Archive | The Writing Life

Dire Straits: No Internet for a Week

Yes, you read that headline correctly. I was without internet for a week. One whole freaking week. Of course, as luck would have it, I was out of town for part of that time, but still. Come on.

It started when a car ran into a pole a few blocks away. Sheared the damn thing off, so that the top part of it was dangling from the electrical wire.  Power went out to our entire neighborhood early Friday morning.  Let me tell you, it was downright creepy to awaken before dawn that day and realize there was no fan running, no clock, no glowing lights from the power strip. And most of all–no sound from outside. Nothing. You don’t realize how much noise all our things make until they all go away. I had the oddest feeling that the electrical grid of the whole country had been taken out. But luckily, it was just my zip code. And the power came back on within a couple of hours.

All except the internet.

I can live without the TV, and the landline (which is disconnected anyway). But internet? No way.

Okay, okay, okay.  So I do have a smart phone.  It’s not as if I was totally disconnected from the world. But I am old of a certain age and it turns out I’m lousy at managing my life and my clients and my business from my phone. Really lousy.  Careful as I am to scroll through all my emails, I still miss some. And there’s no way to send attachments from the phone.

I know. Whine, whine, whine.

Anyway, I called Comcast (sorry, I just can’t get used to calling them Xfinity) and scheduled an appointment for the next Wednesday, when I would be back home. So much for all those TV ads I saw while watching The Voice. You know, the ones about how Comcast now schedules evening appointments, when it is convenient for their customers. Ha! Nope, they couldn’t come when hub was home in the evenings. The earliest appointment that I would be home for was quite a few days hence.

I went to the beach for a few days and my husband came home early. Bless his heart, because he was able to download messages (hello, data usage), he thought the internet was back up and so I canceled the appointment.  But, no.  The internet was not back up. It didn’t work at all. Another call to Comcast, and another appointment a few days out.

But! There was hope! Turns out we had an “end-of-life” modem (I swear to you it was only two years old) that had refused to come back on with the rest of its brothers and sisters.  And all we had to do was dash up to the Comcast service center, four minutes away, and get a new one.  At said service center we were assured that all we had to do was plug it in and everything would work again. (Oh, and routers are no longer needed–cool!)

But…you guessed. We plugged it in and everything worked except the internet. Sigh. So I waited until yesterday when the nice cable guy, Ben, came over and hung out and fixed all my things. He even moved my new, improved start-of-life modem/router away from the bedroom where I’m sure it was emitting all kinds of foul vibes while we slept.

So now I have the interwebs again.

Yes, I know this should have been a lovely amount of extra time to work on my rewrite. And it was. Except I still had clients who were expecting responses from me. And emails to answer. And blog posts to write. And dealing with a tech fail takes time, people! But really, I’m whining on the yacht, because: smart phone.

But I thought you might want to know why I’ve not been blogging.  And….I would also like to let you know that after this tale of woe I’m going to need to take to my couch and read for awhile. No, actually, I’ve got to hunker down and get the rewrite finished.

And so I’m taking a brief blogging hiatus.  I’ll be back the week of the 15th.  However, I do send out a newsletter every other week, so if you’re not on my list, sign up over there on the right so you can get it.  I used to do a whole formal ezine thing but lately I’ve just been writing what I call love letters on various writerly topics.  I don’t post them on the blog, so the content is completely different. It comes out Sunday (next one will be August 14th).

Okay? Okay.

Oh, by the way, the France retreat is now full. Woot woot! But we’ll be going again next year, so if you’re interested, do let me know.  Debbie and I are working on a new website for Let’s Go Write and once that is done we’re going to get very official about a mailing list and actually send information out on it, too!

So now I’m going to go work on my rewrite. Actually, I’m going to go have a glass of wine and sit outside and talk to my husband.  Yes, I’m still speaking to him, even though he told me to cancel the first Comcast appointment. I’m not bitter. No, not me.

See you on the 15th.


