Friday, March 16, 2018

Our 127 Hours were a little Different

Our journey to a sparkling clean pool began on Thursday March 8, 2018 at approximately 6 in the evening. As I type this sentence, our journey comes to a close, on Wednesday March 14, 2018 at approximately 3 in the afternoon.

Six days at twenty-four hours a day is 144 hours.

Back out the three hours today (shy of twenty-four), six random hours (turned off for showers and laundry), eight hours last night (turned off to avoid overflow), and eight hours on Saturday night.

That one was due to fear. But I’ll get back to that in a minute (in the pictures).

We paused on suck and/or flow for a total of twenty-five hours. Meaning, this watery experience lasted us just under five full days of commitment to liquid. Or, 119 hours.

And, may I just say, I’m glad we only have to do this activity every five or so years.

It all started on the day we moved into the house, just shy of six years ago. Our house was a short sale and, sadly, the gal who owned it before we got here wasn’t in the best financial shape. So the pool was an interesting shade of greenish from day one.

We cleaned it up, shocked the water, got all the chemicals balanced, brushed religiously, replaced the burned out pump, changed the filter sand, did all the things a person needs to do to keep their pool in proper working order.

Why, many of you might be asking, would we want to deal with all of that maintenance?

Uh, have you seen the temperatures in Phoenix? We try to swim as much as possible from April to October. It’s the one thing neither of us would compromise on when buying a house. And we sacrifice on other things to make sure we can afford to have that place of respite.

That is, until a couple years ago. No matter what we seemed to add, subtract, or do to the pool, Matt just couldn’t get the chemical balance to maintain.

Ph too high. Too low. Chlorine off the charts. Something green this way grows.

It sucked, but we had other priorities for projects to complete inside anyway. So, we did the best we could to keep it not green, but swimming wasn’t as high a priority.

Matt started tossing out the phrase “our water has gone bad.” Then everyone seemed to agree, “bad water” is in fact a thing.

That, here in the desert, we have to “change” our water every few years. Chemicals don’t do the job anymore. You know, because of the dissolved solids.

Dissolved solids? That’s a freaking oxymoron.

Needless to say, I was skeptical.

I argued, if water evaporates and we then refill the pool a few inches at a time won’t the new water eventually entirely replace the “bad water” that floated off into the ether?

In short, yes. But it still doesn’t matter. Because of those dissolved solids.

See, we have extraordinarily hard water here in Arizona. That water, even filtered contains a whole bunch of crap like calcium, magnesium, salt, and other stuff that sort of dissolves. The thing about those solids though, they never evaporate.

They’re heavier than water so they stick around after the water is gone.

So, for example, after a snowstorm, rock salt might be used to melt the remaining snow and ice after shoveling or plowing. That stuff will leave a ring of salt once the water dries up. Now, picture that ring in a 23,000 gallon pool with water that has probably evaporated and been replaced for at least ten years. Likely more.

All that sediment attaches to the pebble walls and even the best vacuum in the world won’t make a difference. The filter only traps so much. And those particles are nano.


Dissolved solids.

Oxy. Moron.

Me, I’m the moron. In case that wasn’t clear.

Because, Matt had been trying to tell me why we needed to drain, clean, and refill the pool with fresh water for about three years.

But I’m cheap and didn’t want to spend the money to drain and refill.

But he’s not a magician and was pretty sick of trying to keep unbalanceable pool chemicals balanced.

Hence, the 119 hours.

Now, I feel like the pictures tell the whole story better than I really can, but I need to preface that portion with a disclaimer. No. This did not happen in one day despite the fact Matt is wearing the same clothes in every picture. Which I mentioned on the final day and chuckled.

His exact response was, “It’s a work outfit.”

And work he did.

The only part I didn’t capture on film was trying to replace the underwater light (which still doesn’t work unfortunately) because that took both of our strength. Mine, physical and with two hands. Matt’s, physical as well as the last shred of his mental concentration for this project.

Light got installed and the filling began.

Here’s my photos. Enjoy. Because we will not do this again anytime soon. If we can help it.

This all started back in January with the rebuilding of the equipment surround.

Matt hard at work leveling the new post.

Last board goes up.

Posts cut to length. I designed, we shopped, Matt installed. Go team!

It begins...6:15PM Thursday

Friday morning around 8AM. Keep in mind how little it drained overnight.

Noon...light almost exposed.

Friday around 6PM...24 hours in and the light is finally free. Also, note how little drained in 10 hours.

