Dear Diary…


I can’t seem to write anything anymore, and the words trapped in my head and soul are buzzing around, bumping into each other and exhausting me. So, with apologies, I’m starting this diary to trick myself into letting the words out. Shhh.. don’t tell my subconscious I’m trying to trick her. She’ll lock me down tighter than Fort Knox.

This has been a weird year. Well… a bad year, with lots of bad current events, lots of losses to the world, lots of unsettling insight into humanity.

If I was completely disconnected from world events, though, if my eyes were shut and my fingers were in my ears and I was shouting “LA LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” I could say that not too much has changed for me or my daily life. Except it has. Even if I do that, it has.

This time last year, I was immersed in a wonderful, interactive, diverse world of women’s voices. I had fun, intense conversations with writers, and I had a dear (likely beleaguered) friend with whom I had almost daily contact.

Then 2016 happened. The interactive group pretty much stopped interacting. I did, too. It was as though, as a group, we decided we’d said everything there was to say. My dear friend is dealing with real life problems. Though I am always here and willing to help, there is so little I can do from far away, except say how much this person matters to me, and how I’m always, always, around and ready to listen if I’m needed.

At the end of last year, I was given a gift, something I’ve wanted most of my adult life: The opportunity to work from home full time. This allows me to be here for my son. It keeps me out of exhausting and frankly dangerous traffic, and it gives me several hours of my week back. I love it. But I suspect it’s not good for me.

These days, apart from my boys, I hardly interact with anyone IRL. I’ve lost confidence in my voice. I am so fortunate to have a small tribe of women friends online. I love these women and cherish their friendship. But even in this group we’ve fallen a little silent, with many of us struggling with life difficulties, or maybe even feeling a little muted by the travesties around us.

This leaves me with a lot of time in my head, and it is not always so friendly in here. When I write, I’m frequently blocked. I’ll write three or four sentences then decide I need a nap, or I need to check Facebook. Naps help me fret more, and Facebook contributes to the crumbling of my faith in humanity.

I’ve given myself September to not have any writing goals. As a result, I’ve written more this month than I have all summer. Unfortunately, that’s only about four pages. My 7th draft of my 2nd book languishes. There are crickets on my blog, and I’ve forgotten how to have joy in creation.

Sooo… here I am, trying to peck my way out of my shell. Or maybe just furnish it with nicer, softer things, and insulate it from the terrible out there. I’ve added extensions to both of my browsers (News Feed Eradicator for Chrome and Kill FB Feed for Mozilla) to keep myself from playing Facebook roulette.* Both of them allow me to access FB notifications and make status updates but block the news feed to avoid accidental bumming out. They help, but FB is a really hard addiction to break.

As a “how to beat writer’s block” article suggested, I created an imaginary friend to write to. She is smart, sassy and hilarious. She is as coffee-dependent as I am, and she has a sweet obsession with hedgehogs. I will try to write with just her in mind. I think this will help.

I am going to read and write stories about magic that make me happy or at least excited, with no other goal than enjoyment. For my own sense of well being, I’m going to stop staying up to date on the latest outrage. I will vote my conscience on November 8th, and then duck back into my shell afterward knowing that I have done everything the system has given me power to do. At this point, I no longer believe in my voice’s ability to convince anyone else of anything. We aren’t really listening to one another anyway. We are shouting at walls.

I’m going to ask for full medical work-ups and safety patrols around our remaining cherished icons. For the love of all that’s holy, Bill Murray, take care of yourself!!

I will go for walks and to the beach and try to be easier on myself. I’ll be grateful for this quiet time with my family. If I write anything at all, I will call it a success, and hey, some of my shopping lists border on poetry. Maybe after all this, I’ll discover I’m not a creative writer at all, and the last couple of years have been some sort of virus-fueled unbottling of clever word strings. Bottle’s empty, writing’s done. Maybe I’m a painter now.

Thanks for listening, Diary. Sorry if I bummed you out.
* Facebook roulette: Clicking refresh on FB to see if you can find something that makes you feel good before you find something that makes you feel furious or depressed. Hint: These days, the odds are never in your favor.



I am a redoer. A rereader, rewatcher, relistener. You pretty much have to trick me to get me to experience something new. Honestly, I don’t know how I ever did anything the first time. Maybe it was in my wild youth. Maybe I tried stuff willy-nilly. At some point, though, I found what I liked and said, “This is good. Really good!”

