Happy New Year!

To you and yours, a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Auld Lang Syne
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne,
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes
And pu'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl'd i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne.
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid willy waught,
For auld lang syne.

-Robert Burns

A Merry Happy...Sorta.

I don't know where to begin with my reflections on this past year. It has been a triumph and a tragedy. It has been beautiful and cruel. It has been filled with light and darkness. As we step toward 2013 it is my wish and intention to concentrate my efforts on promoting healing, health and happiness. Wherever you are in the coming weeks I offer you peace and a few of my favorites from the past year. Just cuz, yanno...

Book: Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. If you haven't read it, do. 'Nuff said.
Food: Oh my good gravy, these things are good. Better than gravy even.

Blogs: Toss up Between Local Sugar & Nat the Fat Rat- they are both right on and sing to my soul. Love ya gals! And there are dozens of others too!

Photo: Stunning
Bling: I love that band in her hair, oh yes I do!

Source: flickr.com via Laura on Pinterest

And of course....Pinterest! XOXOXO

Ripe by Cookbook Review

Continuing with this month's foodie theme I introduce to you the unique cookbook Ripe by Cheryl Sternman Rule and Paulette Philpot.

The layout of this thick hardcover is replete with mouth-watering, high-quality, gorgeous photographs of produce in its most natural state. It is virgin food-porn if there were such a thing (is there? that's weird.) Beginning with red and moving through the rainbow each section offers up a thoughtful and usually hilarious account of how that particular vegetable rooted itself in the author's life. This follows with a variety of simple ways to prepare and pair the food item and a recipe.

For instance a shot of a glistening pomegranate is followed by three simple ways to eat the arils (including on porridge- yum!) and an elegant, yet somewhat healthy Pomegranate Clove Thumbprint cookie recipe.

We picked several recipes to try- including:

Red Curry Glazed Butternut Squash with Coconut Rice with Fried Sage and Chestnut Brussels Sprouts. These are both perfect for holiday sides or as a meal.

Miso Tofu Bok Choy which I strongly recommend for New Year's...followed by those cookies mentioned above. Nom, nom, nom, Auld Lang Syne and all that.

Any cookbooks you love, dishes you recommend for the holidays? Please comment below.
*I was not compensated for anyway for this review- thoughts/opinions are my own.

My Christmas Book Wishlist...

Here is my bound and inked wishlist for this Christmas:

To satisfy my healthy mind-body: Crazy, Sexy, Kitchen by Kris Carr

To satisfy my need to read the book before I see the movie: The Host by Stephanie Meyer.

Because I like a good dare now and then and this one doesn't appear to require me to bare my fanny out the window of a moving vehicle: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Okay...I know I already covered food but this one gets added because if asked what kind of superhero I would want to be, of course I would say a Kitchen Hero! by the young, talented and Irish, Donal Skehan.

Yeah and here is another cookbook...have I ever mentioned that I'm one of those people who reads the paragraphs before I even glimpse the recipes and photos like a book. Well that's me. This one looks like it will stave off my yearning for the water until spring: The Surf Cafe Cookbook by Myles Lamberth.

I keep reading about this so I just have to get my hands on it and soon! It sounds like it would go perfect with my chunky sweater, fleece blanket and a mug of tea: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Check! Got it :)

Also Searching for Alaska by John Green sounds like it could be the fraternal twin to my very own Girl on the Edge, but I'll have to read it to be sure.

I've heard good things about City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and would like my own copy, please.

And because we all love to hate her, not really actually, she is an icon of grace and intrigue and there aren't too many people in the spotlight like her who avoid the spotlight these days, I would like a copy of Kate: The Kate Moss Book.

Also check out my Goodreads "read" bookshelf to the left and "to read" below (I like to little icons--
And if you have any recommendations, any at all, please comment below!
Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussion

Main Street Vegan Book Review

Source: amazon.com via Gina on Pinterest

'Tis the season for cooking, eating and gifting -- wholesome and healthy food. In the next few weeks I will be reviewing books that would make great additions to your wishlist or to give to someone on your shopping list. Stay tuned...