Right before bed and we can finally stand in the empty shallow end. Yea!
Hmm, seeing as how little drained we should turn it off overnight, right?
It'll DEFINITELY finish in a few hours tomorrow morning. Right?

Saturday around 3PM. Oh Phoenix, you and your rain. You thought you'd kill our spirit. Ha!

Saturday around 11PM...finally done.
About 16 hours after we turned the pump back on in the morning.
Gee, good thing we turned it off overnight.
All joking aside, timing worked out perfectly for cleaning Sunday.

Sunday just before lunch...first time my feet have ever touched the bottom of the deep end!

Getting going on power washing after lunch.

Final step. (Sadly, it popped the breaker after refilling so we shut it off to figure out another time.)

Sunday 6PM...Shons, start your refill!

First dissolved-solid-lite water!

8AM Mon...overnight success!

Noon Monday...Look at that water color! So Psyched!

Tuesday around 9PM...Shutting down for the night.

Wednesday about 3:05...done!

I mean, look at that WATER COLOR!
All we need now are fruity drinks and about 20 degrees warmer water.
Matt was right all along. And I'm woman enough to admit that.

Come back in a couple weeks to see what I worked on inside while Matt took our pool game to a whole new level.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Defending an Entertainer’s Right to run their Mouth

This past weekend we tucked into the sofa with dinner and Oscar. It’s my favorite time of year, awards season!

Only, something seems different now. When I was younger, awards shows were the thing to watch. To talk about at work the next day. To obsess over for weeks leading up to the air date. Salivating to see what the ladies would wear, who would win best picture or album of the year.

And then, there seemed to be a collective flip of the switch in the eyes of the public.

Suddenly it wasn’t cool to care about movie, pop stars, athletes anymore. Winning an award or trophy just proved the person in question had sold out. Got too big for their britches or something. Commercial success and celebrity weren’t revered. Weren’t something to strive toward. They were put on blast. As were the things said star vocalized when they won said award.

Don’t forget to thank the voting body. Ugh, his stupid speech went on forever. Please, she didn’t deserve that award. Just shut up and dance for us, monkey. Throw the ball. Pretend to be in love for the camera.

Oh, but don’t do it like that.

It’s even worse if the star in question happened to use their acceptance speech as a way to further a message. Any message. Be perfect. Be what everyone wants or doesn’t want you to be.

Just don’t do it like that.

At some point the collective decided that entertainers weren’t people with thoughts, feelings, a life outside of their job. That it was okay for the rest of us to have opinions, support causes, speak out about or against anything we want, but the moment a star did the same they were an overpaid moron who should keep their mouths shut unless they were delivering lines.

Um, I get it that stars make the big bucks but there are plenty of professions that produce a host of rich, visible people and I don’t see daily flogging of them for speaking their mind, supporting a charity, whatever. Using their platform to reach a wide audience.

So I can’t help but ask, why do we marginalize awards shows and the people involved?

I’m seriously asking that question because I’m an entertainer of a sort and as of yet I haven’t been told by a random stranger on the internet to keep my fat mouth shut because of my personal opinion that they don’t agree with. Operative word, yet.

But, then, I’m basically a nobody so I’m still entitled to an opinion. Right? Isn’t that the only way to know you have really arrived these days anyway? When the world clamors to be involved in everything you do but rejects everything you say?

As far as I’m concerned, entertainment is the thing that keeps us enjoying a tiny speck of sanity in a world filled with chaos. Escape. That’s why I listen to music, watch movies, sports. Why I write fiction. So maybe someone out there who feels like me can get a minute or two of diversion from the cruel reality by reading something I wrote.

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to say things other than what my work is about. Does it?

True, like I said, I’m not a big known entertainer so I guess I can’t really speak to what that means. But I know for 100% fact that, no matter how widely my name is known (or not), I will never please all the people. I won’t intentionally belittle anyone, marginalize anyone, but there’s no doubt someone out there could take offense to something I believe when I say/write it out loud.

And then that’s where the public will focus their flame thrower.

Belittling. Begrudging. Judging. Trying to take away my voice.

Movie stars are people, CEOs are people, athletes are people, artists are people. And this country affords all of us equal opportunity to speak our minds. Some people hate that other people have a voice so they use their own to tear the first person down. Aren't we all entitled to a moment of escape?

I believe the answer is yes. I better. Otherwise, I picked the wrong career.

