Another Story Out in September

Last week I got word that another short story of mine will be published in September. This is such great news. This particular story is about the invisibility of motherhood. There is bloodshed. 🙂 Yay!

I am reading a lot and writing a lot lately. I’m obsessed with the story “Tenth of December,” by George Saunders. Dang. So great.

We’re reading that and “Heads of the Colored People: Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, And No Apology,” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires as well as “The Lady with the Toy Dog,” by Anton Chekhov for the Short Story Club this month.

We’re always happy to have more members.

Happy summer to you.

Good Ancestor Podcast & two takeaways

I’ve been keeping track of the podcasts I’ve been taking in over these past few days as I’ve been re-organizing my media playlists. Especially since George Floyd was murdered, I have been seeking podcasts and hosts and media figures who are BIPOC. I’m really liking Good Ancestor Podcast with Layla F. Saad. I’ve heard two episodes so far — Ep028: #GoodAncestor Candice Braithwaite on Being a Black British Mother and Ep029: #GoodAncestor Nicole Cardoza on the Reclamation of Wellness — and I’m looking forward to more.

I didn’t know about Layla F. Saad before I heard these episodes. Of course, she is the author of Me and White Supremacy (which I haven’t read yet). From her website:

Layla is unapologetically confronting the oppressive systems of white supremacy and patriarchy, while offering important teachings and tools for transforming consciousness, cultivating personal anti-racism practice and taking responsibility for our individual and collective healing.

This! This is what I’m hunting right now.

me and white supremacy cover

There is so much in both of these episodes. Unfortunately, I can’t remember all of it. There is a lot to return to, but I can’t right now. Two items that struck me were these:

1. Candice Braithwaite and her partner agonized over the names to give their children, not because they were afraid the names were in the Top 100 lists and therefore too popular or some other nonsense but because the concern was whether or not white people would be able to pronounce and spell them. They were being careful about how the names would be read and spoken and treated in a white society.

2. Nicole Cardoza used “underestimated” to describe people who are in other instances described as “marginalized” or “minority.”

good ancestor podcast

I acknowledge that I have privilege and opportunity and advantage, relative to many. I know this. I struggle with how to use this for good. Vote, to be sure. I will certainly do that. Research the candidates for local elections, including school board. Teach my kids, somehow, to be thoughtful people. The list goes on. Engage.

A semi-annual re-launch of the blog (and what I’m reading)

There are so many things I want to do on a daily basis. So many things that I don’t fit them in, and then I write and re-write a list of priorities every so many weeks.

Today I woke up at 4:30 so that I can get a few things in before the rest of the household wakes. This is an experiment. I conduct so many experiments, usually starting on Mondays. A few Mondays ago, I decided it would be a good idea to drop caffeine and alcohol forever. This experiment, this forever commitment, lasted until the following Saturday.

At 4:30 this morning, I wrote for half an hour, with pencil on paper, and then transitioned to writing this damned story I want to finish for the next couple of hours. It was a frustrating morning, but maybe I’ll actually get something done some day.

I wonder how long I will be able to stay awake. I’m hoping until the kids go to sleep tonight.

Another new experiment is to blog. Post to the site. What an idea.

Last week I started Jonathan Franzen’s novel Purity. At 598 pages, I’ll be reading it for a while. According to Kindle, I’m only 22% into it.

The podcast I’ve got on my priority listening list this week is The Poetry Magazine Podcast. I don’t write poetry now, but anything and everything to do with words is always interesting and inspiring to me. The episodes run around half an hour, and there are typically two or three poems read and discussed.

That’s what I have for now.

I read: Fates and Furies and Stuff Mom Never Told You

Hi kids.

August. Both of my kids have birthdays this month. My mother-in-law turns 80 this month, and my parents have their anniversary this month, too. We have several other family birthdays. We also have lots of international family visiting, and man oh man, it’s busy.

I started Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff, a few days ago. Though it’s not a very long novel, it’s going to take a good long time for me to read it; the language is dense and gorgeous and will take a lot to process. Typically when I pick up a novel I have no idea what it’s going to be about. I decided on this title because it was the next title reviewed in a podcast book club, so here we are. I say this because I’m only two chapters in and can’t really tell you what it’s about yet. The library needs it back in just a couple days, and I can’t renew it because there are “people in line” for it, so I actually bought the book. (I hope I finish it, now that I’ll own it. I won’t have a deadline to read it!)

The podcast I’m featuring this week (which means I listen to an episode of this before I move on to the news) is Stuff Mom Never Told You. I had it in my rotation a few years ago, but unsubscribed for some reason I can’t remember. This is a weekly podcast hosted by two women about all things and how they apply to women. The last couple of episodes have been about mental health in the black community, and work fails. The episodes run about 45 minutes. (The most memorable episode of this series was a few years ago when the hosts covered vajazzling. Do you know what that is? I hope not, Mom. Vajazzle: To adorn the pubic area of a woman with crystals, glitter, and other decoration. Yoikes.)

Have you read anything by Lauren Groff?


I read: Happier At Home and The Secret Library Podcast

Hey there.

