Wednesday, September 19, 2012

from whence writing ideas come


where do you get your ideas?

i'm not certain, but i believe that most published authors get asked this a lot more than any other question. [this assumption, of course, is based on what i've heard and read as i've relentlessly stalked the lives of my favorite authors, both online and in person.]

well, it's your lucky day because i'm here to tell you where we get our ideas and where you can get them too! they come from a section in target, near the seasonal items, always on the bottom shelf, in boxes labeled "really awesome story ideas".

not amused, huh? okay, seriously, i've heard authors answer this in a lot of ways.

some try to be funny, i think it was steven king who joked with fans that he gets his ideas at walmart. THAT IS JUST ONE MORE REASON NOT TO SHOP THERE, PEEPS.

i've heard authors answer arrogantly: i make them up, duh. my ideas come from my brain. which is totally not helpful.

but those authors are kind of also, annoyingly, right. you need to create ideas. but there's a process i learned to follow for getting those ideas, and it worked really well for the novel i'm working on right now and it starts with making a list.

raise your hand if you like making lists as much as i do. okay, now go grab a notebook or open up a new word doc and start making a list.

people
think about people who are interesting to you. not people you want to be like, or admire, but people that are in situations or do things that make you think big thoughts. when i did this, i listed people like: homeless bums. (why are they homeless? do they like it? are they ashamed?) people who live double lives (i love the idea of keeping a secret. are they doing it to protect someone? to avoid getting caught?) addicts (the idea of someone who feels so intensely that they must buffer the sensations of the world is so interesting to me).

now make a list of the last ten people who did something to hurt you. go ahead. savor those resentments. ha! no really, don't dwell on past wrongs, but just remember those people. thinking about people who hurt you opens up your heart to pain, but it also opens it up to ideas, i think. when i did this, i could only think of five people who have ever hurt me in my entire life. i don't know what this means. but moving on...

places
make a list of places that you consider spiritual homes. places you feel the most serene, the most calm, the most in tune with the universe. THERE'S A REASON BOTH MY BOOKS HAVE REFERENCES TO CITRUS GROVES.

now make a list of places that scare you. tall cliffs? dark forests? suffocating small towns? see how this works?

concepts
now make a list of themes or concepts that engage your mind. your list could be single words or paragraphs or more. one word or idea may spark more. make yourself continue listing for at least 15 minutes. i especially love the story and themes of THE PRODIGAL SON. on my list i have things like: self loathing, redemption, jealousy, betrayal, secrecy, revenge, vindication. these are the things juicy stories are made of.

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if you're like me, or have the heart of a potential writer inside you, by this point characters or places or ideas have coalesced or combined or generated in your own mind the seed of a story idea.

once i have the seed of an idea, i move on to brainstorming, which sparks a future blog post idea. for another day, peeps, another day.

at least that's how it worked for me. i'd love to hear where your ideas come from.


Friday, September 14, 2012

breathe deep

[image source]

hello friends. it's been an interesting couple of weeks. and by interesting i mean it's been horrible and i would just love a redo. too much yelling and anger and unkindness coming from my mouth these last weeks. because, in case you don't already know this about me, i am easily overwhelmed. even something like seeing the peaches from my peach tree smashed on the sidewalk [because i was too sick to pick them and so they fell off and are now infested with earwigs] is enough to make me crumple to the ground and start weeping because this world is all just too much. i am not joking.

friends, you are amazing. i see the kind of things you are dealing with and i am in awe at your courage and strength.

i am floored. stopped frozen in my tracks. friends, this life can be brutal. we suffer with addictions and want to claw out of our own skin. staying sober feels impossible. our fathers abandon us. our mothers get sick and we become their caretakers when we are still babies ourselves. our loved ones are addicts who cannot or will not recover and we watch them kill themselves in slow motion. our mothers--the life of our parties--die too soon. our children get sick or struggle to make friends and are called disgusting because their skin is not the same color as everyone else's. our husbands go crazy, literally. our organs are so messed up that the team of doctors who will be operating on us want to put us in medical journals. and some of us have our innocence stolen from us and carry that unclean feeling with us for a lifetime.

unspeakable.

in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see.

i have spent some time these last couple weeks crumpling. i've been grieving life's adversities--mine and yours--as they come, because this is what it means to be me. i cannot swallow things down or shrug them away, much as i have tried. and whether the suffering is mine or yours, i feel it all the same. this is why i would make an excellent addict. i'd be the best freaking addict ever. and yet, when i am like this, i know i'm doing it right. i'm not using drugs or alcohol or reading or food or exercise or religion or work to buffer the pain. i've learned to just open up my heart let it come. because if i can keep my heart open, then the good stuff gets in too. the beautiful things, the blessings, the tender mercies.

and there are many. here is something i know: for every sorrow, every horror, every unjustice we live with in this life, god will make up the difference. he gives us the ability to handle the burdens, he blesses us a hundred fold in other ways and at other times to compensate. there will always be enough love and approval and grace for us in this life because of him. he pours out peace to our hearts, gives us friends to share our sorrows with, and when that is not enough, he gives us sunsets. rainbows.

sometimes even double rainbows. or triple rainbows. of course he does.

and god shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

friends, being a person who feels intensely means that i have the capacity to love ferociously. you are my people and i freaking love you. so, i thought i'd show that love to you using my love languages: quality time and receiving gifts [and please keep that in mind for me in the future]:

i have another playlist to share with you. this one i've taken great care to curate. most of the songs are peaceful and gentle because i think we need that right now. don't you? a few have a little more pep, but mostly, these are songs to sit with and be still.

breathe deep.

and then email me if you'd like me to share the actual mp3 files. otherwise, you can listen to this on spotify here. there are a few more songs on my spotify playlist than listed below, because i only own songs that i paid for. got it?

