Saturday, March 31, 2018

Trying Something New


1. Block Print Art Class

I am taking an art class for the first time in 30 years. Or maybe longer! It's a block print class, and I already went to our local art store and bought tools and ink and paper so I can work on some projects at home, too.

PASSIFLORA is above.

Below is KINGFISHER...

The class has a nice bunch of ladies chatting about our kids and birds and life and stuff.

Woo hoo!

2. I am trying a totally new process for writing...juggling more than one project at a time!

In the past, I've been a one-project-gal. I decided to try something now I'm rotating between a literary fiction, romance novella, and a women's fiction. I work on one WIP for a bit, stop, then move onto the next one.

The first day I tried this, I whipped off about 1100 words on the novella. When I moved onto the lit fiction manuscript, I saw it with clearer eyes and a better perspective. 

This process is like a palate cleanser. When I get to project #2, my brain is already warmed-up, and I'm refreshed and more productive.

Each of these projects uses a different part of my brain, and strangely enough, jumping from one thing to another makes me write faster and depend more on instinct. This is important since I tend to over-think my lit fiction.

Never too old to learn new tricks...

3. I'm getting a tattoo...

No! Not a real tattoo! A fake tattoo! I'll take pictures and post them when they arrive. They are gorgeous vintage flowers--colorful and sweet.

That's my sort-of-wimpy attempt at being a hipster. Now I just need a man-bun. Hee hee!

4. I'm making a vintage jello mold for Easter...

Remember these?

My mom used to make these yummy jello salads with fruit. I'm feeling nostalgic, so I'm going to attempt one of these for Easter dinner. My husband thinks I'm crazy!

Off to shop for Easter dinner! Hope all of you have a great weekend.

Lots of love,


Monday, March 26, 2018

Time to play...What the heck should I make for dinner?

How often does this happen to you?

You're running around, getting stuff done, and all of a sudden you's 5 pm and you have no clue what you're having for dinner?

It happens practically every night at my house. Every once in a while I get on a super organized kick and try to plan out my meals for a week.

And then the next week, I'm back to panic mode at 5 pm.

With that in mind, I have a great dinner option for those of you who need quick, easy, and versatile!

Chicken Saté with Peanut Sauce 
and Cucumber-Radish Salad

First up...the chicken!

Chicken Saté


Pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
Lemon Juice (fresh from one lemon)
One clove garlic minced (if you like garlic)
salt/pepper to taste

Throw everything into a ziploc bag and shake it up. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes while you do other stuff (like read a romance novel...not that I've ever done that while cooking dinner)

When you're ready, throw the chicken on the grill.


While the chicken is cooking, I make the peanut sauce.

Note: If you want to make this fancy, you can cut up the chicken into cubes, and then thread them on a skewer. But because I'm lazy, I skip that part and usually use chicken tenderloins which are already small. Coz...I'm lazy!**


**Also, make sure you don't lose track of time while reading your romance novel or you might burn the chicken...not that *I've* ever done that (*shifty eyes*)

**Recipe is modified from one I found in In Style magazine, I think? I clipped it out years ago.

For Peanut Sauce...

Peanut Sauce

Grab a medium-sized pot. Scoop in...

1/2 cup peanut butter (I use low-sodium, low-sugar Jif)
1/2 T chili powder
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 and 1/4 c. canned coconut milk (I use lite)
1/4 c. soy sauce (I use low sodium)
Juice from 1/2 lime
(Chop up the other half lime for a Corona or to fancy up your plate later)

Mix everything together over med-high heat until it bubbles and sauce gets thick, stirring often.**

**This sauce is so good, you'll want to marry it. I sometimes make a pot of spaghetti noodles and toss some of the sauce with it to make peanut noodles for my vegetarian daughter. You could also jazz up the noodles with other veggies, scallions, etc.