Once I love something, I love it to death. I wear it out with my love. I roll in it and make it threadbare. I love how things become softer the more they are enjoyed. Pages of books, images in film, my blanky.

When Jeff and I were first together, he used to ask me when I was going to get sick of him. I said, “I’ve slept under the same quilt for over a decade. I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.” Sadly, that quilt finally fell apart from rewashing a few years back, and I have yet to find one I love enough to replace it. (Thankfully, Jeff still has plenty of washings left in him).

Many people would be horrified by this way of living. I believe it would make them feel trapped and bored to the point of madness. These folks feast on adventure and need the new and different to keep them feeling alive.

I imagine them shuddering and saying, “I could never do that! I would be too afraid of missing something.”


Me too!
That is exactly why I do what I do.

What if I miss a cool transition or a secret little lyric slipped into my favorite songs? What if I miss the chance to belt out the words (with authority) and feel like I’m right there with the band? What if I miss a clever joke or camera trick in a movie or show?

And books. Oh man.

As an author, I’m my own worst customer. We need people who read lots and lots of books to keep us in ink and paper. If everyone was like me, the business would go belly up.

But I like to think my beloved authors would appreciate the way I read all the same. First, I read the story. If it captures me the right way, I go back. What did I miss about these characters? Ahhh… Don’t I just love her. Okay, brace myself, here comes the scene where my heart gets ripped out. But now, weeee! here comes that part where we all fall in love. Wait – go back again. Hey! There’s a tiny tie-in from chapter 4 to chapter 34. That sentence. Can I just look at that sentence again? She could have picked any word to go there, but that one was just magic. Well, of course, I have to read it again.

Every few seasons, I’ll take inventory of my hoarded beloveds and make adjustments. “Ok,” I’ll assure something, “I will always love you, but you need a rest.” And I’ll set it aside to (tentatively) try some new stuff. I always feel a little panicky when I find something new to love.

“Dammit!” I said, with my eyes glued to Sherlock. “Where am I going to find a month to rewatch this forty times??”

I used to be sheepish about this aspect of me. I suppose I am a little still. I know there’s so much out there to discover. Shouldn’t I feel a little ashamed for not wanting to get out there? But mostly I’m fine with it. There is also so much right here to discover. I think it just makes me feel like part of a world team. Some of us see the most stuff. Some of us see stuff the most. Let’s work together so we don’t miss anything.





Oh, hi!! Um, won’t you come in? Wow. You look great.

Aw, thanks. Well, I’ve been really taking care of myself. Eating right, exercising.

Where did you get that tiny little waist?

Zumba! I’ll tell, you I love it! It has changed my life.

Zumba…? But, I mean, forgive me, but you were never really that coordinated.

I KNOW, RIGHT? But this, it just clicked. I’m teaching classes now.


Yes, it’s true!!

That’s so…unlike you. Then you gave up writing?

Oh no!! No, I teach the classes for fun. I donate all the money to charity.

So, are the books finished?

Yup! Finished the series, and they are doing great! Especially in Switzerland, for some reason. I just got a huge advance to start a new series.

I’m…dumbfounded. Wait a minute…how do you look younger than me?

OH! It’s my lifestyle change! No sugar, no dairy, lots of water, and my secret is green juice! I look younger than I did when I started.

Well… That doesn’t sound very fun, though.

You know, at first it was hard to adjust to, but now, I just love it. It makes me feel so alive! There’s something so relaxing about chopping greens. And my energy is through the roof! Way better than coffee.

You don’t drink coffee?!

Please! I may be a total fabrication of your imagination, but I am not giving up coffee.

Thank goodness. So, I mean, it’s really great to see you… I mean me. And see us so successful and happy, but…well, why are you here?

To inspire you of course. You see… This is kind of difficult for me to say… But, well, I’m having a hard time existing. And I thought, maybe you could help me along?


Of course! Who else?

Oh, you got me all wrong. I’m on your side if anyone is. Look– I just finished a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with bananas and cinnamon. I’ve had my coffee with soy milk. Check this out – my to-do list: Workout. Write for one hour. Research juicing.

Then why…?

