Monday Musings 10-14-19

At the end of every class, one of my yoga instructors leaves a notecard by our mats. The card contains a tidbit of wisdom, and it’s usually just what I need to hear on that particular morning. Last week, my card said “attention begets energy.”

I’ve been thinking about that deceptively simple phrase. I wrote a blog post for Inkitt a few months ago that talked about focusing on the things we can control in our writing life rather than the things we can’t. The idea that attention begets energy, in my mind, supports this thought and adds another profound layer to it.

If we focus on the things we can impact, on process rather than outcome, on the things that are most important to us, we’ll be more satisfied in our work and personal lives.

It sounds so simple, yet we all know it isn’t. Every day, we can be sidetracked by a hundred different things, all demanding our time and attention. We can also allow ourselves to focus on the negative in ourselves or in other people. When we do this, we divert our attention from what we say is most important to us - relationships, our art, our good mental and physical health - and we put that energy somewhere else.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice about who and what gets our attention, but most times we do. If I want to write a book, I have to create the habit life to support that goal. If my friendships are important to me, I have to make space to nurture them. If I say my health is important, I have to take care of myself. Attention begets energy.

EVENT THIS WEEK!

Thursday 10/17/19 at 6:30 pm, I’ll be at the Tapped Apple Winery for a book signing and Q&A. Join me, and other local science fiction and fantasy writers for a literary salon. Try out some excellent hard cider and apple wine while your there!

Monday Musings 10-7-19

Last week on the writing blog I manage, I asked each of my authors to share their personal top five writing tips. Advice is a funny thing. We all come from different backgrounds and we’re all at different points in our careers. For me, some bits of advice had no meaning until I’d actually worked in the industry for a while. Others were helpful straight out of the gate.

When pulling my top five together, I realized once again that these reflections likely transcend the writer’s world and may be universally helpful, especially if we’re moving into a new career. So, feel free free to replace “writer” with any number of other occupations!

Finish what you start. 

When new writers ask me for one piece of advice, this is usually it. Why? Because an unfinished manuscript will never become a book. Every writer will experience a lack of momentum, a conundrum about a plot twist, or a crippling moment of insecurity sometime during the writing process. The shiny newness of writing the first few chapters will eventually wear off, and we’ll have to power through the tough days to hit the finish line. I believe it’s worth powering through even if it’s only for the sake of getting to the end. We may have to rewrite, or even trash, some of our manuscripts, but until the whole story is out, we won’t know what we’ve got.

Patience, young Padawan.

Whether you’ve dreamed of sitting down at your writing desk and cranking out a finished manuscript by month’s end, or you thought the moment your story went live, thousands of readers would flock to read it, you will come to realize that everything in the writing and publishing world takes time. Like a construction project, your writing project will probably take more time and require more resources than you thought. We’re in this for the long game.

Kill your darlings? Yikes!

Wait, kill who? This alarming bit of advice made me quite nervous when I first heard it. Would I be required to kill off a beloved main character even if they were supposed to live happily ever after? Probably not. What I’ve come understand from this little nugget is that we have to be willing to sacrifice good bits of writing in our manuscript if they don’t serve the story. I’ve had to scrap entire well-written scenes because when I started editing, I realized the story was stronger without them. The idea here is not to become so attached to a piece of your own writing that you aren’t willing to change or discard it for the sake of telling your story better.   

Recognize the things you can and can’t control.

You can’t control reader response. Not everyone will love our stories, and that’s okay. We don’t love every story we read. Variety is the spice of life after all! Let this go. We also can’t control book sales. There are many things we can do to impact our book’s visibility and accessibility, but ultimately, we have no direct control over this. We can’t force people to read our book. We can control our work ethic, professional behavior, and commitment to our craft. We will have more satisfaction and less frustration as artists if we keep our focus on the things we can impact.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

I’ll end here with a sports metaphor that my son has posted on his bedroom wall. We’re storytellers. Likely we have some talent at it if we’re in this line of work, just like a good athlete probably has some natural talent. But at the end of the day, if we don’t work to improve our skill, commit time and energy to our projects, and meet our deadlines, we really won’t have much of a career. 

SAVE THE DATE:

I’ll be at the Tapped Apple Winery, with my friend and fellow author Mike Squatrito on Thursday, October 17 at 6:30 pm for a reading, Q&A, signing, and more. This place makes amazing hard cider and apple wine. Come spend a couple of hours with us!