I have aspirations to reach a larger audience with my work, and fully support other weirdos like me who strive for the same thing. Which is why I love watching awards shows, whether for sports, music, movies. Those people worked their fricking asses off to reach that level. And I don’t see anything wrong with them having an opinion in addition to a trophy.

Seriously, who cares? I don’t agree with everything a celebrity type says, align with all of their messages, but definitely don’t begrudge them using their voice.

Their voice.

The one thing they stayed true to that got them to where they are is the very thing we seem to crucify them for having once they get there.

Well, I don’t care what the public at large has to say about awards shows. I’ll watch and be super excited about all of the outfits, performances, displays of personal opinions because I refuse to be an entertainer who tears down other entertainers just because they reached a higher level of success than me.

And, if I get what I really dream of, one day I might even join some of them, walking in a fancy dress on a red carpet. Of course, I’m only a writer. It’s unlikely anyone will even notice me on that carpet. Nobody talks about writers.


• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Fall Back

Another Friday, another week that flew by way too fast. Right now, I’m standing in the office in the middle of the day, trying to come up with something creative to write about. Again.

Actually, most of my creative pursuits have felt stagnant for the entire beginning to this year. It isn’t just about this blog. Books, articles, press, are all feeling forced.

I don’t get it really. Coming off the three-book and NaNoWriMo wins of 2017, I looked forward to making 2018 my bitch, too.

But I’m soooooooooooo feeling like an angsty teen.

I don’t wanna. Pout.

Then the adult inside says I better get with the program because words don’t write themselves.

So, instead of stressing and rambling on like this for 800 words, I’m giving myself a mini-pass this week. I’ll get a blog out of a meme I saw floating around Facebook a few months ago.

This is what I do here. Sometimes you get deep, dark, light, breezy, life, career updates that I spend two days writing, sourcing images for, and editing. Crafted, creative non-fiction that reads like I wrote it in two minutes.

Sometimes you get a meme I copied and pasted into a notepad on my phone knowing I’d have at least one week this year I just wasn’t feeling a blog. (Despite my commitment to write every week, I know me way better than that.)

See? I’m so damn proactive I even plan for my desire for a total lack of adulting.

Without further ado…

1. Do you make your bed every day?
I make my bed, max, once a month. Matt usually makes it even though he’s not the one home all day.

2. What's your favorite number?
11 (No, this is not because of Stranger Things, I have loved the number since I was at least 11 years old.)

3. What is your job title?
Collector of information from the world at large, or, 10 times published author.

4. If you could, would you go back to school?
Tried college 3 times already, still haven’t finished, don’t plan to, so, no. And, if they mean any school year prior to college, then that’s a hell no. I'm not Billy Madison.

5. Can you parallel park?
When I worked in Somerville/Cambridge the city required us to move our cars every 2 hours or get a ticket. I had to parallel park for 2+ years, 5 days a week, at least 4 times a day. I can parallel park in my sleep.

6. Name a job you had which people would be shocked to know you had.
Back up dancer for JLo. It isn't true, but I bet some of you were shocked!

7. Do you think aliens exist?
Of course otherwise the universe is just a sad joke.

8. Can you drive a stick shift?
No. Let's just leave it at that.

9. Guilty pleasure?
None. Because I don't feel guilty about the things I like. Loud and proud baby!

10. Favorite childhood game?
Pushing the boundaries of my family's patience.

11. Do you talk to yourself?
All the time, I work alone at home I mean...

12. Do you like doing puzzles?
No. Word, piece, or otherwise I'm not a fan.

13. Favorite music?
Yes. All of it. Generally something with lyrics but I pretty much love all styles. Though my true love is rock.

14. Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning. Tea usually only when I’m sick.

15. First thing you remember you wanted to be when you grew up?
The person who drives the street sweeper. Seriously. I thought that looked like the coolest job in the world.

16. Favorite Season?
Summer. But ask me again in August.

17. Truck or Car?
I have a small, square car but I have always wanted a big, bad-ass, black truck with chrome roll-bars, lights, and tinted windows. #environmentaldisaster

18. Steak or salad?
Yes, and can I get a bowl of blue cheese on the side?

19. Cat or dog?
No. Too much responsibility. I can barely manage to write a blog post every Friday. No chance I could handle the needs of another living thing.

20. The most influential person from your childhood?
My Creative Writing teacher, senior year of high school, who first insisted I publish something I'd written.

21. Crafty or all thumbs?
Depends on the day and the craft in question.

22. Biggest fear?
Becoming rich and famous. The good news is, I hear the best way to overcome your fears is to face them...

