#ROW80 check-ins, personal journeys, the seasons

Autumn Whirlwind

shoes on sidewalk
Photo by Bellemedia, Dreamstime Stock Photos.

Wow. My life has been a whirlwind these past few weeks. Some of it amazing. I started teaching English as a Second Language, which is promising to be a life-changing journey for me. Some of it not so amazing—like a beloved family member being diagnosed with a serious illness.

So, in the midst of all of the craziness, I’ve been plugging away at my novella Oak-Bound and trying to get it done by the end of this month. I’m close, guys. It will probably be 25-27K, and I’m right around the 22K mark as I type this. I hope to get another 1K or 2K words in before I go to bed tonight.

So. Close. This is a story half a decade in the making. I remember sitting at my friend Amelia’s kitchen table and going over critiques of the first first chapter of this story. And then I set it aside. I wasn’t ready to write it then, but Nick and Cassie kept whispering in my ear, and I knew I couldn’t give up on them.

Five years later, a first draft is close to being completed. And yes, there will be a happy dance when it is done.

So, where does this leave my progress on my goals for this quarter? Well…

  1. Finish a draft of Oak-Bound. On track, and I hope to finish this in the next few days. Fingers crossed!
  2. Revise Spellfire’s Kiss,once I receive feedback from my kind and helpful beta reader. On hold until I finish Oak-Bound.
  3. Participate in one or two community events each month. Going to see author Sharyn McCrumb at the local library on Sunday, and hubby and I bought tickets for a hayride next weekend.
  4. Meditate or do yoga twice a week. Nada.
  5. Continue paring away the excess in our home and making the townhouse our own. Ordered new chairs for the living room and library, and I’ve piled up a large quantity of items to take to the thrift store. I’ve also hung some photographs in our hallway and in my library.
  6. Bonus Goal: I just found an upcoming call for submissions for an anthology based around the mythology of Baba Yaga, this fascinating figure from Russian folklore. I’d like to write a draft of a Baba Yaga novelette—somewhere in the 10-12K range, so I’m adding this goal.

I am hoping the rest of autumn will be calmer, as I settle into a teaching routine, dig deep into my stories, break out the cozy sweaters, and move closer toward submitting some of my stories for publication. I currently have one short story out on submission and will hear back sometime next month.

What about you? How is your autumn progressing? And please, because I love this season, what is your favorite thing about autumn?

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#ROW80 check-ins, creativity, dose of inspiration, personal journeys, the writer's journey

Round 4: Intentions

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Triberg waterfall, in the Black Forest region of Germany. Photo by my husband, Ryan Spoon, August 2017.

Since my return from my trip to Germany in August, I’ve entered a period of quiet introspection. What direction do I want to go in my life? Am I on an authentic path that will allow me to drink from the wellspring of creativity? How do I define success, and how have I internalized society’s definition of success?

My head spinning with such questions, the universe brought Tami Lynn Kent’s book Wild Creative into my life. I didn’t devour the book. I read it intently, studying some passages over and over and taking my time with the prescribed exercises. A few of my favorite quotes from Wild Creative:

“Most of our current work and life structures have been devised to emphasize production and how much we can accomplish rather than the nurturing of the soul. This routinely takes us away from our natural inclinations and the flow of our energy field.”

“Taking ownership of one’s creative life force is a conscious act to change the focus from exclusively monetary values to modes that value life.”

“Though we may tend to take note of visibly productive years where we have ‘something to show’ for our work, the less visible years are equally important and essential to the overall creative journey.”

Too often as writers, we’re obsessed with word counts. There’s the #1k1hr hashtag. There’s NaNoWriMo, in which we’re given the daunting task of writing 50,000 words in a month. There’s the infamous 1-millionth word we pen. And there are countless prescriptions out there for how many words we should write in a day.

Naturally, wanting to “succeed,” I followed such models, only to find myself burnt out. The wellspring of creativity was dry. I would write in short bursts when inspiration struck, or force myself through a revision, only to grow burnt out and exhausted once more.

So 2017 will not shape up to be a year of epic word counts. Instead, I believe, it is a year of introspection, of peering deep inside myself and trying to ascertain the life I truly want.

