Water Under The Bridge…

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” ― Stephen King

Last week, I wrote that I was going to tell you about my next project which will essentially be by NaNoWriMo novel this year.

And since today marks the start of National Novel Writing Month…I figured…it’s as good a time as any. ;)

First though, I thought I’d explain a bit about my writing process, about ideas—and where they come from…

For me, each of my novels begins with a question. Typically, I don’t plot much— if at all…I just find new and different ways to go about answering the question as I write the story…

To give you an idea… below are examples of those questions…

Bedrock: What might the dissolution of a marriage look like? How can the two parties involved best go about fucking it up? And what happens afterward? What happens when you let the chips fall where they may?

Breaking Bedrock: A sequel I hadn’t planned to write. The question being: what are the chances a couple who are products of infidelity can make it work? Especially given that statistically speaking the odds are heavily stacked against them.

Beyond Bedrock: This one was for the readers. The question being: Again, what happens after… and how crazy can crazy get? Also, it touches on various levels of intimacy—how far one might go to avoid being transparent and the trouble they find themselves in in the process.

Around The Bend: How far is one willing to go to keep up appearances? What might a portrait of addiction look like for someone who seemingly ‘has it all.’

Somewhere With You: How do loss and grief shape us? Why are we drawn to certain people? And why do we keep finding our way back to them again and again?

Anywhere With You: Coming 11/11/15. Again, for the readers. Because they asked. Where does a love story truly end? When should one raise the white flag and call it a day?

Water Under The Bridge: Tentatively scheduled for 2/22/16. Lydia from Beyond Bedrock is getting her own story. That said, this novel is a standalone (spinoff?) and will not feature any of the other characters from The Bedrock Trilogy. Think Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ featuring adults. The question being… can one truly transform? Or merely blend?

And with that, below, the synopsis…

I’d wanted to share the cover as I designed it all by myself (a first) and I’m pretty proud—but my publicist says no, not yet. She’s smart and so I listen. :)

Happy November.

Happy National Novel Writing Month.

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Water Under The Bridge

My whole life I’ve wanted nothing more than to fit in.

Only my whole life I’ve done anything but.

That’s probably because I’m anything but average. After all—female serial killers seem to be a minority in today’s society.

And that’s ok—because I’ve longed for a change for quite some time now.

Which brings me back around to fitting in.

You know what one has to do to fit in?

I do.

One has to blend.

Which is great news!

Because I realized my clock is ticking, so to speak, and now I want a family. Luckily, I’ve always been good at getting what I want.

So I figure what better place to blend than suburbia?

All that stuff I did before—it’s water under the bridge now. I just hope it’s not too late to change my ways. Here’s to hoping for suburbia’s sake, too.

I mean, what are the odds I could be the girl next door?

Apparently, they’re better than you might think.

On habits: Creating & Sticking With Them

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” ― Jim Ryun

It’s been on of those crazy, busy, insanely (good) weeks where I’m suddenly asking myself how is it that it’s already Friday…

Also, I realized I hadn’t blogged yet and I do my very best to make it a weekly habit…

Speaking of habits—some of the best advice I’ve ever been given on setting goals, sticking to them, and creating success is to never skip a day of what’s important twice. And so I don’t. Whether it’s— exercise— or writing— or learning ‘moves like Jagger’— unless I’m flu-like sick (which thankfully doesn’t happen often) I don’t go two days in a row without completing the necessary tasks associated with those things.

And on the topic of habits, I want to remind you, tell you, encourage you to consider NaNoWriMo a.k.a National Novel Writing Month if you’re looking to create a writing habit.

I participated in my first NaNoWriMo almost three years ago. The experience gave birth to my first novel, Bedrock. Prior to my first NaNo I’d been a regular writer—but not a daily one. I hadn’t yet understood the importance (for me) of being that engaged in a story. I hadn’t realized that the momentum of writing 1667 words EVERY DAY would only lend to the habit of creating and propel the story forward in a way that it never had before.

Which is why I’d encourage you to give it a go— even if you have no intention of writing a novel and/or publishing it. It’s a great way to create a writing habit— whether you’re a blogger, or poet, or what have you.

