Except He Doesn’t Proofread My Blog Posts

Birthday Event

Now that the Feb (me) and March (spouse) event-packed birthdays are over, it’s back to work. I purposefully let my MG synopsis and the first 10 pages of the ms. marinate for a few days. Still feeling positive after reading over my revisions today. It’s handy being married to a former professional proofreader who doesn’t mind going over my work. In fact, he’s both proofreader and eager beta reader, Pisces helping Pisces in this school of 2 + a Scorpio + a mini-zoo filled with drama-loving, unapologetically vocal Leos.

I’m 1/2 way through T. Kingfisher’s THE WIZARD’S GUIDE TO DEFENSIVE BAKING, a fun, witty read–will never look at sourdough bread the same way again, though–in fact, might not eat sourdough bread ever again. Or gingerbread men cookies.

Yours in continuing to write/revise/submit through March,


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Fielding Distractions


SoCal rainstorms and SNOW!!! and my (feels-like-95th) birthday have distracted me from completing important tasks since Valentine’s Day (also a distraction), such as wiping puppy noseprints from windows, or filling in gopher holes.

However, I’m not distracted from my creativity–writing, submitting, feeding my brain new books (literary bon bons–see The Library tab).

I also finally discovered Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog, which you probably already subscribe to as I’m late to most parties. Chris’ links have given me authors I’m eager to follow and a plethora (understatement) of articles devoted to writing tips. Have I bookmarked any articles yet? Yes–the keepers are easy to recognize.

So as March arrives, I feel as if I’m honoring my 2023 writing goals.

A good feeling, right?

Yours in remembering to slip exercise into any schedule (not hard to do when you have a puppy who’s so high energy, she appears on your birthday cake),


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Time to Read

Valentine’s Day present from husband and the teen. Perfect! Wish I could start reading now.

Yours in hearts and candy (whether chocolate or books),


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Absolutely the Place

Took me a while to finish this novel, but not because it’s not riveting.

I was savoring each chapter.

Maggie O’Farrell’s ability to introduce multiple characters on a page and pull out their souls for the reader to examine? A review quote from ‘The Washington Times’ calls the author ‘impressive’ and ‘perhaps masterly’. Please trust me. Maggie O’Farrell is beyond masterly. There is no perhaps. None.

From Ireland to London to Hollywood–from the 1970’s (and far earlier) to the 21st century, I relished this read/ride and will miss and continue to think about the characters. As I do with the extraordinary ‘Hamnet’.

Hope it’s the same for you.

Yours in memorable novels,


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Loglines/writing break, waiting for the refrigerator repair person to arrive between now and 4 hours from now, recovering from the debilitating cold the teen had last week, took the puppy on a brief walk to the pond, where we quietly viewed cormorants (I sometimes mix them up with loons) balanced on a platform thing floating in the water.

I don’t know why the cormorants are here and not the ocean, Ventura’s beaches, or Santa Barbara’s, where their kin thrive. There’s only teeny tiny fish in our pond. Turtles. Certainly a reliable midday peace, still…

Whatever the reason, I appreciate their presence here in the mountains.

Hello, February! Old birthday month, part nemesis, part thrill.

Let’s get on with it.

Yours in aging gracefully,


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Hearts on the Horizon

Shadow, my night owl.

Hurtling towards February, my birthday month, I’m still writing every day thanks to Nephele Tempest’s December Writing Challenge AND I almost have my synopsis ready (though–are synopses ever really ready?) for my women’s fiction novel AND the synopses for my kidlit eco-fiction trilogy.

And your loglines, PB? you ask (I know you haven’t asked, that it’s my own voice waking me up at 3am with LOGLINES LOGLINES LOGLINES, at which point I do Wordle and go back to sleep).

Progress, though.

Hope it’s the same for you.

Yours in all the submission particulars,


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December Writing Challenge Results

December ’22 was a zephyr on steroids, for me. For you, too?

And yet–Christmas Day passed in slow motion: walks, long phonecalls with out of town family, cooking-while-socializing (sans panic), everyone snoozing by 10pm (except for the gaming teenager).

So–Nephele Tempest’s December Writing Challenge, i.e. writing every single day of December, including Christmas Eve/Christmas Day–went well for me. I did write on Christmas Eve (despite our drive to Santa Barbara and back, or maybe because of–Santa Barbara visits stimulate my creativity) and on the unexpected tortoise-creep of Christmas Day.

I did miss 2 days–one due to a chest cold/cough nightmare in full swing, and on 12/23–my 16th wedding anniversary w/cough.

