Monthly Archives: October 2014

Book of the Week: Daily Rituals

Book of the Week for October 27-November 2

Daily Rituals by Mason Curry



Why it’s interesting:

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work chronicles the creative habits of 161 artists from Kafka to Van Gogh to Woody Allen. The pure range of artists is astonishing: writers, composers, musicians, painters, cartoonists…it’s awesome. It’s written in short little snippets and can be read while waiting for your coffee or train. I actually listened to the audio version, but the physicall/digital versions also include a bunch of photos and I kind of want to buy the physical version now. Also, for underlining. There’s some great, inspiring lines. (Wouldn’t it be great if I had underlined so I could give you some examples? Sorry.) One caveat (and I think Mason Curry addresses this at the beginning of the book, but I don’t remember for sure): Just because so many artists drank and drugged them way into some awesome work doesn’t mean you should too. For some reason, dying in your thirties and forties didn’t seem as tragic back in the day as it is now. But…if you want to follow the example of naps—it felt like almost everyone in the book took naps—by all means. Go for it. I do.

The blurb:

Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”

Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up in the kitchen, the top of the refrigerator as his desk, dreamily fondling his “male configurations”. . . Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin), ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day . . . Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep through woods, gardens, and enchanted palaces where he experienced “every pleasure imaginable.”

Here are: Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for thirty-three years during the writing of more than two dozen books . . . Karl Marx . . . Woody Allen . . . Agatha Christie . . . George Balanchine, who did most of his work while ironing . . . Leo Tolstoy . . . Charles Dickens . . . Pablo Picasso . . . George Gershwin, who, said his brother Ira, worked for twelve hours a day from late morning to midnight, composing at the piano in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers . . .

Here also are the daily rituals of Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky (he was never able to compose unless he was sure no one could hear him and, when blocked, stood on his head to “clear the brain”).

Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, magically inspiring.


If you like this, you might also like:

Anything by Austin Kleon

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 The War of Art by Steven Pressfeild


Anything by Julia Cameron

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Title, Cover and Blurb Reveal!

Well, I just sent the last round of edits off to my editor, so, now is probably a good time for a big reveal!

The Stealing the Ruby Slippers sequel is:


Kelly’s boyfriend, Jared, stole the Ruby Slippers, and, with Eric’s help, hid them in an abandoned iron ore mine. Then Jared died, and the shoes were nowhere to be found. Eric was almost killed looking for them. Kelly took the brunt of the public wrath. Even without evidence, no one believed she didn’t know where they were.

She didn’t…until the morning she finds them while scouting a different mine.

In a split second decision she takes the shoes, determined to figure out a way to return them without drawing suspicion to herself. Before she can devise a plan, Private Investigator Mark McDonald joins the case. He’s charming and gorgeous, but his interest in Kelly seems more than professional, and his motivations less than sincere.

Kelly’s receiving intimidating phone calls, her company is being threatened, and Eric warns her Mark isn’t who she thinks he is. She has to figure out who she can trust and how to protect her family, or whether the best thing might be destroying the shoes completely.

But wait…there’s more!

I’ll soon be releasing supplemental material for the low price of….FREE! It’s going to be about fifty pages of Kelly and Eric’s story.You can wait until it’s on NoiseTrade, or sign up here and I’ll email it directly to you as soon as it’s ready.

TGI Monday!

Blog Collage 1020We had a fantastic fall break! Lily turned seven…7!…how did that happen?????? She had a friend spend the night, we went to Chutes and Ladders Park (it’s AWESOME and wore out all three kids in less than an hour. All of them slept all the way to dinner.) Then on Saturday my brother, two sisters-in-law, two nephews an mom all came and spent the day/night. We walked over to Minnehaha Falls and the playground over there, had tacos for a dinner, then had a Wii dance party. Yesterday morning we visited two playgrounds, the bakery and the coffee shop. Oh- and I finally got the blood work from my latest endocrinologist appointment—after worrying about the less-than-ideal-but-still-not-bad results six months ago my cancer is UNDETECTABLE. It was a fantastic weekend!

I will be back with Book of the Week next week, this week I’m finishing my last round of edits on the Ruby Slippers sequel…watch for a big reveal (with free stuff!) towards the end of the week!

Book of the Week: Cartwheel

Book of the Week for October 6-October 12

Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois


Why it’s interesting:

This week’s book is Cartwheel by Jennifer duBuois. My current Outline in Progress (not to be confused with Novel in Progress, Story in Progress, or Novel in Editing, all of which I also have) is a mystery unfolding on the set of a reality show, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on actual reality shows—crimes committed and tragedies endured by cast members, legal problems the shows have had, what cast contracts are like, and, of course, other novels that have been-there-done-that. Luckily, so far, none have had anything close to my premise.

During all of this research, I came across Cartwheel. It’s “inspired by” the Amanda Knox story, which I know very little about, but is intriguing in and of itself. But it was especially interesting to me because I, too, take real life situations and fictionalize them. I enjoy seeing how other authors do it.

I’m about half way through and so far am completely addicted. Life forces are keeping me from reading, but I kid you not when I say I really struggled with whether to write this blog post or sit here and read for the last ten minutes. You’re lucky. I chose you. 🙂


The blurb:

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.

Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.

In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. No two readers will agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really know ourselves will linger well beyond.


If you like this, you might also like:

A fictionalized version of the real-life theft of masterpieces from a museum in Boston. (Yes, very similar to Stealing the Ruby Slippers, except it’s not told by the villain.) I loved this book because of the discussion of the actual art and the process that goes into making it.




Time Management


Time Management


One of the classes in the Work of Art Series I’m taking was on Time Management. In it, the facilitator talked about tracking your week. A while back, I heard a podcast with the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think in which she also advocates for time tracking. I worked at a company once where we tracked our time per project (similar to how lawyers do for billing) just to be sure we were charging clients accurately. We weren’t, and nothing was ever done about it, so, since then, I’ve been a little dismissive of time tracking. But I decided to give it a shot.

Initially I was going to go for two full weeks, but after five days I realized I had a lot of good data, and I stopped on day 11. (Partially because I was sick and all I was tracking was laying on the couch.)

Here’s some of what I learned:

  • I sleep an average of 9 hours a day. I feel like this number is slightly skewed because I spent two of those days at my parents house where I got to sleep until 9:30, and I was sick, but I’m actually glad to see it, because 9 hours is, I think, my sweet spot. Seeing that I was getting it, and getting as much done as I did, makes me feel good.
  • I only spend an average of 1.5 hours a day watching TV. I’m okay with that.
  • I also averaged 1.5 hours a day on Cooking/Eating, Reading Fiction, Family Time and Kid time.
  • I only spend 35 min a day or so on Email/Facebook/Social Media. Hallelujah. Sometimes it feels like a lot more. *Caveat: If I was on Facebook while watching TV, I usually counted it as TV time. Because what’s the point in splitting hairs when both of the things are mind-numbing?
  • I was also happy with the amount of time I spent writing and working on other “business” items. There was a good balance.
  • I need to spend more time in the following areas: Time with Chris (hubby), Art/Journaling, and Gym.

Here’s my whole Time Tracker.

Laura Vanderkam’s Website has more time management resources in the right hand column.

Have you ever done a time tracker? What did you learn?