That life is authentic. It is imperfect. It is one of individually defined success. It is sometimes messy, often beautiful, filled with countless moments of joy. Watching Leo chew on sticks in the yard while I sip my coffee and read a book. Enjoying the color of the rose bushes as they bloom. Cooking a simple meal. Making my own home products—so far this year, I’ve discovered recipes for laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and lavender goat’s milk soap. Owning less and living more. Travel as a form of discovering self and connecting with the world around me. And, of course, creating art, stories that, if I do my job, will enchant and inspire.

My latest work in progress, Oak-Bound, is one that came to me five years ago. I wasn’t ready to write it then, and it came out flat and forced. I tried again a year ago. Same result. Back in July, I stopped and I listened. Like a tree, I stretched my roots deep into the loamy soil of inspiration, and I soaked up what I found.

I am finally ready to give form to this story, a novella-length work about loss, grief, trauma, and healing, and the human relation with the divine and nature. I want to tell stories that spring from my heart, stories that are vibrant and authentic, and Cassie and Nick’s story feels like one of those stories. I very much hope to share it with you one day.

Thus, I have no “goals” for the last quarter of 2017. Instead, I share with you my intentions for the rest of the year:

  1. Finish a draft of Oak-Bound.
  2. Revise Spellfire’s Kiss, once I receive feedback from my kind and helpful beta reader.
  3. Participate in one or two community events each month.
  4. Meditate or do yoga twice a week.
  5. Continue paring away the excess in our home and making the townhouse our own.

As the Wheel turns toward Samhain and the seasons cycle toward winter, I will continue to dig deep, to listen closely, to spend time in nature, and to move toward authenticity.

What about you? What are your intentions for the rest of 2017? Have you read Wild Creative? Do any of the quotes above resonate with you?

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creativity, personal journeys, simple living, the writer's journey, who I am

The Gravel Road: Abandoning Societal Definitions of Success for the Self-Determined Path

Country Dirt Road
Photo by Scamp, Dreamstime Stock Photos.

Lately I’ve been struggling with the notion of success—what it means, how we define it, how we unconsciously internalize cultural definitions of success and make them our own. And, ultimately, what it truly means to lead a successful, meaningful, purposeful life.

This year, I’ve struggled with my writing. I’m approaching four years of writing full time, and while I’ve had some successes—won two contests, had a request for a full manuscript, indie published two short stories, written a lot—I haven’t had a “big” win. I’ve started to wonder what I’m doing with my time, if my writing will ever have an impact, make a difference. I’ve started to wonder if writing is enough. And all that pondering has squashed my creativity, left me spinning my wheels, stuck in a ditch on the side of the gravel road that is my journey.

I tried to make it an interstate. But it’s not. My journey to “success,” whatever that might be, is a curving mountain road that snakes its way through forests, traveling alongside wending rivers and babbling streams. I will spot deer and ravens, wild turkeys and countless squirrels, maybe even a bear or a coyote. It is not a journey one takes in a sports car, zooming down the interstate. It’s a journey for a battered hatchback. A journey of thought. A labor of love.

Acknowledging that I had, in fact, internalized a societal definition of success helped me realize that what I want most is an adventure. I’m reminded of the precious, lovely, moving words of Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day”:

“I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

Ah. There it is. What do I plan to do with my one wild and precious life?

And then the answers poured forth. My trip to Germany in August offered clues, if only I bent my head and listened. I stood in the spray of a waterfall in Triberg and hiked to the ruins of an old castle, but the moment that brought me most joy was when, at the farm where I was staying, one of the goats escaped her pasture. My husband and father were unsuccessful in trying to corral her, so I went to help. She walked up to me and leaned against me, and I gently took her horns and guided her home. It was simple. It was beautiful. It took me back to my childhood, the place that inspired me to become a writer, walking the woods of home and dreaming up stories, all the while surrounded by creatures, both wild and domestic.

I can’t say I have all of the answers. But I have made my peace with the fact that my definition of success is not the same one that society has laid out so neatly for me, like a parent setting out a child’s clothes for school.

