Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Holiday Staycation

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Jack Frost nipping at your nose....

I wish it snowed here sometimes. Not enough to shovel, but enough to blanket the ground and send flurries twirling through the air past the windows. It's cleaner and more charming than rain. It takes a moment to melt and first it simply kisses your cheeks. Dainty snowflakes as light as feathers  shimmering past your window, past the dark silhouettes of the pine trees...

I was out sick last week and it POURED here.

 My view.

I could barely move in my flu ridden quarantine, but the only thing that made me cheerful at all was the Christmas tree and lights I put up the week before, so I shuffled out to the living room. The ruby, emerald and sapphire lights twinkled on the tree of heady pine boughs. The lights flickered off the glittering blue and white ornaments with, of course, Irish's Dalek front and center. With a strong inability to move, but a desire for coziness, I lit cinnamon and vanilla candles, and turned on the heater. I opened the window a crack so that I could hear the rain pounding the roof and I put on the Netflix Yule Log that crackled and popped in the background. I walked over to my bookshelf and spotted The Chamber of Secrets, a book I haven't read in over five years.

Now, normally, I start at the beginning, wish I was further in and then get bored around the 100th page. I've read the Harry Potter books so many times, I don't even want to see the Dursley's. I get enough of the beginning from the millions of times I've watched the films. But, the films are like a quick fix. When the films are over I feel incomplete, like when someone says "Here's a Thanksgiving sandwich!" but there's neither cranberry nor stuffing in it. Like, "Here's the shell of Thanksgiving."


Anyway, I was so excited to sit back and submerge myself in the magic. So I skipped ahead to The Burrow, and nestled in. I made it a good five chapters before my plague attacked and I fell asleep, wrapped in a Dr. Who blanket with my cat curled up purring by my side.

The only way it could have been cozier and more enjoyable, would've been if I wasn't extremely sick. At that point I couldn't keep water down and hadn't eaten in two days (you're welcome for that image). But even so, I felt lucky. Not to be sick, but to have some time alone to enjoy the season in peace and quiet. Sure, hot chocolate would've been great and the opportunity to move more than twice an hour, but I can't help but feel thankful that I got those precious few days to myself.

So now that I'm back at work (Where I'll be the next four weeks straight! *Waves*), I have a suggestion. If you have an extra day or two, I highly recommend doing what I did. Take a day off from work and do a Holiday Staycation ("Stay home" Vacation). Don't tell the kids (or bring them along but tell them the rules of the day), don't tell ANYONE, just take a day for yourself, light the tree, turn on the furnace or fireplace, make hot chocolate and ... Shepard's pie, and read ONLY your favorite chapters of Harry Potter. Maybe the first Christmas at Hogwarts, where Harry gets presents for the first time and see's the Great Hall lit up... Or when Harry spends a few weeks by himself at Diagon Alley in Prisoner of Azkaban... Only the best ones.

Remind yourself of what it was like to be a kid on the holidays, it's totally worth it. Give yourself a break from the madness and be at peace for a few hours. Because I'm sure as mistletoe planning to do it again next year.

All my love,

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Photographs, Harry Potter, and the Time I Went to Boston

It's bizarre, I can recall memories from my teenage years so vividly, before the glorious invention of the cell phone that took photos. Before the camera where you could see yourself before the photo was taken, painstakingly making sure your duck face was perfect. We called selfies, "Self Portraits." I had rolls and rolls of film from the camera I received for my 15th birthday, but I never had them printed. I forgot and time passed, and the film slowly disappeared. Perhaps they're in my childhood bedroom somewhere, hiding in the depths of the closet or under the bed.

One of my favorite memories was when I was fifteen, I had practiced ballet for ten years at that point and I was admitted to Boston Ballet's prestigious summer program. I was wait-listed first, and I found that to be an enormous insult, so when the acceptance letter came, I outright refused to go. My mom had other plans. I was sent to Boston for six weeks over my nine week summer. I thought it was my worst ever punishment. I was being sent across the country, away from my friends (!) a week after school got out (!!) for most of my summer vacation (!!!).  My summer was ruined. But I recall such great things from that time. My mom was right, and I was a pouty little brat. I was given an enormous gift, and I didn't want to go.

The night before I left on my 6am flight to Boston University (who was putting us up), I stayed up until 11:30pm, and forced my brother to drive me downtown to Barnes and Noble. The fifth Harry Potter book was coming out and this was my compromise, if I was going, I was not going without that book. If I didn't get the book at midnight I didn't know how long I'd have to wait as it would be sold out EVERYWHERE.

I stayed up all night reading and we left for the airport at 3am.

Before I share what I'm going to share next, the reason I bring this story up, is because this trip played a large role in shaping who I am today. At the time, I had no idea the impact it would have on me.

My first week in Boston, I took classes from 10am until 4pm every day. By the second week, I was practicing triple pirouette's in point shoes, where up until that point I'd never been able to accomplish a double pirouette, let alone a land a triple gracefully. But I figured it out. I'd perfected it! I landed four in a row!

As I was practicing my masterful pirouettes, realizing I'd made the right choice and my life would be determined by this new talent, (and now I'd definitely get a lead *tutu* wearing roll in the Nutcracker later that year) -- When my overconfidence attacked me and I fell. I turned my ankle and when I hit the ground I thought I'd be sick. I couldn't stand and had to scoot myself below the ballet barre to try to recoup. No one noticed at first.

Then someone asked if I was okay and I couldn't speak. My vision had gone black and I was dizzy. Three of my friends grabbed me under the shoulders and hauled me off to the hospital. It was the worst sprained ankle my doctor had ever seen and I had a stress fracture in my foot. I wouldn't be dancing the next four weeks of what was left of the five week program. I was given a boot and told to heal and return for physical therapy. It was a waste. I was a disappointment, and I couldn't believe I'd ruined my amazing opportunity. My goal was to be the Snow Queen Senior year! And now that goal was killed before my eyes.

