A bit of time to relax

December 15th

Gigi

I am taking a few days off over the next three weeks. A couple days here. A couple days there. I plan on accomplishing the following:

 

  1. Driving to Winslow on a solo road trip to take photos and notes for the remaining chapters of Counting Coup. I need to do a bit of research too, including finding copies of Arizona Highways from the 1950s.
  2. Watching a lot of Gilmore Girls. I am new to this series. When it was on television, I remember thinking the dialog was too quick and seemed unnatural. Maybe I speak faster today, but I’m finding it very enjoyable. I do watch it (like all other TV) with the closed captioning on so I can be sure to pick up everything that is said. I’m in season 3, and at this point, I feel like I’m a little Paris, a little Emily, and a little Lane. I’d like to be more like Lorelai, or perhaps just have her ability to eat like a quarterback who magically stays a size 2.
  3. Oh, yes. And then there is my first Christmas as a married stepmama. Ha. I’m looking forward to this too. We’ll have lots of family around for pizza and board games and hands of Uno. With any luck, I’ll get my photo of us all in our Christmas jammies by the tree. Maybe I’ll even get a photo of Nelson with his antlers.

I hope you also get a chance to lounge around the house in comfy clothes, enjoy good company and great food and sleep without setting an alarm.

Wishing you the very best and brightest in 2017!

xo,

K

 

Posted in
Arizona, Celebrate!
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Writing in a Cul-de-sac

December 12th

Basket Baby, now available at online booksellers and Changing Hands

Photo by Amanda Nemec

Hi, all! The book signing this weekend went marvelously. It was, much like the wedding, full of unnecessary nervousness and over far too quickly. My face was hot for the reading, I was so flustered—which was silly because the room was full of people I know and love. This burgeoning writing career is a dream come true, and there is little that feels better than to know your tribe will come out and support your wild endeavors.

For those interested, there are signed copies still available at Changing Hands in Tempe, and there are copies also available online. (If you’ve read Basket Baby and wouldn’t mind providing a review, I’d appreciate it.) I’m offering to attend book clubs in person locally, and via Skype elsewhere. If you have a group interested, let’s email.

 

Now, on to the next book. I’m writing Counting Coup and am well into the final chapters. This is both exciting and unnerving because there are major plot holes and character issues I have to resolve with the next pass. This is when in the writing process, it is much easier to stuff the project in the back of a drawer (or a folder hidden within another folder on your hard drive.) It is like building a house and recognizing you have to add another room, and change where the fireplace is located. And maybe you need another bathroom? But first, you have to finish the drywall and the tiling. You’ll go back and knock down that part of the house later.

It is tempting to pull out the wrecking ball now, is what I’m trying to say. (That and I’m likely watching too much HGTV.) Editing now would be a very bad idea. When I have the end in sight, I have learned in the last ten-plus years of writing that it is critical to push on. The first draft is always bad. Always. Whether you are Tolstoy or Donley, you’re going to have to make some major revisions. But by not first writing the ending, you’re still in first draft limbo. And this gray area, for me, is a swamp of self-doubt and loathing. It is a murky land full of mean girl voices whispering how I’m never going to be a great writer and I don’t deserve to tell this story.

Those mean girls are bitches and deserve to stay in their swamp. This time, I’m not falling off the thin bridge I’ve built over their noise. I know at next pass, and the next, and quite likely the next, and then the final, that bridge will become more solid. And the negativity will go dormant until arriving here when telling the next story. I am not going to get caught walking in circles, writing and editing until I’m so frustrated I put it down, or worse—quit.

So, buckle up. We’re headed toward that tiny light on the horizon.

~K

 

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Writing
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Book signing tomorrow!

December 8th

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Hey local friends! Just a gentle reminder tomorrow I will be talking about Basket Baby and signing copies at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. 7 pm! I’ll be wearing new boots, and old turquoise and a nervous but happy smile. Let’s awkward hug and talk about dreams realized.

xo,

K

 

 

 

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Arizona, Celebrate!
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Traveling to Sonoita and Patagonia, Arizona

November 21st

Southeastern Arizona has a burgeoning wine culture that is driving tourists to visit. We were among them last month when we visited the region for five days. With wineries and hikes in mind, we rented a home on AirBNB and headed the 2 hours and 45 minutes south from Phoenix. The house was beyond what we needed, and a deal at $100 a night:

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

What we should have done was stop in Tucson for a late lunch, or big dinner. While the vistas in this region do not disappoint, the lack of dining does. This is my only complaint. There is a decent steakhouse in Sonoita, and a pizzeria in Patagonia. Both are worth a visit. Otherwise, next time we’ll stock up on groceries and plan more meals at home.

