Category Archives: Goals

Reading and Listening


This week I finished reading “The Outsiders.” Do you remember the movie? I remember bits and pieces, and that the drive in movie theater from the movie (in Tulsa) burned down not too long ago, causing a storm of emotion. (And fundraisers to rebuild, apparently.)

The book is an easy, quick read and one I do recommend, namely because it was written by a 16-year-old girl. That amazes me. It isn’t that the story has so many twists and turns I can’t believe a kid came up with the premise, but the character development is superb. And adult. And told from the perspective of a teenage boy, which she seems to get spot on.

Four out of five bananas.

Also, I’m now hooked on Audible. I’ve powered through “Yes, please” and am now listening to “The Heart of Darkness” and “The Hobbit.”

Let’s just say if you need a good reminder how far we’ve come in race relations, listen to Joseph Conrad’s work. Holy hell, this is some racist stuff. I get that it is an important story historically (charting ivory dealers on boats in the Congo), but the way the indigenous people are described and treated will make your ears hurt.

Bilbo Baggins and I, however, are becoming dear friends.

What are you reading?

Sing Alleluia

Nelson, before

Hi friends! Did you have a nice holiday? Celebrate the New Year with bubbly and fireworks? I hope it was delightful. I am happy to have taken some time away to spend with friends and family. I had a break from work and have returned full of excitement about the tasks at hand, along with a lengthy list of resolutions and goals for 2015.

It is going to be a great year!

One use of time I’d like to be more mindful about is reading. I’ve let my reading for pleasure slip, spending more time watching Netflix or silly episodes of Castle. This year, I’d like to read a book a week and provide a review here. I have a room full of books I’ve already purchased that are of interest, and are begging for my attention. Two reviews of books finished during the holiday break:

1. Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber. I heard about this memoir during a podcast of “On Being.” Nadia, a Lutheran minister covered in tattoos, was interviewed about her irreverent attitude about faith and how she feels God dragged her back into a relationship. I was crying by the end of the episode. My faith hasn’t wavered, exactly. But there have certainly been times of life when I was regularly attending church vs. lately. (I’ve been happily spending far more time seeking God on mountaintops, with my trusty hiking companions, than man-made sanctuaries.) Nadia sums up so many of my feelings on being in a relationship with God. Her spunky, vulgar, incredibly apt perspective about faith is exactly what I needed to read.

I’m only sad I didn’t attend her church — “House for All Sinners and Saints” in Denver when I lived in town.

One of many passages I found spot on:

“There is a popular misconception that religion, Christianity specifically, is about knowing the difference between good and evil sot hat we can choose the good. But being good has never set me free the way truth has. Knowing all of this makes me love and hate Jesus at the same time. Because, when instead of contrasting good and evil, he contrasted truth and evil, I have to think about all the times I’ve substituted being good (or appearing to be good) for truth.

“Very often I will avoid the truth until my face goes red… When someone like me, who will go to superhero lengths to avoid the truth, runs out of options — when I am found out or too exhausted to pretend anymore or maybe just confronted by my sister — it feels like the truth might crush me. And that is right. The truth does crush us, but the instant it crushes us, it somehow puts us back together into something honest. It’s death and resurrection every time it happens.”

One more, concerning her love for Mary Magdalene and how we should respond to violence and tragedy when we don’t know what to do:

“What Mary would do is show up and remind us that despite the violence and fear, it’s still always worth it to love God and to love people. And always, always, it is worth it to sing alleluia in defiance of the devil, who surely hates the sounds of it.”

Yes. So much yes. 5 out of 5 bananas because this book will stick with me for life and I’ve already bought copies to give as gifts. Yes.

Nelson, after

2. A Sudden Light.Did you read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein? Well, this is another one of his lovely novels. It is set in Seattle and is about generations of fathers and sons in the same timber dynasty family who have to reconcile each other’s desires about wealth and the environment. It is told from the perspective of a 14 year old boy, Clever Trevor, who you’ll fall in love with.

I really enjoyed this story once I got into it. 3.5/5 bananas, absoloodle.

Nelson, on the other hand, is loving being able to see again — but not happy about always being cold. I pulled out the electric blanket for him this weekend. I think it is safe to say his Colorado roots have been officially transplanted.

Happy reading and rocking the first week of this sweet year!


Basket Baby

Ghanian baskets for sale at the Scottsdale Farmer's Market

This week marked a milestone: I finished the first draft of my second novel, “Basket Baby” and sent it off to a handful of friends who agreed to edit. I’ve been working on this story since 2009 and am profoundly happy to see what it has become.