I've been a big reader of Victoria Moran's work and the way she seems to paint the sky with rainbows and sunshine even when it seems cloudy. She is among my "Circle of Women" who inspire, instruct and generally assist me in living a charmed life.

When she released Main Street Vegan I snapped it up and had a read. Full disclosure: It would be dishonest of me to say I am a vegan, because from time to time (re: Thanksgiving) I do eat dairy products and food containing eggs (though for a long time my very pampered chickens provided these by way of their daily laying.) But I lean toward veganism in a big way which is what works for my body and beliefs.

Whatever way you lean, there is something in Main Street Vegan for everyone, whether you want a better and deeper understanding of the vegan lifestyle, learn why veganism is uber-eco-friendly (yeah, I know I just used uber,) understand why someone in your life is vegan, learn some new recipes and more.

Occasionally I like to offer myself a refresher on facts, stats and get the latest info on the animal-free lifestyle. Also, recipes. The back of Main Street Vegan provides outstanding recipes for vegan fare from smoothies to entrees to desserts.

I'm not one for meat analogs, that is, I don't feel the raging need to eat a burger and settle, instead, for a veggie burger. But my husband who is not vegetarian, goes meatless in our home so I indulge him now and then...

Neat Loaf served with string beans and coleslaw.

Meet the Neat Loaf. I have to say, even though I have not eaten meatloaf in twenty years, the Neat-Loaf was outstanding! It may be just the item to add to your holiday table if you have vegans or vegetarians joining you or if you just enjoy a mischievous attempt at tricking your guests into tasting yummy veg food.

For more on Victoria Moran and her amazing work in the world of self-improvement and an all around super-lady please check out this interview I did with her. Also visit her website.
*These thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way for this post.

My WIP Playlist

I write in complete and utter silence.

No coffee shops.

No sneaking away while the kids play rambunctiously in an adjacent room.

But inspiration flows when I'm in the shower.

Ideas percolate as I pound the pavement on a run or slip into a yoga pose.

When I crank the stereo in my car, details coalesce.
But when it is time to actually write (okay, type) there must be silence or so I thought. 

My current project, one that has been on and off my mind from the beginning, the one I was convinced I would never write, the one I believed would crush me before I even conceived the first word, has by some miracle of spit and polish, come into being and this what I've been listening to...

Oh and a bit of Tom Petty never hurts- he's good for that expansive, never ending, open feeling of possibility. But to really get into the head space. It's pretty much any song by these guys.

Yes, children of the nineties, that is Dave Grohl and no Josh Homme is not my husband's brother, but dh does rock a Gibson.

Back to erm. Work.

"And You Are..."

Remember funny man David Spade as the the "buh-bye" flight attendant, the Gap girl, the scathingly sarcastic "Hollywood Minute?" All those gems from Saturday Night Live circa the nineties have provided me with hours of laughter and paltry attempts at imitation which usually result in more laughter, but at my own ridiculousness...

And then there was the "And you are..." sketch.

Below is my "And you are..." linking to Emily R. King's blog hop- take it away--

Source: bing.com via rockmom66 on Pinterest

1. How many speeding tickets have you gotten?
Catch me if you can....

2. Can you pitch a tent?

Yep...every morning...I'm sorry, I don't know what that means or why I wrote it.

3. What was your worst vacation ever?

Hampton Beach 1987. If you've been there since, you get it.


4. What was the last thing you bought over $100?
Food. But that isn't very interesting. A pair of these. Except I didn't I'm just lusting.

Source: thisnext.com via Mary on Pinterest

5. We're handing you the keys to what?

My mother's heart. She's withholding.

6. What was the last meal you cooked that made even you sick?

I am a culinary whiz so that doesn't happen. Kidding.  I attempted to make zucchini lasagna (using thin zucchini instead of noodles. Let's just say if my daughter's friend didn't already think our vegetarian ways were off the wall, she did after that disaster.

7. Fill in the blank: Oh my gosh! Becky, look at her butt! It is so big. She looks like____?

Me! Yes, time, kids and cookies will do that.

