Friday, October 19, 2018

Writing News and Updates

Time for some updates about "The Great Experiment!"

I have broken away from Henry Miller's Writing Program. Although many of his suggestions are helpful, not all are a good fit for me.

He recommends working on one--and only one--manuscript at a time until completed. Normally, that was my process as well.

Since I am attempting a new genre with my story BLUE, I've had a pretty big learning curve. The whole process is new and different, and I found myself becoming frustrated and then stalled. I missed writing! I decided to make a goal for myself each day to write for 1-2 hours, even if it was a blog post, a journal, whatever. Just to get my writing-brain warmed up again.

Just for the fun of it, I started to write a brand new book. Then I started another one! The words were flowing, the ideas were popping! It worked great. And the best part was that all my issues with BLUE were also solved so I could tackle that one as well.

For whatever reason, I have discovered that working on multiple projects at one time really works for me. I have a menu to choose from in the morning...

1. Horror story (LITTLE SHADOW MAN)
2. Holiday YA (SWEET NOELLE)
3. YA paranormal fiction (BLUE)
4. Contemporary romance (THE HAPPY CAMPER)

Depending on my mood/inclination, I will choose one for the morning writing session, and then a different one for the afternoon. I'm sort of shocked by how well this is working for me. My productivity has shot up! Yee haw!

As you can see from yesterday's post, I am even creating poetry.

Feeling victorious!

So, what are these books? Well...surprise! Surprise! An idea that popped up last year for the Klaus Brothers Series took shape and became a YA holiday novella. Sara Pulver has created this precious family tree for the next generation. 

So many children!

The YA holiday fantasy is the story of Noelle Klaus, daughter of Nicholas and Lucy. Here's a sample pic for the cover of SWEET NOELLE...

I will be publishing my new indie releases under the name MYRICA PRESS. Here's a sample cover for the horror story, called LITTLE SHADOW MAN...

Expect a sneak peek for this story soon!

Another announcement...

I am thrilled to be participating in a book fair/signing at the Bellingham Barnes and Noble on Saturday, November 10. This book fair is raising money for the Friends of Hopkinton Public Library.

That's it for announcements!

If you'd like to be informed of releases ASAP, please sign up for my newsletter.

Thank you!


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Poem for the Day

Woke up this morning at 5 am with this poem rattling around in my brain.




Monday, October 8, 2018

20 Ways To Simplify Your Life

What's the most important thing you do to "simplify" your life? Are you trying to save time? Money? Make things less complicated?

I have figured out quite a few things that help me in my quest for a kinder, gentler, more simple existence.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you, too!



This one is a no-brainer for me because I don't care about clothes. At all. For those of you who do care, you may be horrified by this suggestion, but it's one of the best parts of my own personal system.

I have a summer uniform and a winter uniform.

For winter, I wear a white T-shirt and black pants. I layer that up with hoodies, cardigans, jackets, vests, etc. But the basic uniform is white T and black pants.

When I shop, I buy a bunch of the exact same item to simplify this process. So, I have about 10 short-sleeve white T-shirts from LL Bean, and 10 black pants (half are work-out pants and the other half are easy-wear black pants from J Jill).

My summer uniform is a white T-shirt and cropped linen pants. 

That's it!

Wearing a uniform makes shopping easy and dressing easy. I can get ready in the morning in under five minutes.


If you want to jazz up the uniform, accessorize. I have fun jewelry, cardigans, hair clips, etc.



Hee hee. I know. Crazy! But this is pretty much the extent of my beauty routine. I wear no make-up, or just minimal make-up for a night out. It takes a couple of minutes. That's it.

My soap is lemon-scented. I love lemon!

I only buy cruelty-free products for everything. Please look for the cruelty-free mark when purchasing beauty products.


I use various brands of shampoo/conditioner for white/gray hair--I'm not partial to any one product. I finger-comb out the snarls in the shower. My only post-shower hair product is hair cream--also various products, whatever works. If I don't use the hair cream my big curly hair turns into a frizz-ball!