Last year I had the pleasure of attending NaNoWriMo’s Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco. And while I won’t be in SF this year due to the event falling smack dab in the middle of a book launch and so forth— I will be participating in NaNoWriMo. I’m using it to begin (and hopefully complete) work on my next project— which I can’t wait to tell you about. Soon. That said, I’m incredibly nervous about committing to 50K words in 30 days given the aforementioned book launch and other things going on…BUT I know if I can do it… then so can you. Also, committing publicly is a nice added incentive. ;)

FullSizeRenderA photo of NaNoWriMo’s Founder, Chris Baty and I last year at the Noir themed Night of Writing Dangerously in SF. These days he spends his time teaching at Stanford University’s Writer’s Studio. I’m in awe of what he has created as I’m also a HUGE fan of their young writers program. 

P.S. This week I’ve been reading The Girl in 6E. It’s dark and it’s different…and I’m not quite ready to review it just yet. :)

The Long Way Around…

“When it comes to fighting, physical strength really has very little to do with it. One of the tenets that judo is founded upon is “Maximum efficiency, minimum effort.” That has really defined my career. It is the foundation of all the techniques and everything I do. It’s one reason why I don’t get tired. It’s one reason why I am able to fight girls who are a head taller than me, or chicks who are on steroids. People who cheat or dope lack the one thing every true champion must have: belief. No drug or amount of money or favoritism can ever give you belief in yourself.” — Ronda Rousey (My Fight / Your Fight)

I read a REALLY great book this past week. I’d heard about Ronda Rousey’s biography from Brian Johnson, a philosopher I follow who takes great books, on being great, and breaks them down into bite-sized chunks. Something about this particular note he did stuck out at me and so I decided to read the book—despite the fact that I assumed it’d be all about MMA and the UFC, which I’m not particularly a fan of. I’m not necessarily not a fan either— it’s just that watching two people beat the hell out of each other isn’t really my idea of fun. But then, upon digging further, I read that Ronda was a Judo champion. And somehow that made it different. Although maybe it really isn’t. :)
Also, during the first disagreement I ever had with my husband he dubbed me a ‘verbal Judo Master.’ It stuck, and well, I really felt like Ronda Rousey and I had something in common. ;)

All BS and sarcasm aside—apart from the verbal Judo part—(I can go a few rounds) Ronda’s story is pretty amazing and very inspiring and I could not put the book down. Her words made me question a lot about my life in regard to where to be soft and where to be hard. Particularly in the parenting arena. I loved her mom. Although, fair warning, in this day and age her style of parenting isn’t likely to be highly regarded.

In addition, there were great bits of wisdom on vulnerability and passion— and how to use them to your advantage. But my biggest takeaway was something she said about not allowing others to project their insecurities and limitations onto you. This lesson is one that has shown up again and again for me and I’m pretty much past ready to be done with it. So, it was perfect timing. And the perfect book.

Lastly, this is the point at which I should probably market talk about the book I’m working to meet deadline on. Instead, I’ve decided to save that for the newsletter which comes out Thursday. It’ll include a Kindle giveaway, the first chapter of Anywhere With You… and probably a few other things. :)

P.S. One of my favorite passages from My Fight/Your Fight.  

“I lost my second judo tournament. I finished second, losing to a girl named Anastasia. Afterward, her coach congratulated me.

“You did a great job. Don’t feel bad, Anastasia is a junior national champion.”

I felt consoled for about a second, until I noticed the look of disgust on Mom’s face. I nodded at the coach and walked away.

Once we were out of earshot she lit into me. “I hope you know better than to believe what he said. You could have won that match. You had every chance to beat that girl. The fact that she is a junior national champion doesn’t mean anything. That’s why they have tournaments, so you can see who is better. They don’t award medals based on what you won before. If you did your absolute best, if you were capable of doing nothing more, then that’s enough. Then you can be content with the outcome. But if you could have done better, if you could have done more, then you should be disappointed. You should be upset you didn’t win. You should go home and think about what you could have done differently and then next time do it differently. Don’t you ever let anyone tell you that not doing your absolute best is good enough. You are a skinny blonde girl who lives by the beach, and unless you absolutely force them to, no one is ever going to expect anything from you in this sport. You prove them wrong.” — Ronda Rousey (My Fight / Your Fight)

Book Review:The Good Girl & A Giveaway…

“I know how betrayal and disillusionment feel, when someone who could give you the world refuses even a tiny piece of it.” ― Mary KubicaThe Good Girl

18812405This past week I read The Good Girl and I LOVED it. I particularly loved how I wrote last week (prior to opening up this novel) about how I enjoy being inside all of the character’s minds— and how I appreciate having to work for it.  Ask and you shall receive. This book certainly did the trick. I can’t imagine that it’s easy to pull off a story of this nature—one told from so many angles— but it was done amazingly well. And truthfully, after I committed publicly to reading and reviewing a book a week I got rather nervous given all that I have going on.  Thankfully, this one turned out to be rather difficult to put down and that made keeping my word not so hard which I appreciate. In fact, I liked it so much I’m giving away a copy below. Just because. To recap what I’ve said before, I don’t know the author, and I purchase the books I read, review and giveaway.

