Monthly Archives: August 2014

My book ban

UnknownI’m currently on deadline with book number two. It’s not the deadline that’s tight, but the amount of editing and rewriting I need to cram in before this manuscript is where I want it to be. I think I can get it done, assuming September brings no emergencies or disasters, but I’m not 100% sure. Not yet. Not until I figure out just how extensive the rewrites are going to be, and for that I have to keep writing. 

And so, to keep myself on schedule, I am on reading lockdown. I’ve shut down my Kindle and hidden my TBR pile. That new Susan Elizabeth Phillips that just popped up on my iPad? Haven’t opened it. That new Kresley Cole on my Audible app? Haven’t clicked on it. For weeks and weeks, y’all!

I miss books. I MISS them! I miss cracking one open and getting a whiff of paper and ink. I miss settling in with a glass of wine and my Kindle on the back porch. I miss waking up with my iPad on my face because I just had to read one more chapter. I miss feeling my heart pound and my stomach swirl with fear or anger or love. I miss forgetting all the stuff in my life and getting swept away in someone else’s. I miss everything about books.

Yes, I’m getting a lot done on my own, but if this little experiment has taught me anything, it’s that I have willpower of steel. Now if I could just figure out how to apply it to french fries and chocolate.

So yes, Janna, I will pick up a book and study it, but not until October. 

To Study or Not to Study (No Question)

To study, by’s explanation, is to apply oneself to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation, practice, or reflection.

I made the recent decision to, as my kids jump into another year of school, devote time and energy to some independent study for myself. It makes sense, expounding upon my understanding of particular subjects, especially those which fascinate me, and I’m not sure why I never thought of it before. I mean, I know that I’ve been a (sometimes) willing student of life, and a voracious reader, but I suppose I’ve kept so busy working and parenting and simply being, that I’ve never, as an adult, thought about actively pursuing topics I’m interested in to research and absorb.

There’s suddenly something so appealing about reading and studying in ways that are natural to me. Now that I’m years-removed from my classroom education I can recognize the ways in which I most effectively approach learning and content retention, and control them myself. Plus, now I can do it for simple enjoyment and personal gain, not because I’ll be tested, or because it’s necessary for advancement.

For sure I’m interested in philosophy and religion, and also the writing craft (something I’m not unfamiliar with, but need to deeply review), so these are first up on my list.

So far I’m several pages into each of these books:


What’s hardest is choosing which to pick up any given moment of spare time. Are any of them familiar to you?

Down the line, I’d like to delve into psychology and forensic science, as well. Are there any titles related to those topics you would recommend?

What would you study now if you could find (or make) the time? What would you apply yourself to for the sake of knowledge?

I challenge you: Pick a topic, buy a book about it, and study.

Summer’s Almost Over

For many, school has already started. For others, school will begin next week. Summer is coming to an end, though we still have Labor Day to celebrate on September 1st.

We just returned from vacation at Stinson Beach. This small town of about 450 people is on the coast of California about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge. We rented a house on the beach and it was so wonderful to step out onto the sand from the enclosed back yard – which was great for the dogs!

I came back home and felt depressed. It’s the first time that’s happened to me. Granted, it could have had something to do with the fact the world lost Robin Williams. I loved that guy. Being a peer, it saddened me even more. He gave so much of himself to us. I’ll miss him.

So the same week we were at the beach I discovered it was Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. We didn’t see any sharks but we saw pods of dolphins as well as sea otters. Now, that was awesome.

Did anyone do anything exciting you’d like to tell us about? It doesn’t have to be about a vacation. It can be anything.

Gone Fishing

Right this moment Sheila would rather be fishing, despite the fact that fishing is about two-million-one-hundred-and-twenty-eight on her bucket list.

Or hanging here.

Or reading a good book.

Or finishing the developmental edits on her upcoming book.

Instead, she’s hanging at the youngest son’s new farm, a paintbrush in one hand, cleanser in the other.

Check out her recent adventures on Facebook, then make her day by popping over to her Author Page to give her a Like.

If the painting and cleaning are finished — which they better be! — Sheila will be back in three weeks. Until then, enjoy your summer!

A Little Perspective

Although I didn’t attend Romance Writers of America’s national conference in San Antonio this summer, I did pick up a gem on RWA’s Published Author Network loop in the form of a book recommendation, Wired For Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, by Lisa Cron. To non-writers, this may sound as entertaining as watching paint dry, but to those of us who write for a living, this book is pure gold. jury duty

I’m especially enjoying this book after my recent jury duty summons. Jury duty–while tedious and annoying–and my subsequent service as a juror on a one-day trial, provided a vivid example of how background and perspective matter.

It was a cut-and-dried DUI case. At 2:30 in the morning, the defendant ran two red lights, and was observed by two separate police officers exceeding the speed limit by at minimum twenty five miles per hour. The cops pulled him over, called in a DUI specialist, and charged him with DUI after he failed two out of three field sobriety tests while refusing to take the third. He also refused a breathalyzer and blood test. Cut. And. Dried. Guilty!

All three cops testified. One couldn’t identify the defendant because the case was over three years old (understandable), and all three presented very compelling, very damming evidence against the defendant. With every second that crept by, with every dramatic exhalation of breath by the defendant’s attorney, my irritation grew. Guilty, people! What a waste of our time and taxpayer money.

As the six men and women of the jury convened in the deliberation room, I assumed we’d be out of there within minutes. Surely everyone could see he was guilty. But…I forgot about perspective. I forgot that people view everything through the lens of their own  reality.

The two most glaring examples came from a woman with grown children and a history of alcoholism who’d had several runs-ins with police, and another guy with a pending DUI case (I still can’t believe he was picked for the jury). Despite expert testimony by three officers of the law, these two jurors interpreted everything the cops said as though they were lying and out to get the defendant. By the time I snapped out of my shock from hearing the woman say, “Cops are dirty,” I began to look at the entire jury duty experience as a fascinating illustration of what Lisa Cron writes about in her book: the irresponsibility of assuming everyone views life the same.

I suppose the bigger question is why, after almost forty-five years on the planet, I still need this kind of glaring reminder that people are different. Don’t I experience the differences every day on Facebook (especially in the much-hated political rants)? Apparently I did need a reminder. Because apparently I’m as typical and average as the next person. Every time I think back to that day spent serving on the jury I shake my head. It was as fascinating as it was frustrating, and hopefully I’ll be a better writer because of it. What do you think?

photo credit: brianjmatis via photopin cc

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