I will follow my stories wherever they take me. I will listen closely, as only our most creative selves can, and I will create. Maybe it won’t always be in words. Maybe I’ll learn to paint. Last week I made lavender goat’s milk soap, and the simple creative act filled me with wonderful energy. There are so many paths to explore. I won’t always drive my battered hatchback down the gravel road. Sometimes I’ll see a winding mountain path that leads over an arching footbridge and into the mossy hills. Sometimes I’ll park the car. Sometimes I’ll walk over the bridge. It’s not always about forging ahead. It’s about seeing the beauty along the way.

Blessed be.

Now tell me, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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#ROW80 check-ins, creativity, personal journeys

Slowwww…

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Creative Commons Stock Photos | Dreamstime.com

In our culture, “slow” doesn’t usually equate “good.” We’re all about a fast-paced lifestyle—fast food, fast lanes, and, in my case, fast writing. Last year I tried to turn myself into a speed-writing machine, churning out stories as quickly as I could. And I burnt out, forgot to fill the well and ended up with no ink in the inkwell.

Reading about the Danish concept of hygge in Pia Edberg’s The Cozy Life has helped me in this regard. I’m being more intentional, doing little things like really enjoying the taste of a cup of tea with honey or listening to good music while I do chores. Hygge is all about coziness or homey-ness, relaxing with friends and family or even by ourselves, especially during the cold winter months.

This year I’ve resolved to do differently, to pace myself and allow my stories to unfold at a natural pace. And it’s working. The characters in Spellfire’s Kiss are whispering in my ear once more, and I’m leaning into the story and working on revisions. I’m starting to see my writing as less of a machine and more of a garden. Seeds sprout in their own time, and it takes lots of tending, weeding, watering, and nurturing for things to come to fruition.

We tend to do a lot of comparing in our society, and I’m trying to step away from that. What matters is that I want to spend my life creating cool stuff. In my case, that’s primarily the stories I write. I want to put my stories out into the world, to share them because creating and sharing my creations brings me a great deal of joy—and I hope that my creations give others a lot of joy.

This week, in the spirit of allowing my story to unfold naturally, I wrote 3,361 words in Spellfire’s Kiss. Michael now has a character arc that feels organic to the story, and the new ending I’ve written has so much more resonance than the original one. I hope to finish Michael’s character arc next week and start revising existing copy, with the goal of sending this story to my critique partners by the end of March.

On the reading front, I’m currently reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron.

As far as home-keeping, I’m about to start painting the living room a rich blue called “Highland Loch.”

In the winter, my energy tends to wane, but as the days grow longer I want to get back into a regular schedule of blogging and visiting others’ blogs as well as expanding my activity on other social media.

For me, 2017 is all about slowing down and allowing things to unfold, not rushing through life—including the stories I tell.

What about you? How are your goals coming along? Have you experienced the pressure to do things more rapidly—your art or your lifestyle? And have you ever felt the need to slow down in your writing—or life in general?

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#ROW80 check-ins, indie publishing, personal journeys

A Midweek Check-In—and a Request

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately. I’m on sort of a mini-sabbatical. I feel like I pushed so hard with my writing for a few months, and I’m feeling a little burned out. I’m hoping a few weeks off will help me recharge my batteries.

So there’s not much to report on the writing front. I do need to do some editing to my short story Silver’s Stray and send it to my critique partners. We’re meeting later this month, so I hope to dig into that story tomorrow and Friday and get it sent to my CPs.

As far as reading, I just finished reading Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie. It was a little darker than I remembered it being at some points, but I hadn’t read it since grad school, so it was time for a reread. My mother-in-law lent me Shadow of Night and The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, so I think I’ll dig into those next.

I do have a request, though. I published two novelettes last week, The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key, and I’m offering free review copies to whoever wants them. A free e-book in exchange for an honest review. Let me know in the comments or via my contact page if you’re interested. And thanks in advance!

Click here to connect with other ROW80 participants.

What about you? How is your writing coming along? Have you ever taken the time to reread a book you haven’t read in years? Did the reread surprise you in any way? Are you interested in a free review copy of one of my stories? Let me know!