You are talking to Eleven AM Jen. I’m full of great ideas and inspiration. But I’m at work. In a few hours, I have to hand the reins to Six O’Clock Jen.

So, I should talk to her?

Hah! Good luck with that. That wine-swilling, ice cream-eating, sweatpants wearing napper is not going to do either of us any favors. Look, I’ve gotten her all set up. I’ve made extra coffee, took B12, put shoes on her, given her a clean, quiet place to work. I’ve created playlists and laid out her workout clothes. And the second I hand things over to her, she’s on the couch eating a block of cheese and watching Buzzfeed videos.

Maybe she just needs some support and understanding. Have you tried talking to her?

*snort* Why don’t you go try.

So, what did she say? When you told her about the green juice and Switzerland and Zumba?

She told me I should relax.

Wait – what do you — put that down!


Did she give you that? You can’t eat a whole cheesecake!

So good!! I forgot it was so good!

Are you DRUNK?

Drefine Dunk.       Scoot over.

Hey! I’m working here. See? Writing time – Give me my laptop!

Wai-wait! I just want to show this video. Look-look! It’s a little hamster, in a fleecy sleeping bag, eating a carrot disk. HE’S SO HAPPY!

Hey – oh, she’s here?

YOU!! Look what you’ve done! She was our inspiration. She finished the books! Look at how fit she is…was.

Oh, she’s fine.

What are doing here? It’s not even noon.

I just wanted to let you know, I made some fudge last night. It’s in the fridge.

…. What kind?

Peanut butter.

Oh my God! You are awesome. All I’ve had all morning is this chewy flavorless oatmeal.


When the Trolls Are Silenced

I started following the Humans of New York Facebook page, not only because of the incredible photographs and arresting captions, but because the comments section was so positive. It was this big upbeat community, and it was like a miracle. How amazing that people are able to rein in their nastiness in support of HONY’s subjects, who are really making themselves vulnerable by agreeing to be photographed.

It wasn’t long before I realized the comments must be moderated. I’m no stranger to comments sections, and people’s behavior in this one was atypical. Sure enough, Brandon addressed it himself.

“Been getting some emails from people who have been banned…the moderators have very clear instructions: ban anyone who is attacking the subject…feel free to joke. We aren’t stiff or prudish. But we do know the difference between being funny and being a dick.”

That was written last year, and as far as I know, he hasn’t addressed it again since. At the time, HONY had 5 million followers. It’s now up to 16.3 million. In other words, not allowing commenters the freedom to be an absolute shit to someone is not limiting his readership. It is helping it.

The beautiful thing about this is that HONY moderators are setting a standard of behavior that the members of the community help enforce. If someone says something nasty that gets missed by the mods, the community members chastise that person. We love our safe, supportive, troll-free space, we love to read people’s stories. We want people to pose and talk when Brandon shows up with his camera, not run screaming.

I’m a member of a women’s writing group. The group has guidelines, and it is moderated. It is another troll-free zone. The moderator, Barbara Bos (who runs, in addition to this writing group) is smart, dedicated and no-nonsense. She has said she has zero tolerance for trolls. She doesn’t announce that something will be deleted or call the person out; she just makes the comment disappear (and, I assume, the commenter sometimes.)

We are none the wiser, and that’s okay. If I knew, if she hinted, I would feel myself wondering,“Who? What was said? What happened?” It would make me a little outraged and feel a little more guarded. But we don’t know. It’s rarely mentioned, and I don’t have to wonder.

The result is a warm, compassionate and supportive group of writers. When I joined, there were under 1000 members. Now we’re nearing 7000. Not a week goes by when someone doesn’t mention how safe and supported they feel in this group. I have met some amazing people and made dear friends in the space because I felt safe there.

A lot of people say,“You need to toughen up and learn to deal with criticism.” I wonder how often the people who say that are ones who are fond of criticizing but who are upset when others push back.

Yes, there are some areas in our lives when critiques are necessary: when we are learning something new, when we are on the job, and (most importantly) when we are voicing opinions about other people’s realities.

But I really think the last thing this world needs is more toughened people. I feel like that “toughen up” cry is just a bunch of bullshit said by people who don’t want to be called bullies so they can keep bullying. The fact is, this world is starving for more compassion and less toughness.

The smallest acts of kindness, the unexpected shows of compassion, the little pictures and videos that make us smile, these things are trending now. This is what’s going viral.

In Western culture, we are sold the lie that toughness equals strength. That’s more bullshit. That is demanding that people change their reactions to attacks instead of demanding a stop to the attacks.

Toughness in the face of constant, unrelenting and unrepentant negativity isn’t strength; it’s a tragedy. It demands that we disconnect ourselves from our hearts and our feelings so people can’t hurt us. That is expecting that the good parts of ourselves should be changed, damaged or denied so trolls can’t get to us.

And guess what: You can never be tough enough for a real troll. If you don’t react, there will always be escalation until you do.

Actual strength is being authentic and vulnerable, and understanding that it is right to be hurt when people are hurtful. Actual strength comes from allowing others in the space to be authentic and vulnerable safely, as well.

There are people in this world who thrive on negativity, who feel like they can only make an impact with their fists, who feel so threatened when someone challenges the status quo, that they have to stomp on that person. Their voices are not meant to share an idea but to stop other people from sharing. They demand the freedom to deny others a voice through intimidation.

But a funny thing happens when you silence trolls. People start opening up, sharing their experiences more, seeing different points of view and supporting each other. I know I do.

When I know I can speak without getting stomped on, I will speak. Maybe I don’t need to. Maybe I can and should keep myself to myself. But it feels good to connect and share. It feels good to read someone saying, “ME TOO!!” It makes me feel less alone. It makes me feel inspired and hopeful, the opposite of the way I feel when I am in a space overrun with negativity.

We are social animals, and we tend to take our cues from one another. If a community is mostly positive and welcoming, the expectation is that others will be positive and welcoming, as well. Most people there are already that way. Some people will begin to act that way because others do. Some people who are that way naturally will be drawn to the environment. And some people will not conform and will be negative. Often when this happens, the existing community members will speak up to maintain the benefits of their positive environment.

A while back, there was a TED talk given by Monica Lewinsky. Nadia Goodman and three others had the unfortunate task of deleting the negative comments on the Facebook feed. She said it was some of the nastiest most vitriolic stuff she had ever read. But after several hours of boosting the positive comments and deleting the vitriol, the trend began to shift. A lot more supportive and positive comments started being posted.

People who moderate spaces and make them safe from trolls often experience outraged push back. “How DARE you silence me?! This is oppression!! You are being cowardly by not allowing a lively debate!!” they might be heard to shriek.


No, Veruca. That’s not how this works. When has this ever been the way things work? In what area of the real world, are you free to storm into a community conference and call the presenter a stupid fuck? When was the last time you were invited into a women’s meeting to weigh in on whether or not you believed them to be a bunch of uptight feminazis? At work, are you encouraged to publicly provide your opinion on your coworker’s attire and if it makes her a slut?

Freedom of speech is the freedom to express your opinions without being arrested. That’s all. It is not the freedom to enter people’s homes, studios or businesses and shout your opinions in their faces. If you want to talk about it in your own space, talk about it. But don’t expect to be welcomed in and handed a cup of tea and a microphone.

I have found myself becoming relieved when there are no comments sections, especially connected to articles and posts about women’s issues. These are a lightning rod for nastiness, as well as dismissive and violent rhetoric. Not having a comments section makes me feel safer as a reader. It saves me from my own sick compulsion to view the opposition to the very simplest of women’s concerns, which are my concerns, being a woman and all.

Recently, my mom was telling me about the people she met on a cruise and how wonderfully kind and friendly they were. She was high on humanity. Then she asked how I was, and I said I was depressed by how miserable everybody was.

Mom was like, “But haven’t you been listening? They’re not!! I just met a whole ship full of good, nice people.”

I was being influenced by all the nastiness I was seeing everywhere. But the nastiest people are not a representation of the whole world. They are just the loudest. It’s really hard to remember that.

Yes, I know I’m comparing the outside world to the internet. But we can’t keep pretending that online is something separate from real life. There are still human beings on the end of these wireless signals. A lot of people ONLY interact with others online. Some are lost and hurting, maybe waiting to see which way the tide is turning: hatred and vitriol? Or positivity and compassion?

