Cover art!

Oooh, the time is getting closer my friends! Elena’s book actually has a release date, December 30, and cover art for both editions. And now you can see that you will be able to buy it either as a trade or mass market paperback:

You can preorder at Amazon or Random House (not yet available through B&N). Or sign up for a one-time reminder via email here.

EDIT PS  I posted this in the comments, but it belongs here, too:  Oh, Lost Recipe definitely has a love story at the core.  It’s a very sexy book, too, on so many levels.  Many of the comments so far have been along the lines of, “whew!”

But how could it not have an erotic edge, with all the food and love and rediscovery going on? What do you want to do when you fall in love with life again? Make love to it!

Avon Walk…at last!

Starting out, morning #2 This is me, starting out this morning in Dillon, Colorado on the second leg of the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in the Rocky Mountains. As you can see, the scenery was well worth every single step, all by itself.

Far more worthwhile were the stories I heard along the way, and the tags I read on the backs of other walkers: This is for my mother. Sister. Best friend. Myself. “The beautiful brown-haired woman walking next to me.”

Miles walked: 39

Blisters: 3

Sunburn: none, since I took care of my high-altitude sunburn much earlier in the season. 🙂 Excruciating sunburns I saw on pale skin unused to this sunshine: many

Pictures I erased because I thought I looked too fat for public consumption: 5

Women I met who had had double mastectomies, thereby making me ashamed of ever worrying about how I look instead of how healthy I am: 3

Favorite sign: Big or small, save ’em all, which just made me giggle for ages

New friends I made on the walk: 5

Fundraising total: $1936, largely due to you, all of you out there in blog land and reader land. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

The story of the weekend:

As we approached the finish line, a young woman next to me said, “This is your first walk, right?” I said it was. She smiled and said, “don’t be surprised if you cry.”

I think I was too tired to cry right then, honestly. I wasn’t thinking about anything except the ice cream they promised was waiting at the end, and taking off my shoes and finally going home to sleep in my own bed after almost ten days on the road.

But now, as I try to sort through the images, the moments, the stories that will somehow sum up what this is all about, I find myself enormously emotional and overwhelmed. I think of the woman, with her spiked, streaked hair, who was walking in front of me at one point. We started talking. She told me about her sister, Cookie, and said today would have been her birthday, if she had not died of breast cancer seven years ago in her early 40s.

I am an athletic person and in love with walking, and this was hard work for me. So I was deeply moved by women I saw who were struggling to finish the first five miles, much less all of them. That takes courage and bravery and a lot of fortitude. There were athletes, too, stringy and strong, powering through, encouraging others to keep going, keep moving, believe. A woman of nearly 70 has now walked almost 100 walks and raised 3 MILLION dollars. Imagine how many lives her efforts have prolonged or saved.

Tonight, I am exhausted and my dog is not leaving my foot until he makes sure I’m not leaving again soon. But this was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done and I will be doing it again next year. I hope some of you will think about doing it yourself.

And again, thank you so much for your support. Next year, I’ll find other sources. 🙂

Circles of Quiet, a workshop for working writers

Circles of Quiet

anonymous workshop for published writers—for nourishment, recommitment,
reinvention and support.


Start date:  June 16,

Length: 8

Price: $200


reserve your place, email me.


(As always, I am happy to make
arrangements for payment, and there will be two scholarships awarded. If you would like to be considered for a
scholarship, simply email me .)


and over, I have heard tales of frustration from writers who have been in the
game a long time, sometimes a very long time, who wanted to have the freedom to
talk about their problems and concerns in a safe environment.

will be as anonymous as it is possible for any gathering to be. I can’t make any
guarantee that no one will ever guess your identity, but as a teacher, I will
protect your privacy as carefully as a priest(ess). Only I will know who you are. You will join the class through me, but then
you will take a new email address under whatever name you like, and join the
group email list in that name. In this
way, writers can feel free to talk about the challenges of life as a working
writer without fear of repercussions.

week, I’ll post topics for discussion, and perhaps exercises, and then help
facilitate discussion. It’s is meant to be a give and take—your experiences and
ideas are important to the process. The
goal is to help each writer renew and recommit to writing.

Some of the subjects for discussion


Self-esteem: how do you keep your sanity in a business
like this? Burn-out, exhaustion, and
disaster—tricks to manage the pitfalls.

Clearing the decks: remembering the
original lure into the writing business. What to keep? What to cast to the seas?

Particulars: individual

Celebration:  really, it’s a great life
in a lot of ways (as I’m sure everyone tells you as much as they tell me).
Developing a habit of gratitude and awareness.

Pressure: business pressure, family
issues, juggling outside influences.

Staying in the game: Flexibility,
reinvention, and disaster.

Manifesto and connection: honoring
yourself and your passions while also honoring the need to make money.

*I’ve settled on these dates in particular so that those
writers attending the RWA conference in July will have a bridge, before and
after, to help navigate what can be both exhilarating and crushing, depending on
what happens.


Questions? Concerns? Email me.

Flickr Creative Commons photo by Angela7Dreams

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair

In the currently underway Voice II class, one of the exercises is to come up with your favorite fairy tale.  (From Julia Cameron’s Right to Write, btw.)   We are working on themes and ideas in our work, and the favorite fairy tale is one way to think about what themes appeal to you.

My favorite fairy tale–by far–was always Rapunzel.  Maybe this has to do with my long-hair fetish (I grew up in the Long & Silky era, and there was serious competition over who could grow the longest hair.  I might not have been the very longest, but it was very, very long, and if I do say so myself, quite splendiferous.  Certainly Rapunzel-worthy.)

But the idea of favorite fairy tale is to see where the metaphor leads in terms of theme and ideas we return to in our work.  So, Rapunzel…

….is Rapunzel.  A woman’s hair gives her the means to escape the confining tower of her life.  LOL

A woman’s hair gives her the means to escape the confining tower of her life.  Hair as a shining badge of self.   Ah–that’s it.  You have the means to save yourself, and once you figure that out, you’ll get your reward.   That sums up my books, all right. Every single one of them.

What is your favorite fairy tale? Can you see a metaphor in it about your life-theme or writing-theme?

Balance, babe

It’s not easy to shut out the business of writing and allow the work itself to just emerge. Sometimes, it’s brutally difficult, especially if you’re trying to make a living at it. I can get a wee bit grouchy trying to be true to the work while also remembering I have an obligation to my publisher. It’s a trying line, especially when the work itself is as slippery as a plate of spaghetti–I just think I’ve finally wrapped all those little threads around my fork, and there they go, slipping off again.Yoga cat by piez

A writer writes. But a writer who wants to keep writing over a long career, a writer who wants to keep renewing the metaphor pool and freshening up her insights needs to do other things, too. It’s been a busy week of heavy writing, and by the weekend, my brain (and my eyes) rebelled. To serve the work, I had to leave it alone.

This is the reason I end up blogging about things that sometimes don’t appear to be about writing at all. The way a writer stays healthy is by cooking. Walking. Going to yoga class. Setting goals that have nothing to do with writing anything, like the Avon walk. (I’m trying to figure out a way to justify my reality TV habit (Go Holly! Go Ozzie! Go Girls on Top Chef!) but nothing is coming forward–oh, yeah! Relaxing. It’s relaxing and mindless. A person can use that sometimes.)

This morning, I went to church and then met my friend Renate for hiking. We were quiet and maybe both a little tired on the way up the hill. On the way back down, we were laughing and sweating, making jokes and making plans. We had a beer and a salad and I came home to nap, and just a little while ago, I spread my yoga mat in the plant room and lit some candles. There was a CD in the little machine in that room, all flutes and waterfalls and quiet tinkling bells, so I played that too. There was a nice view of the twilight as I breathed and bent and stretched. My old dog Sasha was lying nearby, groaning every so often, so when I finished, I crawled over to her, took off her collar and used the massage techiniques a dog massage therapist taught me. Sasha has lots of odd bumps and growths and tight hips and she dissolved in a puddle on the floor.

It filled me with love. Buttery and warm and so soft. Just her old whiskered face and the day of sunlight and my friend laughing as we walked. Tomorrow, I’ll take that love and the vigorous walking and the lunch and weave into the scenes I’m working with, about two sisters.

Hope your day was as peaceful.

Class update–girls in the basement

There is still plenty of room in the Girls in the Basement class.  This is very nurturing, creatively freeing course.  If you are floundering because of too much external feedback, or a lack of direction, or you simply feel creatively worn out, this is a good way to connect back to your own "girls in the basement," and write more productively and happily.

From the syllabus:

“If you don’t write your books, they might not ever get written.” Madeline l’Engle.

