The Ritual of Writing

I don't know about all authors, but the stars need to align properly for me to get started in the morning. My life has been pretty chaotic over the last few years and that's been my excuse for not writing. Real writers don't make excuses, but I couldn't get the rituals in place. The juju was bad and writing just didn't happen. But now...

No more excuses.

I have a desk. I have an office. I have a book I'm working on right now (two actually.) I have Starbucks in my system. My dog is snoring beneath me. I have my critique partner nagging me for words to edit (thank you Cheryl!) My webmaster/friend updated my website because I was "outdated." Imagine! And so, this is where the rubber meets the road. It is time to produce. I. Must. Adult.

I must live up to this website! She's so fantastic if you need a website. I gave her no input and she just comes up with this greatness! Love her! And she's from Shakespeare's home so I feel like that adds to the good juju.


Honestly though, my desk is disgusting. It needs more than a Mr. Clean sponge. It needs a completely new top and probably some bleach. But I can't think about that now. I'll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day. And yes, over Christmas, I watched "Gone with the Wind" -- and maybe a few Fred Astaire movies and "Casablanca." They just never get old for me. Setting the timer now, Chapter Two, here I come!

So I'm probably a hoarder. #AmWriting

Before I moved to Arizona, I purged. I kept only what was necessary. I made countless trips to Goodwill to get rid of stuff that I didn't need. I was going to live lightly. Just a shadow of a carbon footprint and all that. I kept family photos, kids' artwork and awards -- you know the drill. Stuff that matters!


Only I actually didn't. I kept so much crap that I don't want in my new house. I'm opening boxes thinking, what the heck is wrong with me? Do I belong on the "Hoarders" show? Because I have an awful lot of things that don't really matter. Will they find me buried in paperwork and Fiona's excrement? Okay, probably not because I am clean -- I mean, I should own stock in Mr. Clean sponges and Clorox.

The one happy note is if they find me buried in my stuff, it will be in pretty boxes from Burberry and Ulta/Sephora.

We all have coping skills for living a life we don't want. Apparently, mine was hoarding crap I didn't need. Life sucks? You know what you need? A new red lipstick. Get out there! The devil on my shoulder said. Not being able to get to the computer and write had a profound effect on me and it wasn't good. I am here today to tell you, if you're living a life you don't want to live? Change it. Do whatever you can to change it. I am so grateful to have friends who helped me change it because I didn't know how stuck I was. They helped me get unstuck.

This morning, my house is filled with junk I should have left behind or donated. But I'm in Starbucks writing. I have an amazing view of the mountains from my new Starbucks and people are actually friendly here. I feel at home already and I'm writing. I'm no Shakespeare, but words are in my blood. I've had them used against me like a sword, but as Maya Angelou says, "But still, like air, I'll rise."

And I hope this experience will show me how to pay it forward. So the next person can rise. Underneath their Sephora boxes and spurned lipsticks. Or whatever their escape may be. God has a plan for each of us, but sometimes, we get off course.

This is Colleen Coble and me in Mexico on the Sea of Cortez. This trip changed my life and gave me a new direction/perspective. Colleen invited me on their family vacation and though I felt awkward crashing their reunion, it was exactly what I needed. Sometimes, your friends see the future that you can't imagine for yourself. May you have at least one person in your life like that. And now back to Starbucks and writing.

I started a new Chick Lit set in Little Italy, San Diego. It's time to laugh again. And maybe get rid of some crap while I'm at it.

Deployment Fun...

My son is deployed on a Disney Cruise. Okay, not really. That's what I call deployment -- because Marine moms get to make up crap to cope with their babies in uniforms. For me, the best way is to consider my son is cruising and seeing the world on a great big Disney cruise ship complete with Mickey Mouse and Daisy Duck.

This morning, my son emailed me that his ship received care packages from random kids stateside. And how sweet that schools do this for the Marines/Navy? They are SOOO excited to get snacks and food from home. Anyway, Jonah says, "Look at some of these notes. These kids are savage."

They all had a good laugh sharing some of their encouraging notes.