The best part of the challenge is that it has kickstarted my writing hour(s) into 2023. Including writing/revising loglines (see previous posts).

Right on!

Yours in 2023 productivity,


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More on loglines

Instead of grousing about writing loglines, I’m sharing my go-to list when composing them. My husband, the scriptwriter, calls this list a formula. Although the following doesn’t make my grousing cease, it does temper it and, truthfully, makes approaching writing loglines less stressful:

Shadow. In-house grouser.
  1. Start off by describing the hook that kicks off your protagonist’s journey
  2. Carry on with describing the protagonist, their goal, who/what is trying to stop them
  3. Describe the stakes if the protagonist fails
  4. Try making steps 1-3 form 1 complete concise sentence
  5. A model: When/After [inciting incident happens], a [specific protagonist] must/struggles to [accomplish goal / overcome obstacles] by [time factor] or else [what’s at stake]
  6. Omit stakes and time factor if they are implied by the goal or inciting incident
  7. Try starting the logline with what if

If I’m still stuck, or even if I’m not, I Google show me loglines

PS. IMO creating loglines with a side of peanut butter cup ice-cream takes an edge off grousing.

Yours in loglines,


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O Loglines!

To be 100% honest, I hate writing them. I tell myself: fantastic writing exercise! Or: you’ve just written 5 potential maybe-winners! Or: it’s midnight WTH. And: time to pay somebody.

Query letter, synopsis, logline are sometimes the ONLY bits in the way of submitting my first chapters.

Luckily, my husband is a writer and retired (although not while married to me, so forever) professional proofreader.

Luckily, I have family and friends and writer-friends who don’t mind reading logline related missives.

I grouse and am grumpy, yet carry on with this part of the getting-somewhere process–lately while wearing my new Christmas hat from husband and son.

Yours in vocation-related perseverance,


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Night Writing Paradise

If I was to write solely by night, every night I would want to do it here:

Which is also here:


And especially here:

4th annual visit to Descanso’s Enchanted and this is new–I hope they keep it in the lineup forever.

Sadly, this installation is temporary. I did let them know I’d be happy to take any pieces off their hands and store them on my patio until they have need of them again, but so far: crickets.

Yours in daring night lights,


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JANUARY 1, 2023



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The Flexible Writing Schedule

I love when authors I admire share writing schedules/non-schedules. Most seem to have a set routine–which I marvel at as I tend to ricochet around the hours–or the hours ricochet around me when I’m at my computer.

I’m most focused and creative early mornings instead of at night, lately. However, since we’ve had the puppy I’ve had to fit writing in whenever I can, whether mornings, or 10pm’s when the puppy finally conks out, or increments between puppy-naps and being Minivan-Mom.

Writing mornings go something like this:

  1. Drop the teen at school
  2. Hit the grocery store
  3. Make dinner/refrigerate it (better this way than cooking at 5pm, I’ve discovered–something to do with the relief of just knowing dinner is good to go and instead of cooking I can be Tutor Mom or throw the ball for the puppy)
  4. Pour a cup of coffee and gigantic tumbler of sparkling water
  5. Write/revise/create for 1 – 3, sometimes 4 hrs

And somewhere in there I swim laps for 45 mins…not every day, though, and not now in Winter, despite investing in a wetsuit. Waiting for my xmas rowing machine to arrive.

I work by the kitchen window. Hummingbird feeders hang in front of it. My feeders are popular and I’ve learned that hummers make writer’s block smashable.

If I get up for any reason, I return to find a cat curled in my chair. Either I switch chairs or gently transfer kitty to the chair next to mine.

Sometimes I don’t get up to refill my coffee mug because the puppy is on my feet and she’s so relaxed and quiet.

I remember reading about a writer who writes for 1 hr/day, period, and is a successful novelist.

I know a poet/novelist who doesn’t leave her writing office until 3am M-F.

A writer with numerous prestigious awards for her work once told me: Chill, it happens when it happens.

Yours in writing however it floats your schedule,


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Merry Christmas!

Hope that on the 25th you were warm, dry (even if in an airport), or getting sunburned, but most of all SAFE.

Yours in love,


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Solstice Check-in

Naps, like the beach, fix everything

December 21st and I’ve written or revised novels every day this month except for 1, when I was in the throes of that chest cold going around.

Still feeling the chest cold. Writing anyway, keeping to agent Nephele Tempest’s December Lets’ Write writing challenge.

And squeezing in naps I hope will be my Christmas miracle and propel me back into the human race sans stubborn cough/evening fatigue.