Suddenly I was stuck in an unknown city with nothing to do. I was supposed to attend the ballet classes and watch, but the walk to the school was almost a half hour, which doesn't exactly induce healing. So I stayed back in the dorms and read. I finished Harry Potter, ( which, by the way, Sirius was COMPETELY ruined for me when my roommate mentioned *someone* died in the fifth book. Impatient and horrified ME flipped to the middle, saw who it was and threw the book away from me in rage. And then I cried), and spent all the money my parents had given me for the trip on books and bagels (with jalapeno cream cheese) from the Barnes in Noble around the corner.

I bought at least twenty books over the next four weeks. I read a ton of Francesca Lia Block (Weetzie Bat & Necklace of Kisses) and the entire "Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging" series. I wandered the shelves for hours by myself, picking out my favorite covers and sitting cross legged on the carpet of Barnes and Noble. I'd sit and read pages and pages of each book before I'd make a decision  and hobble back to the University dorms. There, I'd sit on my over-sized windowsill on the 4th floor with the window wide open, listening to Jimmy Eat World's "Sweetness" on repeat, and gazing down at the courtyard while thunderstorms raged overhead. I fell in love with the summer rain and lightning.

It was one of those defining life moments that shapes you into the person you'll become later in life. I read and read and read, staying up late at night with packages of mac and cheese and a flashlight.

I didn't know what I was going to do with my life. I was fifteen. But I didn't return to my ballet school that fall.

All my love,

Monday, October 31, 2016

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cover Reveal!

So what happens when you have no plans for a cover to your short fiction series, but then a friend is inspired and creates one for you?!

Why you use it wherever you can and gush nonstop about her talent, of course!
Presenting the in-progress cover by the amazingly talented, generous, and kind, Lana Pecherczyk, who for reasons unknown, found this gal's series something worth looking at. <3

All my love,

Monday, September 26, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

Siblings & San Francisco: A Mess of Memories

As a kid I hated San Francisco. Eight year old me would be SO disappointed that I moved here. I adored New York and spent my childhood begging to move there, but San Francisco? No. It was an hour drive away, it was ALWAYS freezing and windy, and everything was too expensive to buy.  The only times I couldn't bow out and was forced to go, was to attend a Broadway show or go Christmas shopping. I would have happily backed out. It wasn't worth the drive to me. Walking down the street in Union Square window shopping was my idea of the WORST day ever, and often I would convince my parents to let me stay at my best friend's house where we'd swim and play Mario all day instead. I, quite simply, hated this town.

But I think it had a lot to do with growing up as the youngest of four. When all six of us went to San Francisco, my opinion and what I wanted to do that day was at the very bottom of the list. No one cared if I wanted to go to Build-A-Bear, because I wasn't going to buy one anyway, and the Disney Store was actively avoided at all costs. So my first interactions with my current windy town was trudging for hours, shivering, and following my siblings or parents around.

Not that I didn't like having siblings, but when you're 7, 8, or 9, something simple can totally throw you. For example, every year we went on some sort of trip, either to Tahoe to go skiing or a camp ground that for some unknown reason was hours and hours away, even though we could literally have camped a few miles from home. One Christmas, all of my siblings asked for portable CD players. I didn't know that I needed one at the time, but that Christmas ruined every family trip that year. Instead of playing games in the cars, all three of my mute siblings sat staring out the window, listening to their music and ignoring me. Every trip that year, I played with my stuffed animals and listened to NPR or whatever awful AM station my dad put the radio on, FOR HOURS. After a LOT of prodding, my sister let me listen to one song on her CD player, an hour, the rest of the trip and I was SO thankful. Once she didn't even notice I'd listened to two.

But I never made that mistake again and the following year I too had a portable CD player to eat an entire pack of batteries over the course of a trip.

Looking back it was a little mean. Not my sneaking an extra song, but the situation in general. Siblings force you to learn at a very young age that you aren't special. I don't intend for this to sound like a pity party, I mean, I learned young that life wasn't fair, and that I needed to fight tooth and nail for what I wanted. I heard everyone tell me that what I could and couldn't accomplish. What we couldn't afford. Which dreams were worth following. "Can't" and "No" were commonly used when it came to my passions. Instead I was told to follow the passions that were convenient.

Luckily, my mom collected books, and there were extra notepads lying around the house (extra school supplies because of siblings), so my affinity for writing was convenient and under lock down. No one knew I liked to write and I made sure to keep it that way. In fact, my mom only came across the book I wrote when I was 13 (4 notepads of cursive, hidden oh-so-carefully under my bed) when I moved out of the house for college. She sent me a photo of the cover and I told her never to read. It really was terrible. She probably tried to read it but couldn't understand it a few pages in. (My handwriting is awful.)

But I digress, I told you those stories to tell you this story about my mean older sister: When she was 13 and I was 10, she bought the brand new Goo Goo Dolls CD to listen to on her fancy handheld CD player. She played "Iris" over and over again FOR HOURS with headphones in, and she would sing along. A few weeks later, I knew ALL of the lyrics to Iris, and I had never once heard the song. Not once had she let me hear it. My sister found this hilarious.

When she finally let me listen to "Iris", I thought it was the best song I'd ever heard in my life. A month or two later it was on every radio station and it became more commonly known as, Overplayed.

So the point of this story is that my sister is a jerk.

But as with most siblings, you become much closer with age. Through every ridiculous fight, I remember my mom telling us how thankful we'd be to have each other when we were older. We thought my mom was crazy and stuck our tongues out at each other, but now, as usual, Mom was completely right. That mean girl that laughed hysterically when I sang along to Iris, is now a mother to a beautiful baby boy and my best friend.

So while having siblings as a kid was a complete nightmare and I hated their guts, I can't imagine the world without them.

And maybe, my hatred of San Francisco as a child, was what allowed me to move here when I was older.

Maybe I wasn't ready for the big city then.

All my love,

Monday, July 11, 2016

And Now For Something Completely Different . . .

Life in San Francisco is bizarre. There are so many things to remember and it isn't the fairytale New York and London appear on the outside. San Francisco is dirty. It's grimy and cold and windy. It's a smorgasbord of people from hundreds of different cultures all squished together into a 7x7 mile box.