23. Pessimist or optimist?
Depends on the day and the situation. I like to look for silver linings but sometimes shit is just fucked.

24. Favorite Holiday?
My birthday. What? You didn’t say it had to be a national/international holiday.

25. Mountains or Ocean?
Ocean. The fact I'm not there right now (read: All. The. Time.) makes me sad.

26. People person?
Studying them for future character development, yes. Interacting with them in the larger sense, usually no. There are people I love and cherish and I actually enjoy meeting new people. But “people” are the ones taking the Tide Pod and hot coil challenge too so take that for what it’s worth.

27. White, Milk or Dark chocolate?
The darker the better.

28. Do you like to cook?
Ah hahahaha! I like to eat but loathe cooking.

29. Night owl or morning person?
Ugh, my natural clock leans toward night but I've been conditioned to a corporate clock over the years. Still, never a morning person. See question 14 for how I get around this.

30. Flannel sheets in winter?
Flannel, no. Too static-y. T-shirt material, yes. All year.

Hey, if nothing else, at least the thing was fun. For me, anyway.

And I promise I’ll be back next week with something of a little more substance.

Or not. Writers are weird like that.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Trying New Things

I wish I could tell you the new things were related to current work.

That I flew off to an exotic location to do a book signing because they just had to have me. Or how I singlehandedly wrote the next book in my series in a surge of inspired greatness overnight. Then again, it could be The Coast on the phone with the details of the option to turn my book into a movie.

But, none of those things are true. At least, not yet.

The new things I’m talking about are all pretty much makeup products.

And here’s where I lose most everyone…


Okay, now that there are only a few of us left, let’s talk about the pretty colors and tropical smelling goodness!


But first, some backstory for those who are new here.

Quite a while ago, my sister got back into makeup. She got me interested in trying a bit of war paint again after many years of giving the thumbs-down to most all makeup. You can read all about that story here.

Then I found the whole industry so fascinating (wait, I can buy organic skin care, products that are good for my skin, and they have shades complimentary to translucent people now?) I wrote a book, with a main character striving to become a freelance makeup artist, called Makeup Your Mind.

And I figured that would be that. My interest in makeup would basically fade away and I’d be left with a few nice things to use until two years (ahem, five years, ahem) past their expiration date like usual (don’t judge me, I’m not a beauty guru).

However, that’s not what happened at all.

In fact, now that I’ve discovered there actually are products that work with my skin tone, skin type, to enhance what I already have, I’ve become even more interested.

If I were a beauty guru, this is the time I’d say either, I’m shook, or, I’m obsessed.

Are they still saying that? Probably not. Anyway…

Just call me a consumerist and call it a day. Yup. I’m brainwashed. Hooked. Whatever.

I’m still not a full glam, false eyelashes kind of girl and the likelihood that level of makeup will happen in my life is slim to not-a-fucking-chance (glue near my eyes? Uh, no thanks).

But a light wash of colorful prettiness that makes my cheekbones and eyes stand out, as opposed to my jowls and age spots? Uh, sign me up!

And over the past few weeks I’ve found three holy grail things I don’t want to live without.

Here they are.

Yes, technically this Pacifica palate is a 4-in-1 product but that could be why I love it so much.

Here’s why I love them all. And, no, this blog isn’t sponsored or whatever those YouTubers always have to disclaim. I’m not an affiliate and I don’t make money if you decide to purchase these items.

(Unless you go buy Makeup Your Mind <-- shameless self-promo, but I digress)

Eyeshadow was one of those things I basically stopped using because I have loose old-lady skin on my lids now and by four hours after application the creasing and wearing was so bad it was easier not to deal at all. But I’ve secretly always loved doing really dramatic stuff with my eyes to make the blue-green color pop. And I missed that.

So when my sister gave me a NYX shadow primer that didn’t work for her I tried it. Um, can someone say game changer? If I apply and immediately set with a powder I can get a full ten hours out of my eyeshadow now and it Will. Not. Budge!

Thanks sister!

Then there’s the Palate from Pacifica. Swoon!

So I’m an Ipsy subscriber and they often partner with Pacifica. In my first year with Ipsy I got two things from the brand in question. First, a duo with blush and bronzer. Then a five shadow mini palate. When I say I hit pan on all but the gold shadow I’m not exaggerating.

It was like the skies opened and heaven sent down these items just for me. Designed for a more natural look, the colors were perfect for me. Buildable but pigmented. All the things I wanted without the most chemical crap. Plus, they are planet and animal friendly.