Lastly, or sort of lastly, an excerpt from my upcoming novel Anywhere With You in the form of bad poetry.

It’s up for pre-order now.

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And for the giveaway… click here. 

P.S. I’m doing an exclusive giveaway for newsletter subscribers. I thought I’d keep it a secret… but instead I’ll just tell you that one of them are going to receive a little product that Amazon is releasing on 9/30/15. It rhymes with the word dindle. ;) Which by the way I just googled to make sure was actually a word and eek, for sure… um, yes it is. It figures. :) Anyhow, the winner will be announced in the next monthly newsletter which will go out on 10/8/15. You can subscribe here. 

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure. To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” 
― Marie KondoThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

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I know I said short book reviews and I assure you this will be the longest you’ll ever see. This one simply has a story behind it…

I almost feel like everyone and their mother has heard at least something about this book at this point. As for me, I started my (extreme) decluttering journey last December.

I’ve pretty much always equated clutter to chaos in my life and have never been much of a fan of either.

For sometime now, I’ve held the notion that our things have energy and this energy affects us—one way or another.  We expend energy owning our stuff and/or lugging it around. And there’s a cost of ownership.

Over the past decade I’ve lost a handful of immediate family members. I ended up being the one to clean out the contents of their homes (and lives) after they died. I guess once you go through this it sort of makes you ask yourself what is important and what isn’t in terms of what we own—but more importantly  you realize how your loved ones will likely feel when it comes time to do the same for you.  It’s tough dismantling a persons life and the contents they held dear. Incredibly tough.

Still, for all of my impracticalities I can actually be somewhat practical. So, admittedly, when I picked up a book whose premise (I had heard) was basically: if you don’t love it (and by that I mean hard love) and it doesn’t bring you joy—it has to go… I wound up in hands on hips, can’t catch my breath, wait a minute… she’s saying what mode.

Thankfully though, I appreciate a good challenge and so I read the book. It didn’t take long to realize that the author’s philosophies made complete sense. And thus began the remodel. This was a whole other life changing and revelatory process. One, however, that worked its magic.

For a very long time I wanted a bigger house. I thought this was part of the answer to my life’s problems. Too many people in too small a space. Now, having raised two of my children into adulthood I understand the immense value of having had a smaller home. It forced us to be closer than we would’ve been otherwise. For better or worse at times—but overall I believe better.

If only I’d understood living and the art of decluttering in the way that Ms. Kondo describes in her book— it surely would have saved me a lot of guilt over the years about getting rid of things and my leanings toward minimalism.

One of life’s greatest and most difficult lessons for me has been knowing when to hang on and when to let go. I found this book and the process of doing the work incredibly cathartic— and as she states in the title, life-changing.

A Change Is Gonna Come.

The act of regularly opening yourself up in full view of an army of strangers is choosing to be exposed; to consent to have one’s unprotected innards trespassed upon and rooted through. This vulnerability comes at a great personal price, one that is never really ever repaid. The writer is always in the red.” — John Pavlovitz

This quote comes from a great piece titled: Thank You For Bleeding: A Love Letter To Writers

For the past six months or so (maybe probably longer) I’ve really struggled with what to do with this space. This question has been banging about as so much has changed for me since I started writing here, nearly four years ago. Having recently transformed the space around me, I realized that in a sense, doing so, has transformed me personally. Or vice versa. What came first, the chicken, or the egg… it appears the jury is still out on that one.

Originally, when I started blogging in 2008 (anonymously and in a different space) I wrote about the trials and tribulations (and the fun!) of raising a large family. But then that family grew up (and really deserved their privacy in the process) and thus that blog evolved into this one, a space about the trials and tribulations (and the fun) of me growing up.

