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Friday, June 22, 2012

My newest ebook, free!

I've neglected this blog for many a moon, but I did want to sneak back here to let y'all know that:
  1. I'm still here and well;
  2. I've published a new ebook, which will be Kindle only through mid-September; and
  3. The ebook referenced in #2 is free through Sunday evening PDT! 
Interested in downloading the book? 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Becoming a superhero

It’s little wonder I grew up wanting to be a superhero.

From the time I was little, the woman I most admired deemed herself “Thunder Thighs,” with the power to destroy villains by such seemingly innocuous things as body odor and thigh-ripple shock waves.

I don’t remember all of her powers or all the villains she coaxed back toward goodness, but I do remember my giggles. I remember how, in these moments, the world was only mirth and closeness to the funniest, silliest, smartest, prettiest mom in the whole wide world.

Thunder Thighs has retired now, but her cape is stretched forever across my proverbial heart.

I’ve been thinking of her a lot these days. I’d like to be worthy of wearing her cape.

There’s only one way to earn it. It’s not by being skinny enough, tall enough, eloquent enough, smart enough or bestselling enough. Not even a little.

[ read more


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One month bald: The walls outside & the light within

“People are like stained glass windows; they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”
–  Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Many years ago, my brother asked me to picture a mutual friend of ours.

After I had her image firmly in mind, David asked, “Do you see her scars?”

I did not. Her face had seemed perfectly reconstructed in my mind before he asked; in light of his question, I felt ashamed, as if I’d been caught in the act of surreptitiously editing a work not my own.

My brother’s take was different. “You don’t picture it for the same reason you don’t really see it when you’re with her. It’s irrelevant. Her beauty shines from within, not from the specific arrangement of features on her face.”

The conversation was much more extensive than this, and my brother’s overall approach much more nuanced, but this is the part that has stuck with me. It was the part on my mind after I shaved my head for St. Baldrick’s last month.

I expected to be a wreck during the actual shaving. I also expected to be mildly chagrined by how baldness emphasized my already prominent forehead. What I didn’t expect was that I’d feel more beautiful than I ever had before.

I also didn’t expect the staring.

[ Read more ]

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Our baby is going to experience racism someday."

There weren’t many white kids in my first grade class in a California military school.

My first crush (if I may use so strong a word for the affections of a first grader) was on a black boy who was so sweet, he immediately forgave me demonstrating the mad karate skills I’d just learned from The Karate Kid . . . even though I’d demonstrated on his groin.

His sweetness went only so far. He lost my favor before the school year was done. A year is, after all, an eternity to a first grader.

My second crush was on another boy, who—like the first—I didn’t think of as “black” at the time. Just cute.

Returning to my Oregon hometown for second grade was a little jarring. To my young eyes, almost everyone’s skin was colored minor variations of the same tone.

When I was old enough to start questioning things, like whether I was really a Republican like my parents, I remember catching sight of a banner flying throughout downtown Eugene and laughing.

The banner proclaimed we ought: “CELEBRATE DIVERSITY!”

“What, as long as it’s somewhere else?!” I remember thinking with equal mirth and incredulity.

I’d rant about these things to Ba.D. only to find myself flummoxed by his calm. It took me a little while and lots of patient explanation on his part to understand this was borne of decades of personal experience. What was new and pressing to me was something he’d already lived for 3.5 decades.

[ read more ]


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blissfully Bald indeed

As I type this, I have nearly 100% less hair than I did the last time I posted.

One rockin' dancer Donna (photo used with permission)

My progression toward baldness began with reading the post “Blissfully Bald,” in which my friend Chris (From the Bungalow) announced that he and his wife, Karin (Pinwheels and Poppies), would be shaving their heads for St. Baldrick’s. Their inspiration,Donna’s Cancer Story, chronicled one girl’s 31-month battle with cancer.

I’d seen references to Donna’s Cancer Story since September, but it seemed like such a commitment to follow a 31-day blog series. Also, really depressing. I couldn’t imagine a more depressing read.