fall 2012 playlist: for my peeps who face life with courage and strength

1.Always | Digits
2. Ships On The Ocean Floor | The Autumn Film
3. The Stable Song | Gregory Alan Isakov
4. Breezeblocks | Alt-J
5. One Hundred Million Years | M. Ward
6. Catch | The Cure
7. Middle Of June | Noah Gundersen
8. Hear the Noise... | James Vincent McMorrow
9. Kingdom Come | The Autumn Film
10. Heart & Bones | The Pines
11. Lions in Cages | Wolf Gang
12. Mended | The Autumn Film
13. Hurts Like Heaven | Coldplay
14. Cold Feet | Lost Lander
15. Drown | Smashing Pumpkins
16. Beggar In The Morning | The Barr Brothers
17. Blood | Middle East
18. Something Good | Alt-J
19. Weather To Fly | Elbow
20. Animal Life | Shearwater

love you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

how to find a writing group


you guys! i'm really excited about this post. if the exclamation point doesn't convey that to you, then how about all caps? I'M REALLY EXCITED! most people, when they find out i'm writing, and they are thinking about it too, they will inevitably ask how i found my critique group. i often answer that question by saying "tell the universe you are writing and your critique group will just come to you." which leaves them staring, unblinking at me, and me just shrugging my shoulders thinking, well it totally worked for me.

today i have one of my partners, olivia, doing a much better job of explaining how it really works. there's some great advice here, friends!

and to answer your second question, no, you cannot join our writing group. we've found that the number 3 works pretty good for us, just the right number to be efficient, but still allow for more than one opinion. every group is different though. don't panic or feel needy. the universe has enough for you and that means there are enough critique partners for you. they will come along if you do EXACTLY what olivia says.

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It started in January 2009. I was ashamed & hid it from everyone I knew. Even my husband. 

I didn’t confess to him for 4 months & I didn’t tell anyone else until well into the end of the year. By that point it had become so all consuming and obvious I just had to admit it out loud.

I had started WRITING…

And that, my friends, is first step to finding support in your shared addiction of writing, or in other words HOW TO FIND AN EXCELLENT WRITING GROUP. 

Because nothing beats the coming together of other like-minded, obsessed, crazy people like yourself. Let alone the leaps and bounds your writing will take for the better.

So, step #1, friends?

1. CONFESS
To be able to find a writing group you MUST tell people you are writing. You may have NO friends that are writing. I didn’t. But when I finally told them I was writing it led to a friend who knew a friend who was looking for a writing group. Which lead her to introduce me to some of the most kindred spirits I’ve ever known, Rachel & Meagan.

All because I grew a pair and said it out loud.

2. GO WHERE WRITERS ARE
This is not always easy. My first step was taking a “continuing education” class through a local University. (This is what finally prompted me to tell my husband I had been writing. I couldn’t exactly explain away my missing for 3 hours every Wednesday night). But if a small group like that is intimidating there is also a plethora of writing conferences you could check out. Those usually have a large group of people, great advice, and time to chat & network if you want. And, you’d be surprised, but just writing at Barnes and Noble A LOT of people will come up & ask us if we are writing or what we are writing. Most writing groups I know meet at Barnes & Noble.

I’m not saying go & eavesdrop on neighboring tables, but go ahead & eavesdrop on neighboring tables. Just not ours. 

3. CHEMISTRY
Like love, a great writing group has to have chemistry. This isn’t something you can really know until you try a group out & see if you have that “je ne sais quoi”. I have tried two other writing groups besides my magical combination of Rachel, Meagan & I. The other ones verged on miserable. But don’t give up.

Because, like love, you might get the perfect match on the first try, but most of us have to search around a little bit before you find your soul mate.

4. LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS
Notice I didn’t say people who are “like” you. Or people who are writing the same thing as you. But people who are “like-minded”. My writing group is half therapy session/half writing. Because we have some similar experiences we can vent about what’s hard/craptastic/lame in life, get it out of our system and out of our brains. That, my friends, makes space for the onslaught of creativity, tinged with insanity that is writing. We are also in similar places writing-wise. Well, not so much me, but I am content with riding the coattails of my more brilliant counterparts for a bit.

And, what I believe is the most important step to finding a writing group is to….

5. WRITE
Write your little heart out. Whether you have a support system of writers yet or not. Just keep on plugging the words out. The group & the help will come eventually, but to be ready for them you must have your words down. Your heart all in. Because the biggest thing about writing is that it can be all consuming, all encompassing, all engrossing. You have to throw your chips all in. Go for broke. 

And when you find people who are ready to go for broke along with you, then you will have found that soul mate of a writing group. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

how bob ross gives me the faith to keep writing


“Art glows with faith even in its weakest parts. At every moment, writing is an act of self-confidence – the sheerest, most determined, most stubborn self-belief. You CAN have faith and doubt at the same time; the most insecure writer on the planet has faith that shines just as bright as her doubt, and she deserves props for that. It might be hidden deep, she might not feel it and you might not see it, but it’s in there, or she wouldn’t be able to write.”   - Kristin Cashore

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friends let me tell you a little secret.

it takes a lot of courage to say i want to be a writer.

it takes even more courage to say i want to be a writer more than i want to spend time with friends, or organize that drawer, or visit a neighbor, or volunteer at the kids' school, or contribute to my family's finances. when i write, there is a list of a 1,000 other things i could be doing with those hours. i look at that list in my mind's eye every day when i sit down to write. and i have to take fresh courage every day.

do you think when bob ross set up camp in front of his canvas he said, "what will so and so think of me, wasting this time on such an unworthy pursuit?"

no. he said, "i believe we're all creators and that the joy of creation is reason enough to make something. creating brings joy to your heart. come, paint with me for an hour and see what i'm talking about."

or at least that's what i think he said. something like that.

so when i start to doubt myself, and wonder if i'm wasting the days of my life on an empty pursuit, i remember what he said.

believe that you can do it. this is your world. make happy mistakes. you can do anything. you're full of power. you're the creator.


Monday, September 3, 2012

we have a winner



the drawing for my marked-up ARC of RAVEN BOYS is complete. congratulations to Lili who says that maggie stiefvater is one of her favorite authors of all time. yay! me too. enjoy your book, lili and look for an email from me. i'll stick your book in the mail as soon as i have your address.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

milking almonds + super smoothie recipes

"you can milk anything with nipples." -greg focker

i milk my almonds. and by that i mean i make my own almond milk, and this is why:

1. at least one of my kids has a dairy allergy.

