Sunday, April 29, 2018

When did you start writing?

When did you start writing?
When I was ten years old I was given a journal for Christmas, a pale blue and yellow plaid cover packed with lined papers perfumed with possibility. It immediately became my confidant, secrets whispered from my pen onto the loyal paper. When a boy liked me, or when my sister got me into trouble, it was there to take it all in. Spotted moments throughout the next seven years dot the pages. It had taken my entire childhood to fill it, still, at the last page, I gasped.  The end came too soon. That last page felt important. I weighed and deliberated what I would write on that page, a summary? But I wasn’t done yet.
Elation came with a new journal. I was older now. I knew to not only write about the hard times, because looking back, I seemed to complain a lot. It taught me to be, reflective, thoughtful, self-aware, and deliberate in life and in words.  I’ve filled eight journals since then.
            The pen was never far from my fingertips. I’ve written poetry, short stories that were passed back and forth between friends, school essays, eventually, a master’s thesis. I found writing my feelings could make them clear, writing my indecisions could pave the way, writing my passions could drive me toward them.
In 2007, when caring for a cousin going through a mental health crisis, the pages filled with appointments, medicines, thoughts, concerns, doctor names, and the episode became a journal in and of itself. That was my first novel, a memoir of those few weeks of distress. I shared it with my cousin, my family and then tried to rewrite it from a memoir into a work of fiction. There was so much there to work with. I tried third person, with a Grandma as the narrator, but that was way too difficult to pull off.  Then I put a hot man in the mix and tried to mold the story into the frame of a romance, but that wasn’t what it was at its heart and it showed.  I sent out seven query letters, maybe nine and each one was uniformly denied. I paid to have an author, Lidia Yuknavitch, read part of my manuscript. She liked it, thought I was a promising author, offered to refer me. I polished it up even more and sent it to the person she suggested. The writing wasn’t good enough.  I needed to write more.  I tucked that story away and decided to write pure fiction. But what would I write? 
They say write what you know, but stories about teaching elementary school didn’t excite me. They say, write what you read, but I am an eclectic reader, I read in all genres. So I made a two column table with genre on one side, idea on the other. I listed all of the genres I enjoyed reading on the left… then let myself dream.  If I was to write a women’s fiction novel, what would I love to write about?  If I was to write a science fiction novel, what would I want it to be about? I had just finished the Twilight series and was a True Blood addict, but vampires seemed overdone.  I liked the threat, the fantasy, and the gothic romance. So I focused on a paranormal romance. It was fun. I pantsed it… just wrote off of the top of my head from beginning to end. It came quickly and enjoyably.  I loved writing it. I hated reading it. The plot was all over the place. I needed order. I needed to know what the hell I was doing.
I began taking classes online, with local writing groups, joined local writing groups, attended conferences, took college courses online on editing, revising, romance writing, I bought dozens of books on writing and read them.  I took notes, I wrote in the margins of my work and began to learn more about the tools of the craft I love. I have begun many different stories and then abandoned them, or just fiddled with them over time. Over the years, I rewrote that pantsed-paranormal novel. I backwards mapped. I wrote an outline out of my story onto index cards, they almost covered the floor of an entire small room. I worked with the plot, got rid of cards, combined cards, made a better plot and then rewrote it. I mostly rewrote the beginning, and middle, and end. Then I rewrote it again.  Again, I sent out less than a dozen query letters and all were rejected. I was sensing a pattern. 
I got stuck in a perpetual rut of editing and revising and not calling an end to my work. Then I would barely touch a toe in the publishing world before pulling back and starting on a new project.  Sensing a pattern is very different from changing a pattern, so I continued.
I went on vacation with my family to the San Juan Islands. The instant the ferry horn bleated through the misty harbor at our arrival, I felt the romance of the island. On a visit to the American Camp and British Camp, we learned about the Pig War and immediately, an idea struck.  This historical setting was ripe for romance. I could see it all, almost the entire book in a vision of an American homesteader falling in love with his British neighbor.  Star crossed lovers, my favorite. I began writing on vacation, and I still am.  That rough draft began five years ago and I am now editing the rough draft for book two in the series while plotting out the other three. I still feel passionate about the story, even many years later, I am not letting it go.  I’ve begun querying for that first historical romance novel, while continuing to polish it. I can’t seem to let that go either. That sentence doesn’t pop. That description is awkward. That scene didn’t strike the chord I was going for. It can always be better.
The process of writing will always be my joy. It would be nice to have an agent and to publish, but I have to admit I’m not chasing that as hard as I possibly could. Every denial is motivation to improve. It says to me, okay, do better. So I just keep writing.
~Fall down seven times, get up eight~

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

3 Steps to Becoming a Writer

3 Steps to Becoming a Writer:

1. Write. Every day. 

2. Find your people. Make google your friend. Try searching for women’s writing groups, local workshops, classes, even festivals. There are tons of groups on Meet-up, one at my local library and several at the local bookstore. If you can’t find a writing group that suits you, create one. It is inspiring to be around other wordmongers. You will write more when you find people who you can relate to, people who “get” you, and people who won’t judge you because your mind is always on your story. They are out there, hiding in their pajamas behind their laptops or under their full spiral notebook. I began a local writing group by putting an ‘ad’ out on a phone app called Nextdoor. I called out to women writers in my neighborhood. They peeked out from the bushes, climbed down from the trees, dropped down from the sky—they came!  We are a dozen strong with four of five hardcore participators. We still don’t have an official name, but we meet bimonthly, once during the day at a coffee shop and once at night when one of us get brave enough to host at our house. There is no format or goal, just a gathering of writers desperate to evade the solitude of our practice. 

3. Always begin at #1. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall, My Teacher

Fall is my teacher.

Leaves scatter across the roadway.
Fall, "Learn to let go."

Winds shift direction.
Fall, "Change is swift, exciting."

Leafless trees shake off the unnecessary and slow down.
Fall, "Pay attention."

Colors warm as temperatures drop.
Fall, "Beautiful inconsistency."

Rain, a daily companion.
Wet hem on jeans, a jolt.
Raindrops on the window...
Fall, "Fresh views." 

Hot tea, cinnamon, steaming soup.
Fall, "Sunshine is inside."

No razor, warm tights, blankets, knit caps, pretty scarves, boots, cushy socks, winter coats, fires... comfort, a creation.
Fall, "A lesson in self-care."

Yellow, orange, brown, diverse, electric charge, Fall waltzes in, unreserved extrovert, and declares, "Be yourself with abandon!"

Fall, my favorite teacher.

Monday, November 6, 2017

When Winter Comes

When Winter Comes

When Winter comes
I will
open my arms and pull her into my embrace
blue lips
white hair
the twinkle in her eye
We will
giggle together over warm tea
admire each other through the window
My frosted friend
has been away too long
We will
catch up on the sled down the hill
mingle before the fire
When Winter comes
I will greet her
With Glee
We are family ❆ Winter and me

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Words I Love

Words I love

Popped into my head
You can pop a cap
Pop a bubble in a bath
Pop a lid on it
Pop one off
Pop over to see a friend
Pop your ears
Pop music
Pop goes the weasel
Pop star infusion
Pop a pill
Pop an illusion
Pop in, pop out
Popcorn, Hop on Pop
I like pop.
I can even drink it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

10 Quotes by Children's Authors on Writing

10 Brilliant Quotes by Children's Authors on Writing:

10. So the writer that breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.  - Dr. Seuss

9. If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf.  - Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

8. A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.  - Roald Dahl

7. …I’d write about places I knew something of and people that spoke everyday English… - Gilbert Blythe (Anne: The Sequel)

6. Don’t write about Man; write about a man. - E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

5. I don’t necessarily start with the beginning of the book. I just start with the part of the story that’s most vivid in my imagination and work forward and backward from there. - Beverly Cleary

4. I do my best to simplify and refine, to be logical and harmonious. But I also try to keep an open mind, to listen to my intuition and allow for the unexpected, the coincidental, even the quirky to enter into my work.  - Eric Carle

3. The best books come from inside. You don’t write because you want to, but because you have to. - Judy Blume

2. You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.  - Madeleine L’Engle

1. Reading is important because, if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. - Tomie Depaola

Bonus: There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.  - J.K. Rowling

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Say it, "Suicide."