 

 

Monday Musings 9-30-19

iIm going to step into the classroom today for the first time in a couple of years. The sixth grade at Meadowbrook is studying Rome, and the class teacher asked if I’d like to guest teach some Latin. Last night I dusted off my books, which thankfully didn’t burn with the school building last year, and remembered what I love so much about teaching - the many things actually.

I love that I can share something I’m passionate about and something I’m relatively good at with the kids. I love seeing their expressions when something clicks in their minds. I love when they ask interesting questions. I love that they are experiencing the deep satisfaction that comes with learning.

For me, playing with languages, whether it’s our own native tongue or one that’s mostly dead, reminds me that the human mind is creative, flexible, and powerful. With all the madness happening in the world, being with the kids, watching them solve problems together and have those a-ha moments of discovery, reminds me that for all our faults, we are quite an amazing species, full of wonder, hope, curiosity, and potential.

SAVE THE DATE:

I’ll be at the Tapped Apple Winery, with my friend and fellow author Mike Squatrito on Thursday, October 17 at 6:30 pm for a reading, Q&A, signing, and more. This place makes amazing hard cider and apple wine. Come spend a couple of hours with us!

Monday Musings 9-23-19

As a writer, obtaining useful feedback on my work before it’s published is a crucial part of the process. It’s also a difficult one. Any artist in any field wants their work to be well-received, and we’re particularly vulnerable when we put it out there. But, to improve our craft, we have to figure this part out.

I’ve come up with some strategies for managing feedback. Just like the article I wrote on working through writer’s block, I think these tips might be helpful to folks outside the writer’s world too.

Ask for what you need.

When I’m looking for feedback on a manuscript, I give my beta readers (those peeps willing to read my document and take the time to share their responses) specific instructions. For example, I want to know if they’re confused at any point, if they find themselves flipping pages from boredom, if they’re responding to characters the way I intend. Asking for the type of feedback I need helps direct the process. If not, it can become somewhat of a free-for-all because everyone has personal preferences.

Trust the experts.

If I’ve hired a reputable free-lance editor, or I’m working with the publisher’s professional editor, I listen to them. They’re job is to make my story stronger. Ninety-nine percent of the time I pay attention when my editor says something needs work. On the rare occasion I disagree, we talk about it.

Pay attention to the things you hear more than once.

If I hear a similar thread in the criticism, I pay attention. With my first novel, enough readers complained that everything worked out too easily for my characters. I recognized the truth in this. I’m uncomfortable making my characters too uncomfortable. In my next novel, I focused on creating more tension for them, and I backed them into some really difficult corners. That book had more emotional depth, a more interesting plot, and got better reviews overall.

Don’t ignore your instincts.

This is still our story and we should be true to it. Even so, if enough people have a problem with a certain section, it’s worth asking why. Is there a way to address their concerns without changing the vision? For example, I had one of my main characters commit an ethically challenging act of violence. In his mind, it was the only way to assure the mission’s success and his team’s safety. The end justified the means for him in this case. It bothered some of my readers because he’s set up as a heroic figure. I believed this scene illustrated one of the terrible costs of war – the fact that good people sometimes have to make terrible decisions. Instead of changing his decision, I added more scenes showing fallout from that choice, mostly the cost to his mental health.

Do ignore the nasty.

Or better yet, find a way to laugh about it. One reader said that my first book was as boring as a bowl of tepid oatmeal. My story may be a lot of things, but it’s a multiple award-winning space opera with battles, spaceships, and evil villains. It’s not boring. I know this. Still, I fixated on that comment for a while, alternating between anger and self-doubt. Now, I joke that I’m going to have t-shirts printed with my worst reviews. Have some perspective. A couple of nasty comments aren’t going to make or break your writing career.

Criticism is hard, but necessary! At the end of the day, I hope every subsequent book I write is better than the last.

And on another note…

I’ll be at the Greenwich Hotel this Wednesday, September 25th, 6:30-8:00 pm for LIVELY LITERATI!

It's sci-fi/fantasy night at the Greenwich Hotel! Join us for a 'lively' evening of literature featuring Tabitha Lord and Mike Squatrito. Our host Guy Natelli will ask embarrassing questions, we'll read from our newest releases, and there will be time for an open mic. FREE ADMISSION, but sadly, no Romulan Ale! Hope to see you there!

Monday Musings 9-16-19

Good morning from sunny SoCal. I’m recovering from a three-day music festival, and since I am no spring chicken, this will likely take the better part of the week! It’s worth it to see so much good music though.

I appreciate live music so much more now than I did when going to concerts as a teenager. I think it’s because I understand how much talent, hard work, and perseverance it takes to maintain a career in the arts. The bands that have lasted, the ones who continue to put out great music year after year, are so freaking impressive to me.

Another fun thing about concerts is that I can show up as just a fan. Because I’m a writer, when I’m reading a book, there’s always this little part of me that’s either critiquing or coveting. I carry none of that baggage when I see a musician performing. It’s pure appreciation on my part for their art, and it’s fun!

Anyway…. since my brain is rather pickled, I’ll take this opportunity to share my schedule for the fall. I hope you can make it to one of these events. They’re all different and all really fun in their own way.

Lively Literati

Wednesday September 25, 2019 from 6:30-8:00 pm at the Greenwich Hotel

It's sci-fi/fantasy night! Join us for a 'lively' evening of literature featuring authors Tabitha Lord Jorgensen and Mike Squatrito. Our host Guy Natelli will ask embarrassing questions, we'll read from our newest releases, and there will be time for an open mic. FREE ADMISSION, but sadly, no Romulan Ale! Hope to see you there! Here’s the link to the FB invite: Lively Literati

The Tapped Apple

Thursday October 17, 2019 at 6:30 pm

Books, hard cider, and wine! Come on down for a reading, signing, and author Q&A. Tapped Apple Winery

RI Comic Con

November 1-3

Of course, we’ll be there! Panels, signings, and shenanigans. More info to come. RI Comic Con

Monday Musings 9-9-19

One of the top questions I get asked by readers and new writers alike is how to overcome writer’s block. Even if you aren’t a writer, you’re probably familiar with the idea of writer’s block. Before writing became my career, I pictured some poor soul locked in a study, up all night, staring at a blank page. In my mind, said writer looked a bit like Einstein, with all that crazy hair sticking up and a slightly manic look on his face. For some, this may actually be what writer’s block looks like, but not for me. No, for me it’s a little more subtle, but no less debilitating.

My experience with writer’s block has never been a lack of ideas, it’s been dealing with moments when I feel like I’ve lost my way. Usually, I’m stuck somewhere in my story and can’t see my way to a solution. This experience incites crippling self-doubt, and I think, “I really have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just posing. This project is going to be an utter failure, if I ever finish it all.”

Honestly, we don’t need to be writers to feel this way. I’ve been stuck, confused, overwhelmed, and lost in other areas of my life - in relationships, in my previous career, many times as a parent. We all have. Some of the practices I’ve learned to overcome my writer’s block definitely translate elsewhere. Here are some of my favorite tricks to get through the sticky stuff…

  • Work anyway. Keep to your schedule, even if it turns out that any writing you do has to be tossed the next day. I often find the more I write, the more the ideas flow. Except when they don’t.

  • So, take a break. This is the exact opposite of my first suggestion, but sometimes it really is necessary to step away and gain some perspective. Maybe you’ll only need a walk to clear your head. But maybe you need a real break from the pressure of a daily word count goal. Stay focused on your story, but use your writing time to brainstorm instead. Keep a notebook with you and capture the ideas when they come.  

  •  Go somewhere that inspires you. I’d once committed to writing a short story for an anthology - the prompts were an old photograph from the 1800s, an event, and a name. It was a speculative fiction collection, and I immediately wanted to write a ghost story. I had a great story idea, as usual, but unfortunately, very little substance to go with it. With the deadline fast approaching, I started to panic. During a weekend getaway, I had the chance to visit an old New England village, well preserved and complete with actors in period dress. Strolling up creaky old stairs and surrounded by real artifacts from the nineteenth century, I allowed my imagination to flow, and the pieces of my story finally fell into place.

  •  Talk it through with another writer. Sometimes, when you talk about it, you realize your story is more well-developed than you thought. Brainstorming with a creative friend might also help you see things from a fresh perspective.

  •  If there’s a scene that excites you, write it. Sometimes, you’ll have a very clear, pivotal scene worked out in your mind, but it isn’t happening in the book for a while yet. You don’t have to write in order. If focusing on that scene gets the words flowing and reminds you that writing can be fun, go for it!

