New Year, New Blog Design

Looking back on my attempts to post here more regularly, I realized that one of the reasons I was avoiding the blog was because I had grown unhappy with the design of it and was unsure how to fix it. Thanks to Stephen’s help, the website has a much-needed facelift, and I’m going to try to once more cultivate a realistic once-a-week routine. Maybe as I find my rhythm, I can do more. Certainly the goal for 2019 is a lot more writing—creative and otherwise.

Reflecting upon the year that passed, much of it was focused on putting the pieces in place for the kids and household after several transitions. My hope is that this year we can all build upon that foundation the things that we need and want.

With a still-secret book deal that is due to the publisher at the end of February, we’re hitting the ground of 2019 running. Stephen and I are coauthoring another nonfiction book! (We will share more as we are able.)

In the meantime, thank you. Thank you for reading the things I have had published and shared, for offering support and checking in on me when I seemed too quiet, for being patient while I retracted from the world to deal with all the things.

There is a lot of work to be done—on large and small scales. My 2019 wish is that we can all move forward to try and make this world a better place with courage and compassion, with humility and reflection, hand-in-hand with collaborators and loved ones. I hope that you can find the right partners to share your dreams, to hold you up when you get tired, to hug you when you are ready to be hugged, and to dance and laugh with you when there is joy to be celebrated.

Thank you for being part of my circle. Happy New Year!


Early Morning Writing


Summer, with its lazy afternoons and glorious nights, is challenging for me as a writer; not because of the distractions of sunshine, but because of changes to my routine with the appearance of three children who are suddenly on the scene all the time.

I don’t like to over-schedule the kids, especially during summer vacation. I believe in the importance of creativity that comes out of the eventual “boredom” of unscheduled free time. However, it is harder to get consistent writing done when they are around; plus they are growing up so fast, and I want to enjoy our summers together. My solution is to adopt a new schedule–waking up at 5:00 am to write.

Those who know me well, know this is a significant departure. I’m usually the one writing UNTIL 5:00am, preferring to delve into my fictional worlds under the cover of darkness. However, I’m learning that after a full day of 7, 9, and 11-year-old wrangling and mediation, I’m not able to be as productive into the wee hours of the morning.

In The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield writes, “Someone once asked Somerset Maughham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. ‘I write only when inspiration strikes,’ he replied. ‘Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.'”

Ultimately a writer has to write.

To try and carve out a few precious child-free hours, I have been getting up at 5, checking facebook/email/twitter while I brew my coffee, then sitting down to write for a few hours until familiar kid-clamoring triggers my shift in focus from fiction to family…somewhere around 8.

And so it goes.

It is not my favorite routine, but it’s allowing me to write and make progress.

I still try to set aside time during the day whenever I can, to get additional work done. I’ve had a few writing dates while the kids are with friends/family, and if the kids are otherwise engaged and not feuding with one another, I usually pull out my laptop to write or research.

I’m at the beginning of this next novel (we’ll call it MC); it’s the one I began a few years ago but set aside to work on The Supper Club. I’m enjoying the process of getting reacquainting with it, allowing that bookworld to fill the spaces of my brain and imagination. It’s at that terrifying and exhilarating stage of beginning, where there are more blank pages than written ones.

I also continue to write at night whenever possible and seldom get to bed before 1am. However, by making sure that I get a few hours to write each morning, I find that I’m happier heading into the day. There’s also less pressure at night to be productive; so when I do write after the kids get to bed, it’s bonus time–almost an indulgence.

We’ll see what happens when the kids go back to school and the schedule shifts once again, but this is the routine for now.

It hasn’t been easy to wake-up early, but when I slip out of bed and down the stairs into the kitchen, I try to be mindful of the good things: to appreciate the cool air of dawn, the clarity of early morning writing, the joy of a brighter kind of stillness in the house.

There is also the power and delight of a really good cup of coffee. 😉


(Photo by Mary Anne Mohanraj)
Writing date at Mary Anne Mohanraj’s amazing home. (Photo by Mary Anne Mohanraj)

 “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”  ~ Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art


Writers have creative and quirky rituals when it comes to working on our books. I find the routines fascinating. One writer I know creates complex collages on poster-board with mounted photographs of her characters and settings; another assembles diagrams of his plots posted onto the walls of his office.

Hemingway would get up with the sun and write until he had “said what he had to say,” and then he was done.

Wordsworth read everything he wrote aloud to his dog.

Nabokov wrote Lolita on index cards while standing up.

Before editing, Joan Didion would have a drink to remove herself from the pages.

E.B. White would write in the living room, in the middle of everything going on around him. He once wrote, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

I have a related interest in the places where other writers write. It’s one of the reasons I love Kyle Cassidy’s project Where I Write: Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors in their Creative Spaces.

Like E.B. White, for me that place is often in the middle of everything, although I do cherish the silence in the house when everyone has gone to sleep.

I have found that wherever I’m working, I like to anchor my book with a few objects that capture the spirit of my work-in-progress. For The Silence of Trees, my most important talisman was a small black rock I had picked up on the shore of Lake Michigan and carried with me everywhere while I was writing.

I started thinking about this because it’s time to clear off the space atop my desk where I assemble these objects, in preparation for a new book. Here’s a peek from my collection for The Supper Club: