Sometimes it Really is That Easy

2014-07-14 11.10.32


Sometimes we put off doing things for so long it almost seems easier not to do them at all. We make a list and then we delete the item off the to-do list with our fingers crossed behind our back.

I have been putting off doing a major website upgrade. First there was the update that needed to happen on WordPress. It should never really be a big deal to update WordPress but all too often it turns into a nightmare or a headache or both. Then I needed to update my theme which, if you use one of the freebie themes offered by WordPress is not a big deal at all.

Except I don’t do that. (You knew that already, right?) No, when I rebuilt the website last year I chose to use the intensely intricate but highly customizable and awesome Avada theme by Theme Fusion.

The people at Theme-Fusion are great at offering support for their theme. There are lots of knowledge base articles on how to do things and a forum where you can ask questions and get answers quickly. They roll out updates in a timely fashion. They let you know (when they can) what will likely break as a result and how best to fix it. They even help you with tweak your code to make your site uniquely yours. (Within reason.) As if that’s not enough support there’s a group of folks on Facebook who use the Avada theme who have formed a support group where we can all post questions and share answers.

So why was I dragging my feet to update?

The short answer? I have no idea.

The longer answer. Fear. I didn’t want to deal with broken things. My code brain was retired. I spent months building my site and getting it to look just the way I wanted it to. An archive of sorts. A hub where all my creative lives would intersect. Did I mention that the site has 117 pages? Something was gonna break. No doubt about it.

So I continued to drag my feet on the project. I spent a week reading the forum and everyone’s complaints about the last few upgrades because I hadn’t upgraded, well, in a long time. And you know, people don’t go to a forum to post about how great something is. They go over there to complain about things that are, well, broken.

I stuck my head in the sand. I wanted to do fun stuff like take photos and work on the novel and play with Zoey. I did not want to do the upgrade.

Then I saw the notice about a security vulnerability on one of the sliders I use and I knew that I had to do the upgrade not soon but NOW.


So I contacted my site host, the wonderful people at Winding Oak  and asked them to run a backup. Then I backed some things up here at home. Then I took screen shots of a bunch of settings and copied a lot of custom CSS and then I took a deep breath (after warning my husband I was about to barrel straight ahead into crazy town) and I started the upgrade.

And in half an hour I was done.

One half of one hour. Thirty minutes. 1,800 seconds.


Yes, there were some little things that broke. All the pages now had sidebars because they did away with the full page template. So I zipped through the pages that used to be full page and turned off the sidebar and it was no big deal. A few custom menus have gone missing but they won’t take long to put back in place. Everything works just fine and looks almost 99% like it used to.

Why do we, okay, why do I always make things so hard for myself? I borrow trouble where there is no trouble on the horizon.

Sometimes life IS hard. Sometimes books are rejected and the reviews of the ones that get published are rotten. Sometimes family members disappoint us or we disappoint them and sometimes the family pet will chew up that sentimental something you left too close within their reach.

But not always. Sometimes it really is that easy. Know what you want to do. Then do it.

Then carry on with the business of living.



Psst. Want to get my blog updates right in your email in-box? All you have to do is hit the SUBSCRIBE button in the top right corner of this page. Then you won’t miss a post. If you haven’t subscribed in the last 6 months you will need to resubscribe as my database was lost. Thank you. Go on, you know you want to.

Thursday, September 11, 2014|Categories: Random||4 Comments

What I have been doing when I haven’t been blogging


When I did the whole big website overhaul a while back, the intent was to bring all my creative efforts together by using the website as a hub. I sorta forgot to do that. So after the whole, let’s sell the house, and let’s do it without an agent, and oh yeah, let’s move ourselves too thing, I’ve been focusing on photography. Some people might call it writer’s block but I prefer to think of it as filling the well.

I haven’t gotten the galleries populated here on the site yet but you can pop over to Flickr and see some of my nature shots, like this album from Shoreline in Mountain View which has various water birds, including egrets and a great blue heron.


There’s also this album of some of the many Dogs of North Park. I’m continually amazed at the variety of dogs we meet each night at the park here at the complex.




Or heck, you can just go right to my stream of photos of Flickr and find your own favorites.



Psst. Want to get my blog updates right in your email in-box? All you have to do is hit the SUBSCRIBE button in the top right corner of this page. Then you won’t miss a post. If you haven’t subscribed in the last 6 months you will need to resubscribe as my database was lost. Thank you. Go on, you know you want to.


Thursday, September 11, 2014|Categories: Random||0 Comments

Dear Blog, I Missed You

DSC_3753Dear Blog,

It has been a great many months since my last post. I can cite all sorts of reasons but honestly, the biggest one is that I fell out of love with you because I’m pretty sure I was blogging for some wrong reasons, some right reasons, and some reasons that are less important to me now. Which pretty much confused me then overwhelmed me then made me want to crawl into a hole for a whole. So I did.