I get hair cuts a couple of times a year. No more coloring appointments. This has cut down care, cost, maintenance, etc. I have embraced the white/silver/gray hairs!

My "hair styling"--if you could call it that--is either to let my curly hair down naturally, or to wear it twisted up in a clip.

Easy. Fast. Cheap.




I don't have a gym membership. Walking is the cheapest, easiest, most flexible work-out.

It's free, you can do it anywhere. You can squeeze it into any time of the day, while you are doing errands (walk to the post office), etc.

I'm pretty much obsessed with walking.


Okay, this is sort of embarrassing. If the weather outside is really icy or a blizzard or a monsoon or something, I walk in the house.

No, I don't have a treadmill.

I have a loop I do inside the house, from my husband's office, through the kitchen, through the living room, down the hallway, and back again.

I listen to music while I walk. The cool thing about walking inside is that I can stop and dance (I'M A 1980s GIRL!) or do strengthening exercises any time I want to and my neighbors don't look at me like I'm a nut.

Cheap, easy, no equipment necessary!



This is probably the easiest (and most ridiculous) thing that has improved/simplified my household chores.

Make sure to run the dishwasher at night.

(Or, clean the dishes/kitchen at night).

In the morning you wake up with a clean kitchen. De-cluttering is one of the most important things to help with your mental well-being. Studies show that being surrounded by clutter in your home can greatly impact your anxiety and depression.

Turn on the music and wash the dishes. Even if you're tired!

By running the dishwasher at night, I wake up to a clean kitchen. I unload the dishes while my daughter gets ready for school, and then the dishwasher is empty and ready to be filled up during the day. Huge improvement on having dirty dishes collect all day causing more clutter.

Such a simple thing, but it totally improved my life!

I love the lemon-scented Mrs. Meyers products. I use 
the Mrs. Meyer's multi-surface every day cleaner with the lemon verbena scent. Also, the lemon verbena hand-soap.

Another helpful kitchen tip: I have a split sink, so I fill half the sink with soapy suds during the day. If I have pots/pans/anything that needs to soak, I throw them in there to make washing easier later. And the kitchen looks tidier without dirty pots all over the place.

Love the lemon-scented candle, too!


I start a load of laundry first thing in the morning before I go for my walk. It's ready for the dryer when I get home. This way, you get at least one load done per day.

Because I have back issues, I cannot carry super heavy laundry baskets. My new discovery (compliments of my college-age son) are these black collapsible bags. They hold a small load (not too heavy) and I can drag them around. 


Have a little bucket of your cleaning products in the bathroom. Hide it in a cabinet or behind the toilet. I've found that if the cleaning stuff is where you need it when you need it, it gets used. If it's on the other side of the house in a closet, forget about it.

I have wipes, a bottle of Lysol spray, and Meyer's spray for quick cleans of sink, toilet, tub.


I highly recommend creating a kitchen garden if you have the space. I have a variety of herbs and fruits/veggies in our garden. It's wonderful to be able to step outside, trim a bunch of fresh basil, and use it while cooking dinner. We harvested bowls and bowls of fresh raspberries this summer. Having a kitchen garden simplifies your weekly shopping and opens up a whole new culinary world! 

Herbs are basically weeds. They are SUPER easy to grow. Some of my favorites include basil, mint, oregano, lemon balm, lemon verbena, edible flowers (like Johnny Jump-Ups and Nasturtiums), and chives. Favorite veggies include English peas, radishes, pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplant, and hot peppers.

My kitchen garden is very low-maintenance. I hardly ever weed and let things get a little bit wild. Everything still tastes good!

We had an early summer batch and late summer batch. Yum!


One of my favorite things is to meander around my yard and collect flowers for a lovely (free) bouquet for the house.

Favorite plants include hydrangeas, ornamental grasses, peonies, herbs, flowering trees.

Bouquet picked from my front yard!