After reading “Blissfully Bald,” I knew I’d have to read Donna’s Cancer Story. That Friday evening, I settled in and began reading about Donna.

I cried. Oh, how I cried. But I also felt barriers between me and others removed by growing understanding. Through Mary Tyler Mom‘s open, raw descriptions of her daughter Donna’s life with cancer, “them” became “us.” “Those parents” became “someone who could be me”; the children, “someone who could be my son.”

My world grew simultaneously smaller and larger.

[ read more ]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The company that kept me going

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my struggles budgeting time.

One of my most frustrating such challenges is finding time for writing, or, more accurately, editing. Three already written YA novels await my editorial attention, but it’s tough carving out time to tend to them.

Lack of time makes my progress slower, but it never stops it altogether. I can’t let it.

There is, you see, someone to whom I owe my time and effort.

Read about her over at Martine’s.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Experiencing books

Once a quarter during college, I’d receive my financial aid and go on a book-buying binge. I’d vow to spend my remaining money wisely enough that I’d be able to keep the books.

Once a quarter, nearer its end, I’d look at my books and wish they were nutritionally as well as intellectually sustaining. I’d then haul them to Smith Family Bookstore, where I’d trade one form of sustenance (books) for cash for the other (food).

Only a handful of books survived my college days. Fewer still moved overseas and back with me. Twice.

Early last year, my dear friend Sarah started recommending books she knew I’d like. A Brief History of Montmaray didn’t just suck me into its own pages but back into reading. By the end of 2011, thanks to copious readwalking, I’d read 40ish books. Most of those were ones I’d bought myself, which meant I was adding books to my shelves* knowing I really would be able to keep them this time around.

[ read more ]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My countdown to being bald!


On Saturday, March 24, 2012, I’m shaving my hair for St. Baldrick’s childhood cancer charity. Please look here for information on my inspiration and on donating.

Thank you so much for your support!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Choosing baldness. Choosing hope.

I’ll be bald in eleven days.

There was a time I swore I’d never have hair shorter than chin length again. At 18, I’d made the unfortunate mistake of dozing off at the hands of a new stylist, who thought I’d look just fabulous with one-inch hair.

How wrong you were, stylist. How wrong you were.

Despite my old vow, I choose baldness now.

[ read more ]

Monday, March 12, 2012

The care and tending-to of story ideas

Concealed in my closet amongst actual shoes there rests a Converse shoebox full of something else. Something altogether unshoelike.

Twenty years ago, I tucked every story idea that danced through my head into that same shoebox. I was too full of story ideas, beginnings and characters to actually sit down and develop any of them, but I’d get around to it someday.

Someday, I knew, those little scraps of paper would metamorphosis into page after page of beautiful tales.

In my mid-teens, I met my first boyfriend and stopped opening the shoebox. Still, I moved the box with me when I headed to Los Angeles for law school.


After you’ve read the rest of this post over at Avery’s Book Nook (a delightful nook indeed!), I’d love your thoughts–over there–on your own story ideas. Do you keep them? If so, for how long? Have you ever found yourself revisiting any of them later? I’d love to know what you do with the ideas you can’t yet use!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A love letter

Is this a love letter? Yes. Is it a romantic love letter? No. I hope you’ll read on nevertheless.

In May 2009, my brother-in-law requested my feedback on a scholarship application essay he’d written. True to my contract profession self, I butchered the letter like I was getting paid a million bucks for each word altered or removed.

Something like this.

To make sure my bro-in-law understood exactly why I’d treated it so brutally, I wrote him a letter that I started with ginormous font text cautioning him, under no circumstances, to read my edits before reading my explanatory letter.

I revisited that letter today because I wanted to remind him he’s more than numbers and letters on med school applications. I’m posting it here with his consent, and a request for you:

Please try to see yourself through the eyes of those who love you. There’s a reason they love you so.