What does that mean for our relationship? It means we are going back to basics and we are going to get to know each other all over again. It’s gonna be mostly you and me kid because, well, when you drop off the blogging merry-go-around your friends, people who comment on your posts and interact with you, well they tend to disappear. Blog, don’t feel bad. It’s not you, it’s me. I stopped commenting on other blogs so people stopped coming over to check mine out and well, that’s the first step in a break-up, people stop really talking to one another.

But Blog, here’s the other thing, times have changed. I started blogging back when writers weren’t blogging very much at all. My very first blog was over on blogspot and for a long time the only conversations were between me and Don Tate who was also a pretty new blogger. Back then Don was just circling the publishing mountain and oh boy, now he is doing all sorts of things, writing wonderful books, creating terrific art, and speaking out for diversity in children’s literature.  Through it all, Don kept on blogging, kept rolling with the social media changes. Me, not so much. I’m an early adopter. A sprinter. The long-haul commitments have been hard on me, especially when things feel one-sided as they often do. Not just for me. For many of us.

Anyway Blog, you remain my first love. Twitter took me away from you for a time as well and Facebook but my heart, really, my heart belongs to you Blog because I can tell you things more in-depth than I can post in any of those other places.

I jumped on the blogging bandwagon and loved it, especially when I moved over to LiveJournal and met so many of my friends there. We closed the circle around the water cooler and vented and cheered and cried through so many things together. I was going to try and list everyone and I realized, my goodness, I simply couldn’t because there are so many of the kidlit bloggers that I got to know when blogging was hot and heavy and took up most of my day between writing posts and responding to them. But know that I love you all and am so grateful you came into my lives.

So I’m back. And I’m going to try and do this a little differently this time because really, I have no choice. Times have changed. Everyone is blogging and no one has time to visit and comment on the gazillions of blogs being published every day. So instead of letting that make me feel bad, I’m going to try and let it make me feel free. Free to explore my writing world and how it has changed and what I plan to do next. Because I feel sorta lost in the publishing world lately. It’s been years since my last book came out and I’m not sure what direction my writing is going to take me next. Well, I have a few ideas and I’m going to explore them here. With you. Because I know you understand.

And if it is just you and me doing this dance with no one watching, that’s okay. It just gives us more freedom to explore and go crazy.

Blog, we’re going to get to know each other really well. Some serious navel-gazing about to take place. Are you up to the challenge?

I thought so.

To start with I am going to try, no, never mind. I’m not going to tell you what’s coming next. I’m just going to come over here and sound off when something strikes me and share it and move on. You’ll never know if I am going to talk about writing or art or photography or looking for a house or dealing with a dog or the fact that there is no chocolate in the house when my craving for something sweet threatens to overtake me.

You’ll be surprised by how much I share with you. Again. The way it used to be.

Trust me, Blog. This is going to great.




Psst. Want to get my blog updates right in your email in-box? All you have to do is hit the SUBSCRIBE button in the top right corner of this page. Then you won’t miss a post. If you haven’t subscribed in the last 6 months you will need to resubscribe as my database was lost. Thank you. Go on, you know you want to.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014|Categories: Random||8 Comments

Waving the White Flag to National Poetry Month


Today is the first day of National Poetry Month, that wonderful month where poetry lovers and writers share and celebrate the joy of writing and reading poetry. For the past few years I have been writing and sharing an original poem a day on my blog as my way of joining in the celebration. I had big plans for this year’s participation, actually several versions of several plans, but midway through today I decided to hoist the white flag and release myself from the idea. We currently have our house on the market and are selling it ourselves which pretty much means my life is turned upside and shaken all around while keeping me in limbo all at the same time. Not a situation designed to bring out my creative best.

But then, as soon as I told myself I wasn’t going to do a poem a day I wanted to beat my head against a proverbial wall because that’s what overachieving perfectionist people do when they realize they are not going to be able to accomplish something as planned. Luckily common sense (and some Zoey kisses) kicked in before then and I was able to calm myself down and relax (mostly) about the idea. There’s always a war between rational and irrational thought going in my head when I make this sort of a decision. It goes something like this.

Real poets write every day. If you were a real poet, you’d honor that emotional commitment you made and get that poem a day written.

Sure, you could write a poem a day for a few days and then what happens if you house sells and suddenly your life is turned even more while you try to find a new place and then you have to get ready to move and don’t forget the Zoey factor in all of this. You’re already stressed out and not sleeping. You want to pile even more stress on yourself? So not a good idea.

I thought you were going to write poems about this house, use it as a way to say goodbye? Make peace with leaving.

I’m ready to leave now. I don’t need to make peace with leaving I just want the house to sell so we can move and I can get out of limbo land.

Don’t you want to record the memories of living here? I thought you loved this house, this garden.

I have lots of notes about living here. I have a Scrivener file full of poem ideas about this house and all the things that have happened to us while we have been here. It’s just that I don’t want to write about it while I am still here. I can’t. I’m like Hemingway  in A Moveable Feast, when he said, “Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris as in Paris I could write about Michigan.” When I am not in this house, then I can write about this house, this garden, this life we built here.

A real poet would suffer for her art.

Horse-feathers! (or your expletive of choice)

Not writing a poem a day this month does not mean I am not a real poet. It just means that right now I am choosing to take care of my mental health first. I found that as soon as I waved the white flag about a daily poetry push that I wanted to open my current work-in-progress, a young adult novel in verse, and get back to work. So perhaps this freedom I am giving myself is bringing me another gift, a door that opens, a path that leads me back to finishing the story about two sisters and their lives and the choices they make.

There are lots of people doing daily activities to celebrate National Poetry Month and the always awesome Jama Rattigan has rounded many of them up here.

And if you want to read some of my own original poems from previous years, here are some links to a couple of my favorites: In 2010, I wrote a poem a day about the father I never knew and in 2012 I wrote about how you could Kick the Poetry Can’ts with easy poetry exercises to get you started.


Note: If you subscribed to my blog in the past, there’s a chance that the subscription did not make it over to the new website so I invite you to subscribe again, please, so you don’t miss anything. The subscription notice is on the top right corner of the blog page. Thank you for staying connected.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014|Categories: Random||15 Comments

Tell Me Something Good, About You

When I woke up this morning I knew I wanted to write something about how quick we are to see the negative in our lives and in ourselves and how seldom we celebrate ourselves or feel bad talking about something that went well for us. We can shout it from the rooftops for family or friends but all too often we can’t do the same for ourselves. Many of us have negative loops that play in our head, telling us we’re not as good as we think we are, telling us that book we’re trying to write is a waste of time, that piece of art isn’t really art, and that meal you thought came out so well was boring and overcooked. I’m all for changing the tape on that background noise. How about you?

Here’s the new chorus I want to hear in my head. I’m forcing myself (I’m saying “force” because it’s not a habit yet.)

  • I’m good at writing. Not just writing in general but I’m good at writing the kind of stories that get under your skin and tug at your heart and sometimes make you cry.
  • I’m good at taking every day moments, like something that happens in the garden or an observation of my dog or a teaching moment in the classroom, and writing about them so that most people can relate to the situation and the story.
  • I’m good creating a home that is welcoming to all who come to visit.
  • I’m good at reading fast.
  • I’m good at supporting my friends and kids and encouraging their dreams.
  • I’m good at listening.
  • I’m good at making other people feel at ease.

This isn’t an easy thing (for most people) to do. I know I’m good at other things but when it came to actually putting them on the list I found myself hesitating. Maybe next week it will be easier to add to it. I also stopped myself from being snarky and saying how good I was at doing things that were bad for me because I don’t think that goes with the spirit of the exercise. You don’t have to qualify your talents. You do have to accept them.

It takes practice for most of us to be able to talk about what we do well so here’s your chance. Tell me what you do well. Don’t counter it with I do this but I stink at that.  Trust me, I had a corresponding negative thought for everything I posted. Start each sentence with “I’m good at . . . ”

Ready, set, go!


Today, in some parts of the blogsphere, it is known as Thankful Thursday. Thankful Thursday was started by writer L.K. Madigan, an amazing woman whom I met on Livejournal.  Today is also the one year anniversary of Lisa’s death. Jama Rattigan has a wonderful tribute to Lisa on her blog.

Thursday, February 23, 2012|Categories: Random|Tags: , |38 Comments

New home for my blog

Welcome to my new blog home. It was with a very heavy heart that I have finally left LiveJournal where I have been happily blogging and building a water-cooler network of friends for seven years. But the technical issues that LiveJournal continued to have made it more frustrating than fun to blog so it was time to go. On the plus side, I was easily able to move all my old posts over here. Now they are nicely categorized and tagged and will be a much better resource for people to use. On the down side, no comments were able to be imported and that’s rather heart-breaking when I consider some of the wonderful conversations I’ve had with people over the years. I decided I could spend who knows how much time trying to hack the code and have it maybe work or I could just let it go. People can still go back and comment on any old posts here and I’m motivated to write entertaining and helpful posts to get some new conversations up and running.

Some of my popular posts from the past, such as the series Of Dogs and Writing,  have been added as menu items at the top.

I’ve gone a long while without blogging. Part of it due to the frustrations with LiveJournal, part of it to do with this shiny new website my blog is a part of now, and part of it is just plain life. And so it goes.

I’ve been working on a lot of art lately and am excited to announce that I am going to be in my first show at the Axis Art Gallery in San Jose. The opening reception is February 29th and exhibit will run through the month of March. Read more details about the show, and if you’re in the San Jose area, I hope you’ll stop by to see the beautiful art our group has created.

I’m putting the finishing touches on another website that will showcase my California native plant garden and talk about our journey to claim a little bit of space for wildlife in the middle of this busy city.

I’m also starting to plan something fun for National Poetry Month. In the past I’ve written a poem a day for the month of April (see the menu for each year’s collection) but this year I’m going to do it with a little interactive twist. Stay tuned for more details.

Old friends and new, I bid you welcome. Poke around the blog and website and since I’ve just moved in, please let me know if something isn’t working the way you expect it to.


Saturday, February 18, 2012|Categories: Random|Tags: |4 Comments

Pssst! Wanna know a secret?

I'm working on a podcast series for YouTube. I am having so much fun. It will be part motivation, finding the courage to create, part poetry workshop, and part sharing of some of my poems.

I'm having so much fun.

And I can't figure out if I should do strictly video stuff on YouTube or just audio or a combo of both.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: , |7 Comments

Poetry Prompts Cards

These are some of the poetry prompt cards I use with my incarcerated teen poets (though they can and are used with all sorts of creative writing classes.) They can be interchangeable, of course, but for my planning purposes, yellow cards are good prompts for list poems, lavender cards are emotion cards that I use for our word of the day sensory warm-ups, white cards are questions and green cards are unfinished sentences. I add to these all the time.

prompt card 1 prompt card 2 prompt card 3 prompt card 4

Wednesday, July 20, 2011|Categories: Random||6 Comments


For the last couple of days I’ve been playing around on Google’s new social networking site, Google+ and I have to say, I’m liking it a lot. Right now my favorite features are the instant photo upload from my Android phone and the way you organize everyone into circles. Some people might be in multiple circles, say, friends, family, writers, poets. Some might be in one all their own, like techies. You can choose to send your post out to everyone at once or just select circles. Another plus is that you can also post something and include someone via email.

Hangouts are a cool integrated video chat that worked great for me.

The UI is clean and intuitive. I think you have more privacy controls than on Facebook.

Right now it’s a small population but I think it will keep on growing, especially when Google formally opens the doors. For now, if you have a Google profile set up and you want to come play, send me your Google email address and I can open a door.

Oh, and they also have a vanity url. I grabbed mine right away.

Monday, July 4, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |11 Comments

Climbing mountains

The mattress on our bed has a mountain running right down the middle of it. I think it’s fairly common when two people share the same mattress for years. You each sink into comfort on your own side of the bed and then, over time, this mountain forms in the middle. We turn the bed on a regular basis but still, there it is. When we bought the bed the salesguy told us it would form a hump in the middle and that was not considered a flaw in the mattress. It just was what it was. Accept that the mountain would one day appear and there wasn’t a darn thing I would be able to do about it.

Most of the time I don’t think much about the mountain unless I’m trying to roll over and it suddenly feels like I am trying to roll myself uphill. A few times I’ve gotten frustrated with it and piled all sorts of heavy objects on top of it, hoping by bedtime that it would have miraculously flattened back down again. Of course that never worked.

This morning I woke up sleeping on an angle, half on the mountain and half rolling down the hill, and I smiled. I’m sure the smile was influenced by my before-bed reading of Patti Digh’s book Creative is a Verb. I thank her for that.

There are always going to be mountains in our lives. I usually throw myself at them with equal parts of anger that I have to climb yet another dang mountain and blind energy to just hurry up and get it over with. Forget about other plans or enjoying the view. There’s a mountain in my way and I need to get past it.

Or do I? As Patti said In my reading last night, "You are always in choice."

Not every mountain needs climbing. Lots of the time you can walk around it. Take another route. Or maybe, just sit at the foot of the mountain and contemplate its place in your life. Embrace the mountain and sometimes they vanish right before your eyes. Gather supplies, make a plan, and go ahead and climb.

But the important thing to remember is you don’t have to climb every mountain. You are always in choice.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: , |7 Comments

Friday Five – the things happy-making edition

1. I opened a file in my working folder that was called one thing but had something else in it instead. It had a rough summary of my story about Max the dog and his boy. Some of it I remembered and some of it took me by surprise. I liked it. I wanted more. I wanted to write more.

2. I got lucky with the newspaper again. Went to put it in the recycling and right on the only page I could see there was another story that tied to the story about Max. This one wasn’t about a dog but about a boy and when I read the entire article I got a couple of plot ideas. I love it when the Universe brings me some serendipitous ideas.

3. I’ve been crunching numbers on and off for a couple of days. I hate it but I love it because with the knowledge of the numbers there is power. I like having power.

4. I’ve always had a big, fat idea file of stories I wanted to write. Now I’m finding that the artsy ideas are piling up so fast that I need a file for them too. I love being surrounded by so many creative ideas.

5. I look around my house and think of all the hard work we put into it last year and it makes me happy, all of it, the colors of the paint, the wood floor, the room swapping, it just feels like "us" like we’ve finally, after fours years, claimed out home. I can sit in my library and write, surrounded by books. I can sit in my office and work on art. Right now all the blinds area all open, the yard is a beautiful green, and so many birds are singing.

Life is good. I’m a lucky girl.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, May 27, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |1 Comment

At work or at play?


On my art desk today. It makes me happy just to look at it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |9 Comments

People don't see what you think they see

Boy, after National Poetry month I seem to have fallen off the blog wagon, again. I had a Friday Five, sort of, in my head. But this morning five seems like four too many so I have just one random thought.

About a month ago I cut my hair. It was long, long enough to sit on. Long enough to make an impact when I walked into a room and I’ll admit, that impact was a big factor in me keeping it long for such a well, long time.

But I cut it. Cut off 13". More than a foot. Cut it so it is a little below my shoulders.

I expected to get a little bit of attention when people saw me for the first time because, to me, it was such a dramatic (almost traumatic) event. In the month since I cut it I can count on one hand the people that noticed it. And they were all in the same room at the same time. After that, nothing.

Now granted, if I were still working in cubicle land I think more people might have noticed but still it surprised me. And heck, if I’m being honest, it hurt for a bit. Then I realized there is an important lesson here for me if I am smart enough to internalize it:

What you think you look like matters less than you think, so quit worrying about it so much.

Food for thought. I think.

Monday, May 9, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |14 Comments

Coming soon!

Coming soon!, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

Just a little teaser for a new poetry feature I’ll be starting on my blog next week.

Tune in on Tuesday to learn more.

Saturday, January 29, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |13 Comments

Friday Five

Continuing with my idea to use the Friday Five as a way to look back at my week. . .

1. Loved hosting my weekly CAPS (Creative Action Planning Support) group at my house on Monday. Hubby and I are introverted homebodies so actually USING the house to entertain and enjoying every minute of it, is great progress for me. The Monday session overflowed into an art lesson for a couple of the members and that meant that the house was filled with that much more creative energy. What I love is that ever after people have gone, some of their creative energy remains.

2. I had lunch with a friend, a great Skype chat with my Wednesday Women group, and a nice day at the art studio with friends, all reminding me that connection with other people is very important to me. I’m not super good at it, but I am trying.

3. Hubby and I are doing a pretty good job of maintaining an uncluttered house in the main living space. Every time we do this for a while, I’m amazed at how much it affects my mood.

4. I came up with the idea for a new weekly poetry feature for my blog (to launch next week) and I was able to put together all the pieces to get it up and running ASAP. Considering that I’m often big on ideas and less big on follow-through, this felt good.

5. K, one of the main characters in my WIP, came to life the other night. B is still a bit out of focus but K, as soon as I heard her cry, I knew her. I mean I knew her the kind of way I know I would recognize her walking down the street. I had a feeling she would be the one to come to life first but I hope B isn’t too much farther behind her. This book, being written in two voices (and maybe 3 more to be added) actually has me considering Scrivener for PC. Perhaps when I am ready for the next draft.

Friday, January 28, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

Friday Five

I've been dealing with some health stuff this week so it has been an unproductive week which makes the Friday Five a bit more difficult. But I'm going to give it a shot.

1. I am hit and miss with my 2 poems a day. More hit than miss so that's good.

2. I hit Zero In-Box with my emails. This was huge because while all the house stuff was going on and my hard drive was dying I wasn't using my Outlook mail. I just left everything in Gmail which really got to be a pain because I'm addicted to sorting my mail into folders. When I was finally able to download all my old mails and then added them to what had been in Outlook before, well I had 12,000 of them to process. I still have about 100 in my "follow-up" folder but hitting zero felt great!

3. I have confirmed in my head that my office needs to be painted green. It might be a year before I get to it and I have no idea which green because the green I used in the rest of the house reads brown in my office, but just picking the color family felt pretty darn good.

4. Our family lost a childhood friend this week, a young man, only a few years older than my son. He lived across the street from us, the oldest of three sisters and he played big brother to my son through-out his childhood. I remember him best with a skateboard under his arm. My son wrote a moving post about it here.

5.I added a new habit to nightly routine – reading a poem a night and recording what I read. I chose index cards to record the name of the poem, the book it was from, what I liked it about, any favorite parts and how it makes me feel. I haven't read enough poetry and I want to read and try to understand more of it. I keep thinking of some kind of blogging poetry community, something apart from Poetry Friday, where we could discuss poems we read because there is just so much I don't understand. I began with Billy Collins and the second poem of his I read was called Monday and spoke to the vision of the poet who is always looking out the window because there is always something there to see. I loved it until the last two stanzas but then it lost me and I wish I could talk about the poem with someone and understand what I have missed.

If you're looking for the Poetry Friday round-up, please visit A Teaching Life.

Friday, January 21, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: , , |12 Comments

Friday Five

I haven’t done a Friday Five for a while and I’ve decided to really try and use it as a way to look back at my week so that at the end of the month/year, I can do a retrospective.

1. After the Dell Tech came out on Tuesday and replaced the hard drive and keyboard and touchpad, my laptop feels like a brand-new computer. I now have the programs I use daily reinstalled and mostly set up properly. There’s still some tweaking to be done. The rest of the programs and the files will come over in bits and pieces. Instead of racing to dump it all on this machine, I’ll go slowly and try and set up a system. This feels right.