I’m evolutions behind my favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver. But thanks to studying writing at Lighthouse and countless afternoons spent reading, it is getting better. I am learning how to tell a story.

So much of life is about just that. Whether we sit around campfires under a twinkling Wyoming sky after a day of fly fishing, or we shoot off a quick email from our smart phone with the latest gossip — humans are uniquely interested in hearing a good tale. The juicy bits. The lurid, the profane and the innocent and naive. We want our characters to have abilities we dream of, and faults just like those we don’t like about ourselves.

“Basket Baby” is a story of redemption and survival.  The synopsis reads:

When Luz leaves her infant daughter on the doorstep of a wealthy home in Tarija, Bolivia — she doesn’t know the Americans living within are mourning the loss of their first child. Instead, the teen sees opportunity for a baby she can no longer keep.

Macy is clinging to what remains of her marriage, while fighting postpartum depression, and watching as her husband’s ambitious career leads into the dangerous politics of South America.

The housekeeper, Ruth, is left holding the pieces of the fragile family together — all while trying to feed four young children of her own.

Told from the perspectives of these three women, “Basket Baby” asks what it would take to abandon what you love most.

And now, I wait for cover art from an artist friend, and edits to be made before it is sent to the publishing house. With any hope, I’ll have real copies of this in hand by the end of the summer and a few readings scheduled for Fall.

I am very, very excited to share this story. (And also a bit giddy about the next project — a mystery series!)



I haven’t been reading as much as usual. There was a time of my life when my parents would take away my books as punishment and make me fish.

(Today, I dream of summer vacation in Wyoming, fly fishing with family friends, and reading until the sun sets or the mosquitoes drive us indoors. Oh, to be on the Green…)

Fly fishing

I’ve fallen into watching a lot of Netflix/Hulu/PBS on my laptop. Downton Abbey, House of Cards, Sherlock, The Call of the Midwife, Castle, etc. Television seems to be better than ever.

I’m making an effort to return to reading. There is something insatiable about a great read — one I drape over my knee while commuting so I can inhale another page at red lights. It has been a good while since I’ve read something that delicious.

I’ve just finished Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and it was entertaining. It wasn’t stop-light fantastic, but it was good and I’m interested in reading more of his writing. This book is young adult fiction, and the first hand account of a young man living among the Spokane Indians on a reservation. He decides to leave his high school for the better “white” school off the res. It is funny, poignant, crude and worth reading. The last 20 pages left me unexpectedly in tears.

“I realized that I might be a lonely Indian boy, but I was not alone in my loneliness. There were millions of other Americans who had left their birthplaces in search of a dream. I realized that sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to that tribe. But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants. And to the tribe of basketball players. And to the tribe of bookworms…”

It is a quick read and I think while at times heavy-handed, Alexie does a great job of expressing the difficulties a teenage boy must have living on an American Indian Reservation.

3.5 bananas, absoloodle

I am currently reading “Snobs” by Julian Fellowes of Downton fame. It is a bit hard to get started because the writing is so British and set on discussing aristocracy. But the soap opera is starting to get juicy, and there are characters named Edith and Isabel, which is easy enough to picture.

One of my many goals of 2014: read more, buy less. I will not own an e-reader or purchase more books until I have done something about the 300 pounds of books I haven’t yet read — but managed to buy. (I’m becoming good friends with the library and borrowing when necessary to stick with this economic resolution.)




Hear ye! Hear ye!

Beginning of the New Year public proclamation!

drinking up the sunlight

I am giving up artificial sweeteners. No more diet soda, or sugar-free anything. There is plenty of research backing up this decision, and a good bit of personal motivation too. A good friend was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She decided to make many changes after her diagnosis. I thought she might start using products like CBD oil, which have many health benefits including reducing the pain that comes with Multiple Sclerosis after getting several recommendations from the doctors and friends. And that is the sole reason why I did a lot of research on the use of CBD oil in the case of Multiple Sclerosis, and I discovered that Nabiximols (Sativex), a multiple sclerosis drug made from a combination of TCH and CBD, is approved to treat MS pain in the United Kingdom and Canada. I even asked her to do a quick Google search for something like ‘CBD oils UK‘ and then decide whether or not she wanted to use the oil. But instead, she has drastically altered her diet and way of life, and she recently announced that she will no longer consume diet sodas.

In solidarity, I am joining her.

