Day 29 – Black Friday!

My Black Friday does not consist of standing in a freezing parking lot around a dumpster fire and waiting for a store to open so I can get a TV bigger than my house for $19.99.

I’m not immune to the stampede.

I did once stand outside a Best Buy for several hours in the pre-dawn cold to buy a camera. It was more fun than it sounds. I felt, in fact, like I’d taken down some wild game and brought it back to feed the family. Really, it was a sense of hunting victory.

But mostly what I like to do on Black Friday, is run around with my girls. Sometimes the girls include my sisters, nieces, and daughters. Mostly, though, it’s my daughters and their friends. Since most moms don’t volunteer the van for early morning shopping with kids, my daughters have plenty of friends who have never shopped the day after Thanksgiving before.

So, to make it festive, we have a couple of traditions:

1. My husband makes a Christmas mix CD that is waiting for us in the car the morning of the 29th.

Christmas CD 2013

This is no ordinary mix. He’s got the tastes of a 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 + year old. You never know what he’s going to throw in there. A classic will be quickly followed by something heard only on a college radio station. (I’ll give you the list in December).

2. Big expensive coffee drinks are allowed.

I’m pretty frugal. I’m also a less is more kind of gal when it comes to consumption (except office supplies). My girls are used to travel mugs with caffeine from home and the occasional purchased latte that can never exceed 12 ounces because “nobody needs more than 12 ounces of sugar.” Black Friday? 16 ounces, baby!

3. Nobody needs to buy anything.

If you have something you absolutely need or you can’t go on, the whole outing feels stressful. Wander with the crowds, enjoy the long lines. You can get in them or not. It’s all good.

4. Stop for breakfast.

Again, there are no limits on carbohydrates.

5. Nap. (See the note about all the carbohydrates).

6. Get back out there if you want to or call it a day and watch “White Christmas.”

Happy Holiday Shopping!



Day 28: Thanks Giving

Today I’m giving thanks, not for my whole life, (which I am very, very grateful for) but for my life as a reader.

Yes, I am thankful to be a reader because:

1. I’ve gotten to travel the world without leaving home.

2. I’ve met and lived vicariously through a thousand interesting characters.

3. I’ve learned things about life from experiencing the life of stories.

4. In countless books, I’ve laughed and cried and been delightfully surprised bycharacters, plots, and the writing itself.

book stacks

5. At times when I’ve needed escape (a little bit every day!) I’ve had a passport to somewhere else.

6. When I needed company, a book was right there beside me, waiting to be opened.

7. Books have fed my hamster wheel brain, and kept me learning and growing.

8. Some of my sweetest childhood memories involve sitting with a beloved grown-up and a book.

9. Learning to read was a stellar event, one I do not take for granted and wish for everyone.

10. I have found a home in books and made myself at home writing them.

Happily grateful and wishing you the very best season of giving thanks!



Day 27 : Advice I Need to Take

Since I’m a teacher, I can be counted upon to stand at the front of the room, dispense my best advice, and sometimes fail to take it myself!

Interlake teaching photo

Here are bits ‘o wisdom I will try to follow (today, or really soon)

1. First drafts are awful. They’re supposed to be. Just keep writing to the end and know that you will fix it up later.

2. You don’t have to know everything. As you write, you will learn, and you’ve got to trust that.

3. Just write the next scene. You can doubt and fuss and meet a friend for coffee, but you must write the next scene.

4. Struggle is completely normal. It’s not a sign that the universe is telling you to stop. Keep going.


5. Be clear about your boundaries, and people will be more likely to respect them. It’s okay to say NO.

6. What are you waiting for?

7. Set a timer and limit yourself to that much internet/Facebook/TV/reading or whatever rabbit hole you prefer to fall into when it’s writing time.

8. Celebrate what you did get done. Treat yourself! Carrots are better motivators than sticks.

9. It’ll all work out.

10. You can do this!

Happy getting over the sticking points of a new project,




Day 26: What The Artist’s Way Class has taught me…

In addition to leading a group of writers at Flathead Valley Community College through National Novel Writing Month, I’ve also just finished a 12 week course based on The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

the ARtists Way

It was a wonderful group of women interested in all sorts of creative pursuits. These are a few of the many things I took away from the experience:

1. We are all too hard on ourselves, but we need others to point that out to us.

2. When you give yourself permission to do something you want to do, you’ll be glad you did.

3. Don’t underestimate the little joys. Sometimes they end up being the big ones too.

4. We’re more alike than we are different.

5. There’s no shame in wanting some encouragement. We all need an “atta girl” sometimes.

6. We are often our own worst enemy. The good news? We can change that.

7. If you want to meet a dozen interesting, funny, creative women, meet a dozen women.

Happy creating,


Day 25: NaNoWriMo class has taught me…

I’ve been leading a group of writers at Flathead Valley Community College through National Novel Writing Month.

fvcc 8

Tonight’s our last meeting, and we’re having a potluck.

I could write an entire blog post on the joys of potluck. I mean, when you get a chance to eat a dozen different things from a dozen different cooks, it’s awesome, right? Sometimes we even luck out and everyone brings dessert!

It’s been one of the most lively groups of writers I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I hope they’ve taken something away from the class. I know I have.

They’ve taught me:

* Enthusiasm is everything. It’s challenging to keep going when you’re slogging through a novel. If you can keep your inspiration up, you can do anything.

* Ask questions. Lots of questions. It makes us all better writers, and it makes a teacher a better teacher too!

* It takes guts to write. Maybe you’re not from a family of literary giants (who is?!). Maybe you aren’t even sure where you’re from, where you are, or where you’re going (anybody besides me?) but with a little courage, you can do it anyway.

* Laughter is what makes everything work better… your writing, your interactions with others, your life.

* Writers, whether we are beginning or mid-stride, are among the most interesting people I know.

Thank you and happy rest of the month,


Day 24: The novel stresses me out, but…

Tally, The Writing (and attack) Dog, makes me laugh!

Tally attacking 2

Happy whatever makes you happy!


Day 23: Appreciation

Sometimes in the late fall/early winter, I focus on what I don’t find when I step outside.

The sun, for example, is mostly missing in the gray. The grass, once warm and green and cushy to lay on is frozen hard.

I miss my flowers, the sweet lavender and bold giant sunflowers.

Even the bright orange and yellows of fall have gone, the trees bare and what’s left of the foliage long raked over and forgotten.

But today I walked out and the sun lit up the icy lawn and showed me this…

leaf with ice crystals

Happy noticing small beauty,


Day 22: Let the weekend begin!

A bouquet of flowers for your Friday…

sunflowers in wall vaseHappy Weekend!


Day 21 – There’s a Direct Correlation Between…

There’s a direct correlation between how many words I write and…

How much laundry piles up.

clothing pile

How little exercise I get.

How much caffeine I require.

How spacey I am in conversations.

How crammed my email inbox is.

How empty the calories I consume.

And also… how satisfied I feel at the end of the day.

Happy… what was I saying?



Day 20: A Guest Post by Grace Dunnehoff

I always know it’s NaNoWriMo because my mom…

1. On occasion still isn’t showered or changed from her pyjamas when I get home at 3:30.

2. Has tonic water stocked in our fridge to cure her eye twitch that appears with stress.

tonic water

3. Dramatically sighs and stomps around about “not feeling it” and “I’ll do it later.”

Happy, Happy, Happy!

Grace Dunnehoff

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