2. I’m not doing so well on cultivating my new habits of the observation journal and getting back to my morning pages – so far. I’m not giving up and I’m not beating myself up for what I haven’t done.

3. I did get back to work on SS, the YA verse novel inspired by my father poems of last year. I set the goal of 2 poems a day with the hope of a rough draft by the end of March. (That would be March of this year.)

4. While the house renovations are done I am still struggling to get my office and studio put back into order. I hope to spend time on it this weekend. I realized, once again, that I need to have a clean nest before I can burrow into it. And some things still need to find the right home. I tried putting all my notebooks behind closed doors because that was where there was space. (They’ve always been on a bookshelf before.) I hate them behind closed doors. It’s more effort to get to them and they can be too easily forgotten. So there is some rearranging in my future.

5. I am feeling less full of stress and wish I knew what I could attribute it too so that I could do more of it.

Happy Friday!

Friday, January 14, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments

Theme of the Year x Two

I was looking for a theme of the year and had posted that it was going to be GRATITUDE, which I still think is the one I am most keeping at the forefront. But this weekend it occurred to me that it is also shaping up to be a year of LETTING GO.

I want to let go of so much emotional baggage I’ve been carrying around for years.
I want to let go of expectations.
I want to let go of toxic people in my life.
I want to let go of one-way relationships.
I want to let go all this stupid worry that I am doing "it" (whatever "it" that might be at the time) wrong.
I want to let go of not writing what it is I want to write because someone said that "trend" was over or they were sick of it or they didn’t think it would ever sell.

Monday, January 10, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |15 Comments

Thankful Thursday

I thankful for my CAPS (Creative Action Planning & Support) group. This is a group my artist friend Lori and I decided to start because we wanted some help meeting goals (accountability and all that) and we wanted some camaraderie with like-minded creative individuals. We started last July and have met once a week, every week, since then. There are nine of us though not everyone makes it every week. Between us we have painters, collage artists, quilters, photographers, sculpters, cartoonist and yes, a writer or two. At first I wasn’t sure how useful it would be for me because they are all artists and I am all writer but the blending of spirits is wonderful. You can’t meet once a week with folks and not be changed by the experience.

I am still looking for an in-person writing group (though I love my one-on-one connections with other writers) but this group fills a very special need for me. It’s helpful for me to announce to the group what I plan to get done in the coming week and then, if it isn’t done, to hear myself explain why I missed the mark. While it’s easy to lie to myself with a lot of excuses, it’s much harder to do so to a group of supportive friends. As a result I am more focused and able to finish more work.

I am also thankful that I finally got everything (and boy, what a lot of everything that was) over to the fine folks at Winding Oak for my new website. I can’t wait to see what they come up with! It’s been quite an ordeal but through the process I have become reacquainted with my writer self and it was a very nice meeting.

So hey, CAPS girls, I can finally cross all that website stuff off my list!

Edited to add:
I just remembered one more thing I’m grateful for this week. For much of the week every time I got a negative thought or a thought that threatened to pull me into the past, I’ve been able to note it and then let it go.

Thursday, January 6, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |2 Comments


Though it might be the season for retrospectives I’m not buying into it. I am not doing a look back at 2010 because I already spend way too much time look back and wishing I had done things differently. Instead, I’m looking forward.

I’m looking forward into possibilities.

I’m looking forward, sometimes only ten minutes at a time, but that’s okay. It’s enough.

I’m looking forward because there could be something absolutely amazing waiting for me around the next corner and if I’m turned the wrong direction, I just might miss it.

Monday, January 3, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: |18 Comments

Those New Year thoughts we're all thinking

On New Year’s day many of us think of resolutions, changes we hope to effect in ourselves for the coming year. For me the word resolution tends to strike a rebellious chord in me since as soon as I make them, I thumb my nose and break them. I tried looking at the word in a different vein to see that helped. Re-solve. To solve something again? Well that would work if I ever felt like I had a handle on things but I don’t and the word resolution just isn’t working for me.

So I’m changing the name of the game. I’m calling it habits. I want to create new habits in the coming year. A lot of new habits which could, by count alone, set me up for failure but the thing is, I don’t expect to do them all at once and in the reaching for them, I will be effecting some changes in my life.

Here are 30 habits I hope to cultivate in 2011. They are listed in no particular order except the way they’re coming into my head. And yes, there’s the whole eat less, move more thing to be added in but right now I’m thinking in terms of enriching my literary life. And I’m sure there are those who will think that 30 habits are about 29 too many. In my mind, I want to see these all out there, listed on my bulletin board and sitting beside my computer to remind me every day that making 2011 better than 2010 is 100% up to me.