2. the boxes of soy/rice/almond etc. are full of things i don't want my kids drinking, just like milk!

3. it's cheaper, about 1/4 the price, than buying the commercially-made almond milk if i buy my nuts in bulk at costco or through green smoothie girl.

the secrets of making really good almond milk:

1. soak 1 cup almonds for at least 24 hours in a bowl covered in water. less time than this and you'll have watery milk. gross. i want it white and rich and creamy. i think you do too.

2. add drained, soaked almonds and 3 cups water to a blender.

3. blend for at least a minute.

4. strain with a fine mesh sieve. you don't need any fancy nut milk bags or cheese cloth. trust me on this, or you will be sorry and cleaning up a big mess.

5. i set the bowl i soaked the almonds in on top of the strainer to press out the liquid. i let it sit while i do another job in the kitchen and then come back to it about 5 minutes later. i only have to press a few times. i've saved the solids sometimes, adding thyme and salt and using it as a topper on a sliced tomato and cucumber. i've also heard you can dehydrate them and grind them into almond meal. that would save a lot of money if you use a lot of almond meal. i have never done this because time is precious and i'll die one day and i'd rather just buy the almond meal. but you could, or i could if i needed to be more frugal. anyway...

6. don't add any sweeteners. it's delicious without it.

7. drink it within two days. it's like manna; it doesn't last.


and now, i want to share two excellent smoothie recipes, both featuring delicious almond milk as the base. around these parts, we have green smoothies most days. we usually stick to water+frozen festival fruit blend+banana+spinach+kale.

but lately i've been branching out, to great success! here are two smoothies that will fill your bellies with loads of superfood nutrition and an added boost of energy that kicks in around afternoon when most people are nodding off on the job.

super power chocolate berry smoothie
serves 1

1 1/2 cups almond milk
4 cups spinach

blend well, then add:

1 to 2 tablespoons raw cacao*
1/4 banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 teaspoon astralagus powder**
1 teaspoon vanilla

blend again and drink up! my kids call this the "poop smoothie" but they always slurp every last drop. if you're sensitive to physical sensations and medication like i am, you'll notice a buzzing, caffeine-like high that starts just after lunch and continues until bedtime, without any horrible side effects that you'd get with caffeine. i make this when i didn't get enough sleep the night before or when i have a overwhelmingly busy afternoon and it makes me feel like superwoman.

* you could sub cocoa powder. i like my chocolate bitter. use less if you don't.
** used as an energy tonic in chinese medicine for thousands of years. also a great immune system booster

champion cherry limeade smoothie
serves 1

1 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cups frozen cherries
juice and zest of one lime
1/2 teaspoon maca root powder*
1 teaspoon raw honey, optional

*maca root can improve sexual endurance, physical stamina, adaptability to stressful situations and an increase in both the number and activity of spermatazoids (sperm). so you may or may not want to give this to your husbands. i always make enough for the family, pour their servings out, then add the maca to only my smoothie.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

writing wednesday: guest post by meagan

[image from the lovely etsy shop dearcatherina]

hello friends, writers and non-writers alike. today i have a guest post from one of the girls in my critique group, meagan.

meagan is the oldest of 9. she is the one that everyone goes to when they need something, the dependable one, the kind one who thinks and listens a lot before she speaks. and you guys, she totally keeps her house spotless clean ALL THE TIME! here is the amazing meagan:

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Don’t only practice your art But force your way into its secrets For it and knowledge can raise men to the divine -Ludwig Van Beethoven

When I was a little girl, I always felt lost. I knew I wanted to be something, that I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what. Looking back on it now, I realize that what I really wanted was to write something.

I started seriously writing a few years ago. One day I sat down and decided to write a book. So I did. Then I wrote another one. I had so much fun writing that I didn’t worry too much about anything. I was just having fun. And when I began to get all those reject letters from agents I had queried, I didn’t really pay attention. Sure, it would be cool to be published. And maybe that might help justify to others that I was a serious and brilliant writer, but for the most part I just wanted to create. I wanted to write a story and I wanted those characters in my head to come to life and live all the lives that I never could. It wasn’t until I had finished my second book that fear and doubt began to set in. I realized then that I had no idea what I was up against. What if I wasn’t really a writer? What if I was wasting all my time on something that in the end would mean nothing? What was my end goal?

It was about this time that I met and fell in love with my writing group, which presently consists of Rachel and this lovely gal. It only took a few times of me sitting next to them at a Barnes and Noble café to realize that these people were my people. My writing had found a home and I knew that this was where my writing would really start to grow.

I was right. The past few years have been sort of brutal, writing wise. I’ve written the same story three different ways. I’ve written 50,000 words just to delete them and try again. And then again. I wrote an entire book and then had to walk away from it completely because it just wasn’t right. It has been hard and sometimes I yearn for those moments where the words just flow and the pictures in my head literally materialize themselves onto the screen of my computer without effort. I have days like that. Sometimes I only have moments. But a lot of the time I am working and learning. I am gathering knowledge and forcing my way in.

I think that Beethoven was absolutely right. It isn’t enough to just write. We have to unlock the mysteries of our craft. We have to give ourselves over to it and set aside all the fear and all the doubt. We have to think of every sentence we write as a gift and every deleted word as a lesson. And then we have to move forward.

So what is my end goal as a writer?

To raise men to the divine, of course. ;)

Monday, August 27, 2012

book recommendations, and a GIVEAWAY!

today i am directing you to olivia's blog where i shared a few book recommendations. she asked what i look for in a favorite book, and i shared here.


also, i just now finished THE RAVEN BOYS by maggie stiefvater and let me tell you, i think you're going to like it. a great ghost-like story with fantastic characters and a lot of seemingly unsolvable problems brewing. and i think, like me, you'll be really frustrated that you have to wait for the next one in the four-book series. it's really good. eeek!

and now, my first giveaway! i loved this book so much that i'm planning on buying the hardcover. the copy i have is an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) that is signed by maggie, with a few marks from me (it's well-loved, and i wasn't sure i wanted to give it away when i first read it). i'm giving away this copy to one lucky person that comments here. spread the word. the book comes out september 18 and now's your chance to read it early, before it comes out, if you are an impatient fan like me.

leave a comment with your email if you think i might not have it to be entered to win. contest closes sunday, september 2 at midnight, mountain daylight time. good luck!


