The Shape of the Year, Part 2

May 24, 2018 § Leave a comment

I live. Which amazes me, given the past year and a half.

“2018 will be a year of repair, of redirection, of rebuilding. Changing the landscape.” That’s from my New Year’s Day post, but I had no idea how much the landscape would change; eight days later, I was laid off.

Flash forward nearly six months and I’m still looking for a new job. And fighting the brain weasels that come part and parcel with rejection after rejection.

But I’m still here. Still flyin’. Inches off the ground, but I haven’t crashed and burned yet. « Read the rest of this entry »



January 5, 2017 § 1 Comment

I woke to falling snow, an immediate indicator of how the day would shape out; in Asia, white is the color of mourning.

The plague I have is on its way out the door, but I’m still coughing, sneezing, congested at times. Still worried about getting my dad, my mom, my family sick. So I went to work, distracted myself with little tasks I needed to catch up on, office gossip, the friends I work with.

Greg updated me around 10:00 that Dad was unresponsive—sleeping, not waking for anyone. My heart fell through the floor.

The snow tapered, but never stopped. At one point, fat white flakes fell, seeming to mark off the moments. I watched them, wondering as each one hit the ground if that was the moment my father died.

At 3:00, I left for the day and met Tracy at home. She drove us over worsening, whitening roads to the hospice. I stopped inside the door to blow my nose hard, cough out what I could into tissues, and mask up. I couldn’t get the mask on with everything in my hands, so I threw it all at a chair in the waiting room—used tissues, clean tissues, earmuffs. Frustrated. Scared.

As we approached Dad’s room, Greg stepped out. Visibly shaken. Steve followed, eyes red and brimming.

My dad had just passed away, minutes before we got to his side.

I went into the room, placed my hand on his shoulder. Mom sat across from me, sobbing. I moved around the bed and hugged her. Began crying myself, then couldn’t stop. My eyes burned with acidic tears. Later, I’d find milky spatter on the lenses of my glasses.

I stopped crying. Started again. Stopped. A nurse came, listened to his chest, then called the charge nurse. She came a few minutes later, also listened, and pronounced it. The official time of death was 4:12; in reality, it was several minutes prior.

The world didn’t halt; it carried on, stepping over the pieces of our hearts on the floor. Indifferent. We drew together, an island of familial grief, then broke apart to drift our separate ways.

Outside, the snow continued to cast its funeral shroud across the landscape.


My dad, Christmas 2016. 


Fear Not! (via Leslie Leyland Fields)

June 2, 2016 § 3 Comments

FULL DISCLOSURE: I came across the image below via Writer’s Circle on Facebook. I don’t know anything about Fields other than her brief bio on her website. That said, her seven fears hit all of my buttons. Hit that link for more.


“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners.”

March 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

I’m probably late to the show on this, but I saw the Ira Glass quote below for the first time today and thought, “Damn, that’s exactly what I needed to read today.

I’m sharing in case you’re later to the show than I am, or just need to see it again.

On Being Clever

August 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Put on your writing cap and get to work!I like clever books. When an author does something unusual with structure or plot, it makes for more interesting, enjoyable reading—as long as it doesn’t hinder the storytelling.

I know I praise Iain M. Banks’ books often (and no, this isn’t another review), but one of his Culture novels—The Use of Weapons—is one of the most clever books I’ve read. He tells the story from both ends of its timeline simultaneously, in alternating chapters, and he does it so seamlessly that I didn’t even notice it until I reached the end.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Here Come the Shears Again …

March 24, 2015 § 2 Comments

Live by the pen, die by the pen.Another day, another major cut to my novel.

I’ve been struggling with a scene in which the protagonists find a secret message on something they stole off a dead man. The whole chapter felt clumsy and dull, and I’ve spent way too much valuable time trying to fix it.

As often happens when I’m in a jam, I serendipitously stumbled across a blog post (which I now cannot find to share, argh) in which the author said, “When in doubt, cut the scene.” « Read the rest of this entry »

What to tell yourself when someone says, “You will never be a writer.”

August 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

dont stopKelly Braffet, author of the acclaimed new YA novel Save Yourself, published a fantastic blog piece about how she reacted when a high-school English teacher tried to crush her dream of being a writer. You can read the full story here. It’s a good one.

When most writers talk about their origins, they usually cite the high-school English teacher who inspired them and taught them to love reading and books. They talk about those first awkward stories they wrote, and how those same teachers read them and wrote encouraging comments and fanned the embers of their dreams into a blazing passion.

Braffet’s teacher was not that sort:
« Read the rest of this entry »

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