The main challenge in this has always been that my life is not a one woman show. Thankfully. And I’m very protective of the supporting cast. Which means that whenever I’ve written about my family and I’ve put it out there…well, there’s always been a bit of ickiness associated with doing so. The line with what feels right and what feels wrong has always been a bit too thin for my liking. I’m fine with being judged. I’m even fine with a certain lack of privacy. But I’m not fine with the people I love most in the world not having theirs— and it being my fault.

Secondly, not only have I evolved… so has the audience. I see the search terms. The shift is in part due to the fact that when I started writing here I hadn’t yet published works of fiction—works which may or may not be congruent with my personal life— and/or the things I write about in this space. The two, at least for me, (fic and non-fic, real life and make believe) are very different animals— and it can be dangerous when those lines become blurred. It can also make it a tad bit difficult to be brave and truthful in your storytelling. Which is one reason I love writing fiction so much. There are fewer people to protect when sharing your brand of crazy. For the most part, it isn’t personal.

And the truth of the matter is that writing fiction (messy, messy fiction;) has always been the path I’ve intended to take. I like making things up. Which means that I need to be a little more careful about the (non-fic) stories I tell (on the interwebs) and whom I tell them about. It’s time I separate the two to a degree.

As for what that means for this space… I don’t yet know.

I only know that a change is coming… and that I’m beyond grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, for the ability to share those lessons, and for the changes that doing so has brought.

What I learned from being a quitter…

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.” — Orebela Gbenga

I told this story in front of fifty-five women the other day and they seemed to think it was pretty funny so…

This is what happens when a survivalist and a minimalist decide to climb a mountain together:

There will be many “discussions” about why one needs so many items for a DAY HIKE.

Eventually, the minimalist relents because she understands: You can be happy OR you can be right. 

Only, what she should have understood is that if the level of difficulty for a climb is listed as very strenuous, it actually means VERY STRENUOUS. Because if she had, she would’ve certainly fought a little harder about the BS that was being loaded onto her back.

At any rate, eighty-five percent of the trek to the summit turns out mostly uneventful. Except for the fact that the survivalist half of the party likes to annoy the other half by teetering on the edge of a mountain with fifty pounds of unnecessary camping gear strapped to his back. And let’s face it: pretty much no one is going to believe he “just fell.”

They make it to the point where there’s about two hundred feet left to go to summit. This is how the rest of the climb is described:

Follow the trail to the right and back down a few hundred feet before ascending a steep, slippery slope (which can be covered with snow) to a signed viewpoint.

Get ready for some more serious climbing and scrambling through the boulders that make up the summit.  The trail gets faint further up. When in doubt, keep going up. Some rocks will move under foot so be sure to use your hands for balance.  You’ll notice a couple plaques, memorials, and flags once you reach the top.

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This is where she decides to quit. For one, she’s carrying too much crap to make it fun. Two, she decides their children need at least one surviving parent.

She tells him to go on and to leave his pack. And for God’s sake to stop teetering on the edge. Or he is going to die. One way or another. He agrees. This is all his fault. But she doesn’t say so. Or maybe she did. She probably did.

She perches herself in a spot that unbeknownst to her seems to be designated for all the other quitters. She meets three people from her hometown and one from the Dallas area. They get to know each other. Turns, out they can’t breathe at 12,000 feet either. This quitting thing is amazing! I mean what are the odds?!?

Two men on their way down access her situation and ask who left her with two packs. You see! Sympathy. This quitting thing isn’t so bad after all! 

Plus, she’s always saying she needs to be more gentle with herself. This was her chance!

She sits there. And weighs her options. She watches him climb. She considers whether or not she’s really done. She thinks she is.

Until two people stop not far from her. She listens as a man consoles his partner. “It’s ok,” he says. “No one will know you didn’t make it to the top. Just say you did.” She watches as the woman nods and appears relieved.

And that’s when it hits her: She’ll know.

Quitting is a bad idea. She might get sympathy. She might even  meet people (nice people!) to hang out with along the way. People who will console her with camaraderie.

But, in the end, she’ll know. 

So she gets up, dusts herself off, leaves those packs where they are, and climbs to the top.

“Where are the packs?” He asks when she reaches summit.

“Down there,” she points.

“You just left them?”

She gives him the look. “I don’t even want to carry those fuckers down. Do you really think anyone else does?”

He smiles.