Note: I don’t recommend reading Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘Hamnet’ when ill, gorgeous as it is.

Yours in health, writing, reading excellent literature, training high-energy puppies and making family meals even though you feel like crawling into a hole and expiring,


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O Holy Decor!

World’s tiniest Santa Claus tries to break into our house! Every night! Through January!

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A Breath of History

The last time I visited the Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood, my then-boyfriend and I ordered drinks from the Tropicana poolside bar, our waitress wearing a copy of Marilyn’s ‘Seven Year Itch’ white dress. We sipped alongside 2 Spideys and a Batman taking a break from posing with tourists outside Mann’s Chinese Theatre (now TCL Chinese Theatre). Batman, we noticed, had a paunch.

That was over a decade ago.

These days my husband and I only venture into Hollywood if he has a meeting with clients, or to give our houseguests a tour, most of whom have already seen the boulevard and its myriad of scuffed pavement stars anyway.

But last week I was on the boulevard twice, acting as my husband’s driver to meetings (another story/another day). I had time to wander and appreciate welcome/overdue upgrades to Hollywood storefronts and interiors–still, though, the Target next to the Kodiak Theatre has locked sliding glass doors over most of its products, even shampoos, reminding me of the old days, when I wouldn’t dream of going to Hollywood by myself, only with a crowd or a male friend.

I perused the Kodiak Theatre’s mall (think Oscars), then crossed the street to the El Capitan Theatre, where Jimmy Kimmel films his shows, the entrance guarded by two large men in matching black suits.

And then I came to the Roosevelt, almost easy to miss due to scaffolding and lack of front door signage (on purpose?), although if you look up, way up, the hotel’s giant Hollywood sign style letters salute helicopters.

I was greeted by a doorman eager to talk. We hung out for 20 mins, exchanging Roosevelt stories (another story/another day). He caught me up on hotel renovations and encouraged me to kick back in the lounge when I told him my husband was in a meeting nearby. He escorted me to Teddy’s bar, at the far end of the lounge. ‘Teddy’s opens in half an hour,’ he said. ‘Order the avocado toast.’

So I did.

And when I was back on the boulevard later in the week, I went straight into the Roosevelt, chose a couch, ordered avocado toast (whipped avo, so savory, try it), pulled my laptop out and worked on my novel.

My novel has a tiny bit in it where the poet-heroine, suffering from a debilitating case of writer’s block, flees to the Roosevelt lounge, picks a couch, and tries to write the old way, pen to paper (unsuccessfully).

I revisited that part of the novel, drawing from the real thing vs. memory, tapping away on my keyboard, surrounded by Los Angeles history, and possibly Marilyn Monroe’s ghost, and tastefully lavish Christmas decorations.

The next time you’re in Hollywood, snag a couch in the Roosevelt and don’t forget to give my regards to the doorman.

Yours in visiting classic L.A. all by herself,


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December Writing Challenge

Puppy’s new fav spot

Each December agent Nephele Tempest reminds writers about her month-long writing challenge. Write. Every. Day. Even Christmas Day. Carve/axe/cement-drill writing time for yourself, even if only 10 little minutes. I’m in. Adding reading to the challenge–the tower of books on my nightstand threatening to topple, especially since I’m about to add Louise Penny’s latest Gamache mystery. Nanowrimo was a complete bust for me this year due to sooooooo many real-life surprises, so this writing challenge couldn’t come at a better time.

Yours in breezing–sledding?–through challenges this December (Christmas shopping is done, hallelujah!),


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SCBWI-LA and CenCal Writers Day ’22

So happy to finally attend in person again. Looking forward to seeing one of my favorite kidlit authors, librarian and conference host, Sally Rogan. Full day of mass-info-absorption in an inspiring environment. See you there. #WritersDay2022

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Welcoming the Warg

So–recently we adopted my son when he was a baby, only in puppy form.

My son is 14. It’s been a while since the cutest-of-babes escaped under tables and chairs with deadly pens/pencils (scooted to the floor by our cats) in his mouth, believed NO meant PLAY, chose the couch over the potty for potty training, hated toddling on sidewalks instead of the middle of streets, etc.

Reasons I was a sleepless mother for the first 5 years of my son’s life have returned–often in Warg form (see Rings of Power).

Also returned?

Magical Energy!

puppy classes walking puppy walking puppy walking puppy writing at night when the Warg is a 35lb 16 week old adorable bundle slumbering on my feet as I work

I’m not going to tell you where my puppy came from, but if you knew? You, too, would accept puppy pee on your jeans. And take your puppy to multiple weekly puppy classes, where strangers and their new BF’s are instantly your new BF’s.