I sat on this porch in the mornings, reading and sipping coffee, wrapped in a blanket. The home we stayed in was surrounded by others that had farm animals. So, there were chickens in one direction and a braying donkey down the road. It was so quiet, one morning I heard a large raven flying overhead and looked up to realize I was actually hearing the wind go through the bird’s wings. That kind of quiet.

 

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

We did make it to a couple of the wineries. My favorite was the Dos Cabeza’s rose, although I really enjoyed the Flying Leap rose too. Jason’s favorite was the Flying Leap sangiovese.

Other worthwhile adventures when visiting this region:

Kartchner Caverns — no photography is allowed, but the cave tour is a must. It is such a strange, magical place.

Bisbee: this artsy mining town is full of color and character. Jason had never been, so it was fun to play tour guide and wander together. Bisbee is great for thrift stores, art galleries, the mine tour and wandering. It is home to the 1000 steps climb each October and you’ll find lots of narrow stairways in town.

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

If you make it to Bisbee, visit Jimmy’s. It is a hot dog shop (if that wasn’t obvious) and is excellent. A family-owned restaurant with a ton of character and great food.

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

We also visited Tombstone, Sierra Vista, and Nogales. My favorite adventure was to the Empire Ranch. 

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona HoneymoonSouthern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

It is a great place for a long walk and wander. This former ranch has been preserved and the surrounding areas are being used by biologists for animal and plant conservation. Loved it!

~K

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Arizona
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Hello? It’s me. I was wondering…

November 15th

Southern Arizona Honeymoon

Oh, hello dear blog. I’ve neglected you long enough. There have been a bevy of excuses: the wedding, the exorbitant amount of time I am now spending commuting, family life, publishing.

Basket Baby is being published, and I’ll have a signing at Changing Hands in Tempe. (7 pm, December 9th. Come one, come all. Bring your holiday shopping list — this bookstore doesn’t disappoint.)

There are other reasons too, namely that the older I get, the less I need to share. Also, there are roughly a dozen other ways I now keep up with friends and family that weren’t around — or I wasn’t using — at the inception of blogging. Most of the friends I’ve made through blogging have called it off, instead posting to Instagram or Facebook.

There is still a place in my life for keeping up this journal, albeit less about the daily happenings in our household and more about what’s going on professionally.

This week, I’m re-reading Basket Baby and coming up with a passionate passage for the book signing. I’m also writing the first draft of the next novel, Counting Coup. I’m on chapter 24 and I haven’t written a word in more than a month. This is an oddly terrifying place to be as a novelist. I put the project down when wedding and honeymoon plans and activities took over, whispering to Creativity I’d be back.

Now, Creativity (and Inspiration) both feel ignored — and rightly so. We’re courting. I’m hoping to have the project back on track this week, depending on how stubborn they are. My goal is to have the first draft done by the time of the book signing. I’ve got a solid idea for the next novel (Draper Drive is the working title) and I am eager to get started.

One of my greatest motivators at the moment is sitting in traffic behind vehicles with “Make America Great Again!” bumper stickers. An hour to work, and hour home, I sit in a cloud of pollution, flipping through radio programs and dreaming of a home office where instead, I write. Dogs rest at my feet. I switch up a cup of coffee for an afternoon glass of rose and listen to classical music while the words pour out onto the page. My nails are manicured. The garden is weeded. Dinner is cooking downstairs. The housekeeper is managing laundry and taking out the recycling.

Yes. The pollution might be getting to me.

I have a feeling the next four years are going to see a brilliant surge of art in America. For no other reason, this may make America a bit better.

~K

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Good to Great
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Happily Ever After

November 4th

Happily ever after

Oh, dear blog. You have not been forgotten, although you have certainly been neglected lately. I’d apologize, but I have good reason. I was planning a wedding and a honeymoon and over-thinking everything.

We had a handful of our favorite people in one place and I have never had a better day. There were so many loved ones and we had a chance to chat and dance and toast and inhale green chile and homemade tortillas and gingersnaps with all of them. It was an overplanned, anxiously executed dream come true.