  1. Be a better friend.
  2. Let go of relationships that are obviously not two-way
  3. Reach out to people locally that I can meet with face-to-face.
  4. Reach out to friends I connect with online by doing phone calls and Skype chats.
  5. Record the books I read during the year.
  6. Apply for more grants.
  7. Submit poetry.
  8. Write some essays.
  9. Get back to morning pages.
  10. Short-circuit the negative voices in my head.
  11. Keep an observation journal of three things per day.
  12. Maintain a garden journal.
  13. Do at least one collage a week.
  14. Write a rough draft poem a day.
  15. Blog daily.
  16. Read and comment more on other blogs.
  17. Participate in Poetry Friday.
  18. Participate in the Carnival of Children’s Literature.
  19. Participate in 15 Words or less poems.
  20. Participate in Trisha’s Poetry Stretch.
  21. Get back to Tweeting in a way that works for me.
  22. Record five things I’m grateful for, every day, in my gratitude journal.
  23. Work more in my office, in the garden and in the courtyard.
  24. Read and study more poetry.
  25. Do at least one poetic exercise per week.
  26. Take time to be still and learn how to focus on breathing.
  27. Say thank you.
  28. Ask for help when I need it.
  29. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
  30. See the me that others see.
Saturday, January 1, 2011|Categories: Random|Tags: , |15 Comments

Look who came to visit at my house!

Cooper’s Hawk, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

Keep in mind, I live in a big, crowded Silicon Valley city. But one of the reasons we put in the native garden was to invite wildlife into our yards. We’ve been pretty sure there was a hawk hanging around the past few months because of the bird feathers we’d find every so often in the yard. Now we know it was likely this beautiful Cooper’s Hawk. I didn’t have my good camera and had to take it through the dirty window but he (she?) stuck around long enough for me to get a few pictures.

Sunday, December 12, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |13 Comments

Home from Kidlitcon

I’m home after a few days in Minneapolis which mean a few days of trying (and not succeeding) at sleeping on a bed of bricks. I slept 10-1/2 hours last night and feel myself approaching human again.

There’s so much to say but right now I have to get some work done and then get to a meeting so I’ll try to blog more in depth and with some pictures, later today.

One thing I will say now is that I’m 99% sure that it is time for me to move the bulk of my blogging to a different platform, away from Livejournal. I’ve really known this for a while but have kept my eyes closed because of all the work that I know it will entail (because of course I want to keep most of my old posts) but since Winding Oak is redesigning my website it’s the right time for me to do it.

I will keep LJ for more of the friendly rants and chatty things.

Monday, October 25, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |14 Comments

Poetic words, Poetic forms

So if all writers, novelist and poets, use imagery and metaphor and similes, if we all write with the intent to write beautiful language, is it merely the form that makes a poem a poem?

This is the thought I take with me to ponder in my dreams.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |6 Comments

Kidlitcon in Minneapolis

KidlitCon is a week away. I’m going a little early so I can have some time with friends and my co-workers at Children’s Literature Network. The fantabulous Laura Salas is arranging a little hangout next Thursday night, the 21st, at 8:15 pm at the Holiday Inn Metrodome which is after we go to the Christopher Paul Curtis lecture that night at the Kerlan. If you want to join us Thursday night, please let me know.

Thursday, October 14, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |0 Comments

Hello, it's me

I decided if I am going to Kidlitcon in a few weeks (and I am) and since it is a conference about and for bloggers, it might be a good idea for me to jump back into the blogging waters. Here goes.

I’ve probably started this blog post 20 times over the last week. I tried a Cassie post and a house post and even considered a garden post. I tried writing about the current WIP, a YA verse novel. I tried writing about the new character that just started speaking to me that has to wait. I tried writing about a lot of things but what would usually happen is that I’d get a few sentences down and I’d decide that it wasn’t witty enough for a come-back-to-blogging post.

So life, the short version.

Lots of stuff done around the house. Lots of stuff not done around the house. Susan got happy. Susan got sad. Some things changed. Some things didn’t. Life goes on. The end.

The slightly longer version. We now have a stair railing so Cassie won’t launch herself sideways off the staircase on the way down. However the guy that installed it cut the carpet wrong and now all the carpet on the stairs have to be replace. The first arguement with the painter came over varnishing the banister (one coat is good enough, right? And who really notices the bumps in the wood when you run your hand up and down the rail?) The house interiors are painted and look beautiful. The bathroom cabinets are painted and look like crap and need to be redone by a different painter (who will also be redoing the banisters.) The colors I picked for the walls are just what I wanted, however some of it ended up in places that weren’t walls. The colors on the fireplace in the new dining room, not so much. New chairs for the new sitting area are finally the ordered but the rugs are eluding me, probably because I’m not willing to pay a thousand dollars for a rug that Cassie will, at one point or another, throw up on. The wood floor is still not installed and is another month away. In the meantime furniture is bunched up in places, left from when we had to move it for the painters. Cassie’s play area has shrunk by half because there are boxes of all the stuff we took off the walls for the painting and won’t be put back up until the tile is demoed. It feels like we just moved in but were told we couldn’t unpack for a couple of months. The built-in bookcases for the library were scheduled to be delivered/installed the weekend I’m at kidlitcon so that’s being pushed out another week too. In the meantime the old bookcases in the library have been partially dismantled and moved into my husband’s office for his book collection which leaves a few thousand books in the library stacked willy-nilly. 