The neighborhoods are different worlds. I live in the Sunset, (which sounds much prettier than it actually is: "Sunset" is more an inside joke for, "You'll never see the sun again when you move here. HAHA! SUCKER!"), where I am surrounded by Asian restaurants from different regions of China, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indian cuisine -- all within four blocks of my little world. But Mexican and Italian? Forget it. Make it at home or wait until you can travel to North Beach or the Mission.

I think the reason San Francisco is less "magical" and more "grit" is because the history only goes back a couple hundred years, yet due to it's distance from the beach, there are already ruins. Seriously, Lands End used to host an indoor, community, salt-water pool called Sutro Baths, that I am so jealous no longer exists. I mean, look at this:

I'll have you know, there was a view of the ocean out those windows.

But in 1966 it burned down and now it looks like this:


It's almost eerie there now. No one died in the fire, so it's not like there is some cool ghost story to go along with it, instead it just feels... Sad. Not beautiful, where the ruins of temples burned down so long ago you can't believe it still exists. The Sutro Baths burned down recently, and yet the evidence is almost gone.

I feel like a lot of San Francisco just feels... Lost. As though it was abandoned. It had all of these beautiful landmarks that were slowly stolen by the acidic environment and big money...

On living here, however... I have different opinions.

Here are 8 things I've noticed during my many moons here:

1. Do not make eye contact with strangers. You have no clue who is going to smile and who will start screaming "What are you lookin' at, **********?" By avoiding eye contact, you avoid most problems. The street is not a place to make friends. The street is where you show off your RBF.

2. Meals. It's no longer a question of: Chicken, beef or fish. The way you choose meals is based on
what type of cuisine you want. So before I moved, it was something like: Taco Bell or Applebees. In SF everything is available and either within walking distance or delivers. So your choices are closer to: Greek, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Spanish, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, fancy American, trashy American.
Do you want pizza, tacos, sandwiches, salads, soup, gyros, spring rolls, sushi or tapas? Nothing is simple or easy, and if you think you have problems choosing what to eat for dinner now, you have NO IDEA until it's all at your fingertips and everything sounds disgusting.

All of those things sound awful, I will survive on hummus and pita.

3. Your neighborhood becomes your world. Choose wisely. I have a friend who lives on the other side of Golden Gate Park that I've known since kindergarten that I  have literally hung out with *once* since she moved here four years ago. You will find and make friends with your neighbors, and after that it gets pretty darn lazy. Making friends outside of your neighborhood is just bad planning. Your neighborhood becomes your world because the amount of effort it takes to drive and park (30 min), bus it a half a mile (45 minutes and 2 buses), or walk across the park (45 minutes). At which point, it's faster to just take Uber, but then is your friend worth $16 just to meet for a beer that will inevitably be $6-10/each? God forbid you want a cocktail. That's an hour of traveling and $60 just to hang out for a couple hours.

4. Day drinking is a religion. I've been around the country and it's insane how common it is in most cities to leave for a party at 9pm. Which blows my MIND! I remember in college thinking that arriving at a party before 10pm was just stupid, (even though you'd only hang out until 1am or 2am, so it just seems like poor planning). In this town, you meet up at 5pm-6pm, and then you drink until around 11pm. Then everyone goes home, why? Because a champagne brunch the next day is far more exciting and you don't have to be in a sketch neighborhood late at night hunting down one of the last taxi's downtown. You start early and you end early. I don't know a single friend that would leave the house after 11pm, unless it was to meet up with friends at the pub around the corner. You do not travel late at night.  

5. Rent is absurd. If you can't find common ground with someone, as opposed to talking about the consistently foggy weather, discussing rent is an easy solution. Also, remember how its $60 min to meet friends in a different neighborhood for drinks? Now remember, your rent is $2000/month for your studio apartment. If you had zero bills, that would mean you could go out, but it looks like, you have about $100 left after rent and bills. So... You aren't leaving your neighborhood.

6. It's COLD. IT'S SO, SO COLD. This morning, in icey cold July, it gets to a high of about 70* during the day, and then back down to 50* at night. Now, that would be all fine and dandy, except for the artic winds that blow at all hours of the day. So that 70* feel like 50* and that 50* feels like 30*. If you even bring shorts to this town, I will tap my friend on the shoulder, point you out and we'll laugh at the tourist who didn't believe the weather. Just like Indian summers in NYC, in San Francisco, bring jacket or a coat year round. You may not need it at 1pm, but at 4pm you will be grateful we had this talk. Speaking of which, people with tan's look like carrots in the fog.

Sidebar: When I used to work across the bay, it would be 90* in Alameda, and then I'd drive home at 4pm through this:
Have you ever seen/read The Mist by Stephen King?

7. People are very friendly (except on the street. If they are friendly on the street, they want something). When you head in off the streets and actually sit down in a bar or restaurant, painstakingly avoiding hipsters and over-crowded tourists attractions, you will find some truly amazing people. San Franciscan's are open and come from all different walks of life. You can sit down with anyone and find out when they first moved here, why they decided it was their city and learn all about where they came from. They're the people you meet up with by just showing up at your favorite watering hole because that's where they go too. You may not find them right away, (it isn't easy to make friends), but when you do find them, they become your family.

8. You know how I said San Francisco isn't a fairytale? Okay, well maybe that was a bit of a lie, because there are parts of San Francisco that are *exactly* a fairytale. 

Go to the Financial District during December when they have the Christmas lights up and go ice skating by the Ferry Building. 

Golden Gate park has trees from all over the world that were transplanted. There is the Botanical Garden, the Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden, bison, a lake with a waterfall and ducks, and even a Carousel. Even something as simple as walking around my neighborhood to pick up groceries has the feel of a small European town.

So while San Francisco is frigid, cold, and dark -- It is also cozy. Some summer days I can't wait to break away from the heat and curl up with my cat, a blanket, tea, and the heater on a high, to read.

But today is not one of those days. I'm cold and I hate everyone with a tan.

All my love,

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sunshine Blog Interview

The Sunshine Blog has been making the rounds on Twitter, so I suppose it was only a matter of time until I was nominated. The lovely L.M. Bryski nominated me last Friday so here I am tackling all eleven questions today! And soon I'll be harassing more people to join in the fun!
So here are the rules to The Sunshine Blog:
  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger
  • Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate up to eleven wonderful bloggers and write eleven (possibly fiendish) questions for them to answer.