There were lots of great handmade details that were important to our big day. I made 100 jars of marmalade as the favors, painted the cake toppers and stitched the ring pillow. The invitations were handmade and printed on vintage handkerchiefs. My mom sewed a bow tie for Nelson and made our chuppah — which was a wedding ring pattern I love. A girlfriend’s mom made my bouquet and the boutonnieres. We had friends recite poetry and help read a blessing. My grandmother’s begonia was tucked in my bouquet, and I wore her sparkly necklace that I’ve adored since I was a girl. Another girlfriend’s mom made our guest book. Others brought cookies for the dessert table. I baked a small cake.

I’ll post more photos as I can about our special day, but here are few for now:

Happily ever after


Happily ever after

Happily ever after

More to come. In the meantime, I’ll be writing thank you cards, which I hope to finish before Christmas. And moming, which makes my heart so happy and full, my cheeks hurt.

xo,

K

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Celebrate!, Family
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Viva la Frida!

September 14th

Girlfriends organized and threw a Frida Kahlo-themed wedding shower for me over the weekend. It was, not to be too dramatic, the best day of my life. I had a handful of close friends and family in one room, all enjoying great food and each other’s company.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

Frida bridal shower: September 2016 Mesa, AZ

Frida bridal shower: September 2016 Mesa, AZFrida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

Frida Bridal Shower

A flower bar. A Frida-themed photo backdrop. They made me a flower headband to wear that matched my crazy Frida-dress. And then they packed up all the left-over churros and Frida stuff and sent me home with three vases of flowers.

I feel incredibly loved! (And I’m so happy to let my freak flag fly. There is no hiding how much I love Frida, guacamole, or my friends. Now, Jason’s family is well aware.)

Frida Bridal Shower

Many thanks to Shan, Meg and Katie for making this day so thoughtful and generous. And to my mom for flying in for the fiesta!

~K

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Arizona, Celebrate!
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A Full Plate

August 23rd

lunch

This month’s editor’s letter in Bon Appetit is about Adam Rapaport’s habit of taking himself out for a long lunch once a month, with a cocktail, to find inspiration. He sits at the bar, takes his time, and gets a ton of work done—all while savoring food at his own pace.

There is something so luxurious about dining alone. I love the idea of a lunch date with my work.

If you’ve noticed a lack of sewing, knitting, and baking around here it is because I made a decision in early 2016 to focus on writing. I’m reading books for research (with a bit of fluff in between) and trying to spend a least an hour a day writing. This included the business of getting the last novel out the door, too.

Time to write, to throw dialog and plot ideas against the page without worrying about editing, is my favorite part. I make up crazy characters with wild hair and bad attitudes. I make the next door neighbor an unexpected thief, the priest a murderer and the chef a brilliant recluse. I play with fodder from my word-a-day email, just to try them out on the page.

It’s working. I’m 40,000 words into this novel, which is about half-way. I’ve set up the conflict and the characters and am in the thick of it. This is where the research has to be right, the observations keen and the storytelling lyrical. The reader has already enjoyed a nice salad and piece of thick cut bread with salted butter, and the main course is coming out with cheese bubbling on top. There is promise of a great slice of chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream and a hot cup of coffee for dessert, too.

Today, between appointments and traveling across the state to speak on suicide prevention, I’m going to find a bar, a glass of sadly-I’m-still-on-the-clock seltzer, and work through lunch.

Thanks for the idea, Adam. And thank you for hanging around here where there are fewer tutorials and recipes, but still the same heart (and appetite.)

~K

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Good to Great, Writing
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Raising the Modern Family: A Stepchild’s View

August 14th

In this entry in the series, Raising a Modern Family, Ashley talks about being raised by a stepfather, and how this has influenced her marriage with Nick—and the raising of their two boys. She also talks about how her relationship with Christ changed her life, and brought her to forgiving her stepfather.

{I’ve known Ashley for a dozen years, and she has the most incredible real life hair of any woman I’ve ever met.}

Modern Family

Tell me about you, and your family. How long have you been married? How old are your kids? 

My name is Ashley.  I am a cake decorator and teachers aide—but my two boys would say I’m a ninja mom because of my ability to sneak up behind them when they least expect it!  I’m married to an amazing man who is also a wonderful father.  We celebrated our 11th year of marriage this past May.  Our boys are ages 9 and 5 and keep us very busy between baseball, school, broken bones, lego building, and sword fights. We are followers of Jesus and teach our children to love others, even when nobody is watching and give generously because nothing here is really ours anyway.

How long have you been a stepkid?

I became a step kid when I was in the 8th grade.  Trying not to age myself here, it’s been roughly 22 years.


Did you have a good relationship with your stepparents? Are they still married today? Are you in contact? 

