How my Reading Gets into My Writing


I’ve been reading a very interesting book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel, about infidelity, fidelity, relationships, and our constructs of love and monogamy.  I’ve found it incredibly thought provoking.

While I have no experience with affairs, I am married, and we’ve been together for a long time.  This book has given me a new lens to think through my own relationship and be thankful about how atypical we are, especially for a pair of high school sweethearts.

One thing that really resonates with me about the book is how multifaceted, complicated, and downright messy it all is.  There are so many layers to any relationship, but a marriage (or any other long-term committed relationship pattern) has even more clinging to it that may not even be visible to those involved.  For many, there are a heap of assumptions that go along with marriage.  Assumptions about roles, rules, and commitments, many of which have never been explicitly stated by either side.  And worse yet, these might not match between partners.

That’s one place that I feel quite lucky.  My husband and I have talked about these things.  We know what we expect of each other and the relationship.  We know what the boundaries are and what the commitments are.  This has allowed us to weather a lot of things that had the potential to pull us apart or damage our relationship.

Outside my own relationship and life experience, I think this book has given me a lot of things to think about as a writer as well.  There are often romantic plots or subplots in my writing.  This has given me more facets of the relationships to plan, think through, and develop as an author.  Yes, affairs are a topic that I could delve into through fiction, but I find myself thinking more about the last section of the book.  In “Part IV: Ever After” Perel has a chapter titled “Monogamy and Its Discontents: Rethinking Marriage.”  This chapter talks about ways that some pairs (or triads, quads, or more) are rethinking what commitment and monogamy mean for them through relationships with different boundaries.

I find the idea of a committed relationship that goes beyond the couple fascinating.  The emotional interplay and the wealth of possibilities within it, is something I’d like to explore intellectually.  And for the record, this doesn’t have to be about sex either.  That’s something Perel addresses early on in the book.  It’s about intimacy.  Intimacy can be physical, yes, but it can also be emotional.  It’s the emotional interplay within a committed relationship that I find most interesting as a writer, regardless of the count of individuals in that relationship.

Reading a book like this leaves me with a lot of food for thought, and that inevitably translates into fodder for my fiction writing.  I find nonfiction to be just as important and inspiring as fiction.  In fact, almost everything I read will somehow find its way into my writing, directly or indirectly.  Whether it’s an idea about a character, a way of thinking, a strange twist, or just a particularly inspiring description of a scene, I’m always learning from what I’m reading.

Have you found inspiration in an unexpected book?  I’d love to hear about where others find their ideas while they’re reading.


Total Solar Eclipse August 2017


On August 21, 2017, I had the amazing good fortune to be just outside Simpsonville, SC, right in the path of totality for the solar eclipse that crossed the United States.  This was a rare chance to see something truly amazing, and I wasn’t going to miss it.  When my partner realized his parents lived in the path of totality more than a year ago, we made plans to go down.  I’d requested the day off work more than a year in advance.

Leading up to the eclipse there was plenty of news coverage and lots of warnings about not looking directly at the sun without proper eye protection.  Eclipse glasses were available at eye doctors, libraries, planetariums, and schools all over the country.  Our family ordered them online, and they even had the date of the eclipse printed on them.

I’ve never had a chance to see an eclipse before.  When I was in fourth grade there was a partial solar eclipse where I lived in Michigan.  No students were allowed outside during the event.  Cheap solar glasses weren’t something you could get back then.  My teacher did a pin-hole camera so she could go out and look and then draw a picture on the board for us.

That paled in comparison to looking up at the sun through my special glasses (which are a pain when combined with prescription glasses, by the way).  I got to watch the moon move across the sun and see the light begin to dim around me.

The best part though, was totality.  For just under two minutes, we were able to take off our special glasses and stare up at our sun.  The moon was a dark disc across the solar surface, but the light shown out around it, peaking through around mountains and valleys on the lunar surface.  For just a couple minutes, I got to see something rare and precious that demonstrated scale and distance in the universe.

In those moments, I felt both small and insignificant, and part of something so large, so universal, that it seemed to have no boundaries at all.  Many would frame this feeling within their religious experience, and there was an element of that for me, but it was also something more fundamental.  I was one of thousands of people looking up at that moment and one of millions who witnessed totality that day.  I was in the presence of a dozen or so others experiencing the moment with me.  I was part of something in that moment.

Anello_di_diamante     And those two minutes were worth it.

They were worth the six hour drive down to South Carolina from my home in Raleigh, NC.  They were worth the vacation time I had to take to be there.  They were worth the seven-and-a-half-hour drive home that ended after midnight.  They were totally and completely worth it.

So worth it, in fact, that my family and I are already thinking about the next total solar eclipse and where we might want to go so we can watch that one too.  We were so lucky on Monday that the sky was mostly clear, and the clouds didn’t interfere with our viewing the eclipse during totality.  People talk about a total solar eclipse as a once in a lifetime chance.  And in many ways they’re right, but it doesn’t have to be.  I’m aiming for at least twice in a lifetime.

Were you able to witness the eclipse on Monday?  If not locally, did you watch the coverage available?  What did you think?

Image Attributions:

Image within Blog: Anello_di_diamante by Walty1971

Cover Image: SolarEclipseDiamondRing by Tuanna2010

The Hands that Mold: Mathew


For those new to my blog, the Hands that Mold series of posts is about the people in my life that have helped shape me into the writer I am today.

This post is about Mathew.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember me mentioning Matt before.  He was part of my very first Role Playing Game (RPG) group, which I talked about in a previous The Hand that Mold post.  You might also remember him if you’ve read my book.  This is the Mathew that I mention in the dedications and by the end of this post you’ll have a better idea of why I plan to dedicate each and every book to him. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo: Day 11


It’s day 11 of National Novel Writing Month.  That means we’re into week two.  Momentum is often lost in week two as the initial enthusiasm wears off.

I’m doing okay.

As of midnight on Day 10:

  • My best words per day was 6,178.
  • My overall word count is 36,531.
  • I’ve hosted 3 write-ins.
  • My best sprint time so far was 908 words in 20 minutes.

Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

And there’s so much left of the month.  I have another 20 days of creative literary abandon to enjoy, and plenty more words to write.

*Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Blasting Off for a Writing Adventure


It’s the end of October already.  Soon Halloween will have come and gone and November will be upon us.  And for me, November means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

This year’s NaNoWriMo theme is “Your Novel, Your Universe,” and I love all the artwork associated with it so far.  It’s all about clean lines, sleek old-school rockets, and astronovelists.  But NaNoWriMo also about so much more than just the art.  It’s about writing the novel you always wanted to, or maybe the novel you didn’t realize you had in you. Continue reading

Q is for Quotes


If you stumbled upon me through the A to Z Blog Challenge, welcome. If not, check out the challenge and all those participating at their site.


I find quotes can be very inspiring, so I’ve collected a few of my favorites to share with you today. Here are a few quotes that I think have a bit of spark to them, along with a few images I use to help share them.


“It’s like your batteries get low, and you need to charge them on someone else’s story.”

Margaret Cho


“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t write. But don’t let them tell you what you must write either. It’s art, not a grant application.”

Patrick Ness


“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Thomas Paine


“Look at people for an example, but then make sure to do things your way.”

Queen Latifah


“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Bernard M. Baruch

Be who you are and say what you feel

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

John Steinbeck

Ideas are like rabbits

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Lao Tzu

Being deeply loved

“Nothing livens up a den of iniquity like a potted plant.”

Flora, in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Nothing livens up a den of iniquity

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”

John Wooden

If you're not making mistakes

“To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”

Bill Watterson

To invent your own life's meaning

“So much universe and so little time.”

Terry Pratchett

So much universe  TPratchett



Personal Muses


With NaNoWriMo behind me and another novel’s worth of words to edit and revise, I thought it was time to talk a little more about the other side of the equation.

Everyone has things that inspire them. Whether it’s to write, paint, draw, or simply to be a better person. I think of the things that inspire me, especially when they are people, as my personal muses.

My muses can take many forms. Sometimes it’s another writer who is succeeding and selling and sharing their story with the world. Sometimes it’s the friend who pushed so hard to earn the degree they wanted and finally landed that job that was actually in their field. And sometimes it’s my cat, who is far eviler than I and thus makes a great inspiration for villains. Continue reading