Making the time

Sometimes when people learn that I write fiction full time, they say, “Wow, that takes discipline,” or, “I admire your discipline.” But really, in showing up at my desk every day, I’m no more disciplined than the person who reports to any standard job. I choose to be present to my work. Otherwise, I wouldn’t eat. I didn’t always have that attitude. When fiction writing was a hobby, it took…

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Valium and a couple Oreos

My mom’s known to bust out with funny one-liners from time to time. Behold some of her recent gems … … to my sister, who was stressing out over hosting a party: “Take a Valium and eat a couple Oreos and everything’ll be fine.” … on Starbucks coffee: “The first few sips are kinda like drinking tobacco, but then it starts to taste like coffee.” … while studying her wind-tussled…

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Newsflash: May 16

Deb Alicia‘s new blog, Quest For Kindness, is up and running. Check it out on Tuesdays and Thursdays for uplifting, negativity-free, true stories of kindness and its effects! Deb Sarah is giving away a FREE trip to the Book Blogger Convention in NYC to one book blogger, as a way of saying thanks to bloggers for spreading the word about books. Rules for entering are at Good luck! The…

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Write how people talk, but don’t write how people talk

On writing dialogue, I hear two common pieces of advice: 1. Write how people talk, because it’ll ring true on the page. 2. Don’t write how people talk, because it’ll be totally boring. I see the wisdom in both schools of thought. On the one hand, you want your characters to sound believable. On the other, you don’t want readers yawning their way through your characters’ conversations. One habit I…

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shopping in C-Wood (or: drunken goat)

I’m a fan of local shopping. Where I live, there’s plenty of opportunities to local-shop. The Collingswood Farmers Market, for example, happens every Saturday morning from May through November, a couple hundred feet from my apartment, in the commuter train parking lot. There you can buy fresh fruits and veggies from Jersey farmers, homemade honey, truly free-range eggs, just squeezed peach nectar, flowers, croissants …. The people-watching is fantastic, the…

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

As you are, you are

“Do not let your peace depend on the hearts of others; whatever they say about you, good or bad, you are not because of it another, for as you are, you are.” A friend recently posted the above Thomas a Kempis quote on Facebook. I thought immediately of this week’s Debutante Ball theme: reviews. To me reviews can take all different forms, not just straight-up book reviews. A verbal comment…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A new pair of ’tax from Dr. K

I have crappy vision and have worn glasses since sixth grade. I was a seventh grader when I got my first pair of contact lenses, and I’ve depended on them since. I call them my ’tax. Three years ago when I moved to Collingswood, I was happy to discover I could walk to my new eye doctor’s office, just a few blocks away. Dr. K seems like a genuinely nice…

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Backstory in fiction and real life (or, Orange Juice Man)

My mom taught me an advanced form of people watching. We still practice it fairly often in public places⎯the diner, the airport, a street fair. Here’s how it’s done. Let’s say Mom and I are at the grocery store, strolling the aisle. I push the cart and hum along to the music while Mom checks the sodium content on a can of broth. Up ahead, we both notice a man…

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April Foods Day

Tomorrow is April Fools Day and, coincidentally, a significant day for SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH. You see, SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH involves a baking contest. During copyediting, my wise editor suggested I include an original recipe as an epilogue. So I set about inventing a baked good that was not merely edible, but delicious. Those few poor souls who years ago sampled my ill-fated vegan corn muffins, or my chocolate cake the…

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My favorite bookstore of all time was Tatnuck Booksellers, which occupied a refurbished warehouse near Tatnuck Square in Worcester, Massachusetts. During college, my high school friends and I had many joyful reunions in the Tatnuck parking lot. Then we’d roam the store for a few minutes, selecting books and magazines, and claim a table at the in-store café. The menu was eclectic; you could get anything from chocolate cake to…

Wednesday, March 24, 2010