No. Not at first, anyway.  To me, my step father was the reason my parents divorced. It took a very long time for me to just forgive him and learn to let him in emotionally.  Before that, I acted out, getting arrested, skipping school, and in general being a horrible person. It was a rough 4 years before I graduated high school and moved out.  When I was 19, I asked Jesus to take control.  It was life changing.  Letting go of the bitterness, forgiving both of them, really helped grow our relationship into what it is today.  They are still married and I do get to see him quite often.  

I also have a step mother, which was a totally different experience…but for sanity purposes, I’ll keep these comments about my step father, since that’s who I lived with primarily.


How has this experience changed you? 

My parent’s had nearly divorced a few times.  I can remember them sitting us down and having the “talk” with us, and then nothing would happen.  Then we’d have another talk.  And then nothing.  Then one day, when my dad was away on a business trip, she moved us to a new house.  It was so life changing, that I never want my own kids to go through that if I can avoid it.  I know that there are MANY different reasons and way to become a step child or step parent.  My story is through divorce.  And it broke our family for a long time.  So for us, divorce is not an option.  We don’t speak the word.  We don’t give any life to it if it enters our thoughts.  We have had many ups and downs, but our promise was not only to each other, but also to God.  I think going through that experience made me a better wife and mother.   

What would you have done differently?

Oh gosh.  I would have stopped being such a brat and just listened to him!  He had two grown kids of his own and knew a thing or two about how to raise us.  I just didn’t want to hear it then.  I will say, he did a very good job of just hanging back until I was ready to let him in.  

Has your parenting style been influenced by this experience? 

I’m sure it has in some way.  I just never really stopped to say, hey, I do this because I was a step kid. 

What advice would you give to someone new to either the stepkid or stepparent game? 

To stepkids I’d say, be open.  Let your step parent in. Talk to them; let them know if you’re having a hard time. Be respectful and share some of your favorite family memories, and make new memories together!


Is there a story about your childhood you’d like to share? 

My step father knew our family for years before he became a part of it.  He was a magician.  I can remember him sitting us down as kids and teaching us magic tricks.  We each got to learn one.  We were sworn to secrecy about how it was done.  To this day I can not reveal how the trick he taught me is done. 

Is there anything else you’d like folks to know about your experience? 

Only recently did I learn that my stepfather actually struggled with forgiving HIMSELF for how everything happened with my mom.  Out of respect for him and my mom, I won’t list details, but I will say that it made me look at him with much more sympathy.   Over 22 years living with guilt is no way to live life.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive your step parents.  And step parents: forgive your step kids.  One day they WILL come around! 

Thank you Ashley!
Posted in
Arizona, Community, Journal
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Checking In and Recent Reads

August 11th

self portrait, June assignment

Oh, hi there. Life has been rather chaotic around these parts, in the best of ways. We are planning a wedding, the kids started high school this week, and I’ve finished up final (no, really) edits on Basket Baby.

Now, for cover design, and continued work on the next book. I’m also developing an author website. 

I read books differently these days, with deep curiosity to structure, character development and conflict resolution. Reading will always remain one of my favorite past times, but today it also feels like a valuable form of research.

A few things I’ve read/listened to as an audiobook lately that are worthy of discussion:

  1. Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets Whoooo boy, does this one take a darn turn. Have you read this book? If you like creepy stories, dive in. If you have any fear of large lizards, this isn’t the read for you. 2 bananas, absoloodle.
  2. No Baggage This memoir is about a young woman coming to terms with her mental health issues and transitioning to adulthood, all while traveling across Europe with a new boyfriend for three weeks without luggage. She literally only took a small purse, which becomes a problem when her one tampon doesn’t suffice. I really enjoyed listening to it. 2 bananas, absoloodle
  3. Girl on a Train I am excited to see they are making this book a movie, because if I am a sucker for these sorts of thrillers. I did enjoy this book, although as a friend said—my major issue was by the end of the story, there wasn’t a single character I was rooting for. They were all so horribly flawed that they were unlikeable. That’s a problem. It will be very interesting to see how this is adapted to the big screen. 2.5 bananas, absoloodle
  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Of course, I loved this classic. It is a great slice of American history and reminded me so much of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love stories told about perseverance and female leads. Winner, winner. 4 out of 5 bananas, absoloodle.

 

I’m currently reading, Evicted, which is important for my public health work. (I’m trying to read more nonfiction.) What have you read lately?

~K

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Media, Writing
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