So what will I do? Well, first of all, I need to spend less time on the internet. But beyond that, I will stay in safe spaces and help build safe spaces. I will promote the positive and try my hardest to disregard the negative. I will ignore outright nasty trolls, but speak up when I see bullying. I’ll share the good stuff and not give a voice to the trolls.

Taking a Dive, for My Writing (and My Sanity)

This was originally a guest post for the lovely and wonderful K.M. Hodge. Do check her out. She is the most gracious author I’ve ever met.

My brother used to be a sore winner. He’s not now. He’s one of my best friends in the world, now. But he used to be miserable to lose to, and he always won. I used to be a sore loser, and I always lost. (It might have been fairer to start the story there, but it’s my story. He can tell it how ever he wants.)

Anyway, one day we were playing racquetball together. I am slow and uncoordinated, and he is not. He was kicking my butt and celebrating every point in the obnoxious way only a 17 year old boy can manage. I was fuming and indignant, sweaty and tired.

Suddenly, something occurred to me: I didn’t give a crap if I won or not. I never had, really. What a waste of effort for something I was monumentally not enjoying. At the realization, I started to have fun. I made ridiculous dives for balls that had passed seconds before. I tripped, I spun, I swung at the air.

“Oh fiddlesticks!” I cried. “Another point for you!”

I was no fun to beat any more, and he gave up. He might have even laughed by the end of our time on the court. He certainly laughs about it now. He always says I taught him a lesson that day. But really, I was the one who needed the lesson.

Writing a book and getting it out there takes a LOT of effort. If every moment of that effort is monumentally not enjoyable, I’m dooming myself to be that indignant, sweaty and tired loser, playing a game I hate.

I feel really fortunate to be writing at this moment in publishing. There are so many options now, and so many ways to play. There used to be only one way: Write your book, query an agent, if you manage to sign with an agent, hope she could get you a publishing deal.

I know, because I know me, that I would not have finished my first book under the old rules. Once my characters starting introducing themselves to me, I fell in love with them. I couldn’t have allowed their story to play out knowing I was leaving their fate to the dubious discretion of some dude in an office. I would have been too disgusted.

It wasn’t just the unlikelihood of the book being selected for publication, what with its unusual genre (Magical Realism) and its female author (me). It was the idea that IF my book was selected, someone else could change these characters who had possessed me and were making my life so fun. They wouldn’t be mine anymore, and I wouldn’t be theirs.

Someone in a dingy office could reject them for who they are. Maybe an editor would have a problem with two of my major characters being gay. Maybe someone would want to clean up one of the characters’ cursing. Maybe they would want to take out my tiny tributes to artists who have inspired me, James Hance, Doc Hammer, Frank Turner…

Writing query letters and (eventually, if I was super, duper lucky) battling with editors about my babies was NOT a game I wanted to play. I conceded that point (goofily) to the industry. Not that it cared.

There are other games I have joined and taken a dive on, too. Trying to work Facebook, trying to figure out Amazon rankings, keeping up with Twitter. These are all tools that have their place, but it has become clear that they are too saturated and arbitrary to make or break me as an author.

I’m taking my time now. I’m enjoying writing; I’m hiring good editors and artists. I’m okay with not winning right away. I do like this sport, and I’m treating it more like an endurance event than a competition. The only score I have to beat is my own, and the only way to win is to keep moving.

I have to learn, train, try and fail, and try again. I have to keep enjoying myself and celebrating my small gains. I have to, because writing these stories makes me happier than almost anything else I’ve ever done. And I intend to keep it up. I once trained for and finished a marathon. This feels like that, and I know I can do it. (Oh yeah, that was 26.2 miles. Take that, racquetball boy! Just kidding. Love ya, bro.)

Icy Tendrils of Fear

My autonomic nervous system works as though I live in an episode of the Walking Dead. I am in a near-constant state of fight or flight.

OK, I lied, just flight. It’s all flight. If the phone rings or someone knocks on the door, I jump, then hide under the bed. I actually keep my phone ringer because hearing it ring can cause a mini-panic attack.

I have a debilitatingly bad sense of direction. (I’m convinced I have disorder that causes me to get lost called Topical Disorientation.) So, if I need to drive someplace out of my familiar haunts, I worry about it for at least a week in advance.

I just served jury duty. In the weeks between the summons and the date of my duty, I panicked every time I saw the notice on the fridge. My terror had nothing to do with whether or not I would be picked (I was) and everything to do with getting to the courthouse and parking and being there on time.