Detoxing Your Writing, Your Writing Mindset, and Your Writing Habits

Drink-Drinks-Healthy-28192-lI am at this moment a fool for detoxing.  I’m doing a three-month heavy metal detox (under doctor’s supervision—don’t try this at home) and, at the same time (because why not), a detox designed to clean out my gut and make it healthier. I’ll spare you the gory details of it all, other than to say that I’m feeling great—lighter and more energetic.

But all this emphasis on detoxing my body got me to thinking, as I do, about detoxing the mind.  Specifically, the writer’s mind.  And that led me to think about our writing habits, good and bad.   And I realized that while I’m detoxing my body, I might just as well be detoxing my mind and my writing as well. So here’s what I’ve been thinking about. Maybe these new habits will be helpful for you, too.

  1. Shed the negativity. We all do it. Whine about how hard it is to write, to get published, to make a career out of writing. All of those things are true—and yet sometimes writing is fun, new people do get published every day, and many, many authors make a career from their words. So why not buck up and think about the positive instead?
  2. Let go of what Brene Brown calls confabulating. These are the “dangerous stories we make up,” like, “I’m not creative,” “I’m not lovable,” “I’m not good enough to be a writer.” We all have our own particular confabulations. What are yours? Uncover them and eradicate them.
  3. Ditch adverbs. I really, really, really love me an adverb. Yes, I do. Really. Okay, I’ll stop now.  Most writers will tell you to never ever use an adverb. I’m not a fan of blanket rules like that, so you won’t hear that from me. But I do advise caution in using them because they weaken sentences.  Even if you do like them, like me.
  4. Get rid of flab words. One of my favorites is just. Another is that, or but. I’ve got lots of them. How about very? Another way to ditch the flab is to eliminate unneeded words, and quit hedging your bets (seems like, could be).
  5. Resist perfectionism. That is, until you are going through your manuscript for the very last time before sending it out.  Then you want to be picky. But before that, don’t stop and obsess over every word. You’ll never get a draft done that way, and besides, its torture.
  6. Stop procrastination. Who, me, procrastinate? Never. But I do hear that lots of people have this problem, so in the interests of fairness I will mention it. When I start procrastinating hear of people having trouble with procrastination, I remind them of the phrase: Use yourself up. Use all of yourself up.  Because that’s what we want to feel when we die, right? Like we’ve used every last bit of ourselves up.
  7. Ditch your addictions. For the record, I do not consider my nightly glass of wine an addiction because I am old and I deserve my wine. But I will admit to an internet addiction.  As in constantly looking at my inbox, waiting for the rush of new emails coming in. Or always eyeing my phone, ever alert for the next notification. Lately I’ve been engaging in the radical act of leaving my phone on the charger in the kitchen most of the day.  Much less distracting.

So those are my thoughts on what I want to detox for my writing life. How about you? Any ideas on things you’d like to let go of? Please comment below and let us know!

Photo by MeiTeng.





10 Ways to Welcome Spring and Rejuvenate Yourself and Your Writing

Spring never fails to surprise me with its lush beauty.  And this year is no different. Even though we don’t get much in the way of snow, it does feel like we’ve come through a long winter, seeing as how we’ve had record-setting rainfall amounts. And so spring is delighting me everywhere I look.  Here are some ways to welcome it in that just might impact your writing, too.four-leaf clover

  1. Smell the flowers. I know, duh. But sometimes I get so busy with all the very important details of my life that I forget to appreciate the small things. And those small things, added to our stories, are what make them come alive.
  2. Roll in the grass. Or swing on the swings. Slide down the slide. Play like a little kid. We adults are usually far too cool to do any of this—but it is a lot of fun once you let loose. And nothing refreshes the writer’s brain like some fun.
  3. Rest. Have you noticed a lot of people sniffling and coughing around you the last week? Yeah, me too. We all tend to get sick more around the equinoxes and solstices. Plus, here in the states we just changed to daylight savings time. Good reasons to rest up.
  4. Take a trip. Long or short, either can be invigorating for the writer’s brain. A couple days ago, I had occasion to drive out to Oregon’s wine country to meet a client who was here visiting family. I’ve been out there a million times—but its been a while. I had a blast admiring the gorgeous scenery and the adorable small town vibe of McMinnville.
  5. Dye Easter eggs. Even if you’re not the least bit religious, dying eggs can be a lot of fun. Or maybe that doesn’t catch your fancy, but what about some other creative project? Giving your brain a chance to do something creative besides writing can rev your engines.
  6. Celebrate. Sunday is Easter and you don’t have to be a believer or go to church to celebrate. The church I grew up in celebrated Easter as the coming of spring. Good enough for me. Actually, my family uses just about an excuse to celebrate. Take time to be festive.
  7. Walk in the rain. Because it’s fun.
  8. Write outside. (But not when it’s raining.) Grab a spot at a sidewalk table at your favorite café or sit in your own backyard. Bundle up if it’s still a bit cold.  A change of venue can do wonders for your writing.
  9. Hunt for four-leaf clovers. See #7.  It is also good to focus your powers of observation.
  10. Take a picnic. Pack a lunch and your laptop or tablet, head for the park or your favorite outdoor spot. Make an afternoon of it. You can combine #2, #3, #8, #9 and maybe even #7 with this suggestion!

What are your favorite ways to welcome spring? How do you incorporate them into your writing?

Photo by steven.y.


Last Minute Gifts for Writers

Today is December 15th, which may qualify as last minute for some of you but not for me. I have not bought a single present.  But that’s okay, because A. my family has very much cut back on the over-the-top gift giving and B. I am a dedicated online shopper.

So as far as I’m concerned, there’s plenty of time for Christmas shopping.  And here are some ideas you might want to share with your beloved families or significant others in case they, like me, need some writerly gift ideas.  Here goes:

  1.  An online class.  James Patterson, famous (infamous?) as the most best-selling author of all time, has a class on novel writing that is actually pretty good, especially for the first-time novelist. (The lovely folks at Master Class gave me a copy of the class and I’ve not made it all the way through, but I have watched some.) It is worth checking out, and you can see a video preview right here.  (Also, this is where you should envision a cool photo of Patterson surrounded by all his books.  For some reason, it is not coming through when I publish. Weird.)
  2. How about springing for Scrivener? I have so far not mastered the software enough to claim myself as a fan but so many other writers love it so much that I have to include it.  You may covet it for yourself, or know another writer who longs for it.
  3. You can’t go wrong with a book. Duh. They are my favorite things to give and to get. Run to your local independent bookseller and buy up a batch, or if you find yourself stranded on a desert island, did you know you can gift Ebooks on Amazon? It’s kind of cool.
  4. Office supplies.  Never met a writer yet who didn’t love them as much as I do. Spirals, pens, fancy journals, plain journals, binders, notebook paper.  I’d be thrilled with a gift certificate that would allow me to run wild at Office Depot. (One of the best things about my grandchildren is that they both love sitting in my office playing with post-it notes, pens, paper clips and other odd bits.)
  5. Speaking of pens, how about a lovely fountain pen? Levenger, the more upscale version of Office Depot (by far) has some lovely ones.  There’s just something about writing with a fountain pen that can’t be beat.
  6. How about a coaching package? Really, there’s no better way to jump start your writing and if 2016 is the year you vow to really get it going, this would be a wonderful thing to put on your list. My prices are going up January 1st, so tell Santa to buy a package now and you can use the sessions any time.
  7. A tablet to read on. I have a long, tortuous history of trying to find the perfect tablet to read Ebooks on, starting with the cheapest most basic version of the Kindle, moving through the mini Ipad and the Surface and even a freebie Dell that I bought with my computer last summer (I love my computer but the tablet was a piece of you-know-what). So now I have my eye on the $50 Amazon Fire tablet.  At that price-point, you might put it on your list, too.
  8. A stand-up desk. I got this nifty number from Target early last year and I’m working very hard at taking my computer to it part of every hour.  Which reminds me, its about time to do that. I couldn’t find the Target link, but it is worth looking for, because I got it very inexpensively there, with free shipping. If you Google stand-up desks, you’ll find a ton of options.
  9. Coloring books.  Yeah, they are all the thing right now, but with good reason because they are stress-relievers. I also think they are excellent for brief breaks from writing, for when you need to think.  I like this one, for knitters, because I am one, or this line, too.
  10. And finally….the grandest present of them all. How about the gift of time and knowledge? Ask for the tuition to our writing retreat in France.  We have only a couple spots left, people, so now is the time to decide! We will be in my most favorite town of them all, Ceret.  See you there!

Okay, so those are my ideas.  What’s on your list? Please share any and all ideas in the comments.


Why a Writer Needs a Cat


Cats are good at crossword puzzles, too!

I have decided that there's one VERY IMPORTANT piece of writing advice that often goes unmentioned.  It is sort of a secret writer thing, but I am dedicated to bringing such things out in the open, because I'm dedicated to helping you find success as a writer.  (You can thank me from your yacht in the Riviera, where you are celebrating your most recent bestseller.)  Here goes:

Get a cat.

Why?  I shall tell you why.

1.  Because a cat anchors a room.  There's something so grounding about walking into a room with a cat sleeping in it.  Writers need to be grounded.  We need to be in our bodies as we work.  Otherwise we'll be wafting about the room with no sense of where we are–and so will our characters.  If you don't have a cat to help you with this, try some other ways, like meditation, yoga, or Qi Gong, my current favorite.  Or take a walk.

2. Because you can talk about plot points with your cat.   One of my cats, Captain, is in training to be a human in his next life.  As such, he listens carefully to everything humans talk about and pays close attention to what we do.  This makes him the perfect writer's companion.  He listens to every word I say about my WIP.  Writers need to brainstorm.  Maybe you don't, but I do.  I do a lot of brainstorming, with my clients, other writers, my agent.  And I do a ton of it on the page, in my journal.  If you're stuck, find a cat (or human, or piece of paper) to brainstorm with.

3. Because cats are cozy, soft and warm to cuddle up next to.   And they often purr when they sleep on you.  Few things are better in this world than taking a nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a cat snoozing away on top of you.  But my larger point is: writers need rest.  Throw that old image of writers burning the midnight oil, and creating for long stretches of time without food, water or drink out the window.  That kind of schedule does not foster creativity.  More and more science is coming out to support the idea that we need a consistent amount of sleep–like eight hours a night–to perform our best.  This means you, too.  And if part of that sleep comes through curling up next to your cat for a nap, so be it.  

4. Because they will get hungry and wake you up at the crack of dawn or earlier.  Chop chop.  Rise and shine.  You've got words to get on the page!  If your cats are anything like ours, they will meow at their first sign of hunger, which will likely be early.  Very early.  My two felines have my husband well trained to rise and feed them, but I follow soon thereafter, grab coffee and hit the page.  You will make yourself very happy if you get the most important thing in your life–your writing–done first.  There's nothing better than the satisfying feeling you'll have all day if you've accomplished your most important goal first.

5.  Because a cat will keep you humble.  Cats are the original and best arrogant pets. Sometimes the afore-mentioned Captain stares at me while I'm discussing my novel with him, and then shakes his head as if I've said the stupidest thing ever.  Other times, he breaks out in a giant yawn.  I'm telling you, its humbling. And don't even get me started on the antics of his goofy brother, Lieutenant.  (For the record, they were rescues from our local Humane Society and we did not name them.) Writers need a dash of humility.  This is a topic not often discussed, but I've seen good writers ruined by their ego.  I've seen them get all puffed up and ruin book deals. I've seen them let their ego convince them a manuscript is ready when it isn't, and thus ruin a good potential contact by sending too soon.  Enough said.  Get a cat.

What's that you say?  You don't like cats? Excuse me while I cover the ears of my two tubwads.  Such shocking words coming out of your mouth.  Heavy sigh.  I suppose if you absolutely cannot see your way to get a cat, you could pay attention to the writing tips that are highlighted in bold above.  

