Deep Writing Workshop w/ @ericmaisel

I just had the best week for my writing. I’ve always wanted to do one of Eric Maisel’s deep writing workshops, and this year, it happened. It took place in Mendocino and was very good for getting my regular writing process going again after a year and a half of moving and selling houses. (Not quite done with the selling part of our primary home, but I’m writing regularly anyway, hooray.)

In MendocinoMendo 2Mendo 3

I deliberately didn’t take my real camera on this trip but captured a few shots with the phone. Yay for smart phones!

Have a great weekend.

5 thoughts on downsizing & moving

I thought I’d never sell our house. We live in a great place and have put in a lot of sweat equity to make it the way we like it. But we are moving to San Diego so we can kayak every day. We stayed there for a month in April and loved it, even including living in tight quarters.img_20190411_215137_7171373860904659720119.jpg

I almost can’t believe I’m doing it, but it has been a process of exploring this idea. To my surprise I’ve come to the point that I’m not only willing but excited to move. Here are five reasons that weighed in favor of making this move.

  1. A house is a lot to take care of and that maintenance time instead could be going into fun activities we enjoy together.
  2. Less maintenance, more time writing.
  3. A community with a lot of retirees where it’s easy to make friends.
  4. We’ll be closer to our son and daughter-in-law.
  5. Lots of outdoor activity, better health and hopefully a longer life!

How about you? Have you moved after retirement or do you plan to? Know any friends who’ve  moved?

Moving toward the new year

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back writing again with new goals. And I managed to take a photo today. Our neighbor’s redwood is a frequent subject. I love it.


In addition to writing, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do next with photography, and I think I know what that is. I want to start taking trips to parks in California and the western region, state and national. I think this will be great during the winter. We are starting to get snow in the mountains, which is wonderful. I also want to find one place nearby that I like and work on taking just the right shot there by going there often.

The thing that I seem to shoot a lot is the Campbell water tower. Maybe I’ll figure out something new with the tower. I’d like to get it with people walking there. I think the really tall ones would look nice with someone walking near the base. I’ll have to get my husband to go with me.

I’m interested in getting a tree-lined lane. I have seen some amazing photos of tree-lined lanes especially after rain. I have to find one though!

With writing I’m working on two new books. One is my main goal, a romantic suspense, but I let myself work on the other one, a romance science fiction, when I’m in the mood. This is a really different way to work for me but so far it’s working really well. I don’t seem to have any trouble switching between them. I get ideas for each of them and then I jot them down. Or if I feel like hanging out with one set of characters, I work on writing in that book. We’ll see if I can keep it up. I don’t have a time goal for the s.f. so that should help.

After a long limbo/lull, it’s nice to be excited about writing and photography again.

I hope you are having a nice season so far. I’d love to hear from you, so please say hello!

Fall colors for NaNo

NaNo — you may have heard it, but what does it mean? Well, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, but it’s actually international, so perhaps it should be called InNo. Well, NaNo is how it started and will remain.

NaNo is a huge excuse to write a crazy number of words in a month, fifty thousand to be exact. It’s an excuse to ignore the housekeeping, survive on leftovers and take-out, drink too much coffee, get out of bed when it’s still dark, and write, write, write.

There are so many writers participating, like Sheri Kennedy, which makes it fun. I was up at 6 today to join friends on Twitter for two 50-minute sprints. That’s early for me, and it’s good for me!

I am working on the sequel to the novella I submitted. Sadly, it wasn’t a fit for the anthology, but that’s okay. It’s an international romantic spy thriller, and getting that novella done and turned in inspired me to do a series. I plan to write the sequel then go back and turn the first one into a novel. Onward!

To inspire us for the week ahead, here are some fresh new Autumn photos from Nevada:


Mount Rose

Inspiration and travel

I’m working out the synopses of the two books that will complete the trilogy I’m working on, and I’m super excited that Oslo Norway will figure into the plot. A couple years ago I shared a bit about our adventure there. I really loved Oslo. It was a magical place to me. This museum especially:


Nobel Peace Museum, Oslo


This truly inspirational place figures in the beginning of the third book. So now I’m writing to that. In fact the plotting on these books is happening from the end first, a technique I haven’t used in years. I learned this from good book called You Can Write a Novel by James V. Smith, Jr. and published by Writer’s Digest. I’m really glad that the book is in my craft collection in my library. Happiness.

Anyway, I’m super excited about the new books. I was overwhelmed yesterday but today I’m on fire. My very smart hubby helped me out. Here’s a tip whether you have a great brainstorming partner (which I recommend getting) or not: if you have a problem, articulate it. Then you are able to work on that problem. What I’m trying to say is if you can state what it is that’s bugging you, a problem statement is formed, and the issue moves from hopeless and overwhelming to something workable.

