Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Is It about Book Clubs . . .

that I love so much?

I won’t be bashful. I’ll come right out and give you ten things that get me jazzed about book clubs.

1.       They’re breeding grounds for laughter.

2.       Book clubs provide mental stimulation. It’s like Lumosity for literature lovers (say that 10 times fast).

3.       I’m able to reflect upon a book once I’ve read it, exploring concepts and characters at a more felt level.

4.       I discuss topics and characters in ways I’d never have the opportunity to do in other circumstances.

5.       When I’m visiting a group that’s read one of my books, I’m always amazed what readers teach me about my characters and stories. It’s insanely rewarding to hear the takeaways.

6.       Book clubs conjure an appreciation for literature and books that have rocked my world in the past. There’s this magical invisible weave that strings from one mind-blowing book to the next.

7.       Book groups are wonderful settings to receive and sift through diverse opinions.

8.       They make me feel less alone, as women come together and open up in refreshingly honest conversations.

9.       They introduce me to new authors.

10.   Okay I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for the food & wine, too.

 

If your book club is interested in reading THE DISAPPEARING KEY or THE FLOWER GIRLS, I’d love know. Please send me an email with the details. If you’re local, I’ll make the effort to visit in person. I’ve also Skyped and spoken on the phone with clubs before, too.

 

 

& Happy Book Birthday to THE DISAPPEARING KEY!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Facing the Inevitable Hard Decision


There are times in life when we all have to make difficult decisions. They can feel like someone cracking open our chest with a crowbar or these moments can feel more subtle, like scratching off a scab.

No matter how it feels, I happen to believe it matters how we take on times of decision.

Here are a few things that I’ve gleaned from going through challenging times of resolution. . .

Confront the Situation Honestly

No use pretending conflict away. It’s not going anywhere. In fact, hear that? It’s your conscience knocking, telling you it’s time. I know it’s tempting to blow something off when you don’t want to deal with it. Or to sugarcoat and twist it to be something more innocuous than it really is. Take off the rose-colored glasses and face it for the ugly green monster it is.

Recognize Patterns

Pattern behavior can serve as a wonderful guide when you’re wondering whether or not you think someone will change. Can people change? I absolutely believe they can, but I also believe if they’re demonstrating similar behavior repeatedly, it’s time to pay attention. Which leads me to. . .

Be Realistic about Expectations

It’s helpful to take a good hard look at your role in the situation. Are you the one who needs to make some adjustments? Have you done anything to make the decision more challenging than it has to be? Let your emotions take over? Lacked empathy? Demonstrated apathy? It’s important to have realistic expectations of how things will play out after your decision is imparted.

Consult Trusted Mentors & Friends

It’s wise to receive valuable insight from people who’ve made smart choices in the past. Reach out. You might be surprised by what you learn. It also provides comfort and accountability, so you can be reminded that you’re not alone.

Take Care of Yourself in the Process

Stress can wreak havoc on the body. Think Space Invaders on your healthy cells. Be mindful of this. Get plenty of rest. Take walks. Breathe. I still appreciate the scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding when Julia Roberts is on the floor of the hotel, crushed, and the concierge bends down and tells her, “This too shall pass.” It’s a great thing to say to yourself during times like these.

Maintain Integrity

Because emotions are generally inflamed when you endure trials, it would be easy to whip up some pies like those found in the pages of The Help. Yep, you know what I’m referring to. But don’t. Don’t go pooping in your pies. Keep focused. Remember who you want to be in times like this. Cling to character and class no matter how hurt you feel. It’ll speak volumes.

Hope in the Future

Life’s pretty cool in that it keeps on going. You don’t enter a comatose state once you’ve followed through with your decision. You go on. Life goes on. So Obladi. Oblada . . . make it count.

