Monday, September 17, 2018

Drawn to This

I'm excited to begin edits on one book as I continue to write the first draft of another. Needless to say, I have my hands full. So does this guy. Check out this video my mom sent me recently. I have such a rich appreciation for people who see potential where it's often easily missed.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Life is a Bad Ref

With my girls playing club soccer in three different regions of the country, I can say I’ve just about seen it all when it comes to refereeing. The good. The bad. And the ugly. I’ve also become a keen observer of parent reactions, and I’m beginning to see how they don’t vary much from state to state.

I don’t know whether it’s because my girls are growing older and this isn’t my first rodeo with club sports, but in recent years I’m grasping the value of letting each team simply play their game—without parental interference. And that includes shouting insults at the ref.


Because the way I see it, life is a bad ref. Bad refs (with the exception of those who refuse to intervene when things get dangerous) can teach our kids. So what if a ref misses a hand ball or calls a corner kick a goal kick? You’d be surprised how my parents get up in arms about such calls.

I’ve leapt up from my chair before, furious at some of the calls (or lack of calls) I’ve witnessed. The best is when parents (or a coach) tick a ref off so badly that every calls he makes from that point on is skewed because of the verbal lashing he had to publicly endure.

My thinking when the ref makes a misjudgment . . . such is life. Play on. Play through it.

Play through.

I used to cringe every time my mom would tell me life was unfair, but as an adult I get that she was doing me a favor by telling me this. I didn’t grow up expecting special treatment or that I’d always be understood in every situation. Plenty of situations occur when there isn’t an opportunity to plead your case. Life makes all kinds of unfair calls. Death, disease, and ignorant cruelty to name a few.

We can’t always bark back at life. It doesn’t work like that. I’ve never seen a ref change his mind after a good yelling at. So much of living a peaceful, fulfilled life is understanding—really understanding—how to navigate through the things we cannot control. How to play through it. How to play our game despite what’s playing out all around us. Developing that kind of personal accountability is invaluable. We don’t go through life blaming others for our successes and failures. We take responsibility.

Sure, some games are called horribly. Been there. Seen that. I finally figured out that’s what gets some parents so enraged when they observe a bad call. They’re having to sit back while Life smacks their kid around. I say give the kid a chance to rise up. Watch as they show you how well they can play through it. Teach them to play their game no matter how the game might be called.

I went to rehab for the first time when I was in sixth grade. It was family day and my parents drove me and my two other sisters to support my sister who was trying to get sober. I’ll never forget a lot of things from that tumultuous time period in my life, but one of the greatest takeaways came in the form of a simplistic prayer. Maybe you’ve heard of it. The opening lines of the Serenity Prayer have guided me through more occasions than I could possibly count.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Play through.

Monday, September 3, 2018

I Missed My Books

Happy Labor Day! I’ve not only been hard at work cranking out the rough draft of another novel, I’ve also been up to something else. Something rather booky.

The last two places we’ve lived I haven’t had built-in bookshelves. I’ve missed my books. Seeing them, picking them up and flipping through the pages from time to time. I’m not one to sit around and miss something for long. My brain gets to work. Creativity surges wildly and unpredictably. It’s always exciting to see what will come of these waves of spontaneous problem solving.

Yesterday a new room was born.

What was once a closet under our stairs is now a reading & game nook.

There are a few things I still want to spruce up. A little painting. More decorating.

But this is what came of me missing my books.

I created a magical, under-the-stairs-place my kids could sneak away to, a nook where I too could escape and delight in brushing my fingers along the many spines.

My book nook. 
And all is right with the world again.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hummingbirds, Snails, and a Heron

Oh my. The fires should be enough to tell me I’m in a different land, but there are so many other signs. Forget the obvious ones, like cactuses and palm trees. I can honestly say I’ve never seen as many hummingbirds as I have in the past few months. I’m sure they exist in the northeast and southeast, but I don’t remember seeing them. I admire their blurry-winged flights daily here. While walking up to a neighbor’s door the other evening, I gasped because I almost stepped on a snail. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve come across one of those. And then one of my favorite encounters . . . I was banging away at my keyboard, working out the final pages of my WIP, when a fascinating heron lands on our deck and decides to perform an elaborate act. Highly entertaining. Five stars. Needless to say, it was a lovely distraction.

I’m enjoying being awake to my surroundings here.