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#ROW80 check-ins, personal journeys

Realistic Goal Setting

It’s been one of those weeks that’s been fast and slow at the same time. Fast in the sense that it’s just sort of flying by, and slow in the sense that my goal progress hasn’t been super impressive.

One thing I’ve struggled with most of my life is setting realistic goals for myself. I often think I can accomplish twice as much in a given timeframe as I can. This month is a perfect example. I planned to write a first draft of a novelette in one week; it took me two weeks. I thought I could revise a novella in one week. That, also, looks like it will take two weeks. And that novel I thought I could revise this month? Yeah, I’m not getting to that.

Part of what slows me down is that I have some health issues, and I never know when they’re going to flare up. During a normal week, I can accomplish a lot more than when my energy feels drained and I’m struggling to meet my goals. It goes back and forth. That’s just life, I suppose, and a limitation I have to learn to work around as best I can. And I need to learn to cut myself some slack during weeks when my health just isn’t where I want it to be. I still expect to make progress, but I won’t be flying through goals.

So, a midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing Goals: Did some editing to White Wolf, Red Cloak, including rewriting the last scene from the hero’s point of view, and sent that story to critique partners. Did some line editing to my story The Faerie Key in preparation for sending that story to the proofreader.

Reading Goals: Finished reading A Little Night Muse by Jessa Slade and continued reading Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne.

Life Goals: Took a long walk Tuesday evening and did some partner yoga with hubby. I should probably start tracking my calorie intake using My Fitness Pal again, since I found that helpful. I also need to do some more cardio—maybe jogging again? No progress on the home improvement front, although I hope to do some painting in the kitchen and dining room this weekend.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? How do you set realistic goals for yourself? How are your goals coming along this month?

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#ROW80 check-ins, personal journeys

Living with Seasonal Affective Disorder

The timing is never good. Right around the holidays, as trees are being decorated and presents being wrapped, my energy level plummets. Just as we rush toward the end of the semester and final projects pile up to be graded, I grow tired—deeply, down to my bones exhausted.

Depression comes along with it, and the guilt. The guilt that I don’t have the energy to write as much, to keep my house as tidy, to prepare as complex of meals or run as many errands. It’s seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to WebMD

“While we don’t know the exact causes of SAD, some scientists think that certain hormones made deep in the brain trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of year. Experts believe that SAD may be related to these hormonal changes. One theory is that less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulate mood. When nerve cell pathways in the brain that regulate mood don’t function normally, the result can be feelings of depression, along with symptoms of fatigue and weight gain.”

It’s the lack of energy that gets me. As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging as much. Don’t worry. It’s not the depression that’s getting me. It’s the exhaustion. And the longer I’m exhausted, the harder it is to think of things to say.

So how do I deal with it? Here are a few ways:

1.) Fix simpler, less complex meals and freeze the leftovers. I’ve only done freezer meals a few times, but I plan on doing more in the years to come so that when winter rolls around I have to cook less—meaning more energy for other things.

2.) Push myself to do yoga or pilates. It uses energy, sure, but exercise is a proven way to combat depression and anxiety. The trick is actually getting off the sofa and onto the yoga mat.

3.) Practice self-kindness. This is by far one of the hardest things for me, year-round. I hold myself to impossible standards and will beat myself up for even the smallest of things. I’m trying to learn to be more forgiving to myself when I don’t meet my goals.

4.) Set more realistic goals. A few weeks ago I was writing 8,000 words a week. That probably won’t happen through most of the winter. So my goals need to be lower and more achievable given that my energy is lower.

So that’s the plan. What about you? Do you suffer from SAD or know anyone who does? How do you or they deal with the symptoms?

Lastly, a ROW80 check-in:

Writing: Not a super-productive writing week, but I did finish a read-through of A Prince in Patience Point. It’s currently a novella of about 30K, but I’m toying with the idea of expanding it. We’ll see what happens as I revise.

Reading: Read The New Policeman by Kate Thompson. Really well done and a great twist on Irish mythology. Would recommend.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop.

Do you get the winter blues? If so, how do you beat them?

