Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Resolutions or Revolutions?

Happy last day of 2012! 
So tell me good people, are we making New Year's Resolutions or Revolutions? 

A resolution is an answer . . . but what are our questions? 
Hmmmm . . . 

A revolution is a sudden, radical or complete change.

Lots of things need radical change, fo' sho'.

For us writers and readers, a resolution "marks the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out". 

Is that our hope, that our lives will become less complicated if we just show some resolve? Can we will the world into being a better place?

Er . . .

Is this why we write?

We get to be Lords of our own Universes:


Is this why we read fiction? For the resolutions?

Life is beautifully complicated. We work through the knots in our lives with tenderness and care.
 It's what can make us superheroes.
 If we pay attention.

 I also like the idea of REVOLUTION.
 We are all revolted by senseless violence, but the reality is that many of us disagree with each other on how to carry out the revolution. Do we have a resolution for the revolution? 
(Am I asking too many questions?)

The truth is that we need to move closer to LOVE, collectively, all of us. Move away from hate and fear
                                Be our authentic selves, whether we're (hippy dippy)


(Be the change you seek . . .)*

And . . .

 A revolution is  "the action by a celestial body going round in an orbit". The earth rotating around the sun is an act of revolution, and takes 365 days.
A year. 

That is hope right there, something we can depend upon.

Are we in the same place we were last year, or have we deepened? Did we dare to disturb the universe**, and do we dare to commit to that again this year?

This time of year, we all bandy around the word "resolution" both with levity and mysterious terror:  We RESOLVE to be better people in the next year. We'll eat less, exercise more, show more patience and kindness in our relationships.  How do we measure up, what has the last year been like, what will  the new year bring?                                                   

 I want to let go of my attachment to successes and failures, and welcome in the possibility of new ones -

 but I may just be required to let go of my own willfulness, indeed, to let go of my own resolve - 
to let go of the belief that I am in CONTROL.   

Shit happens . . .
but so do miracles. 

Darkness sometimes wins
But let your light seep in through the cracks.

Take the actions, let go of the results. 
Jump into 2013 with joy and knowledge that you are living your best life.
You are answering the call, aren't you?  

(Be the change you seek)*

* Ghandi                          

 ** T.S. Eliot 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Part and Merry Meet . . .

. . . And Merry Christmas!

Just let's be merry.

Let's take a leap of faith.

We're in this together - this life that is both more terrifying and wonderful than we could ever imagine. We can bask in our ordinary, human beauty.

Tonight's dominant story in our culture is one of a baby - the "light" of the world - being born in a stable, but I've been thinking more about Mary.

Maybe it's because I'm a mother myself, and I need to have frequent visitations by angels to remind me to "fear not". Maybe it's because she carried on and through in spite of life being overwhelming and stretching her farther than she ever thought she could extend without breaking.

Maybe it's because I saw The Hobbit this morning.

Bear with me.

Bilbo Baggins is everyman. Bilbo Baggins is Mary, he is ME. He wants things to remain simple, and safe: comfortable. But it is "adventure", that helps him to grow. Not only that, it is in helping others that he finds himself.


I am merry, I am Mary, I am Bilbo Baggins.

By now you may have realized that Christmas makes me loopy. But I am goofy for all sorts of stories, especially ones that make me think and feel.

Now it is 12:09AM and Santa must be coming very, very soon.

Sweet dreams my angels, and . . .

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Better to Light a Candle Than Curse the Darkness

In these past few days I have been at a loss for words and have taken comfort in the words of others. I have been reading a lot of poetry: Dylan Thomas, Rumi, Mary Oliver, William Blake, and I have been meditating on the fact that even though darkness sometimes wins, the world needs our inner light more than ever. My Dad sent me the sermon that he preached on Sunday from Winchester Cathedral in the United Kingdom and I wanted to share it with you  as he so beautifully expresses all of my hope.  My Dad is the dean emeritus of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. He is at once goofy and serious, and incredibly charismatic. He and my grandmother are the best preachers I have ever heard, and his name is Alan W. Jones.

Not much of a God . . . . and yet . . .

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and
pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way
to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key
moments, and life itself is grace." (Frederick Buechner)

The sermon fell apart after the news two days ago of “the slaughter of the
innocents” at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty little children
were slaughtered. The New York Times yesterday quoted a mother: “Who would do
this to our poor little babies?”

How do we respond to such news in this season of the divine child? At first
sight, things are made worse by the fact that we’re presented with not much of a
God! A child from “nowhere”. Bethlehem was “no place”! The Word of God is a
baby who cannot speak a word. If we’re prepared to go deeper, we find that
judgment hangs over us all if we cannot discern the mystery of the child. Those
dear dead children are a sign of judgment on a world that cannot decode the
glorious gift and mystery of being human. Each of us is a wonder, unique and
unrepeatable. And, St. Paul reminds us that we are stewards of these mysteries.
We’re given a baby – the promise of a new world, a new beginning. The message?
Don’t let the darkness and violence set the agenda. Better to light a candle than
curse the darkness.

Something “big” is happening in the world. With all the upheavals and
unrest, how is the human family going to survive and flourish? Christmas is a sign
of God’s generosity. It’s about a new way of being human. But we’ve ceased to be
shocked by the Christian message! It’s deceptively simple stuff – an act that turned
the world upside down. The simple truth that God has created us neighbors, made
us one people. It’s deeply shocking but we don’t notice it anymore. We either
ignore it or make it into something simple-minded and sentimental.

Don’t let the darkness and violence set the agenda.

There’s a story of the early rabbis arguing about which was the most
important text in the Bible. Rabbi Akiba said the greatest principle of Torah is
found in Leviticus: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Only one rabbi
challenged this. He argued that the simple words ‘This is the role of Adam’s
descendents” were more important because they revealed the unity of the entire
human race. The human race is one. – one human family, one ethnic group. God
created us neighbors. There are no “others”. All are our brothers and sisters,
without exception.

This isn’t just a nice idea. In fact, for most of us the discovery that the world
is one and that we are all neighbors is very distasteful. It’s something that’s
happening all over the world. We often fail “to acknowledge the sheer diversity of
this increasingly mixed-up world. More than ever, that must include the diversity to

be found in a single human skin, mind and heart.” There’s only one people. And it’s
us – all of us - together! This is the heart of the Christmas message of the Mother
and her Baby.