This musing was mostly for those writers I’ve met who’ve asked for help breaking through a block, but feel free to exchange the word “write” for any project that’s got you spinning in circles!

Monday Musings 9-2-19

I like beginnings - the beginning of the day, the week, a season, a new project. For me, beginnings represent potential. I’m an optimist, I know. Instead of seeing the long list of things on my to-do list first thing in the morning, I see an opportunity to accomplish something. The downside of my nature is that my enthusiasm can fizzle out quickly. It’s not that I want to give up when a task becomes difficult, it’s more that I crave the excitement of something new. This is why it took me until I was forty to write my first book. My head was full of stories, but I didn’t have the staying power to see one through to the end.

Now that I am a little bit older, I’ve had many opportunities to stand on the other side of an accomplishment that required my sustained effort. Knowing I’ve become truly competent at something because I’ve put in the work and time holds its own kind of satisfaction. Digging in and immersing myself in a project, through the sticky, murky middle, has great value, and only by sticking with it can I appreciate both the process and the result.

Completely unrelated to today’s musing, our kitten is so adorable I can’t stop posting pictures of her. What’s better than a sleeping, purring ball of fluff?

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Monday Musings 8-26-19

This morning it feels like fall has already arrived. While we have a few more days of summer vacation left before the routine of school and sports and kids’ activities officially begins, we can all feel it in the air. I’ll be sad to see summer fade, but it was a good one. We filled our days with barbecues, family, friends, swimming, and amusement parks, and our nights with fires, s’mores, concerts, and more than a few bottles of good wine. Yes, we all worked. It was Comic Con season for me, and those can be exhausting, but still, the different rhythm of summer provides a needed change, a break from the routine.

Now, along with the crisp days of autumn, I look forward to my most productive writing season. Over the course of my professional life, I’ve learned that I work best when I honor my personal rhythms. When I recognize that there is a natural time when I am most creative and a time when I need to slow down, I feel more balanced and ultimately, in the long run, more productive.

Here’s a section from a post I wrote a while ago titled Inside a Writer’s Mind: On Working with a Calendar. The focus of the article was about taking control of our time, but this particular section focused on honoring our natural rhythms. As we head into fall, which for many of us means an uptick in activity and overall busyness, I think it’s worth sharing.

Structure Your Work Life to Honor Your Personal Rhythms

Step one is recognizing you have a rhythm. A friend of mine, who works a full-time job in a different field, writes during his train commute to and from work. He plugs in the ear buds and hits an impressive daily word count. Another friend works late into the evening, when the house is quiet and everyone else is asleep.

Writing, in one capacity or another, is my full-time job now, and I’m learning a great deal about rhythm. For example, I’m productive with task-oriented items like scheduling social media in the morning, but I couldn’t solve a plot tangle before noon to save my life. Likewise, I have to keep things simple on Fridays because I’m pretty worn out, but I can often get some solid creative writing in over the weekend.

When I’m drafting a novel, I need several uninterrupted hours for my creativity to flow and to hit my daily word count. It’s tricky for me to work one hour without interruption never mind four, but I know this is what I need to do. Draft weeks wind up with a unique rhythm, and I’m often hiding at Starbucks to make it work!

I’m also noticing a rhythm to the year. Summers are busy with cons and conferences, so I can’t plan to draft a novel, but I can write blog posts and short stories. In the fall, when everyone is back to school and out of the house, I’m ready to find those uninterrupted hours and renew my affection for chai lattes.

There’s no right way to schedule your time, only the way that works best for you. When I respect my natural rhythms and organize my work life around them, I find I’m much more productive, and certainly much happier.

Here’s a link to the whole article: Inside a Writer’s Mind. Even though I wrote it with other creative types in mind, the tips come from my work as a teacher, school administrator, mom, and eventually, writer. I hope they’re helpful. Enjoy these last few days of summer!

Monday Musings 8-19-19

Another Comic Con in the books! I haven’t been back to Boston (now Fan Expo Boston) in a couple of years. It was great to see some old friends and make new ones. If you’ve just signed up for my mailing list, welcome to Monday Musings. Most days I wax poetic, in my own mind at least, about something personal, or dive into a writing topic, or give an update on my new releases and works-in-progress. It’s an opportunity to connect with you, and I welcome your notes in return. I love to hear from readers, friends, and fellow writers.