Friday, August 24, 2012

my new favorite things, plus new running music

oh, hello!

how are you? me, i'm good. the world is beautiful. our bodies are miraculous. children are precious. so many things to be grateful for. here are 5 things i've been enjoying a lot.


1. victoria bjorge's sketchbook
isn't the above image great? it's from her online sketchbook which she uses to foster inspiration. i'm going to try a collaging laser beams coming out of people's eyes in my own sketchbook and see if it helps me focus when i'm writing. ha!


2. spotify
am i the last one to know about spotify? it's my new favorite thing.

if you haven't heard about spotify, it's like pandora, BUT WITH DOUBLE RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS. you can create and/or listen to a radio station based on a song or artist, much like pandora, but spotify is like a whole other level of greatness. you can also create playlists to listen to whenever you want. you can find other people who have the same taste in music you do and follow their playlists, or just them in general. you can share music on facebook, twitter, or tumbler. you can listen to it on your smart phone or ipad. and if you are a paying member, you can make ANY playlist available offline. i think it's genius. and you can try it out for free for a month, then cancel your membership anytime you want.

i have playlists for my two novels, for a working idea of a story, and lots of other things. it's so much fun!


3. treadmill workout by iowa girl eats
i usually HATE the treadmill. i think it's ruined many a potential running lover. but, this workout has got me through a smoky, hellish utah summer. it's fast--only 30 minutes, it's really, REALLY hard and i can feel the afterburn from it all day long.[and really, her whole blog is excellent. workouts, recipes, and when i read her blog i feel like i'm chatting with a good friend]


4. running music
and last, a new-to-me running playlist that's making my indoor workouts feel like a party. i always start out with slow tempo and then take off. i think you're really going to like this music! you can see the full playlist over on my spotify, but the first 20 songs are listed below. i'm happy to share if you email me.

1. hit the ground (superman) / the big pink
2. i've got your number / passion pit
3. run on / moby
4. enjoy the silence / depeche mode
5. over and over / hot chip
6. girls like you / naked and famous
7. e-pro / beck
8. ice ice baby / vanilla ice
9. ready for the floor / hot chip
10. sixteen saltines / jack white
11. pull up the people / m.i.a.
12. midnight city / m83
13. lasso / phoenix
14. dilly / band of horses
15. gonna make you sweat... / c+c music factory
16. girl / beck
17. train in vain / clash
18. pure / the lightning seeds
19. someone great / lcd soundsystem
20. on top of the world / imagine dragons

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

strong at the broken places

the kids are back in school and it sure is quiet around here.

and clean.

you'd think that would make it easy to write. yes, it gives me time to write—which is half the battle. easy though? well. i guess no matter where i go i still have my brain following me around. which means i'm easily distracted. [and also i have crazy brain.]

but the quiet helps a lot. i have been sitting here all morning just thinking...and sighing...typing a few words then sighing some more.

i'm thinking about the things in my life that have been hard. not just hard like running 13 miles or giving birth. hard like being pregnant 36 months of my life and throwing up all day every day. hard like being falsely accused. being shamed and feeling like i deserved it. standing alone, being misunderstood. realizing that a few of my own dreams will not come true in this life.

things that have broken me.

and i'm thinking about my character, trying to think of what will break him. because my favorite kind of story is one where the protagonist becomes strong in his broken places. i hope the story i'm writing, as well as the one i'm living has that same character arc.

strong at the broken places.


Monday, August 13, 2012

happening this week


oh, hi! just a few quick things.

1. last week of summer here. the kids all go back to school next week. i would be more sad about this if i'd had even one writing session go for more than five minutes this entire summer without being interrupted by my dear, sweet, needy children. [i realize this makes me sound like a heartless, ungrateful, selfish mother. i'm not. we've had a summer full of fun family time. it's been wonderful. but. i have a rule to always have an open line of communication with my kids, even when i'm writing. they know they can always get a hold of me if they need something. which they take full advantage of, thus the interruptions.]

i'm so excited for them to be involved in good things at school so i can sink my head deeper into my novel. so excited.



2. it's the little guy's birthday this week. if you live in northern utah, you've seen the swampy, smoky air we've been breathing. lucas has had some breathing trouble because of it and because of me not being vigilant enough to stop his dairy-sneaking ways.

i was up all night with him last week, doing breathing treatments, rubbing essential oils on his chest, and trying to keep him calm. it worked, his wheezing eased a little after about 5 hours of ministering to him, and finally, in the wee hours of the morning he dozed off. i crawled into my own bed, exhausted, only to hear him yell down the hall, "MOM HURRY! I'M DYING!" i rushed in, asking what was wrong. "I'm starving to death," he said.

yeah. happy birthday little guy! he requested a fun day at the waterpark, crepes for breakfast, waffles for lunch, and pancakes for dinner. can you sense a theme?



3. in addition to the birthday this week, it's also my anniversary [15 years!]. and we have two soccer tournaments going on. so naturally, i decided this would be a great time to start a yeast cleanse, to see if i can't get rid of my horrible, horrible allergies/hay fever that have persisted for almost a full year now, only getting worse and worse. i'll let you know how it goes.



4. and just a quick writing update. [i feel a little silly always posting these, since i'm so far away from being a "real", published author, but i keep doing it anyway. my way of faking it until i make it, i guess.] i am loving my story now. i wish i could ignore all my other responsibilities and just finish writing it, but i am a wife and a mother and a volunteer at my church, all things that i choose to take precedence over writing some of the time.

anyway, i'd love some first draft beta readers in about 4 or so weeks when i get to the end. let me know if you're willing to read it and have the time to offer constructive criticisms. just a caveat: it's probably pg-13 in content for swearing and drug-use, and it has some dark, intense themes.



5. what about you lovelies? anything great happening this week?


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

of wishes and writing



trying a new thing on the blog—hopefully something that will last a long while—my first guest post.

i'm so pleased to introduce you to my friend brook, who has been a writer since i've known her, and has just started on her first novel project. brook is an herbalist, nutritionist, reader, and the person i go to when when i need wisdom to face my own challenges. when i first met her, i felt like it was a reacquainting, because i'm certain i knew her before this earth life. she is really one of my soul mates and i'm so happy to be able to share her with the rest of you.

here are her words on beginning.

a friend said, "try."


and i looked at the keyboard and wondered.

i had always said i would.

and i ached at the lost time since my declaration.



and i wondered. . .

could i give myself permission to daydream?

to wish?

to begin?

to steal out of the covers early in the morning to commune with my characters?

and sit out on the porch at night, while everyone was sleeping and listen. to listen to the sounds of my story. working in the sound of the crickets and the breeze?



to feel?

connect?

and take bits and parts of myself.

and all the things i love.

and weave them together in that just right paragraph that begs to be read again and again?



and so i combated the daily "not nows" and the bigger "not yets" and the nasty "not good enoughs"

and wrote.

and i settled down in to it.

and let myself feel.

joy.

and pain.

and as I wrote I began to feel me.

bits and pieces floating up to the surface.

and i wrote them down.

and i cried and sighed and felt and believed in these characters and this story.



and in these stolen moments

i wasn't a mother.

or wife.

or daughter.

or neighbor.



i was just me.

selfishly, completely, wonderfully me.



and yet all those rich experiences came through as i wrote but I tied them together in my own creation. molding them. turning them round to inspect.



and i began to assemble. . .

pictures.

songs.

notes scribbled on tiny pages, church announcements, to-do lists, and brightly colored birthday card envelopes.



i felt myself opening.



creating a space.

for me.

my voice.

a story only i could tell.



writing the book i wanted to read

the book that had this without the that.

and that without the this.

and the this and this and this that made me clap and rush to write it down,
eager to get to the end of the story, as if I was reading it, instead of writing it.



and then I battled the “not yets” and “not enoughs”again and made myself brave

and sent a little bit out

to share with a friend.

and waited.

nervous.

scared.

was it amateur?

cliche?

clumsy?



i read it again to see.



and realized, it spoke to me.

a story

full of wishes

and heartbreak

and imperfections.



but it was there, pages and pages.



because someone whispered, "try."

Monday, August 6, 2012

my family's musical story in a venn diagram




when i lived at home, my mother would, on occasion, sneak into my room and...uh..."edit" my collection of music cassettes if she saw anything she judged to be inappropriate. meanwhile, she offended my teenage music sensibilities by listening to musicals, pretty much exlusively. she was particularly fond of michael ballam and i can sing from memory any song he ever sang on broadway.

i close my eyes, drew back the curtain
to see for certain, what I thought I knew
far far away, someone was weeping
but the world was sleeping
any dream will do

awesome. or not.

my mother and i had but one musical taste overlap. the beatles. especially the beatles on vinyl.

now, the circle of life is completing itself as elder daughter and elder son develop their musical [it is so hard to type this word] taste. they delight in torturing me with their music. they reset the stations in my car. they add the katy perry station to my pandora. they can't get enough of nicki minaj. maroon 5. one direction.

the only music we both like is the new passion pit album. so now i am biding my time, waiting for their musical tastes to mature. do you think i'll have to wait long? did you like the same music as your parents?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Confessional

please see footnote*


I just love these little chats wherein I lay bare my soul. *cracks knuckles. rolls shoulders back*

Here we go. Did you know that at least three-fourths of my waking hours [possibly, very possible more like seven-eighths, or maaaaybe even nine-tenths] I spend thinking I might be going crazy. Racing thoughts is a symptom of mental illness. I think millions and millions of things constantly every second all the time and I often want a vacation from my own mind. And I think this makes me a genius or prime drug addict potential.

I have two toenails that fell off after my last downhill race, one of which ripped off while I was wake surfing in Utah Lake. Toenails falling off post-race is normal for me. Not normal was the infection I got in the one. I blame Utah Lake for that. I've spent the last several years since we got a boat lying to myself, telling myself that lake isn't the teeming bacterial cesspool that it is. No more. Utah Lake you are warm, but gross.

There are a few easy, easy homemaking tasks that I avoid because I have led myself to believe they are incredibly difficult. As I carry a laundry basket of clean clothes upstairs and into my room I often am thinking "this will be so hard to fold these clothes. So hard. The hardest thing I have ever done. The thought of folding the laundry is sucking the life force from me." And then I fold the laundry, which takes a total of five minutes, and immediately I give myself a mental pat on the back. "You are amazing! You can do hard things!" This is how I have survive the weary life of stay-at-home motherhood for nigh on thirteen years.

This whole summer I have only wanted to read long, epic, fantasy fairytales. I've read a few other books in between, and even have a late library book of a different genre that I am insisting to myself that I finish before returning, but really I just want to read another DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST.

Sometimes, when my emotions are too angry, too big, too explosive, I go to the creek across the street and throw rocks. I think of the thing that is upsetting me, I transfer that negative thought into the rock, the ugly, gray little rock and I throw it as hard as I can. Sometimes even with my left arm, which is hysterical because those arm muscles are practically nonexistent and definitely not coordinated. And then I end up laughing. Laughing so hard I usually cry. It. Is. Awesome. And perfect self-therapy.

*You may notice that the picture accompanying this post has nothing to do with anything in the post. Thanks for noticing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Writing Daily

How great is this poster designed by Giovanni Pintori?


“Write every day!”

I can't tell you how many different sources I've heard say the same thing. Why? Because of what Phillip Pullman says:

One of the hardest things to do with a novel is to stop writing it for a while, do something else, fulfill this engagement or that commitment or whatever, and pick it up exactly where you left it and carry on as if nothing had happened. You will have changed; the story will have drifted off course, like a ship when the engines stop and there’s no anchor to keep it in place; when you get back on board, you have to warm the engines up, start the great bulk of the ship moving through the water again, work out your position, check the compass bearing, steer carefully to bring it back on track … all that energy wasted on doing something that wouldn’t have been necessary at all if you’d just kept going!