No, it’s not much of a God – a Baby who cannot speak. Our challenge in
these few days leading up the Christmas is to get in touch with the oddness of it all –
the proclamation that we’re all related. It’s shocking. And our way back into it’s
shocking generosity is simple – just to look at a woman with a baby. Don’t, in the
first instance, get cluttered up with a set of beliefs – just look as woman with a baby.
See your own flesh and blood.

We love babies because a baby is a sign of possibility. We look at a new-born
and think -- even if only for a moment -- that there is a chance that the human race
might make it after all! Loving babies isn’t sentimental. It’s wonderfully and deadly

E.B.White, the author of The Once and Future King, wrote a light but
deceptively simple poem about 70 years ago:

Hold a baby to your ear
As you would a shell:
Sounds of centuries you hear
New centuries foretell.

Who can break a baby’s code?
And which is the older –
The listener or his small load?
The held or the holder?

The Advent question? Who can break the baby’s code? Do you know what’s
really real? The poverty or richness of our loving determines what we think is real.
That’s what matters, that’s what’s important, that’s what the Baby is trying to tell
us. There are no others – only brothers and sisters. God has created us neighbors. We
are one flesh. And don’t expect the realization of this truth will always be pleasant!
Think for a moment about how odd it is that you’re here and alive – you,
unique and unrepeatable, an instance of wild improbability and deep significance.
It’s amazing. You’re amazing. Most of us have lost sight of the fact of the oddness of
our being here at all! And in Newtown, Connecticut this week, the world has been
robbed of thirty unique and unrepeatable souls.

Now think of the pathetic modesty of the revelation – not only a baby but a
baby born in Bethlehem of all places. The prophet Micah calls it a no place. It’s as
if I were to announce that Jesus is coming and he’s coming to Wimbledon (my birth
place), or, as we heard in the cathedral earlier this week, the birth place might just
have been Walthamstow!

Remember, the revelation of what truly matters happens in a place of no
importance – in the simple every day act of a young woman having a baby. Exactly
the way you came into the world. Through the doorway of the flesh. At Christmas
we learn that, as one early writer puts it, “The Flesh is the hinge of salvation!”
Simple, vulnerable and holy. What an awesome and wondrous thing it is to be alive,
to be human!

Don’t let the darkness and violence set the agenda.

How do we recover the wonder of the everyday and commonplace? through
flesh and blood – a woman with a baby? Roman Catholic theologian Andrew
Greeley puts the outrageousness of it all very simply: I often think that maybe half
our heritage is transmitted to children around the crib at Christmas time - and
especially in the wonderfully mysterious explanation of the Incarnation to little kids
that Mary is God's mummy."

Ridiculous isn’t it? Not much of a God. On one level is plainly daft. Too
naive and simple-minded for the clever and the sophisticated. But is it more
outrageous than the proclamation that every one matters and we are all part of one

That’s why we need stories and myths to give shape and purpose to our lives.
Carl Jung wrote, Anyone “who thinks he can live without myth, or outside it, like
one uprooted, has no true link either with the past, or with the ancestral life which
continues within him, or yet of contemporary human society. This plaything of his
reason never grips his vitals.” The killer in Connecticut had no inner story to help
him move through his craziness and pain.

Don’t let the darkness and violence set the agenda.

Mary is God's mummy! No, I haven’t gone off my head. I simply believe that
there is a profound truth here. And it comes home to us when we look at Mary and
her Baby. When we look with the eyes of love we find ourselves at a place of
unraveling, unweaving – we cross a boundary into another world – or better –
another way of looking at this world. Remember: The poverty or richness of your
loving determines what you think is real.

This why cathedrals are important. Look around you! The builders of this
place – what were they thinking. Those who built the cathedral in Seville said, “Let
those who come after us, when they see this, say, ‘They must have been mad!’” I’ve
visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres every year now for several years in a
row. Like Winchester, it is one of those borderland/boundary places. Its focus is on
Mary who presents us with the infant Jesus as a sign that we too are the place where
God chooses to dwell. Each of us matters that much.

I don’t know about you, but I need pictures and stories, which take me
across the boundary where I meet people like you who are also on a boundary-
crossing journey. Not “others” or aliens, but brothers and sisters. Neighbors.
What do we have in common – the motley crowd that shows up at places like
this at Christmas? We share a common vulnerability in that we’re not always sure
that we’re in the right place at the right time. Yet we have an instinct that the most
fruitful place for crossing the boundary is “in those areas of our life where we feel at
sea, not understanding, not succeeding.” Where a mystery overtakes us and we let
go of life as a mechanical thing. We cross the boundary into our deeper selves
when we really see that Mary is God’s mummy. We come to understand that the
poverty or richness of our loving determines what we think is real. This discovery is
the real gift of Christmas. And we discern that . . . Jesus is God’s Word to us about
ourselves and this good news comes to us in the form of a baby who cannot speak!
How strange is that? The imagery is stunning. You can hold the Word (God’s
communication to you) in your arms. You can suckle the Word at your breast. The
Word – the communication – is as vulnerable as that. In the flesh.

Hold a baby to your ear
As you would a shell:
Sounds of centuries you hear
New centuries foretell.

Don’t get caught in the sticky mess of doctrinal controversy. Look! Look! Look! See
your own mystery in a form that you can touch and handle. Don’t let the darkness
and violence set the agenda.

The tradition tells us that there are two births. Listen to the words of St.
Simeon, The New Theologian. “The ineffable birth of the Word of God in the flesh
from his mother is one thing, his spiritual birth in us in another. For the first, in
giving birth to the Son and Word of God gave birth to the reforming of the human
race and the salvation of the whole world . . . while the second, in giving birth in the
Holy Spirit and to the Word of knowledge of God, continually accomplishes in our
hearts the mystery of the renewal of human souls. Thus . . . . anyone, married or
unmarried, who lives with integrity towards God in the deeper level of their being
may not, like Mary, bear the Son of God in the flesh, but they can and do become,
like her, and will be God-bearers to humankind.”