Cruelty free? Check. Made with coconut oil and other skin benefiting ingredients? Check. Vegan? Check. They even have a recycling program when you hit pan and empty out a product.

Like I said, this post isn’t sponsored or affiliated, I just think they have a nice thing going. The BB cream, not for me (but it smells like vacation, like all of their products do), but look at this palate.

I mean, beautiful, right?

The blue shadow was new to me and it has a golden-green shift on the lid. So pretty. The highlights are cream and only one of them is a little too unicorn on my 44 year old face. Otherwise, I intend to use all of these up. And hopefully it will be available to re-order when I do!

Finally, the setting spray.

So, I bought this last summer to give it a try. Tried it and hated it. I felt shiny, not dewy. Kind of greasy. And I have super dry skin. Which is why I love it now. It too has coconut oil (though the full ingredients list isn’t all natural, it isn’t super sketchy either). And bathing in coconut oil still might not be enough to hydrate me in the winter in the desert.

I literally turn into a lizard at this time of year.

So, when my Wet ‘n Wild setting spray started to itch my face off I had the makeup epiphany.

It’s okay to be a little extra.

I really don’t like being high-maintenance. A little concealer under the eyes, mascara, mineral lipstick and out the door. That’s what I used to do. But Cherry Davis got me into learning more and now here I am.


A girl with two different setting sprays. One for each season in Phoenix. AKA: monsoon and plants-survive-because-all-the-moisture-is-wicked-out-of-humans.

The one with alcohol (I know, I know, but I’m cheap and it works and I only do my face like twice a week in the summer) works during the humid season and this Hard Candy one is like a dream come true for my face in the winter!

So there you have it. A girl once into makeup (in junior high/high school) went basically bare faced and has now come full circle back to trying out some enhancers.

And the real beauty of the thing is that, whether I love my look or hate it, I wash it all off at the end of the day.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Being a Snowflake for Better or Worse

What makes you unique? The ultimate question in life. And in marketing. Because it's not enough to be good anymore, no. Now, we either have to the BEST or WORST versions of ourselves 100% of the time.

Live up to those public expectations, amiright?

Blogs offering the perfect advice for a perfect life or career. YouTube videos one-upping each other on challenges of perfect stupidity. Filtered Instagrams to let everyone know we are a perfect, unique snowflake. Just like everyone else.


I literally can’t stand it. The way people act to get attention. The way it seems a person has to act just so they can sell – a book, movie, album, out, their soul. I hate that it’s come to this point in history where writers have to pretend just to make some sales.

Become extroverts. Be all bold and big. Film videos of ourselves doing whatever furthers our message, like we aren’t more comfortable behind the camera.

(Side note: Yes, I know some writers are all about connecting with people, or, by some miracle of chance and luck, the opposite of introverted, it’s just, the majority of my colleagues aren’t those people.)

Thing is, I'm not supposed to sit here on this blog and tell you how much I loathe the market. Because when it comes down to it I don’t expect to write a book then magically become this rich and famous person overnight without trying at all.

I’m not that implanted in my fantasy world.

What I despise is what seems to be the only way to get stuff seen for all the effort.

Or, rather, the way the market forces us to be either shiny, happy, or straight up disaster in order for anyone to pay attention to what we do. Especially considering I’ve decided to insert myself into the machine of the modern world of entertainment production.

It’s like that quote from Practical Magic:

You can’t practice witchcraft while you look down your nose at it.

I know. Really, I do. And, it obviously doesn’t help to lament the long lost days of writing a good book, landing an agent, publisher, and having a career sprout from the effort.

But I want to wax nostalgic about that life. Because I’m seriously struggling to fit into either of the definitions of greatness in this new one.

<Insert whiny inflection of a pouty teenager who coulda/woulda/shoulda, here>

I want to figure out how to get my stuff seen by a wider audience, but I refuse to become what I hate most just to do it. What do I mean? I mean the five minutes of fame bitch who nobody remembers in a year. But, damn, did she sure sell out everything during those five minutes!

I’m more about the slow burn.

Unfortunately, nobody else is these days which leaves me in a slight jam.

People care about people who seemingly have it all. They also care about train wrecks. But what about the rest of us?

The "good enough" people.

If you've been with me for a while over here you know I'm not exactly shiny happy. One of my blog tags is "yeah I guess I am moderately fucked up after all" for God's sake. But I'm not a train wreck of a person either, hence, the 'moderately' in 'moderately fucked up'. My life is somewhat together in many respects.