I have to admit, when I first read that, I was in the midst of writing my first novel. I still hadn't learned the art of protecting my writing time, or setting personal boundaries. I had to learn to make it clear to the lovelies in my life that:

(a) no, I was not crazy for wanting to write; I felt a fiery, passionate burning to do this; writing is work too, something I love and part of what makes me feel filled and complete,

and

(b) writing was going to be a HIGH priority, like maybe number 3 after faith and family—meaning that everything else would have to be fit in IF there was time.

Sooooo. Daily writing. I have a goal for August. The goal is:

WRITE EVERY DAY.

Will you join me? If you're not a writer, is there something you'd like to be doing daily? Maybe exercise, or keeping your sink clean, or writing in a gratitude journal, or meditating, or eating raw vegetables. Let me know what you plan to do daily this month and we'll help cheer each other along.

Don't know what to write about? Check out Laurie Halse Anderson's posts about her Write 15 Minutes A Day program. There are some excellent writing prompts and advice.

Need a push to develop the discipline for daily writing? Chris Brogan has some great tips.


“Writing is a marathon of the spirit. Don't give up.” - Stuart Cohen

Time to put one word in front of the other.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Special Gift Is Kindness

click image for a downloadable pdf
We create our own happiness. I know this because I'm a recovering pessimist who is a learning, practicing, living example. Practice totally works! Changing negative thought patterns into positive ones has brought me greater joy and deeper satisfaction in my relationships than I could ever imagine. Even when things aren't perfect.

Especially when thing aren't perfect.

I feel like my life is in transition at the moment. I'm moving out of survival/tread water mode and moving towards the living/breathing/thriving mode. I'm ready to push myself a little bit farther. To see how miraculous and beautiful I can make this life. To start, I'm having a reboot week, starting today. I'm eating only raw foods. I'm spending daily time journaling and reading sacred words and pondering and praying.

And I'm giving up my phone. For one week. [screams] No really. [screams loudly] You can always email me or call me on my home phone. It will be okay. [breathes deeply]

Inspired by advice from Mara from A Blog About Love—who teaches that even in difficult situations, if we focus on attaining a virtue, like forgiveness or courage, we can be resilient and even triumphant during trials—I decided to focus for a few months (or years, or lifetime—however long it takes) on acquiring the virtue of kindness. 

And no sooner had I been thinking this, than information on the subject started flying my way. The Law of Attraction is funny (or awesome, depending on how you look at it) that way.

Noah Webster describes kindness this way:


1. Good will; benevolence; that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses; benignity of nature. Kindness ever accompanies love. 


2. Act of good will; beneficence; any act of benevolence which promotes the happiness or welfare of others. Charity, hospitality, attentions to the wants of others, &c., are deemed acts of kindness, or kindnesses.

Isn't that beautiful?

And while I was pondering upon the virtue of kindness, the words of a hymn began to circle around in my head, and then ever so slowly, sink into my heart with a new, deeper meaning than I had been ready to understand before.

Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee-
Lord, I would follow thee.

Kindness requires strength beyond my own ability, and I have help as I seek to acquire that virtue. Heaven's help.

Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.

Kindness is showing compassion instead of resentment when people don't treat us the way we hoped. Kindness is recognizing that happy, emotionally healthy people don't lash out at others. Kindness knows that people who are unkind are suffering in their own way.

Kindness is refraining from judging, criticizing, or gossiping about others. Kindness sees the best in everyone.

I would be my brother's keeper;
I would learn the healer's art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother's keeper-
Lord, I would follow thee.

Kindness can be learned! This is the best news for someone like me whose gut instinct is to react to the world with "tough love" and an attitude that people should help themselves and a belief that people only get what they deserve. Kindness instead is teaching in a gentle way, not accepting the victim mentality, but lifting and offering to help when we can.

Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother-
Lord, I would follow thee.

How much does the Lord love us? So much so, that as he was dying on the cross, he offered this prayer to his Father on behalf of those who were crucifying him: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." That is the type of love and kindness we can show to those around us.

How do you practice kindness? I DON'T REALLY KNOW. But I'm trying. I'm studying and pondering and saying to myself "I am kind. I am tenderhearted." and putting reminders everywhere. And the best part? Kindness changes the giver as much as the receiver.

Any thoughts you'd like to share or things you've learned while practicing kindness?

Friday, July 27, 2012

How to make the best pie in the world


A good pie starts with the perfect crust. I always use Martha's recipe, which will make enough for two pie shells. Some tips:

-Use cold butter.
-Use kosher or sea salt.
-Put ice in your water.
-Remember, your main two goals with making a pie dough are to keep the dough as cold as possible and to add only enough water to get the dough to stick together, no more.


-Don't add flour to roll out your crust. Instead, roll it between pieces of plastic wrap. I recommend the Kirkland brand. This makes transfering it to your pie dish a cinch.


-When baking your pie crust, use pinto beans to weight down the parchment paper. I've been using the same beans for more than five years.

And now, my two favorite pie recipes.

Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients
1 disk of Pie Dough
3/4 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2/3 cup cream of coconut
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack positioned in the lower third. Roll out pie dough to a 1/8-inch thickness between sheets of plastic wrap. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch-round pie dish and shape how you want it. I love the imperfection of a homemade crust. Dip your fingers in a bowl of water if you need to smooth the dough a bit. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Line with parchment paper, gently pressing the parchment into the edges of the crust; weigh down parchment with dried beans. Bake until the edges of the pastry begin to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and the parchment paper. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown in color, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the crust to a wire rack to cool completely.

2. Place 1/4 cup of the unsweetened coconut flakes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

3. To prepare the filling: Combine cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and cream of coconut. Set over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk 4 egg yolks. Slowly whisk hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Return mixture to saucepan, and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture returns to a boil, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and butter. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes. Chill in the fridge.

4. In a bowl, beat together cream, powdered sugar, and coconut extract with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

5. Transfer the custard to the cooled crust. Pile on the whipped cream. Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup toasted coconut. Slice, and serve. Refrigerate any leftover pie.