Without further ado, here are the TEN questions bestowed upon me by L.M. (I don't know if there is a bonus question she's adding later, but I already have anxiety . . . Where is the 11th question L.M.?! Is it a riddle?)


Well as much as I’d like to type “Harry Potter” right here, I feel like that would be sad and cliche. So instead,  “Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging,” by Louise Rennison. Georgia is my spirit animal. It’s one of the best book series for teens that I adored when I was younger. Georgia is as cheeky and easily mortified as Bridget Jones; she made me laugh at things I thought I'd cry about.

Being a teen is hard.


If I could leave for a month, it would be a toss up between Costa Rica and Paris. 

I’ve never been to Paris but would probably die if I could write while sitting in a street café. It just isn't the same without cobblestones.

Costa Rica is my happy place. So much wildlife. Loud howler monkeys in the trees around the house, killer food, rainstorms in the summer, hot winters, stunning views and you can go ziplining in a cloud forest! A CLOUD FOREST!


My childhood dream was to be an author. Then I was told that would never take me anywhere and was a waste of time, so I gave up and decided I wanted to be Editor in Chief of a trashy magazine.
The second one didn't quite pan out. :P


FOOD!! Such a tough one! So on our fancy date, L.M., I’d take you an unnecessarily expensive Californian seafood restaurant and we'd try something like, bacon-wrapped filet mignon and crab cakes with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. 

But my favorite food, hands down, is Indian food. I could eat it every day for a week if I my stomach would let me. I recommend Chicken Tikka Masala (common, but I have an addiction to feed. It's a spicy tomato cream sauce), palak paneer (spinach and cheese, the name varies between restaurants) and veggie korma... And papadams and pakoras and... Forget it. Just go to a buffet and try everything! 


I can do coffee art. Or I used to be able to do coffee art. It's been a while since I worked in a coffee shop but I was best at making hearts in the foam.


Black felt tip pen. My handwriting gets all wonky with a ball point. I blame the calligraphy classes I never completed.


J.K. Rowling. Always and forever. She's been my hero since I was ten years old when I wrote a seven page report on her. She's the only person that I think I would cry if I met.


Nicknames! Haha! 

As a kid my dad called me Lari (Larry), which might be the weirdest one. My dad has a penchant for giving out odd nicknames. My best friend calls me Lar. (Lah-r)
More recently it's Elbie and my personal favorite, Elle Bee. Because I'm a bumblebee. 😉

You know, now that I think of it, when I told my dad my pen name he called me, “Pound” for a week. So that might be the weirdest one.


I am not a pancake person. I don't like sugar/syrup in the morning, it makes me nauseous. So I'll take bacon and eggs and toast, or my favorite brunch, Eggs Benedict, OR if we're really lucky and in the right area, an Irish fry!


And this is my favorite meme, because it makes everyone so mad.


I recieved an 11th question!


I was absolutely Marie Atoinette in a previous life. She held lavish parties, wore spectacular hats and stayed up until dawn playing poker.

We'll just go ahead and ignore the beheading. I guess time will tell.


Shannon Noel Brady: https://snbradywriter.wordpress.com/
Dave S. Koster: https://onwritingdragons.com/
Richard "Imasillypirate" : https://imasillypirate.wordpress.com/
Nicole Wilson: http://www.nicolewilsonauthor.com/blog/

Here are your questions eleven:

1.       What is your favorite book? (If you have 16, just name the 1st that pops into your head)

2.       Did you go to college? What was your major? ( Alternate question: Did you always enjoy writing, or did it come out of left field?)

3.       What Hogwarts House have you been sorted into?

4.       What was the first chapter book you read?

5.       What is the silliest nickname you’ve received?

6.       Where do you want to escape to?

7.       Take me on your ideal date.

8.       What was your favorite game to play as a child? (I will accept a board game, but I will be disappointed.)

9.       If you could own any animal and not deal with the consequences (ie: it won’t eat you, it now eats grass), what would you own and why?

10.    Your favorite TV show?

11.   If you could do anything knowing you would not fail, what would you do? Why?

Cheers and have a happy Monday!

All my love,

Friday, June 10, 2016

Love Triangles in YA, A Rant

*Rant Warning*


Especially not the exact same love triangle vomited day in day out. It's never one girl likes a boy, and then the other boy likes her and the girl isn't sure. No, no, recently every single movie/book to come out has a love triangle where the girl is in love with both equally and it makes me insane.

Here are some suggestions for not terrible love triangles:
The girl likes ONE boy, but not the other.
The girl likes one boy, but the boy doesn't like her back. Another boy is in love with her that she doesn't care about.
The girl likes two boys, but neither like her back.

There are three corners to a triangle. Which means - if I remember anything about math permutations -  there are nine different possible outcomes to a love triangle. I know, this may be difficult to absorb.

But L.B., you mutter, when all the boys love one girl, it *sells*!

How about none of the boys like the girl and its *realistic*. That's what I want to see in a book.

What continues to conflict me, is why are they always exactly the same?

Let's discuss "The Fifth Wave." A novel so good, it became a film. A novel so good, and a backstory so interesting, IT DIDN'T NEED A LOVE INTEREST AT ALL.

But I digress. The story starts with a perfectly good love interest, and then the author throws in some super cute eye candy halfway through the book/movie (boovie?) just to confuse the MC -- I groaned. I even wanted to see the cute guy, he was cuter than the main love interest (IMHO), but was wholly unnecessary.

I told you.

This boovie didn't need a love interest at all. I mean, I was happy there was one, everyone likes eye candy, but come ON. It was so good until then. Creepy, believable Nazi-style aliens which are extra terrifying because you never actually see the alien as they inhabit human bodies (No bad CGI!!).


Yet here we have another love interest tacked on top like an extra cherry on your sundae. You aren't even going to eat the first one. Why is the second there?

The first one is just for color anyway. No one likes maraschino cherries.

If you want another guy to confuse your MC, make him EVIL.

Like this guy.