And I refuse to fake it either way. I refuse to act like I'm totally perfect or totally jacked just to gain an audience. Some days are great, some suck. That's life.

Which, admitting to, makes me the most average of humans. A girl who fits in just enough to get by. And that sucks as a person with a product to sell because, these days, you better be a hot mess or otherworldly (or both) for anyone to talk about you and your shit.

How can we sell if nobody buys because they don't know who we are? And that's when we come back to the hook.

The unique snowflake inside that makes us different. The thing that sells your work by not even selling at all. The mystical alleged thing these gurus of whatever-the-fuck seem to have in droves.

What is it, that thing that makes some people rise to the forefront, makes them an authority? Special.

It's something I've thought about, more than I should have to, over the past few years. Because my real profession is thinking about how to market my work 24/7/365. How to make it stand out as unique in a mountain of others.

And that's how we circle back to disdain for what drives the market. And my lack of a hook. AKA: my inability to stand out enough to sell in the market despite my constant banging on the door, unwavering dedication to doing this fucking job.

And, breathe.

Because, I write cute stories about average people.

I'm not a politically, controversially, socially motivated writer. The themes in my books all revolve around family, friends, lovers, and how those relationships help shape the main character's world.

I like stories about everyday people who face obstacles in love and career and, though they deal with challenges to get there, they usually get there in the end. I'm all about writing the metaphorical pretty pink bow.

HEA, bitch.

So, how is that supposed to stand out? When there's an ever rising tide of words out there about Mr. Perfect or Ms. Train Wreck. It's tough not to get discouraged, I can tell you that.

And, yet, I keep doing it. Writing. Releasing books. Publishing words for the world to read. Whether 5 or 5 million read them, those books are forever.

Maybe I'll never find the hook, land the whale so to speak.

Guess I'm just average. And that's good enough for me. Because I’ll never fake it just to get where I want to go.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Seven People at my Table

Someone once sang about one being the loneliest number. In theory, I get it. Nobody to talk to, and all that. But I can't believe that being 'one' means lonely or my days would get really depressing really fast.

I mean, I work alone. Monday through Friday, from about eight in the morning until five-ish at night, I rely on literally nobody but myself to do my job. That job? Actually creating people for a living.

Which, I’ve been known to point out to friends, means I’m never off the clock even when I say I am. Because it doesn’t matter if I’m alone, with one other person, or in a big group, there’s always inspiration for fiction floating in the air. Conversations. People watching. Even in my dreams.

Yeah, I know, fucked up right? When I think about it, I love that I get to do this but it is kind of weird. Characters, people, poof! Right out of thin air.

So, tonight I went to the monthly writer's meeting for Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and the presenter, Sarah McLean, led us in a writing exercise.

First, we spent about 5 minutes meditating (her profession is teaching meditation).

Can I be honest? I've never really taken to meditation. I've tried it, countless times, but I like my mind all cluttered like it is. And trying to de-clutter it just makes me feel anxious.

Again, I know, fucked up. You can probably guess how much I care.

The lights dimmed and she began guided suggestions.

I did try at the meeting. But thoughts kept coming at my head in rapid-fire succession. As always. A Five Finger Death Punch to my calm.

I paid attention to my breath, the candles, tried a few other tricks and techniques Sarah recommended. Sadly, no matter what I did, I couldn't turn it off. (Side note, it usually takes me an hour, or more, to fall asleep most nights.)

After the meditation and breathing, she gave us a writing prompt. Something we could use to guide our writing portion of the exercise.

Now that I can do!

Prompts are my favorite. Prompts were responsible for a lot of my early writing. Prompts got me started writing more serious fiction. Not to mention, my last 3 non-fiction titles, including 30 Chapters in 30 Days, were all about prompts.

When she said we only had 5 minutes to write, though, my first thought was, that's it? Why not twenty minutes? Of course, it was a dinner and presentation too, so we couldn't write all night. Damn it.

The lights came back up. She gave the prompt. I scribbled like mad.

After we finished she proposed we all choose a partner to read to and listen to.

Now, I don't mind reading out loud. And I've also done a similar raw reading thing in the past. Creative Writing class. Senior year of high school. So, admittedly, it's been a while, but doing it doesn't bother me. I just didn't feel like sharing what I wrote tonight.

Which worked out fine. I was odd gal out at the table. Literally. There were 7 of us and I was lucky 7.

Everyone paired off and I sat, listening to the chatter of white noise coming from half the room and then the other half of the room as each of the women across the six, full tables read what they wrote.

