11–18 of 18 entries from the month of: May 2012

On Writing: Point of View

May 15th


Since moving to Colorado, I’ve joined a writing cooperative and several writing groups. I’ve been taking courses, having my work read and submitting to contests. One criticism has been constant: I try to cover too many points of view. Readers struggle to connect with the main characters because they know everything everyone is feeling.

Crafty idea


Idea to do with friends

I hadn’t spent much time thinking of POV. I simply plowed forward, telling stories. In 4th grade, I started playing the viola. Orchestra time was Tuesdays and Thursdays, for an hour. I was pulled from class with the handful of others to gather in the cafeteria with Mr. Keene. The man must have been both slightly deaf and blindly patient. I can’t imagine trying to teach a handful of elementary kids how to play a classical instrument. And yet he did so with compassion.

wine charm case in Indiana

For three years of elementary school, I missed grammar to attend orchestra practice. After five years of trying to conform to a mold my mother was desperate to achieve — child musician — I quit. I’d gone to music camp (not that kind), biked my viola on my handlebars to school for years, and never ever shown even a sliver of promise. By junior high, I resented the entire idea of orchestra; it was eating up an otherwise precious elective hour I could have been spending in home ec, French, etc.

Collection of wine charms

Come to find out, playing the viola takes far more mathematical understanding than I could muster. I’ve never been a numbers girl. Words, on the other hand? Gimme. My backpack was weighed down with library loans. I was the first kid to sign up at the summer reading program each year. Nancy Drew, the Babysitter Club girls, and eventually John Irving became close friends during my youth.

Wine charms

The viola gathered dust during those summer vacations. I couldn’t imagine committing my life to such a lame instrument. A viola? They don’t even write good music for violas. You are the Robin to the violin’s Batman. Thank you, but no. Perhaps if I’d played the cello — which I wanted to play, but required transportation far sturdier than the handlebars of my Schwinn mountain bike — I may have cared.

Come to find out, missing three years of critical education in grammar has caught up with me as an adult. Apostrophes are my kryptonite. (See my first novel for supporting evidence.) Point of view? WHY CAN’T I JUST TELL READERS HOW EVERYONE IS FEELING? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT ISN’T SUBTLE?


Gah. Rules.

So, I’ve been studying POV books, talking with successful writers and reading with a critical eye. Alicia Rasley’s “The Power of Point of View” is the best read I’ve come upon so far. She gives solid advice to writers of all sorts on why selecting a POV is important, what it conveys to your reader and how to strengthen your writing by making such a selection


I’m 15 chapters into writing novel 2. And my POV is all over the place. I’ve recently edited the novel from the beginning and selected a POV for each chapter. I’m now in the process of rewriting each chapter from the strongest point of view. Cheryl Strayed — the critically acclaimed author of the recently published “Wild” — was in Denver speaking at Lighthouse. She said something I keep thinking of that went something like, “Anyone can write. Most books aren’t art. To create art, you have to give your work meaning that rings true across generations.”

It’s detailed, challenging work. And unlike playing the viola — I love every second of it.


*These photos are from my trip to Indiana. The hosts have guests build their own wine charms. It’s a conversation starter and a way to showcase their cork collection. Pretty awesome idea, right?

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Journal, Media, Novel
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By Choice

May 14th

heart cupcake

Have you read Min’s take on marriage? Or what Dooce is going through, while separated from her husband? Relationships in the Time of Blogs — a modern-day take Gabriel Garcia Marquez would likely not appreciate — is a strange era.

“We’re texting.”

“His friends are adding me on Facebook. What does that mean?”

“He asked for my card. Now what?”

“He didn’t respond to my email.”  

By contrast: my parents met when they were in high school. They loved each other then. They loved each other raising two obnoxiously stubborn kids, one house in the burbs, one mini van, one million weekend hours spent a swim meets, and one spoiled rotten dog. They love each other today, 35 years after saying “I do.” A day my father wore a ruffled tux and my mom a handmade lace wedding gown that could have rivaled Kate Middleton’s. (A day my Uncle Rett apparently poured all the groomsmen and the groom more than one shot before they skipped down the aisle.)

My parent’s don’t tweet. Or Facebook. They do shout at each other over the television from the other room on occasion. Sometimes they even text — often with hilarious results. But for the most part, they just look at each other and talk it out. They still hold hands. And they’ve made my brother and I forever hopeful that this is what a good marriage looks like: conflict, resolution, a lot of talking about emotion, and fierce, stubborn love.

That’s exactly what Min’s saying in her post. I’m hopeful that’s the comeback story for Heather and Jon. When in doubt, always root for love.

My friend Adam and I had a lengthy conversation last week about what marriage means. He thinks I’m wrapped up in the notion of an antiquated tradition when committed relationships can mean the same without the title of “wife.” (Mind you, the man is happily married.) More and more of my friends are saying the same. While my core group of girlfriends are married, I have handfuls of friends who don’t want marriage or children. Or want one, but not the other. And proceed gleefully without worrying about social norms, tradition, or expectation.

Is marriage antiquated? Life is what you make it. If you want to look at marriage as a symbol of women being chattel handed over by their fathers to their new property owners, there is plenty in the books to make your case. And if you want to see it as a ceremony symbolizing commitment and love — well, there is a billion dollar economy ready to make even the sanest woman nutty over birdseed, bubbles and tulle.

The point is — I don’t know. The older I get, the less what I thought I knew seems true. I don’t know what should remain private, and what to share. There are days I want to scream from the top of the social media rafters that relationships are hard work. That I’ve spent enough time alone in the last decade, being with someone is a pleasant but odd adjustment. That figuring someone else out and honoring them is a tricky tight rope to walk. That my parents were so very lucky to find each other when they did, but that I recognize now more than ever they haven’t stayed together by chance — but by choice.

So, sometimes I yell to him from another room when a movie is on. Occasionally I embarrass him with tweets. And often as I can, I hold his hand.

This is all I know for now.



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May 14th

Nelson's new haircut

Nelson's new haircut

Somebody got a haircut and looks like a proper terrier now. We both hate it. I think he’s cuter scruffy and curly (kinda like I like my men) and I’m pretty sure he feels to prim and prissy. (Although it isn’t slowing down his continued hunt for the ever elusive backyard squirrel. SNACKS!)


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May 13th





I have  a new project I am managing in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I’ll travel there every couple of months. It’s a bit of a pain to get to, but it is worth the trek. Growing up in Arizona, where so little of our nation’s history has taken place by contrast, Arkansas is a land rich with monuments. I felt like I was in junior year history again — studying the Civil War, Trail of Tears and Whiskey Wars. The Arkansas River also makes for a lovely place to run. The state was far greener than I expected.

On the other end of the cultural spectrum, on this quick first visit — I also saw Brett Michaels in concert with a new colleague. Imagine this: an open air bar full of 500 people, most of whom are wearing cut offs, cowboy hats and unfortunate tattoos, screaming their hearts out for a man quite obviously wearing a long, blond, shiny wig. Outside, another hundred people who didn’t pay to get in, but could see the stage — only 100 feet or so away. They too had lighters out and were fully rocking out in the dark of a humid Arkansas night.

It. Was. Awesome.(ly bad.)

I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for the projects in Maui. Santa Barbara. Cancun. Possible, right?


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Fabric by Fabric: Sew Along

May 11th

Our sewing update this month is a wee bit late, but I’ve been having technical difficulties. The winners this month include all those who participated. Why? Because I can. And because they were all GORGEOUS:


Surya kicked butt, as usual.

Peachy seams

As did Peachy Seams.  That girl has been sewing up a storm!


no bad days

And Sue, oh my heavens. Sue personalized placemats for her sweet family. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen embroidery so perfect.

I was pleased with my addition to this month’s project. The recipient liked them too:

Table is set

For May-June — it’s dealer’s choice. Pick a project out of the book, upload it to our flickr pool, and new winners will be selected. I promise once I’m moved into my new space, an have my fabric unpacked and set up. I will have a dedicated sewing loft at the new house (and chickens in the backyard!). Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Shoot me an email and let me know what you are sewing. I’m excited to see what you’ll create.

Ladies — I’ll get prizes out in the mail to you pronto!




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Domestic Art, Fabric-by-Fabric Sew Along
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May 10th

the last supper, san xavier

Last week I found myself in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a few hours to kill.

“Tulsa, Oklahoma, will a few hours to kiiiilllllll.” Sometimes the country lyrics of my life write themselves.

I checked in with a friend in Denver who went to college in Tulsa. He told me where to grab lunch, get in some shopping and most importantly – that I had to visit Sharp Chapel at the University of Tulsa.

