Monthly Goals Check-In: January 2017


I’ll be honest, I’ve been working my ass off, but I don’t feel like I’m really getting anywhere.

I’d planned to have short story finished, a book revised and expanded, and be at least a quarter of the way into a new novella. However, that’s not quite how things worked. An ugly case of anxiety and depression have pretty well immobilized me.

However, I have kicked ass at gutting my house and  getting rid of stuff. I still need to wash out the fridge, and take stock of the freezer, but then I’ll be done with the kitchen. I’m doing this 52 Week Organized Home Challenge. So far, so good. And in some areas, I’m working ahead – like my bedroom.

This is this month’s to-do list from my bullet journal. Things that are half-filled in are started, arrows mean they’re migrating to next month, and filled in means they’re done. Yeah…still hoping to start that yoga program by next Tuesday…

(Apologies for my hideous handwriting.)


But, I’ve been doing a lot of editing and some writing. Jess and I will have a new newsletter out next week, too. So if you want two new free short stories, sign up for the newsletter – they’re exclusive to newsletter subscribers only.

I’ve also been doing a lot of knitting. I made pussyhats for the Women’s March, and I’m still going. I think I’m on hat number nine. And a bunch made it to the marches in DC, Atlanta and Lansing.


Another thing I’ve accomplished this month is building a website for The Michigan Highlanders, the Highland Games organization my brother Martin belongs to. And if you want to follow them on Instagram and Tumblr, I’m sure they’d love that. (I would also love that. I’ve worked very hard on this – lol!) In case you’re wondering, my brother is the one who’s ripped the sleeves out of his shirts.

Okay, my goals for February are:

Continue with whatever’s next on the Organized Home Challenge

Finish revising and expanding Mist and Stone.

Progress on DN & EP 

Finish 5 more pussyhats

Progress on the other two websites I’m putting together. 

Oh yeah, and start that damn yoga program.

Be sure you check out the other bloggers check-ins! Jess, Deelylah, and Paige.

Wordless Wednesday: Comfort



These are just a few of the things I think of when I think of comfort. (Breaking the rules with captions. Like usual.)


The swing my husband built me is one of my favorite comfort things. Just the act of quietly swinging is soothing.


Being by the water, particularly when the waves are rolling in has always brought me comfort. This is Lake Michigan on a particularly turbulent day.


So has the scent of lilacs.


And cuddly kitties.

IMG_7955 (1)

I love this lantern. It’s warm glow always makes me feel a little more peaceful than I did, before I lit the candle on the inside.


Knitting is so comforting – both the act of knitting and listening to the clacking of the needles of someone else doing it.


And there’s probably nothing more comforting than being all cwtched up in sweaters that my mama knitted for me.


Here’s a closeup of some of the main patterns. Also, that one on the bottom left isn’t that orange in real life. The actual color is how it looks up above. It was just really sunny out when I took them out to photograph them.

Be sure to check the other authors’ posts to see what they find comforting.




What I Did on My Summer Vacation

This summer has been crazy-busy. Like usual. I’m not sure how that happens, but as much as I’m longing for a break from the school year chaos and I think that summer will be full of relaxation and lazy days, it never really is. I’m not sure how that happens, but I usually hit the ground running and I don’t really stop.

There was our amazing Writers Retreat that I already blogged about.

The month after we home from that, we went back to the UP for our annual family vacation. We go with my dad, stepmom, one of my brothers and his fam, my two stepbrothers and their fams, and it’s a great time.

The lake we stay at is really peaceful and great for fishing. Not that I do that now that I’m not forced to. (Childhood vacations involves mandatory fishing for five hours a night.) But I love hanging out by the water and watching the sun rise and set. I also like a nice adult apple juice in my floaty chair in the lake (slathered with ALL the SPF Vampire in the world) while I visit with my SIL. I also (kind of ) learned to kayak. I’m terrible at it, but it’s fun, and I’ll do it again next year.

There was also much discussion of Broadway musicals. One of my nieces is utterly addicted, and it’s pretty much the most adorable thing in the history of ever. Needless to say, there was much singing of Hamilton by me and said niece and my nephew.


Look how cute the cabins are and how peaceful the lake is!


No filters – just a Upper Peninsula sunset progression our second night there.


These ducks were my writing buddies. I just happened to catch a great shot of them landing.


Our last night there. sigh

We went swimming in Lake Superior, which while chilly, wasn’t horrifyingly cold, but we were on the southern shore which is always warmer, and that was a blast. Lake Superior is my ultimate happy place. I love it up there.


Lake Superior at Grand Marais

A week or so after we got back from the UP, I went to the airport and picked up my girl, Jess Jarman, and we had a glorious ten day visit. We hung with Jenny Trout and went out to supper with Jen, Jessica De La Rosa, and Kayleigh Jones. We also went to see one of my brothers compete in a local Highland Games competition. And we died in the godawful heat and humidity. But here’s my sweet boy doing his beast thing.