It is, as you can imagine, exhausting.

What does this have to do with writing? Nothing and everything. The single thing I am sure about myself as a writer is that my very best writing is when I rip my guts wide open and let them spill on the page.

The book I’m writing about right now is inspired by my father poems written last April for National Poetry Month. It’s inspired by finding my sister and my brothers and aunts and uncles and oh so many cousins that I found when I located my father’s obituary. It’s inspired by my own life and some of the questions I had as a child, questions that have never, and now, will never be answered.

While all this work has been going on around the house there have been confrontations that I have worked hard to avoid, many times I bit my tongue, telling myself to pick my battles. There have been compromises from what I wanted to have done to what we could afford to have done to what was even possible to have done considering the eccentricities of our house. Prices of things have doubled then tripled and electricians who should have been done in a couple of weeks were here for over a month.

Thank goodness I’m writer. All that emotion, all that, I’ll say it, anger, it has to go somewhere.

What better place to put it in than in a book?

Monday, October 11, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |6 Comments

They say it's my birthday – This year's request

Happy birthday to me! I plan on spending this birthday watching the electrician and the handyman continue to do their magic on the house. Which means noise and distractions but not a lot of time to focus. So I’d like to spend my birthday here with my friends. At least until my hubby comes home and cooks me up my yummy birthday dinner.

Last year my birthday request was for garden memories. This year I’m thinking of inspiration for my writing.

Yesterday Sara Lewis Holmes shared this quote:  "The real meaning of a poem is to stop time." – Ralph Fletcher (A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer within You) and I knew right away I was going to add it to my inspiration notebook. I’d love to gather up some more.

So please, help me celebrate my birthday by leaving a comment of a favorite inspirational quote that has to do with writing, poetry, or creativity.

Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: , |23 Comments

Friday Five – What I've been learning about me lately

As I once again climb back on the blogwagon I am trying not to kick myself too hard in the backside. I’ve been sorting out some things in my head that meant staying away from the blog reading and blog writing because while I believe in emotional honesty and transparency in my work and in my blog, there are things going in my life the rest of the world doesn’t need or want to hear about.

But I think I figured out a couple of important things and the rest, well I hope to figure it out as I go. We’ll see. This Friday Five is inspired by things I’ve learned, or relearned, about myself recently.

1.  All the social media opportunities surrounding us today make it easy to reach out and connect with other people but the fact is, (IMHO) you never really totally change your core personality. If you’re an introvert (like me) jumping in and out of the cocktail party chatter on Twitter is probably never going to feel completely comfortable, you will probably edit and reedit your Facebook status update a few times before actually posting and you will continue to occasionally stick your foot in your mouth, even if the conversation is virtual. I love social media. Love the idea of what it represents in global sharing and connecting. But what I am learning about myself is that social media conversations, whether on Facebook, blogs, Twitter, wherever – they all make me feel like I am back at school trying to prove that I belong somewhere. God I had so hoped I was past that but evidently not. In another lifetime perhaps, I hope to master the art of casual conversation. In this lifetime, I’d just like to accept that I am who I am.

2. You have to sow before you can reap. Seems pretty basic but I needed to be reminded of this. I think it’s a class that ought to be taught in elementary school so it becomes an ingrained habit. Apply it to just about anything that isn’t working in your life and see if it rings true. There are some fields I can’t revisit and that makes me sad.

3. No one cares how much you beat yourself up because they’re too busy beating themselves up so why not stop it already?

4. Thinking doesn’t make it so. Work makes it so. Again, apply it to something that’s not working in your life and see what you think.

5. Build a support system long before you need one so when you need one, they’re there. Otherwise you’re going to spend a lot alone wishing you had someone to talk to about stuff that was going on in your life.

Friday, July 9, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: , |12 Comments

Question of the day – siblings or lonely only?

Thank you to everyone who helped me with musical suggestions for tearjerker songs and who shared father memories with me. All this has stirred up some great ideas for my fathers book project so I’m thinking for a few days here, I’m going to do a question of the day related to families and see if some more ideas can start percolating.

So, question for the day:

If you’re an only child, what’s the best and worst thing about being an only child? If you have siblings, what’s the best and worst thing about having brothers or sisters?

I’ll start. I’m an only child. The worst thing about that there was never anyone else to play with, to talk to about family stuff, to help me try to convince my mom or grandmother that something was a good idea. The best thing was I didn’t have to share my mom or my grandmother. When I had their attention, I had it 100%.

Your turn.

Monday, June 21, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |8 Comments

Memorable moments with your father

Since I have no father memories of my own, I’d love to hear about yours today…tell me about a memorable moment with your father…and if you’re a father, tell me about a memorable moment with your child.

And if you’re one of those folks who had a rocky relationship with your father, it’s okay to share a not so great memory.

Sunday, June 20, 2010|Categories: Random|Tags: |25 Comments