Walking into the chapel, my shoulders were around my ears. I kept swiveling my head left and right, trying to get the vertebrae in my neck to pop, and those deepening creases between my eyebrows were begging for a collagen injection. It had been a long week. I’d driven more than a thousand miles between Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas for work, checking in on medical practices. I’d navigated several tricky situations and was by this point in the trip, simply put: dragging ass.

And then I looked up.

The stained glass at the head of the church caught my eye as though a million gems had fallen from the heavens. The carefully crafted mosaic of Jesus, holding a lantern, cast rainbows of colorful light down upon the empty chapel. Bright blue, green, yellow, orange and red light sparkled majestically. I took a deep breath, squeezed into one of the skinny pews and sat, mouth agape.

Quickly, I fell into prayer of thanks. Within a few minutes, my heart rate slowed. I felt my muscles relax and my tension melt away.  The sight was spectacular – a gorgeous combination of man and God’s creation. The light, the dazzle, the ability of the Holy Spirit to remind when to look up.

Up, up. When I’m in my work zone, it seems everything falls away. To focus and do my job to the very best of my abilities, at the fastest pace I can, I seem to be unable to also: get regular exercise, make smart nutrition choices, make time for prayer, and/or think of anything else than the task at hand. I become frighteningly focused on one thing – do this job, and do it well.

And yet, it isn’t this job – or any other, that will provide the happiness, balance and grace I so desire. Sitting beneath a shower of stained glass light, hearing the silence of the chapel, feeling my body respond to the return to prayer – made the trip.

 2 Timothy 1:6-7


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May 9th

Colorado Daisy

Yeah. I KNOW. The blog has been down for more than a week. Blame Dreamhost for their shaky service and poor customer service. Many thanks to Jason and Randy for resurrecting this baby.

{You guys are the best! Thank you, thank you.}

A couple things I learned in the last week:

1. While the idea of being a professional blogger sounds like a walk in the park, it is wildly apparent I know very little about how to keep this technology moving. There is nothing tangible to feed (other than payments for services out of my checking account). There aren’t any belts blown. Or engines needing oil. Though it may not be incredibly difficult for some to understand, I couldn’t do a thing for the last week other than answer your emails, texts and FB posts to say — YEAH. I KNOW. I’M SO FRUSTRATED.

I kinda felt like that damsel in distress in an old movie wearing great heels and a scarf in her hair, standing next to a 1954 cherry red convertible Thunderbird with smoke pouring out of the hood.

“HELP,” she whispered, her long long eyelashes batting like butterfly wings.

2. I really, really like to write and share via this space. When I can’t, I get cranky. I’ve got a bunch of posts to throw up in the next few days. Thank you for hanging in there with me. And thank you for your kind words of concern.

3, Have I mentioned lately how much y’all mean to me?



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A Year of Thanks

May 1st

Happy 1 year anniversary, Colorado. What a fun, crazy, adventurous time it has been:

Rafting Clear Creek

Willie Nelson Mandela

Hydrangea bush

I love Colorado.* I am grateful for the many things this move has provided, namely: a much stronger relationship with my brother, Willie Nelson Mandela, new friendships, a great church, a chance to volunteer at a local food bank and be involved with community, four seasons, and Adam and Kim’s move here too.

Jess, Cody, Leila and Raja


My brother isn’t fond of me writing about him on “the blogs” and regularly gives me a hard time that someone is “going to make a skin suit out of me if I’m not more careful online.” And yet, in the last year, he’s started running and I’ve accepted his love of hunting. We’ve taken long hikes and debated faith — both trying for the first time to understand the other’s perspective. We argued over countless meals about nutrition, sports, and which Kardashian sister is the least annoying. (His girlfriend might be a minor influence in his life.) We’ve even got a 1/2 marathon on the books to do together this summer.

I love that man second only to my father, and my life is better with him in it. If for no other reason, I’m thankful to be in Colorado for Cody. Coors Tour

Denver 30: 17

It’s also rad to have a friend here who calls me her little sister, includes me in their family events (including the above shenanigan: the Dating Game) and is a consistent ear when I need someone. I’m really lucky to have her.


First snow

New hat for Duda




Also — I am thanful for Bird, who regularly reminds me I’m wound too tight and need to smile and get out of my head more. He’s a blessing.

Year two: Golden, chickens, book 2 published, first 14er summited, garden + pantry full of canned goods, 1/2 marathon, new trails explored with Nelson, new friends loved, life nutured and celebrated.


* AZ disclaimer: if you are reading this from the great 8-5-2-0-2, or near — know how much I miss you. Especially your kids.

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Colorado, Journal
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