But I still think there's nothing like a cat to keep you company throughout the day.  Unless its a pug. But that's a story for another day.

Which do you prefer–dog or cat?


Macaron Day (Or, Jour du Macaron)

So, last Friday, March 20 was Macaron Day worldwide. Macarons

What is Macaron Day?  It was started by the venerable Parisian baker Pierre Herme (his name has an accent mark, but I can never figure out how to do those) in 2006, and the way it works is simple: you drop into a bakery, donate money to charity, et voila, you receive a macaron in return.  This year was the first year that my fair city of Portland, Oregon, has participated in Macaron Day, and let me tell you it was a raging success!

But first, perhaps you are wondering why I am writing about macarons on my writing blog? Simple. My next novel, the one that is currently being readied for submission with my agent, is about macarons.  Or more to the point, a macaron baker.

Here's a brief synopsis:

 All Madeleine Miller wants is for her new Portland business, the Bonne Chance Bakery, to be a success. But things get off to a slow start when her husband Will runs off with an employee and starts his own rival bakery, leaving Mad in the lurch. Luckily she has the help of the bakery's accountant, Jack, and his precocious daughter Daisie. Portland foodies love the bakery's French macarons, but alas, their passion doesn't quite add up to financial success.

And then one day, world-famous entrepreneur slash actor Richard Bishop appears at the bakery and becomes smitten with Mad's macarons—and her. His offer to franchise the bakery concept feels like selling out, and Madeleine isn't interested. But then she learns of the shady financial dealings her ex-husband used to fund the bakery—and she's forced to accept his help. Soon she's catapulted into a world of luxury and excitement in Los Angeles as she supervises the opening of a second Bonne Chance in Hollywood.

But in her efforts to save the bakery, will she lose herself? Set in Portland, Los Angeles, and Paris, the novel illuminates the crazy path romance sometimes leads us on—and the circuitous route that will lead the way home. With its themes of identity, self-determination and following your dreams, The Bonne Chance Bakery is a feel-good novel with a serious message at its core.

(That description is taken straight from my query letter, by the way.  The very same query letter that got me a read of the full manuscript and a signed contract within one week.)

So, as you can see, attending Macaron Day was a must.  Luckily, my biz partner Debbie and I had scheduled a morning to do some planning on the workshop we held last weekend, and so we folded Macaron Day into it.  Our first stop was Nuvrei bakery, where rumor had it that they were giving out "starter kits."  And oh my God, what fabulous starter kits they were!  The most adorable tote bags imprinted with pink macarons.  I was so excited.  I needed one of those tote bags.  After all, I'd just finished a book about macarons!

We stood in line for probably ten minutes as person after person walked past us carrying the totes.  Yes–there were long lines for macarons!  The day for these luscious, pillowy pastel cookies has definitely come!  I got more and more excited as we neared the front of the line.  And then watched as the person in front of me got the last tote bag.

Wah wah wah.

Oh well.  I recovered.  A bite of a salted caramel macaron revived me.  After we sat downstairs and did some planning, we drove across the river to Farina Bakery, which is very special to me.  Laura Farina let me shadow her last year, back when she was still baking macarons in a commercial kitchen, so I could see how macarons are baked.  Now she has her very own place, complete with apron murals.  And she is pretty much acknowledged to be the premier macaron baker in town.  (One headline announcing the opening of her bakery read, "Portland's macaron queen gets her own palace.")

There, at Laura's place, were more people standing in lines with their cute little macaron-imprinted tote bags.   Only one sob escaped my lips as I gazed at the tote bags.  Debbie and I nabbed a whole passel of macarons in a rainbow of colors for our workshop the next day.  And I got to chat with Laura, who is probably the most cheerful, positive person I've ever met.  (Must be the macarons.)

I was going to write about how I discovered macarons and how I got the idea for the novel in the first place, but I'm already pushing 800 words here so I think I'll save that for another post.  

In the meantime, go get yourself a macaron (as they get more and more popular, they are more readily available.  Or, you can always mail order some here.)

