but it doesn’t matter.

Here’s the deal: an apostrophe denotes possession. So: my sister’s pie. My cat’s food. Etc.  But when you have a regular, good old-fashioned plural, as in when you want to describe a group of objects or more than one thing, YOU DO NOT NEED AN APOSTROPHE.  It is actually easier not to use an apostrophe so I can’t figure out why people persist in adding them in.

Okay, I’m breathing again. We shall carry on.

What I’m fussing about #2: Unnecessary changes.  Okay, so this necessitates another story. Last night, a group of us, eight to be exact, partook of Portland Restaurant Month.  That might not be its exact name, but the gist of it is that a number of restaurants offer three-course meals (fixed menu) for the price of $29.  One of the spots offering this deal happens to be right up the street from us, and it also happens to serve prime rib. Not only that, it is wonderfully old school, with fake red leather booths in the bar, fabulous cocktails, and the prime rib served from a trundling silver cart and carved right at your table.

Recently, Clyde’s was sold to one of the many hip and upcoming restaurateurs that dot this city, who promised to keep all the old-school elements of the place intact.  Except he didn’t. Because, no trundling old cart to serve meat from.  Every piece of prime rib cooked exactly the same, no matter how it was ordered. And, you used to be able to get a container of their delicious salad dressing to take home for a small fee. But, you guessed it, no more.  Sigh.  It was fun anyway, with one of our party celebrating the fact that he had just quit his job because his small Etsy business has taken off. (If I knew the link, I’d post it, but I don’t, alas.)

Surely there is a lesson for writers in all this. Don’t fix what isn’t broken? (Except it probably was, a little bit.) I dunno. You tell me.

Lieutenant, draped on my arm as I write.
Lieutenant, draped on my arm as I write.

What I’m reading: Starlight on Willow Lake, by Susan Wiggs. This is, and I quote her website, “a stunning tale of the delicate ties that bind a family together….and the secrets that tear them apart.”  I’m fascinated with novels that form parts of series, and this one is just that, another title in the Lakeshore Chronicles.  The plot follows a conventional women’s fiction arc, but the author throws in some good surprised. It’s a quick and satisfying read.

Who is helping me: My cat, Lieutenant, as always. He climbs up onto my desk and drapes himself over my arm, then snuggles as close to me as he possibly can. Within minutes my arm is aching with his dead weight on top of it as I try to write.

Why I’m writing such a long post today: Because I have one scene to write to finish the rough draft of my novel. So, of course, it is imperative to write a blog post of great length instead.

That’s it for me. I guess I better go finish that damn novel. What’s up for you these days?

Photos: The candy bunny is by Zela, and the cat photo is by me.  It may or may not appear upside down, because WordPress does this funny thing where on the backend the photo shows as upside down or backwards but when I preview it, it is right side up.