I’m Still Here.

How’s your 2020 going? I’ve picked up some new hobbies.

I cannot believe it has been so long.

It is less than ideal starting a blog post by having to reassure you, wonderful readers, that I – Owner of Said Blog – did not, in fact, hop a ship and sail off into the sunset, fleeing from the burden of expectations and broken dreams.

That was melodramatic, I know. (And full of commas.)

But it’s gotten to the point where I feel viscerally anxious when too much time passes between blog posts. When much of my life – my non-writing life – is broken down into obligations that squeeze every spare second out of my day, every day. This time it has been nearly twenty-four full months between posts. This blog has been collecting dust and cobwebs while the outside world has kept me distracted at best, and had me almost drowning at worst. (Sorry about all the nautical metaphors, but that’s nothing if not apropos.)

And then… THIS YEAR. This year to end all years.

You’d think with a raging global pandemic going on, we’d all have a lot more time to write our novels and update our blogs and such. I can absolutely assure you the opposite is true. It takes every ounce of courage and fortitude to sit down and find the words, when your mind is wracked with worry about your family members and friends with pre-existing health conditions, when your eyes and ears are constantly bombarded by grim statistics on the news. It becomes almost an obsession, seeking out and finding fleeting glimpses of the Life Before COVID-19, in virtual family dinners and picking up take-out from your favorite restaurant, in setting up a home office for the indefinite future. In Wine and Skype Nights with your best friends.

This year has been a lot to take in, to fully process. And I don’t think I ever will fully process just how much we lost. People lost their people this year. I’m fortunate in that I have not experienced that permanent of a loss, but all the same I’m grieving the loss of a year’s worth of time I could have spent with my aging grandparents, a sentiment many hundreds of thousands of people share… it’s a year we all can never get back.

But…. we’re here. I’m here. And I’m trying desperately to find the courage to seek out the words again. While I collect my creative fortitude and get my act together, I did want to share a rundown of some recent notable developments:

Geeking out over the proof in my hands

The first exciting bit of news isn’t just mine to share, but I want to speak on behalf of – and in praise of – my local writers group, who collectively have finally published our first anthology! It’s called View from the Shore: Selected Works of Waconia Writers – and it is the culmination of two years of hard work.

This book became a possibility in 2018, and has occupied much of my time since. But while I volunteered to spearhead the formatting and the work of getting the book print-ready and onto our publishing platform, the countless hours undertaken by fellow group members is astounding and incredibly admirable – so I want to mention them here. Barb, Mary, and Claire (the editing Dream Team); Brenda and Laurel (the creative art duo); contributing authors Beth, Dorothy, Mona, Carol, Jillian, Gudrun and Lollie (without you, we had no book!) – truly a team effort, yielding a beautiful product that we’ll get to enjoy forever. If you want to check out more about the Waconia Writers Group and what we do, visit our website or by clicking the logo. View from the Shore is available for purchase here.

Building the book from printed hard copies and dreams, circa 2019.

Stormriders is in publishing limbo at the moment. I’m revising my publishing plan as I write this, but for now we’ll just call its status “in a state of perpetual edits.” That’s to be expected. I want this book to be good. Like, readers-can’t-put-it-down good. I’m devoted to that mission. I’ve been shopping for editing services, but the pandemic definitely put some of that on hiatus, as I’m a gregarious in-person networker but not as adept over email. I’m also not super keen about sending my work digitally to a stranger I’ve never even said hello to in person. But I’m working diligently to get the book into a place where I’m proud of it and am ready to discuss its merits with someone in the industry. In the meantime, I’m developing some Stormriders-themed merch for my Patreon members; more to come on that!

I’ve also been collecting, curating and editing a selection of my more recent poetry, essays and short fiction pieces. I’m hoping to release this collection, “Wordsparks,” in the next few months or so. My work on the WWG Anthology has inspired me to get more books out into the world, now that I’ve been through the self-publishing process firsthand and know how it works. A lot of these pieces came out of writing prompts, an optional tool we used as a group every time we met, to motivate us and provide a direction for our writing during the weeks between meetings. I’m dedicating this one to the WWG, as that group of writers inspires me every time I read their pieces or meet up on Zoom for coffee and a check-in. I’ll let you know as soon as Wordsparks drops.

I was similarly inspired by my work on the WWG anthology to re-release my own poetry chapbook “off the page (a story in poems)“! This is in the proofing process, and the second printing should be up on my Amazon author page in paperback form in a week or two. It currently exists as a Kindle e-book.

The rest of my writing life is fluid, almost casual. Ideas for novels and other projects come and go. I’ll write pages at a time some nights, and others only a few sentences escape onto the page. But it is a marked improvement from earlier this year, where my motivation gasped and stuttered like a flame in a rising north wind. I mainly just wanted you all to know that I’m here, and grateful to be. I wish all of you the best of health and hope your families are doing well. I wish for you the means to cope and write and be inspired. Here’s to a brighter and more promising 2021.

Thinking of you,





Where the magic happens (with a fresh coat of zen)

This morning is the first morning I feel well enough to write, after a week of mornings where the fever caused my bones and muscles to crumble under flu aches, and I despaired wondering if I would ever be able to breathe through my nose again.

After a week of days where I was rendered barely able to move, let alone clean my house, I was well enough this morning to survey the damage, and realized how depressing the cycle of being sick actually is. When one feels lousy, the cleaning and dusting goes undone, the clutter piles up (somehow!) and everything is kissed by a not-so-thin layer of dust and dog hair. Which makes one feel even lousier. Thus, the vicious catch-22 of the flu.

This morning, with a renewed frenzied energy bordering on frantic, I tackled the cycle. Eradicating every last residual influenza germ being the ultimate goal, I scoured and dusted and vacuumed for awhile before taking stock of my writing desk. Covered in bric-a-brac, unopened mail from two weeks ago, and the shuffle of papers and notes from my various writing projects, it was overwhelming. There is little wonder I’d been avoiding it, even in the days prior to my bout with the flu.

But this desk was the center of my writing world: where every scene I dreamed up in the shower or plot knot I untangled in the car (hands-free dictation apps, look ’em up!) was documented, flushed out, put to (digital) paper.

It is a white workbench-style table, with a solid metal base and an expansive rectangular surface made from hefty particle board with a white laminate overlay. Basic, plain. Utilitarian. A fresh, clean palette. And so, of course, my first instinct was to cover it with decoration: hand-painted yarn bowls, framed pictures, glass mosaic-tiled vases. Decoration eventually gave way to things: folders, notebooks, pens, more notebooks, fresh stacks of unused post-it pads, post-it notes with various scribbles. Seashells. Business cards. Coffee mugs. And books… so many books. Stacks of books. Four-fifths of the desk surface was books.


Today I made a decision: over the past several weeks, and even months, I had been gradually avoiding my workstation because it no longer was conducive to its original purpose… writing. Every time I sat down, I was distracted by things. And the words would slow, and stop. And so I would gravitate to my couch, which of course offered its own set of distractions in the form of the TV remote. Or my bed… which I will posit is a terrible, terrible place to try to write a novel. Or outdoors… this option actually works brilliantly in warmer months, but not so much in January in Minnesota. This flu hiatus acted as a reset; I needed to clear the space, so that the words could come again.

Which is what I did. I scrubbed the surface free of dust, after removing each and every piece of distraction from it. I sat there awhile, letting myself feel the full effect. Slowly, I added a handful of items back, but only the items that contributed to a calm, clean, zen aesthetic:

  • Three live plants, one set in the midst of a mini rock garden to add some texture and sparkle.
  • An artsy poster of text, made by a friend of mine, with an inspirational quote in gold foil print.
  • Three candles: two battery-operated faux candles that give off a gentle warm light, one real scented candle designed to fill the space with the warm fragrance of Snicker-doodle cookies.
  • A hand-painted paperweight I picked up in Tanzania, a polished black stone covered in dainty goldfish.
  • An antique coaster, made from blue hand-blown glass.
  • A head massager (a must-have within arm’s reach, trust me).
  • A crackle-glass votive, full of dried French lavender from my garden.

Lastly, my laptop. And then, reader, the words did come back. Because now I’m sitting here, at my desk, telling you all about it.

writing desk

The lovely end result. No, there is no “before” picture (thank goodness).

Yes, you just read a blog post about how I cleaned my apartment (sorry). But it’s also about how we really should be intentional about honoring the importance of where we write. If we do not allow ourselves the adequate environment in which inspiration and ideas can flourish, we aren’t allowing ourselves the chance to achieve what we want through our writing. This applies equally to creators of art in other mediums, and it all goes back to self-care… as creators we can easily become caught up in the act of creating, and neglect other supportive aspects of sustaining our creative drive. Finding a space that nurtures your craft and sparks your creativity is step one; nurturing that space as well as your craft and creativity is the critical step two.

Take care of your space. Take care of you. And the words will come.




A brief update and miscellany

Hello, lovely people.

It has been a while, hasn’t it? I can tell you the last few months have been spectacularly busy at best, and tumultuous at… less than best. Between day job issues, exciting ongoing writing projects, personal health issues, and of course the juggernaut that is National Novel Writing Month, my blog has been (accidentally) abandoned to the dark corner of the internet where neglected blogs are tossed to collect dust.

Forgive me?

And because things show no signs of slowing down in the near future, I just wanted to reach out and answer a few questions.