"Fingers crossed you make it friend"

"My life is great and I love my family I get to be with because your life is

"I'm jenny from third grade and if you die it's going to be okay"

"Dear hero, thank you for your service, I sent some candy but don't eat too
much or you won't be able to run away fast enough"

"My teacher said I had to write something enjoy the candy"

"Dear deployed person, hope they don't make you stay deployed, good luck!"


Let me organize!! #ADD #NotWriting

My desk is a disaster. At the moment, I can't see what color it is. (It's white) but it is buried under details and lists and calendars and I'm so overwhelmed by it all. I'm moving. More on that in future posts, but that means, I have to organize my life here so I can pack it up into small boxes and carry it across the state. Well, pay someone else to carry it across the states, but you get my drift. Anyway, I'm panicked. I'm a fourth-generation Californian and most of my kids are here. My parents are here. But reality dictates that if I want to write and do what I was created to do, I need to move. I need to get away from the left-brain thinking of Silicon Valley where everyone can afford to drive a Tesla and thinks Gucci shoes are a staple.

Back to the desk. Usually, I have orderly routines that work well for my ADD self. I organized six people for the last 27 years and I did pretty well at it considering. But now, I cannot even organize myself and I am frustrated! My friend who works at Apple is coming over tonight to help me function like an adult.

(My son the engineer sent me this. I'm sorry I passed on this genetic defect, but there you go. May your frontal lobe function well, young padawan.)

I've decided moving must be much simpler for non-readers. I mean, packing up these books time and time again is getting OLD! I do have a Kindle, but it's gathering dust. I'd still rather read a book when my eyes are working well enough to read a book. Just finished Colleen's latest and she just gets better and better.


So I'm open to your suggestions. Soon, I will be in a place where Fiona has a yard. I have access to laundry and I'm not living like a college student. The last few years have been rough, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. If only I can shut down the panic mode long enough to get there!

#MrDarcy eat you heart out, Dylan offers a library proposal!

A few months ago, I got an email from a guy named Dylan. He explained to me that I was his girlfriend's favorite author -- and I mean, is he not a keeper just knowing that? Especially when I'm not exactly a household name like Nora Roberts. But he knew. He also knew that A Billion Reasons Why was his girlfriend's favorite book, so he asked if I would inscribe a book, "Charlyn, Will you marry Dylan?" And help him propose.

I mean, I'm a romance author. Where do I sign?

So I do so, after having a copy sent from my mother's house because I have no books at home. Months go by and I don't hear anything. Dylan said he was proposing at the end of the month. So I don't want to write to him, what if she said no? Does he really need the nosey Chick Lit author twisting the knife? He does not, so I sit still.

Then, it happens! I get a beautiful handwritten note from Charlyn describing the beautiful proposal. Dylan enlisted the help of the librarian. I know, right?? Does he have a brother? A single dad maybe? As they're combing through the shelves together, Charlyn notices I have a new book out. Shame on me for not marketing The Theory of Happily Ever After well enough, but I digress and no one cares. We want to know what happens with the romance!

So when she finds the copy of "A Billion Reasons Why" she is a little incensed. There are no library markings on the book, and it doesn't belong there without the proper authority! Dylan shows her the inscription and drops to one knee to ask her to be his bride.


And this couple is SO cool, they are allowing me to show you how adorable they are. Congratulations Charlyn and Dylan, may your lifelong romance be better than anything we'd find in a novel.


EDIT: Charlyn just told me the reason Dylan didn't propose when he planned was because she took off on a surprise International trip with her sister. So she was not around to propose to. Inquiring minds and all that. You're welcome. Thanks, Charlyn!

What's your game, #MarineMom?

About three months ago -- yes three -- I sent my son's gunnery sergeant a pack of Red Bull. Why? Because my son asked me to. Said it would be a nice gesture and the gunny was a good man. So I did as I was told and sent the package. He just received it this week. The US Mail and ships on deployment seem to have some issues. Imagine that.


Anyway, of course my son begins to get berated for being a suck-up and a brown noser. But the thing is, they want to know my game. The shop actually GOOGLES me to find out my game. Why would *I* send a complete stranger Red Bull? Okay Marines of Evil Eyes -- the reason is -- wait for it...

