Learning to Inhale


I spent this weekend working on my woodpile.

Chopping wood, gathering it from the forest behind my house. It was therapeutic. There is nothing better than a day spent wandering in the woods, collecting dead fall and chopping it up for one’s wood stove.

In other news, fall is here! And it has gotten cold.

I suppose at some point I will have to change my work wardrobe and wear something warmer than skirts and blouses, but just at this moment, it sounds like a lot of trouble to even try. So, I’m wearing a coat.

Besides, it’s not that cold yet. Only in the mornings. When I leave for work. And in the evenings. When I come back. It’ll be fine!

I badly needed this weekend. I needed time to inhale and breathe and fill up creatively after a week that did its level best to punch me in the face. Sick days, creative tasks that felt completely out of my depth and skill set, and so, so many people needing my attention turned it into a survival week.

I don’t like survival weeks. I like to thrive. I like to come home and write on my own projects, instead of coming home just to sleep, eat, and possibly interact with a few humans.

So, this Sunday, I took some time for myself. To inhale. I wandered through the woods, read an actual physical book, finished said physical book, and started another. I painted my toenails, used a sparkly green face mask, and generally did everything that I knew how to do to recharge creatively.

It was lovely.

The best part was making time to read an actual physical book. I am ashamed to admit this, but reading the books from my shelves has been a once a week kind of enjoyment lately. If that. I’ve read 88 books this year, and most of them have been audiobooks I borrowed from the library. A few more have been work-related, which still count, and a very, very small percentage have been the ones from my shelves. That I spent money on. And keep next to my bed, so that I’ll read them.

Isn’t that sad?

Ah well. The life of an adult human with responsibilities is a sad one.

Not really, but I do miss my books.

This weekend, I finished reading The BFG by Roald Dahl. It was lovely. Full of impossibilities and magic and fantastic imaginings. Just the sort of book I needed when I was finding it hard to imagine anything other than my bed. When I finished it, I started Anne of Green Gables. Because it is the first week of fall. And there is nothing better for a good fall read than Anne of Green Gables.

I dearly love that book.

In fact, since it is fall, I will be ferreting out several of my fall reads to enjoy in the next few months. The Wind in the Willows, for one. Also, A Wrinkle in Time. And quite possibly Sherlock Holmes.

Something cozy, that needs a good rainstorm or nippy day to get you in the right mood for it.

What do you do to inhale when you’re creatively spent? Tell me about it in the comments!

Eight Characteristics Of Serious Writers: Resilience


I’m going to tell you a secret today.

Not everyone is going to like what you write.

In fact, some people are going to hate it. They are going to leave a one-star review, write a nasty summary, and leave you a little shattered on your keyboard.

Hopefully, this will not happen often.

Since you probably already knew that, it’s not much of a secret, but as a writer, it’s an important thing to remember anyway. Critiques in the writing world are harsh, reviewers sometimes forget that the person on the other side of the pen has a heart and soul to wound, and agents are often times too busy for anything other than a brusque ‘no’. Sometimes even our closest friends and family becomes the sharpest critics, and people who should have been the ones to hold you up are the ones shooting you down.

It gets hurtful.

But, writer, your success does not depend on everyone loving your books. Your success depends on your ability to last through the criticism—to be resilient.

“The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity.”

~ Joshua Waitzkin

Resilience is one of the most important character traits for an author. You need it for those curt rejections, for the reviews that seem to come straight out of someone else’s bad day, and for the well-meaning comments from people in your life who will tell you to give up, because they’re concerned about you and don’t want you to fail as epically as you are obviously going to.


Writer, trust me in this. Now is the time to start working on your resilience, because if a ‘no’ is all it’s going to take to get you to turn from your path, you might as well pack up your typewriter right now. Your path will be paved with ‘no’s. Everyone will try to tell you ‘no’ . . . and I do mean everyone.

But all you need is one ‘yes’. So long as you are still around to greet it when it arrives.

Tips to Cultivate Resilience.

1. Don’t wallow in the negative. One hurtful comment shouldn’t linger for weeks. Take a deep breath, let it sting for that moment, and then move on. It’s only too easy to let things like that live on repeat in your brain, but it shouldn’t. Choosing your thoughts is a vital part of mental health, and choosing not to dwell only on the negative is definitely a vital part of writing. When it pops into your head again, replace it with something else. Guard your mind fiercely, because it is from this your stories flow.

2. Find the positive and learn from the negative. You’re not infallible. None of us are. Sometimes rejections, harsh reviews, or sharp comments have a grain of truth to them. If you want to grow as a writer, you need to learn to take criticism—and learn from it. Don’t dwell on nasty words, but don’t toss them aside as ‘irrelevant’ or ‘ignorant’ opinions. Take a few minutes to decide if there is truth in the negative and grow from it. Then set it aside and find a positive—whether from someone else or from yourself. I hate to tell you this, but most of your encouragement as a writer is going to come from yourself. It’s your job to keep those stories alive. No one else’s.

3. Don’t engage. I wish I could tell you this a thousand times. With a megaphone. The worst thing you can do for your career and yourself is to snap back at reviewers or cranky agents with a smart remark or, heaven forbid, a long dissertation about why they’re wrong and you’re right. It looks bad, especially online, it’s unprofessional, and it will never, never help. Also, it can damage your chances with someone else. So take a deep breath and let it go. Scream into your pillow if you need to, but do not respond.

4. Pick yourself up and keep walking. A writer is more than one negative review. They are more than one rejected pitch. They are more than the bad feedback. Keep going, dearest writer. You have so much more ahead of you than a single story. You will get rejected a thousand times, and you will have fans that write to tell you that you got them through their dark night of the soul. Keep writing, because it means something and it matters. One ‘no’ can’t stop you—not if you don’t let it.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

Baby Groot’s Growth Spurt

So much is happening just now that I’m not even sure what to write about today.

My brother is married. We celebrated last night.

I’m apparently learning how to write songs. My job is unpredictable.

It’s cold this morning. I need a jacket.

My book is in the final stages of preparation. It will be hitting Amazon so, so soon. Like, in the next couple of weeks.

Since there is so much going on, things I can talk about and things I can’t, I am going to talk about something completely unrelated to anything else that is currently happening in my life. Which is . . .

Baby Groot had a growth spurt!

Isn’t he cute?

He’s nearly two years old now, and growing so fast I can hardly believe it. Since I now have three trees growing inside my house, I am currently trying to decide whether or not to collect more acorns this fall.

I mean, a girl can only have so many trees growing in her house before people begin to question her sanity.

Maybe I’ll just bring one home. I’ve changed workplaces since last year around this time, and while the trees aren’t quite the same outside, I have managed to find several different types of oaks that have very promising acorns. They’re not ready yet, but I’ve got my eye on them. It can’t be too much longer.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, this is my hobby. I grow trees.

It’s a little weird, I agree.

Especially since they grow SO SLOWLY. Baby Groot isn’t even two feet tall yet. It’ll be at least another five years before he’s big enough to plant outside.

But, when he is, we’ll have oak trees growing on our property. Which will be all kinds of fun, right? And I’m used to long term projects and waiting for seemingly static pieces of my life to move forward.

After all, I’m a writer. It’s what we do.

Drop a hello for Baby Groot, and tell me what you’ve been up to this week! I’d love to hear from you!

Eight Characteristics Of Serious Writers: Enthusiasm


I still get excited about my writing.

After seven years on the same set of books, that sounds crazy doesn’t it? Don’t the characters get stale? Doesn’t the world get boring?

Actually . . . they do.


I have days when I’m not excited about what I’m writing. We all do. In fact, I have weeks when I’m not excited about what I’m writing, especially when it comes to the last rounds of revisions and editing. Once I’ve written a chapter eight different times and it still isn’t right, I start to get a little irritated with it.

But for the most part, I love my stories. I think they’re worth all the frustration I’ve spent on them, all the years I’ve devoted to their creation. And . . . I honestly just like the story. I like the characters. I am endlessly enthusiastic about writing them because I want to read what happens. And that fuels my writing more than any dream of getting published I can come up with.

But I learned a long time ago that enthusiasm wouldn’t write the pages for me unless I paired it with discipline.

“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm . . . in the real world all rests on perseverance.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

It’s great to be enthusiastic about your stories. I highly recommend it, in fact. That love is going to shine through in your writing and eventually in your pitching. Your readers will be able to tell if you love a character, story, or even a setting. Or if you don’t care about them.

