Sunday, May 29, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011


Sorry for the long absence. I've been super busy with everything - all coming all at once, but I think I've picked up a new steady job. Yay. This summer is all about expanding my business and getting more clients as well as writing more, more, more.

I turned in my first writing assignment for my class and got an A. So cute. My instructor's comments are so detailed I forgot I'd even get a grade. I ran out of time to research my article so I shelved it to await the future ( I need to find a magazine to query for it, anyway) and whipped out nine pages of memoir in a few hours.

It came out so quickly and so well that my teacher is encouraging me to consider a book project. He knows a lot of my backstory, and it is interesting stuff. I just don't know if I want to share it with the world (beyond here, of course). What matters more to me - privacy or a book deal? Hmm...

Anyway, here's a song I've been loving lately. May all of your dispositions be sweet...

Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Of Porn and Other Distractions

Sadly, I’ve discovered vacation home porn. It started innocently enough. My family wants a get together with my brother’s family this summer. Instead of being crammed into a hotel, I started looking for a vacation rental house where we could enjoy being together for a few days. A nice meeting place halfway between us on the Central Coast with rooms to be together and rooms to be apart.

The house I have my eye on is a dream – five bedrooms, four baths, huge living spaces, a pool, two hot tubs, a kiddie splash pool with a waterfall, a game room with a pool table AND a bocce ball court. Just to top it off. We would never have to leave. Unfortunately, it’s also got dream prices.

Then, over the last few days, I started to branch out. Look at rentals in other places – beach towns like Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach. San Diego. Coronado. Mini-villas in the desert to be had for a song during the blaze of July. You know how it works, you start easy, and next thing you know you’re into the harder stuff.

Last night, a light bulb went off over my head. Wouldn’t people in Europe be renting houses out as well? Turns out, they sure are. Hours escaped from me yesterday as I drooled over stone cottages in Brittany and modern lofts in Paris. I’m sure I’m doing just what the menfolk do – looking and dreaming, considering the options out there in the world, peeking at the little intimate details, escaping from my own life for a bit.

I mentioned that last week I had four deadlines? I made them all. This week I have three more. The 3000 word article that’s due tonight has turned into memoir. Something I can flow through a bit more quickly, with less research. I’ve got two more proposals to do by tomorrow night. And my daughter’s sixth grade teacher has been kind enough to throw a project on the foods of Ancient Greece into the mix, due tomorrow. So that’s ten hours this week I’ll spend at the kitchen table guiding my daughter and her friend, typing, and printing, and cutting, and gluing. Not to mention the food samples we had to go buy for the class.

When I’m under deadline, I’m the most distractible person in the world. Suddenly, everything else on my computer, even the latest Groupon, seems vitally important. Stumbling into this world of bedrooms and bathrooms, lofts and terraces, yards and ponds and pools is not doing me any favors.

Did you know that some people will even trade their house in gorgeous faraway places for my perfectly acceptable one? For FREE??

If you need me, there’s a page of ocean view flats in Cinque Terre that I’ll be scoping out…

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Even Putting Pepper on Soup...

Even putting pepper on soup can be a great pleasure.

The speckled contrasting flecks, the points of pungent flavor, the incredible richness of daily life...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fabulous Online Writing Class

After my last few posts, several of you emailed me asking about how I create external deadlines to help me stay on track with my own writing. One super-effective way is by taking online writing classes. They are easy, convenient, and MAKE me write something every week. I always learn something useful.

Additionally, Mike is one of the best editors I've ever worked with and has a fine eye for careful but compassionate critique.