Have a great week, and see you Friday!

Writing life… making complicated decisions

The month of May was a big family month for me, and I combined that focus with taking a timeout to really think through my writing goals. I started doing a Pros and Cons list for my various options, and that grew to about 56 lines, so I put it in a spreadsheet and gave each factor an importance number and then to each option (writing what I want, quitting writing, concentrating on getting into Harlequin) I assigned a value. It’s a great tool. Here’s an example in case you want to try it for a big decision that you can’t resolve just by gut feel. In fact you do use your gut feel to assign the importance number, but when you have conflicting choices and keep going around and around on the same wheel thinking about them, this tool really helps you get a clear look at all the options and at your own feelings about them. Writing Fork Analysis

DSC09455-BThis exercise was an eye-opener in a few ways. First, no wonder I’ve had so much inner conflict over my writing. Writing matters hugely to me, but so does enjoying my life, and I have conflicting goals and dreams. Second, I’ve been pushing myself to write particular types of books aimed for a specific market because accomplishment and success are important to me. Despite those factors, when all things are carefully weighed, writing the books I want comes out way ahead. Trying to push myself to write that way was setting up an inner conflict that was threatening my desire to write at all, hence not writing at all was an option I considered. That option didn’t even come close to competing, so I think I’ve laid that one to rest!

DUSTY VINTAGE KEYBOARDSo my next goal is to finish writing the last of the Cruz Sisters trilogy, a mystery thriller sci-fi romance that I’m very excited about. I’m changing the plot and going pretty out there with it, so it’s going to be a lot of work. I hope to nail down the new plot in about 60 hours of planning work. I don’t know how long it will take to complete the book, but the beauty of my new writing-life plan is that there is no deadline.

I’ll be back with my regular Monday and Friday posting schedule now. Thanks for following along and sharing my journey with me!



Wow. So, a little dizzy here after a busy week. My husband and I are doing massive yard work thanks to the end of the California drought! (At least as far as the plants are concerned.) There are some downsides to all this fabulous water, and you know I’m grateful. But it’s a jungle out there.

Well, exactly eight months after I submitted it to The Wild Rose Press, Third Strikes the Charm was born. Yay!!!!!

Tome tender quoteIt has thankfully been well received so far. I love the reviews. You know how it is, or you can imagine, holding your breath to see if anyone else besides your critique group, beta readers, and editor like it. No matter how confident you felt when putting on the finishing touches, release day is a little nerve-wracking. I’m actually hugely relieved. There. I admitted it.

But woot! One reviewer was really moved by the story line, in just the way I hoped when I wrote iSpring-5t. She even said that the way it was written, the author must have personal experience with the situation (which is true).

And then one of the most amazing moments was when my mother-in-law called me. I gave her the print copy yesterday, and a few hours later, she called me and was all excited. She wanted to know if it was a continuation of the previous book! I had never mentioned it was a series, and her voice was filled with joy at opening the new book and finding characters she already knew.

That was so amazing to see how happy she was that it’s a continuation, showing me on a personal level the common knowledge that readers love series. Also it was great to see my family member as a reader.Spring-7

A book birthday is when the book you wrote is grown up and goes out into the world to meet its fate.

I am scheduling this post ahead of time. On Friday morning, or Saturday if you are in Australia, I will be out taking more photos. But I did take some shots of the *ahem* bounty of our yard. Hope you enjoy.



Reflections on relaxation

Flowers and weedsHappy Monday! I’ve been busy resting, LOL! Me, my husband, our son, and several of our friends have all had health issues that have forced us to slow down. I guess those who are already taking care of themselves and not pushing themselves too much, have fared better during this Mars in retrograde period.
Flowers and weeds-3Speaking of Astrology, I just finished reading An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears, and it’s now my favorite book. Here’s my review. In this historical mystery, the budding new field of medicine included consulting the stars before performing any medical procedures. While I find Astrology fun and sometimes remarkably helpful, I really don’t want my doctor relying upon it, so I guess I’m glad that they don’t. (Although perhaps some of the diagnoses would be more accurate…)

My second novel is coming out on Wednesday, woo hoo! Unlike An Instance of the Fingerpost, no animals get hurt in Third Strike’s the Charm.

Flowers and weeds-2

Today’s images are from my treasure trove. I’m on for a photo outing on Friday. I can’t wait to get fresh shots for you.

Flowers and weeds-4

Have a great week!

I — Inquiry and Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought

Real quick, this is how Lake Tahoe looked in March. The water was getting closer but not reaching the Truckee River.

The mouth of the river (1 of 1)

Well big news, it just flowed over its natural rim and has reached the mouth of the Truckee River.