Jess and I wrote at the super hipster coffee shop.


We got new tattoos – here’s mine!


Write day and night like you’re running out of time. 

We had date night at The Melting Pot – we decided we’re doing all cheese next time.



In other summer fun news, I won an award! Well, technically, my book did! The Professor’s Student tied for first place with Lauren Gallagher’s  book, Kneel, Mr. President in the Passionate Plume contest!


Check out the gorgeous charm Passionate Ink sent the winners! It’ll look so pretty on my bracelet.


Write day and night like you’re running out of time. 

Let’s see…in other news, I finally figured out how to knit cables. They ended up being not nearly as difficult as I was afraid they were. I may get this sweater finished, yet.


I finally got to see Billy Joel in concert! And better still? I got to go with Jenny Trout and her daughter, and it was fucking magical! I’d go see him again in a heartbeat.


And last, but not least, I officiated at an amazing beach wedding on the shore of Lake Michigan. At some point, I may blog more about it. It ended up being an incredibly profound experience because of the people involved.


Those are pretty much the highlights of the last few months. It’s been a great summer.

Brain Dump: What’s on your mind?

So, this week’s post is supposed to be a brain dump of what’s on my mind. Considering my brain is an endless loop of dialogue snippets, song lyrics and half-remembered tasks, I can’t promise you a lot of cohesion. Or probably any, really.

Welp, here goes…

I just noticed that the cats are sleeping on the laundry that’s folded on the dining room table which means that they’ll probably have to be rewashed it because A.) it’s summer so the cats are shedding something fierce and B.) probably everyone in this house will continue to walk by the piles, oblivious to the fact that they need to put away their damn clothes.

I miss all my retreat people, and I want to be back up north with them. sigh

Take the bullets out your gun! The bullets out your gun! (What?) We move under cover and we move as one. Through the night, we have one shot to live another day. We cannot let a stray gunshot give us away. We will fight up close, seize the moment and stay in it. It’s either that or meet the business end of a bayonet. The code word is ‘Rochambeau’, dig me? (Rochambeau!) You have your orders now, go, man, go!

Remember I said there were endless song lyrics in my brain? That paragraph up above is proof. That’s part of Guns and Ships from Hamilton, and it’s been cycling through my head for days.

Oh…speaking of Hamilton, look what my son, Corwin, drew me for my birthday! I thought it turned out really well!

The Story of Tonight by Corwin Riley

And while I was up north with no internet and very, very little cell phone coverage, my husband and one of my brothers got us tickets to see Hamilton in Chicago in March! It’ll be my one brother, his two kids, our sister, me, and my two kids. My husband tried to get a ticket, too, but they were selling out too quickly, so he decided to just get ours because he wanted to be sure we saw it. That, my friends, is true love.

True love reminds me that I’m really loving the story I’m working on and I can’t wait to share it with you. Now that my meds are no longer a nightmare and I’m not fighting through brain fog daily, writing is fun again! Yay for drugs that actually work!

Oh, I realize this has nothing to do with anything else (welcome to my head), but I decided to try keeping a bullet journal in addition to my planner. I’m not sure it’ll help me become more organized, but it might help me stay on track project-wise. This is my journal and my key. I don’t know if it’s going to help, but hope springs eternal and all that.

Also, I’m geeked because I’ve had this fabric for ages, and I finally got to use it.



Oh, and speaking of making things, I started a new sweater. Yes, I know I haven’t finished the last one, yet. And I know that I’ve not yet mastered socks, which I swear I will by the end of the year. But this sweater looks pretty simple and it’s a good portable project. It also doesn’t require five needles like the socks do. And as I learned on the way home from retreat, knitting with five needles while traveling in a car is not the cleverest thing I’ve ever attempted.

But here’s the sweater. I’m making it longer. And the sleeves will also be longer because those sleeves are dumb. And mine will have thumbholes. Because I really like thumbholes in my longsleeve things. Also, I will try not to walk around with that “Did you really just say that?” expression on my face like this model. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ll probably have that expression a lot.


Oh, and mine won’t be gray. I’m using this yarn. Yes, it’s Downton Abbey yarn. What of it? Mostly I just really liked the color, the weight, and the feel. Also? It was on sale.


And this is how far I am on it.




And Peggy!

See? More lyrics.

I need to go get some words written to stay on track. And I also need to make supper. And finish putting together my presentation for a writers group on Saturday. But, this has been a brain dump edition of this blog.

GwenJessicaPaige, and Kris also wrote brain dump posts, so be sure to check out what’s rattling around in their heads.