How about that! Mary is God’s Mummy and you are invited to allow God to
come to term in you and be a God-bearers to the human family! All in the fleshy
messiness of everyday life. Allow the strangeness to get under your skin. If you do,
Christmas will be different this year. You will light a candle rather than curse the

So, before you plunge into the hectic last days of Christmas preparation,
experience your own oddness. Entertain, for a moment, the idea that Mary is God’s
mummy and in the light of that find out who you really are. Find out what’s
important. This Christmas give yourself away. Be a neighbor, be a brother, be a
sister, be your true self – be the best present anyone can give. And if you have the
chance . . .

Hold a baby to your ear
As you would a shell:
Sounds of centuries you hear
New centuries foretell.

Who can break a baby’s code?
And which is the older –
The listener or his small load?
The held or the holder?
And . . . don’t let the darkness and violence set the agenda. Know that the worst
word isn’t the last word. The baby’s coming and that’s good news.

Closing Prayers:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable

People really need help, but may attack you if you help them

Give the world the best you have and you may be kicked in the teeth

A Christmas Prayer – For Winchester, 2012

The world waits for the coming
of the Prince of Peace.
Our hearts ache for justice for the poor
and carefree safety for our children;
for laughter in our homes –
the singing and dancing
native to the human spirit.

We thank you for the glorious
sounds of Christmas – tokens of our longing
and signs of your love.

We ask you to bless
the families represented here:


the whole ones;
the broken ones;
the scattered ones.

We commend into your gracious keeping
all those caught
in the spiral of violence and poverty –
here at home –
and in other cities –
Jerusalem, Baghdad, Kabul, Damascus, Newtown.

Especially protect the children,
and in your spirit,
help us so rebuild the world for them
so that your joy may fill their hearts
and your peace heal the nations.

Let’s switch off the world’s distorting noise
until we hear our own heart beating.
Let’s listen to its inner rhythm,
whispering, “God is with us.”
Revelation is all around,
showing us that every baby
is well-connected
and every one
the dwelling place of God.

Thanks be to God!

May the angels of God watch over us.
May Mary and all the Saints pray for us.
May the Lord lift up the divine countenance upon us
And give us peace, now, and forevermore.

ADVENT III: WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL – Evensong, Sunday, December 16, 2012.

The Very Rev. Alan Jones, dean emeritus, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, and honorary Canon
of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Prayer for us from Madeleine L'Engle

    My grandmother, Madeleine L'Engle, was known to be a woman of great faith. This greatness of faith came from her own struggle with it.  Indeed, I believe that she wrote what she needed to hear, hope, believe. In A Wrinkle in Time, we all identify with fear of the threat of darkness, and wonder who or what is going to stand between us and IT.

    It is the same in the books following. This poem below is St. Patrick's Rune from A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which is itself an adaptation of The Lorica of St. Patrick. (Of which it is said that God turned St. Patrick and his followers into deer when they were pursued.)

    Who comes between you and the powers of darkness? I can't even begin to write about what happened on Friday morning, but I can share my struggle and my DESIRE for faith with you - indeed, maybe that is how we can help each other, and hug our own children tighter:  Children lean toward hope and away from cynicism. Let us be childlike, and place this prayer between us and despair.

    St. Patrick's Rune

    At Tara in this fateful hour
    I place all Heaven with its power
    And the sun with its brightness,
    And the snow with its whiteness,
    And the fire with all the strength it hath,
    And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
    And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
    And the sea with its deepness,
    And the rocks with their steepness,
    And the earth with its starkness:
    All these I place
    By God’s almighty help and grace
    Between myself and the powers of darkness!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Gift of Going There and Back Again

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
We've just read the Hobbit for the InBeTween Pages Book Club at the Bedford Hills Free Library tonight and so today I am thinking of hobbits and heroes, and well, myself.  After all, isn't that one of the reasons we read - to see ourselves and what we could be reflected in the pages? To understand our humanity a little more? I can't wait to hear from the tweens - who they identified with, what they liked and what they didn't like. What do they think of elves, goblins, dwarves, Gollum and Smaug?

The Hobbit was the first epic fantasy I remember my mother reading aloud to me. What was it about this 50 year old man's mid-life crisis that had me so enthralled as a six year old, and still does to this day? I reread it several times as a child on my own and then surprised myself when I was 18 by picking up The Hobbit again when my grandfather's death coincided with the beginning of college.

 It was to Bilbo Baggins and his transformation that I turned for comfort. Bilbo out-riddled Gollum, (who perhaps scared me the most with his obsession of his "precious" ring,) defeated the spider AND Smaug - all on his own, without the help of those bloody dwarves. And he was only three feet tall! He didn't WANT to do any of these things, but he was able to find the hero within himself to face his fears AND hold onto his value system. He's a spiritual guru he is, our Mr. Baggins. We're all fumbling along, best as we can, only to face contempt by "success" and "money". (Ah, dwarves - we'll show them!) And then addiction sneaks in under the guise of Gollum, and sneaks it's way in despite it's feat - the ring helps him - saves him even, yet may just be the thing that enslaves him . . . will I be alone in my fascination?

JRR Tolkein, a medieval and language scholar at Oxford University, first created Middle Earth when he made up stories for his own children and has paved the way (borrowing heavily from fairytales and epic medieval quests) for the world's rich fantasy tradition. Books are written differently today, for indeed we live in a different world. We live in an age where everything is accessible and we can be instantly gratified. In the bestsellers of today, action is sped up, so pages turn faster. Literary fiction while not exactly dying, doesn't appeal to the masses.

The Hobbit takes us on a meandering journey. (Aren't journeys, by their very nature meandering?) Even more meandering is The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which I didn't appreciate or even finish until I was an adult, as it's core is violence and war. (Indeed, I turned  to TLotR to read before the movies came out. My reading was timed perfectly with the devastation of 911. Books as therapy. What's your favorite?)

Wherever you go, there you are. We all have to have to do battle with our inner demons at some point whether we're conscious of it or not. What better way than to go on an adventure? You still take yourself with you wherever you go, and home will feel even more delicious once you realize that you want what you already have, or , as is Bilbo's case, that life is so much more than he had ever imagined.

From the second we open any book to the second we close it, we'll have gone where the author leads us to and back again.