Ever have to make a hard decision? What helped you in the process?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Five Surprising Ways You Could Be Unintentionally Hurting Yourself


 
Spending Too Much Time Online

I admit, I write this with five sites open, from my glass house. But I feel it. When I’ve spent too much time online and not playing fetch with my dog or getting outside I miss fresh air. My chest gets that cobwebby feeling and my legs cramp up after I’ve spent too much cross-legged time at my desk.

I’ve written about this before, but an overabundance of time online can also complicate things in regards to comparing with others, planting unrealistic impressions, and creating a false sense of security.

The Glorification of Busy

Yep, this is me again. Writing and watching as the words appear behind my glass computer screen. There’s something to be said for unencumbered simplicity. Let’s get back there. Let’s find it again. Even if it means having to get creative with carpools and letting the laundry go another day. (However, one of my favorite Pinterest pins says, ‘Laundry today or Naked tomorrow.’)

Processing Something to Death

I’m a processor. Don’t believe me? I used to call the woman I coached soccer with to discuss how our recreational soccer games went. Believe me now?

But I’m not really referring to kid soccer games here. I’m talking about a deep hurt or a bitterness that you stroke again and again, thinking it’s helping you sort it out and get over it. When really, it’s not. It’s just a way for you to remember the hurt. To massage it as a validation the scar went deep and you are entitled to your pain. You are entitled to your pain. So feel it and get through it. Don’t fall into the trap of mistaking processing for coddling.

Refusing to Admit When You’re Stuck

Eh hem. Me again. Writing from the pit. Got a hand?

The only reason I can speak to any of these points is because I’ve lived them or I’m still living them. And I’ve encountered firsthand evidence of the damage they cause. This one gets tricky because we can be really skilled at calling stuck something other than what it is. I’m “granting grace” or I’m getting older and no one expects as much from me as they used to. How about just plain being unwilling to try something new or getting a little too comfortable with your pit surroundings.

Being stuck is not a crime. Once we acknowledge that we’re having difficulty moving, we’re a lot more likely to seek out the reasons why. And then maybe we’ll even do something about it.

Mistaking Impulsiveness for Calculated Risks

I’m a risk taker so I’m quite familiar with this one. It comes down to discerning whether I’m basing my decision on feelings, experience, or something else. One of the best ways you can tell if you’re simply being impulsive is when you’re unwilling or hesitant to consider the potential consequences that could result from your dive. This is exceedingly important when you look down and discover there’s no water in the pool.

I like to pass on what I’ve learned and what I’m learning. Hope these thoughts help you today as they’ve helped me.

Can you think of any other ways we might be hurting ourselves without knowing it?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don’t Let ‘Em Fool You (& some song lyrics)


A lot of exciting things have been happening in my life lately. Book signings. Just read a great write-up in the local paper about me entitled, “The Sweet Taste of Success.” Reviews for both of my books are strong. My husband and I are about to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary. My girls are back in school and I’m working hard on another story I can’t wait to share with you. I post some of this on social media. And some day-to-day happenings I keep to myself. To stroke and play with like a soft little bunny.
When I thought about what I wanted to blog about today my mind kept snagging on the word image. Particularly image on Facebook.
Life has a tendency to appear quite rosy on Facebook. For you. For me. For all of us. It’s only natural we want to put our best out there, but I wanted to share in this post how life isn’t a status update. It isn’t the best picture of twenty. It’s more than just the images we put out there of us when we’re in public or laughing with friends.
Life is a mixed bag. And while I respect that it’s wise not to dump our emotional baggage online at anyone who will click it open, I also think it’s good to remind ourselves that life isn’t a snapshot on Facebook. Social media is only a glimpse, and a glimpse we choose to share at that.
So in light of what I just wrote, I’m going to be candid. There’s a lot more going on in my life than book signings and articles that dub me a success. I often fight feelings of failure. I grieve friendships and find myself singing the following Bob Marley lyrics every so often. “Good friends we have. Good friends we’ve lost along the way.” Even though we have an adorable new pup, I still miss our old dog a lot. I get sad about family members battling sicknesses. I get frustrated with middle school girls who act rude. I have trouble acting normal when I’m nervous (nod to Counting Crows lyrics).
“And I’m gonna be forty.” (In a little over a year, but still Meg Ryan understands.)
So I write all this to remind you…
We’re in this together, people. And it’s never as real as it seems online. Don’t let ‘em fool you. (Hey, I do believe that’s Bob, too.)
 