**Or just eat the sauce with a spoon while reading a romance novel.

Radish-Cucumber Salad

One bunch radishes, sliced thin
One cucumber, sliced thin and chopped into quarters, or however you like them
2-3 scallions chopped up
handful of peanuts
pinch of sugar
couple of Tablespoons of white rice vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

Throw cukes, radishes, scallions into a bowl. Toss gently. Drizzle vinegar and pinch of sugar on top. Toss some more. Season with salt/pepper. Then sprinkle some peanuts on top.

**This recipe is modified from a Martha Stewart version

**I also make a bag of Trader Joe brown rice in the microwave. Takes 3 minutes. Done!

Order of dinner preparation:

1. Put chicken in ziploc to marinate.
2. Make cuke-radish salad. Throw all of the peanut sauce ingredients into a pot on the stove.
3. Toss chicken on the grill.
4. Heat up/stir peanut sauce while chicken grills.
5. Remove chicken from grill. Arrange artfully on a platter with limes and flowers and stuff like that. Or...just eat it. Serve with brown rice and peanut sauce and radish salad.

Last night I served this dinner, and I also had a bowl of chopped honeydew melon. Nice and sweet for dessert!

This is fast, easy, and you can save some peanut sauce for other recipes.

Thanks for playing another round of "What The Heck Should I Make For Dinner?"

Have a great week!


Sunday, March 18, 2018

I'm 51. What Can I Do?

I've been thinking a lot lately about age. And women. And what we can do, when we can do it.

And really...who can stop us?

Maybe you need a bit of inspiration. Or a reminder that not only does life not end at fifty, but maybe it starts again at 51.

Last year I turned into a hermit.


I didn't write. I didn't travel. I didn't participate. I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I was discouraged.

But I made it through that year. And I watched my kids--both of my adorable kids--make the transition into a new life, new schools, with open hearts and so much courage it humbles me. They had to tackle challenges, which they did. They got over some incredibly tough bumps. And they changed their lives for the better.

And I thought...okay, they did this. I can do this. I can break out of this shell and find the courage to get back into the world.

So I decided to dip a toe back into the waters of the outside world, and I applied to be a speaker at a conference. It was safe for me. A conference I've done plenty of times before, with people who know me. It's about 10 minutes from my house.

It was safe.

And guess what?

I failed.

I was rejected.

At first I didn't know what to do. This was my first attempt at getting back into the swing of things. My safe option. And I was rejected? Was the universe trying to tell me something? That I waited too long? I was too old, out-of-the-trendy loop? I had nothing left to offer?

I ruminated about this and percolated and struggled with it, and I finally came to a pretty important decision.

I think the universe was trying to tell me something.

No more playing it safe.

If you're gonna break out of that shell, break the fuck out of the shell.

All the way out.

Try something new, something different, something big.

Meet new people. Give new talks. Travel. Have an adventure.

That first rejection gave me the courage to try for EVERYTHING. Because, honestly, what did I have to lose?

So what if I got more rejections?

And I did. I got more rejections.

But you know what else? I got some fantastic opportunities, better than I ever imagined.

I'm traveling to Pittsburgh and Florida and Atlanta and Toronto. I'm talking about craft and writing and self-care and writing journeys. Things that matter to me.

I'm giving a talk to high school kids about the publishing industry.

My daughter is coming with me to Florida.

I've never been to Atlanta or Toronto. In addition to meeting new people and authors I admire, I get to meet on-line friends IN REAL LIFE. Meet face-to-face with folks who have supported me for years on-line.

That's pretty freakin' huge.

And for the first time in 25 years, I'm taking a class.

An art class.

I was nervous the first night. My print wasn't great. It was okay. But...I did it. I showed up, I participated, I tried something new.

Finally, I decided that this book I've been wrestling with is something bigger than I realized.

It's literary fiction. Is it scary to try something I've never done, break a personal writing mold for myself that is so hard that some days I am totally dumbfounded by this entire process?

Yeah, it's scary. But also exhilarating. 

Bottom line is that I believe I can do it.

I can do anything.

I can start something new at 51, and I will succeed.