Wow just when I was thinking I was running out of time to do my Monday post and couldn’t think of anything, but when I signed in to start a long overdue visitation round for my blogger friends, I discovered to my amazement a comment from Sheri Kennedy who writes as Kennedy J. Quinn with an invitation to do this interview, tag a few other writers, and read her amazing interview! Her answers really are good; please do yourself a favor and read through them. Sheri does everything a hundred percent, and her interview is no exception. And Sheri, thank you for reading and mentioning The Last Straw. I’ve been meaning to get that book up here on my blog, but for now, here are my answers to your great questions

  1. If you could write full time, would you? Why or why not. If you already do, would you want to change that? Why?
    I write full time now, and I wouldn’t change it, I’m so grateful every day for getting to write fiction and my blog.
  2. Tell me about your favorite character in literature. Why are they your fave?Sherlock Holmes. He is so logical. I love logic and logical characters. I’m also a huge fan of Spock in Star Trek and Seven of Nine.
  3. How long did it take you to write your first book? How long to get it published? Six years (I was working at the time, and had a lot of learning to do!) I didn’t publish it.
  4. What do you think the best books have in common? Great question! I have no idea how to answer it! But for me a book is great when I lose myself in it, when I am more in it than in my life as I bumble through the rituals of the day thinking about the book the whole time until I can return to it. I’m reading one like that now, and it brings me so much enjoyment, especially since several friends are all reading it and we are talking about it.
  5. What do you like to eat or drink while writing?Organic unsweetened almond milk (yes I actually like it), nuts, water. When I’m really on a hot streak, slide it under the door. When I’m struggling I spend most of my time at the refrigerator grazing, with the expected consequences.
  6. Did you ever have one of your characters surprise you? In what way? If no, why not?Oh, I love this question because it just happened to me for the first time in the book that is coming out this month, Third Strike’s the Charm. The hero had a secret I didn’t discover until the end of the third draft. Then I knew why I’d had so much trouble with his character. I didn’t understand Jason Ward until then.
  7. Regarding writing environment: Quiet or Noisy? Alone or With Others? Indoors or Outdoors? Hot or Cool?Okay, both, both, indoors, just right. LOL! I’m picky about temperature and light, otherwise, I’m flexible. I LOVE long plane rides. I get so much done!
  8. Regarding preferred stories: Happy or Complicated? Fantasy or Reality? Character-driven or Plot-driven? Scary or Funny? Classic or Modern?Happy, reality but a dramatic version, mix of character-driven and plot-driven, funny, modern.
  9. Tell me about your favorite character in your work in progress. What’s your favorite thing about them?Devin York is an arrogant emotionally disconnected billionaire CEO who scowls and broods which is interpreted by others as being domineering and tyrannical but is really caused by the tragic death of his wife for which he blames himself. He’s emerged as a Gothic character set in contemporary times, and I adore him. He breaks my heart, makes me angry, and makes me laugh, sometimes on the same page. I am finding I love writing these over-the-top characters and am very grateful Devin arrived in time to save my manuscript from the previous hero… who was a lox.
  10. Why do you write?If I had a choice, I wouldn’t. But I’m incredibly grateful that I can and do. What can I say? It’s a love-hate relationship, like every good romance!

Okay, enough about me! Here are my questions to any writer who happens to read this but specifically for the writers linked at the end, should they choose to participate:

  1. What is your favorite project that you have completed? Why?
  2. If you had to pick one book to read while you were stranded for a long time on a desert island, what would it be?
  3. What do you do when you get stuck with a story or article to get unstuck about the story or article and going all the way to the end?
  4. Do you ever write with pen and paper? If so, why? If not, why not? What do you like more about writing on the computer or about writing longhand?
  5. Who is your favorite character in literature?
  6. Do you believe in “muses” or inspiration? If so, how do you cultivate the inspiration?
  7. What made you want to write?
  8. Do you prefer reading or writing fiction or nonfiction? Why?
  9. What book, author (including blogger and journalist) has most influenced or inspired you?
  10. What would be your favorite place to write if you could write anywhere in the world?
    Here’s some inspiration for that thought!


John Holland

Cynthia Harrison

Robena Grant

Margaret Lynette Sharp

Ann of Anroworld

Susie Lindau

Ann Sandler

Marie Tuhart

Leanne Cole







From my outing with my friend in downtown Los Altos…

A Day in Los Altos-17
A closed building waiting to be knocked down and rebuilt, Los Altos California

Getting to the next thing, keeping busy, getting organized…

A Day in Los Altos-4

Not just waiting around for someone to buy my creation…

And having fun with hobbies and friends…

Nia and Cherryl in Los Altos Apr 2016

How was your week and what do you plan to do this weekend?