8. What was your first car?
Jaguar XJ-S A bit newer than Joan's and slate.


9. Your best friend falls and gets hurt. Do you ask if he/she's okay or laugh first?
Simultaneously laugh/inquire.

10. What's the worst song ever?
There is an entire genre that I would say contains the worst song ever...but to be more specific...Baby Got Back which I seem to recall being reprised by Glee during their first season. "I like big butts and I cannot lie..." that one. In some ways it is hilarious, but in others degrading and it gets stuck in my head on one endless loop. So sorry if that just happened at the mere mention.

Thank you ladies for hosting and
may you have laugh-filled holidays!

P.S. Sorry about the weird spacing above, I tried to fix it, but blogger is dissing me today.


Pitch Wars

A few weeks ago I participated  in the How to Pitch like a Rockstar contest and although I didn't win (boo  hoo) I learned tons and am ready to venture into the trenches and enter Brend Drake's Pitch Wars contest.

Wish me luck!
If you were going to go up against an intergalactic overlord? Which protagonist would you be to defend the world against evil?
Darth Vadar v. Gandalf.
Bring it.

Holiday Hair -- Braids Galore!

Braids are my favorite hair style for this coming holiday season. My fondness for braids was most recently (re)inspired by Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games. When I went to watch the movie the night it was released a cosmetology school offered Katniss braids while theater-goers waited in line. I longed for one, but both lines (I wanted a good seat) were too long. An interview by head hair stylist on the set is available here.

Source: google.ca via Annik on Pinterest

When my daughter (who has not yet been inducted into the world of YA and therefore unaware of the craze) asked me to give her a fishtail...I may very well have invented a braid of my own. I call it the mermaid. It is basically a low French braid slash fishtail. I had great success with wet hair. The next day we tried the fishtail, which came out to her satisfaction.

The Mermaid- A combination of a French Braid and the Fishtail (below.)

She loved this one- it was easier than braiding- if that's not your thing.
Simply brush all the hair backward (again wet hair is very helpful.)
Working from the outside take 1/4 inch strands and cross in an X shape going right-left (or left right) grabbing new strands each time. It isn't officially a braid, but more of a crossing of the hair. Directions can be found here.
Here are more thoughts I have about hair.
Please share any holiday or fiction-inspired hair you below!

Happy AND Thanksgiving

Recently, I celebrated a birthday. It was a routine day, but I spent quality time with my family. It used to be that I desired fanfare to celebrate the miraculous fact that I existed: fireworks, a parade and an elaborate banquet. These days a colorful card on construction paper, a pair of socks to keep my always-cold-feet warm and a friend who calls to sing Happy Birthday in the silliest way does just fine. Those things light up my sky because  in some sweet, original, genuine way, they are all mine. So happy birthday, to me.

I am also gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving...and boy oh boy do I have a lot to be thankful for, don't we all? Please click on over to Ladies Holiday to fine out what I'm grateful for.

And to all of you, dear readers, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

My Interview with Tata Harper

Courtesy of Tata Harper

Check it out -- My interview with Tata Harper of the eponymous skincare line...on Minted!

Lucky Cat

Source: happymall.com via Mary on Pinterest

Have you ever wondered about the adorable cat statue with one paw raised peeking out from behind ferns and bamboo plants, atop shelves and registers, in the windows of businesses? I did and I've learned the best way to find out about something is to ask.

My family and I have a favorite Chinese/Japanese restaurant we go to for special occasions and while there my daughter pointed out a cute porcelain statue of a cat behind the register. She’s crazy about cats and if there is anything in the likeness of a cat in her vicinity she will undoubtedly find it and practically purr over it. Unfortunately I couldn’t tell her much about it other than I too had noticed it there and in many Chinese and Japanese restaurants. You’d think I would have asked the kind owners who always seem glad to see us. Nope. Too shy perhaps?

Days later at the mall we passed a version of the ceramic cat sitting in the window of a salon. A week or so passed and while eating at a pizza shop we noticed a similar statue peeking out from behind a plant atop the beverage cooler. Now we were genuinely curious about this creature that had repeatedly appeared in our lives over the span of a week or so.

