Monthly Archives: April 2015

How to Write a Novel Without Even Realizing It

A little over a month ago, I started a new job at NoiseTrade while basically everyone else at the company, including my favorite husband and co-parenter, was at SXSW Music Festival in Austin. While the job, overall, is structured in a way that still allows me a lot of writing time, that week, it didn’t. I get a little…hard to live with…when I’m not writing, so I was a bit desperate. I took extreme measures. My good friend and amazing mentor Charlotte gave me the opportunity to write about it on her blog. Check it out here. 

Book of the Week: Yes Please

Book of the Week for April 27-May 3

Yes Please


Why it’s interesting:

Guys. I would happily start a female comedian memoir bookclub if anyone else wants to join me. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler…I love these women. Their books are funny, honest, and inspiring. And the audio version of Yes Please is…above and beyond. So amazingly good. Its a true performance. And Seth Meyers, whom I love in a completely different way, joins her. As do a whole bunch of other people.

The blurb:

Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy’s one-liners?

If your answer to these questions is “Yes Please!” then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Ruby Slippers News

the Thief ePub Cover The Damage eBook

We’re approaching the one year birthday of my first book, Stealing the Ruby Slippers, and like any “baby” he has grown up and is taking on a life of his own. In May he and his sister, Finding the Ruby Slippers, are going together to the courthouse to legally change their names. Henceforth to be known as The Thief and The Damage, they’re also getting a new voice…literally. In May The Thief will be available in audio for purchase from all the usual suspects (Audible and iTunes.) I’m hoping it will also go into library catalogues, but because of the deal I have with ACX I don’t have as much (any) control over distribution and pricing as I normally do. (If you don’t have an Audible account, don’t sign up…yet. You get one book for free when you sign up. Wait until mine is up there are get it for free!)

Details are still being worked out, but for now, let me just say: there are going to be some pretty sweet promo packages that I will be offering to those of you that decide to buy the audio version. And for those of you who have the original covers/titles…there will be options for cool name-change stickers that you can put on your books, fridge, or mom’s car. Whatever floats your boat.

More will be on as details develop.

Weekend Inspiration: The Creative Penn

jpenngrin-300x283Joanna Penn is a New York Times Bestselling Fiction author, but she’s also the host of one of my favorite podcasts and, in my opinion, the hands-down best online resource for indie writers out there. Here books are awesome (you can try one out for free here or here) and you can literally hear her smile on her podcast. If you’re thinking about indie publishing, listen to her old episodes, read her blog, and heed her advice. When I’m doing research on indie pub issues, my first Google searches always include “Joanna Penn.”

It’s been a beautiful day so far

"Snow crystals" by Unknown - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - night I spent a few hours (while watching The West Wing) researching non-phone alarm clocks. I got to the fourth page of google and found only 4 actual sets of results, the rest were all  recommendations for the best alarm apps for your phone. Not what I wanted.

Both Chris and I use our phones to wake up. We both spend time in bed looking at social media, reading blogs or news or email. None of this stuff needs to be happening in bed. Last night, we both put our phones on airplane mode when we went to bed, and woke up without flipping open the email right away. Small improvements.

Have you ever done the ‘Ideal Day’ exercise? Basically, you sit down and write out, from the moment you wake up in the morning, what your ideal day would look like. The things that you choose to include (and omit) are enlightening, and help you realize what is most rewarding about your day to day. Although few have the opportunity to truly live out their ideal day everyday, it still gives you something to shoot for.

I’m in the unique position that I can structure my days, with a few exceptions, however I want. My kids’ school starts at 9:10, so if I want to sleep until 8:30, theoretically, I could. I work from home, for myself, so as long as I’m hitting my deliverables, I could work at my desk, on the couch, at a coffee shop, or even from bed. I can eat whatever I want whenever I want, limited only by my grocery shopping, or lack there-of. I can listen to music and wear my pajamas. If i want to leave in the middle of the day to walk the dog, I can.

But do you think I live out my ideal day on a regular basis?


Want to know why?

Me too.

I have the freedom and the options, but I so often choose not to exercise them. I think this a problem for a lot of people. We feel like we don’t have choices when, in reality, we do. We’re just not making the right ones. I think a lot of the oppression and stress I feel are self-created.

I don’t have a solution, other than to keep trying. Today, that meant going for a short run before Chris had to leave to teach, then going to yoga after the kids went to school. I want to run more and do more yoga. So I did. And I’m still getting all my work done. I hope that tomorrow I’ll be able to set out my daily priorities and make a plan to achieve them again. But if I forget, I’ll try again the next day. I just have to remember to make the conscious choice. Every day.

Also, lest you think my attitude is because of the gorgeous sunshine and warmth here in Northern Minnesota, I feel like I should tell you: it’s snowing. On April 21. Apparently, my calendar is broken and it’s actually February or March.

How’s your day been? What do you use as an alarm clock?

Book of the Week: The Martian

Book of the Week for April 20-April 26

The Martian

The Martian

Why it’s interesting:

I did not see Interstellar, and I’m not even super in to sci-fi anything. But my husband and a really good friend are both science nerds (sorry guys). I started reading this book because it is this month’s Books & Bars book, and I thought Chris would like it. It gets really scientific and technical in a few spots, but the main character is so perfectly human that I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened to him.

The blurb:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?Did you like this book? What are you reading right now?

Where the heck have you been?

I feel like this is my quarterly apology for neglecting my blog. Each time I do one I swear I’ll be better and not have to do one again, and then…here I am.

Last week AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) had their annual conference here in town, and, as a currently-on-hiatus-student of an MFA program, I was able to get in for almost free— $45— which is incredible for a three day conference. The first day I was a bit disappointed. The “Panel” discussions were way too academic and non-interactive for my tastes, and I heard several people say derogatory things about  self/independent publishing. The more I’ve learned about indie vs. traditional publishing, the more happy I’ve been with my decision to go indie. But I do definitely feel the need to constantly defend my position. So, I left the first day feeling incredibly defensive, and defeated (you get told you’re wrong enough times, you might start to believe it.) The second and third days though, I had a great time. I went to a bunch of incredible craft workshops—because writing is writing regardless of how it’s published—and met some cool people at the book fair. Plus, I got to have dinner and drinks with friends and it was great.

The other thing that’s been taking up most of my time is my new job with NoiseTrade. I’ve been working on the books side for several months, but just took on a new roll, and learning to balance the time I need to spend on that with the time to devote to my own stuff is hard. It’s getting better though, and I’m confident that by the end of the week I’ll have a good system in place (this is truly going to be my first “normal” week since starting in the middle of March.)

All that to say, I’ll be back next week with a new Book of the Week (I have several on deck and ready to go) and I’ll, hopefully, get back on my regular schedule at that point.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by work and life? How do you balance things?