Weathering the Storm

blessings_sm“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” Willa Cather

An indie writer colleague recently shared that her family was struggling with severe chronic health issues on several fronts just as her writing career was starting to come together.  I don’t know why when life hands you lemons it also kicks you in the shins too.  I do know that for whatever reasons some of my best writing opportunities have come along at the worst possible times in my personal life.

I remember thinking that I’d like to enjoy the project without having to face the crisis. Then I realized if I didn’t have my writing, I’d only have the crisis. At least whatever project I was working on gave me a brief reprieve from the storm.

Following the creative path is challenging even if your biggest worries are the routine chores of daily life.  While you might have to scale back on a project due to a major front looming in your personal life, never completely abandon your creative pursuits. Your soul needs them and the world longs for more pictures, songs and stories.


Wooing the Muse

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

A chief complaint among loved ones is that we take them for granted. We walk in the door, world-weary, throw our woes at their feet and wonder why the blank stare. Is it too much to ask for unconditional love in exchange for an earful of problems? Our muse reacts much the same.  Constantly pressing her to produce magic out of thin air against tight deadline and suddenly she stops speaking to you and you’re faced with a blank page or an empty canvas.

While deadlines are important, just like other necessities of daily life like laundry and paying bills they can put a strain on relationships.  A few years ago at a writer’s conference held at the Silver Spur Guest Ranch, some of my colleagues agonized over how to spend their free time.  Should they devote the time to their latest WIP or go horseback riding? “Sometimes you have to prime the pump,” my cabin mate remarked as she slid on her cowboy hat and headed out into the Texas sunshine.  While there were a few anxious souls intent on their laptops in the dining hall, I’m happy to report most of the writers hit the trail.

This Valentine’s Day, make a date with your muse to do something, not tied to a specific project or deadline.  Doing stuff kids like to do is usually a good start, coloring, blowing soap bubbles or losing yourself in a book you loved as a child. Better yet, you can include your loved-ones.

Good Reads for the Holidays


Each basket includes a book, votive candle and of course chocolate.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”   C.S. Lewis

When you have a long Christmas to-do list and with many good causes needing support this time of year, trying to cover all bases during holidays can be a challenge.  Fortunately, Secondhand Prose’s Open House can solve both problems.  The 13th Annual Open House will have books, holiday items and book-themed gift baskets (including a couple from yours truly).

Located in the Northwest Reno Library, bookstore is operated by volunteers from Friends of the Washoe County Library.  In addition to gently used titles, the bookstore also carries books on CD and unique gifts for the booklover.

When I dropped off my baskets, the library’s backroom was filled with busy volunteers, baskets, and all sorts of goodies from toys to wine glasses. As with most holiday events preparation is key.  One of the volunteers told me, they had slotted two full days to prepare all the baskets for the open house.

Holiday music will be provided by local musicians, so the open house is the perfect opportunity to pick up a few gifts while enjoying the spirit of the season.  And you might find a couple choice reads for yourself…after all it’s for a good cause.

Northwest Reno Library

3525 Robb Drive, Reno NV


Saturday, December 2, 1017


20Books Vegas


Enter a caption

“And everyone’s definition of success is different. Know what yours is before you start on your author journey.”  From 20Books 2017 handout.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a rookie, most writers agree that writing conferences are an excellent way to network and garner tips on perfecting your craft. However with the vast range of abilities and genres out there, it’s impossible for a single conference to be all things to all authors.  Even genre-specific conferences can have issues with logistics as a couple of my romance colleagues discovered when they attended an established romance conference in Vegas.  The duo trekked long distances to the panels only to discover the rooms filled to capacity.  Not to be denied their HEA, the pair spent the remainder of the conference in their suite working on manuscripts and strategizing for their next boxed set.

I’m happy to report a much different experience from 20 Books Vegas 2017.  Unlike many conferences which are focused on traditional publishing, 20Books is all about Indie publishing. What started as a Facebook group in March 2016 by Michael Anderle soon developed into a significant voice in the indie world.