But sometimes I think we as writers—and as humans—don’t realize that enthusiasm doesn’t last without a little help. It’s easy to be enthusiastic about a new idea—for about two weeks. Maybe even a month, if you’re determined. But to be enthusiastic about a story for seven years—that’s a little harder. But if you continue to foster that attitude of enthusiasm for a project long after everyone else would have given up on it, you may just find yourself far ahead of those authors who refuse to stick to one idea for more than a year or two.

Tips to Cultivate Enthusiasm.

1. Think of enthusiasm less as something you feel—and more as something you choose. Feelings fade. They are fickle, flighty things that pop up at the most inopportune times and vanish just when you need them most. If you are a writer who writes only when you feel like it, you will probably never finish a book. So choose to be enthusiastic. Choose to love your characters when you don’t like them, and appreciate your story when you would much rather hate it. Give it love when you don’t feel like it, and the feelings will follow.

2. Prioritize. Give your writing time precedence. Value it. Make it special with tea, a writing companion, or a well-worn ritual. Know when your best writing time is and take advantage of it. Start with a hundred words, or two hundred. Once you’ve started, it’s much easier to keep going—and to remember why you loved this story in the first place.

3. Spiral journal. I got this idea from one of the loveliest author/speakers in the industry. (Hi, Nancy!) Sit down with your journal, ask your character a question, and give them two minutes to answer while you scribble frantically to get down what they say. Then choose a sentence you’ve written that you want to dig deeper into, write it down, and set your timer again. Have your character talk a bit more about that. And so on and so forth. Believe me. It’s brilliant. Nancy taught us this technique at the last writing conference I went to, and it built my sixth book from the ground up. I was so very grateful.

4. In the end, worry less about being enthusiastic and more about being committed. I’m afraid this is what it comes down to, O writer. It’s lovely to be enthusiastic about your story. It helps a great deal and pours a lot of love onto the pages. But in the end, what really matters is that you are committed. That you are going to show up, even when you’d rather not, and write the next page when you’d rather trash the whole thing. A writer who can do that will conquer any story they touch.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

New BOOK Coming Soon!

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“In the fall of the year, when the leaves were blushing red in the sunshine and the trees were yawning and stretching and shaking loose from the apples and acorns and chestnuts they had been carrying all summer, I left my cottage and walked the seven miles to Witherly, a little village on the edge of the forest . . .”

The last few weeks, I have been scrambling to get the manuscript for ‘Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons’ prepared and the cover finalized for a fall release. Now that I work full-time and have a lot less time on my hands than I used to, it’s a little more difficult. It’s meant emailing my cover artist while I wait on the microwave at lunch hour, and using my Sunday night to flash through the edits from my editor.

But, things are moving along!

The manuscript is ready, I have a COVER (!!!!), and thanks to my wonderful sister, the illustrations are all finished as well.

Things are moving forward!

I’m so excited to share this book with you. Fall is my favorite time of year, and fairytales are some of my absolute favorite writing projects. I love the whimsical quality, I love the imagery, and I love the lightheartedness. The stories are my own personal kind of escape when I’ve got too much work to do and not enough time, and I love that I get to share them with you! I’ve heard so many stories from people who have read them with their kids or enjoyed them for themselves at times when they needed a break from life’s craziness, and I love that we get to connect over these small stories.

The book is due for a fall release sometime in October—or possibly November. I don’t have a date yet, because there’s still a lot of work to be done and I work full-time, ya’ll. Also, I have a super special trip coming up at the end of October, which I can’t tell you about quite yet. But I’ll post pictures when it happens!

I’m so thankful for all of you, and I can’t wait to share this book with you. I’ll let you know dates as soon as I have them!

Eight Characteristics Of Serious Writers: Tenacity


One of the questions that I get way too often in my life is, “How are your books coming?”

It’s understandable, actually. People know I’m working on a book series. They know I’ve been working on it for a long time—seven years, in fact. And most people aren’t aware of how slow the publishing industry really is or how long it takes to write a book.

For those of you who don’t know—it takes years. And I do mean years.

Seven years is a long time. But, no, I am not published yet. I will probably not be published for a while yet. I am only just now starting to be paid for the craft that I have spent so long honing and learning, and guess what?

I’m still learning.

Really. I spent seven years working my butt off, practicing, studying, and correcting my mistakes, just to become an apprentice. And you know what?