Because he knows… she’s right.

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Out of Pocket.

“How did it get so late so soon?” ― Dr. Seuss

We’re still smack dab in the middle of a remodel here…and I just want to say…

If I owe you a phone call or an email or a blog post…or some other form of communication…I’m sorry.

Let me explain: Have you ever seen that show Extreme Home Makeover… where things just magically happen, and voilà they’re done, and everything looks so nice?

Well, here it is NOTHING like that. ;)

Also, everything, everything, EVERYTHING that can go wrong…will go wrong…

I think there’s even a law about it somewhere. ;)

But I can’t complain—as this was at least 45-60% my idea. One can’t be sure anymore. :)

The moral of the story is this—

If you’re writing a book…budget in more time.

If you’re remodeling a house…budget in more time.

In other words, for pretty much everything…BUDGET MORE TIME.

Oh and speaking of writing a book…we have a firm release date AND it’s up for pre-order this week. 

Lastly, a little something from the book…

But first—just to clarify, I’m really not complaining. These projects have been a ton of fun and I’ve learned so much in the process. The equivalent of a bajillion life lessons…let’s just put it that way. ;)

Out of Pocket.

Your love was a currency
I never could afford
Yet I would have given everything—
Emptied out the whole of me.
Just to have a little for myself.
That’s the way you wanted it
And I gladly paid the price.

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The Answer To All Life’s Questions.

“Everything takes time. Bees have to move very fast to stay still.” ― David Foster WallaceBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my upcoming novel, Around The Bend by this time next week, if not sooner, and I’m pretty pleased with where this story is leading me.

It’s been both a teacher and a lesson, that’s for sure. :) There were places I didn’t think that I could go, that I went. And there’s still a little ways to go…so, who knows, I might just surprise myself. ;)

In the meantime, in breaks between writing the hard stuff and having fun, I’ve been playing around with poetry and really not caring how bad or how good it is. :)

The latest, below…

The Answer To All Life’s Questions.

There’s beauty in the silence,

Wisdom in stillness,

When there’s no audience to please, nothing to be said, no one, and no where to be—

You’ll find yourself there.

Oops…I did it again. An Introduction.

“You cannot know how lucky you are to love until you’ve felt the immense pain of having to let that love go.”- Britney King, Somewhere With You

Once upon a time I said I probably wouldn’t quote myself again…BUT today is special. BECAUSE today happens to be the day I’m introducing my latest novel, Somewhere With You– tentatively scheduled for release on 4/14/14.

Please consider adding it to your Goodreads TBR’s by clicking here.

I really hope you like it. :)

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Synopsis: 

This is the tale of first and last loves. And those that come in between…

Jack Harrison is a relentless overachiever who leaves little in the way of compromise. A businessman to the core—he’s hell-bent on being at the top of the food chain. After all, no one can trip you up if you’re on top, as he likes to say. The problem for Jack is there’s only one thing that continually trips him up—and that’s her.

Amelie Rose, with a name like poetry and a heart of gold, as her father always said, is a free-spirited photographer who has managed to land a job at one of the top travel magazines in the world. This is both a blessing and a curse since Amelie never stays in one place for long and has refused to commit to anything—ever. 

It might seem to the casual observer that these two have almost nothing in common. But fate would disagree. The story chronicles Jack and Amelie’s lives from childhood into adulthood, beginning when they meet as then eight- and ten-year-olds at summer camp specifically designed for children who’ve lost too much.

As fate steps in, and that first summer seals the deal, they come to depend on each other in ways neither of them expected, with each summer bringing them closer than the last. As they come to terms with life and loss, with hanging on and letting go, they’ll teach each other that some bonds are meant to last. Together, they will travel the world, meeting in various places where they’ll come together, and fall apart, all the while struggling to discern if the other could possibly be the one.

This unlikely love story takes us on an adventure where two people come of age, fall in and out of love, and question the role timing plays in it all.

Their story is proof that neither time nor distance—perhaps not even death—can destroy what love creates.

 So it seems the only question left to ask is whether love is enough?

 

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P.S. A HUMONGOUS  thank you to Lisa Wilson of Pixel Pixie Design. I know I am a royal pain in the the ass to work with, especially when I have a “vision” in my head of what it is I want. Each step of the way you surprised me, never batting an eye at my insanity. I am so grateful. Thank you. Thank you. xxoxoxo