Yours in positive reinforcement, afternoon naps, and rediscovering evening hours to write,


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Summer Goals (Part 2)

I’ve enjoyed summer despite living in fire country, which means our vital documents are packed in travel boxes until maybe November, pet carriers lined up in the garage, everything ready to be loaded, if necessary. My summer-normal. Yours, too?

I had a brief vacation by the sea–so close to the sea we could walk our meals to the beach and picnic to wave music. Most mornings and evenings a juicy-cool fog seeped over coastline from Monterey to San Simeon, tamping fire danger. Right on.

Now it’s August and I’m home and focused on my 3rd draft of the 1st 1/2 of the new novel…obsessing on the 1st 1/2 as there are fall submission deadlines I’m interested in.

By the time my teen starts high school (only next week wut!), I will be editing the 2nd and most challenging 1/2 of the novel, its airborne action, the relationships changed forever, honing the mom character that I refuse to kill.

Yours in continuing to be productive wherever you reside,


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JULY (Miranda Edition)

Whenever I hear complaints about July, most of which have to do with hot weather, I immediately think of Miranda July, her quirky stories, films, and mostly the bagged goldfish on top of the moving car…especially that image, which for me metaphorically encapsulates my SoCal summers. It’s too easy to forget, despite living in it, this drought which should never be forgotten, and which is only getting worse.

So I’ve decided to keep on swimming.

And writing/editing.

Yours in remaining aware of constant climate change,


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O Summer! (Goals Edition)

School’s out for summer!

My giant goal–apart from making every Tuesday an outings-day for the teen, i.e. museums, Olvera St., 3rd Street Promenade, Zuma, downtown library, Vasquez Rocks, that room where you can go and break crockery for an hour, then throw axes–my giant goal is:

Finish 2nd draft of new novel by July 31st.

So far? On schedule.

Yours in healthy, realistic goals, sightseeing, and no summer brush fires,


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Update: Nanowrimo

My 2021 Nanowrimo (aka momomo) middle-grade novel from last November is in the revision stages, especially the first 10-20 pages.

Spring at our pond

Revising what I mo-ed like geyser-gush from a broken sprinkler head last year is: good. I truly enjoy the challenge of translating the rapids of my (sub)consciousness.

I like powerwalking mornings and receiving new information about characters I naively thought were DONE!, or suddenly realizing the true color of wild lavender plants as I walk on by, or how ducks and coots really behave on ponds and lakes (crucial details for my momomo), etc.

And I’ve started hanging out with the teen as he does his homework, opening his curtains and window, letting spring inside his cave, lounging on his bed with the kitten as he glances at me like I’m a freak from Mars. Yesterday, I casually pointed out that he’d left a wet bath towel on his floor AGAIN, to which he responded:


Without looking up from his computer.


My 14 year old son says: INDEED.

The joy I felt was hard to contain.

Definitely going to use his “Indeed” in my novel.

Yours in carrying on as spring blooms and humans sneeze,


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Post Birthday Questionnaire

How old are you? Not old enough.
What do you want? Greater physical/emotional strength. To write more than I am writing. To see more wild sea otters.
What have you given your teenager that is worthwhile, or impressionable? Apologies when I’m wrong or have raised my voice. Books. An introduction to nature.
What did you say to your husband before he left for work? You’re our hero.
What are your goals? Works In Progress. Also: to remember to notice the sky every day, the sway (like breath) of the golden medallion tree out front, the hummingbirds at the kitchen window feeders, to receive love-blinks from the cats. Etc.
Who are you? A nice lady cataloguing personal bests and worsts.
What is your greatest fear? A war into which my son is drafted.
Optimist or pessimist? Hopeful. Especially when watching a raft of sea otters.

Yours in hope,

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Saving Your Protagonist

I’m sure you’ve already read Save The Cat Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody–however, if you haven’t?


As I continue revising my Nanowrimo2021 novel, thanks to Cat the chant in my head is: What does my protagonist want?

Simple, pertinent little chant about something I always know, when writing, yet forget, when writing–kind of like how I scramble for my son’s birthdate when filling out forms in the Dr.’s office, even though I know my son’s birthdate like I know my own.

When I focus on what I consider murky patches within my novel, I realize the murk is me straying into non-magical woods obscuring my protagonist’s main goal.

Despite my knowing the goal.

Hence the chant.

Yours in pertinent chants illuminating your writing highway,


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