Hello! Thanks for your interest in my writing!

I created this combination blog and website to make my life easier so I can focus on adventuring, writing, and wellness. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

New Book Launch! Far From Ordinary

I’m delighted to announce that Far From Ordinary: Predicaments, Misadventures, and Illuminations is now available from Amazon in print and e-book formats. Find it at Amazon here. I hope you'll pick up a copy and that you enjoy it. 

Here’s a brief description:


Far From Ordinary: Predicaments, Misadventures, and Illuminations is my quirky collection of essays, poems, and short stories about unpredictable adventures and misadventures. Readers of my work will recognize my passion for juxtaposing well-researched, fascinating facts and eccentric tales about awkward experiences that went seriously sideways. 


Adventures provide the fuel for a fulfilling life while misadventures are life's tax for playing full out. To embrace one, we must wrestle the other. Like relishing breathtaking landscapes while on a 9,400-mile solo motorcycle trip around the country and then driving at 70 mph into a screaming, horny, miles-long swarm of fat cicadas on a Chicago highway. 


That really happened! Imagine cicada DNA on every surface and in all orifices. 


Far From Ordinary is a unique book and I’m super proud of it. If you walk into a bookshop, you’ll find essay collections, poetry chapbooks, and short story collections in separate sections of the store. I know this and have blissfully ignored conventions to offer what I believe is a refreshing and entertaining reading experience. 

I know what you're thinking, dear readers. Ignoring dumb rules is par for my bratty course. Thanks for supporting my work! I hope you enjoy Far From Ordinary. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

How to Write Humor: Learning from Funny Novelists Hiaasen, Evanovich, Moore, Leonard

I will be teaching a two hour workshop on writing humor in May. It will be delivered in person in ABQ and also online - more details coming in case you'd like to register. During the workshop, I'll lead a discussion about the comedic "secret sauces" that four of my favorite writers use to write clever and unique humorous novels. As you might imagine, their approaches and results are different. And ingenious! That's four secret sauces, and I can't wait to delve into them further.

To prepare, I'll need to re-read books by each author and then select the emblematic and secret-sauce-worthy passages I will share during the workshop. 

Poor, poor, me. :-)

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Can Chaos Gardening Simplify My Chaotic Life?

Although I've understood the general idea of this style of planting for a while, I heard the term chaos gardening today for the first time. It means planting a bunch of stuff in no particular design plan. Something that looks natural and where the soil is covered with plant material. 

Thick coverage. A natural lushness. Something that re-seeds itself. Love it.

This Better Homes & Gardens post offers a good summary. 

We have a small wildflower garden in our backyard but I'm thinking about expanding the idea to be a mini chaos garden. Seems like it would be lovely and sure would be simple. I'll let you know how it goes. 

I like the idea of chaos being simple.

Photo credit Meadowlark Journal. 

Monday, January 15, 2024

What to Do If You Are Off Course

I thought I'd revisit a couple of posts I wrote in 2009 and 2012 about what to do and how to be when we're off track based on our goals and intentions. 

I need this message right now... I feel like I should be making better progress toward my goal to live pain free. I'm piddling about with the PT exercises and weight loss plan. I need to get back on course. My quality of life depends upon it.

You are Amazing Even if Today You Are Off Course

December 30, 2009

I thought I would end the year's blog postings on a high note and with a call for self-forgiveness (continuing the theme of best mind forward) as a vehicle for refocusing on generating the life and work you desire.

You are amazing. I know this! If you and I enjoyed a chat over foaming lattes, I am sure that your greatness would shine bright and I would find your hopes and dreams inspiring. Everyone I meet possesses clear and special talents. I love to discover the source of a person’s passions and am fascinated by our diverse natures.

Every night on the TV, we see people at their best, but more often, they are at their worst (crime shows, reality TV, Jerry Springer). If everyone is amazing, what’s going on? I think that stress and the dizzying circumstances of our lives can push us off course. We know this is not how things ought to be. We know that we have something greater and more compelling to offer the world. Even so, we get farther off course with each mismatched turn.

You are amazing even if today you are off course. You have the potential to contribute to society and live a wonderful and fulfilling life. You can get back on track. I work with many people who choose to stop moving in the wrong direction and see a new set of possibilities. They flap their butterfly wings fast and furious, manifesting joy and wonder along the way. They ooze exuberance and become flexibly strong, like a tall Sequoia tree swaying in the wind. An awesome force of nature. What’s your goal? Do you need an adjustment?

You can start right now. Define - Answer - Act - Use that energy to repeat.

  • What can I do in the next 12 hours to get unstuck? (Do one big or five tiny things then rejoice)
  • Which is more powerful - physical or mental barriers? (Hint: it's likely mental - obliterate the barriers by taking on a new perspective)
  • What two things can I do for the next five days to get back on track?

Isn't it more complex than this? Yes, of course it is, but if you act like it isn't - guess what? It will become simpler. And yes, this is familiar. To generate breakthroughs:

  • Define goals that inspire you and share them broadly.
  • Take forward action in support of goals.
  • Make requests that move things forward.
  • Do all these things and you will create velocity.