I am not afraid of rejection. Or wrinkles. Or gray hair.

I embrace my decades of experience and know my wisdom will guide me through anything I choose to tackle in my life.

Eventually I'll get to the new flower business. And maybe that horror novel that is banging around my head.

I'm not gonna lie. There are days I want--desperately---to crawl back into that shell. It's safe in there, and quiet. And I can turn invisible if I need to.

But if I don't kick my own butt at 51, when will it happen?

And as I look back over my life, filled with all kinds of stuff, good and bad--I realize this was a good lesson to learn. At 51. 

You can play it safe, or you can be willing to try new things, to fail, to push, to experience.

Suddenly this year feels different. So much different than the last year. I'm not so tired. I'm not discouraged. The failures slide right off, and I'm onto the next thing.

I wasn't ready for this at 20. Or 30, or 40. And clearly not at 50.

But at 51, I can do this.

I'm 51. What can I do?


Love to all,

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Beyond The Unicorns

Betrayal, lies, deceit, theft, false identities, professional jealousy, backstabbing, manipulation.

Sounds like a TV movie? A suspense thriller?

It could be.

But it could also be practically any week of the year in the romance publishing world.

Why does this matter?

Because someone, somehow, thought it would be a good idea to promote the concept that the romance world is filled with wonderful people who are always supportive and kind and trustworthy and have your back.

It's the rainbows-and-unicorns thing.

And yes, there are some stupendous people in the publishing world. Talented, lovely, gracious people who are true friends.

But just as with any other profession--and perhaps more with this one, because it is a creative field, and thus includes an immense amount of competition--there is another reality that is the opposite of unicorns and rainbows.

Some people suck.

A lot.

There is a huge amount of money to be made in publishing, and there are people willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get a piece of that chunky pie.

Just because the romance world is primarily women does not mean this harsh reality does not exist. Women are just as likely to be fiercely ambitious as men.

The stakes are constantly rising. More money, more manipulation, more greed.

It's hard to know who to trust. Sometimes, you make mistakes. Someone you think is a cool person who has your best interests at heart actually has *her* best interests at heart.

The first time you deal with this betrayal is like getting sucker-punched. Not only do you feel crushed emotionally--finding out a friend is not really a friend--but you also feel like a chump for giving and caring and helping, and getting tossed into the garbage at the end.

I have heard betrayal stories that are truly horrifying. One person had a betrayal so hideous that if it happened to me, I would have quit writing altogether.

But she didn't.

God bless her, she still has a smile on her face, and determination in spades. And probably a good heaping dose of caution now, which is not a bad thing. It's about self-preservation in this business.

What happened to her, and how she handled it, shows her strength of character and inspiring optimism in a field that is filled with landmines.

I'm sorry if this post seems cynical. It's supposed to be about having realistic expectations, and resilience after getting beat up, and optimism and faith in yourself after setbacks.

Romancelandia is not unicorns and rainbows.

It's the real world, filled with good people, and kind people, and cool people, and plenty of assholes, and wolves-in-sheeps-clothing.

Over time, your skills at sniffing out bullshit become honed, so you're less likely to get blind-sided. But regardless, it's a horrible feeling. 

Some folks are not looking for real friends in this business. They are looking for professional relationships, people who are tools for them, to use to get ahead. And they will climb over a pile of people willing to help to get to the head of the pack.

The trick is to figure out who those people are, and who your true friends are, and then squeeze those true friends tight and never let them go.

So, my advice to newbies starting out and old-timers who are still struggling with this competitive business is this...

Be cautious.

Be smart.

Be careful.

Know your true friends and hold them close.

Don't let the users get you down.

Have faith in yourself and your abilities and work on your strength and resilience. 

This is the real world, not Fabio with his hair blowing in the breeze, gazing adoringly at his gorgeous heroine.

The romance world is more like a middle-aged man with a pot belly and a bald spot. 

Real, but not necessarily a bad thing.

We can do this.