And if we are an engaged reader, we'll find ourselves transformed.

What a gift!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Contests, Oh My!

'Tis the season of giving and stressing over what to give, how much to give, where to give. It is a mixed bag of excitement and finding lights in the darkness through story,  yet who among us doesn't get caught up in presents over presence at times? Thinking of light as an entitlement instead of focusing on the being, experiencing, creating light.

Can I help relieve some of that with giveaways during the holiday season? I just put all of the names from last week's contest for a 50th anniversary copy of A Wrinkle in Time into Random.com and . . . the winner is . . . WriterAmI!!!! Thank you everyone for participating - you all really deepened the definition of tessering!

Two years ago on Tuesday, December 7th, my first book Edges was published by FSG. So to celebrate my book birthday, I am going to give away FIVE copies this week!

How to win?

In Edges, Cin has a number of animals tattooed on her body as a way to integrate them into herself. I have a tattoo of a tiger on my back, not because I think I have the personality of the tiger, but because I need the tiger energy in my life. (I'm more of a cuddly bear or an old cat really.)  Indeed, my Higher Power speaks to me in many different ways through different mediums if I am open enough to listen.

I see you're getting worried. Is she going to make us come up with what our power animal is?

No way - nobody needs to believe what I believe, my patchwork spirituality of different traditions. The only thing that's important is that we all view life as a glorious mystery, and we all want to deepen our relationships with each other and with the world. You read my blog because I am authentic, yes?

So. just tell me about one of your lights to see the world by . . . do you remember this scene in Wrinkle?

Mrs. Who's spectacles shone out at them triumphantly, "And the light shineth in darkness;                and the darkness comprehended it not."

"Jesus!" Charles Wallace said. "Why of course, Jesus!"

"Of course!" Mrs. Whatsit said. "Go on Charles, love. There were others. All your great Artists. They've been lights for us to see by.

"Leonardo da Vinci?" Calvin suggested tentatively. "And Michelangelo?"

"And Shakespeare," Charles Wallace's voice called out, "And Bach! And Pasteur and Madame Curie and Einstein!"

Now Calvin's voice rang with confidence. "And Shweitzer and Ghandi and Buddha and Rembrandt and St. Francis!"

And of course, the bigger you make this contest, the more chances you have of winning! (Does that even make sense?)

Tesser Well!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tesser Well!

Tomorrow is my grandmother's birthday. She would have been 94. She gave herself to the world and we loved her back. She inspired us - her family, friends and fans to embrace all parts of ourselves and live life to the fullest with conviction and imagination. She encouraged us to "tesser well".

"Tesser Well" is how she signed copies of A Wrinkle in Time. It references not only the fourth dimension travel through time and space, it also alludes to her basic philosophy that whenever we open our minds and heart - whether it is mind-travel through reading, or spiritual-travel through being vulnerable and loving, we and the planet are better off.

Madeleine was one of the most accessible writers of her time. If she were alive today, she would be all over social media and interacting with her fans in new and fun ways. We have been mourning that she can't do this herself - we have been feeling the pain of her loss.

But what if we got together as a community to keep her legacy shiny and golden? Hmmmm . . . well guess what? There IS a new fan page on Facebook called Tesser Well that launched just yesterday! It's that virtual place where Madeleine we can all share, interact and gather information.  You can also have more access to all things Madeleine by following her on twitter @tesserwellMLE.

In Madeleine's honor, let's have the phrase "tesser well" join the ranks of "May the force be with you", and "Live long and prosper". Join the revolution!

To celebrate my grandmother's birthday, and the upcoming holidays, I will give away one beautiful hardback copy of the 50th edition of A Wrinkle in Time. How to enter? There are five ways! (If you do all four things I will put your name in the lottery five times.)

1) Comment below on your favorite way to tesser

2) Follow this blog!
3) Follow me on Facebook
4) Follow me on twitter @lenaroy and retweet!
5) Share this blog post on Facebook!

The random winner will be picked and announced next Wednesday, December 5th.

Tesser Well!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rose Colored Glasses

Happy Thanksgiving!

It doesn't take much for me to cultivate an attitude of gratitude: all I have to do is think back to a Thanksgiving in my early 20's when I had been so heaped with misfortune and spiritual blindness that I couldn't think of a single thing to be grateful for.  I was sinking into a deep depression, and it would take a miracle to get me out of it.

Has anyone else been in so dark a place?

Of course you have - we all struggle.

I kept trying on different glasses with which to see the world, but until I learned and believed that a miracle can be as simple as a change in perspective, a change in attitude, I would keep falling back into the darkness.

Cynics may roll their eyes and say that I don't live in real world, but I disagree. How can there only be one reality, one truth? How can cultivating an attitude of gratitude and a relationship with a Higher Power be anything but courageous?

Being in a state of gratitude is a daily practice, and I often miss the mark because, well, shit does happen, right? In our own lives and on a global scale - murder, war, suicide, natural disasters like Sandy, cruelty.

So we make a decision to practice kindness. We make a decision to live in the moment, because tomorrow it could all be gone. We make the decision that things - like computers (broke mine) manuscripts (lost mine) don't make us who we are. When I focus on the small irritations - our house isn't finished yet . . .we can't go on vacation like x, y and z . . . I'm overweight . . . they become larger than life and paralyze me from feeling grateful. When I focus on wanting what I have already, I experience abundance. When I remember how I was lifted out of a truly dark and terrible place by a new pair of glasses, there's nothing left but gratitude.

I have wonderful friends, a family that I cherish, work that is fulfilling, and an inner life that nurtures my creativity and keeps me writing no matter what.

So yes, I am putting on my rose-colored glasses not to be a Pollyana, but as a conscious choice to view the world as a place of abundance. Life is short!

What glasses are you wearing?

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Computer is Kaput


  [kah-poot, -poot, kuh-]  Show IPA
adjective Slang .
ruined; done for; demolished.
unable to operate or continue: The tall glass of water toppled on the laptop and it went kaput.

And with it, my manuscript, Afloat. Granted, I hadn't gotten very far - maybe 15k words, but still. 
Writer, person, fail.

I never backed it up.

So. As a writer, what do I do? Write the old-school way by hand, or borrow a Chromebook and use google documents. Pray that after a few days of "drying out", the hard drive can be rescued, and thus my work.

I hadn't been treating very well, I was taking it for granted.  I had been lusting after shinier, sleeker laptops. It was exactly four years old - I had gotten a Macbook just before Thanksgiving to celebrate the fact that I had just signed my first publishing contract.  And I LOVED it. Until the MacBook Air came out and my eye started to rove.

I had finally convinced my husband and kids to get me one for  Christmas.

So I can't get a new one immediately to solve my writerly needs, right? I have to delay gratification. 

Now that's a concept.

A teachable moment for everyone.

I was irresponsible. I put my full drink (cranberry juice and seltzer) next to my laptop (no drinks near the computers please kiddies!) and . . . KABLAM! KAPUT.

And you know what? It's not the end of the world. It's frustrating and I feel more than a little stupid, but it happens.

It's not the first time that I've lost work, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Stiff upper lip, and all that.

Hmmmm. Wait - I need to scream.

Aaaaaaaarggghhhhhhh! There, I had to do that, and probably will have to several times before Christmas, but my inner parent is telling me I have to wait, it will be good for me in the long run.

Will it?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Write What You Know?

I don't know what I know until I've written it.

Until I've listened, until I've opened up myself enough to the possibility that I don't know everything, to mystery.

How can we know something without stretching our imaginations to discover and explore? What a wonderful adventure writing is!  To know something or someone is to be open to exploration and discovery. Knowledge and experience shouldn't be rigid - we need to be flexible in our definitions, and open to the possibility that we don't know everything. My imagination knows things, my subconscious knows things, and yours does too. There is something you know in everything that you write.

Many of us start a project writing what we know in a concrete way until it begins to take on a life of its own. Or we start out completely the opposite, wanting to learn about something and finding our own truths, knowledge, within the story.

Our first novels are often the most autobiographical. I happen to have experience with alcoholism and recovery in my own family, so it makes an appearance in between the pages of EDGES. Another novel was inspired by the Reality TV show I was on, and the novel I'm writing now is based on something I had on my bucket list when I was a teenager: to be a performer on a cruise ship. (It's not on my bucket list anymore, although I think that writing about it counts, don't you?)

Every novel, story, even blog post, has a different trajectory. We get stuck, because we don't "know" something. I don't know where this is going . . . how many times have I told myself that?  But our job is to keep writing, even through the undulations of self doubt. I practice writing something almost every day, even if it's just one hundred words.

Yes, it may be NaNoWriMo, but don't let low word count get you down, keep writing, and know that you will get better as you practice, whether the words fly across the screen or drip slowly like molasses: keep plugging away and keep the faith.

In other news, I am selling my own copies of Edges! If you would like a personalized copy for yourself or someone you love, I will charge only $10, which includes the shipping.

Read and write on my loves!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Inner Bully and Writing in November

I'm feeling like a wet blanket this morning, and it's not because of the mountain of snow outside my door. Is it the Sandy (powerless for a week) and election hangover?

Maybe a little bit, most mostly I'm feeling resentful that I signed up for National Novel Writing Month this year and my lack of progress is a slap in the face. Why did I do this to myself?

My inner bully is waving her fists in the air and yelling discouraging words.

Go AWAY. Or at least whisper so I can think.

The process of writing every novel is unique - not just from writer to writer, but from novel to novel. I have written four novels and published one, all first drafts "shitty" and written very fast, by the seat of my pants. This one is different, doesn't want to go so fast and I've done some things differently to make me less of a "pantser" without having an outline. I have a synopsis, a setting, a protagonist/ antagonist and supporting characters, I have 6000 words yet this novel does not want to be written in a linear fashion.

6000 words is good for a week where the kids were out of school most of the time and I still had other work to do as well.

On election day, the kids were finally back in school but I was too nervous to write fiction, so I wrote a blog post instead. It was a relatively light op ed piece (by political standpoints) on voting to move forward with Obama at the helm. I decided to post it on our local Patch as well, and even though I was scared to put my heart out there, I was also excited. Why shouldn't I have a voice? I have been known to NEVER give my opinion on certain things for fear of conflict.

Yet it only took three nasty responses for me to ask that the post be taken down. (But don't worry, you can still read it here!) I had a "voice" for less than twenty-four hours, but I did not want to be the target for people who needed to vent somewhere because their guy didn't win. I felt misunderstood, as I'm sure they did, but their comments left me no room for response or to seek to understand. I felt BULLIED.

So I didn't work on my NaNo Piece yesterday either, watching the snow storm and moving through my feelings instead.

And now the kids have just gone off to school after a two hour delay and here I am, writing to see if I can let myself off the hook for not writing, so that I can write again. Does that make any sense? I need to take my inner bully head on - I know that I can't get rid of her entirely, but I can't let her take the fun out of writing - I can't let her make it a chore.

Writing is my way of processing the world - I don't need my bully to co-opt NaNoWriMo to tell me to write - it's who I am.

NaNoWriMo is not the bully - it's not the enemy - it's a fabulous community tool. Doing things as a collective can give us energy and restore our faith in the process.

The only way that bullying works on me is to get me to shut down - it's never gotten me to do anything.

I just now can start getting back to my routine of writing two to three hours a day, so we'll see what happens, okay? I'm unhooking myself from the lofty goal of writing 50,000 words in a month. And I'll try to get off of Facebook too for those hours - although a life-line during the storm AND the election - it is VERY distracting.

And congratulations to anyone and everyone who has taken the NaNo plunge!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Election, Mother Nature and Gratitude

This year, Election Day happens to fall on a beautiful crisp autumn day in the North East, sandwiched between two storms. My friends and I are all giddy to have heat and electricity again, AND to exercise our right to vote. We are cautiously optimistic, yet I am still anxious, proven by the fact that I can't seem to focus on any project for any reasonable amount of time.

However, Mother Nature and the election have both helped me to see the bigger picture.

I run around like everybody else on a daily basis, sweating the small stuff and working hard at keeping the faith.

Now in this election and with these storms, our faith is being put to the test: What do we really believe in? What matters to us?

Like everybody else, I worry about money.

And it becomes crystal clear: my bottom line is NOT about money, it always has and always will be  about human rights; being an individual in a larger community where we support and help one another. Yes, I am a huge idealist. But look at who I share genetics with? Writers, artists, priests, social workers . . .

Human rights encompass women's rights, gay rights, educational rights. Not to mention FEMA, war, health care, the environment - so much more. 

My youngest daughter went around kissing the heating vents and the fridge this morning. My eldest son is showing signs of maturity, intellectually, physically and spiritually. My middle son still hugs me and tells me he loves me several times a day. They are growing up and I want them to have a world where we acknowledge the science of climate change, where they won't feel less-than if they aren't wealthy, or marginalized if they or their friends are gay,  or pushed around for having a vagina.

Being a human is messy, complicated and beautiful. 
I voted for Obama in '08 and I certainly voted for him again this morning so that he gets to finish the job he started - which I believe is going to help everybody, and not just a select few.

There are people I care deeply about who vote differently and to you I say - whatever happens, let us seek to understand each other, and to understand that our integrity and conviction is what makes us better people, and the planet a safer place. Let us look for the things that we have in common and not the things which divide us. I still want to be in conversation with you and be in community with you, now more than ever.

It is the human condition that warms us, and our humanity that is the most sacred.
Am I worried about the Nor'Easter coming tomorrow? (That's something we can agree on.) Yes! (And still no generator!)
And another thing: NaNoWriMo is sooooo not happening for me right now - but I love all of the writing mojo going on around me and I encourage everyone to ready, set, write!!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It's a funny word, powerlessness. The sibilance of the word alone coils around me, and can either choke me, or set me free.

Many of us are feeling powerless these days in the aftermath of Sandy, the superstorm that rocked the East Coast. Homes were lost, lower Manhattan was flooded, parts of Long Island and New Jersey are gone - and the lights flickered out in my home in Northern Westchester on Monday at 6:30pm and remain . . . out. 

Yes, I am grateful that temporary loss of power is the worst of it, and that my mother can give us shelter now that it's getting cold, but I have to admit that I am grumpy.

Is that okay?

I walk around in my life, thinking that I am in control of so much. Having routines, getting the kids off to school, going to the gym, writing, teaching. Both structured and unstructured time with family and friends. Sure, things don't always go my way and I often have to do things that I don't want to do for the larger good, but that's part of being a grown up, right?

And spiritual sages say that the key to happiness is to accept our powerlessness over other people, places and things. That our only real control is over our attitudes and the way we feel.

But I seem to be feeling particularly out of sorts this morning, so that's why I am writing - struggling with the shoulds: I should feel grateful, I don't have it that bad, etcetera - not giving value to my feelings of %^&&^.

Valuing my feelings shouldn't be the same as giving into them as I did when I was in the throes of adolescence when  I let my feelings consume and control me.

It's a delicate balance, isn't it? If I feel disgruntled and depressed about a bad situation, that doesn't mean I am spiritually bereft; it reminds me that I need to honor the negative feelings that I have in order to let them go.

I take comfort in the fact that I'm not alone in my frustration that our "power" is in the hands of one electric company that has a monopoly on us. We had time to prepare for the storm: Con Ed was ready to hit the ground running, but our company, NYSEG, wasn't. We have seen more NYSEG trucks in Connecticut than in New York. They have cooked their books and are reporting to the press that more people have power than they actually do. They have been unresponsive to local government.

But then there's the spiritual adage to practice principles before personalities. Hmmm. How can I apply this here? Do I pray for the people at NYSEG to get their #$%^ together?

I am grateful for our local government standing up for us and for our local Patch team keeping us informed all along the way. Some power in town has been restored: I was able to run three Writopia Lab workshops in Katonah yesterday and get some delicious hot soup from Noka Joe's - celebrating with the people who got their power back and commiserating with others who didn't. We are all trying to get back to some kind of normal.

But the kids want to know if they will be able to go to school tomorrow, and we still have no word on whether or not that will happen. It lies in the hands of NYSEG. In this case, it feels as if the sibilant s's in powerlessness are trying to choke us.

Still. Powerlessness. Taking actions and letting go of the results, let go, let go, let . . .

Commit to doing the best you can in any situation and the new normal will be an increased gratitude, and a new awareness.

(And possibly a new electric company?)

Monday, October 29, 2012

How Frankenstorm is Preparing me for NaNoWriMo

When Dorothy was swept up into the sky during the tornado, she was terrified. Little did she know that she would land in Oz, a world of mystery and color.

Sounds like the creative process, yes? I don't know about you, but with every new project I start, I have a certain amount of trepidation. What demons are going to come up? What talismans (like Toto) do I need to keep me going, to keep up my courage while I'm fighting for my life on the page?

November first is officially the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, and is a tornado of creativity, fear and excitement for many-a-writer, myself included.

Then there's the real tornado of frankenstorm proportions innocuously named Sandy. Sigh. Ah, Sandy you sweet thing!

At this point, we still have electricity, but the kids don't have school and the roads are closed as the wind is starting to pick up here in Bedford County, NY. Chances are, that on Thursday, we won't have any power at all, and won't know when we will get it back, but that can't stop us East Coast writers from . . . well, writing.

Back to some old-school tricks folks, by the names of pen and paper. And our creativity will SURGE when we get our electricity back.

My plan is to go to the gym from 8 - 9 every morning, and then write from 9:30 - 12:30. Three hours a day, and it needs to be focused solid writing. And it doesn't have to be good. I've been working on a synopsis*, so I can sit down on Thursday with my butt firmly in my chair and write.

I haven't made it to 50k yet, but the past two years I've participated in NaNo, I've written more than I would have; I've relished the collective mojo of the community. My first year was 2010, and Edges was just about to be born and I was FREAKING OUT. NaNo had me write 30k of something else that turned into a novel. Last year, I wrote 40k, and rewrote that into a novel too. (I don't have contracts yet for either of them, so make of that what you will. For me, writing is practice and process.)

This year I hope to write 40k too, even though I will be leading some day long workshops and there is the whole issue of THANKSGIVING, but I need help pushing through my new project. I have a couple of scenes written, but I've been dancing around plot points and using that to procrastinate.

I have to get in the eye of the storm, and NaNo will be my Dorothy. And I won't surrender, I won't give up. I'll face the witch and her monkeys in my own writing.

As for this actual Frankenstorm, we're still waiting. Maybe it will miss us, but if it doesn't, we have games, books, flashlights at the ready, and have prepared in all of the ways that a family without a house generator can. Let the chips fall where they may, and in the meantime, stay safe everyone.

Read and Write on!

PS the power just flickered off - this may be it folks!

*CRUISING: 18 year old Harper shocks her parents by taking a job on a cruise ship instead of going to college. She wants to separate herself from her boy-crazy twin sister, Bianca. But when Bianca shows up as a guest on the cruise with their dying grandmother, Harper gets more than she bargained for.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Writers, Glitterfy! Keeping the Faith . . .

CELEBRATE the small stuff, find community, discipline yourself. Wear glitter. Feel your feelings about the publishing biz, but LOOK for silver linings everywhere, and strive for a constant state of WONDER.

If you have been reading my blog, you've been with me every step of the way on this rollercoaster ride. The latest is that FSG says that Edges is going out of print. But as someone pointed out to me, now I've been published, I can never be unpublished.

When FSG says that Edges is going out of print, that's really not true - it just means that they won't be printing it anymore. All rights revert back to me, plus I am buying out their stock so that I can do with my book as I please. I will have books to give away, donate and sell at my discretion. $16.99 for a hardback is crippling - and $10 for an e-book is just stupid. Now - or at least soon - I will get to set my own pricing. And when I run out of hard copies, it's been digitized, so it will have longevity.

I will have longevity as a writer, as a human being, because I keep writing no matter what, and I am going to CELEBRATE by joining forces with my community and participating in November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.)

Keep tuning in for my struggles, successes and inspiration, and share yours with me! Be ready for a slew of NaNo related posts - I will get my Survival Kit ready over the weekend and share with you on Monday. We are in this together, as human beings and as writers. Make sure you follow me on this blog, twitter and Facebook, and leave me info on how to do the same for you, if I haven't already!

Also: If you would like me to send you a signed copy of Edges, please let me know. I will be selling it for $10, and that includes shipping and handling. Or if you are a teacher or work for a non-profit, I would be happy to donate a box of books to your organization.

And always wear glitter!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tales from the Conference

"Challenge every word you write, forget about publishing and have fun," Tom Robbins told us at lunch on Saturday as he lounged in a chair on the stage, looking more hipster than octogenarian. His words echo the ones I have been telling myself lately, and as I ride the train back to New York, leaving Richmond, Virginia and the James River Writers' Conference I feel invigorated by my time with other writers on every stage of the journey.

From pre-published to poet laureates and everything in between, we are one big writing community.

It was thrilling to be asked to be a speaker and panelist, to travel and make new friends, and stay with old ones (Kristi and Adam Austin. Kristi got me down to Richmond after EDGES came out, and as conference chair, brought me down again.)

I arrived in time for a cocktail party on Friday night, held in a grand old Southern house where I had some fabulous one on one conversations with the incredible Eleanor Brown (Weird Sisters), Josh Cane, agent Ayesha Pande and I met debut author Kristen-Paige Madonia (Fingerprints of You) and Gigi Amateau (Come August, Come Freedom). It was inspiring to learn about the James River Writers and how it came to be, how the torch has been passed and that now they are celebrating the tenth conference. (I'd love to have something like this in Westchester!)

Saturday was my opportunity to soak in the whole conference and meet lots of people. I had never been to a conference like this before and I was amazed. Allan Wolf blew us away with his performance poetry in the opening session, followed by "First Pages", a panel where two agents and an editor gave feedback on some brave writer's first page of their manuscript. I hadn't realized that agents and editors make a habit of going to conferences to find talent. (I know, where have I been?) So all of you pre-published authors, get thee to a conference! (I know that Tom Robbins says not to worry about being published, but it can't hurt to network!)

There were two success stories on display from the conference of 2009 where authors Jeri Watts and Lana Krumwiede (Freakling) met their respective editor (Liz Bicknell) and agent (Molly Jaffa with Folio) and are now published authors with Candlewick!

It was a whirlwind of fun and of sharing ideas, and we didn't stop. A bunch of us went out to dinner in downtown Richmond, and got to bed very late!

And guess who else I met - Malinda Lo! (Ash, The Huntress, Adaptation)  She is the coolest.

On Sunday morning, it was Camisha Jones' turn to blow us away with her spoken word poetry - she is relatively new to the scene, but this is someone to watch out for - surely a prodigious talent! Later that morning I had the opportunity to be on a panel with her called, Finding the Time, Keeping the Faith. Joining us were editor Cherise Fisher and Jeri Watts. We all had a great time, having much to say on the subject! (I brought my glitter with me, and even anointed another young writer at the end!) I led a lunchtime discussion on teaching creative writing and then I was on another panel called Creating Atmosphere with Virginia poet laureate Kelly Cherry and  author Emily Mitchell (The Summer of the War).

The conference closed with Pitch-a-palooza, the American Idol of pitches as created by husband and wife team David Henry Sterry and Arielle Eckstut (The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published). I heard that several authors were asked for partial or full manuscripts - awesome!

I was even able to meet with my friend Randy, songwriter and singer for Lamb of God for a strong cup of coffee and intense conversation about the value of art and our obligations as human beings. He spent the month of July in a prison in Czeckoslavakia - you can read the Rolling Stone article here.

On that tantalizing note, Randy got me back to Kristi and we went out for pizza with some of the JRW crew to celebrate the completion of a successful conference. I'm so proud of Kristi, and I hope to be invited back next year!

Now I'd better practice what I preach and use the rest of my time on the train for fiction writing - although Malinda's book Adaptation is calling me . . .

Friday, October 19, 2012

Silver Linings

I am on the train, speeding my way to sunny Richmond, Virginia (from rainy Katonah, NY)  to take part in a conference full of writerly folk. It is an honor to have been invited to be a panelist at the tenth James River Writer's Conference. It is an honor to be wanted. It's one of the silver linings in the rocky road of publishing.

The train ride from Penn Station is almost seven hours long and I just finished reading The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown on my kindle. (My mother gave me a kindle almost two years ago, and Eleanor's was the first book I bought on it. I was half-way through it before I put it down - it had hit too close to home.) I started reading this morning, in Penn Station,  knowing that I am going to meet Eleanor in person tonight - she will be coming to the conference from her home in Colorado.

We have been internet buddies, as we both had debut books coming out in December of 2010, me going at the beginning of the month, her at the end. In fact, she had asked me to do a guest blog post for a group blog of "debutantes "she was facilitating that year.

I have tears in my eyes because The Weird Sisters jives so well with my last blog post, Redefining Success, and it DID hit close to my heart: Three sisters converge at home in the midwest ostensibly to help take care of their cancer-ridden mother but have underlying issues of loss of their own to deal with. Each feels like a failure in her own way, comparing themselves to each other in both lackluster and stellar ways. They all have much growing up to do. And I promise you, the character arcs in this book are beautiful: it is truly a coming-of-age novel.

As I am also always "coming-of-age" and becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin and what I do . . . so it is both ironic and fitting that I *just* got an email from my editor's assistant at FSG saying they're very sorry, but EDGES is about to go out of print because sales are low and they don't have the warehouse space.

Are you sighing for me? Ah, the glamorous life of a writer!

It's been out for almost two years, so I'm surprised that this email didn't come sooner, I'm already prepared for it.

I feel so lucky to be on my way to a writer's conference and to always be in the process of redefining success. Am I worried that others' will perceive me as not being successful because my book is going out of print and I don't have another contract? Am I comparing myself to Eleanor whose book is a NY Times best seller and is now out in paperback? Hmmmm . . .  yeah, a little. But that's not what matters, is it? What matters is that I do have a lot to offer, about where I am in the process and keeping the faith no matter what. We keep on truckin'.

Hey! Now I will be allowed to sell copies myself at hugely discounted prices! Is this a silver lining or what? I'll buy out the warehouse, and YOU can get a signed copy direct from the author herself! So what do you think?

(Or you can wait a couple of years for the paperback. Heh, heh, heh.)

Anyways - I have about 90 minutes more on the train, where I will be reunited with my dear friend Kristi (who I met because of my blog!) who has been instrumental in putting this shindig together and is responsible for getting me down South.

And tonight I get to hug Eleanor!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Redefining Success

I was such an asshole when I was younger. I had this dreadful combination of inferiority/superiority complex, where success was defined by external things.

Oh, that's society you say? So I'm not alone?

The definers of success were my grandmother, a famous novelist, and my father, a rock star priest. Everybody else was a loser, including me. If you weren't making a major impact on the world, you just sucked. What about doctors? Lawyers? Nah. They didn't have a big enough of a captive audience - my dad's preaching drew huge crowds and my grandmother's words were read by millions - they both had a similar philosophy/theology and they WERE ON MESSAGE. What about teachers then? Surely they have a captive audience. They were the biggest losers of all. Those who can't do, teach.

The standard of my grandmother and father's success was impossibly high for everyone. (See, I told you I was an asshole.)

Well, what was the MESSAGE of your grandmother and your father then? That we ALL matter, and that we're not losers! Basically, we're all children of God, or we all have God within us, however you want to look at the semantics of it.

I see you scratching your head. Why then, couldn't you internalize this? 

(And then there's the whole money issue - you not only have to captivate an audience, you have to make money too! Because everyone knows success is about money, right? )

I internalized everything - there was good stuff of course, but a lot of BAD stuff, and my foggy brain couldn't sort it all out. I had to grow up and have my own struggles with this ethereal notion of "success". I continue to grow and the more I am in touch with the Divine, the more in-love with the world and my life I am.

I am not my grandmother and I am not my father, but like them, I am a writer and a teacher. I have internalized their message, and I share it with you as you share with me.  I write to remind myself of who I really am, because this is the best way I know how to think clearly.

I needn't define myself by their success, or by anybody's. My definition of success is the ability to embrace and appreciate life, and having the physical and spiritual space to do the things that make you a better person, and bring you more toward your authentic self.

Which is what writing and teaching do for me. It's not making me rich for sure, but I am solidly middle class.

And best of all, my life is right sized, no better or worse than anybody else.

(This is the good part about getting older folks!)

What about you? Do you struggle with any of this?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spinning (and Writing) in the Right Direction

My lives seem to converge when I am on the bike in a spin class. Lives? Yes - my creative/spiritual and my grounded/family/work lives. I like to think that I am spinning in the right direction.

"But you're not going anywhere!" You exclaim.

Exactly. I am rooted to the present, and yet I am taking care of mind, body AND spirit. I had thought that I could only get that in a yoga class, but I was wrong.

I discovered the SPIN in a last ditch attempt to add cardio to my routine. Being a yoga aficionado, I had hated everything else I tried. I shocked myself by falling in-love. I love that the music is LOUD and that it is dark with no mirrors, that you can get into the ZONE. In fact, the experience is kind of like a part of my nightclub days, when I would just dance and be in my own little world. (Léna Land as my friends liked to call it.) I love the blood, sweat and tears.

So of course I've been thinking a lot about spinning a a metaphor for writing.

It's been helping me think about writing as a process and not a destination - and yes, you're right - in a spin class we don't really literally go anywhere. But we follow through until the end, strengthening out heart muscles and our legs, sweating the built up toxins out of our pores. As a byproduct, we feel more awake, alert, ALIVE during the day.

It's like that with writing - it makes me feel alive as it clears my head. There are toxins in my spirit as well that I exOrcise through writing: the world can be a troubling place, full of suffering and inequality. I am drawn to people AND characters who have had enough darkness and who struggle in their search for the light.

And writing grounds me in the present, even as I move from room to room, coffee shop to coffee shop in search for a fresh perspective. Right now I am working on a new "thing", and I have stopped thinking about any kind of audience so that I can find the story, so that I can spin my yarn. I have a setting, and the shadows of some characters. A plot is slowly revealing itself to me. Our new slogan at Writopia Lab is: Plot builds character.

I know that the events and actions I have taken in my own life have built my own character, so I  keep writing, and I urge you to do the same, and to eschew compartmentalization by merging your writing life with your other daily activities.

We are writers everywhere, even in a spin class!

Yes, we are all spinning in the right direction.