I’m biased where you’re concerned. I totally own up to that. I think you’re tied for something like second or third most awesome person in the world, ever. To be fair, though, I reached this conclusion only after knowing you for many years, and seeing the amazing capacities of both your heart and mind.

[ read more ]

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Budgeting ain't for sissies!

It’s been five years since I got myself into the habit of budgeting my money.

Likely in the middle of budgeting

I hated it at first. Before I started keeping track, it was easy to pretend I had more money than I actually did.

With all my paycheck dollars divvied up into clear budget categories, it was much harder to keep up that daydream.

Budgeting wasn’t without its benefits. Looking at the totality of my debt and expenses in one place allowed me to create a realistic plan for paying off my debt. Within a few months, I found my debt diminishing instead of growing. I was delighted to see the numbers going down, if a little less thrilled that my law school debt was still in the six-figure zone.

Five years later, it’s easy to see how much my budget benefited me. It was absolutely worth the teeth-gnashing and fist-shaking at the beginning.

Recently I’ve been faced with another budgeting question:

Why didn’t I ever try budgeting my time?

[ read more ]

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Twelve times forever

“I’m too straight, mama. I’m too straight.”

My son assuredly meant something by this, but it’s doubtful he meant what it sounded like to me.

I couldn’t help but laugh, but I couldn’t stop thinking about his words, either. And when we drove away from a bookstore with a new Cat in the Hat book in our possession, I found myself imagining a Seuss-style conversation with his older self.

Li’l D, just so’s you know, I’ll love you . . .

twelve times forever

Mommy, mommy, you love me, right?
I love you, silly, bigger than the sun is bright!

[ read more ]

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lex & Angel take a stand against grief. Kinda.

On February 23, 2010, comfort was hard for me to find.

I was taking care of my then five-month-old son solo while working remotely from my mom’s home in Oregon, all the while trying to prepare for the inevitability of soon saying my final farewell to my mom.

Monday’s post helped me remember my mom’s life instead of the days leading up to the end of it, but that only goes so far. Today, for example, my heart believes very much that it is living February 23, 2010 and February 23, 2012 simultaneously.

As written on TMiYC’s Facebook page this morning:

Yesterday I wrote about how the Mayan calendar was cyclical, not linear and conclusively ending.

So, too, with grief. There isn’t a set amount of grief that becomes gradually and predictably lesser day by day. Rather, there are ebbs and flows.

As this Gregorian calendar year’s cycle nears March 4, I’m in a flow of mourning, remembering these days two years ago.

And yet, looking through the source document for a book I might someday write–with my sisters–about my mom, I was startled and pleased to remember that there was some comfort in unexpected places.

Let’s step in a time machine back to my law school days, shall we?

A die-hard Joss Whedon fan, I celebrated and supported all things Whedon-related during my law school days. I seized every opportunity I could to be an extra on Whedon’s shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and even (once) Firefly. When I learned Angel‘s David Boreanaz would be playing at a charity hockey event, I was in. So in.

Except, when I got to the event, I realized I wasn’t much of a hockey fan. In fact, the only thing that kept my attention on the game at all was this guy named Michael Rosenbaum, known to many as Smallville’s Lex Luthor.

It wasn’t him, exactly; rather, it was his impact on the menfolk who’d clearly been dragged to the game by their wives.

Watching Rosenbaum play with skill even I could appreciate, I saw many of the men go from half-asleep and disengaged to actually being present. Something good was happening! Real sport was being played!

Men’s enthusiastic voices began to punctuate the silence. “Rosenbaum!” “Rosey!” “Go, Rosey!”

I didn’t expect to think about that game or Michael Rosenbaum ever again, but the thing about going to school at UCLA was that lots of movie premieres happened right off campus. One such premiere was of Rosenbaum’s film Sorority Boys. I nabbed a free pass to the premiere on a trip into Westwood for ice cream.

When the stars of the movies came into the “civilian” theater to say hello, I yelled “Rosey!” in my attempt at a booming, masculine hockey fan voice before bursting into a fit of giggles. Rosenbaum looked around with a question on his face as I sank into my seat.