The week goes on, doesn’t it? Today is only Tuesday.

Last week my word count was 2,956. I think I got around four hours of writing done. That’s fine with me. I will continue to do as I do and get done what I get done. I did write up a short article that I submitted to an online magazine yesterday. I do not know when I’ll hear from them, but I gather they’re looking for submissions for their winter volume.

I’m deciding on realistic submission goals. Should I aim to submit a piece or a query once a week? Once a month, as I’m just beginning here? Or is that crazy?

I want to shave my head so I can’t pull out my hair.

I’ve mentioned before that I cannot abandon a book once I’ve started it, haven’t I? (I also can’t ditch a TV series. I’m still working my way through “The West Wing.” What’s cool about that is that I’ve found an accompanying podcast, so knowing that I get a podcast episode out of every TV episode really escalates my enjoyment. 🙂 ) I started Gretchen Rubin’s Happier At Home on August 10, 2014. I know this because I track these things pretty closely, mostly on Goodreads. Here I am, almost three years later, still wondering what it’s like to be Happier At Home.

Actually, I like the book. I like Rubin’s other books and her other endeavors that you can find at her website. This book breaks down every month of the school year and offers Rubin’s attempts at enjoying herself more in her home life by way of monthly themes. The only reason I haven’t gotten through the book is because I own it. Therefore, I have no deadline to read it. If it were a library book, I’d have to have it read in three weeks.

Don’t buy me a book you want me to read.

Here’s the book. Rubin’s newest title is The Four Tendencies, if you’re curious.

I’m pretty new to the podcast I’m featuring this week: The Secret Library Podcast, but I’m excited about it. The episodes are interviews with creative people — mostly authors, but some other media as well. I was inspired by Episode #28, “Gary Wilson on Structure and Novels.” I am troubling through the feelings of writing a first draft. I was interested in what Wilson said about the way he approaches his — he writes the whole first draft without editing it or revising it at all. Wow. Man, that could be hundreds of pages of unedited story. The idea of that is both liberating and terrifying.

The episodes run about 50 minutes, on average. I like it. I’m keeping it in my rotation.

How’s your Tuesday?

I read: The Handmaid’s Tale and The New Yorker: Poetry podcast

Good Monday to you.

Illness after illness have kept me from doing a lot of the things I’ve wanted to do these past few weeks and months. We didn’t take the family trip that we were meaning to do last week. I have decided that 2017 has been really hard.

Of course, I am endlessly grateful for the family and the friends who surround me, and of course, I know that my life circumstances are anything but dismal. However, these time has been tough.

I remember seeing a poem framed somewhere that expressed the glory found in days unremarkable.

I hate to say “at least,” but, at least I’m not one of the handmaids or a Wife or a Martha (I still don’t know what that is) in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. As is often the case, I am behind in current titles. But, with all of the talk about the TV series, and the fact that my husband got the book for free for some reason, I decided to start it. I knew essentially what it was about, but man, is it ever depressing. What’s really striking me is that it reads like poetry. That is so curious. I wonder how intentional that is.

I’m not loving the story, but I’m interested in the construction.

Also about poetry: The podcast I’m featuring this week is The New Yorker: Poetry. I haven’t read a lot of poetry, nor have I written a lot of it, but I’ve always been challenged by it; why not study it a little more.

I hope all is well with you.

I read: The Last Days of Night and Story Grid Podcast


This week marks the first full week that I am no longer seeing clients. I’m giving myself a grace period of three weeks to figure out the best way to switch between full-time client-facing music therapist (and full-time mother and wife and all that), to full-time freelance writer (and full-time mother and wife and all that). It feels so gross and selfish of me to even type that out. Regardless, that is where I really am transitioning. This week is filled by kids’ appointments and my appointments and things to get done before we four leave on a family trip next week. That’s my next two weeks, and then the third week of my grace period — which is the week after we get back — I will simply have to dedicate to unpacking and organizing how my new schedule will be. This is honestly a pretty big change for me, and pretty scary. I have a few goals in mind that I am planning to share at some point this week.

In any case, I’m reading a new book for one of my book clubs. I am about halfway through The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore, and even though my book club has already talked about it and is moving on to the next title, I am determined to finish it. (Just as I am determined to finish every book I start. I remember one I didn’t finish in fifth grade. I’m pretty sure I never gave the book back to my teacher. I’m assuming she doesn’t mind at this point.) The author of the book wrote the screenplay to “The Imitation Game,” a movie I have yet to see as is wont to happen with all of our baby kids.

The book’s main character is George Westinghouse’s lawyer in the copyright battle(s) between Westinghouse and Thomas Edison.
What I like about the book so far:

The main character is not Westinghouse or Edison.
The chapters are short and move me along.
There is an element of mystery: How will the lawyer navigate the lawsuits in addition to the eccentricities of all of the characters (a big one being Nikola Tesla)?

What the book lacks for me:

I find the writing to be flat. I think the content is interesting, but the language is plain and kind of boring. I’m thankful for the short chapters. The only character that is multi-dimensional, in my mind, is Tesla. Westinghouse and Edison are written to be two of the same bullheaded people. Agnes, the love interest, hasn’t really grown into anything different than she was in the first few sentences that introduced her.

