What IS this?
What IS this?

A couple days ago I emerged, blinking in sunlight, from editing and launching The Kiss: An Anthology About love and Other Close Encounters. I discovered  a whole world outside my computer, and it has neat things in it like telephones and cars and even people!

I am never so happy as when the words are piling up faster than the laundry and my diet is reduced to smoothies and cottage cheese, both foods I can eat  at the computer while I am zooming towards a deadline. I am happy enough to look at the chaos that has become my home with nostalgia, like one might regard the unfortunate tattoo one obtains during an especially memorable drinking binge.

The dogs and plants are still alive. I also seem to have acquired a few new pets. There is now a mouse living under the dishwasher. My apartment has apparently become a refuge for every fruit fly east of the Mississippi. One of my first acts of non-writerage has been to wage war upon the unfortunate fruit flies. The mouse is going to take a little time. I’ve got plans for a nefarious (but humane) trap. It has to be placed just right to catch the mouse while not enticing the dogs, as they are all fond of the same bait.

The picture at the top? Meet ‘Frank.’ Frank is a spontaneous life form I discovered inside my grandmother’s saucepan (now dubbed Revere Beware) when I lifted the lid. I haven’t decided what to do about Frank. He’s quiet, feeds himself and is generally well behaved. Getting rid of him might require nuclear armaments. I’m in too good a mood to engage in all-out warfare. I might try poking him with a stick. A very long stick.

Frank has been evicted. My grandmother can stop turning over in her grave.

See? Shiny!

See? Shiny!

DSC01448Ooooh! Look! I can see myself!

The mouse took the bait without setting off the trap. Time for a new strategy, involving a cereal box and a peanut butter sandwich.

I’ll be starting Sneak Thief soon. But first, I’m calling a cleaning service.

The Kiss Is Here! Get Your Free Copy!


The Kiss: thirty-one stories in a multitude of genres, each revolving around the idea of a kiss. I can’t decide which I like best. Ben Cassidy’s farcical fairy-tale kiss? JL Jarvis’ encounter with a hunky, out-of-time Highlander? Jason Deas’ wrenching tale of a returning Vietnam vet? Colleen Hoover’s depiction of family life for her first family, Layken and Will? Jess Mountifield’s sci-fi novella about a resourceful slave who longs for safety?

I could go on and on. But I’ll just give you the links. You can get the Kindle version on Amazon for $3.99, if you are so inclined. Or you can go the Smashwords and get The Kiss in a variety of formats for free. And if you are so inclined, feel free to report a lower price to Amazon, we’d love them to price match.

Whatever you do, be sure to read my story, Kiss No. 43, it’s my best short ever.

#WoofWednesday – ‘Nuff Said


Max started this 13 years ago with my almond windmill cookies.
It hasn’t stopped. She’s the most optimistic dog I’ve ever met.

The Best Advice You’ll Get for The Rest of Your Life

We were having a discussion about writer’s block. One of us was stuck on a book and considering setting it aside to pursue another project, a topic which always elicits a wide range of conflicting responses.


Then Russell Blake weighed in on the topic. I have to stop and say that Russell Blake weighs in like the 800 pound gorilla. He’s very successful (and getting more so by the day. Just ask the Wall Street Journal, if you don’t believe me.), and despite having the most brutal schedule of anyone I know, he’s very generous with his advice. He’ll tell you exactly how he got to where he is. As long as you don’t mind being told the facts of life by an 800 pound gorilla.

I’ve learned to pay attention whenever he speaks. What follows is possibly the most empowering and useful bit of wisdom I’ve ever heard, and perfect for the new year.

This is what he said:

“Stay the course and force yourself to finish it. Sit down, take a deep breath, and change your mental attitude. Ask yourself what excites you about the sequel, and if the answer is nothing, ask yourself what could excite you about it. Then ask yourself how you can make writing the remaining pages the most exciting experience of your life. If you genuinely demand an answer out of your brain, it will give it to you. Ask good questions and you’ll get useful answers. ‘How can I be more excited about my words today than ever before, and how can I raise the bar on my writing to where I won’t believe I actually wrote that?’ will get you a way different answer than ‘why am I having to slog through this?’ Just saying. ‘How can I have real fun, fun I’d pay for, finishing this?’

“If you believe that at any time, you can change your outlook – that you, not your environment, or circumstances, or some external or internal deterministic stimuli, can decide to change whenever you want, it will completely change the rest of your life. It’s exhausting, because instead of being buffeted about by the winds of change, you’re responsible for your course, but in the end, it’s the only way to have the life you want. If you don’t control the things you can (given all the things you can’t), shame on you.

What you believe determines your motivation. The questions you ask yourself define your beliefs. ‘How can I be the most incredible force of nature ever seen’ will get a different answer than ‘how do I make it through today?’ Take responsibility for your future. Ask better questions. ‘How can I wake up every morning eager to write the best prose of my life?’ gets you a more useful answer than ‘How do I finish this damned thing I really don’t want to write?’ Grab the throttle and give it a twist. Your muse works for you – you don’t work for it.”

That hit me between the eyes. Then Jacques Antoine, another writer following the same conversation, gave me another “WOW” moment:

“The central insight you mentioned earlier is obviously true and strangely easy to overlook, namely that if you only ask yourself negative questions, you can only get negative answers. Turning that around and asking oneself a positive, challenging question is the only way to get a different result.

Why am I so excited? I spent more than a decade in the field of addictions counseling, working to help people “get out of the problem and into the solution,” a concept many have difficulty wrapping their head around. Russell’s advice not only makes this essential attitude shift accessible, it makes it fun.

Fun is important. Fun is motivating. Fun gives you lots of lovely brain chemicals that energize you and improve your mood. Make it fun and it’ll get done, I say. Engaging with life should be exciting, stimulating and, yes, fun. If it’s not, changing your attitude and assuming responsibility is your best strategy to fulfillment.

What questions are you going to ask yourself today?

#WoofWednesday – The Holidays Are Over


January 1, 2014 – off to a slow start


So it’s already almost 4 o’clock in the afternoon on January 1, 2001.

I ate dinner with friends last night. Anna and Pat are remodeling their kitchen, so Anna grilled steaks. Outside (Yes, my friends are crazy.). I eschewed the poker party for an early evening.

Yesterday I made up an agenda with a checklist all set up with the wonderful things I was going to do today, starting with exercise, to start the New Year right.

I haven’t done any of it. I have been laying around fooling with my new Kindle fire HDX. I haven’t even cooked. About noon, Rudy brought up a plate of sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and pork. He always piles on enough to feed a your average family of six, so I’m good.

Above you can see my first Selfie.

Last night, Anna and I experimented with the Skype. I bought a pair of HDXs so my sister and Mom can Skype me during their Sunday lunches, so of course, we had to make sure they worked properly.

Don’t ever try to Skype a computer that’s in the same room with you. The feedback is terrible.

Today I’m toying with functionality apps, figuring out which ones I want to use for what. Dropbox doesn’t have an app for the HDX yet (boo, hiss!)

And now that I’m upgrading, I’m less enamored with 7-Notes, since I will have to export any note I want to keep. I’ll also need to teach it to read my writing all over again.

My new besties  are Evernote and B-Folders. I love the customizable contact templates in B-Folders, but hate the hoops you have to jump through to sync to your computer. Still, it’s the best phone book app I’ve found and it will do much more. I will probably go with Evernotes for to do lists and memos. You can create check-able lists and capture and organize pretty much anything, and you can easily sync it to any device.

And Galaxy Tarot Pro is soooooo Cool.

I am totally enamored with the voice recognition that comes with the HDX. It’s a little goofy but it mostly spells better than I do. It does not spell and Amber. Enamora comes out as yammered. (Editors note: The italics are  three variations of the word enamored, generated by the HDX’s VR.) But, other than that it does great job.

If I could learn how to think and talk at the same time, I might be able to write the first draft of my next novel, Sneak Thief, on the Kindle by dictating it using the voice recognition. I imagine lying back on the couch, talking into the Kindle, holding it with my right hand while I pop rock cow fudge  with my left hand. I mean raw cacao badge. Fudge. Raw Pickell fudge. Raw. Cacao. Fudge. *Sigh*

Anyway, I’m loving the Kindle HDX. It’s lightweight, I can Skype with it,  and it is extremely fast. I might even get Splashtop so I can access my computer remotely. Who knows, one of these days I might even try reading a book on it.

#WoofWednesday – New Years Resolutions