There’s always a highlight at a Con, and in Boston, the thoughtful, interesting, and lively discussions at the panels were that highlight. As a former teacher, I still think a lot about learning, specifically the way we can learn from each other through healthy listening and honest, respectful conversation.

It’s been my experience that aiming to discover the ‘right’ answer is far less productive than engaging earnestly with a question. When we truly listen to others, and respect that they have a perspective and life experience different from our own, real learning occurs and I think we evolve as human beings. I feel like there were several moments where that happened at, of all places, Comic Con!

Anyway, it was a great weekend, I have a ton of laundry, and I need a nap, but I still look forward to the next one!

For those of you who are new, meet our new kitten Yennefer. Old friends - she’s getting bigger!

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Monday Musings 8-12-19

I like Mondays. To me, they represent potential for the new week ahead. How I feel when I wake up on a Monday morning is a good measurement of my overall health and well-being. Usually, I wake up refreshed and ready to jump into things. Sometimes, I don’t. It might be something simple like a meeting I’m not looking forward to, but occasionally it’s more than that, and I have to pay attention.

For nearly a year, I woke up on Mondays feeling exhausted, dreading my to-do lists and projects, not because I didn’t like my work, but because I wasn’t in good physical health. That was a sign for me that I needed to get a handle on things.

A few years ago, when I knew it was time to change careers, I’d wake up on Mondays weary and apprehensive. It may have been safer and perhaps easier to stay on that path, to do the familiar job I was good at, but in my gut, I knew a change would be for the better if I had the courage to take the leap.

We all have that small, still voice inside us that let’s us know if we are on the right path. It takes courage to listen, but I believe in the end, I believe we are better off when we do.

“Your mind knows only some things. Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path.” - Henry Winkler

In other news, I’ll be at Fan Expo Boston this weekend signing books and hosting panels. Stop by booth A703 and say hello! You can find more info on the Con schedule, tickets, and programming here: Fan Expo Boston

Here’s my panel schedule for the weekend:

Friday August 16 -  6pm in room 253B

World Building 101 

Saturday August 17 - 11:30am in room 160B

Girl Power: Exploring Themes of Feminism in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Saturday August 17 - 1:30pm in room 253C

Exploring Real World Conflicts in Otherworldly Settings

Hope to see you there!!!

Monday Musings 8-5-19

Con season is underway. Today I am writing from a hotel room in Tampa, with one heck of a con hangover! Tampa Bay was fantastic. I spoke on five panels, signed and sold dozens of books, and got to know some really interesting, kind people. If we met this weekend, it truly was a pleasure, and I’m so glad we'll be able to stay in touch through Monday Musings. You can also follow me on Instagram and FB (Tabitha Lord), and Twitter @tlordauthor.

I use this space to share personal musings, tidbits of writing advice, and lots of pictures of my kids and cats. You’ll also be the first to hear about new releases and any projects I’m working on. Since most of you newer folks are sci-fi fans, here’s a link to a short story of mine produced by StarShipSofa and performed by the amazing Andrea Richardson: Quest Nine. On my website, tabithalordauthor.com, you can also find a list of most of my published works and all the back issues of these Monday Musing posts.

We had some great discussions on the panels this weekend. For those aspiring writers interested in more info on writing craft, check out the Inkitt Writer’s Blog. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see covered in an article, let me know. As the managing editor, I have a little pull!

Finally, I want to thank you if you bought my books this weekend. It is a joy to share my stories with readers and I truly hope you like the series! Don’t forget to leave a review:) Next stop, Boston Fan Expo August 16-18. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there!

Below, for a Monday smile, Yennefer and Milo. Too cute for words!

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Monday Musings 7-29-19

Recently a friend sent me a panicked text message about her work-in-progress. She said something like, “Do you ever think your manuscript is just awful, and wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea in the first place? What if I’m just a girl with an idea, and not a real writer?”

Inevitably, sometime during the writing process, I experience crippling self-doubt about the particular project I’m working on, and my skills as a writer in general, but I have to put those feelings in a box and keep going.

Once upon a time, every writer was just someone with an idea. That spark of inspiration will only transform from idea to reality if we are willing to do the work, stay the course, and learn as we go along.

