Just One?

favoriteIt’s always fun to be interviewed or contacted on Twitter. Because Stepping Out will be released in mid-February, and because The Art of Getting Stared At is up for a couple of reader’s choice awards, I’m receiving lots of tweets and emails. I’ve even been interviewed for a couple of blogs which is both cool and a little weird (as a former journalist, I’m used to asking the questions, not answering them).

Last week, a theme of sorts emerged.

I was asked to identify my favorite color, my favorite meal, and the book that had changed my life. In other words, a kind of favorite too.

The last question was posed on Twitter and I wasn’t the only writer asked. There was also a deadline. A book club wanted to know as they were discussing our latest releases the next day. I read tweets from the other authors offering up their single life changing book. I mulled and fretted and walked Team Sheltie and got my daily writing done and mulled and fretted and went to the gym and mulled and fretted some more. Eventually, I responded with several tweets saying I couldn’t pick a single book because different books had impacted and changed my life at different times. I picked a couple: Charlotte’s Web, Mrs. Mike, Karen, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Alchemist, The Lovely Bones. But there were so many I left off: Green Eggs & Ham changed my life because it taught me to read; Jonathan Livingstone Seagull changed my life at thirteen because it affirmed for me that there’s more to life than meets the eye; every single Junie. B. Jones book I read to my daughter changed my life because I saw the importance of humor in storytelling. Interview with a Vampire changed my life because it opened my eyes to a completely different style of writing and a new genre. Lady of Hay changed my life because I read it and said, “I want to write a past life novel too.” And I did.

I can’t pick a favorite color either. I adore the pale green of a seedling bursting through the soil. The blazing orange of a sunset. The black of my velvet throw. The rich purple of an amethyst cluster. The voluptuous white of summer clouds. The shocking red of fireworks. Even gray, which I never really thought much of before, has become a favorite. I’m letting my gray hair shine and, to me, the color speaks of authenticity and courage. Because in our culture, it is still far more acceptable for men than women to embrace their gray hair.

Don’t get me started on food. How can people pick a favorite food? Or even a favorite meal? A last meal? Faced with that challenge, I’d be starting my last meal several weeks in advance. I’d feast on crepes and smoked salmon . . . avocado and shrimp on a ciabatta bun . . . baby greens with my homemade raspberry vinegar . . . juicy peaches with wedges of brie. . . dim sum . . . curried scallops and biriyani rice . . . scones with clotted cream and chunky strawberry jam . . .spicy basil tofu . . . and steamed crab and mushroom risotto and a fatty rib eye and baked potatoes loaded with everything and French press coffee and popcorn with lots of butter. Lots and lots and lots of butter. Oh, and halloumi cheese. Maybe not with the popcorn but crispy fried halloumi would be in there somewhere too.

I can’t pick a single favorite anything. Except when it comes to love. I do have a favorite man. I married him. I also have a favorite son and a favorite daughter but someday, when they commit to their ‘one and only,’ my list will surely expand. I hope it does. For their sake and for mine. For them because we all deserve a life filled with love. And for me because I like my favorites multiplied.

Support Your Favorite Author

toomanybooksAs authors, we love it when people buy our books. But from a personal point of view, I can’t buy every book I want. It’s not practical or possible. For one thing, my house won’t hold many more bookshelves and, for another, my Kindle is quickly reaching capacity. I know I’m not alone. But even if you can’t buy an author’s book, there are a number of other things you can do to support them.

Write a review. Leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads is a huge help to authors and other readers too. There’s nothing like a recommendation to encourage someone to pick up a book. And, honestly, having someone read our book is almost as good as having them buy it.

Tell others. If you loved a book, spread the word. Tell your friends. Let librarians know. If it’s not in circulation, ask them to order it. Make a point of telling booksellers if you enjoyed a book too. It’ll help them when they need a recommendation for a customer.

Use social media. Mention a book you liked on your blog. If you’re on Facebook, share the title in your status update. If you’re on Twitter, send out a tweet about how much you enjoyed it.

Contact the author. Authors love hearing from readers and most of us are pretty easy to find. Drop us a note through our website or via Twitter.  Let us know you enjoyed our work. That kind of feedback is literally priceless. And it’s appreciated far more than you could ever know.

Happy reading!


Yes, Martin Luther King Jr. Would Tweet


I don’t remember Martin Luther King Jr. very well. I vaguely recall him speaking on TV and I clearly remember the collective sadness when he was assassinated, though some of that was download.jpgMLKundoubtedly influenced by the assassination of Robert Kennedy two months later. (In my child mind the spring of 1968 was all about public weeping).

While the man wasn’t part of my little girl world, his beliefs and words were. And since January 21st was Martin Luther King Jr. day, I thought I’d share a few MLK quotes that resonate with me as a writer.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” It applies to so much in life but it sure applies to a life in the arts. Writing that first line, dabbing that first swirl of paint, picking up that lump of clay requires a tremendous leap of faith.

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” This quote reminds me of my neighbor who passed away unexpectedly last year. Ron was a mechanic, one of the best in the city. Retirement didn’t stop him either. On days when my words wouldn’t flow, I’d look out my window and see Ron in his driveway tinkering with a wrench and being the best he could be under the hood of a car. Humbled and inspired, I’d go back to the keyboard to do whatever best I could muster in that particular moment.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Much of what I do for others is private and not something I care to share (I don’t get why some are public about their good deeds). But one thing I do for others publicly is write. I write so people will be moved or informed or entertained. (And sometimes I write so Teen Freud will remember to empty the dishwasher or companies like Dearfoams will replace the two-month-old slippers that are already falling apart). I also write to get paid; it’s how I make my living. I like to believe there’s honor in that (see middle quote). But sometimes I spend too much time in the ‘how am I doing?’ loop and forget that this whole thing isn’t about me at all – it’s about the readers.

Which brings me to the last MLK quote: “We must use time
” I’ll bet you money that if Martin Luther King were alive today he’d be on Twitter. And probably Facebook. For sure he’d have a website. He was a smart guy; he’d recognize the power of social media. But I doubt he’d spend hours tracking his progress or checking his likes or counting his retweets. He’d be too busy doing for others, doing it well, and having faith.

Don’t you think?