Clearly, I've been writing about macarons.  What are you writing about?  Leave a comment!

I found the image of macarons on the Google.


A Guide to the Care and Tending of Writers, Part One

Let's talk about self care.  Yeah, I know, you'd rather be writing than fussing about some dumb old self care crap.  But here's the point: taking care of yourself will enable you to write more and better. Truly.

An example, taken from my own life: Boracay-beach-paradise-1561148-h

Yesterday, I completed two big projects.  Both are under wraps for the moment, and only one is related to writing, really, but it was an application that necessitated a bunch of thought and filling out.

Today, I'm in full-on fart around mode.  I have a list a mile long to complete–and I'm not doing any of it.  Instead, I'm cruising around the internet, looking at sites I've not checked in on in ages, reading stupid stories about celebrities, wasting time.  

And now, as the day begins to wane, I'm feeling a bit creaky and antsy and unsettled.  How much better it would have been if I'd just said, f$%# it, I took two huge steps yesterday, I'm going to read and knit all day.  In other words, indulge in things I truly enjoy.  Relax after the full-out effort I put in yesterday. In other words, practice self care. 

I don't know why it is so hard to force allow yourself to do this.  Because if you're like me, you'll resist.  You'll sit at the computer, certain that the words will come at any minute, sure that the fog of indecision will lift.  But it won't.  And my day today is a case in point.

(The truth of the matter is, I've had this blog post–which is going to be two parts, by the way–in the works for a couple of weeks.  And it is sheer coincidence synchronicity that my behavior today so aptly proved my own point.)

So, here's the deal: you need to take a freaking break already!

Spoken by the same woman who constantly exhorts you to write every day.  So let's go at this from a slightly different angle, with a handy-dandy list of Possible Signs You Are Burned Out and Need to Replenish:

1.  You have a hard time focusing.  You can't seem to concentrate on the words in front of your face, or you land or a website and wonder why you clicked on it. Then you click on another one and remember why you were on the first one and so you go back there, read for awhile, then head over to the second website.  While your writing file sits open and ignored.  Yeah, that.

2.  You can't connect with the story of your WIP (work in progress).  You remember vaguely that its about…a woman…who does something.  But you can't recall what in the hell it is she does, or the name of any of the other characters or why you wanted to write it in the first place.

3.  Your eyelids get heavy when you open your WIP file, and you don't feel like writing, you feel like sleeping.

4.  The People magazine website is suddenly the most interesting thing you've ever seen.  And you are compelled to read mindless puff articles about people you've never heard of before.

5.  A glass of wine is the thing that you need right now, at this moment, because it is five o'clock somewhere.  And once you take the first sip, it is all downhill from there…

The first three of this list are the most important to heed because they are the most insidious.  You won't ever realize you are doing them until you look back at the end of the day and see that you've accomplished nothing.  Nada.  But even worse, you likely won't identify the root cause of your behavior as needing self care.  No, you will beat yourself up and tell yourself what a lazy ass you are.

How do I know this? Because I do it all the time my friend told me about it.

So, start paying attention.  Take a break.  Figure out some ways that you can do self care that isn't goopy.  How, you ask?  That is the subject of part two of this post, coming right up whenever I can quit procrastinating.

What is your favorite way to waste time?

Photo by The Wandering Angel.


Just Write It

As you all know, I teach writing, and I coach writers and I write about writing on this here blog.

There's seven years worth of posts here–over a thousand of them last time I looked–and they all have something to do with writing.  In truth, I don't write a whole lot about the actual mechanics of writing. What I tend to focus on the most is helping people get the writing done. 

And here's a true confession:

The advice I offer to my clients, my students and my readers is one and the same:

Just write it.      Shadow-nike-3912603-h

If only it were that easy, right?

Why is it so damn hard to sit down and just write it?  

If I had the answer to that, I'd be a millionaire many times over.

There's a million reasons why we don't write.

But bear in mind, all you really have to do to be a writer is get yourself to the page, and write one word.  Then another.  And another.

Sometimes the simplest reminders are what propel me back to my work again.

