June 1 is my January 1

June 1 has felt like a bit of a New Year’s beginning.  Starting this week I’ll have a new schedule and just on cue, the weather has turned hot in Houston.  This change in the month/seasons has been marked in our family by this book.  I have also given myself another 30-day challenge — which I may or may not share.  (So far though, day two, and I’m still on track!)

I was thinking of coming up with a Summer manifesto.  Maybe it needs to be illustrated and not just put on a post-it.  But this manifesto will include enjoying every ounce of the longest days of the year (another reason I love June) by riding bikes and grilling out more.  I know by August and September I’ll be shuddered indoors like it’s the dead of winter in Michigan, so I want to take advantage of not melting while I can.  But mostly I want to create more… more of everything.

And soon I’ll get to create with words and hopefully with some of you.  This week marks the start of the summer writing workshops, so if you’re in Houston, let’s write together (Tuesdays & Fridays).

June 1


While You’re Away

I came across this mesmerizing little video and I’d like to think this is what our books do when we’re away.  Kudos to the creators!  I’ve been so busy reading and writing and I’ve got good things cooking over here, including a soon-to-be-annouced workshop schedule and a Summer Writing Series.  So stay tuned and sign up for all the listings and upcoming dates!

Judging A Book By It’s Cover

I am a visual person and a sucker for good packaging.  I am not above picking out a good wine strictly by the label.  Well, the same goes for a book.  So it’s no wonder that I could spend an unhealthy amount of time on the website The Book Cover Archive.  My time would be better spent actually reading those books rather than ogling and analyzing their covers.  But I can’t help but think how lovely these would be as wallpaper…the second best thing to having the actual books on my shelves.


Graphic Design Book Cover

The Form Our Writing Takes

This past Tuesday the Salt Water Writers gathered again and basically blew my mind.  I absolutely cannot explain the amazing magic that happens when we all write together.  I love that as we spontaneously create our individual narratives based on prompts I have given, we each find our voice taking shape in a different form.  Some writers feel compelled to write in poetry, others prose, and still others sound more like a screenplay.  And here’s what Pat Schneider has to say about using different forms:

In my opinion, the pressure on writers toward specialization is unfortunate.  I have resisted, and I still resist, writing groups limited to one genre.  When writing begins, it needs freedom to take its own form.  [Inspiration] will express itself sometimes as story, sometimes as poem, sometimes as grand opera, sometimes as country-and-western ballad.  People frequently join my workshops saying, I write only poems, or I write only fiction and are surprised when something completely different comes bubbling up in response to a good exercise.

I love the rich and fertile give-and-take when writers are working in varying forms.  A fiction writer learns how to write dialogue by listening to two workshop members read aloud the scene that a third workshop member has brought to the meeting.  A poet is encouraged to use specific, concrete imagery by listening to a vivid prose description of a man opening a can of beer and taking his first sip, the foam catching the bristle on his unshaven lip.

Writers need the refreshment of various forms.  Daphne Slocombe observed:

“The demands of using a particular form can help to focus the author’s attention and intensify his or her engagement.  For new writers, I think it is important to know that there is a reason for forms.  You can fool with them, mess around with them, can get to know them by trying them out and seeing how they affect the material you’re working with.  No need to be intimidated by them; they were invented or discovered by other writers like us, trying to find the best, most effective container for what they had to say, for what they wanted to show us.”

In the workshops I lead, we write two, sometimes three times in one evening session.  Once in awhile someone writes three wonderful separate poems in one evening.  Some writers can write three sections of a novel-in-progress.  But most mortals, like myself, may write one prose piece, one journal entry, and – if we’re especially ‘hot’ – one poem.

Writing Alone and With Others (p.116)

We also talked about the fact that it’s easier to try new forms (or those that are not intuitive to us) while writing in the group versus on our own at home.

So I was pleased as punch when I was directed to a book called Unscrolled: 54 Writers and Artists Wrestle With the Torah.  And in particular, I loved the snippet from Damon Lindelof (writer of LOST) and his take on the near sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham.  It reads like a screenplay with a cop interrogating Abraham.  Awesome.  You can read it here.  My curiosity is piqued — I wonder what other forms these artists have used to rub up against such a significant body of work.


Digital vs. Analog

It’s a lifestyle choice, right?!  So I’ve not yet jumped on the digital e-reader bandwagon.  My mom has a Kindle (circa 2009) and I haven’t been too impressed (more of a *meh* response) and really I make too many notes in the margins of most of my books for an e-reader to even be an option.  But that’s usually because I read mostly non-fiction.  However, lately,  I’ve been adding a lot more fiction to my nightstand / to-read-wish-list, and I think that an e-reader would be most beneficial for this genre (or at least a higher turnover rate).  I read at a moderate pace and I usually have multiple books in progress, so I think that an e-reader would be beneficial for this too.  Still, in the con column though is the price of an e-book.  Yeowzer.  Ten to Fifteen dollars?!  I’m a total sucker for buying second-hand books for way cheap (or even better — borrowing from my sister because she probably bought it brand new!)  However, in the pro column, I found out that  you can check out digital books from our library.  So… I’m still a little torn.  Pro — many books, tiny space.  Con — no color cover art to help me choose my selection.  🙂  Really, my biggest con is something I can’t quite articulate.  Somewhere in my brain, physical books = comfort.  Maybe I just need to try it.  Any thoughts? (Hey, Amazon — would you like this self-proclaimed analog lover to test your new, fancy paperwhite? Email me for my deets!) *cheeky, I know*

Digital or Analog

First Lines


Last night the Salt Water Writers met for another rousing week of exploration and fun with our writing.  Last night we spent some time on first lines.  It was a great exercise that proved to be a (not-so-gentle) catalyst launching us into other-worlds with actions already going on.  I continue to be so impressed with our writers original voices.  It is such a joy to write with these people.

I scoured the interwebs for great first lines and boy, there were a lot of lists.  It’s too hard to narrow down in my book.  But The Telegraph took a stab at it:


‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ | George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Red Badge of Courage

“The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.” | Stephen Crane: The Red Badge Of Courage (1895)


“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” | J.D Salinger: The Catcher In The Rye (1951)


“All this happened, more or less.” | Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five (1969)

Moby Dick

“Call me Ishmael.” | Herman Melville: Moby-Dick (1851)


You can see their comprehensive list here.  And a couple of months ago I read a great article here about Stephen King and his search for great first lines.

(I am) Daring Greatly

I would highly encourage everyone to add to the top of their nightstand reading list Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.  This little book (almost) single-handedly emboldened me to believe that I could start this little project — my writing studio.  (There was also the case of the insanely supportive husband at work too!)  If you’re unsure if this book would even apply to you, it does — take this little nugget for instance:

Daring greatly is not about winning or losing.  It’s about courage.  In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive.  Uncomfortable.  It’s even a little dangerous at times.  And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt.  But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I am standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.   ~ Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

It’s been so difficult to even attempt to “let myself be seen” — but I believe in what I’m doing and believe in the method that I facilitate.  I believe that I can live an authentic life and encourage others to do so by writing in their original, unique voice.  So, here I am, showing up — daring greatly.