It was actually kind of cool, to hear everything and nothing at the same time.

The white noise was more comforting than the silence had been earlier in the night. So, instead of listening/reading to another gal, I went inside those chaos thoughts and I focused on my characters. I thought about my WiP and the next scene. One I was struggling to figure out.

Before I left for the meeting, I wrapped work early because I was a little stuck. On the way over I tried to piece things together. Nothing seemed right. Too cliché. Too disconnected. Wrong direction for supporting characters.

But, in the midst of the inaudible chatter, it hit me. The right direction. The next scene.

I came home, smiling, and decided to write this post tonight (Wednesday), instead of when I usually write/schedule (Thursdays), so I'd have all day to work on the next scene instead.

Maybe it was the meditation. The full, super, blood moon. Maybe it was me giving in to the noise in my brain. Or perhaps it was due to me being one, alone, while in a room full of people. A common occurrence for me. Sometimes it’s just easier to live inside my head than the real world, you know?

Whatever caused my mind to work double time, something broke through.

And tomorrow I will be alone, though anything but lonely. I have my characters to keep me company after all. And now I know just where they're headed.

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In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Quick Update and Free eBook Download

I’m all kinds of brain dead right now, working on the first draft of book 4 in the California Dreamin’ Series. Not sure of a title or even a final structure yet, but I’ve been handwriting scenes, possible characters, and expanding on my plot ideas since the beginning of the year.

It’s been a lot of fun bringing it together and I’m definitely looking forward to finishing the first draft over the next couple weeks.

Usually I’m a pantser. I just start typing with a loose idea of my main character, setting, and basic plot then let the words fall into what eventually becomes the story. But I’m doing things a little differently this time. Something I also did for Makeup Your Mind. I’m handwriting the entire first draft.

Not gonna lie, it’s awesome. I see better when I write by hand. I mean, I can visualize what I’m writing as if it’s a movie in my mind and when those details are so clear in my imagination, I find it’s easier to get them on the page. Even if that happens in a later draft, once I’ve “seen” the story I can’t un-see it.

Does that even make any sense?

Typing forces the words out a lot faster, with less pain than using a pen and, don’t get me wrong, that’s great. My arm sure doesn’t fatigue as fast. The thing is though, I love using the keyboard when I’m pulling the final story into a cohesive document, but not to start.

There’s something about a blank notebook page that gets me infinitely more jazzed than a blank computer screen. Call me a romantic writer but I like the nostalgia of a pen and paper.

A blob of black ink permanently embedded into the lump of a callus on the first knuckle of the middle finger on my right hand.

I legit might get that as my next tattoo.

But anyway, the book. (And the free stuff!)

As #4 chugs along in development, I decided it might be a nice time to re-visit Carol + Chad 4-eva!. After all, like all the leading ladies in this series, Lara Greene was first introduced in the pages of Carol’s story.

And since I’m having so much fun developing Ms. Greene, I figured why not get C+C out there for free for a couple days. That way, you can prepare in advance for Lara’s grand entrance in April!

Click here to download the Novelette that started it all, Carol + Chad 4-eva!

Available for free until January 28, 2018 so download it now and read anytime over the next few months. Then don’t forget to review it on Amazon!

And, on that brief note, I must fling myself back on my belly on the sofa, pen in hand, and get writing. Because I’m feeling inspired by all this sunshine today and if there’s anything I’ve learned over these past three decades of writing it’s to let the ink flow when I’m inspired.

Don’t forget to download and review, thanks!

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Washing your Mouth out with Soap

For those of us born in a certain era, there were warnings tossed out by our parents or elders that elevated our fear level to that of panic. At least, some of us lived in fear. Some of us handily took matters into our own hands.

The first and most overplayed cautionary tale was, of course, wait until your father gets home.

Now, I didn’t personally grow up with that particular threat because my parents divorced when I was young enough that, even if my mom used it, I don’t remember. The days when my parents were still together are somewhat blurry but I can’t recall those words flying out of my mom’s mouth.

My dad didn’t “get home” after work to (apparently) lay down the law that my mom couldn’t (or didn’t want to) enforce.

I always wondered about that warning. Who were those dads? What kind of people were they when us kids weren’t playing in their back yard? When they were left alone with their family after getting a recap of the day? And what, exactly, would dad do when he got home? Yikes.

I actually heard it used with friends or other kids who still had two parents under the same roof. As far as I was concerned, having dad come home after going off all day to do some job nobody tried to understand, didn’t seem scary at all.