This being said, I’ll still finish the book.

One of the podcasts I’m getting into this week is the Story Grid Podcast. Here is the description of the podcast on its website:

Helping you become a better writer.

Join Shawn Coyne, author of Story Grid and a top editor for 25+ years, and Tim Grahl, struggling writer, as they discuss the ins and outs of what makes a story great.

I enjoy it, but the big drawback is that the genre that Tim Grahl is writing in doesn’t appeal to me as a writer in any big way. Coyne has a name for the genre that I don’t remember, but think “The Hunger Games” and you’ll be close. However, the episodes about other topics, like “becoming pro as a writer” are informative and inspirational and the good sort of overwhelming.

Let me know your thoughts.

I hear: Pod Save America and Ane Brun


I don’t have anything funny or uplifting to say out the gate. My writer friend asked me to list my “happiness touchstones” and send them to her. I haven’t done it yet, but if I should decide to write them out, the list will contain any activity coupled with “while alone” or “when alone” or “while no one is touching me” or “in a dark and lonely corner.” I love my babies and they make me laugh, but shit.

I haven’t finished any books in the last few days. I’ve decided to take a break from consuming audiobooks because then I get uncomfortably off track with my podcast listening. Therefore, I probably won’t burn through as many books as I had.

The podcast I’m loving lately is Pod Save America. The hosts are three (or four? I can’t be sure) Obama speechwriters, and they are as wonderfully conversational as three (or four?) enraged Obama speechwriters can be when discussing the current political climate. It’s a funny podcast, if you still have it in you to laugh at anything that is happening nowadays. Most of the episodes run at about an hour, and they typically post two episodes per week.

I try to listen to a new album each week. I haven’t done this for a few weeks because I am still trying to get back into life as it used to be lived way back in April when all of the sicknesses hadn’t happened yet. This week I’m going to be getting into Ane Brun.

All righty. I’ll write at you next time.

I read: Quiet and On Being, and what else is up today

I think I should start a podcast called “The Introverted Mother” where I spend the 30 minutes of airtime locked in a small, dark closet with headphones on, sitting in silence. I could call it “work,” or “a creative project,” but really I’d be recharging, as they say. Would you listen?

My husband has the day off work and is doing house projects while our 21-month-old daughter stomps around and yells out for “nummies” from Mommy. Since the hospital stay and the traveling husband and the upset schedule, the littlest one has been nursing like a newborn. Unlike newborns, though, this one can lay herself across my lap and pull at my shirt while whispering “nummies now.”

I am “working” right now — yes, on business stuff, but also on finding some semblance of sanity while my messy office’s door is shut tight.

I recently started reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Man oh man am I an introvert. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I guess — although there seems to be. Cain argues that extroversion is much more highly valued (at least in America) than introversion as evidenced by the open work spaces and the encouragement to collaborate. She even discusses how extroversion is supported in elementary classrooms.

I consider myself an irritated introvert. I remember going to a leadership camp of sorts in high school and being disgusted by the jumping, hyper, balloon-gripping greeters at the entrance. When my dad saw them, he just laughed and said, “Have fun.” That was the same leadership conference where every single audience member was instructed to stand at the end of every single speech that was given and shout, “That was O for Outstanding!” while making an “O” shape with our arms. I didn’t do it. I also convinced some of the people in my group that it was impossible for every single performance of every single speech to be “outstanding.”

The podcast I picked to hear this week is On Being. I am two years behind, but I remember liking it. And it’s produced here in Minneapolis, so there.

Let me know in the comments what you think of things.

Perhaps I am back at it

I had a rough few weeks.
My husband was out of town, I have two babies, I got sick, etc., etc.
But, here I am.
Over the weekend I went to the conference “Writing the Novel & Crafting Your Career,” given by The Loft Literary Center. Sure, I haven’t written the novel yet, and sure, I am unsuccessful in getting myself into the habit of writing on any sort of regular basis, but I felt compelled to go and be surrounded by other writers. (Do I consider myself a writer? I don’t know. Not yet, maybe.)
I was inspired and simultaneously devastated. I knew I’d feel those feelings. One of the panelists I heard phrased it nicely — she had a lot of “overhead.” I have a lot of overhead. I have a full-time job (not in writing), I run my own practice (not in writing), I have two little kids, and my husband travels for work. I have a lot of overhead. What was devastating and deflating was to feel the excitement about what could be, some time, maybe, in the far-off future, but knowing that there isn’t any feasible way I’m going to get any kind of quality writing project done any time soon.
That same person was on the panel consisting of debut novelists, telling the audience about what their processes were in getting their novel written, getting an agent, getting it sold, and having it published. That person’s process took 14 years. You know what? That seems like a realistic timeline to me, actually. Fourteen years. Maybe I can do that. Should I put an alert on my Google calendar?
The podcast I’m featuring this week is The West Wing Weekly. I remember watching the show with my dad when it was airing. I love it, and have yet to finish the series. I like this podcast because it breaks down each episode with actors who were in it.

I hope to be back here again sooner rather than later.