Monthly Archives: January 2016

I Talked My Memoir to Death—Now What?


My desk at the Mechanics Institute Patiently Awaiting My Return

This year, 2016, is the year I have committed to write. To goad myself into it, I signed up for best-selling author, Ellen Sussman’s Novel/Memoir in a Year class. I’ve studied writing with Ellen for years—since 2008 when I first met her at Kepler’s in Menlo Park, California. After her reading for the publication of Bad Girls—26 Writers Misbehave, she mentioned to the audience at Kepler’s that she taught classes in her living room at her then-home in Los Altos. Ellen inspires me. A passionate and gifted teacher of writing, she has spunk, and a dry sense of humor I attribute to Trenton, New Jersey where she grew up. As she signed my copy of Bad Girls, I begged myself into her ten-week novel critique class, even though I was writing a memoir. (more…)

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Letting My Writing Lie Fallow – By Harriet Chessman

Last June in my blog Life Happens, I berated myself for not writing by comparing myself to writers who write every day—no matter what. In the comments section, several writers wrote encouraging me to return to my writing. Author, Harriet Chessman also wrote: “I too can only write when my life has calmed and steadied. I’ve always been this way. I really feel that, in these times, I’m filling up with life. Or sometimes my metaphor is that I’m letting my lands lie fallow…”

Inspired by Harriet, I reached out to her and asked if she’d share more in my Authorly Advice blog. Thank you, Harriet for sharing your wisdom with my readers and me.

Harriet’s photo taken by Brigitte Carnochan

Thank you to the wonderful Ana McCracken for bringing me on board this website! I loved Ana’s blog post about what a challenge it can be to continue writing each day, especially in the face of something major happening in one’s life. I wrote her a comment about how I often let my writing lie fallow, and she suggested that I develop this comment into a post. So here it is!

I have always written best when I have felt ready to write. (more…)

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Mommy’s 2015 Gratitude List

HomePageAvyMeOh my! What a year Mommy had in 2015. If getting used to San Francisco wasn’t enough for her (you can read about it in my last Avy Tale), 2015 turned into a doozy. Mommy’s daddy died unexpectedly. Then Mommy slipped off the deck at our home in Angel Fire on October 7th. From that incident she was left with a broken tibia, fibula, and some other bone, now held together by 15 screws and a plate. I must say, through it all—the great purge and selling her daddy’s house with her brother and sister-in-law, getting used to San Fran on a scooter and crutches, two surgeries on her leg (more to come), Mommy’s general disposition on life isn’t too bad. While she has Debbie Downer tendencies, Mommy got the bright idea on New Years Eve to post 12 things she was grateful for in 2015 on Facebook before the clock struck midnight. She had the good sense to end the year on a high note. You go Mommy! Share your positivity publicly on social media.

Because I’m so proud of Mommy, I thought I’d share some highlights from her list. Edited, of course, from a Prolific Aussie’s Perspective. (more…)

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How Two Events Changed My Perspective on Life

Dave and I school

Walking to class at the Merz Schule in Stuttgart

When my mother dropped my brother and I off for our first day of school at the Merz Schule in Stuttgart, Germany in 1971, I was already able to recite the ABCs and to count from one to 10 in German. It seems I had an aptitude for the language, and within a year spoke it with a flawless Schwäbisch accent. (Stuttgart is located in southern Germany, Schwabenland.) Mom wasn’t pleased. High German was better. But Schwäbisch allowed me to slur over the genders die, der, “und” das, and to assimilate into school and the village of Vaihinghen-Rohr where we lived.

In 1973, my family moved to Peoria, IL. I was 13, and in the middle of a growth spurt. (more…)

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