Worst part of taking care of the garden: WEEDING. Ugh!

My way of dealing with this...relax your expectations. It's okay if you have a few weeds in the garden. No one will die.

If I have the time/inclination to weed (ha!), I pick a small chunk to work on so I am not overwhelmed. Making small goals/tasks in the garden will keep the stress down.

You can also decrease the need to weed by covering spots with ground covers, herbs, mulch, etc. Simplify your life!


13. Daily Planner

Some folks have a planner on-line, some use a cute little journal. I have washi tape, stickers, colored markers for fun. Whatever floats your boat! I use my journal for these things:

**Daily schedule, including appointments
**Food journal
**Exercise journal
**Inspiration for writing projects
**Morning start-up routine

What is the "morning start-up routine?" At the top of each day I have these things written on the banner...


I check them off as they get finished. Once these things are done, I'm ready to start my day. I always feel better mentally when the bed is made (our bedroom is on the first floor, so people can see hiding the messy bedroom), the kitchen and bathroom are quick-cleaned, and laundry is started. For my health, I take my heart pills and go for a walk.

Five things done each morning. This structure helps with my peace of mind immensely.


Some people hate lists. It adds to their anxiety. For me, it's the opposite. I have weekly lists (goals), monthly, yearly (long-term), and sheets for each member of the family. This helps me to keep on top of medical appointments for everyone, school/camp schedules, conferences, etc.

I also do a separate sheet for writing/publishing goals and a schedule for this.

I have all the sheets in a clipboard next to my desk.

I LOVE checking things off the list. BEST FEELING EVER!


Having a regular schedule can be a huge stress-buster. I used to do this for weekly dinners...Monday (chicken), Tuesday (pasta), Wednesday (quesadilla), Thursday (vegetarian), Friday (soup/salad/sandwich night), etc. It made grocery-shopping easier, and evenings more relaxed. I wasn't running around like a nut trying to plan, shop, and cook meals.


To make sure your fridge, freezer, and pantry are stocked with all your favorites and go-to products, make a master list and save it on your computer. Print up a copy each week and circle the stuff you need to purchase.

It only takes about 15 minutes to create, and it will save you time and make you less forgetful.


Sunday is catch-up day and prep for the week. This simplifies your weekly schedule and combats stress.

**Try to finish up all loads laundry. It's nice to start the week with a bunch of clean clothes!

**Clean out fridge and pantry.

**Plan meals. Grocery shop for the week.

**Do some meal prep. I will hard-boil eggs, make a few containers of chopped veggies for snacks/salads. Chop up fruit in containers for my vegetarian daughter. All this stuff makes weekly mornings flow better.

**Are you on a diet? Try this! I have a shelf in my fridge filled with healthy snacks so when you find yourself totally starved, you have healthy options ready to go. This shelf includes cheese sticks, hummus, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, containers of crunchy veggies, and buttermilk ranch dressing for dipping.


I've started this trend since my daughter enrolled in private school. If you attempt to use cash to pay for things (vs. credit cards), it will make you more mindful of each purchase. Do I really need this [fill-in-the-blank]? 

My husband and I are astounded by how much money we have saved this year. 

I still use my credit cards, but much more judiciously than I used to. 

Try this for a month and see what happens!



I try to incorporate the Danish concept of "Hygge" (being cozy, happy, leading a mindful simple life) into my every day schedule. 

The  most important thing for me...nature. Favorite activity: walking in the woods. If I don't have time for this, I might collect flowers, visit a plant nursery, spend a few minutes looking at birds in the neighborhood, even weeding the garden helps! I just need to connect to nature for a few minutes to keep me in my zen place. This is simple, cheap, easy, and guaranteed to improve your emotional well-being. Those Danes know what they're talking about!


What's a simple way to ensure you are taking good care of yourself each day?

Add HYGGE onto your daily to-do list!