Fresh Peach Pie

Ingredients

1 disk of Pie Dough
5-6 large peaches
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tablespoons cornstarch

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream


Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack positioned in the lower third. Roll out pie dough to a 1/8-inch thickness between sheets of plastic wrap. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch-round pie dish and shape how you want it. I love the imperfection of a homemade crust. Dip your fingers in a bowl of water if you need to smooth the dough a bit. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Line with parchment paper, gently pressing the parchment into the edges of the crust; weigh down parchment with dried beans. Bake until the edges of the pastry begin to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and the parchment paper. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown in color, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the crust to a wire rack to cool completely.

2. In blender, blend together 1 peeled peach, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch. Transfer to sauce pan and heat until boiling. Boil 1 minute. Slice remaining peaches and mix with sauce. Refrigerate until chilled.

3. Cream together remaining ingredients. Spread into the bottom of the cooled pie crust. I end up using about 2/3 of this. Save the rest for fruit dip or something. Add the peaches on top, being careful to drain off some of the juicy liquid or your pie will be too sloppy. Arrange the peaches in any pattern that pleases you. Slice, and serve. Refrigerate any leftover pie.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

When Someone You Know Is Writing a Novel

Chances are, you may know someone who has mentioned in passing that they are writing a book. Chances are high, if you're reading this blog, that that person is me.

Since I started writing in 2007, I've learned a lot about the way the publishing industry works, a lot about how other authors work, and a lot about what those things mean to my own writer soul.

I've also learned that sometimes other people don't really know a lot about the process. Or maybe you're just curious.

Well. Lucky for you, I'm here to let you in on a few things. Perhaps a better title for this post would have been What Not To Say When Someone You Know Is Writing A Novel. Here are a few things that people have actually said to me when the subject of writing comes up.

"So, you're writing about vampires?"
Uh, no. Often, when someone first learns I'm writing, they will want to know if I'm either writing the next Twilight, or the next Harry Potter. I'm actually writing about a recovering heroin addict who's chosen as his town's annual sacrifice when he returns after a two-year absence, but thanks for asking.

"So, you're going to make us all rich!"
Again, no. The average amount a first-time author makes on their first novel is between $6,000 to $10,000. Shannon Hale, a favorite author of mine, posted more about it here. I actually have a higher chance of becoming a millionaire by winning the lottery than I do through publishing my novel. And you know you're really a writer when this fact doesn't stop you from writing your story anyway. Even if I knew I'd never make a cent, I'd still be writing what I am. It's the joy in creation, the feeling that I am the only person in the world who could tell the story I'm writing that finds me in my chair at the keyboard every day.

"Your life revolves around books."
I know, isn't it great? (That was my response to the first person who said that to me. I've since formulated a better answer, since people keep saying this to me in a concerned way, with the same tone of voice you'd use when holding an intervention for a drug-using loved one.) Do you say to your tax accountant friend "Your life revolves around taxes and numbers?" Or to the grocery store clerk "Your life revolves around produce?" No. It's their work, it's what they do. Writing is the same. For me, it's a part-time job, but many authors write full time, 8 hours a day.

"Your life revolves around your friends."
I know, I have the best friends! Writing can be a lonely pursuit, and sometimes you need others to keep you on course, or to talk out a plot knot, or critique your horrible first draft, or to provide therapy when the rest of life is hard to deal with. I have a writing group that meets once a week. We don't sit and write when we meet, we can do that all by ourselves! We do all those other things, and for me, it is absolutely vital to my writing. While my life outside of writing is very full, and I disagree with the fact that my life revolves around my friends, I will say that my WRITING revolves around my friends, who happen to be co-workers, so to speak. SO many of you read early drafts of my first novel and gave me valuable feedback. And the girls in my critique group have saved my life a time or two. I would not be without the help of Meagan or Olivia. Period.

"Are you finished with your book yet?" or "I thought you finished that."
Remember how I said, a few paragraphs earlier that I am a part-time writer? And even famous authors who write full time and don't have kids or a volunteer job with their church, or a garden, or cook all their meals from scratch, or eighteen loads of laundry to do can't write a book faster than about a year. So if it takes me three years to write my first one, and a year and a half to write the second one then I am doing just fine. Also, and I'm confident this is true for most authors, each book will go through many, many revisions and drafts before it feels finished. Neither of my books feel like they're at that point yet.

"So, you're going to send your book to Rand McNally to be published?"
Um, you know Rand McNally publishes ATLASES, right? This is how the publishing industry really works, in general. Step 1: write your book. Revise, repeat until it's the best you can do. Step 2: submit query letter to agents until one agrees to represent you. Step 3: work with your agent to revise your novel until it's the best it can be. Step 4: your agent submits your novel to editors at publishing houses. Step 5: your novel is accepted at a publisher and will be an actual book in about 18 months.

"I can't wait to read your book!"
Actually, you probably should. My current novel is not going to be a book for everyone. I think a large number of my acquaintances will find it offensive. And that is okay with me. What I'm trying to write is emotional truth, and sometimes that means writing ugly things. Hopefully, if I can do it right, including the bitter will make the ending—the long-awaited redemption—that much more sweet. For there must needs be an opposition in all things.

Any other writing related questions? I'd be happy to answer them in the comments.

Monday, July 2, 2012

New York

Aw. Happy sigh. New York was an incredible experience and I've felt overwhelmed every time I attempted to collect my thoughts on it. I did so much, saw so much, tasted so much, SMELT so much. I loved, LOVED that place. I mentioned on Instagram that I felt like I had found my people there. Someone asked what I meant by that. I one-finger-typed a response, but I'm not sure I truly captured exactly all I thought and felt by that comment. I'm going to try to do that here, interspersed with pictures from my trip.

New Yorkers are fast. I loved the speed with which they walked, transacted, entered and exited. It filled my impatient heart with a great big love for people who matched the pace at which I barrel through life.


New Yorkers are stylish and well-dressed. I don't think fat or frumpy people live in Manhattan. Or maybe they do but they weren't the same places I was. Either way, it was fun to watch all the people walking by and try to guess by their attire whether they were locals or tourists.





New Yorkers utilize public transportion. One day, Danylle and I rode the subway from Manhattan to Coney Island to Queens and back. Not on purpose, but only for TWO DOLLARS. We walked almost everywhere. Or took a shuttle, a taxi, or even a pedicab. (I don't recommend the latter. I felt so guilty the whole time our skinny little bike peddler sweated his way up the street). Did you know that Penn Station is like the airport of trains? Well it is. For $12 you can go to Boston from Manhattan, which we almost did, but changed our minds at the last second. But you could.


New Yorkers eat well. Did you know when I eat preservatives, I get a little sick for a few days? (Like, need to stay near a toilet sick. Ahem.) I loved not having to worry about that, because everywhere we ate the food was fresh and made from scratch. Not only that, but within walking distance there was ANY ethnicity of food we could ever imagine. And at the food carts I could get falafel or a fresh fruit smoothie or a spinach apple ginger fresh juice. In New York, I could eat ANYTHING I WANTED, WHENEVER I WANTED IT. And I didn't have to drive or cook or clean up after myself to get it.



New Yorkers appreciate art. I think I could have used a full week to explore the Met. The MOMA was incredible, even if I did feel a little traumatized by some of the exhibits. Some works of art must be seen in real life to fully appreciate them, and New York is a great place to do that.



New Yorkers value architecture. We saw an old prison converted into a library. A Dunkin' Donuts in a building that rivals anything in downtown Salt Lake. The Brooklyn Bridge. Grand Central Station. And my favorite, the New York City library.



And can I just give Central Park its own paragraph? I sat on a park bench there, the day after arriving, and just cried. Because it was so quiet and hushed compared to the bustle of the city. Because I was with two friends who were the perfect travel mates. Because the little yellow ice cream cart beside me was playing Band of Horses and they had hand painted drawings of herbs on the side of the cart and WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD WOULD THEY HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

Nowhere else. There’s nothing like it.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Flatbread With Spreads or What To Bring To A Summer Cocktail Party

One of my favorite memories of New York was eating tapas at the tiny little restaurant we chanced upon. Luckily, our table neighbor recommended them and they were delicious!

I thought it would be fun to recreate the spreads we had, and take them to Olivia's 30th birthday party.

I think I came pretty close. Some of the recipes I found online (links below) and some I created on my own. I started the flatbread first and while the dough was rising, mixed up the spreads in my food processor.

Flatbread
These came together really easily and I think they'd also be great for sandwich wraps. The only change I made was to place them directly into a folded towel after cooking to ensure they'd be extra soft.


Beet Dip or Mama Dallou’ah
This recipe makes a lot of beautiful, brightly colored dip, lucky for you! A few recipe notes: my beets were giant so I had to roast them about 1 1/2 hours, not the 45 minutes it calls for in the recipe. I also halved the amount of tahini. And if you've made my recipe for muhamara, now you have something else to use your pomegranate molasses with. This is my personal favorite of the 3 spreads.


Olive Tempanade
I couldn't find a recipe online that I thought would work, so I combined a few and came up with this. You could use any combination of olives—kalamata, black, or green.

1 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 6-ounce can black olives, drained
2 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Place the garlic clove into a blender or food processor; pulse to mince. Add the olives, capers, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil. Blend until everything is finely chopped.


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
This is another one I had to alter. It turned out just how I wanted it, with a little more tangy bite than any of the recipes I found online. This one was Younger Son's favorite.

1 clove garlic
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Place the garlic clove into a blender or food processor; pulse to mince. Add remaining ingredients and blend until finely chopped.


That's it! Yum.

As I type, I am downloading the 400+ pictures I took in New York and mulling over my experiences there. Blog posts to follow.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Midlife Crisis In Two Parts


Part One: Hair Extensions

So, I've been keeping a secret. A few, really. I've been taking some supplements to help with hormone levels and energy levels, and it's really changed my life the last year or so and allowed me to feel like myself again.

But.

The changing/adjusting hormone levels made my hair fall out. Not just the "Oh gross, l've created another hair ball in the shower" type, but the balding type. 

Yeah. Bald patches.

So for about one day I decided to stop taking the medicine. Because I am at least half vain. Then I realized that was ridiculous. So I decided to do another ridiculous thing. Can't you just see the excellent logical thinking I have! I decided to get hair extensions.

And so I did. They are super long and I love them and hate them. I'd love to answer any questions you may have about them in the comments. That is the end of Part One. 


Part Two: NYC

This isn't a secret! I am headed to NYC early, early Saturday morning to spend a week with two girlfriends. I am ecstatic. I keep thinking of that saying: She turned her can'ts into cans, and her dreams into plans. It's taken a lot of work and saving and patience, but it is happening!

And what better way to celebrate than with another completely ridiculous post about what I'll be wearing. It's my midlife crisis. I can do what I want.
1. Saturday: Plane ride. Hot pink Isle Esme shirt. Something book-related seemed appropriate since we are headed to the world's largest publishing expo for a few days.

2. Sunday: Church, then the Met, the Moma and the NYC Public Library.

3. Every day: Running. Would you be brave enough to run alone in central park?

4. Monday: Bike riding, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge at sunset.

5. Tuesday: BEA! and the Teen Author Carnival. Hoping to pick up an ARC of Ally Condie's REACHED, Maggie Steivater's THE RAVEN BOYS, and of course, Shannon Hale's PALACE OF STONE.

6. Wednesday: more BEA shenanigans. Meeting John Scalzi, Jerry Spinelli, and Libba Bray. 
7. Wednesday Night: BOOK OF MORMON MUSICAL. Okay, I might be more excited about this than anything else. Orchestra seats. Fourth Row. Sparkling/sequins dress that I never wear anywhere.

8. Thursday: Go Yankees! I know almost nothing about pro baseball, but I'm going to a game and so naturally I'm wearing my FDNY shirt. Totally makes sense, right? Also, these are maternity pants. I predict this will become the new hipster trend as soon as the loaded diaper/harem pants phase out.

9. Friday: No idea. Perhaps we should get a plan together? Regardless, I kind of want to wear my cowgirl-ish boots in the city. What should we do Friday? Eat ourselves sick?






10. Saturday: Plane ride home, in my hippie dress of course.

Please pray for us that we don't get mugged, lost, or too much rain.

I'll be documenting my travels on Instagram. My username is rachelandcompany. Peace out.