  • 1. Yes, I’m alive and relatively healthy, the people I love are healthy, and things are more or less okay.
  • B. My major book-publishing projects are moving forward, behind the scenes, even though they’ve been out of the limelight for a little while… both my travel memoir and my YA novel Stormriders are in their respective editing phases (to clarify, Stormriders is in the Gonna-Pull-My-Hair-Out-This-Is-Horrid part of the editing phase).
  • And thirdly, I have some exciting updates to share with you!


I started a new project last month, for this year’s National Novel Writing Month, and on this side of November I have a 45,000-word draft for a story I’m sorta in love with. Think high fantasy meets stranger-in-a-strange-land, throwing in a few dragons and featuring a version of the feisty heroine who always finds her way into my stories somehow, and here we go again! Stay tuned.

The local writers group in Waconia is producing an anthology of our work, hopefully in early 2019! I’ve signed on as primary editor and formatting/layout designer, and the book will feature a wide range of beautiful work from our group members. More information can be found at waconiawriters.wordpress.com.

My 4-part blog series is still in progress! I began writing the third entry in The Big Magical Process of Making Words Happen series a few months ago, and hope to finish the darn thing and post it live within the next few days.

Anything else?


A note on overcoming adversity, and finding success in your writing, even when you (temporarily) physically cannot write.

Over the past week, I’ve been sidelined from all of my writing projects, due to a pinched nerve in my neck. Sidelined, meaning I’ve been forced to intermittently lie flat on my back on the floor, with an electric heating pad between my shoulder blades. For awhile, merely sitting upright was painful. Working on my laptop was excruciating. 

This has been my primary view for the past seven days straight. (Yes, that is A Christmas Prince, the finest Netflix Xmas movie ever made. Fight me.)

But in spite of my inability to use my computer, I’ve still been writing. How, you might ask? I used the time staring at my ceiling. I used every single one of those horizontal minutes to brainstorm, to think through some plot problems, and I even solved some plot holes that were previously and up to that point driving me bonkers.

My injury forced me to stop, to avoid the tempting social media distractions that are present every time I open my Chromebook, and think. I spent the better part of the past two months constantly on the go. Not saying a nerve injury is a boon, but it did present an opportunity. I had to press pause on most of my hectic daily life. Alone with my thoughts and the strange patterns on my popcorn ceiling, I had nothing to do but untangle and sift through those thoughts, prioritize the ideas I wanted to, and focus.

After a few days, I was pretty good at think-writing. I could visualize pieces of my story that I struggled to see through the blue glow of the computer screen. Fleeting ideas and concepts became tangible plot points. Characters developed true human flaws and traits; I got to spend some time with them and get to know them better. Even though I didn’t physically hold a pen or crack open my laptop, I was writing. I was creating. And those exercises were really the only things keeping me from going out of my mind.

Moral of the story: you can create, you can make progress and move forward in unconventional ways, even when life (and nerve pain) tries to blow up your process.


Harnessing Inspiration in the Digital Age

How do you harness inspiration for your works-in-progress?

Hello, friends!

I wanted to let you know about a thing I made. The thing is the product of one of my favorite “non-writing” writing activities… a fun tool I used to help craft the world of Stormriders! I’m talkin’ about inspiration boards!

Inspiration boards have been used in the design and visual arts fields for ages. They are commonly used in those fields to shape the intended narrative and guide the project. In this increasingly digital world, it is becoming easier for other creators, including writers, to dabble in creating these bulletin boards of imagery that help share their vision and aesthetic for the worlds they build. Read more about creating your own writer inspiration board here. Inspiration boards can be either “analog” (physically tacking items to a bulletin board) or digital. Whatever works for you!

Stormriders inspiration board (preview)

I’ve created digital inspiration boards for nearly every story idea I’ve had; it is an important part of my world-building and outlining process, as I am the most visually-oriented person you will ever meet! So I’ve decided to share my Stormriders inspiration board on Patreon! A link to my Patreon page is here. If you join at the $1 level, you can unlock the full inspiration board (not to mention the added perk of getting full access to ALL of my Patron-exclusive content about all things Stormriders!).

DISCLAIMER: Inspiration boards are generally for a creator’s own personal use and are not widely disseminated for profit. That said, When utilizing images and artwork that aren’t my own and that will be used for Commercial use (i.e. book covers), Best practice is to either purchase rights to images (via for-purchase image databases like Shutterstock/Getty Images/etc.), or find fair-use/royalty-free/Attribution-free photos via sites like Pixabay. Personally, I give credit for Every Photo when using them commercially, even the attribution-free photos. but it is always best practice to read carefully about any restrictions or attribution guidelines for any images you opt to use for your creative endeavors, especially for projects or products that will be distributed to large audiences. Credit your fellow artists!