“The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it.” - Kalpana Chawla

In other news, I’ll be at Tampa Bay Comic Con from August 2-4. In addition to signing books all weekend with fellow RI authors Heather Rigney and Mike Squatrito, I’ll be presenting on several panels. Here’s a look at my schedule:

Saturday 1:30-2:30 room 22 - World Building 101

Saturday 4:30-5:30 room 5 - Feminism in Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Saturday 9:00 - 10:00 pm room 22 - Geek Out! 

Sunday 12:00 - 1:00 room 22 - Scene Building Basics

Sunday 3:00 - 4:00  room 22 - Exploring Real World Conflicts in Other Worldly Settings

For more info on the Con and details on panels and programming, you can follow the link here: Tampa Bay Comic Con.

And last but not least, here’s a little furry happiness to help start your Monday off with a smile. Yennefer loves helping with blog posts!

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Monday Musings 7-22-19

I found a picture recently that my husband took of me and our four kids when they were little. We’re piled on the bed with our new kitten. For perspective, my kids are now 26, 21, 17, and 15, and that kitty is 9 years old. I remember that particular moment, and I remember my kids being little like it was yesterday. Cliched I know, but true.

Last winter, Ray and I took a walk through our neighborhood one morning after a snowstorm. School was cancelled for our teenagers so they were in bed, and probably wouldn’t make an appearance until noon. As we wandered the empty streets, bleary eyed parents chased bundled up kids through the fresh snow. Those parents looked tired and frazzled, and we got teary-eyed. I don’t want to go back to an earlier point in my life. I’m really happy with where I am now. We’ve worked hard to get here. But with every birthday that comes and goes, I truly feel the passage of time.

When my kids saw this same picture, they made comments like how much they missed being all together now that two have moved out permanently. They feel it too, this change over time. I don’t think they necessarily want to go back either, but remembering helps us appreciate the sweetness and the ephemeral quality of those moments. Maybe remembering also helps us live more fully in the here and now.

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” - Sharon Salzberg

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Monday Musings 7-15-1

Most of you know that we lost one of our kitties a few months ago. He was a gentle soul, always right there when I needed him most. I wasn’t ready to open my heart to a new furry friend - until my kids convinced me, of course. There’s nothing quite like snuggling a tiny ball of purring fur. This little fluff muffin makes us all laugh with her playful antics. Yennefer (yes we’re Witcher fans) certainly isn’t a replacement for our beloved Bede, but she is finding her way into all hearts!

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In other news, EQUINOX is now available on audio! Grateful thanks to amazing voice actor, David Draffin, for bringing this series to life. If audible books are your thing, I hope you’ll check it out. Click on the picture for purchasing options.




Monday Musings 7-8-19

I’m a person who lives by my calendar. I keep track of my world with to-do lists and notebooks, and my workspace is OCD level tidy. When my four kids were little and I worked a full-time job, this kind of organization was necessary. By taking charge of my time, I felt proactive instead of reactive, and accomplished quite a lot every single day.

A side-effect of my super-organized life was a lack of flexibility. There wasn’t much wiggle room to be spontaneous or take advantage of unplanned opportunities. Now, I have a much more flexible schedule. My kids are older and mostly independent, and my work life is primarily self-driven. More than ever, I need to plan my schedule or I get caught up in the work-from-home dilemma of no work actually getting done at home. But, lately, I’ve made an effort to say yes to things that weren’t previously penciled in on my calendar.

I’m finding that it’s okay to invite friends for dinner even if they see a pile of dirty laundry in the hallway. It’s okay to go to a concert on a work night. It’s fun to have a spontaneous beach day or lunch date or glass of wine on the porch with a neighbor at 2:00 on a Tuesday. I can’t do these things every day and still be a responsible adult, but I can and should do them regularly.

Some of the best memories happen when we don’t plan, when we’re simply willing to say yes to the simple, joyful opportunities that appear in front of us.

Monday Musings 7-1-19

I have reached an age when, if someone tells me to wear socks, I don't have to.” - Albert Einstein

This is my birthday week. Like many people around my age, I have mixed feelings about birthdays. I’m thrilled to have another one, because, well, the alternative isn’t too pleasant to think about. But, I’m also struggling with some of the less-fun perks of aging - like aches and pains for no reason what-so-ever, a body that needs to eat half and exercise double to stay in any sort of shape, etc.