Getting back on course can be this simple - elegant and simple - powerful and simple. But we all get off course sometimes and that does not make us any less amazing - we're like Ferrari sport cars parked in our garages. Not performing because the engine is off. Turn the key and go for a ride.


Are you off course? Here is a thought about how to get back on track.

April 20, 2012

Yesterday I was reminded of a post I did a couple of years ago called, You are Amazing Even if Today You are Off Course. Check it out if you need some perspective/inspiration/relief/ideas.

I have been thinking about this topic a lot this week. Partially because I want to ensure that I stay on course with my goals but also because I see how hard we are on ourselves and the toll this takes on our spirit and desire to keep moving forward. Shorterm"itis" perhaps.

I think there is something to be said for believing in ourselves. Really believing. Believing that even though our daily choices are imperfect and our resolve wanes at times....And even though we sometimes say one thing and 30 seconds later do the opposite.... That we are fully capable of massive and transformative progress. That we can do _____ and we can be the one that others think about when searching for a good role model. "Nothing stops her," they will remark.

Few aspects of our lives require perfection to work. This is true! Woo-hoo! Yippeekayee! Momentum, progress, small wins, sweet daily victories, moments of glorious clarity - that's the ticket to success.

Don't let being off course become a source of power pulling you away from your goal, see it for what it is. A spec of time that will be gone in a minute. If in the next minute we become the change we seek, we can skip forward once again and enough that future setbacks will also be insignificant. Keep the progress big and the setbacks minuscule.

Enjoy being in alignment in this moment. And don't look back. 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

What is Autofiction?

I've been seeing more classes and articles pop up that mention autofiction. It's a relatively new term that describes a very old writing practice. Short for autobiographical fiction, autofiction blends fictional and autobiographical story elements.

You might ask: Isn't most fiction a wee bit autobiographical? And isn't it common that nonfiction is sometimes embellished or dramatized?

Yes and yes. But autofiction is a wee bit more specific than this.

According to Brooke Warner in this Publisher's Weekly article, autofiction is not a genre or subgenre. It describes stories that are fueled by the truth. 

Masterclass.com describes autofiction this way, "Autofiction, short for autobiographical fiction, is a genre of literature that combines elements of autobiography and fiction."

I'm quite keen on this quote from storaenso.com: "As well as autofiction being an intriguing concept for the reader – “When you see that this is a novel but that the protagonist's name is the same as the author, you understand that something a little different is happening here,” says Koivisto – it can give authors something special, too."

And this post by Adele Annesi on the Jane Friedman blog is very good. "The writer then melds these realities with fictional plot elements, characters and events in a way that often reads like memoir or autobiography."

This notion that the author is a fictional or quasi-fictional protagonist is quite appealing to me.

I've written several autofiction pieces...well...depending on the definition. But one thing is for sure, it can be fun and freeing to include fictional elements in our autobiographical works. What's important, of course, is that we clarify whether it's truth, autofiction, or fiction. This is something I've done in my upcoming collection, Far From Ordinary. Each piece is labeled so there's no trickery. 

I'm thinking about making my next novel autofiction. Would be a blast to try! Will keep you updated. 

And if you're interested in reading some autofiction - other than mine - the storaenso.com piece linked above has a good list of autofiction novels. Also, a search on Amazon yields and interesting and eclectic list.

For writers: If you're a Lexington, KY based writer, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning is offering a class on autofiction. And there are others online for those of us who live elsewhere.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Unique Satisfaction of Milky Oolong Tea

Check out my adorable tea pot (and its cozy) and adorable tea cup nestled up next to my upcoming book (mid-Feb pub date), Far From Ordinary

The tea is milky oolong. Have you tried it?

The difference between white, green, oolong, and black teas is processing. They're all made from the same plant but some are dried and fermented to different degrees. Oolong is fermented more than green tea but not as much as black tea is. This in-between taste is sublime in my humble opinion. 

Oolong embodies the flavors of the earth, rain, and sky. Milk oolong is fermented a bit less than other oolongs - still more than green - and this helps it taste delicate and butterscotchy. The smell is incredible!

No milk is used in the making of milky oolong. It's magic, and I love it so.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Bitter Choices for Better Plots

I love this post called Add a Luke Skywalker Moment: Give Your Main Character a Bitter Choice by Janet Fox on the Jane Friedman blog. In it, Janet shares a learning experience she had that helped her improve her novel by amping up the decisions her protagonist. 

If you're a writer, please head over and read the entire post. I love this quote from it: 

"A bitter choice creates a balance edge, tipping the character and audience one way or the other."

Adding more nuance to the defining moments in our story can make it a more satisfying read.  Here's my interpretation of what a bitter decision is:

  • There are two or more choices. 
  • All choices have significant downsizes.  
  • The bitter decision challenges the character and reveals their major flaw. 

As I think about the novels I've written and am considering, there are usually five or six key decisions my protagonist needs to wrestle. Not all can be bitter choices, but it's helpful to ensure all of these plot points are satisfying and complex.

Do they run the background check on their new love because there's something not quite right about their story?

Do they set up a sting that no one else knows about and risk failing with no help in sight if it goes sideways?

