10 Jul

Vaccine Spring, 2021

Four small blue flowers bloom on a tree trunk

Spring comes late sometimes. The vaccine spring of 2021 has come later than most. Many parts of the country and the world still huddle indoors, waiting. But spring is here in Seattle, and I’m slowly venturing into the bright air outside.

Many things changed over the long pandemic winter. In my home, we lost peace, sleep, certainty. We lost too many people. We gained a baby who is now seven months old. We sold one place, bought another, finished renting yet another. Now we live in a warren of slowly dwindling boxes, and we’re beginning to color in the walls with bright paint.

The world outside is strange and new to a baby. The world outside feels strange and new to me as well. We dig our toes through clover and dandelions and dirt. We walk the stroller slowly down the road, finding more careful paths. Everything feels tender, fragile, not yet fully real. It feels right to move at a baby’s pace.

Written words come at a baby’s pace, too. A strange thing to say, since she has neither words nor writing yet, and keyboards are more edible than useful to her. But my pace is her pace. When she demands we sit on the floor beside my desk and crinkle a plastic water bottle together, that is what we do.

Yet words stir. I hear them rustling their wings, bumbling in and out of cardboard nooks. If I sit still for long enough–if the baby sleeps for long enough–I can catch a few on my fingertips and feed them through the keyboard. They hum and buzz, legs fuzzy with possibilities, as the blanket of boxes and to-do lists thins. Little patches of open space have begun to appear, and the breeze floats pollen through the window.

Nothing is ready yet. Nothing is ripe. I’m not sure what seeds these last two years planted, let alone what will grow. But, this cautious July, I’ve finally begun to cultivate again.

Are you, too, poking your nose out of your cave? Are you creating? Or do you still wait, worried and restless and hoping?

13 Jan

Writing Event: Person, Place, Thing

A compilation of nine pictures. From top left: an Asian girl playing with bubbles in a park; a canal in Venice at sunset; a red acoustic guitar lying on a gray wooden floor; colorful paper lanterns hanging from a ceiling; a Black woman standing under an umbrella in the rain; an orange sunset behind an empty bench and a leafless tree; brick arches in a cellar; violets growing out of an old pair of boots; a white man with a thick gray mustache, curled at the ends.

UPDATE: I’m making a last-minute trip to Ohio to see a sick family member. My friend Stephanie will be hosting this event instead. She’s fabulous, and I know you all are going to have a great time with her. Write lots of awesome stories and please tell me all about it when I get back!

Winter’s a great time to begin writing something new, but it can be tough to shake off the gloom and get inspired. Why not get together with other awesome writers and tackle some writing prompts?

On Sunday, February 2, 4:00–8:00 p.m., we’ll gather at Friday Afternoon Tea to start some fresh stories.

Read More
24 Sep

Update + Snippets

It’s been a little bit since I last updated you all on my novel. Draft 1 is complete! It’s also enormous, a whopping 190,000 words. That’s the length of two standard fantasy novels—possibly even three. I’ve been slowly cutting things down to size in draft 2. I’ve also changed some major plot elements.

Because the story has changed, I’m posting a new snippet of chapter 1 *and* a snippet of chapter 2.

Meet Lia and Damian. She’s hiding from the angels who destroyed everything she cared about. He’s a suspicious angel detective who believes she’s a threat to his city. Together they have the clues to stop a group of vicious killers—if they can learn to trust each other.

Read More

06 Feb

A Long and Long-Overdue Post on Editing

The last few months have been busy. I closed down my legal business, opened my editing business, finished my copyediting program, edited a slew of stories, proudly watched a self-published book I edited rack up glowing reviews, and started revising an unfinished novel I wrote and set aside a year ago. I also found out that the pain in my hips comes from a skeletal deformity that will require surgery, went through a ton of physical therapy, traveled to San Francisco to see one side of my family, decided not to fly to New York to see more of my family, and ate a whole bunch of tasty food. Somewhere in there, sleep happened, too. I think.

I’ve written about many of those things, but I never quite managed to post them. Much of my recent writing deals with my struggle to come to terms with my disability–typing those two words still makes me feel like I’ve been punched in the gut–and the best pieces are also the darkest. Sometimes sharing my writing scares me, and part of the reason why is below. I know I need to get over that. One day, when I’m feeling brave, I’ll publish some of those dark pieces.

I’ve also written–and not posted–about editing. Back in November I promised to explain why I’m starting up an editing business, and the short answer is because I love editing stories of all sorts. The long answer stretches back ten years and involves an unpleasant incident that many writers may, unfortunately, recognize. Read More

26 Feb

Monsters, Part I: Finding the Right Monster

I set out this morning to write a post about monsters. I make up weird creatures all the time as part of my writing, and I thought it would be fun to turn some of them loose here on my blog. Then a friend pointed me to this post, where Lauren Fleshman, a professional runner, tells the story of how she published unflattering photos of herself to give context to her “fantasy” pictures from a NY Fashion Week runway show. Her story made me think about fear and courage. It also made me think about how the real monsters in our lives aren’t always easy to spot.

Creepy devil? Sure. But not necessarily the demon I’m after.

There can be any number of villains in a story, but most good stories have one real monster. This monster is the primary entity that keeps the hero from getting to her goal. For me, one of the hardest parts about writing a story is figuring out whether I’m focusing on the correct monster. I’ll start detailing a man’s terrible hobby of encasing live frogs in melted glass only to realize that I’ve blamed the wrong bad guy; my protagonist is actually fighting against the ghost of her father. Read More

19 Feb

Goodbye, My Friends

Sheet moss festooning a vine maple. Totally not a many-tentacled swamp monster… okay, okay, maybe it’s both.

Sheet moss festooning a vine maple. Totally not a many-tentacled swamp monster… okay, okay, maybe it’s both.

Seattle is a fertile environment. Plants will grow on anything that stays still for too long. I’ve cleaned sprouts out from the crevices around the trunk of my car, and I have a friend who found a small carpet of moss growing under his windshield wipers.

The upsides of this include the lush greenery everywhere and the vegetable garden that delivers buckets of yummy tomatoes despite my black thumb. The downsides include things like mold, which is a real issue in many buildings. Today, I learned it is a problem in my home. Read More