It was worth every single second. Really. I love my job, I love that I get paid to hone my craft and practice my passion, and I love that I get to learn from people who are as close to mastering their craft as most people get.

But in all those seven years, I didn’t know it would end up like this. I didn’t know if I would ever get published, or ever make enough money to support myself, or ever have anyone care that I was a writer and had something to offer.

But I wrote anyway.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

~ Mary Ann Radmacher

Tenacity is one of the most important traits of any writer who intends to see their work sitting on a shelf. I cannot begin to count the many times that I wanted to give up in the last few years. How many times I worried that I should have come up with a backup plan when I first started this crazy venture. I worked as a nanny for seven years, and I was terrified that I would end up doing that for the rest of my life.

I didn’t. But I sure wondered a few times.

The point is, if you give up, drop your dream when it gets hard and move on to something else, you will never see how amazing your life could have been. And your books will never, no matter how much you love them, see the light of day.

Tips to Cultivate Tenacity.

1. Spend less time worrying about the end result and more time enjoying the process. The times I was the most afraid for myself and my future were always the times I spent way, way too much time obsessing about when things were going to happen. I wanted answers, I wanted a plan, I wanted a solid time of when my life was going to come together and I was going to be able to sustain my writing without a supplementary job. It never helped and always, always stole my joy. The best moments were when I let the future stay where it was—out of sight—and focused on the task in front of me. Those moments brought me where I am today.

2. Finish the projects you start. Commit to them. A book you never finish is a book that will never get published, and although you may learn a great deal from it, you’ll also set a habit by abandoning it and moving on to something else when you get bored, stuck, or simply have another idea. Giving up is a habit. So is typing ‘The End’. Choose your habits.

3. When you have a brilliant new idea, jot it down in a notebook and leave it there. Let it sit. Let it simmer in the back of your mind, turning over, getting the time it needs to develop. A brand new idea is not a book. It’s not even a story yet. It needs time, and your current WIP needs time too. So let it sit, just for now, and come back later.

4. Set goals and celebrate milestones. What do you want from your writing? Do you know? What do you, as a writer, want to accomplish this year, or this month, or simply just today? Write it down. Have a to-do list, and celebrate when you mark things off. And when you type ‘The End’? Open a bottle of something sparkly and make a night of it. If you don’t celebrate your milestones, it’s far, far too easy to let yourself think that there hasn’t been any.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

Life Is A Journey


Having a life outside of work is really, really hard when work is your life.

I am discovering this.

My whole aim in the last seven years has been to get my writing off the ground. I applied only for jobs that would give me time to write, avoided dating relationships because they took up too much of my time, and basically scheduled my life around ‘writing time’.

Now, I have a job as a scriptwriter. And I write all the time, every day.

This was the goal.

It was definitely, definitely the goal, and I am so, so excited to get paid to write instead of working dead-end jobs with strange hours to support my dream.

But working as a scriptwriter means that my entire life, from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I fall into bed, revolves around words and story structure and character motivation and how many words I can pump out before my eyes cross. Because, of course, my own writing is still important to me. My books aren’t published yet, and some of them have yet to be finished. This blog, too, is still one of my passions—mostly because I love ya’ll—and it takes a lot of work to keep it moving.

So I am learning to find a balance between my dreams, my wonderful, challenging, brilliant job, and actually having a life that doesn’t revolve around words and how many times I can spell ‘definitely’ before it starts looking wonky.

Spoiler: it’s not very many times.

Weekend adventures are great—when I can resist the temptation to forgo them in favor of slamming out 2000 words on my current project. Because, yes, as much as I write now, I still very much love to write. Doing it on a schedule hasn’t dulled that love.

I’ve been looking at several ‘hobby’ projects to work on lately. Something to give me a feeling that life isn’t all about my word count. My sister and I have begun a habit of reading a book together in the evenings. We’re working through Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke right now. It’s one of my favorites.

Another possibility that I’ve been thinking about is diction classes, either online or actually in person, which would be terrifying. I’ve thought about doing a podcast for this blog for a long time, and one of my dreams is to—eventually, in the very distant future—teach writing techniques at conferences and workshops. Which is proof that your dreams for the future do not have to match up with your skills at the present, as long as you are willing to learn.

(That dream is a secret, by the way. Don’t tell.)