Held at Sam’s Town, the event reflected the frontier vibe of the venue.  No shoot-out’s at Sam's Townhigh noon, but the spirit of people helping each other resonated throughout the conference.   Twenty minutes before Craig Martelle’s opening remarks, the Ponderosa room was already abuzz with discussion.  With many writers staying at the venue, networking was often as simple as waiting for the elevator.

I returned home with my green spiral bound notebook packed with ideas, business cards and a daunting to-do list.  I can’t say that I’ve got it all figured out, but I now have a better sense of direction thanks to 20Books.

Art Open House

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

What do Froggie Beads, Meridian Press prints and Wine-ing Cats have in common? Besides being featured on Create on the Side, they’re also part of the creations available from the talented artists featured at Reno Open Studios.

Wine-Ing Cats Reno

Wine-ing Cats by Michele DiFonzo

This year 31 visual artists, coppersmiths to photographers, open their studios to the public.

Best of all, Reno Open Studios is arranged in a true open house format.  Since the studios are located throughout Reno and Sparks, you can easily manage to visit a couple of studios between your usual weekend errands.  Or better yet, grab a friend and make a day of it.

Reno Open Studios-Dates and Hours

October 6th, 7th and 8th, 2017-Note some studios are not open on Friday. Check the website for details.

Hours 10:00am to 5:00pm each day.

Keep Calm & Read On

British researchers asked people wSundance Booksho were feeling stressed to engage in one of the following activities: reading, listening to music, taking a walk or having a cup of tea or coffee. Of the entire group, the readers demonstrated the most reduced stress levels with heart rates lowered by 68%.

It’s always gratifying to discover that one of your favorite pursuits is actually good for you. Now if only researchers could prove the health benefits of watching classic films…Since today happens to be Independent Bookstore Day, it is perfect day to pursue new literary horizons.

“There are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity.”

Real serendipity seems like a distinct possibility at Reno’s own Sundance Books and Music. Imagine spending time in an elegant white two-story home that is all library. Not only do they have a helpful staff, impressive selection of popular and local titles, they also have a frequent buyers program.

Like local indie stores during this one day celebration, Sundance Books & Music will have exclusive literary swag unavailable during other times of the year. After you’re re-stocked with good reads, you can stop by Bibo Coffee or Too Soul Tea. After all if reading is good for you, a cup of coffee or tea with a good book has to be even better for you.

Sundance Books and Music-121 California Avenue, Reno, NV 89509

Hours-M-F-9 to 9, Sat & Sun: 9 to 5


Sun Dance Dragon

Will the dragon be there? I don’t know, but if you don’t go you’ll never find out!

More Art…Less Stress

heart image“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”  Twyla Tharp

Drexel’s College of Nursing & Health Professions ran a study in which 39 adults ages 18-59 spent 45 minutes making art with paper, markers, collage materials and modeling clay. Cortisol levels (that’s the stress hormone) were measured before and after the art exercise. 75% of the participants showed lower cortisol levels after their art making endeavors.

Doesn’t it make you wonder about the remaining 25%?  Were they too Type A to get into it?

In a former life, I worked in foreclosure department spending long hours on the phone with miserable souls with very limited options…pay or get out. One of my colleagues (I’ll call him Harper) would slip away to an empty cubicle to spend his lunch hour working his Sci-FI novel every day. I don’t know if Harper ever published his novel. I believe his lunch hours spent in an alternative universe was beneficial since he was a calm presence in a department of the often-frustrated dealing with the usually-desperate.

While certain artistic pursuits might not fit well in a cubicle environment (especially anything involving clay, paint or welding), sketch pads, colored markers and notebooks are portable and office-friendly. In my work tote, I keep a spiral bound notebook handy for flashes of inspiration (like this one) as well as a small knitting project. So even if you can’t completely transform your cubicle into an art studio, find a way to keep your creative pursuits within reach.