I’ve forgotten what rain sounds like. I almost ran downstairs last week because I thought it might be raining and I wanted to see it, but the gushing sound was only the lawn sprinklers. Certain trees rain here though. Not really, but they drizzle on your head. I haven’t figured out the name of these raining trees, but I have identified that they have flower blossoms in them. It’s pretty wild, and if I close my eyes when I’m under one of these trees I like to pretend I’m being rained on.

I share these things for two reasons. One, paying attention to everything around me helps me to feel more engaged with life. Two, moving like this has done a real number on selecting settings for my novels. Connecticut or New England has been home to most of my characters. I lived there for almost half of my life. It’s the place where my roots had the best chance to grow. During the short stopover in Georgia, I tried to envision characters there. Georgia never cemented as a fresh setting. California, however, is vining around me like a gorgeous Clematis. My eyes are opening to its thriving habitat, the land, and the people. I’m taking it all in. And maybe one day it’ll show up as the backdrop to a whole new cast of characters. Wonder if a heron will show up in that book?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Holy . . . Fire

Hurricanes and tornadoes I’m familiar with. I even powered through eight days without power during New England’s Snowtober years ago. Having moved all around the country, I’ve grown acquainted with all kinds of weather patterns. Seattle rain. Georgia thunderstorms. The sky dumping snow in Connecticut.

But fire? This is new.

I walked outside to enjoy the view from our backyard last Monday only to notice something was off about the strange clouds forming over the mountain range in the distance.

And that something has been burning for the past week. Over a thousand firefighters have labored to put out what’s been dubbed the holy fire. 22,000 acres destroyed.

I watched from a safe distance as the fire traveled over the mountain range and canyon, greeted by a pungent smoky odor every morning. And let me tell you, if I’ve learned anything it’s that fire moves fast.

Only weeks after we left Hawaii earlier this year a volcano erupted. We move here and a few short months later an area of land that hasn’t seen fire for over forty years is suddenly aflame. Curious, that.

Gauging the attitudes of fellow Californians, I sense they’ve grown accustomed to breakout fires. Much like I knew what twelve inches of snow would look like in New England.

I’m telling you, I’ve observed some wild skies in the 40+ years I’ve been on earth, but none compare to what I’ve seen this past week.

*blogging break until Aug. 27th. See you then!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Cheers to this Woman

She taught me how to ask questions. She encouraged me to be adventurous—with food, activities, and my overall attitude about life.

We share a love of reading. We engage in captivating conversations—about politics and parenting.

Since my first memories formed, I’ve been grateful for her support—her never-ending encouragement.

She knows me well and loves me through and through.

I know her well and I love her through and through.

Happy Birthday, Mom! 76 years young today.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Book Report?

My husband discovered me reading (again) the other day. Amused, he pointed down at the notebook on my lap. “You doing a book report?”

I smiled and mused to myself that fellow writers know why I lug a notebook with me along with the book I’m currently reading. I’m not doing a book report, but strong writers have a tendency to bring out the best in my writing. Good books are excellent at pointing out holes in my own stories. When I’m inspired by a book I’m reading, I never want to be caught without a pen when the fresh idea hits or a character arc solidifies. This is also why I keep a notepad near my bed at night, and I’m seriously thinking it’s time to leave a pen and paper outside the shower.

Ideas are like prairie dogs, you never can predict when they’ll pop up. (I recently read somewhere that the language of the prairie dog is more advanced than any other animal language that’s been decoded.) I consider it part of my job to pay attention. Not only to the world around me, but the world within books. This includes everything from pacing to sentence structure to identifying something akin to a musical rhythm in the paragraphs.

Does this steal the joy from reading?

Absolutely not. Most of the time I’m doing these things without even realizing it. Like training a muscle, I started this practice years ago and it felt a little uncomfortable initially. Dissecting books did feel a little like writing a book report in the beginning. But now I hardly notice I’m doing it. I still read for enjoyment, entertainment, and to learn. I’m always pleasantly surprised when book starts to work its magic, when the sentences stir something in my brain and a lock is unhinged, a new idea freed.

This process of transference, reading good writing in order to produce good writing is one of the unpredictable thrills of writing. I never know when I’m going to stumble upon brilliant writing. Oh, but when I do! I want to savor every word.

Two books worth mentioning:

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’veLoved by Kate Bowler. Absolutely loved this book. I connected with this author’s viewpoint on so many levels. Highly recommend this read!

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol. Currently reading. I’m getting so much from this one. Character development is fantastic. Pacing and building suspense on point. Can’t wait to read more!

Drawn to This

I'm excited to begin edits on one book as I continue to write the first draft of another. Needless to say, I have my hands full. So does...