So here's the info about his latest Online offering. I won't be in on this one, as I have a full slate of work and projects right now, but I hope this might be just the thing that some of you are looking for. You'll feel it in your gut if this is the class for you - at least, it works that way for me! HAPPY WRITING!!!
Spring Online Class Begins Monday, May 16
Why do some stories stand out, capturing the attention of publishers and readers? The answer is simple. In those stories, the writers have focused on techniques that make the fiction both marketable and compelling. This popular online class, Create Your Best Fiction, was last offered in 2008. The course will concentrate on those approaches that can bring out the very best in your writing. Lessons include:

*** Being There: Establish a Realistic Setting

*** You & Your Character: Nailing the Narrative Voice

*** Forgotten Techniques: How Characters Really Come Alive

*** How You Say It: When Dialogue Reveals Character

*** A Swinging Pendulum: Merging Action and Description

*** The Big Easy: Comfortable Flow and Pace

1. A lesson will be emailed every Monday and will include an assigned exercise.
2. Students will read or download the lesson at their convenience.
3. Students will complete the weekly writing exercise and return it to Mike Foley via email (all exercises due the following Monday). Students will receive a weekly letter from Mike, discussing the exercise and offering suggestions.
4. Students will have the opportunity to read the weekly exercises to see how their classmates handled the assignments.
5. Every week, Mike will email additional writing tips to supplement the course material.
6. As part of the course, students will receive a free critique of a writing project. This can be a story created in class or another story/novel chapter. Project length will be 6-12 double-spaced pages. All projects will be evaluated and returned.

The class will begin on Monday, May 16. FEE FOR THE SIX-WEEK COURSE--$219 (All Writer’s Edge subscribers and members of CWC-Inland Empire pay only $169—a full $50 discount). You may pay by check or credit card (Visa/MC accepted through PayPal). For more information or to register, please contact Mike Foley by email:

mike at

Mike Foley is the editor of Dream Merchant Magazine and author of more than 750 stories and articles. He also teaches fiction and nonfiction writing in the extension program at UC-Riverside.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Loving the Craft

I’ve been so blessed lately to hear some GREAT writers talk about writing. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was last weekend, and I got to listen in on many craft discussions along with reconnecting with one of my writing idols and role models. I’ve also been reading some great recent interviews about the writing life as well as learning for my nonfiction class.

It’s funny. Sometimes you know the writer as a person. And obviously to you, they are just another friend, a normal human being, mostly doing ordinary stuff, putting their pants on one leg at a time, that kind of thing. Then you read something they’ve written, or hear them talk about the writing craft, and you are just BLOWN AWAY by their sheer brilliance. You forget how stunningly, mindblowingly talented some otherwise down-to-earth folks can be. My writing mentor is like that. And a few of my other friends.

Then there are the others – the ones you know only through their writing. And in your mind, they are Gods of Creativity. Then you meet them or hear them present, and they are just a person same as you. They had to drive to the event; they hassle with getting their kids to bed on time; they are just mortals.

As I’ve become more secure in my own writing strengths and identity, I’m less threatened by other writers. I used to be a bit in awe and a bit jealous. I thought they had some secret power I lacked.

Now when I read brilliant writers producing fabulous ideas, I am just happy. I am just filled with bliss and contentment that there can be so much wonderful variety and productivity in the world. I’m much more of the “They are Good, and I am Also Good” philosophy, and I am overjoyed for their successes -- and selfishly thrilled that I get to share in their goodies of ideas by reading!

It’s collaboration, this writing-reading life, and it’s a pleasure. We are all bound together in this web of loving words, connecting with and helping each other along.

I am honored to be a part of it. And grateful for all the others who spend their time doing the same thing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Made My Deadline!

One down, four to go!!

I knew I would warm up and get it done today.

Tomorrow's proposal will be easier, then just two more I have to finish and one feature article. And maybe I can even squeeze in some extras if I stay warm and limber.

Happy writing to all!

It's Nice to Take a Break

Don’t push the river, the wise man* said
Sit on its banks and listen instead
Then let yourself drift along with its flow
Instead of always pushing, pushing
Learn to let yourself go

Had a fabulous weekend. So busy I'm tired today. Using every excuse in the book not to write, but I'm going to write before this day is done. I have a deadline every day this week, and I will meet them.

But I'm not going to push. I'm just going to flow towards them.

*John Kabat Zinn - Where Ever You Go, There You Are