But, for both of those activities, I would need to be able to speak as well as I can write, which, unfortunately, is not a reality right now. Something to think about, eh?

Any advice on how to find a hobby that gives me a little relief from word counts? I’d love to hear about it!

Eight Characteristics Of Serious Writers: Empathy


When I was a teenager, I read a book with a main character that didn’t react emotionally to anything.

His mentor died. His family died. Everything he had was torn away from him, and he was left running for his life from people who wanted desperately to either kill him or shove him into prison for forever and a day and not let him out again.

And he never reacted in a believable way. (I won’t tell you which book, because I’m not trying to bash the author or the story, which was quite good despite this flaw.)

He didn’t cry, he didn’t feel sad, he didn’t do anything. He barely got angry.

It made him almost impossible to like.

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes.”

~ Daniel H. Pink

I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I can’t empathize with a character or care about him in the slightest, I drop the book. I don’t read another page. I don’t have any interest in characters who are cut out of cardboard and flung into the fray to be chased down and killed. Sure, that’s traumatizing. But if I don’t like him to begin with, there is no way I’m going to stumble through fire and death in his wake.

I have to come because I care about him. I have to love him. And believe me, it’s hard to love a character that doesn’t act in a believable way.

Tips to Cultivate Empathy.

1. When you are writing the massive chase scene, the heroic death, or the meaningful moment . . . pause. Take time to go a little deeper into the scene, to get into the character’s head. Yes, he’s sad. So, how does that feel physically? Mentally? Believe me, there’s more to crying than tears and there’s more to grief than sobbing on the ground for ten minutes, then moving on with your day.

2. Research. Seriously. The five stages of grief. PTSD. Survivor’s guilt. Phantom pains. Something. When traumatic things happen in your book, either a death or an injury or even just a breakup with a middle school crush, there is a response. It’s your job as the author to research and know just what that response should be—and how to manifest that in your character.

3. Remember it. Grief lasts longer than a chapter. If your character’s father dies, and he never notices, feels sad, or thinks about it again after the chapter it happened in . . . he’s going to look like a jerk, and you’re going to look like the kind of author who kills characters because you want the shock value or because the character became inconvenient. Not good.

4. Look for the change. Deep emotional experiences—deaths, near-death experiences, romantic attachments—cause a good deal of change in a character. They change the way the character perceives the world, himself, and the people around him. If a significant event in your story is not changing your character, it may be time to step back and question why. The point of a story is to take your character from A to B . . . not to throw a series of calamities at him, have him dodge them all with ease, then go home and get back to his normal life.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.


It’s Monday, and I am not going to work today.

How strange is that? I woke up, and my brain immediately started going over the tasks I had to finish at the office before the workweek was over and all the things I needed to plan on getting done today.

Then I realized I wasn’t going into the office at all and had a small identity crisis.

But I’m all better now!

Since I had extra time this weekend, I decided to spend as much of it as I could on projects that needed my attention. On Saturday, my sister and I drove to Denver and went to IKEA in search of the perfect desk for our home office. She works at home on her art, and I have to write somewhere when I come home at night. Our old kitchen table had been a part of our home for two years, and every day for two years I dreamed of putting an ax through it.

The thing was ancient. And ugly. And rickety.

So, we sped off to IKEA to buy the desk I’d had my eye on for about a year.

Spoiler alert: we didn’t buy the desk.

This is how I shop, guys. It’s terrible. We even had the desk in our shopping cart and were ready to go through the line and pay for it.

Then I decided to check the ‘As Is’ section and found a beautiful, tiny little wood table and four chairs for fifty dollars less than we were going to pay for just the desk. And I caved.

So now we have another dining room table.

And I love it.

For one thing, it’s wood. Not plastic with wood patterns painted on it. (Who does that?) For another thing, it’s just the right size for my tiny little house. Now I have a place to sit in the evenings, room to work with my sister, and a little home office that doubles as a dining room.

When your house is 400 square feet, a lot of things get doubled up. My living room and my kitchen, for example. And my bedroom and library.

So now, I have a home office again. One that I actually like. This last week, I finished writing the first draft of the tenth book I’ve written in seven years. So I decided we had to celebrate with something special. A new writing area, some bamboo shoots for my office in town. A bit of decluttering. Now I have a whole new house!

Sort of.

What are you up to this Labor Day weekend? Tell me about it in the comments!