I. Am. A. Mom!!!!!


And when I think about any of these men/women on a ship without the niceties of life, I want to send them ALL something nice. Which often happens because when you mail something at the post office to an APO address, they ask you, "Can it go to any Marine?" Ie., if it gets lost, do you want SOMEONE to have it? Naturally, I do.

In my days as a Marine mom, I have learned that if you send sour gummy worms to the Middle East, they will melt into one giant disgusting ball of super worms and will not be appetizing. I have learned that things like peanut packs will be breakfast for weeks and most of all, I have learned that I'm so thrilled my son is with the good men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps.

When he comes home, there will be a wedding and much celebration. So no running games, just a mom trying to pass the time until this deployment ends. I feel honored they Googled me though. LOL

Say no to dark cabinets! #househunting

I've been house hunting lately and there is a terrible new trend that makes avocado-green appliances look like the height of sophistication. That is black cabinets in a kitchen. Who, in the history of humanity, wanted a DARK kitchen? And yet, new builders are adding these ugly things and their "streamlined" modern look to homes everywhere.

No one wants black cabinets. People want light, airy kitchens. Okay, at least I do. Paint them yellow, paint them blue -- the painting is not an issue, but black? I'm not in a trendy hair salon, I'm in my KITCHEN. I did have a kitchen I designed that had black granite on white cabinets and I did love that. But you cannot believe how many homes I've crossed off my list because they have dark cabinets.

I looked at one home that was decorated as if Chip & Joanna Gaines had come in and done their magic. It was fantastic! But the house had bad bones. You can't fix that. No matter how cute you make it. Oh, and it had white cabinets! With butcher block counters that looked fantastic, but would be totally impractical for me. I need a countertop that allows for some mistakes.

I mean, there must be an entire contingency of people who want black cabinets -- I don't know who you are, but I'm coming for you! Stop ruining my house hunt! I'm looking in various states. I'm not sure where I will go yet, but it will allow me to write again and not be the only right-brained person in the near vicinity.


Speaking of California, some poor store owner in San Francisco got bit by a homeless person. Not an outline-of-teeth-bite, but an entire circle of flesh taken out of this guy's arm and he'll probably be the bad guy for "harming a homeless person's freedom." I hate what San Francisco has become. One of the most beautiful cities in the world and it's destroyed by crazy. Laws exist to make society better. Capiche?

I'm a fourth-generation Californian, my children are fifth, but I'm done. I'm sorry for the states around us that are having to take the influx of Californians, but I promise to better where I go. Really. I won't bite anyone. Now my dog on the other hand...


A Picture Spurs a Thousand Memories...

I don't remember a lot of my childhood for some odd reason. I think I had a pretty normal upbringing, but for some reason, my memory isn't the best. My best friend in high school is selling her childhood home. Today, she sent me pics of the home staged for sale and a ton of memories just came flooding in from all the time we spent at her house. All the cheerleading practice we had in her backyard staring at ourselves in the sliding glass door (We were young, okay? A little narcissism is par for the course.)

Anyway, she sent this picture and I said, "We spent a lot of time in that mirror trying out our new looks." Our fresh electric-blue eyes liner; our purple mascara to match our cheer sweaters; our giant 80's gel hair; our greasy, glossed-up lips; our enormous shoulder pads that made us look like linebackers. The magic all happened here!

IMG_6236 copy

Then, do you see that little window in the picture? That's the window that we climbed out of to get on the roof and slather ourselves up in oil to get a tan. Well, Laurie got a sunburn, but I got a tan. And we did this a LOT (before the warnings of sunscreen, etc.) until her creepy neighbor was looking at us through binoculars! We made a beeline for the window and he came outside and held his thumb up, "Looking good, girls!"

Ick. That old pervert still grosses me out after all these years. I loved our spot on that roof overlooking the waterfall below. That was high living! And old creeper stole it from us. Now, of course, I wonder how I ever fit through that little window -- but it is pretty cool that I lived in an era where there weren't a billion rules -- and straws were still legal.

I'm sad my memory is wonky because life was pretty darn good. Do you have time in your life you don't remember well?