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where in the World is Wendy?


 
Where in the World is Wendy?
Apparently at all the local coffee shops. As you know, books and coffee go together. I know this, too. That’s why I’ve made the rounds at all our fantastic local coffee shops.
 


Here I am at a Q&A book discussion for my book, The Disappearing Key
at Daybreak Coffee Roasters in November.
 


Me again doing a spontaneous “superstar” move at Down to Earth Coffee House last month.


Where will Wendy go next?
So. G Coffee Roasters. I’ll be selling & signing copies of The Disappearing Key & The Flower Girls there 
THIS SATURDAY, August 30th
from Noon-3pm
 
 
“There's not enough coffee in the world to fuel all the books I want to write.” Chris Stocking
(In other words, my coffee tour very well might just be at its beginning.)
 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The School of Life: Seven Powerful Lessons I Hope to Impress Upon My Girls


School is back in session next week. My girls will get their heads jammed full of all kinds of knowledge. However, there are some lessons I hope I’m instilling in each of them on a day-to-day basis. I thought I’d share seven with you today.

The Value in Investing in Something Greater than Yourself

Whether it’s by signing up for a Love 146 walk, collecting winter wear for the homeless, or making regular trips to Goodwill, I want my kids to see me making sacrifices for others.

Resiliency is Character-Building

Life knocks us down. People knock us down. We do well enough knocking ourselves down. The key is getting back up. It’s during the process of shaking off the dust that we begin to understand what we’re made of.

Creativity during Life’s Waits

I’m fairly certain 94.279387594375 % of life is spent waiting for something. Case in point, here is a little play-by-play of my “wait” list. Grow up. Get my period (yeah, what was I excited about on that one?), first kiss, boyfriend (wait, isn’t that backwards?), graduate, college, first place, job that suits me, marry, have babies, discover my calling (my life seems a tad out of order), see the fruit of that discovery grow to its full potential (still waiting). See where I’m coming from? And I didn’t even mention lines at the grocery store or Marshalls.

I do something earthshattering while I’m waiting in line with my girls. I ask them questions…we talk.

Kindness Trumps Argumentativeness, Hubris, or Inaction

Trust me, there are times I feel like Venus Flytrapping some people. When I witness road rage. Entitlement. Flat out ignorance or selfishness. Yep, want to swallow those suckers whole only to spit them out in a sewage plant. However, it’s a good practice, when tempted to practice kindness. Not fakeness. Not flattery. But a moment of slipping out of my own thoughts and attempting to enter theirs. Then doing something (albeit oftentimes small) about it.

Discipline

I’ve written eleven novels in less than seven years. That alone is enough to send the message I’m serious. That I’m invested. My girls see what I give up in order to devote time to writing. Little spies…they see everything.

Tenacity

Where passion lives, get tenacious. That’s the message I hope computes. Also, don’t give up easily. Become resourceful. When the time calls, speak up. Be a voice that’s not only heard, it’s heeded.

The Beauty of Empathy

I’m one of those people who has a horrible time remaining in my chair if I see someone crying across the room. Could be a complete stranger in tears. I have to fight not to leap toward them and smother them in a hug. Backing off from this a tad, I hope I’m teaching my girls to take risks with this one. To ask someone who’s crying if they’re okay. To stick up for a kid being picked on during recess. To go out of their way to the point where it feels a little uncomfortable in order to let someone else know they matter.
 

There are many other messages I’d love to know my kids are receiving, that are becoming a part of how they perceive their role in this world. But these are the biggies I wanted to share with you today.

Have you ever given thought to what your kids are learning outside of school?

 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Restored Buoyancy


 
 
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”

~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life