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#ROW80 check-ins, personal journeys

3 Life Lessons from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. On the surface, it might seem like an action-packed show solely meant for entertainment. But it’s so much more than that. I believe that this show contains valuable lessons for our lives. Here are a few. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

1.) Never judge a book by its cover.

Joss Whedon is great at taking stereotypes and upending them. A cheerleader can be a vampire slayer. A vampire can have a soul. Buffy was as far from the flaky cheerleader stereotype as one could get—street-smart, clever, and kick-ass, she was a girl no vampire should want to tangle with.

Or take Cordelia, the head cheerleader slash “mean girl.” She ends up falling for Xander and playing a role in Buffy’s vampire-fighting gang—even if she never quite loses the urge to make snarky comments about everyone else’s wardrobe.

Everyone is complex. People can be strong and vulnerable, smart but naïve, silly but serious—we’re each many, many qualities rolled into one person. And Whedon’s work reminds us of that.

2.) “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” –Buffy

Have truer words ever been spoken? The world can be a scary place. Sometimes, even on the most peaceful of days, violence can break through and upend our lives. Uncertainty lies under every step we take.

But so does beauty. As I type this, I have a view of the deep-pink blush of buds on the maple tree outside my window. Maybe today I’ll spot a deer in the small stretch of woods behind my apartment. We can take pleasure in these simple things—a cup of tea, a deer pausing in mid-step, the pages of a much-loved book.

Yet we also have to challenge ourselves. Because Buffy was right. To live in this world requires bravery. We have to try things that scare us—even if what scares us is something that never makes the news. Maybe we want to go skydiving or bungee jumping—or maybe we simply want to try our hand at a new career or tackle an overwhelming project.

I remember the day that I told my boss I was leaving my job in university publications in order to write full-time. A voice inside told me it was silly to leave a job I liked to pursue writing. But I knew if I didn’t, Old Denise would regret it. I would regret the stories I’d never told, the characters I hadn’t meant, the road I hadn’t taken. So I took the plunge. It was a hard decision, but I’m glad I made it.

Was there ever something in your life that scared you but you knew you had to do it anyway? Have you ever moved toward something that frightened you?

3.) We all fight our own battles—but it helps to have back-up.

Buffy may have been the Chosen One, but that didn’t mean her ragtag group of friends didn’t have something to contribute. Giles supplied the wisdom and book-learning; Willow supplied the tech skills and later, the magic; Xander supplied the much-needed comic relief. We all have a role to play, and none of those roles is meaningless. We might not be fighting vampires or saving the world on a daily basis, but we can all help our friends, our family, and our community.

Are you a Buffy fan? If so, what lessons do you take away from this show? What is your favorite TV show, and what has it taught you about living in this world?

Lastly, a midweek ROW80 check-in…

ROW80Logocopy1.) Writing: Wrote 2,165 words in a short story. I’ve put revising on hold for the moment to do some work on this  new short story/novelette, so this goal is slightly revised. Instead of revising two WIPs, I’m going to finish this new one, then dig into revisions on the WIP I finished last round.

2.) Reading to hone my craft: Haven’t read any writing books this week, but I plan to start reading a new book later today. One of four writing books read for this round so far.

3.) Social media: Checked in on Twitter on Tuesday, but took Monday off to spend the day with hubby. Commented on 5 blog posts on Tuesday, none on Monday. On track with my blogging for this week.

What about you? What life lessons have you learned from your favorite TV shows? And how are your goals, writing or otherwise, coming along?

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

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personal journeys, the writer's journey, writing updates

dusting off my blog–finally!

Needless to say, I’ve been away from the blog for a while. There are quite a few dust bunnies to contend with on the website, but I’m determined to clear them out. (Thanks, August McLaughlin, for the gentle nudge.) 🙂 And I’ve also missed talking with my fellow bloggers. I’m really curious to hear what everyone has been up to lately.

Here’s a brief update on what I’ve been doing over the past few months:

1.) Revisions, part iv. I finished the third draft of “Made of Shadows” last year. I received some really great feedback from my critique group and from a couple of editors to whom I submitted it, so I’m currently digging into another round of revisions.