And while this may seem like a simple thing, I am a Thirst Buster kinda girl. 64 ounces of pure Diet Coke love. No kidding: I buy my sugar-free gum at Costco. (That’s a lot of gum.)

This is one of the simplest and healthiest changes I can make this year. If you see me chomping on gum or gulping down saccharine bubbly, feel free to remind me of this proclamation and my hypocrisy.

Pretty tulips

The upsides: better bones and teeth, in the long run. Not looking like a unpolished galoot when I show up to meetings with gum in my mouth. One less product to have to buy in bulk. (Bye bye, Truvia.) Throwing away those refill Circle K plastic cups in the back seat of my car.

Showing some support and love for someone when I feel helpless to do anything else. And oh – showing myself I can do it. It has been a long time since I have put my mind to something and actually completed the task to the finish line. With someone to support in the process, it will be easier.*

What are your changes for the New Year?


*There is also more than a little bit of me hoping that if I can master this step, I can move on to other aspects of living a clean paleo diet that have thwarted previous attempts. One step at a time.

Word Count Wednesday

Dream Mexico Journal

23,200 words completed on novel 2 in the current draft, with about 10,000 more to be edited and added. Internets, hold my feet to the fire. I need to be adding 10-15,000 words a week to meet my April deadline for Novel 2.

The story is there, it’s just… My focus has been on other things. Christmas, traveling, Twitter. Pick your distraction and I will make it my new favorite way to pass time. Further motivation, I read about authors who publish a book each year and I wonder what I’m doing cruising TMZ.

Time to cut out the chatter and get my butt in gear.




2012 Books


An update to my 2012 goal of reading 50 books: 47 to go.

1. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: Fluff. 2 out of 5 bananas. It was a mindless read and nothing I’d strongly recommend.

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: I am, what, a decade late to this party? That said, I’m 100% enthralled and now understand all the hype. No review necessary. You’ve heard of the series. They are incredibly entertaining and JK Rowling’s creativity blows my mind. 4 of 5 bananas.

3. How to be a Rainmaker: I have a stack of business books to read for work and they make me wonder if monkeys are running this industry. So far I’ve learned to: be polite, return calls, make the customer feel respected and treat others the way I want to be treated. If you don’t know these things before investing in these useless books, you shouldn’t be in business in the first place. Zero bananas. Go find some good fiction instead and remember what they taught us all in kinder — liars never prosper, be nice to others and humility goes a long way.

Very much enjoying this newest read, and I think it’s got great recommendation potential: In the Garden of Beasts.  I also very much enjoyed your many book suggestions on the first 2012 books post. I’ve added a bunch of them to my wish list and am now on GoodReads, if you want to be pals.




Of all my 2012 goals, reading 50 books this year is likely my most ambitious. I’ve gotten in the lazy habit of watching far too much television on my laptop and not paying enough attention to the growing stacks of books around the house. I miss my bookclub.

These were given to me during the holidays. Some professional, some fluff, several on dogs.

To be a great writer, I should be reading great books. And lots of them. Is there anything you’ve read lately that tickled your fancy?







Oh, right.


I am a writer. There are days — months even — I forget. I let my mind and heart wander. I take on odd jobs. I help friends with complicated favors. I travel. I read. I watch Mad Men seasons on repeat. I take long, luxurious tours of museums.

On occasion, I even sew.

Today, I’m a writer. Tomorrow, I will be a writer with a few more pages under her belt, and the first day of a new writing routine in place. There is nothing like, “butt-in-chair” time to make a person with an idea just that — a writer.

I have a great friend who has mentored me for several years. When I told Alaina I was moving to Colorado, she made me promise it was for the writing. She regularly encourages me by sending copies of my first novel to her friends and family, returning with reviews. I don’t want to write to make her happy; but, it certainly doesn’t hurt to know there are so many like her cheering me along. To get these stories out of my head, on to the page and into the hands of those I love does make me happy. If the last year has taught me anything, it is that I can write a solid story when I put my energy and focus in the right place.


Today that means reviewing the first 17,000 words of novel #2 and rethinking the story’s organization. By the end of the weekend, I’ll have a new outline and plan. I’m focusing my creative energies for the remainder of 2011 (and however long it takes) on novel #2. If I get off track — say, by taking on a ludicrously exhausting second job that requires me to clean public toilets — I hope you’ll remind me of my goal: WRITE NOVEL #2.

{And pray that editor of mine is working on the final transformation of Under the Same Moon into an e-book format. It’s about time Donley Publishing hits the iPad, Nook, Kindle market.}