Whenever I travel, I dream about missing my flights or not being able to park or missing an exit to the airport, even though I’ve been there a hundred times. I’m not at all afraid to fly.

See  that? I’m not afraid of dying, just of having my spirit hurt or killed.

When I first published my book, I was terrified.  Then, a remarkable thing happened: Nothing.

I didn’t do any kind of marketing, and my book stayed hidden in the shadows where it would be safe.

I realized shortly after that I published too soon. It needed cutting, editing, a better title, a better cover. I decided I would do all that, then market. Except…I didn’t. I wrote more. I blogged more. I dragged my feet.

Writing isn’t (necessarily) hard. People write to get out what they need to say. For me, the process of writing my first book was almost 100% pleasure. It was a joyride. And the result is so precious to me. Like everyone else who writes, I feel like these words and characters are part of my soul. And now it exists in the same world with people who are unabashedly, proudly and terribly mean.

What will happen to my spirit when it gets battered by these meanies? What will happen if it’s not battered but simply greeted with apathy?

Maybe that’s what I need, to let the worst happen and see how I am afterward. Maybe I’ll get spirit calluses. Maybe my spirit will do surprising and lovely things if I let it experience this, like a tree on a windswept landscape. What if my spirit has a blue sapphire heart that can only shine when the silvery outside is worn off? It’s possible, I suppose. But oh how scary.

Well, I finally made myself pick up my feet and stop making excuses and inviting distractions. My book is done. It is cut, re-edited, retitled, recovered (thank you Lori Follett), and republished.


Here it is, available on Amazon and here on Amazon UK, soon to be available in paperback. (No really! Soon – it’s formatted and saved to PDF, I’m just waiting my full wrap cover from my amazing cover artist.)

Now, off to market it. Time to drag it out of the shadows and see what it and my spirit can survive.

Wish me luck!

P.S. Other things I fear:






Zombies (as aforesaid)

Ventriloquist dummies


Well, I’ll be – Liebster Award Nomination(s)


I am super excited and just blushingly pleased to have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Three! (3)  amazing bloggers:

Liesl Dineen It’s Nothing Really

Angela Zemp Hedgehog times

and Barbara Gabriel Steal Just one Day

So what does that mean? Well clearly, I’m fascinating and everyone hangs on my every word! Hah! It is a nomination given from one fledgling blogger to another. It’s a way to introduce new bloggers to readers and vice-versa. Now I’m supposed to say a bit about myself. Here is a selection of the questions asked me by my nominators. You guys are fun.

A. What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? Seriously? How is it possible it’s only Wednesday? How?

A. Share the weirdest thing about you! No.But I’ll share the weirdest thing I’m willing to have known. I can’t go to sleep without watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. I watched the same episode (actually the movie) every night for 3 years. 

A. Who would you most like to be stuck in a Lift/Elevator with? This is interesting, because I don’t feel at my best trapped anywhere, so it would have to be someone who was either as freaked out as me or someone very soothing. Soothing: Patrick Stewart. 

A. Who is your hero/heroine? It shifts, but right now it’s Doc Hammer, because he’s a brilliant writer, painter and musician. Plus, he kind of doesn’t give a crap what people think of him. 

A. What cheers you up after a bad day? Watching my kiddo do this dance he does. It’s pretty elaborate and adorable, and he does it just because it makes me laugh. Also, eating cake in my pj’s.  

L. Come on, which one item would you really take with you to that deserted island? A Swiss Army E-reader with unlimited power supply. It dices, it slices, it stores thousands of books. When can I go? 

L. What is it you want most from life? To not feel like I’ve wasted it. 

L. Where will I find you at the party? I will have called with car trouble or a sick kid (I am an unscrupulous introvert) and be at home with a glass of wine and a good book. Ahhh. (This is the same answer to the question about whether or not I would accept a trip to Mars) 

L. Pick your super power and explain. When I want to be a vigilante, it is the ability to burn people with my eyes. The rest of the time, teleportation. 

L Tell us about your favorite happy song – link it up! I Still Believe, Frank Turner. These lyrics must be shouted: “I still believe in the neeeeed for guitars and drums and desperate poetry!!” *Muah* Frank. 

B. Do you prefer international travel or to explore closer to home? Why? I like all kinds of travel, and would love it more if I could teleport. I’m currently obsessed with going to Ireland, but I’d like to make a stop over to Switzerland and have a coffee with a hedgehog I know there.  

B. What’s your go-to comfort food? Pizza.  Angela, it would be topped with… I became a vegetarian three years ago and I have yet to find a satisfactory substitute for pepperoni.

B. Give us a link to the best or the favorite of your own posts. What made you write that one?

I think it would be this Removing All Doubt. It’s about why I started writing fiction. I wrote the post out of irritation and indignation, but it ended up being something more. 

B. What word do you dislike? Divulge. It sounds like gagging. 

B. What interesting thing will you choose to do this week? I’m thinking of becoming an expert in something, but I don’t know what yet. 

Now for my nominees:

Suzanne M. Brazil

Shandy: Project Shandy

Wendy Metcalf: Fem SF Author

Roz Dekett; Roz Dekett

Midge Gordon: Bohemian Rhapsody

Lawyer With Attitude

Alysinion The Economical Vegan

Barbara Doran-Rogal Serendipity Do It

Marie Duess

Please check them out! Such a diverse group of brilliant people!

To them, I ask the following:

1. What is your happy place (either in your mind or in real life)?

2. How prepared are you for unexpected guests to your home?

3. What do you do when you are afraid to become unafraid?

4. What is the one thing that, when it happens, you will consider yourself successful?

5. What song do you HAVE to sing along to, no matter who may be watching. Link it up!

6, Would you rather make someone laugh or make someone cry? (With your writing, obviously. I’m not suggesting you go kick someone in the shins.)

7. If someone was to visit your city, what should they go see to really get a feel for it?

8. What do you love to write about?

9. Do you have any rituals? Explain.

10. Name 3 elements to your perfect day.

11. Link to your favorite blog post. What moved you to write it.

Removing All Doubt

A few weeks ago, I took part in a rousing e-discussion about independent publishing. In case you are considering joining in one of these, be advised, they are all “rousing.”*

*rousing = violent, bloody.


I’m not going to rehash it. I’ve seen enough of these that I find them boring now. A lot of people say “drek.” A lot of people say “archaic.” If you are interested in where I stand, it’s with the pragmatic and brilliant Chuck Wendig. There is no debate.

But one of the points made that day by someone on the pro-trad-publishing side rankled me. It rankles me still, all these weeks later, because it touched a nerve. It was posed to indie-authors (taking this step without the approval and say-so of the fatherly publishing world). It was: Aren’t you afraid of looking like a fool?

I mean, well, yes. Yes. My whole life, yes. A resounding Yes.

My whole life, I’ve held my tongue, kept my thoughts to myself, made my laugh quiet and my voice small. I’ve done all that so I wouldn’t look like a fool.

Now I’m edging toward my forty-second birthday, and I think of all the experiences I didn’t have, the love I didn’t confess, the adventures I didn’t take, the life I didn’t live because I was afraid of looking like a fool. You know what my reward was? I feel like a goddamned fool. What a waste of time.

Last year, I started writing in earnest, after dreaming of it for years. Aside from having a family, nothing I have ever done has felt so incredible. When the writing is good, it feels like being high and being in love. If feels zingy and buzzy and breathless. It feels like I’m making up for a lot of missed opportunities. When the writing is bad? Same thing.

Knowing I could publish it myself gave me that. I didn’t want to pour 100,000 words of my soul into something that was going to sit in a drawer until I died. I figured I could write it, and see if people liked it. I’d show it to or sell it to people I like, whose opinions I respect. If they liked it, I would be thrilled. If not, at least I’d know. But knowing I didn’t have to navigate an incomprehensible quagmire of publishing industry gate-keeping gave me the courage to finally use my voice.

Maybe it sucks. Maybe people will laugh at it. Who cares. I’d rather look like a fool than be silenced.

Now, go buy my book: Penguin Spies in Space: A Love Story

Steve and Stella share one last embrace, before they being their mission. IN SPACE

Steve and Stella share one last embrace, before they begin their mission. IN SPACE

(J/K My first book: Bright Aster will be published next month on Amazon. Some people I love and respect have read it and loved it. Hearing that was totally worth the risk.)