What helps you get back to the page?

Photo by ktylerconk.


Thursday Obsessions

OrchidMy granddaughter, the lovely Olivia, who at 14 months is learning to walk quite efficiently, is here today and so no deep thoughts on writing.  While she naps, I'm compiling this post of things I'm currently loving (with thanks to Beverly for the inspiration).

1.  Suddenly, I'm all about writing practice.  I'm working on a whole post about this for next week, but in the meantime I'm reading this and this and I just got this and haven't yet had a chance to dive into it. From what I've seen of all these books, all are highly recommended!

2.  This kid's book: A Walk in Paris.  When my grandson, Henry, stayed with us last winter, I fed him honey from my Air BandB lodgings the previous summer.  This led to a discussion about how someday I would take him there.  Which has led to him, every so often, stopping whatever he is doing and saying quite seriously, "Henry go Paris with Nonni." This book allows  me to show it to him.  (I'll be back in France this summer–and you could join me!  Click here for more details.)

3.  The fact that the University of Glasgow is actually calling for applications for a knitter-in-residence. My current knitting consists mostly of log cabin cotton washcloths, because they are easy to take along when traveling. And they are uber cool besides.

4.  My chiropractor.  And the fact that she has got me walking without pain for the first time in a couple of years.  

5.  Buzzfeed.  Whatever you do, do NOT subscribe to any of their email lists.  You'll never get any writing done.

6.  Resonate wine.  I'm in love with this deep, luscious red by Enso.  While they are a local urban winery with a cool tasting room, they also ship all over.

7.  The wonderful Sandra Pawula's Living With Ease home study course.  Highly recommended.  I took the live class in the winter and found it very helpful.  I also did an interview with her that you can read here.

8. Alegria shoes.  Fantastic walking footwear.  I found a pair of Mary Janes at Goodwill before I realized Alegrias were a thing, and I have a pair of sandals on the way.  Because, you know, one must look good when walking around Paris.  (Refer to #2.)

9.  My local library.  It's the second-most-used library system in the country and I'm sure that's because of me.  I love that I can put books on hold and then its like Christmas when they all come in. If I get a book I don't like, I don't have to feel guilty that I spent money on it.  (And all that being said, I am still a huge book buyer and believer that we need to support other authors.  You should see how many titles I have on my Kindle.)

10.  Mahi mahi.  I'd never eaten this fish before a couple of weeks ago when I had it at my sister's.  I've cooked it a gazillion times since then.  It's inexpensive and delicious.  Grill it with butter and garlic, that's all you need to do.  Oh–and serve with mango salsa.  Amazing.

11.  Orchids.  I'm a lousy gardener (the raised-bed vegetables on my driveway that don't seem to grow being exhibit A) but for some unknown reason, this spring I've been blessed with three orchid plants that have re-bloomed.  (See above photo.)  They are spectacular!  I just wish I knew what I've done to make them bloom again.

12.  The conference I will be attending next week.  Being around like-minded, positive people feeds my soul and that in turn powers my writing.

What are you obsessed about this week?  Writing?  Stories?  Beer? Cats?  Calculus? Water-skiing? Tell us in the comments.


You Are Allowed…To Be a Writer

You are allowed to get so engrossed in your writing you forget to cook dinner (but set an alarm so you don't forget and leave children stranded in odd places).

You are allowed to follow the peaks and valleys of the creative process.

You are allowed to passionately practice your writing every day.

And, you are allowed to take a day off from it when the need arises.

You are allowed to not talk about your WIP if you don't want to.

But, you are also allowed to make time with other writers for inspiring shop talk.

You are allowed to publish your work any ole way you want.

You are allowed to be the final arbiter and judge of your work.

You are allowed to despair over your lack of progress.

You are allowed to take joy in completion.

You are allowed to cry over rejection.

You are allowed to love your work better than anyone else.

You are allowed to seek help with your writing when you need it.

You are allowed to revel in every single aspect of the writing life, the good and the bad.

You are be a writer.

(With thanks to Jen Lee for the inspiration.)