To combat the long to-do list filled with errands and chores, I make sure to include something on my list every day that is just for me, something that makes me happy. It can be a small and simple thing...splurging on a flower bouquet at the market, having coffee with a friend, a walk on the Audubon trail. It doesn't need to be expensive or complicated. It's simple self-care.

One thing I have noticed over the years...just when I think I have things figured out, something changes and my plans for simplification no longer work. You have to be flexible! Especially as your kids grow and change. That's the biggest adjustment.

Figuring out what works for you and maintaining a system can be a life-saver.




Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Books on the Horizon

Some books on my to-be-read pile, with links...

LOVE LIKE SKY by Leslie C. Youngblood...middle-grade novel

SALEM'S LOT by Stephen King...horror novel (this is for my Halloween read)

I've had a hankering for books about Alaska. Here is a partial list of recommendations from a Facebook post. This list includes fiction, non-fiction, etc...

#1 Recommendation was for 
THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah

MURDER ON THE LAST FRONTIER by Cathy Pegau (this one looks very appealing to me, high up on my TBR pile)

TWO IN THE FAR NORTH by Margaret Murie


THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey


SITKA by Louis L'Amour


THIS COLD HEAVEN by Gretel Ehrlich (Greenland not Alaska, but still looks amazing)




I also just read a lovely ARC for a holiday romance. Will post a review soon.

Other recent reads I enjoyed...

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS DIES TWICE by Zara Keane (cozy mystery)

AROUND THE WRITER'S BLOCK by Rosanne Bane (writing manual)

TRACE by Archer Mayor (mystery)

Happy Reading To All!



Monday, September 24, 2018

The Great Experiment

The Great Experiment

I would like to invite you along for the ride as I attempt my "Great Experiment!"

What is "The Great Experiment?"

Well, first a little background for those of you who don't know me.

The most important things to me as an author are writing unique, one-of-a-kind fiction--the quirkier the better--and trying new things creatively. I like to set up writing challenges for myself as I embark on each new project. 

They are craft-related goals.

I'll try writing a different genre, experimenting with a new format, change up POVs, blend storylines in a novel. I try to do something totally different creatively and push myself as a writer.

Example: A few years ago, I decided to write a romance with characters in their late 50s/early 60s--not common at that time, and in fact the characters were considered way too old and not appropriate for romance. That was a challenge I couldn't pass up. I also made the couple fairly unlikable characters, and attempted a short-format as an added test. Could I make readers root for this couple by the end of the book? Believe their love story? And accomplish that with 21,000-words?

Could I do it?

I really had no idea, but the challenge was worth the risk and fun to boot.

Shockingly, APPLES SHOULD BE RED did extremely well. It's not for everyone, but the unexpected aspect got it attention and it received many excellent reviews, awards, even a potential film deal, etc.

That was an experiment with a happy ending. (In the matter of complete transparency, I've attempted many projects that failed and have ended up in the trash bin. As one does).

My outside-the-box thinking also applies to marketing/promotion. I am not interested in "playing the game" as far as typical promotion/marketing/branding. Believe me, as an introvert extraordinaire, if I could reinvigorate the "Hermit Model for Authors"--living alone in a shack in the woods--I would be all over that. 

As I came to terms with these truths about my own personality, I realized that the "stuff authors should do"--at least for genre fiction--is not a good fit for me. Most of these things make me uncomfortable.

The list includes aggressive promotion, writing-to-market, joining secret author groups that offer the "holy grail" (HOW TO MAKE A BESTSELLER LIST), attending huge reader events, and so on.

I decided I wanted to make a new publishing model for myself that focused on personal connections with other authors and readers, in smaller, more intimate groups. Not based on the need to sell/make money, but for authentic friendships to form. I also wanted to make connections with a more eclectic group of people, including scientists, artists, musicians. Creative and curious people in all different types of professions/with various interests.

I know, this strategy is sucky if you're trying to make tons of money. But if you're just trying to be happy and creatively fulfilled--which are my personal goals--it's a good plan. 

