Monday, July 29, 2019

My Way Through



Every so often I come across a book that moves me in a memorable and transformative way. I think there’s a reason I was inspired to read ONCE MORE WE SAW STARS by Jayson Greene during this season of my life. In this poignant memoir, a father draws a map for the grieving soul as he recounts, through raw and honest narrative, the heartbreak of losing his young daughter.

Greene finds language I wasn’t sure existed as he details the agony and release I’ve been experiencing in these past months after losing my sister. Through his story, I’ve received layered and comforting truths, truths like I’m not alone, and others are walking, have walked, and will walk this rocky terrain.

Someone recently asked me why I’d want to read a book like this, questioning if this kind of story would just make me sadder. Yes and no. It’s a good sad. A necessary sad. Emotion that connects me with humankind and strengthens every empathy bone in my body. Books like this are my way through. And I’m grateful beyond words for Greene’s vulnerable portrayal of loss and life after loss because it’s become an unexpected and beautiful pathway on my own road to healing.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Most Helpful Writing Advice



I’ve been hard at this novel writing gig for twelve years now. I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve written, not to mention how many I’ve started.

Ready for my wild and crazy two cents on how to improve your craft?

I can sum it up in one word because one word has been doing it for me for a dozen years.

Read.

Get your hands and eyes on as many books as possible. Glean an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Learn story. Read for pleasure. Read for instruction. Expose yourself to multiple genres and styles.

I’ve always thought it’s the coolest thing that every time I pick up a book I can call it research.
Even in these sleepless days of puppy raising, I’m finding time to read. It’s important to me and it’s an imperative practice for writers who want to improve.

A little bonus literary fun . . . the cover of the book I’m reading matches my reading glasses.


*In other news, I have my suspicions my puppy is fake-peeing when I take her out. She squats so I’ll lavish her with praise, but I think she’s mastering the art of faking me out.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Everything My Puppy Reveals about Me


I brought home another baby last week. After months of discussing it, we committed to becoming a family home with two dogs. Meet our puppy, Bear . . .
  


Going on little sleep and a lot of coffee, I’ve been thinking about the kind of influence Bear has had on me in the past eight days. In this puppy stage, she requires a great deal of work, however she’s a pure joy and worth every second I invest in her.

The following are a few reflections I’ve had as I take on the task of raising another puppy.

Bear has brought to light . . .

How I respond to inconveniences
Cleaning up accidents is not my idea of a relaxing summer task. It’s tedious, humbling, and no one ever feels like doing it. But I have a choice how I go about it. Complain with every squirt of Resolve or suck it up and just do it.

How well I function on little sleep
Ha! Let’s just say I’ve been freakishly forgetful lately. Naps are my best friend. I have to be mindful to keep my fogginess and my irritability in check. This is familiar ground. Babies put me through the same test.

My preferred method of teaching
I’m a researcher. My Google feed must have forty different puppy-type searches on it. I want to learn all I can, then adapt my style with what works. I’ve always believed in the philosophy there is no one way. For me there are forty ways squished into one workable, effective way that often adjusts in time.

How willing I am to admit when I’m wrong
I started off following an old school method of raising a pup, only to do a little fact-finding and quickly shift my application. I was wrong. I didn’t like the first way. So I changed.

My ability to trust a little one to learn—to let go of perfection and control
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself she’ll get it over the past week. She will though. I wouldn’t expect a baby to act like a young child. Growing up is hard work. It’s my job to guide Bear through that in a safe and loving environment. That’s the fun part, really—watching her get it and releasing control.

How well I’m able to step back and allow others to work out conflict resolution
We knew this transition could be interesting because we threw two dogs in the mix. They need time to figure out where they stand. There’ve been some dicey moments. 


Then again, there are times we catch them chilling out together like this . . .
  


Most of all Bear has shown me how much love I still have left to give.

Monday, July 1, 2019

This Sign Is an Octopus


I recently wrapped up an intense round of edits and what do I feel like doing? What else . . . painting. After spending weeks completely absorbed in one of my books, I find I need a bit of a breather—another creative outlet. But then I have all this untapped energy and I have to put it somewhere. So yesterday I cleaned through our garage and found this sign I bought years ago.


When we first moved to California, I decided I wanted to decorate with a coastal theme. We’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from the beach so this sign grabbed my attention right away. However, something about the color felt “off” to me. It’s vibrant and I like that, but not quite right for the room I was considering hanging it in.

Then something strange happened. The sign told me it was an octopus, and that it too wasn’t in the mood to be coral-colored any longer. It gave me full permission to strike my wand and brush a new color over it.

Ta da . . .


I like octopus signs.

Happy 4th!

Demo Day

Remember the bunk bed in my youngest daughter’s room, the one that made it impossible for me to paint the entire room so I ended up pa...