1113In Writing News - I’m one week and 16,000 words into the new novel. I owe much of that word count to a handful of Twitter friends, busting out word sprints of 20 – 30 minutes throughout the day. There’s something about the joint effort, even with virtual strangers, that is motivating. Because writing is, by nature, a solitary act, we can get mired in our own muck and talk ourselves out of exciting and productive work. I’m trying to keep myself accountable this time around – to myself, my NaNoWriMo buddies and most importantly, to my novel.

I had a serious slump on Friday, writing next-to-nothing and Saturday wasn’t much better. But today, I jumped over the stuck point and was able to push through three more chapters. With the exception of the nagging feeling that I’m telling the story from the wrong POV, I’m feeling good about the progress I’ve made and how the story is unfolding. My shitty first draft (a la Annie Lamott) is well on its way.

In Reading News – I’m 2/3 of the way through Jim Beaver’s “Life’s That Way”, a memoir spanning his wife’s illness and the aftermath of her death. Because it was written as a series of e-mails to loved ones as the events were taking place, there is a rawness to the writing that is wrenching. Incredibly engaging and some seriously brilliant thoughts on grief. 

To balance out the intensity of Beaver’s book, I’m finishing up Christopher Moore’s “Lamb; The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” and starting in on Diana Rowland’s “My Life As A White Trash Zombie”.

In Other News – My oven has been repaired, I’ve acquired a cat named Fraidy and I get to see my godchildren in Monterey next weekend. How about you?


CornerGasNearly every night for the last 4 ½ years, I’ve fallen asleep with an episode of Corner Gas playing on the television. There’s 107 episodes in all and I can crash out to the same one for a week before moving on. Still, I’ve seen them all so many times I could rewrite entire scenes with little help.

Jeremy could help.

He knows them by heart as well.

And Ashlie could fill in some of the best bits if she was still here.

We found Corner Gas in 2008 – stumbled into an episode titled “Worlds Biggest Thing” and kinda fell in love all at once with the wit, wordplay and brilliant comedic cast. When Ashlie died in early 2009, few things were comforting but somehow this show was.

Nothing horrible happens in Dog River. People don’t change or leave or die and somehow the jokes get funnier over time. Werewolves fighting robots still gets me, I’m prone to guffaw over a healthy fear of pink eye, and angering the internet(s) is awesome every time.

Perhaps it seems odd, linking a sitcom to my grief process and being unable to untangle those two things nearly five years down the road. But I’m not one to change what works – what keeps me from spiraling into the darkness every night. Maybe some day I won’t need Emma, Oscar, Wanda and Brent, Hank, Lacey, Davis and Karen to lull me to sleep. And maybe I always will. I’m ok with that. It’s my happy place.

Thanks guys.

You’re the best. 



1113Friday is the first day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a program which challenges writers to barrel through the first draft of a novel (50,000+ words) in thirty days. I’ve done it once before, back in 2009. What I wrote that November morphed and grew over the next three years, eventually transforming into “The Complicated Geography of Alice.” With the book and it’s freshly re-written proposal sitting on someone else’s desk now, I thought I’d turn my attention to a project that’s been waiting quietly in line for some time – a story I call “Dancing The Macarena With Jesus”.

The story came about because I wanted to write a happy ending. Specifically, I wanted to write a happy ending for this particular kid (with his perpetual deer-in-the-headlights expression, limbs always somehow akimbo and every teen-angst marker imaginable. I am never not going to love this kid. I am never not going to see a ghost of Ashlie in him.) I’m writing him a happy ending because I can’t give him one just as I couldn’t give her one. It’s not much, but it’s something.

I’ve spent three weeks preparing for the NaNoWriMo challenge with the help of Bullish and Bliss. I’m outlined to the hilt and seriously structured. I’m not used to working within a solid framework, but it should help me get from the beginning to the end in less than three years, so it’s a good thing.

I’ll try to keep you updated along the way, to be more present than I’ve been as of late. Also, if by chance you’re NaNo-ing too, feel free to hook up with me on the site. 


friendsGreat live music is one of the (few) things that I love about my hometown. Last month, a group of local musicians released a CD titled “My Friends & I”, showcasing Modesto’s vibrant music scene. The project was the brainchild of Earl Matthews who fronts both The Cryin’ Shame and The Poorhouse Millionaires and whose big badass blues voice turns me into a giggling fangirl every damn time. The collection is a mix of acoustic blues, contemporary folk and americana. 

In an effort to promote this local talent on a wider scale, and make some art of her own in the process, my ever-brilliant sister Ruth (aka Bullish) organized a group of fiction writers and put together a collection of stories inspired by the songs on the CD. 

You can find out more about the song/story collaboration at or check out the original Kickstarter for “My Friends & I”. The CD is available on Amazon and at CD Baby, while the e-book is at Smashwords for free and Amazon for 99-cents. And the next time you’re passing through California’s Central Valley, stop in and check out our superb live music scene. You won’t be disappointed.

The following Modesto area bands and artists collaborated on 13 great tracks: The Poorhouse Millionaires, Ryan Russell, The House of Orange, Heaven Lindsey-Burtch, The Rob Hill Band, Cole Thompson, Sommer Cooks, Patty Castillo Davis, Christine McGrew, Bethany Joseph, Nathan Ignacio, Lovecore Singing Telegrams, Bob and Chandler 

And the 13 writers who donated 1,000 words apiece to the cause are as follows: M.L. Gammella, Ruth Long, Sarah Aisling, Lillie McFerrin, Jenn Monty, Jeff Tsuruoka, Lisa Shambrook, Lizze Koch, Samantha Geary, Nick Johns, L.E. Jamez, Jeff Hollar, Bradley Richter

Now GO! Follow the links!




It’s a Book Meme. How could I resist? Feel free to link your own version in the comments.

Author(s) You’ve Read the Most Books Of:

Charles Bukowski, Louise Erdrich, Agatha Christie, Elmore Leonard, Chuck Palhinuk, Alison Bechdel, Sherman Alexie, Brendan Halpin, Michelle Tea, Anne Rice, Ivan e. Coyote, Diane Wakoski and of course, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Best Sequel Ever:

I’ve always thought that Memnoch The Devil was head and shoulders above Anne Rice’s other vampire tales.

Currently Reading:

Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni and (despite my agnosticism) A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Water with ice for chomping unless it’s Bukowski and then it’s whiskey.

E-Reader or Physical Book:

Both, though I prefer an actual paperback book.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Dated in High School:

Mouse from The 18th Emergency.

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance:

The Last Temptation of Christ

Hidden Gem Books:

The Joys of Yiddish – Leo Rosten

Silk – Alessandro Baricco

My First Kafka – Matthue Roth

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:

Woman At Point Zero by Nawal El Saddawi changed everything Read the rest of this entry »