It’s certainly easy to focus on what’s been lost through the aging process - they do call it the bloom of YOUTH for a reason. But, if I shift my lens even a little, and choose to focus instead on the full, rich life I enjoy, then my overwhelming emotion becomes gratitude. Gratitude for my health - because relatively speaking, it’s good. Gratitude for my friends - because I am blessed to have deep, meaningful friendships. Gratitude for my family, my kids, and for the flexible, satisfying home and work life that my husband and I consciously created.

Every year, after Thanksgiving, my family watches It’s a Wonderful Life. Every year, when the credits roll, my husband sniffles and says, “It truly is a wonderful life.” And it is. So this year, I am going to embrace my birthday fully - with joy and gratitude, and probably without socks.

Monday Musings 6-24-19

This morning I’m on my way to Six Flags to ride roller coasters with a few of my kids and their friends. This has always been one of my favorite start-of-summer adventures and I love that my kids still want me to do this with them.

Because I’m a little crunched for time, I’ll use today’s post to update you on my travel and signing schedule.

August 2-4 - Tampa Bay Comic Con - Three of us from the Association of RI Authors will be signing books all weekend. I’ll also be moderating and presenting on several panels and workshops. More info on that soon!

August 16-18 - Fan Expo Boston (formerly Boston Comic Con) - This was my first con and still one of my favorites. I’ll be signing all weekend.

September 25 - Lively Literati at the Greenwich Hotel in EG - This one’s local so come on down for a “literary” evening with readings, signings, and good conversation.

November 1-3 - Rhode Island Comic Con - Also local! I’ll be there all weekend!

And finally, in other news, I sold my short story Goodbye, Charlie to Tales to Terrify, an awesome podcast. This was my first attempt at writing horror and I’m thrilled someone liked it enough to produce it! I will let you know as soon as they give me an air date.

I’m off to ride Superman. Happy summer!

Monday Musings 6-17-19

One of my kids didn’t have the best school year this year. He injured himself during the first practice of his varsity football season, struggled through a couple of classes, and topped it off by getting into his first fender-bender during exam week. Sometimes, a year just needs to come to an end!

I released my third novel this year - the end of the series. I look back on the entire project with a sense of satisfaction and learning. That ending was worth celebrating.

At some point, life will bring us to our knees - whether physically or emotionally. We’ll survive those moments and be grateful when they come to an end. Some endings will be joyful. Others will be bittersweet. In any case, endings provide us with an opportunity for a clean slate. Whether we’ve learned something, accomplished something, or actually survived something, endings grant us the freedom to let go.

“Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.” - Daphne Rose Kingma

Monday Musings 6-10-19

One of the great things about being, ahem, a little older is the different kind of relationship I have with my adult and teen children. I know I’m their mom, but my kids really are interesting, kind human beings full of integrity. As my husband used to say to them when they were little, “It’s our job to help you become people other people want to be around.” And they are.

Last weekend Ray and I were in Chicago watching our oldest graduate from Navy boot camp. This kid got his degree, went to conservatory, and was making a go of it as an actor in NYC. A few years in, he decided that life just wasn’t right for him, so he packed up his NYC life and joined the Navy. It wasn’t an impulsive decision - anyone who knows him well wasn’t surprised. He’d always considered serving. But, it was a big decision, a brave one.

The ability to truly evaluate ourselves and our lives, and to have the courage to make changes when needed can be really hard. It might mean making ourselves uncomfortable (I’m sure boot camp was pretty uncomfortable!). But when we have the courage to follow our intuition, we grow. So proud of you, Nick. You inspire me.

“Every moment of one’s existence, one is growing into more or retreating into less.” ―Norman Mailer

Monday Musings 6-3-19

A couple of months ago, I sold a short story to a podcast. It’s an incredible experience hearing your words read and interpreted by someone else. This narrator is a British actress and singer, and wow, did she do an amazing job! I just finished listening and I can’t stop smiling.

I love writing short fiction for several reasons: I can experiment with voice, point of view, and even different genres. Short stories only take me a couple of weeks to finish, as opposed to months when I’m writing a full length novel. They force me to pay attention to every word since space is limited, but I still have the satisfaction of completing a full story arc. And, as with my longer fiction, I can explore a theme through my writing. Quest Nine asks what we humans are willing to sacrifice in order to save ourselves from extinction. I know, light reading, or listening, as the case may be!

Thank you StarShipSofa, the Hugo award-winning podcast, for producing this story, and Andrea Richardson for her incredible voice acting. Please have a listen! Quest Nine on StarShipSofa