Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Bliss the past two weeks has been coconut milk in my coffee. Coconut milk warmed beforehand on the stove with cinnamon.

Um, and that has what to do with writing?

Happiness. The happiness of stirring dark cinnamon into the white, white milk. Of pouring the milk into the coffee. Of taking first, second... and all those sips. Of gulls squawking outside as I drink and write. Right then I know that all's good. All's exactly how it's supposed to be.

My favorite poem, Coconut by Paul Hostovsky, heard on The Writers' Almanac with Garrison Keillor, is about the decision to look for happiness.

That's all we can do. What we ought to do. For me that's writing. Which also means slogging away at the business stuff necessary for a career.

So, as I try to get inside happiness, I'll drink my coffee with coconut milk and write and know that I'm on my way.

And you? How do you get inside happiness? 
Coconut, by Paul Hostovsky

Bear with me I
want to tell you
something about
it’s hard to get at
but the thing is
I wasn’t looking
I was looking
somewhere else
when my son found it
in the fruit section
and came running
holding it out
in his small hands
asking me what
it was and could we
keep it it only
cost 99 cents
hairy and brown
hard as a rock
and something swishing
around inside
and what on earth
and where on earth
and this was happiness
this little ball
of interest beating
inside his chest
this interestedness
beaming out
from his face pleading
and because I wasn’t
happy I said
to put it back
because I didn’t want it
because we didn’t need it
and because he was happy
he started to cry
right there in aisle
five so when we
got it home we
put it in the middle
of the kitchen table
and sat on either
side of it and began
to consider how
to get inside of it

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Squawker II

I need to reread my original post about Squawkers. Need to feel it more deeply.

There's still an inner circle squawker who's behaving badly. And there are the query squawkers. To be clear, the query squawkers aren't exactly squawking. They're polite in their passes of novel #1, or silent... But it feels like squawking.

What do you mean you won't represent my novel? Don't you get how well-written, emotionally immediate and compelling to the niche market of gay YA readers it is? What do you mean you don't want to be part of my success?

Deep breath. This is the industry. This is how it works. And it's not been that many. I'm a cautious querier.

Sigh. My ITunes "Peace" shuffle is helping. Breathe.

I gotta get back to enjoying the squawking gulls.

How do you maintain peace?

(photo: "Welsh + Gull",

Monday, October 31, 2011

Adjustment Bureau

I last posted about being in the flow for Novel #3. I stand by that, but with a major adjustment.  I'd been talking about the state of publishing with writer and blog maven, Heather Kelly. She helped me see that print and e-books can be complimentary. Yes, I hope for traditional print publication of ROMEO, ROMEO. And yes, once the book is in the stores, Amazon etc, we can simultaneously offer shorter e-books about secondary characters from the novel. Two tracks.

Here's the adjustment... I'm focusing on e-books for five secondary characters. ROMEO, ROMEO itself is done, its arch finished, I'm not touching it. But it's so much fun to be hanging out with those characters again.

How do you guys deal with adjustments?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Got It

Finally got it – YA novel #3. (Novel 0, forever in a box, doesn't count.) The characters, plot & the premise have finally come together. 

Bobsledding is off-season, but this is how I feel, that the key elements have aligned, that the team for novel #3 is ready. Kinda a long time in coming. #3 is based on a screenplay from forever ago that I never produced. But it's narrated by a new guy, a character in LUCKY, novel #2.

And the premise is different. Mostly, it's fun. Which in the past I might have thought was superficial... but... Sometimes a good ride is just what we want. So #3 is out of the gate, a chapter a week. 

How about you guys, how's your novel-writing team?

(photo from winterolympics)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


So many voices. Those who believe in us, those who want us to write only what they want to read, those who encourage, those who squawk.

When I was a kid, seagulls meant beach vacations. How cool that I now live by the ocean and for the first waking minutes of most days I think I'm on vacation. Usually. Sometimes the squawking is ugly.

I'm wondering if that might be similar to the voices around our writing. How cool that people care enough to voice opinions about our work? How cool that we're not in this alone? So what if not everyone uses the words we'd like. Our job is to hear what they're trying to say and not how they're saying it. And to those other squawkers in our lives... the people who are difficult for whatever reasons? They're just a small part of the flock.

Thank you to all the voices. May we hear them as if we're beginning a beach vacation, open and full of possibility.

How to you deal with squawkers?

(photo from Royalty Free Stock photos)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Best in Others

My intent was not to post again until September. But an unsolicited email arrived that blew me away...
...reading your writing lights a fire in me that few other writers have been able to kindle. I fear that I will lose a catalyst in my own life if you do not push yourself to get your novel and subsequent work out there.
And another...
I'm here for you to lean on about anything, and I'm fine if you don't lean on me.

No guilt, no judgment, just support. :)
What a gift to have friends like these.

I've been out of touch because of summer busy-ness, but want to say THANK YOU for over-the-top encouragement and unconditional support. 

We don't do this writing work alone. Thank you, for helping light the journey.

(photo from Aleksandar Maćašev's photo gallery)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


The original post title was Kindness of Strangers, but this kindness was from a friend, not a stranger, and there was no Blanche DuBois tragedy. The kindness is this... how cool to have friends who just let you be... who let you write on their terrace.