Despite my initial reluctance to ask people in possession of the cat what it meant, perhaps fearing that I was prying into a private matter, I explained to my children the best way to find out is to simply ask. “Could you tell us about the cat statue?” I queried as the shop owner deftly caught a spinning wheel of dough in his hands.  He replied, “That is a Lucky cat.” He fumbled with the pronunciation of the Japanese word so when we returned home I resorted to Google.

We learned that Maneki Neko has many English names including, beckoning cat, money cat, good fortune cat and welcoming cat and is traditionally displayed in a prominent spot in businesses and homes.  There are many interpretations and ways to understand the significance of the cat, but to simplify, the general idea is that the raised paw signifies the beckoning of good fortune in either the form of wealth or luck. Depending on the particular statue the collar, coin and other adornments also carry symbolism.

Upon further reading we also learned that the lucky cat is the subject of several legends and can be traced back in Japanese history over 400 years.  I looked for a version that could be easily understood by my children, but in the meantime the cat kept appearing when on outings to stores, restaurants and even during a trip to Epcot at Walt Disney World.

We saw white versions of Meneki Neko, gold, ones with both paws raised, one that bore a striking likeness to Hello Kitty, cartoon variations, tall and slender, squat and round, cats made of cloth, cats on key chains, when we really started to look, the lucky cat was ever where.

I discovered the book I am Tama: Lucky Cat a Japanese Legend written by Wendy Hendricks and illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi, in which we learned of the cat’s humble beginnings and the lasting friendship and good-fortune he brought when shown genuine kindness. My kids adored the story and the pictures were very lovely; the cherry blossoms seemed to float off the page.

Now whenever we see the beckoning cat we give a little wave and a smile, grateful to have gummed up the courage to ask about it and begin to understand its origins and purpose… and perhaps hoping for a little good luck of our own.

How to Pitch Like a Rockstar - Swing #3

An armful of gratitude to everyone who has read and offered feedback on my pitches during the Pitch Like a Rock Star Contest courtesy of Heather on her blog Between the Sheets. Below are my revised pitches, but first a few things I learned during this process:
  1. A pitch is not a logline.
  2. Writing a pitch, a logline or a query is challenging especially when my brain has fogged over with intimate knowledge of three hundred pages worth of material. But billions of published books are a testament to the fact that it can be done and as a writer it is my responsibility and another way in which to hone my skills to be able to do so. But I can grit my teeth and admit that I don't really like it. The other part, yanno the world building, story creating, character developing is so much more fun. However, I will pitch, log and query and continue to grow as a writer because, yanno, it's all part of it and sometimes challenges can be fun too.
  3. There are countless amazing stories out there written and waiting to be shared. It is overwhelming and heartening to know I will someday have the privilege to read some of them and that one lucky day the story may be mine.

Revision - Girl on the Edge

As seventeen year old Pearl Jaeger emerges from a gritty childhood she is sent to a prestigious prep school with the promise of a second chance, but reckless with grief when her mother overdoses, she turns to drinking and smoking with the burnouts including shy, but sweet Grant. Haunted by her memories when she goes to summer school in her native New York City Pearl falls in deeper with the hard partying lifestyle sending her spiraling out of control on the heels of her late mother. But between hits of pot, pills and anything else she can get her hands on Grant shows her what it is to trust and forgive and Pearl must close the door on her past, and choose him or lose love, along with her future.

Revision - To the Sea

After attorney Kira Speranza unexpectedly loses her husband in a car accident, she uncovers his steamy past causing her to nearly drown in sorrow over loss and deception as her carefully constructed world falls apart. Pursued by a hot and spontaneous surfer Kira goes on a “surfari” in South Africa where she learns what she wants in a relationship, but it is more than he can offer casting her further adrift. As Kira discovers that salt, be it tears, sweat or the sea will guide her toward the truth of who she really is she finds herself hand-in-hand with her surf instructor, Ian, who loves her unconditionally, but his return to the west coast threatens to end their relationship and the love she’s finally found.


How to Pitch like a Rockstar #2

And...here is the second pitch I've been working on. The first was up yesterday- Thank you again to everyone and Heather for getting the band together!

Pitch Numero Dos:

To the Sea
Women's Fiction

After attorney, Kira Speranza, unexpectedly loses her husband in a car accident, she uncovers his steamy past. Fraught with deception and a sinking sense of self she realizes if she doesn't break loose from the confines of the boardroom and claim her freedom on a surfboard, she'll forget how to live and love after loss.


After attorney Kira Speranza unexpectedly loses her husband in a car accident, she uncovers his steamy past. As she drowns in sorrow over loss and deception her carefully constructed world falls apart casting her adrift and she discovers that salt, be it tears, sweat or the sea guides her toward the truth of who she really is. As Kira overcomes her well of grief she finds herself in the arms of Ian, her surf instructor, who loves her for who she is, but his return to the west coast threatens to end their relationship and the love she’s found.



Between the Sheets "How to Pitch Like a Rockstar"

Superstar Heather Webb (yes she rocks!) is hosting the "How to Pitch like a Rockstar" pitch workshop and contest over on her blog. Click here for more info. Thank you Heather and everyone who is participating.

Pitch Numero Uno:

Girl on the Edge
Young Adult- Contemporary

Seventeen year old Pearl Jaeger emerges from a gritty childhood to find herself at a prestigious prep school. Fitting in is hard enough, but all too soon her life careens in the dangerous downward spiral of sex, drugs and rock and roll for which her late mother was notorious. Before she loses what little she has, especially the potential for love, Pearl must change her course or follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Revision # 1

Seventeen year old Pearl Jaeger emerges from a gritty childhood to find herself at a prestigious prep school. Fitting in is hard enough, but reckless with grief over the loss of her mother, she turns to drinking and smoking with the burnouts at Laurel Hill Prep. When she goes to summer school Pearl falls in deeper with the hard partying lifestyle sending her spiraling out of control on the heels of her late mother. But between hits of pot, pills and anything else she can get her hands Grant shows her what it is to be loved and she must close the door on her past, and choose him or lose love, along with her future.

Revision #2

As seventeen year old Pearl Jaeger emerges from a gritty childhood she finds fitting in at a prestigious prep school hard, but reckless with grief over the loss of her mother she turns to drinking and smoking. When she goes to summer school Pearl falls in deeper with the hard partying lifestyle sending her spiraling out of control on the heels of her late mother. But between hits of pot, pills and anything else she can get her hands Grant shows her what it is to trust and forgive and she must close the door on her past, and choose him or lose love, along with her future.

The Humble & Astonishing...

"It's a flat object made from a tree
with flexible parts on which are impirinted
lots of unny dark squiggles. But one
glance at it and you're inside the mind of
another person, maybe somebody dead for
thousands of years. Across the millennia,
an author is speaking clearly and silently
inside your head, directly to you. Writing
is perhaps the greatest of human
inventions, binding together people who
never knew each other, citizens of distant
epochs. Books break the shackles of time.
A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic."
-Carl Sagan 

A dear friend recently texted this to me, a reminder, an inspiration, a bit of possibility, a bit of love.

Dry the Rain...


Between the west (earthquake and tsunami warnings) and the east (mega-super-frankenstorm of the century) our continent has taken an emotional and physical hit. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who have been effected by nature. So that is pretty much everyone.

At times like these I find myself dwelling on the devastation, the photos and news clips of disaster, but I remind myself instead to consider how these situations prompt so many people to rise and serve. From emergency workers who risk their lives, to line workers to restore power, to doctors and nurses treating the injured, to people distributing supplies.

I am brought to tears by how beautiful we human beings can be. I am currently reading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. (No, I haven't been getting much sleep. It is riveting!) In the world she created people are divided into factions based on a single attribute: Erudite, valuing intelligence above all else, the Candor, who are honest, the Dauntless, the fearless and so on...there are also the Abnegation, the selfless. The flaw with a society like that is (of course!) we humans are multi-faceted and complicated, but in Divergent it is just another way to codify. It happens in other ways in our current society, but I digress. I see brave and selfless among us today as we recover from natural disaster. From my heart, I thank you Dauntless and Abnegation.