There are a great many how-to-write courses and many great teachers of how to write a novel. This is not one of them. The Care and Feeding of the Girls in the Basement
is meant to help inspire and encourage you, to help you learn (or
remember) how to nurture your creative spirit. It’s a chance to renew
your joy, tap into the original delight you once felt for writing, and
make a powerful commitment to yourself and your writing. We’ll draw
from several texts, including The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron; Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarrissa Pinkola Estes, and Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, among others.

Class starts March 1, so hurry!  Read more about the class here.

Voice….last chance for January class

There are two places left in the Janurary 29th class.  Read more about it here.

And remember, if you want to take the class and really can’t swing it financially, throw your name in the hat for a scholarship. No matter what, there are always two students drawn from that hat, and no one will ever know who you are. 

Without vanity, I know this class does a lot of good. It might be just what you need to start the new year on the right foot. 

Class updates

Still working on the Circles class, and have been tweaking the Girls in the Basement.    Voice II, first segment, is full.  Still room in Voice I.  Let me know if you’re interested.

And remember, there are two scholarships given away for each class, so if you want to toss your name in that hat, send me an email with "scholarship" in the header and specify which class you’re interested in. (I would love to be able to give them all for free, but they’re quite time intensive and that’s just not practical.)  You may also recommend someone else. 

For those who might not be familiar with the classes, I’m not a nuts-and-bolts kind of teacher.  You can get dialogue or structure from teachers who are much better at it than I am.  What I love is encouraging writers to discover how fabulous and unique they are, and what beauties they have to offer the world.

I was also exhorted by one of my spiritual teachers to help create circles of women to heal ourselves, heal each other, and heal the planet, and this is my small way of trying to do that.  Not every single class results in a tightly knit group, but some of them do, and many have helped create loose communities. 

If you have any questions, email me anytime.


To read recent blog posts on these topics, click here.  Or click on the dates on the calendar.

"If you don’t do your work, it might not ever get written."  Madeline L’Engle

Over the past few years, I have been engaged quite a lot more in teaching.   It seems to me that there is a great need for circles of encouragement among writers, and that is what these classes are designed to do.  Each class is meant to foster creativity and friendships, as well as inspire writers to find and produce their own special body of work.

For several years, I wrote a column
called The Care and Feeding of the Girls in the Basement for Novelist’s Ink, the newsletter of a group of published
commercial novelists. (The title comes from a phrase coined by Stephen King, though he calls his "boys in the basement." Of course.)  It’s a working group, with a number of writers
who’ve been producing novels for decades, and it seemed to me that the
newsletter offered plenty of business and writing advice, but there
wasn’t much attention given to the idea of how to take care of the
vulnerable, more delicate creative of the personality.  What I was seeing around me were a lot of exhausted, demoralized writers who needed desperately to fall back in love with their writing.  So I started writing about it.

Which lead, in a roundabout way, to teaching creativity and voice to both aspiring and published writers, and helping to create circles of support for writers at all stages of their careers.  There are lots of people who tell you how hard this career is, how impossible the statistics, how challenging, and how very few writers ever get published.  I believe that no one is called to writing by accident, and what most writers need is encouragement and some illumination about how to stay healthy and productive and allow the process of creation, rather than forcing it.

CREDENTIALS (such as they are)

I have been writing for my bread for virtually all of my adult life, through ups and downs in both my personal and professional life.  By some miracle, I am still madly in love with the process and the product, but it hasn’t always been easy.  These classes are the product of all those years of writing professionally, and they continue to grow and expand as each class teaches me something new.  As my  career continues to grow and expand, it feels more and more important to stay grounded in the day-to-day tending that an artistic path requires, and this is one way I have found to continue to feed my own "girls in the basement".*

Email me with questions


A six-week class on the basics of voice, including family and place influences, as well as illustrations of how each voice is naturally unique.

A continuation of the previous voice class, taking the study of voice into more particular and individual levels.

A nourishing and step-by-step journey though the cornerstones of building a healthy writer’s life, from the basics of health to figuring out your best work styles.  Best for emerging writers who are in earlier stages of their careers.

An anonymous course for published authors, 9-weeks, utilizing some of the same aspects of Girls in the Basement, but more particular to the needs of long-time writers who might have lost their way, or simply want to connect with others in a safe and supportive environment.  (Email me if you are interested in more details.)
     (begins June 16)

Santa Barbara Writers Conference, June 22

Romance Writers of Australia, August 25