Thank you, Peggie. And here's to learning how cool it is to live an hour from Vancouver.

Here's to friendly friends. May we all have the support to do what we're meant to do. The next few weeks will be summer busy-ness, so I won't post until September. Happy writing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Other World

Writing helps me feel connected to the world. Grounds me. Helps me feel that I'm doing a good job living this life.
If there's a season for everything, then it's been a season of more endings than I'm used to. Some expected. One very much not. 
To Peter, Dodie, Shera who was supposed to visit next week, my sister's friend Freya... and, yes, our dog Magic, I offer Walt Whitman...  Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes. 
I offer that to the rest of us, too. Let us be good stewards of our universes, including the ones we create in our writing.
...I'm picturing Peter on a porch with a cigar, Dodie curled up with a book of Emerson, Freya is away checking her kids... and Shera reads on the dock with Magic at her side... 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homeward Unbound

If I were in junior high I'd have an answer to What I Did Over Summer Vacation - found home. The last month has been the East Coast from Massachusetts, New York City, Philadelphia, D.C., the Gulf Coast of Florida, then back to Washington State. Where's home? Massachusetts where I've lived most of my life? This new pacific place? Neither. For me, home travels. Like a good book.


A good book takes us on a journey, but the core of the novel keeps us grounded. We might not know where the novel is taking us, but, with good writing and a strong core we know we'll arrive where and how we need to be.

For me, that's home, something inside that keeps me going forward and knowing that, to borrow from John Kabat-Zinn, wherever I go, there I am. And if there's a cafe, a view of the ocean and some family, even better.

Writing-wise, much has happened the last month, starting with two hours of writing most vacation mornings. And how cool that Elana Johnson has taken us on her journey of POSSESSION publication.

It's great to be back. What's your home?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Boldly Ourselves

A few evenings ago, seals were swimming near our apartment. Seals have always made me smile. This week, they called out a better part of me, the bold part that liked seals so much that as a 6th grader I read A Seal Called Andre, wrote the author and asked for materials for a report. The same part that of me that contacted playwright Brian Friel after seeing his version of Fathers and Sons and asked if I could interview him in Ireland for my university senior project. The seals reminded me that it can be natural for me to go boldly forward.
That seal up there makes me smile. It's boldly itself. Like we all could be. What does that mean for me? That I'm becoming boldly excited and playful about querying? Kinda.

Thank you, seals, for the reminder. How about you? How are you boldly yourself?

And, of, course CONGRATULATIONS to author Elana Johnson, on her novel POSSESSION. boldly out this week!

(photo from Mike Baird's Flickr page)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Character Made Me Do It

This photo is from about a month ago. Snow, mountains... Mt. Baker even had an Easter egg hunt on the ski slopes. I was there to write in the lodge and look at peaks that are the setting for novel #3.

Nope. The main character of novel #2 kept yelling for attention. It was his turn. "Look at me! Look at me!" So I looked. So I polished the draft I thought was resting for a while.

Now I plan to focus on querying novel #2, LUCKY, instead of #1. Unexpected. But it feels right. Lucky, the the eponymous main character, usually gets his way.

Huh? Do your characters sometimes call the shots?

(in answer to The Happy Whisk, the  photo is from my iPhone)

Friday, March 11, 2011

In Honor of a Friend

The Reverend Peter J. Gomes was a friend. He was my partner's academic adviser at Harvard Divinity School, then his mentor, and finally a friend to both of us. He not only preached at our wedding, he offered his house for the reception. Peter published many collections of sermons and wrote best-selling books about the Bible, including The Good Book: Reading the Bible with mind and heart, which informed the nonprofit I founded, Our Spirit, to help gay/lesbian youth feel good about themselves despite religious fundamentalists.

Monday February 28th, two hours after Peter died of complications from a stroke, I got the news while in line at a cafe. In honor of Peter I ordered their hardiest red wine. Kent and I went straight to our seats and didn't talk much. Peter was unabashedly himself. So, with the wine and my laptop, I unabashedly - finally after several months - contacted a published author who said she'd help with my agent search when the time was right. My friends had been urging me to hurry up and query. Peter had urged me to get on with it. So, finally, I did.

Thank you, Peter, for friendship. For laughter and cigars on your porch. Thank you for being unabashedly yourself and for helping the rest of us move in that direction.

Photo: Peter toasting Kent (far right) and me at our wedding reception.

More about Peter:  60 Minutes, New Yorker, New York Times

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Geese Got It

On Presidents' Day, we went south in search of Snow Geese. And there they were. An enormous flock of geese from Siberia who've wintered on this Washington farmland as long as anyone can remember. We were riveted. So many geese. Amazing flight patterns. A shift on the left rippling as thousands of birds changed direction. Hypnotic. Made me think of writing. Not writing about geese. I was thinking about words. As if each of those geese were one word. A massive flock of birds, of words, making a novel. How sometimes the words are in sync, electric in the air. Sometimes the flock is at rest, and five geese, five words, shoot up and you wait for the mass to follow and they don't and you think those five renegades are doing the wrong thing until you realize that their slight variation is actually the best. And then the entire flock ups and double-backs. I could have watched the geese for hours.

I celebrate each and every one of those geese as I celebrate all of our words. The words that go together and the words that stick out. The words that rise up from the field and fill the universe with black and white electricity.

Writers... how cool to watch the flock. How cool to create.

For all of us, may this be a week of creation.

(another photo from Lee Mann, amazing photographer of the Pacific Northwest)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Donut Power

My last post made it seem like I do all my writing at home. True, I try not to spend everything on earning rights to a cafe table. But, I'm quite a public writer. In college I spent more time in cafes than the library; that's where all my S.A.T. teaching money went. Where we live has tons of cafes, several a short walk away.

But here's a new thing - doughnuts.

There's a place in town called Rocket Donuts. The owner loves donuts and 1950's sci-fi movies. Wacky black & white oldies play non-stop on several screens, and there's a life-sized rocket with flashing lights outside. How amazing to combine passions into work.

I've finished two YA novels and am returning a middle grade novel that has an element of travel between worlds. Where better to launch my return to the project than Rocket Donuts. I got sugared up, rocked out to Beach Boys and cool cowboy oldies that I vaguely recognized, and wrote. One of my nephews is into all things outer space, so I got him a Rocket Donut t-shirt last summer. Maybe I should get a t-shirt for myself for my new writing-wear.

Three cheers for donuts and whatever propels our intergalactic writing travel.

What propels you?

(Thank you to the Sweet Travel blog for the Rocket Donuts photos and cool pastry posts.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Where We Do It

What do we need in order to write? A desk, tea, quiet? A table, coffee, the distraction of a cafe? For some of us, it might not matter. For me, all I need is my laptop. Place is not important. Nor is peace of mind. Writing gives me focus, gives me peace. The more I write, the better I feel.

February 2010 in my very second post I showed my study – an old wooden door turned desktop and shelves filled with boxes for my projects. Now at a different apartment, my study has become more of a storeroom where I go to print or get a book. Instead of at my desk, I sit at the table where I can look out at a working harbor.

Last year on a cliff at the edge of town I liked watching the bald eagles soar every morning, kite surfers levitate, and the train pass hourly. I couldn't imagine a better place to write.

Now when I look up from work I see boats: the Alaska ferry once a week, the scuttering patrol boats, the schooners. I like the traffic beneath the window, the people waiting for the bus. I like being surrounded by lives I know nothing about. And I can walk to cafes. I can't imagine a better place to write.

What's the perfect atmosphere in which to write? I'm realizing that, for some of us, there is none. We just write. And it feels right.

What about you? Is location important to help you write?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Anniversary Party

My first blog post was exactly a year ago. So I'd planned a where-are-we-now, what's-happened-in-a-year  post for today. On Wednesday I worked five hours in a favorite cafe. It started with a meeting with a writing friend/crit partner, and then on my own I delved into Our Spirit. I saw another friend walk by and she joined me for a couple of hours. At one point in our conversation, she told me she'd been thinking about me, specifically about the blog – how flattering that someone was thinking about my blog – and more specifically that she was concerned that Going with the Flow was exactly the wrong message.

I talked about how a few years ago I was in a filmmaking group in NYC with the name Making It Happen. During my time with the group I turned a screenplay into a novel and had so much fun with the novel that I did more and more prose writing until most of my time was writing and not filmmaking. I still produce short films for Our Spirit... but my passionest passion is prose. I was no longer interested in making a film career happen. I celebrated the flow that got me to novels.

My friend talked about the power of making a decision. Paraphrasing... of just doing it.

Okay. I get it.

I'm not here by accident. The flow didn't just splash me up on a rock. Goals and decisions have power.

I'm making the decision to move on querying novel #1. I'm picturing exactly what I want - representation for a novel about a romantic tangle of three high school guys.

What about my other projects – editing novel #2, first draft of novel #3, a new website, Our Spirit? I trust the flow.

And you guys? Is there tension between going with the flow and setting goals?

(I Googled "huh?" and found this image from Dangerous With A Pen, the blog of writer Lindsey Brooks. Now I'm a follower.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Journey with a Little Swiss Cheese

I've hardly blogged since November... Why? In the spirit of Nanowrimo, I dedicated November to a new project. I started and finished the writing part of it. Then it morphed into something that involved a video and a new website. I'd hoped to launch it all in January. It's taking longer... But in this new era of kinda going with the flow, I'm not sweating the delay.

The writing is done, and I've got meetings next week for the video and the website. Yup, the flow... going with the flow... I'll get there... the project will launch... In the meantime I'm enjoying the trip.

That's a photo of Boca Raton, FL where I spent last week. I love those wooden paths through the mangroves and the palm trees beside the beach. A path. A journey. Just like I love the journey of writing. I might think I know where it's going, but the view is never 100% the same.

During the new project, I also completed a first draft of novel #2 and, thanks to the Swiss Cheese method of writing in the small holes of time, then I did a complete edit of that draft.

Later I'll announce more specifics about the new project. In the meantime, thank you for coming back after my long absence.

And three cheers for all the sights and detours of our writing.