A few moments later, I found myself unable to resist a repeat. “Rosey!” I boomed.

Rosenbaum looked around again and said something like, “Seriously, who’s saying that?”

[ read more ]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wanted to Buy: Takebacks

I was barely sixteen when I first moved out of my mom’s house.

I stayed with a girlfriend, S, from the local community college, where I’d just begun my third term of studies in what would prove a successful bid to get out of high school a year early.

I managed six weeks of living with S before I decided home wasn’t such a bad place to be. As I wrote in my online journal:

I don’t want to go “home,” but I don’t want to live with S. She drives me crazy. Not even the siblings make me nuts in the same way does S.

Eventually I’d discover that shared lodging often breeds resentment, but at the time, I was sure S was the problem. Well, her and her rabbit. Also her 3 a.m. phone calls from her mom, who’d demand S awaken me so she could tell us how very, very much she loved both of us.

Life at my mom’s house seemed oh so sweet by comparison. For a couple of weeks. I let her know how grateful I was by saying things like, “I hate you! I’ll hate you forever!” and–because I knew it got under her skin like nothing else I could say–”I wish I’d never been born!”

[ read more ]

Friday, February 17, 2012

FTIAT: Two ships

Renee (Life in the Boomer Lane) writes mirthful, subversive critiques of the media that make me wish she were responsible for all news, everywhere. I said as much the first time I read her blog, and wish it even more strongly now.

I was anxious when I invited her to guest post. I didn’t dare dream she’d actually say “yes,” but rejoiced when she did.

Beneath her wit runs compassion that is so much more than words. I am thankful she uses her words in all the ways she does: to speak out against injustice, to poke good-hearted fun, to encourage. It was at Renee’s urging that I wrote about my experiences testifying in court as a child; through that writing, I not only learned but increased my strength. For this I am and will ever be thankful to Renee.

Recommended post: The Day I Shook Hands with the Dalai Lama

Two ships

In the midst of the riches that surround me, of family and friends and health and purpose, I am thankful for two moments in time that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with my life.

Years before I was born, two children, one in Poland and one in Russia, each stepped onto a different ship. One was a girl, eight years old. The other a boy, thirteen. The eight year old was alone. There was no family to hold her hand. There was no family to stand at the dock and wish her well as she departed. She probably had a card either pinned to her clothing, or hung on a cord or rope from her neck. The card would have had her name and little else. She would have been surrounded by other children, all duly identified. She wouldn’t have known where she was going, and she wouldn’t have known what would happen to her after she arrived.

[ read more ]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'll love you more if you blog.

Dear sister,

OK, so the title’s a lie. You know I love you times infinity.

Still, as your big sister, I feel compelled to share with you some actual benefits of blogging as an author. This is because:

(1) You are about to finish writing your first novel, handily meeting the “author” requirement,

(2) I still know better than you* and can’t let you forget it, and

(3) I am just that helpful.

The list that follows is by no means comprehensive, but that’s only because there’s not enough time to share all my expertise. Also, my fingers would get really tired from typing that much.

In descending order of importance, these are the reasons you should start your very own blog:

(1) Because I said so.

Don't make the unicorns cry. Photo by Mackenzie Kincaid

(2) Chipmunks told my friend Julie that the unicorns will cry if you don’t start a blog.

(3) Your words consistently move me; blogging will enable those words to reach the hearts of many others. You’ll do some of this by your book**, but blogging will allow you to express different facets of yourself.

[ read more ]

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A glorious mess of hope and wonder

“Do I need to buy a TV so you kids will stop reading?”

My mom was usually joking when she asked her children this question, but the humor was often tinged with desperation. “It’s good that you’re reading, but should you read this much?”

Despite our poverty, my childhood home never lacked for books. My mom saw these garage sale finds as an investment in her children’s futures. Indeed, books proved a vital link from the sadness of our circumstances to the hope that many adventures might yet await us. (Ontormonto!)

Between our home collection and the thousands of books available at the public library, no part of the world was beyond our reach. Neither was the “otherworld” unreachable. Between me and my just-younger sister, every book on the supernatural made its way to our home at some point!

[ read more ]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Daddy's (not so) disappearing act

Finding Daddy

“Where’s Daddy?”

My son’s recent answers to this question are the subject of a short, silly guest post “Daddy’s (not so) disappearing act” over at Holdin’ Holden.

If (a) your attention span at the moment can only be measured in nanoseconds, like that of yours truly and/or (b) you like adorable pictures of Li’l D on his tricycle, this is possibly the post for you.

After you’re done, poke around the blog a little. Jenny’s got lots of good stuff there, and on her Facebook page!

(And if you’d like to hear my son’s sweet giggling? Click here.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In pictures (and words!), a year of being an author

A year ago today, I published my first novel. More on that--and what this picture means!--here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On bald heads & being unending

Although this post begins with a tragedy, it is a post about hope.

I was thrift store hopping in 2003 when I missed a call from a girlfriend. Stepping out from the thrift store I’d been shopping at, I dialed my voicemail access number. I knew something was wrong when my new voicemail began not with “Hi, Debbie!” but “Oh, Deb.”

Only a handful of seconds later, I sank to the sidewalk and thought, “No. No, this is a terrible joke. This can’t have happened.”

But it had.

Months later, I continued to struggle with how suddenly lives could be ended. I found solace only in my long nighttime runs, during which my thoughts ran even further and wider than my legs.

Finish line

One evening shortly before the 2004 marathon that would be my first, I noticed a car passing by me slowly and repeatedly. I started getting anxious about how dark it was, how long it had been since I’d seen another person, how if someone managed to get me into their car, there’d be no one around to notice.

I ran in the direction of the nearest police station and I prayed. The car fell away, eventually, but the adrenaline didn’t.

I wondered about what would have happened if the ending there had been different. Would my friends remember me for all the happy memories we shared, or would they remember only how my life ended?

The thought horrified me. As I wept while running homeward, I thought over and over again: We are so much more than the ways that we end.

Afterward, I endeavored to remember those who had died not for how their lives concluded, but for who they were while they lived. For their lives.

And yet, when my friend Karin began daily posting links to a blog series about a young girl’s struggle with cancer, I thought, “Gah, why would I want to read so extensively about a girl’s death?”

Donna the Fairy Flower (photo used with permission from Mary Tyler Mom)

It was only when I read Karin’s husband Chris’s Freshly Pressed entry about why they are going “Blissfully Bald” that I understood just how much I had misunderstood. This wasn’t a story about a girl’s death to cancer.

It was a story about a girl’s life.

[ read more ]

Saturday, January 14, 2012

One amazing year & many thanks


I've kept online journals in some form or another since 1995, but it was January 14, 2011 that I began "blogging."

That day, I wrote about some YA novels I'd penned while I was living in Japan. Specifically, I wrote an entry ("On writing books & golden stars") about my chagrin at failing to write a single perfect novel the first time around, and how my mom's death finally spurred me to forego unattainable perfection for the attainable satisfaction of holding in my hands a perfect-to-me book with my own name on it.

[ read more ]

Friday, January 6, 2012

Up (again) with the pen, down (again) with the pitchfork!

Shiny blue light, inspire me!

I’ve been feeling quiet the last few days.

There’s a lot behind most silences. In this case, my silence is inspired by a gathering resolve.

Yep, you read that right: “resolve.” I know this is traditionally the time of making, revising, breaking and occasionally keeping resolutions, but I tend not to be the resolution-making sort.*

It’s been months since I told myself I’d begin editing The Monster’s Daughter’s sequel in earnest. And yet, so far I’ve only mustered a few hours of editing here and there. I’ve persistently traded the deep, lasting gratification of moving closer to completing a dear project for the instant gratification of an online exchange or nineteen.

[ read more ]