Why was that a believable threat? Like, the guy who is never there is suddenly going to take on the role of enforcer and that frightened kids? Why? Wasn’t dad the “fun” one? The parent who got to relax and take you out back to play catch? He wasn’t the heavy. That was mom.

The one who actually made the rules all day.

At least, that’s what I assumed because television taught me what it was like to have still-married parents. And it always went down the same way. Mom, home raising the kids, dad off to work, mom doing everything else but dad being the one who got a foot rub and a beer at the end of the day. He falls asleep in the recliner in front of the TV while mom finishes her chores.

So, when the warning was doled out, I just couldn’t wrap my head around why it frightened anyone. You mean to tell me that the guy who puts his ass in an overstuffed chair for five hours every night and makes a cursory attempt to teach his kids how to play ball on the weekends is suddenly going to become a growling bear of a man who lives to put you in your place? Because mom told him what you did hours earlier?

As if.

Mom would have kicked your butt long before dad even got home, right?

On the other hand, I’ll wash your mouth out with soap, holds a certain special place in my heart.

Did my mom/family ever wash my mouth out with soap? God no! But was I threatened with the possibility? Yes. Just once. But not by my family.

I distinctly remember the entire experience. Truly, it’s one of those days that I can recall just about everything about it – temperature, where I was, who I was with, who threatened me. Because the follow-up moments were insane.

 Well, I was insane.

The youngest daughter of my babysitter at the time, a girl in my sister’s class, and I were headed to the park. My after school sitter lived on the same street we moved to when I was in grammar school. We had a small park with a slide and a few swings right at the bottom of our street. I spent a good amount of time there and enjoyed walking the top of the chain link fence, trying to see if I could make it all the way from one end to the other without falling.

I have no idea if we were off to meet friends, just that we were walking down the street in that direction. Also, I have no idea what we were talking about but I do remember the word that came out of my mouth.


Just a word. One I still use in conversation to this day. Some things never change, I guess, despite the shocked look on her face and the following words out of her mouth:

“That’s a bad word! I’m telling my mom and she will tell your mom and you’ll be in trouble!”

For a split second, I actually felt like maybe I would be in trouble. But I went off to the park to enjoy my afternoon anyway. When I got back to my sitter’s house, I was greeted by the fact her daughter made good on her promise. She did, in fact, tell her mom.

And that’s when I actually felt the grip of fear.

For the first time in my life I heard the words, “I’m going to have to tell your mom and, if I was your mother, I’d wash your mouth out with soap.”

It was hours before my mom would get home from work. I had to live with the knowledge that my mother would take this horrible step the minute we got home. I paced. I panicked.

Soap? Like, real actual soap? In my mouth?

And what the fuck good would that do? It wasn’t like soap could actually wash a word out of my vocabulary.


But I digress…

I went to pee and that’s when I saw it.  A smooth bar of off-white soap sitting innocently in the dusty rose, built-in, porcelain soap dish on the wall. I stood at the sink, an eleven year old girl. Always in trouble for something.

How bad could it be, I wondered?

Before I could stop myself to really consider what I was doing, the soap went from dish, to hand, to mouth. I pulled my teeth in and just used my lips, she didn’t say she’d make me eat the soap so I took a chance.

I let my tongue flick across the slick finish of the bar. I didn’t get another chance. My stomach lurched and I spit the bar into the sink, gagging at the taste.

Thankfully, I must have wiped that part of this memory because I can’t seem to pull up a single adjective to explain how bad it was. But I definitely remember that I stuck my face under the faucet and proceeded to wash my mouth soap away.

Pretty sure I muttered what the fuck under my breath.

And then, the time went by. At least I knew what to expect when I got home. It wouldn’t be pleasant but I knew, once it was removed, I could wash the taste away. And I’d never curse in front of that girl again.

The sitter, me, and my sister met my mom at the front of their foyer at the top of the stairs, as usual. I looked down at the maroon pile carpet. Steeled myself for the inevitable. Ready to face being in trouble for saying a word.

And then, to my incredible shock and awe, we all said goodbye without another word about the word.

For days after I assumed she would call my mother and tell her. That the bar of soap was sure to find a way back into my mouth any day. But it never came.

I don’t know if my mom ever learned of my horrible transgression or if, somehow, my sitter found out I’d punished myself. Or maybe she just wanted to instill the fear into me so I’d never curse again but didn’t ever intend on telling my mom.

Either way, I learned one thing that day. Don’t eat soap, kids.

Soap tastes like shit.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.