In encourage you to watch the Upworthy video with Mariel Hemingway.  One of my favorite quotes from the video:

"As a community the more we talk about it the more we address it, the more we deal with it in our everyday lives the more healing we can offer everybody... it is about reaching out and that is the message I want to give everybody, keep talking about it."

I've written a novel where one of my main characters deals with depression and suicide.  It's a weighty issue that needs to be brought more into the light.  There are ways to connect, ways to help bring this subject to the forefront.

I met an author recently who really speaks to the heart of mental illness and is great at creating a community of similar people around this topic and more:
Check out on twitter:  @JulieBipolar
or at
Her Blog:

Also, "Out of the Darkness" are community walks that help fund raise for suicide prevention.  Not as popular as the "fun run" or the "color run" or the "beer run"... but a great cause.  I plan on walking this year and hope that you all can find one near you to lend your support to.

One last thing:

If you are in crisis, call 
1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Go Time.

Go time.  

I've written my entire life:  journals (aka diary), essays (aka college assignments), poetry, novella's, Nano-Wrimo... I've edited, revised and polished... then done it again.  I've taken college courses to the point where I've debated a second master's degree, I've attended hours of meetings with Willamette Writer's, PDX Writer's, Portland Women's Writers... I've saturated my life as much as I can to achieve those 10,000 hours.  I've written stories upon stories upon stories... only two complete novels and I love them both and I'm ready to pitch.  (That was a run-on and I know it- but it belonged together and I like breaking rules). 

The Willamette Writer's Conference is happening the first weekend in August.  I'm ready.  I'm pitching my Women's Contemporary Lit/Romance - beta readers opinion vary on where it lies - the title is "Twisted Disposition".  It’s about a teacher who creates chaos when she has to care for her psychotic best friend and then finds herself falling in love with a successful man who has a history of mental illness.  It’s like a mental health happy hour.  Everyone’s having a breakdown and everyone likes to talk about it.  Like my book club.  

It answers the age old questions of:

So you’re crazy, now what? 
What to expect when you’re expecting a break down. 
Can mental health or lack thereof, be funny? 
What does it mean when you begin craving 5150?
What’s it like to witness someone lose their mind?
How would it feel to be totally responsible for that person?  What would you do?

And the all-encompassing question: What’s it like when the person you know best in the world – the one you are most comfortable with – begins to have a twisted disposition?

I'm pitching to three agents - chosen after much deliberation on my part.  First, I checked what they were looking for - what genre.  Then, I looked at their agent pages and made sure they would be a good fit for my story.  Okay, I also stalked their goodreads pages, facebook, twitter and any blogs that mentioned them.  All that's left is meeting them at the conference and giving the best synopsis of my novel (which I'm hoping writing poetry helped me with - it's all about word essence - less is more).   

Why do I feel I need to take a Xanax?   

**** foot note:
       *best* hobby ever!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I've done it!  I've signed up for the monthly writing race to 50k words.  I have to admit... I've written way more than that, but I'm a re-worder, edit-crazed, self-doubting author.  It will be a great challenge to begin a story and not stop till I'm 50k words in.  Looking forward to the write-in's... hoping to meet some kindred spirits or at least a few people that are writing group worthy.  Now to go choose a genre, and begin my outline.  Let the journey begin!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Summer Dreams

Dreaming of Summer Already

When summer comes floating in 

She’ll bring her carpet bag brimming with a hodge-podge of seasonal honeyed medicines

The light of yellow sun will pop out first to shine upon our faces

To shine upon problems, those that were stuck in shady places

And if I can’t handle the enlightenment she will disperse

An umbrella is stashed in her sunlit purse

She’s got lotion to soothe and protect me

Wind tucked in a pocket to whip-up energy

Hot sand for a warm place to ground myself, or warm up with a friend

Summer is my mother

She comes to tend