Do they gamble on their partner's life to safe another?

And I will challenge myself that if I don't have half a dozen questions like this my plot might not be there yet.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Call Me Sporty

Bill and I were watching the House Hunters show last night. It featured a women from the US who was relocating to the UK and buying a house in a desirable area of London. She looked to be in her late forties or early fifties. The British real estate agent summed the woman up by calling her sporty. 

According to Vocabulary.com
"You are sporty if you love sports, dress like you love sports, or behave like a good sport by saying “good game” even when you lose. Sporty can also describe something fast and flashy, like a sporty red convertible." 
I meet EVERY aspect of this definition, although my love of sports is highly selective. Think REI versus Dick's. I love fast cars and flashy colors, too. I rather like the idea of being called sporty and hereby encourage you so refer to me this way.
That Lisa, she's sporty.
Lisa is a sporty one, isn't she?
Might not be the most elegant lady but she sure is sporty.

Take your pick. And I'm definitely making one of my future characters sporty. She might dress like this stock photo lady (from Canva).

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Our History Informs Our Nature - Writing Multidimensional Characters

I love this blog post by Linda Rodriguez over at the Writers Who Kill blog about the importance of tapping into our history as writers and, I've interpreted, telling the readers about our characters' histories and the culture(s) within which the story exists. Here's the money quote from Linda's post:

"Everyone comes from somewhere. Perhaps from an urban slum, perhaps from a pristine upscale suburb, perhaps from an up-and-down series of foster homes, perhaps from great wealth or poverty or anything in between. Everyone comes from some place, some culture, some family. Somewhere where people talk and think a certain way and hold certain expectations. Too many otherwise good manuscripts, however, exist in limbo, in a cultural vacuum."

I could not agree more and it's worth reading the entire post here.

If I'm honest, this is a weakness for me. Perhaps because I don't have a strong grasp of my own history and culture. I was born in Canada and that's where my extended family still lives. But I moved with my parents and siblings to Florida when I was five years old. I've not met most of my cousins and I don't remember much about those who I did know. I don't feel connected to my hometown. Sure, even that history informs my writing, and I certainly could have done more to learn about and get connected to my roots.

But this is not an excuse, and I'll work on tapping into where I come from and adding the depth of character and culture good stories need in my next project. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Everyday Potential Material for the Next Murder Mystery

One of the cool things about being a murder mystery writer is that I can contemplate people's demise without getting arrested or being outcast. In fact, many of my pals are delighted with how quickly the plot can come together once we banter about for a few minutes. 

Case in point. Last night I was at a small dinner gathering in my neighborhood. The topic turned to the banging noises one neighbor heard in the middle of the night. Other neighbors have posted in our FB Group about similar 2 a.m. noises over the last several months. 

Theories expressed ranged from noises ricocheting off the petroglyph escarpment that encircles the community, to teenagers (it's a 55+ community), to wildlife activity, to bad actors of some kind.

I think one of our neighbors is to blame. Someone who doesn't sleep well and has a seriously rambunctious side. They're messing with us because they find it fun. 

Well... It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how this is a perfect set up for a murder mystery. Naughty neighbor, I'll call them Stacy, pulls one too many pranks and pays the ultimate price. Their body is found draped over the trash can by the mail boxes along Crater Lane, also known as Rattlesnake Alley due to its proximity to the natural areas and rattlesnake dens.

It's a closed set - like many of Agatha Christie's mysteries - because the community is gated and the murder happens during the holidays when most are not home. Conclusion: one of the neighbors killed Stacy. Who did it?

Conversations like this happen every week. Most of them occur between me and myself, but it is not uncommon that someone will complain about some weird situation or person in a way that kicks off a fictional murder scenario.

When I decided to write murder mysteries I had no idea how it would change my everyday processing of information. I imagine this is true for most mystery writers and is perhaps one reason they can write one or two books each year. The possibilities are endless! We need to ensure our murderous thoughts remain literary and fictional, goes without saying. But aside from this caution, I like imagining my neighbors' untimely endings. 

Did I just write that? Oh golly, now I'm envisioning the bad outcome for the local writer who couldn't stop killing off her neighbors in her stories. I better go walk the dog and clear my head...

Monday, January 1, 2024

Paths of Possibility

I'm drawn to photos with paths in them. The boardwalk through the marsh, the foot path through the forest, the sidewalk cutting through a park. A path is an invitation to step into possibility. When I accept, I can unlock potential and generate something new. 

Not all paths lead to good places, of course. We might get off track or encounter a hazard. Or the path could end and force us to double back and start over. But then we encounter another path and possibility. The key is to choose a path, and then another, and another.

What does "taking a path" mean in practical Tuesday at 2pm terms? It's when we:

  • Take an action that moves something forward.
  • Ask someone for input.
  • Make requests that shift things for us.
  • Literally - get up and go for a walk down a path.
  • Change our daily habits such that the vibe and direction of our day is different.
  • Say NO to something so we can say YES to something else.
  • Somehow better align our daily life to support our dreams and intentions.

I took this picture of two paths near my house this morning, January 1st. Here's to walking toward possibility in 2024!