Don't make him adorable and perfect! Alternatively, he was a bad guy but now is going to be a good guy because this is a YA and abusive behavior doesn't happen in YA novels because even the bad guys are good guys because the writer made them that way.


Of course, I know exactly what you're doing. You're copying a recipe that has worked for so many others. You want your two main boy-toys to have a Team Edward vs. Team Jacob following.

But you know what? It's tired. Just because you see something sell doesn't mean you should copy that to sell. It really means that you should avoid that topic entirely because it's already been done. Unless you have a seriously original idea, you're joining a crowd and by the time your story is written and in the public's view, the crowd won't care anymore.


Since I'm ranting, I'm also going to spin off topic: Do you know what else is tired? Telling people the book you've just put out is "Book One of *Random Title* Series."

Your reader hasn't even decided if they like your writing at all, maybe they aren't ready for that kind of commitment? Maybe they want one satisfying book without knowing that they will be left wanting more?

But the biggest pet peeve of mine is not "a three part series'" altogether, but when you've decided to have a "series" but really you're stretching one story into three books. Like how Hollywood has chosen to ruin the last book of every series by splitting it into two movies that come out a year apart. If you start talking about a war in book one, I'm gonna be really mad to discover that war isn't coming until book three. Like, we're done, mad.

Every book in a series should stand alone. Maybe don't bring up the war happening in book three in book one, and focus on building on characters hatred for each other.

You can make the story go any direction  you want, why copy another author?

Be yourself. Be weird. No one else writes like you, so don't write like anyone else.

Don't copy a recipe unless you're going to improve upon that recipe. Like cronuts.

All right, stepping down off my soap box. Apologies for the run-on sentences.

All my love,

Friday, May 20, 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

"Tiny and the Tempest" News

Hi all!

First off, I'm extremely excited to announce that I have reached 3000 twitter followers!

*The crowd goes wild*

Second, it's been a while since I've posted a blog post (aka: rant) or recipe, but I rather like the direction it's going now: Short stories that reflect my writing persona. And now because of the fun I've had creating the stories, I've decided to turn "Tiny and the Tempest" into a small series. I expect to have the next short out in a week or two, and no, I haven't decided on the title. A couple ideas are competing.

This idea for a free short series on my blog is both for entertainment purposes, and because I'm rather excited to flesh out the character. I figure, who isn't the *tiniest* bit curious about Sparrow?

Aren't you?

Unfortunately, I wanted to pre-emptively answer this question: Tiny will not be a part of the series. As I mention at the end of TATT, Tiny knows she won't see her friend again. I originally wrote from Tiny's perspective because I felt it was more exciting to first meet Sparrow through the eyes of her best friend. Now I will be branching off to Sparrow's POV.

The series will follow Sparrow as she grows up, the twist and turns of her life as she evolves and becomes the adult we meet later. At this point, I am thinking it may be something like 8-12 short stories, and while this is going on, I won't have many posts or recipes up for you all to enjoy, so you're stuck eating cup a noodle and reading about writing elsewhere.

Now, if you have ideas for the name of Sparrow's series, I am very open to suggestions. ;)

Feel free to comment below!

All my love,

Monday, April 18, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fiction Short: Time

The old man sat in his wooden rocking chair by the window, watching the yellow and red leaves fall to the grass. Dying leaves from the tree he used to climb as a boy onto grass that hadn't been mowed since the boy next door moved across town. That was ages ago.

The old man watched two cars pass by, one green and then blue. He looked over at the television where the nob had broken off. The remote was long ago lost somewhere in the house. The last time he lost the remote he found it in the freezer a month later. Lord knows what he did with it this time. He watched as a stormy grey cloud covered the sun, and glanced down at his withered hands. A hopelessness engulfed him and when a loose tear pricked his right eye, he knew what he needed to do.

He hobbled across the landing of his house and began his hike the up the staircase. He hadn't been up the stairs in long enough that his knees shook unsteadily like trees in an earthquake, his climb ever harder by the heaviness of his chest. It felt like a lead weight had been placed over his heart, a painful reminder whenever a ray of happiness would shine through. But the old man was determined now to get to the top. His grip had weakened with age on both his wooden cane and the railing. He thought of when he was a young child and how he had run up and down these same stairs, in fact, he had slid down this railing and even watched his nephews run up and down the stairs. Aches and pains flowed through his slightly hunched back, reminding him why he hadn't climbed the stairs in so long.

Halfway up the old man turned and looked down the staircase. It would be so easy to fall from up here, he thought, clutching harder to the railing. He wondered if he made it to the top, if he would be able to make it back down, but a clock chiming downstairs pressed him onward. His breath was heavy, each step a difficult hurdle for his sore legs. Just five left now, three, two...

When he reached the top his lungs were trying to pump oxygen into his blood like a pipe spitting water from an empty reservoir. It felt like the oxygen would never come. Those fifteen stairs stuck pins and needles in his gout-seized knees, and even now at the top, he shook in fear of falling. He turned and glanced at the chair by the landing and considered sitting, but if he sat down now, he didn't think he'd be able to stand again.

He shuffled into what had been their bedroom. Everything lay just as she left it, not a paintbrush nor a shirt out of place. He glanced around the room, took a deep breath and her perfume still clung to the dusty air. The sharp pain in his heart twisted, forcing him to hunch over and gasp for air. He felt he was drowning as waves of grief broke over him, one by one they pounded against him, suffocating him.

He grabbed the doorway for support and took two deep breaths, before he hobbled across the room to the closet and pulled out a disintegrating shoe box. A small smile escaped him as he remembered when he had first purchased the shoes that were sold in it: Black shiny loafers with laces. The ones he had worn to his wedding. He walked over to the window and opened it, allowing a slight breeze to enter the dust filled room. He slowly sat down at her vanity, checking out her glass figurines, when he noticed the nearly empty bottle of Chanel No5. Concern overshadowed his face like dark thunderclouds as he struggled to stand up, hobbled a few steps over to close the window, and then sprayed the perfume around him, not caring if it fell on him or if he smelled like her. He never wanted the smell to fade.