P.S. On the writing front, no I haven't been writing. Not a book anyway, but I am planning a big move and I hope to get started again soon. I've had some pretty cool signs it's time to start again and I'll begin posting tidbits here. If there's anyone out there, let me know. It's been a long time since I wrote!

My @JimmyBuffett tale of woe -- Oorah!

First off, you should know I tend to get fixated on certain things and not let them go. My son NOT meeting Jimmy Buffett is one of those things I cannot release "into the universe" as they say. My son, also has the ability to "not let things go" and he is not helping in this situation.

A few years ago when my son ws stationed in Okinawa, Jimmy Buffett performed a concert there for the military bases. You should know, not much happens on Oki and it can be a long, boring stint in the military -- away from friends, family and normal "American" life. So who goes ALL the way to Oki to let our servicemen know he's there for them? The fabulous Jimmy Buffett, of course.

My son couldn't go to the concert. He was always working, but Jimmy, being Jimmy, came to the hangar afterwards to meet the guys (& gals) working. My son had just come home after a 14-hour day when he informed me via text message that Jimmy Buffett was in his hangar. I was text SCREAMING -- GET BACK THERE!! You need to meet him. He is legend. Do you understand me? Legend!!

"Mom, I'm bone tired. I cannot put my boots on."

"No, you have to!"

He sends me a picture of the football field-sized walk to the hangar from his barracks.

"You can do it, Jonah! I believe in you!"

Long story short. He didn't do it. And he continues to taunt me with it, every chance he gets. When he went to Vegas with his fiancé's family, they were sitting out by the pool and "Margaritaville" came over the sound system. He sends me a Snapchat with it playing in the background. "Wow, wouldn't it be cool to meet the guy who sings this? I would love to meet the guy who sings this song."


Then, there's a huge "Margaritaville" restaurant there, I get a picture of it. Then, I give him my normal spiel about how "No song has ever made more money than that one. You could have met him." And it starts all over again.

Now it's summer. Jimmy Buffett radio on Sirius is a staple in my car. But I cannot enjoy it the same way. Because my son was too lazy to put his boots back on and march across that field. He failed to understand the momentous flaw in his short-term thinking. Yeah, it was a 14-hour day on his feet, but he's in his early 20's! Come on! So rather than listen to his Mama, he sends me a picture of his coworker who met Jimmy and got him to make the "terminal lance" sign -- which means you're going nowhere in the Marines -- you're staying a Lance Corporal. No offense to his buddy Williams, but I wanted my SON with Jimmy Buffett, you know?


So now my Jimmy Buffett radio just doesn't fill me with the same joy it once did. There is regret and angst now. : )

On a side note, I have never met my beloved Adam Ant because I worried that it wouldn't go well and then my years of loving him would be destroyed. I never had that fear with Jimmy Buffett. You know he's just a cool dude. I mean with classics like, "The Weather is Here, I Wish you were Beautiful" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise" how could he not be? This guy has generations who have no idea what a 'pop top' is, singing about it.

Maybe when Jonah gets back from deployment -- if he ever wants to get on a boat again, I'll take him and his fiancé on a Parrothead cruise. What do you think?

Raised my sons right -- best analogy ever!

Last night, my youngest son and I went to dinner and he was telling me his girlfriend hadn't seen many movies so he was catching her up this summer. So far, they've seen "Forrest Gump" and a few other classics. Then, he informed me with horror, she's only seen Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Engame Since I've only ever seen Dr. Strange I could not for the life of me understand why this was so shocking.


He tells me, "Mom, there's an order to the movies and you have to watch them in order or you don't know any of the characters."

"I watched Dr. Strange and it didn't seem like I missed anything. I did learn you have to wait until the end of the credits to see the next movie clip."

He's growing more frustrated as he's trying to explain. Finally, he stops, sucks in a deep breath and says, "Mom, it's like if you tune into Pride and Prejudice when Lydia is getting married and you're expected to understand why we like Mr. Darcy and he isn't a dog."

OOOOOH. Now I get it. And I totally raised my boys right. YAY ME! Obligatory Darcy pic.