What I'm wondering now is this...if you don't "play the game" and follow these lists, if you try something totally outside-of-the-box, can you still find an audience and a modicum of success?

Here is my overall game plan for this publishing experiment...

1. Minimal social media accounts.

2. No street team. 

3. Speaking engagements: yes (especially small groups...super fun for me). Book readings: Yes (that's my favorite). Huge reader events: No.

4. Focus on unique fiction, original material.

5. Focus on stand-alone books.

6. No writing groups/loops focused on marketing/promotion.

7. "Small Batch Whiskey" model for sales/branding. High quality, small batch, unique one-of-a-kind product, and focus on connecting with small groups not massive followings.

8. Home-grown website.

9. Authentic branding.

10. No author/reader groups.


Don't bother me...I'm in my shell!

Current goals...

1. Finish BLUE, which is so far out of the box it probably needs a new galaxy.

2. Upon completion of book...Query agents/publishers. I had a small publisher when I first started writing, then branched into self-publishing. I think this book would do well with a more traditional approach. Worth a try, and if not, I can self-pub it.

3. I have a very unique plan for promotion, which I'll discuss as it happens. 

4. Continue to do things that make me happy...give workshops about self-care for authors, craft, etc. Travel. Meet new people.

5. FLEXIBILITY in terms of work/life balance. If my family needs me, they come first.  

So, this is the experiment. I made up my own rules of engagement. Will this work?

I have no freakin' idea, but it's worth a try.

For those of you playing at home, you can follow me on this blog/website for updates. I'll try to post on Mondays with an update for the week. I also have wonderful interactions on Facebook, pretty much the last-man-standing for my social media accounts. Friend me there if you're so inclined.

I would love to hear about your goals, achievements, and progress. Join me here to share. Are you creating a tailor-made plan for you? Are you following a more traditional path on your writing/publication journey? Let's chat. 

Share your weekly goals and let us know how you're doing, what's working/not working. WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIMENT?

Thanks for following along...


P.S. First Week of Updates

1. Status of BLUE: at approximately 10,500 words

2. Work on edits for existing sections, add new section switching POV from boy to girl. 

3. For folks interested in a sneak peek at BLUE, here's a link.

4. Hygge goal for the week: Make miniature terrariums with ferns/moss donated by neighbor.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Overcoming Professional Jealousy

Here's a topic that is uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing and can be utterly debilitating.

It's also something that is widely prevalent in publishing although seldom spoken about.

Unless you are living the existence of a "hermit" writer--perhaps living in a shack in the woods with no Internet service, maybe a small herb garden, and perhaps a couple of wiener dogs...

(Sorry, I got side-tracked by my fantasy life!) are aware of other authors.

In fact, once you get going with marketing/promotion you realize that comparing yourself to others is actually part of the process.

Who are your "comps?"

That's how publishing companies market you. They compare you to similar authors and market you accordingly.

The downside of this is that you are in danger of having your ego crushed when you discover that similar authors sell more/have better reviews/win awards/[FILL IN THE BLANK ABOUT ANYTHING THAT MAKES YOU FEEL BADLY ABOUT YOURSELF]. 

This is professional jealousy.

This can affect your motivation to write.

Or even to continue with this career.

This is especially an issue in romance publishing where everyone is writing the same themes/tropes, copying each other, jumping on trends. Writing "unique" fiction is not the end-game, which was explained to me in condescending fashion by an agent many years ago.

It's all about the comps.

So, what to do?

First of all, don't feel guilty. It's natural to compare yourself to others, and it's normal to sometimes feel envious of other peoples' success.

But this is the thing you have to remember...

Other people may write the same genre, or have similar interests/branding/series, etc., but no one else can write your book but you.

That's what you have.



That's it. That's what you own. Your story. Other authors might write similar things, even the exact same topic, but only YOU can write YOUR story.

No one else is you. Want to be yourself, not others. Want to write YOUR stories, not someone else's.

Your story is your power. Don't give it up.

Wise words from an old hermit writer...