Placing the shoebox on the vanity, one of the figurines clinked against her mirror and its arm broke off. He picked up the arm, noticing the clean break in the glass that rendered the clear glass opaque. He set the arm back down and frowned at his clumsiness. He opened the shoebox and fingered through letters written on stationary in a variety of colors. He pushed aside old stained stationary, brown paper from birthday cards, pink valentines, red anniversaries, until he pulled one out that looked the least aged but the most worn. The fold had created a small rip in the page as it had been read over and over again.

The old man trembled as he gently opened the letter, careful not to rip the crease any further. He removed his reading glasses from his front pocket and placed them on the bridge of his nose.

"My Dearest Henry,

It will not be long now until I leave you behind. Not out of want, but out of necessity. My body is failing and I can't hold on much longer. The thought of being without you breaks my heart, but God is calling me, and he does not stop his call for anything. Not even a love as strong as ours. The thought of being apart leaves me gasping for breath, but my dearest love, while my body is giving up, my love for you grows ever stronger. I will always be with you, my angel, my heart. To me you are as immortal as time itself.

Our love persisted and grew through pain and joy. We got used to each other, we read each others minds and grew old together. We were the lucky ones. I will be waiting for you when it's your turn.

I can't imagine you grieving me, dearest. Please live on. Bring your family over for meals, fill this old house with people, and please take care of my sister, June will never be as strong as you.

My deepest love and devotion.

Yours forever,

Henry wiped the tears from his eyes and rubbed his damp fingers on his pants. The curve of Sarah's handwriting and the scent of her perfume whisked him away to a time before she had died. He read the letter in her voice, it was the only way to remember it. He had tried so very hard to take her advice, but the happy moments after her passing were always met with equal suffering. How could he go on living happily without her? She was everything.

Henry put the box back in the closet, but not before retrieving a brown leather suitcase. He tossed it on the bed and inside he gently placed the nearly empty bottle of perfume in a side pocket with the last letter. Henry hobbled out to the landing before deciding to toss the suitcase over the ledge, where it landed on the wooden floor with a loud thud.

Henry began his rough trek down the godforsaken staircase, each step a painful reminder of age, and when he reached the bottom he used his handkerchief to wipe his brow. Looking back up at the second floor, Henry felt the melancholy of loneliness dissipate like a frost covered flower warmed by the sun on a spring morning.

He picked up the suitcase, and brought it into the living room where his clothes were piled high on the couch. He filled the suitcase and took one last look at the arm chair he had slept in the past six months. Lifting his hat off of the coat rack, Henry turned and looked around at his old house. Memories flooded his mind of all of his dogs growing up, his nephews as children running through the halls, and Sarah calling his name from the kitchen, announcing dinner was served.

Henry smiled at the memories, lost in thought before he picked up a blank envelope from the windowsill. He opened it and checked the boarding passes, confirming they set sail in a few hours. In a week they would be in Costa Rica.

Henry looked up at his home for the last time, climbed into his car, and drove across town. He turned down the windows and turned up the music in his car, allowing Vivaldi's "Spring" to escape from the speakers back into nature. He passed his coffee shop, his laundromat, the shop where he picked up his bagels and his favorite burger joint. The sign for the burger shop was peeling and water marked and had been in need of being replaced for many years, but they still made the best burger in town, and it was the only place Sarah would eat French fries. Henry thought of Sarah and smiled. Blue birds flew in the air, barely keeping pace with the car, but Henry envisioned they were trying to race him, and felt a distinct competitive annoyance that they didn't have to stop at stop signs.

When he finally pulled up to June's cheerful yellow house he beeped his horn twice, scaring the wits out of the neighbor's cat. June appeared in the doorway in a flowing blue dress, with an oversized sun hat covering her greying dandelion hair. Henry pryed himself out of the car to help June with her luggage before he bent over to kiss her cheek. June was bashful as she shuffled down to the car with the help of Henry's arm and sat down in the passenger side.

"Do you think we're ready?" June asked after Henry sat down, wringing her hands in her lap, she looked up at him nervously.

Henry clasped her hand in his, looked deep into her eyes and said, "Of course we are. It's the beginning of the rest of our lives."

Henry turned over the engine, looked over at June who smiled, and the pair took off down the highway with the freedom of teenagers on a summer's eve; no responsibility could ever catch them now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Balance Your Action with Humor

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine the other day about scary war scenes in fantasies and we agreed that some of the funniest (< --- yeah, I did it) scenes come out of the scariest moments. When drama has reached an all time high and there is a break for humor, (think, the Hobbits in LOTR, or Iron Man - In general) it makes it all more exciting.

You get a chance to relieve your anxiety by laughter, and you laugh harder for it.

One of my favorite scenes in a super hero movie is this:

This scenes embodies my point. This is the turning point in The Avengers, when no one can beat Loki and then the Hulk comes in and BAM. Problem solved. This moment is forever immortalized by gifs and articles, and it was a genius moment for the writers.

Breaking down the stress of a battle scene with humor is a winning combination. 

Anxiety can be very crushing, so while I love thrillers, I can't handle horror films. ESPECIALLY about ghosts. I am such a 'fraidy cat, I don't need to give my imagination anything else to work with, and I'm babbling...

Giving action a moment of comedy, gives your reader's nerves a chance to relax, and honestly, it draws me ever further into the moment. I get to chuckle away my stress and then dive back in to this horrifying or exciting scene.

Another example of this is Mrs. Weasley's ICONIC, "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"
A scene that every person who has ever read HP knows, and everyone who has ever seen the final film pretends to understand. It's a precious moment where you laugh in shock and internally you cheer. You get chills and you feel the currents changing...

That's really all I have to say about that. I consider it far more effective to build stakes and stakes and stakes, then rip it all apart by one madman. This combination is the reason that Deadpool has become a worldwide phenomenon. People LOVE dark action comedy... and I feel like I'm revealing something that I shouldn't... Like when you write a five star review for your favorite restaurant and then the next time you go there it's twice the price and there's no reservations. Which is why I've stopped writing five star reviews all together...


You know what? Ignore this entire blog post. Action comedies are terrible. Don't write them.

All my love,

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


When it comes to punctuation the first thing that crosses my mind is Ron Burgundy.

The actual definition of punctuation is boring and gives me Ron Burgundy's exact face as I read it: "The use of spacing, conventional signs, and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and the correct reading, both silently and aloud, of handwritten and printed texts."


Punctuation is something that you rarely think about until it slams you in the face by someone ELSE's writing. Punctuation is the undercurrent of writing. It speaks volumes. It is the only way to convey your personality. It tells the reader how you speak, or, what voice you are using to tell the story.

An angry mother won't sound the same as an angry C.E.O. and the only way to make that clear is through punctuation. Even if the mother and C.E.O. are the same person, mom isn't going to yell at her kid the same way as her employee.

For another work example, the amount of exclamation points used in formal writing is directly proportional to how happy an office is. It doesn't matter if it's over the top. Happy breeds happy. Exclamation points = Happy.

Want some passive aggressive people? Only use periods. You will STIR the pot! No one knows how to take a flat period, so they will insert how they think you feel about it. You know a recipe for disaster? When people start to read into what you say and find additional meanings:

Why aren't they more excited to talk to me? Did I offend them? What were my last five texts? Did I sound annoyed? Why wouldn't they use an exclamation point about meeting me for lunch? Maybe they don't even want to go. Maybe they are just doing this as a favor so they can ignore me for another month.... Maybe they actually hate me.

Well, if they were to hear your spiral of self consciousness, they probably would hate you.

But what about other forms of punctuation?

Everyone knows someone who writes in all caps. I don't understand why they do it, but I assume it's because they don't know how to capitalize, so they decided to blanket capitalize so no one can say they're wrong.


This is my last Anchorman gif, I swear.

Another version of ALL CAPS FOREVER is the Caps For The First Letter Of Every Word. This One Baffles Me. I Can't Even Begin To Imagine The Purpose Of This Or How It's Supposed To Make Me Feel.

What I do know? My ring finger now hurts from repeatedly pressing the shift key.

Now as for those who are familiar with MY writing, I am wonderful at overusing ellipses and dashes. Which can make me sound like... I can't make up... my mind.... on what to say next... and also... leaves all other forms of punctuation obsolete.

Just use ellipses and you never need learn grammar!

My English teachers would be so proud.

I try not over use these two in my writing, (ever since I was made very aware of it by a good friend), but sometimes the characters are interrupting each other! My characters can be very rude and refuse to let one another finish a sentence or even -- cut them off completely without listening!

But I digress, arguing a personal point about grammar is about as useful as convincing a teenage girl that she won't marry her high school sweetheart (or a vampire, for that matter).

I lied.

However, grammar and communication are changing constantly as a whole.

One thing that is changing the grammar landscape quickly is texting. Grammar is basically unnecessary in text form. As this article states, just placing A PERIOD at the end of a texted sentence, makes you seem insincere. The only thing that helps? Well of course, exclamation points and emoticons, or no punctuation at all. That's right, having no punctuation was better received than ending a text with a period. Therefore, emoticons (or emojis) truly are a gift to the texting generation. Otherwise we all sound like... Kristen Stewart looks....

"Thrilled to be here, Jeff."
This doesn't even begin to delve into the horror that is a "K" response to a text. 

We are in the age of a technological revolution. This is a revolution in grammar. The only way to keep the tone and personality of our speedy less-than-a-sentence-interactions is to use emoticons to clarify our emotional responses. The speed at which we send and receive information is so obscene that we need little smiley faces to clarify what on EARTH we are talking about and decipher how we feel about it.

But don't worry, the tech revolution won't kill grammar. Just like the e-book didn't kill the paperback.

It reformed it.

Punctuation will always be relevant because we aren't going to get rid of books or newspapers. No matter how many times old timey neighbor Herbert shakes his cane at you to get off his lawn, and complains loudly that kids these days don't read books and in the future everyone will be on the interwebs and speaking with only consonants - He's wrong.

What we need to recognize is how the emoticon and overuse of punctuation in texting can benefit our interpersonal communication. The emoticon is a gift to the tech generation.

Use the emoticon wisely, and when you need grammar remember:

Truer words have never been spoken.

All my love,

Friday, January 29, 2016

Food Daydream #6: Torte de Frango: Brazilian Chicken Pie

I'm not a big sugar person. I like sugar in my coffee and tea and that's about it. I am extremely picky and if you offered me a bowl of candy, unless I'm first meeting you and trying to be polite, you'd get this sort of look:

"I'm good."
One sweet thing I am a BIG fan of is pie. Berry pie, apple pie, chocolate pie -- ALL THE PIES. And so ends my sugar relationship. (I am unapologetically married to salt.)
But, one thing that is far superior to dessert pie? Meat filled HAND pies.
Or as the Irish call'em pasties.
I could eat them everyday, I love those buttery pasties so much it hurts. So imagine my surprise and thrilled excitement when my Brazilian roommate in college told me she had a recipe for a Brazilian meat pie....

Enter: Torte de Frango AKA Chicken pie.

Now first off, Brazilian food has it's own unique flavor. It sings the same tune as most South American dishes: Black beans and rice, but then brings in some crazy ideas. There are two dishes I know from my Brazilian roommate in college. One is a delicious black bean and sausage stew I may post sometime only it takes a million years slaving over a hot stove to cook, and then this delightful recipe.

This pie is so different from any pie I've ever made or eaten. Example? It uses 12 TBSP of flour. That's it. No cups. The batter is oily and more liquid-y than pancake batter. It seems like it could never firm up at all, let alone transform into pie. Another thing about this pie is the crazy amount of liquid. It uses 1 1/2 cups of milk, 1 cup of olive oil and 3 eggs. Again, this is for 12 TABLESPOONS OF FLOUR! I was extremely nervous the first time I made it because of that. I re-read the recipe 5 times because I couldn't believe it.

"Those things together do not make pie."
The recipe is scary. It's unusual and new and it makes one of the easiest and best darn chicken pies I've ever had this side of *checks globe* Panama. I made it for Irish and he was extremely skeptical of the batter. When I started making it he waited with his hand on his phone, prepared to call in a pizza the moment my culinary disaster came out of the oven.