2.) From writer to thespian. After all of these long years working behind the keyboard, I dove into a new art form: acting. I played a supporting role in a local production of the Greek tragedy “Agamemnon.” I learned a lot about myself as an artist from the experience. Initially, I had a hard time not critiquing the wording of my lines. When I accepted that I could only focus on the delivery, not how the line was written, I was transformed. Actors experience art from the other side of the page, so I feel I grew as an artist. It was hard but rewarding work, and I met some really cool people along the way.

3.) A debt-free journey. In December, my husband graduated from college after six years as a part-time student. (Congrats, hubby!) And then we began the process of killing our student loan debt. We’re grateful for the education those loans gave us, but we are ready to destroy our student loan debt and focus more on giving, saving, and traveling. We’re definitely ready for some new adventures!

4.) Finding my “artist’s way.” Part of the reason there hasn’t been much blogging going on lately is because I’ve been caught in a horrible period of writer’s block. I’ve never had a storytelling problem I couldn’t write my way out of, but it’s been harder this year than in the past. That’s not to say I haven’t written at all–I have–but my progress hasn’t been as steady as in past years. I took some time to read Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” which is meant to help us tap into sources of creativity and overcome artists’ blocks. While a year with little writing is no fun, I am finding a greater clarity and sense of patience as I address changes to the latest draft of “Made of Shadows.”

Has anyone else tried Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” techniques? I know I’ve found them really useful.

Now, what about you? What has changed in your life in the past year–writing or otherwise? 🙂

creativity, personal journeys, writing updates

Songstresses, Storytellers, and A Sunday Summary

photo from stock.xchng

Recently, while sitting in a coffee house (of all places), I heard this beautiful, sweet, simple song called “When You’ve Got Trouble.” I loved it immediately, so much that I Googled the lyrics to find out who the artist was. It turned out to be Liz Longley, and I bought Liz’s album “Hot Loose Wire.”

But another song from that album inspired this post: A song called “Unraveling,” about Liz’s experience losing her grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease. The lyrics left tears streaming down my face, but they also made me think about art, all art, and why we create the works we create.

If asked to describe what makes a good work of art—whether song, story, or sculpture—I’d say that good art breaks your heart and then puts it back together, leaving you altered—the same person, but changed, transported, and slightly better than before. In transporting you to some place—a landscape, a story, an image, an emotion, a memory—a work of art reveals some part of the human experience that lives inside of you. As far from navel-gazing as it could be, art connects us to the human experience.

My favorite thing about “Unraveling” and other tunes like it is that, as Liz described it, she wrote this song for herself, about her own experience. But that song ended up touching a lot of people, and she’s not the first artist to say something along these lines. I believe these works touch so many people because they speak to a common pain. Dar Williams’ song “After All” talks about experiencing depression and coming out on the other side a better, stronger person. Her discussion of writing that song echoes Liz’s words about hers.

The human experience has different flavors, but it comes down to love, to family, to memory, to home, to loss, whether those things bring up feelings of pain, grief, joy, or happiness. In every work I create, I hope I give someone out there that experience—of being transported, of being broken or lost, of being made whole.

How would you define art? Does music ever inspire your work? What’s the last song that made you cry?

Below you’ll find this week’s Sunday summary and mash-up of awesomeness, but first, here’s a taste of Liz’s music and that lovely, painful song called “Unraveling”:

Sunday Summary:

After seriously considering plunging into NaNoWriMo next month, I’m leaning toward no. My health still isn’t where it needs to be, and I don’t want to push my body–and my sleep-deprived brain–too hard. Since 2012 is my year of seeking balance, NaNo is going to have to wait.

I went back to “Pierce My Heart” this week, filling in some of Lithe’s backstory. Yes, I realize now that this story really is a novel–hard to believe it started out as a little novelette for Valentine’s Day. But the fact that there are several different plot threads at play–a whodunit suspense, a love story, two complicated character backstories, and a sociopolitical angle–means that to be done well, this one needs to be fleshed out. I’m also working on an outline for my novella “Oak-Bound.”

What are you working on this week?

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness: