Weekend in Duluth

I spent the weekend in Duluth with my partner-in-love’s family. “Uncle Bill” turned 80 or something, and I got to meet parents, sibling, cousins, aunts and uncles. We had a blast and I just wanted to share a few pictures.

 

This was the view from our hotel room, we stayed near Canal park in Duluth. This was the view from our hotel room. It was nearly 100 degrees while we were there, and I had something like 15 hours of homework to get done over the weekend, but I did see tons of people swimming out to that structure and jumping off into the water. I hear Lake Superior is ice cold, so I’m pretty sure I’d never want to jump into that water, but it did look like fun. Just… south (?) of here, there are two light houses that border a port where we saw some enormous cargo ships coming in to deliver and pick up goods. Not much different than Seattle, but at a much different angle. I’m looking forward to Seattle finishing our waterfront area because Duluth’s is 100 times prettier. I didn’t see any homeless people there.
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Personalized Writing Journals

I’ve spent the past 48 hours publishing a TON of books. It was easy because the interior content of the books was nothing but lined paper, but I believe I have memorized the step-by-step process for self-publishing on Create Space.  Zero content, consumable books are super easy to create and these were a ton of fun. I used the Social Security Administration’s list of top baby names for the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. This is just my first batch and unfortunately they’re not themed very well. Some are nature, some are scifi/ fantasy.  I think I’m going to continue doing this but focus more on themes in the future.  Anyway, here they are (click to purchase, if you’re feeling it).
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Life is Good Conference Recap 2017

Life is Good Conference ReviewMy legs are still wobbly from using the stairs to avoid waiting for an elevator during our 7th year attending the Life is Good Conference in Oregon.  This year it was at the Embassy Suites in Tigard, Oregon. It’s about 20 minutes from Portland.  My kids haven’t unpacked yet and the car isn’t even entirely unloaded.  There were tears on the way home, saying goodbye to your favorite people is always hard and listening to Evie bemoan the fact that it was over broke my heart, we both cried.

Last year, I sort of missed the conference. I was sick in my room the entire time and only came out for one workshop.  I didn’t realize when I left that I’d be sick for another 3 months, that I’d end up quitting my job and re-launching my freelance writing business simply because I can’t NOT have income, and it’s a job I can do while lying in bed literally incapacitated even after I ran out of sick pay.
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A Bit of Earth

Gardening is good for mental healthI always found it touching when the main character in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden summoned up the courage to ask her distant and domineering uncle for permission to have a garden.  I tend to think of that line when I’m working in my yard.  Yard work shouldn’t be mentally exhausting, but for folks with C-PTSD, everything is exhausting.  

My favorite gardening memories were from the summer of 1999 when I was living in Lynnwood, Washington.  It’s 8 miles north of Seattle, but with traffic it can be a 45 minute drive.  We were living in apartments at the time, so we didn’t have a place to grow vegetables. My friend Storm, her daughter Rainy and my two girls and I would carpool up to Marysville, I think it was, where we’d borrowed a bit of earth from a friend we’d met online. My brain is rattling around trying to remember that lady’s name… Barbara? Vicki?  Barbara is my final guess.  It’s not really the point of the story.
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Why I suck at being a fiction writer

I think I’m too analytical.  Like, I have a hard time making shit up.  It’s not that I’m not creative, it’s just that I imagine so many things in my head that I can’t bear to write just one…

But can I?

Being organized actually helps with that.  Plotting out my stories and knowing how things will end is a fun approach.  It definitely makes the process faster. I kind of HAVE to systematically decide what’s going to happen next, rather than randomly getting lost in a sea of what-if’s.

But now I’m in way over my head.  I’m building a world for a book I’m writing and it’s ridiculously complicated, you know, like a world should be.

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About my top-secret pen name

pennameI love that so many of you are wanting to support my romance writing by reading my books.  Unfortunately, I made a promise to myself and my neighbor, a fellow author.  I’m not revealing it until I have sold 1 million copies.  It’s true and I’m not going back on a pact that’s been sealed with a pinky-swear. That’s just not neighborly. If you’re not a fan of romance novels, you’re not my target market anyway and if you are, then maybe you’ve already read it. But here’s my promise to you..

1- I swear I’m doing everything humanly possible to reach that 1 million sales goal.  I’m pretty sure I can kick my neighbor’s ass, romance sells way more than wizarding world fiction, with the exception of Harry Potter. Wait- did 50 shades sell more than HP?  I don’t even know, I just know my market is bigger.
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Health and Wellness Update.

decisionsWe’re fine, by the way.  Thank goodness for the ACA.

When babies are born, a lot of moms will voice a preference over whether or not the child is a boy or a girl but when it comes down to it, all that really matters is that it’s healthy.

I was lucky that all my girls were born healthy (Yes, girls were my preference) and we’ve continued as a physically healthy family for over 23 years now.

But that scare we’re still recovering from- with my health on the line followed by my second daughter’s sepsis and pneumonia- is still traumatic for me.  Today is her 20th birthday and I never thought I’d still be reeling from her near-death experience. There’s an anxious side of me that’s always knocking on wood, we’ve been so very fortunate that we haven’t been touched by much tragedy and that monster whispered in my ear the entire time she was sick “You thought you were lucky, didn’t you?”  I don’t know how anyone manages to survive after losing a child and I know I must be a special kind of nuts to view our luck thus far as a bad omen.  No life escapes tragedy, does it?
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And now for something entirely different

Life is so weird, right? 3 months ago I was on track for a promotion to Director of Operations at the startup grocery store I’ve been working at for 2 years. I was working over 50 hours a week and missed my kids like crazy. There wasn’t enough time in a day to get everything done. I was struggling in every aspect of the word, to make ends meet and to do all of the things. This summer was so difficult. If only I could get a raise that brought my pay up to where I needed it. If only I could get enough people at work trained to take over the more mundane tasks. If only my kids would magically remember to cycle through the laundry or take out the trash on Wednesday night. If only I had more time, more energy or more resources to manage all of life’s unpredictable speedbumps.
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How old are you in MomYears? (or: how I became the mother of 2.45 elephants)

OK, so for some reason a long time ago someone decided that there were 7 dog years in a human year. So by the time your dog reaches one human year old, he’s really 7 dog years old. It makes sense, dogs reach puberty earlier than humans and if a dog lives to be 18 it’s just as much of a treat as a human who makes it to 126. A year in a child’s life is a much bigger deal than a year in the life of an adult (we’re talking humans now). It’s not that a human year isn’t long enough, it’s just that SO MUCH HAPPENS in a child’s life that when you have more than one kid, I’m pretty sure you deserve to count each one of their years as your own.
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Lucky. That’s all.

All my life I’ve felt lucky.  Maybe it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, maybe it’s a matter of choosing to see how things COULD have worked out alongside how they actually did work out.

There’s something anxious and unsettling about imagining all the ways things can go wrong, but looking back at all the ways things have gone right always reminds me of just how lucky I am.  I’ve got the support of friends and family, I’ve got healthy happy kids and in spite of having no real education or work background (other than for myself), I’ve got a job that I love running an amazing company that makes my corner of the world a better place. I’m incredibly lucky.
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