But what came out of the oven was magical. It looked completely different from the cream colored mass of liquid, vegetables and chicken I put in the oven. It was golden brown with specs of carrots (orange) and peas (green) and had the texture of a savory cake... That's the best way I can describe it, a light vegetable and chicken cake that tastes amazing whether its hot out of the oven or cold in the fridge.

This picture doesn't even do it justice.

On the side, I served an awesome salad of mixed greens and a bright, refreshing champagne vinegar salad dressing to go with it. I'll add that recipe too, because it's easy as.... Pie! (HA!)

Then, just before you serve it, shower it with Parmesan cheese.

"Make it rain!"
It seems scary, but seriously folks, make this.

Here is the recipe that I used as a base, as my roommate moved out and never translated her recipe from Portuguese or.. the metric system.

And here is MY version of Torte de Frango!



Feel free to use as little or as many vegetables as you like, I just tend to throw as many as I can into one dish because COLOR.
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (About two chicken breasts. Either store bought rotisserie chicken, or poached then shredded)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8oz)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup of frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup green or red pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (diced)
  • Cilantro (Chopped and definitely optional)
  • Olive oil for light sautéing

  • 12 TBSP flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 2 TBSP parmesan cheese (Fresh is preferred, then extra for topping it at the end)
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 part champagne vinegar
  • 1 part fancy djion mustard
  • 2 parts olive oil
  • 2 cups of mixed greens
  • 1/2 avocado (diced)
  • Feta or goat cheese works here (optional)


Torte De Frango
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and grease 9"x11" baking pan.
  2. Whisk together all dough ingredients in large bowl. (Seriously, that's it.)
  3. In a sautee pan over medium heat, sautée onions until translucent.
  4. Add carrots and bell peppers for a few minutes until slightly soft.
  5. Add chopped garlic and stir until you can smell it really well but it isn't brown (2 minutes).
  6. Add peas, corn, tomato sauce and chicken and heat though, then remove from heat.
  7. Pour half of the dough into the baking pan.
  8. Top with the chicken mixture and then pour the rest of the dough on top.
  9. Top with the additional parmesan and slide into the oven.
  10. You bake it until a toothpick comes out clean and this varies, but typically it's around 45 minutes.
  11. When you finish, let it cool 5 minutes.

  1. While the torte is cooling, make the salad.
  2. Whisk salad dressing together and toss with mixed greens per your specifications. I prefer light dressing.
  3. Add chopped avocado, salt and pepper to taste and toss again.
  4. THEN! Slice BIG squares of torte, top with extra parm and serve with your bright spring salad!
The Irishman requests this dish more than any other dish I make, because it is just as good the next day and he can take it to work. He likes it more than my French onion soup, and that is saying something.
All my love,

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Editing is the Worst OR Why You Should Back Up Your Work

If you're new to writing, this may come as a shock to you, but you simply cannot edit your own work.

Thinking you can is naïve and laughable. I'm laughing derisively at you now.

I don't care who you are, how great you are at writing, if you have your master's in English, if you triple/quadruple check every word, if you never made a mistake on an English essay - It isn't the same as a BOOK and it isn't a second pair of eyes. Your mind will fill in the incorrect word with the correct one in your head. Your mind will trick you so you yourself NEVER notice the mistake.
Your mind autocorrects...

Let that sink in... I'll give you a second.

It's as if your brain is actively trying to help you, however YOU aren't the problem. Your readers are. Your mind will ignore every mistake and autocorrect it leaving your readers questioning your intelligence and whether you should keep your day job.

For example, I just learned that I spelled my protagonists name wrong, like, dyslexic wrong, about 20 times. I never even noticed, because,

A: My computer thinks "Calista" is a misspelling regardless, and,
B: Who thinks that they would ever misspell the name of their protag?


Editing RTS has been an adventure of face palms, heads slamming the keyboard (multiple) and hair pulling. Editing is not something I enjoy, it's like pulling teeth. The crazy part is that I enjoy editing other people's work. Flaws stand out to me like beacons of light blaring, "I'M WRONG!"

But my own writing? Yeesh. I attempt.

Recently, back in oh.. December, I was heavily editing RTS. I have a kick butt beta reader that's been forcing me to "show things" instead of you readers just *knowing* what a pretty sunset looks like...  But also, plot hole scavenging and simply asking the right questions. He ba-zinged me as a double-edged sword ( I create beautiful scenes but don't describe them enough) and so I was meticulously looking over my work to add details and details and details, metaphors and similes. I changed an important piece of the story because I realized it simply wasn't necessary, I added imagery of palaces and sunsets. And then, I saw that I had two copies of RTS open at once. I chuckled to myself, "Now, why did I do that?" (Impatience. Slow computers are the bain of my existence. I'm the obnoxious person that keeps clicking that button over and over again because it's *thinking* and I don't care I want to start writing now.)

Me: "It's not working!"
So I glanced over the two copies, made a decision and closed one. The first clue that I had made a mistake should have been when the computer prompted, "Would you like to save these changes?"

I, of course, said no. Because, silly little computer, all my changes are on the other document.

And that, my friends, is how I got into a fight with RTS. I deleted two hours of editing in three seconds flat.

I stared over my mistake and saw no turning back. This was edited off of an email. Not my desktop.

It was gone. All my effort, erased in a click of a mouse.

This is your fault.

I sat in my chair stunned, mouth agape, pawing at the open version... hoping that if I scanned down far enough in the edits t changes would re-appear.

But they didn't.

And that was the last time I edited RTS. After that, every time I opened it I would get angry at the memory. I couldn't even look at it. I need to take a break and calm down. So we broke up.

I guess that is just a little anecdote on why you should save constantly and back up your work. But it is also a story about the struggle of editing.

Editing a book isn't easy. No one said it would be. But please, PLEASE, if you walk away with nothing else, learn from my mistakes. Have help editing your work and, for the love of GOD, don't edit off of an email.

Follow this advice, dear friends, and you will never have to break up with your masterpiece.

All my love,

PS: I've already decided if there are any grammar mistakes in this I'm leaving them. Feel free to point them out. The irony is perfect.