A few things I know...

1. We are all beautiful, worthy and innately good. Just a reminder.

2. Gifting yourself a bouquet of flowers smells like sunshine.

3. Clams do not like to be eaten.

4. A writer writes every day (or edits or outlines or researches) with weekends off (usually) to recharge the brain and generate inspiration.

5. A writer reads...a lot. And cookbooks do count.

6. Nourishing the body with food, exercise and sunshine is vital.

7. Ditto nourishing the heart with friends, family and activities that are like play. For example: gardening, surfing, photography....

8. Sometimes a bath in the rain is just what we need to wash away what we think are sorrows. Tears work too.

9. The smell of apple pie baking is almost as good as eating a slice of it. Almost.

10. "Happiness isn't wanting what you can get, but wanting what you have." -Beverly Lewis TRUTH.


The Plateau

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."
-- Louisa May Alcott

When you've got your nose to the grindstone and are crossing all your t's and dotting your i's, when you put forth 110% and keep at it tirelessly and then there is a kind of silence that isn't the pause of the clicking of keys, the stream of thought or the scratching of pencil on paper, when you think that the silence is no one listening, when it feels like you've reached an endless plateau and for a moment you wonder if you're on the right path, take a deep breath, listen for your heart and when you hear its patter, the sound of confirmation, go back to it.
And make sure you spell the word forty correctly.

Logline Revision from MSFV via KT Crowley

Check out my logline revision from Miss Snark's First Victim's Logline Critique...kindly hosted by K.T. Crowley on her blog. Click here to read and comment.
No idea what any of that means? Click here.  
I've learned so much from this great community of writers. Thank you!

On aging...

Sometimes washing the towels is like therapy. "Look they're clean! No stains!" But most of the time going out and getting dirty with life is the thing. As I approach my birthday I look back on another year. A lot has happened while the towels were getting washed, but I reckon as youth flits away I ought to spend a little more time getting muddy. Thanks for the reminder Marianne.

Ode to Kale


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee fresh from the farmer’s market on warm summer days.

I love thee plucked from the garden before the chickens nibble at you.

Whether you are green, purple, dinosaur or if you prefer, lacinto, with fringe or curly-cue.

I love thee raw in a salad, blitzed in a blender or baked and eaten as a chip.

I love thee with tahini sauce, in a smoothie or with dip.

However you are served up my taste buds savor every bite.

My body sings with ecstasy at the nutrition you provide.

Kale without you I am devoid.

Beta Carotene, vitamin K, C, lutein and calcium.

Ooh, you make my cells hum.

You bloom like a flower.

And cook up in under an hour.

From Ireland to Japan you are enjoyed the world over.

Kale you are a most delicious lover.

"We are the Makers of Pearls"

Get funk{e} and do some good...my dear pal Nicole: upcycler, designer and all around mega-fabulous gal is donating one scarf to Queens Medical Center Honolulu for every one purchased. Click here for the details.


After suffering from motion sickness while watching the Hunger Games in an XD theater I eagerly awaited the DVD version so I could watch it without turning green.

Because I like me a good theme I also baked this bread to go along with the event. It's hearty simplicity evoked my corresponding feelings about Katniss and her story. I'm grateful I can go to the store, buy an abundance of ingredients, ease-fully spend a morning kneading dough and waiting for it to rise, then later that evening watch a movie with no fear my kids are going to be entered into a reaping. I count my blessings that whatever complaints I have about politics, it isn't those particular to children being entered into an arena to fight to the death. Some may draw parallels to modern society, but not that, certainly not that.

“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
-Suzanne Collins

“Destroying things is much easier than making them.” 
-Suzanne Collins

“I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun.” 
-Suzanne Collins

“I don't want to lose the boy with the bread.” 
-Suzanne Collins

 “Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when it's morning again, they'll wash away
Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.” 
-Suzanne Collins


My writing process...usually.

"Write what you love and love what you write." -Ray Bradbury

The other day in a group text a good friend lamented, "How does Deirdre write and edit so much and not lose it?" I didn't answer because I had to think about my response.

Sometimes I do lose it. Sometimes my butt goes numb from sitting for five hours. Sometimes when the phone rings I don't answer it because I don't want an interruption to break my flow. Sometimes I do answer and am so deep in my mind I forget how to have a real conversation and not one between two fictional characters. Sometimes when I unfold myself from a hunched position I can practically hear my yoga teachers cringing. Sometimes I write, write and write and scrap it all. Sometimes I edit and edit and edit and wonder who the heck wrote this? Was she drunk? (FYI: I don't drink so there's that mystery.)

So yeah, sometimes I lose it. I lose the path, the thread, the way. I really do. But I love writing so much I can usually find my way right back.

For now, this is my writing process...

  • I become inspired by an idea I think is so great I'm willing to commit 100% of my creative resources to it. Or become inspired by an idea I think has potential and see where it takes me. Sometimes nowhere and that's okay. If I keep my eyes, ears and heart open usually there's another just behind it.

  • I jot down ideas, whole scenes or that singular inspiration that may or may not have potential on paper in a notebook with a pen or pencil - the old fashioned way. I keep the notebook by my bed because if a story really hooks me it will scratch and claw at the doorway to my mind until I let it in, think it through and write it down. (Those kinds of ideas I do not want to forget.)

  • As I sit with the story, usually for about a week or so names, places, pertinent details will continue to come as if beckoned by catnip and I'll add these to the growing pages in my notebook.

  • I clear as much as possible from my to-do list. I am the kind of person who requires that my space, etc. has some semblance of order otherwise I feel distracted. That's just me. So I tackle the todos within reason, but don't let anything keep me from getting to work. For example each day I take about a half hour to put away the dishes, toss in a load of laundry and make sure the bills are paid. After all, my laptop needs electricity. There's always more to clean, more to do, etc. but likely it can wait until later, but I don't put off writing for another day...Tsk. Tsk that day may come and go and likely I will remember a story I wrote but not how organized and clean my house was, unless I'm writing a book on the subject. For me it is simply a matter of striking a balance.

  • Then I start writing. I copy the ideas from my notebook into a document and have at it. I find, after sitting with the story, generating ideas on paper, it usually flows pretty readily from fingertips to keys. Blocks, challenges, etc. are a subject for another post.

  • Depending on what I am writing I may go back to my notebook or open a new document and create an outline or at least cover the major plot points. It depends on the material. For my first YA fiction I wrote then got myself into a position where writing down, what was going to happen and when, was essential if only to keep making sense. On my second YA fiction (still WIP) I did an extensive outline and for my most recent Women's Fiction I just made sure I was clear (I get clear by actually writing things down in this case just in note form- not a ten page outline) on the story arc, conflict, etc.

  • When I think I'm done with the book I use the spell/grammar check then read/edit it directly on the computer.

  • Then I print it out and edit it again, this time on paper with a pink pen.

  • Then I copy over those edits into the draft in my computer then reread the whole thing again. Aloud.

  • Then I print it out once more and read and/or give it to a friend to have a go at it. During this time I often wonder, what have I done? I sent my baby into the world, will she be okay? Will she be taken care of? What if it's awful? What if no one likes her? I wring my hands and pace.

  • Then I let it sit for a while, a week, sometimes less, sometimes more to have a break then read it again. And sometimes again. And again. And again. Editing it over and over.  

I use a version of this process for everything I've written, but each story and experience is unique, so I may read and edit more on one than another or offer a copy to multiple friends or just keep it greedily to myself.

I can't say enough about editing. That being said, if you can read the same thing over and over, maybe a dozen times and still feel as in love with it as you did the first time or sometimes even more, well that in itself is what writing and creating is all about. I would say a hearty yes to an agent and publication, but the pleasure and pride from having written something you love is a mighty good feeling. And that my friend is how I don't lose it.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

© Deirdre Riordan Hall | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig