Category Archives: The Lost

The Only Way Around is Through


It has been almost a year since my epic California road trip with one of my best friends. I got the opportunity to visit San Francisco for the first time, explore Big Sur and visit the Red Wood forest, which is something I had been looking forward to since I was a child. Every aspect of our journey was magic, but there were some struggles to overcome. Our rental car was a dud and we had to postpone the second leg of our journey by a half a day as we limped back to the airport to exchange it. Jamie struggles to sleep comfortably the first night in a new place and we changed hotels/locations almost every night. My snoring didn’t help either. Having my wallet stolen at Red Rocks the day before our trip was a huge inconvenience as well. All of that aside, we were able to work everything out and had one of the best trips I have ever been on. 

I have been thinking about this trip a lot lately and wishing I could go back in time and do it again. A full week with one of my favorite people in some of the most beautiful places I could ever imagine. I’m so grateful I got to see and stay in Big Sur when I did. 

Last week I found myself at a coffee shop after class. I had been planning on meeting a friend. I told her where I was in the coffee shop and said I had arrived a little early since traffic had been kind. She messaged back quickly that the day had gotten away from her and she wouldn’t be able to make it. I was faced with the decision to pack up and head home, or enjoy a coffee and work on some writing. I decided to do the latter, and pulled up my working outline. 

I have been working on this novel for a while. I realized about year ago that much of what I had already written was merely backstory. I had to scap a lot of it. And I have been really struggling with the plot points in the second act. Really struggling. Everything I outlined seemed cliche and boring. Yet, as I sat there sipping my Americano, I had a second act break through. I was able to tie in some of the old ideas in a way that felt fresh and rang true for the the characters and how I wanted them to grow through the story. I outlined the whole second act and felt at ease with these new plot points. Now, I have to write it, but I’m excited to tackle this new leg of the journey. Now I have a map. 

Brene Brown speaks about this same struggle in her magnificent book, Rising Strong. She writes of working with Pixar Animation Studios President and staff. The Pixar team explained that the middle of the creative process is the hardest part, in the writing and story telling, but also for the character. I would have to agree. I used to loathe editing, but now it is the part I love the most. The shaping of the story is fun. The slugging along through the middle has had me stuck in creative quicksand for a long time. As Brene states, “You can’t skip the second act.”

This is true in so many parts of life, not just the creative practice. The second act is difficult and trying. There are times it feels as if you will be walking uphill forever. I have been feeling this in my personal life as well. There are great things, don’t get me wrong, but there are deep struggles too. Brene also tells us, ” If we are brave enough, often enough, we’re going to fall. Rising Strong is about what it takes to get back up and keep being courageous with our lives.” 

Holding space and continuing to work and move through the hard stuff can be daunting, but it is worth it. That is one of the reasons I am drawn to storytelling in the first place. It is the shared experience of the human condition that intrigues and excites me. The good stuff wouldn’t feel so grand without the hard stuff to compare it to. There is also grace in accomplishing something seemingly impossible. You always get to keep that prize, you made it through whatever daunting thing had been placed in your path. And when the next hardship rears its ugly head, you aren’t hopeless, because of all the dragons you have slayed before. As Brene so brilliantly reminds us, ” The middle is messy, but it is also where the magic happens.”

Take a Breath


Happy Summer! It has been hot here in Colorado, but nothing compared to some other states! I have been on summer break for a couple weeks and I wish I could slow down summer. Time off always seems to fly by! Every year I  find myself making big plans for productivity and projects as the school year is winding down, and inevitably, I neglect to schedule rest. My body had some plans of its own and I am proud of myself for listening and slowing down this year without judgement or criticism.

I don’t seem to be able to sleep in anymore, which is sad, but it has actually been nice getting up early in the day, even if I am moving at a slower pace. I have found myself being a bit lonely lately too, which makes the quiet difficult. That said, the quiet is what I have been craving. I used to ignore my self care in a reckless fashion, and now that I’m invested in my health (mental, physical, spiritual etc.) I know that when my body talks, I need to listen. 

I have made some goals for the summer, but have given myself some wiggle room for those days when the thing I need to accomplish the most is rest. I have been outlining and organizing my wip in Scrivener. I’ve been journaling. I’ve been napping. I started teaching this week and the structure of seeing kids again has been nice. It is only half days, a couple days a week, but I think I am enjoying it because I have gotten some rest and quiet. 

I also started a new tattoo about a week ago. It is healing nicely, but because of the location of the tattoo, I haven’t worked out in a week. I realized yesterday that the lack of exercise was negatively affecting my mood. Today I was planning on meeting a friend at a coffee shop. She had a conflict, so I sipped my iced Americano and worked on my book. I came home and danced and did some yoga. It felt really good to move again. To breathe in that particular way that clears my head and centers me back in my body. 

There will definitely be adventures this summer. I have already had the chance to do some really fun things with friends. I will go to the mountains and kayak and float in a hot spring. I will continue to work on this story. I will rest. I will breathe. 

Into the Woods…Again


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This has been another quiet weekend, after a stressful week. I had a couple of opportunities to go out last night, but I was feeling reflective and still not breathing great, so I ended up staying in. I slept well and wrote. Baked and organized. I also found some scenes from my story that I have been interested in reworking. It was interesting to read them back after so long. The writing is fine, but with this distance, I am able to see that all of these pages add up to back story and not much real story I can use.

In the past, this would have frustrated me, but it didn’t feel like a waste today. These scenes gave me insight into the character and I can still use that insight as I move ahead. I am basically having to start from scratch with this story, but I think I finally understand what the story really is and how to write the moment in time. All the pages I’ve already written won’t go to waste. There are some scenes I can use, but much of it is a wash.

I have been nervous to attempt this story again, but I am itching to head into the woods again.

Nothing Gold Can Stay


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Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

The first official day of fall isn’t for a couple of weeks, but I can feel it coming in this weekend. Fall is my favorite time of year in so many ways. It is the most beautiful to me – the leaves, the light, the perfect temperature. It also has always felt more like the new year than January does. Fall is one big last burst of beauty and harvest, before winter comes and things go dormant again, burrowing under ground and building beauty anew for the coming year. I reflect in the autumn, review the year and let go of my own dead leaves, after they have revealed their true colors.

I had a cold this week and slept terribly. This weekend has been quiet, but in a way, it was exactly what I needed. I have slept, written, read, eaten comforting healthy food and sat outside in the breeze. I’ve done some cleaning too and later today, I’ll do some cooking for the week, but I needed to rejuvenate and regroup this weekend.

I’ve been very emotional these last two weeks too. I have been vulnerable and spoken to friends and a counselor. I am processing. Mainly, I want things in my life, that I don’t have. I am a glass half full person and most of the time I am content and at peace with most areas of my life. I do still struggle with releasing my urge to control life and letting go of the reins and having faith can be difficult more times than not.

It is the 25th Anniversary of the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have written about this book before, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately and needed to write about it some more. It is my all time favorite book. It speaks to me and moves me every time I read it and I assume that it always will. It is a simple story with complexity that unfolds more with every reading. I have a beat up dog-eared copy that is highlighted and underlined. I also have a twentieth anniversary copy that is in good shape as a keepsake.

The story holds so much truth and I seem to reread it in the fall, which upon reflection doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. In the fall, I take stock of where I am and what I am grateful for. I also reflect on the things that I hope to change or see flourish in the coming year. The Alchemist reminds me that the Universe conspires to meet me and help me achieve what I was put here to do, just like Santiago in the story. I also go through hard times on my journey and am continually trying to interpret the omens and follow my path.

I splurged on Friday and bought an elegant new lined notebook. It is bound with soft leather and the cover features autumn leaves that seem to be floating. I am hoping to use it as inspiration to get back into an old work in progress, The Lost. I still really believe in the story and want to tell it, however, I got confused about the direction the story was going and instead of following my characters into the woods – I left them.

I was able to build up some momentum over the summer and I am writing, in some form, almost every day. I’ve asked a colleague to read my drafts in an effort to keep me accountable to the story and I am wooing my muse with a new notebook. I’ll let you know if any of it works.

Nothing gold can stay… it is true in so many ways. I am trying to make the most of the gold while it lasts and continue to reflect, change and grow in the coming year as a person and a writer.

I love you, Fall!


I have been waiting patiently for fall, but to no avail. For weeks, the leaves held their green ground and the temperature stayed up in the high 80’s, reminiscent of early summer. I went to California for one of my best friend’s wedding and came back to Denver to find fall had decided to come after all. The temperature finally dropped a bit this week and the world around me takes my breath away.  I’ve always wanted to see New York in autumn, but I’d reckon Colorado’s fall display would rival most.

Even though fall represents dying, I’ve never felt it to be a negative season. On the contrary, I find autumn to be a time of renewal and transformation. There’s a bite to the air tonight and it’s so close to Halloween – fall will be out and winter will be in before I know it. In the meantime, I’m reveling in the wonder of my favorite time of year.

I’m also planning and plotting for another Nanowrimo month. I feel bad adding a new story when I’m still plugging away at The Lost, but it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the Nanorwrimo fun. I am, however, making a daily work count committment to The Lost to help prove my devotion  – even if I am already starting to feel like a cheater…

Too Hot to Handle


It was sweltering hot today. I met a friend for lunch and we noticed that a Pinkberry had opened in the same shopping center. We decided it would be a nice way to cool down. So did everyone else in the Metro area, so we decided to skip it. I ended up spending an hour or so at Barnes and Noble and getting a refreshing Green Tea Frapachino instead.

This weekend didn’t really happen like I planned, but I got my homework done and last night I had a huge break through with The Lost. I have been writing daily again these last two weeks and that has been a break through in/of its self, but I’ve been searching for my original outline to focus the second half of the book. I found the outline on Saturday, yet it didn’t offer any of the plot enlightenment that I was needing. On Saturday night I watched two new babies and after they went to sleep, I finished my homework faster than I expected. With an hour and a half left before the parents came home, I started to work out the bugs and re-outline the rest of the book. Like a woman on fire, I wrote with a fever I hadn’t experienced in a long time with this project. Ten pages later, I feel like I found my inner compass again and I’m ready to head back into the proverbial woods.

I also got into a spat with my mom tonight. We’ve been doing so well lately. I’ve been really trying not get defensive about things or be too sensitive, but tonight I just couldn’t keep it in. I hate fighting with her, but we’re both so stubborn. She thinks she needs to tell me specific, obvious things and it succeeds in making me feel small, stupid and ready to explode. I realized tonight that her need to point out the obvious in the situation tells me on a sub-conscious level that I’m not capable of handling my own life – even the simplest of tasks.

As an artist, hell even as a human being, I struggle with the confidence to believe I am competent and skilled. It hit me like a ton of bricks tonight that this same boxed-in feeling that my mom elicits in these fights, is the same infuriating and suffocating box I inhabit when I allow my inner critic to silence my creativity before it even can come to the page.

I don’t want to blame my mom for this  because I’m not a victim. Now that I’ve made this connection, I can consciously choose to believe this lie about myself or believe the truth – that I am capable of living my life and making my art without the approval or input of my mother or any one else. The irony of it all is how obvious this connection should have been, but it took the same exhausting heated argument I’ve had a million times with my mom to see it. Maybe I did need her to point it out to me – this time.

Dog Days of Summer


I finished my super difficult special education law class on Monday and I’m glad to be half-way done with my other summer school class. The second class is an integrated Science/Social studies class. I am really enjoying parts of the class. However, we meet from 9 – 4:30 twice a week and the quick turn around of a whole semester in a month makes it a little intense. Summer school will be over in two weeks, then I’ll a week at most to rest before my internship starts again.

I’ve been connecting to The Lost on a new level lately, especially in the past week. I’ve written a different amount everyday, but I’ve written something every day. That hasn’t happened in a while.  After three days my protagonist came out to play. I was worried that she was gone because her voice had been hard to grasp for months and months. Ken, had a very distinctive view of the world and I thought I had lost her. I hadn’t met her at the page for months. I hadn’t held up my end of the bargain. I had abandoned her, like so many others. Yet…she came back to me and I won’t let her go again until her story is told.

Even though it’s only been a couple of days, I feel much more grounded. Julia Cameron said that she could do everything else in her life better, if she had put in her daily dose. I finally understand what she means.

I’ve also been getting my ducks in line for the 2nd season of TCC. The clouds are clearing that have obscured my view recently… big things have suddenly opened up  and I’m excited to get my hands dirty in the trenches again.

I went to the midnight showing of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with my dad yesterday and I’m definitely turning into a pumpkin…time for bed boys and girls. Sweet dreams.

Summer Vacation – Sort Of


I’m officially out of school, for about two weeks. I will be taking two classes this summer and that is sure to keep me hopping. I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks of reprieve though. I spent a wonderful weekend in the mountains with my family and the weather could not have been nicer. I slept well and just had some time to breath and think, which was very nice!

I survived the semester and came out on the other end with straight A’s. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of good grades. This was a tough semester with so much on my plate, but I did it and that’s all that matters!

On the writing front, I’ve been working on The Lost again and I feel super re-invigorated with the story. My goal is to finish the first draft this summer and I think that is definitely doable. I’ve also been outlining a new historical fiction middle grade novel. I’m getting excited about that, but I have to be careful not to give too much energy to the new shiny novel idea and abandon my current project. Repeat after me, “I am not a cheater. I’m not a cheater!” I am committed to The Lost and that’s that 🙂

I started working on a website for Monkey Beth Media as I prepare for marketing/promoting/continued selling of TCC for the 2010 year. I have some interested independent book stores and there has been interest in an audio book and e-book as well. I had to learn a lot of the ropes as I went along last year and I feel much more prepared this time around. Lots to plan and plot!

I read an incredible book by Rebecca Stead called When You Reach Me over the weekend. I haven’t read a book this well written in a long time. It was like a weekend master class in storytelling. It has wonderful, rich characters and great pacing – I loved every page. The book talks a lot about one of my other favorite books, A Wrinkle In Time. I loved that book so much when I was younger and read it more times than I can count. It’s really awesome to think that Madeleine  L’Engle has touched so many readers and writers with her brilliant storytelling.

I love to think about the ripple effect of creative endeavours. If A Wrinkle In Time hadn’t been written I would have never been able to enjoy reading When You Reach Me. That’s reason enough to put your artistic works out into the world – you never know who needs to read it, hear it, see it…What amazing works of art will the world be missing out on if you don’t?

So, the summer will be pretty busy with school and some not so fun back surgery that my mom will have to go through, but I’m looking forward to playing outside, maybe rolling down some hills, BBQ’s with friends and lots of creative fun!

Happy Easter Egg


I’m excited to be up in Buena Vista for a long weekend. I haven’t been up here since Labor Day of last year which is crazy. I sleep so well up here, but this morning I woke up with a headache because I wasn’t acclimated to the altitude. I just lounged today, which was a nice change of pace. Tomorrow I need to work on some homework and work on my wip. I’m trying to seduce my characters into showing their faces again. I had been blocked for so long…I need to get into their heads again.  I’ve been working on character exercises and I’m feeling more connected.

I’m also feeling nostalgic. Easter was such a big deal for my family. My mom’s side of the family boasted over one hundred people and we’d all convene in my grandma’s little Pepto Bismal Pink house. My brother and I would dye all the eggs every year. We would boil 5 or 6 dozen eggs and color for hours and hours. Now, one dozen seems like such a waste – we have them colored in no time! Easter makes me miss my grandma and what she symbolized in our family. You all agree that you’ll still get together after their gone but it soon falls apart. I remember thinking about this only hours after she had passes that things had already changed.

I’ll think about her as I’m dying eggs and at church on Sunday. I’ll miss her too! I guess I’ll have to distract myself with my elusive characters…

Flannel Sheets and Larengitis


It’s a snowy morning and I’m still not teaching because I still have no voice! When it does decide to work, I sound like Astro from the Jetson’s. Not very easy to teach when I have no vocal volume at all.

I put flannel sheets on my bed last night and slept so well. I forget how wonderful flannel sheets are! They are certainly one of life’s simple comforts.

I’m getting a haircut today and that will be a simple comfort as well.

I realized last night that I don’t know the characters in The Lost as well as I should. I’m going to work on correcting that the rest of this week.