Disclaimer: My mother would not approve of the language (or the abundance of snark) to follow. Sometimes you have to use very small words to get your point across.


Still here? Cool.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a manifesto on breaking out of that Smart-OR-Pretty-OR-Strong box women find themselves shoved into in high school.

Apparently, breaking out of the boxes myself isn’t gonna cut it. To prove it, some genius writer over at GQ declared that actress Olivia Wilde’s performance in Third Person wasn’t convincing because her “ass was too nice to play a writer.”

Seriously, dude?




First off, I wasn’t aware that writing involved using one’s ass, but apparently that’s how it’s done at major men’s fashion magazines. Who knew? Apparently, the process is quite damaging.

Secondly, to be fair, GQ did apologize. One might hope that the original writer got his ass chewed for being a dumbass in public. Maybe they hired him for his looks?

Yesterday, Huffington Post ran a story titled “Powerful Ad Shows What A Little Girl Hears When You Tell Her She’s Pretty.” Essentially, the theory was that every time the girl’s parents told her she was pretty, she heard “you’re dumb as a rock and incapable of holding power tools because you’re pretty.”


So, now we’re not supposed to tell our daughters that they’re pretty, because being pretty means you can’t possibly be smart or capable.

Let me tell you what really happens when a girl never hears that she’s pretty: she grows up assuming that she’s not.

And that looking nice, or taking care of her body isn’t something she should do. She grows up assuming that romantic relationships are only for other people – pretty people – not for her. That she is respectable, but not lovable, because she’s not pretty.

I was one of those girls. I can’t remember a single time that anyone told me I was pretty until my freshman year of college, when I met the guy I would eventually marry. He’s been telling me I’m beautiful every day for almost 20 years. And still…when I look in the mirror, I don’t completely believe him. Still. Because if it were true, he wouldn’t be the only person who had ever said such a thing, right?

Writer at work

Am I insecure about my intelligence? No. Not in the slightest. Because when I was growing up, I heard how smart I was all the time. And I had the grades and accomplishments to back it up.

Am I insecure about my creative work? Nope. Because when I was young, I was told how good my writing was. And now I hear from readers how much they’ve enjoyed my stories. So yeah, I believe that I’m pretty good at this whole storytelling thing.

But pretty? I dunno. According to GQ (and just about every other societal message I’ve ever gotten), I’m too smart to be pretty.

I call bullshit. (Told you my mother wouldn’t approve of my language. Guess what? Smart girls curse sometimes.)

I have a daughter. She’s brilliant. She’s also adorable. And she has absolutely no doubts whatsoever about either of those statements.

photo 2

And fair warning – don’t get into a buffer sword battle with her. She’ll kick your ass. Just ask her brothers.


I envy her confidence. On some level, I’ve instilled in her the confidence I wish I had – then I’ve turned around and tried to emulate it.

So here’s to a generation of girls who are smart and pretty and confident, all at the same time. GQ, you might need to hire a writer with a great brain and a great ass.


Rum Chata, on the other hand, is a perfectly acceptable thing to do to good coffee….don’t worry – not while I’m driving!

Somewhere along the line, I learned certain facts about the universe:

  • I am probably not psychic (even though that would totally be cool).
  • Decaf is a horrible thing to do to good coffee.
  • And as a girl, I had several choices. I could be smart OR beautiful OR strong.

It all came down to how you spent your time:

Smart girls did not waste their time working out. It’s hard to read while you’re running.

Pretty girls spent all their time on hair, makeup, and shopping.

Strong girls spent their time acting like guys.

Gotta love high school, right?

I’ve always been naturally pretty thin. Probably because of the coffee. I’ve never paid much attention to clothes beyond comfort and basic appropriateness. I’ve shrugged off my appearance as good enough.

But here’s the thing: “good enough” has always been a cringe-worthy phrase in my perfectionistic slice of the world. So why have I blindly accepted good enough when it comes to my own body? Why have I let absurd high school social stratifications define me for so long?

No clue.

I’m done with this smart girl box I’ve lived in for most of my life. And yeah, that means making changes. Doing things I’ve never done before. Like making time for myself in my already absurdly busy schedule. Whoever said A woman can’t be strong AND pretty AND brilliant was clearly an idiot.

It’s the beginning of summer, and I’m making room for my inner pretty girl and my inner athlete:

Wardrobe overhaul – I’m tossing that skirt I bough in high school. And the outfits that don’t project who I am anymore. Instead of collecting random pieces, I’m going to plan a coherent wardrobe of outfits that (in theory) don’t make me cringe at the idea of getting dressed. I want to be able to walk up to my closet and smile.

Daily workouts – alternating between body weight and cardio. Because I kinda hate getting tired all the time. And it would be nice to shop for bathing suits based on what they look like, rather than on what the cover up.

Oh – and I haven’t forgotten Ms. Smart Girl! I’m also committing to a minimum of one blog post and one flash fiction story per week, along with all the behind the scenes stuff I’m working on. (Like book two in the Oreveille cycle, a new nonfiction imprint and a series of travel guides, and some other projects – but I’ll tell you about those later.)

So keep me accountable, ok? Any tips or ideas for fitting all this me-time into my crazy busy schedule, especially now that the kids are home from school all day?

— Tricia

I’ve been watching Drunk History on Comedy Central. The basic premise of the show is that they take a film crew, get a historian completely trashed, and ask him to explain his favorite moment in history. It’s highly amusing and a little bit educational. (Warning – strong language)

This week, they went to Chicago to discuss the Haymarket Riots – one of those completely futile moments that ended up changing what we know about our world. Thanks to the workers’ rights movement of the early 20th century, we can all raise a glass and proclaim “Happy Weekend!” Here’s to you, Dude. That Haymarket thing was a riot.


It got me thinking about weekends and how I’ve been spending them. I work from home. We are a big family, and up until now, we’ve homeschooled. All that is wonderful, and I wouldn’t go back and change it, but it does mean that time alone, when it’s quiet and I can concentrate on writing without somebody interrupting because they’re bleeding…that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. So I’m often tempted to put off particularly difficult work until Saturday, when my husband is home and can hang out with the kids or take them out to the nearest museum for the day. (Seriously – museums have gotten a lot cooler since I was a kid!)

Here’s the problem:

I work – either writing, blogging, parenting, or keeping life-as-we-know-it running – from 5am until I finally collapse on the couch to watch TV around 8pm. The worker’s rights guys would throw a fit. But this is the life I’ve chosen, and it’s a lot better than sitting in some corporate office somewhere doing something brain-bleedingly monotonous! So when I decide to power through and put in a few hours on Saturday too…it’s not like I take a day off from the whole parenting and keeping life-as-we-know-it running jobs. Those still have to happen, I’m just squeezing in a quick pirate battle too.

Jack Sparrow at Walt Disney World

Not these pirates … different pirates

So what gets cut from the schedule?

Unfortunately, it’s time to sit and read a completely meaningless story. Time to dig out the art supplies and paint with the kids. Time to throw everybody in the car for an impromptu field trip. Time to make brownies for no other reason than “I feel like brownies for dessert.” Time to relax, recharge, and put work and responsibility away for a day or two.

Castaway Cay Flying Dutchman

This looks like a good spot – Castaway Cay!

Sounds great, right?

Just declare “I’m taking a break this weekend.” But it’s not so easy. Stuff still has to get done. Going into next week when nobody’s done a load of dishes for two days – not my idea of a good time, thanks.

So here’s the deal:

Today is Friday. I’ve got one chapter to edit, the catch-up-on-dishes-and-laundry chores to do, and the weekend errands. If I can knock those out today, I will have fought for and won the weekend, as surely as the anarchists at Haymarket. Hopefully I don’t get hung by greedy industrialists.

(Oh – and I’m treating myself to book 2 in Kira Saito’s Arelia LaRue series!

Since birth, it seems, I’ve been caught up in doing the important things in life. When I was in school, it was all about taking the right AP and honors classes and doing the right extra curricular activities so I could get into whatever college I wanted. In college, I blew off a lot of steam and wrote an analysis of geek culture and worked on the website for a very cool comic site back in the late 90s.


Totally me if I ever wore suits. Which I didn’t.

Fast forward to early adulthood. It’s kind of a blur of babies and careers and “What do I add to the sum total of humanity?” The last five years or so featured fewer babies, more “Dude, this isn’t what I signed up for, but you do what you have to do.” More cannot fail responsibility and important stuff.

Over the last year, I’ve done some major taking-stock. And I’ve realized something: these stories I write are just as important as that book on securing web apps I wrote a few years ago. This weekend reminded me of this in a big way. Last week was insane. Bad insomnia, struggling to finish the additions to Daughter of Oreveille, the kids are hitting mid-summer boredom, and I’m ready to hop a plane to somewhere magical. Stressy week, and the weekend wasn’t much better. Yesterday, I finally hit the end of my rope and told the family they were on their own for a couple of hours. I picked up a nice, meaningless romance novel and POOF! two hours later, I was feeling almost rational again.

Every so often, setting aside important stuff to indulge in brain fluff is a Good Thing. It recharges our mental and emotional batteries. Everybody tells writers to back their characters into impossible situations, then throw rocks at them for a while until they’re desperate, because the reader gets to vicariously experience the drama and crisis, and gets a sense of catharsis when it resolves. I’m questioning that bit of writerly dogma today. I’ve set down several very good books over the last couple of months because they just got too stressy. Too intense. Too screwed up. I get a healthy dose of that in real life, thanks. I don’t need my novels adding to it!

What about you? Do you like your stories intense, or are you a fan of brain fluff every now and then?

The school year is over, and we ritually burned the math worksheets last weekend! Then we set to work converting the homeschool classroom into my very own writing room. I’ve never really had a room that was all my own (at least not since high school). It’s not quite finished yet – I still need to paint the walls – but it’s real. And I plan on spending a lot of time here in the next several months. Test readers are starting to send me feedback on Daughter of Oreveille, and I start working with the cover artist later this week. If all goes well, it will be available on Amazon early this summer, with Defender of Oreveille coming out this fall. But just for today, I’m enjoying my new writing room, and wanted to share it with you:

Before – our homeschool classroom:

Homeschool Classroom3

Desks with art supplies in the center.


Here’s my writer’s room, transformed:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” has got to be the most inane question adults ask children. I suppose, for some kids, it’s an encouragement to dream, to imagine a variety of paths. For others, it implies that at the tender age of seven, they should have this stuff figured out! I was one of those kids who actually did have an answer at a pretty young age: I wanted to be a writer. A novelist, to be specific.

Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights.

You would think that a kid who had life pretty much figured out by first grade would have walked a nice, straight path from elementary school to publishing contract, but that’s not how it happened. I wandered around quite a bit (I have two kids with AD(H)D, and they say it’s hereditary, but I’m pretty sure they get it from their father!), tried a lot of projects, ideas, and careers. I got bored. A lot.

Some writers and artists claim that creating is like breathing – if they don’t create, their whole world falls apart. If that’s true, I held my creative breath for a really long time.

So how do you know what you want to be when you grow up – even if you’re already (technically!) grown up? How do you find your thing?

For me, writing was the one thing that I always came back to. It was always there, in the background of my life. I might throw myself into this field or that industry for a few years, but eventually I’d burn out and start writing again. Writing was always there. I needed to finally ask myself, “What do I want to be?” There were so many things I could do but only one thing I wanted to be.

And then you go for it, right? That’s the hardest part. Figuring it out, dreaming, deciding – those are easy. Transforming a life from daydream to reality takes nothing short of a home-made miracle.

Everyone has their line. On one side, we’re polite, civilized people. We let it go, move on, and drink away the piled up stress. On the other side of that line . . . we become wonderfully horrible people. The rules are already broken, and we’re free to be completely, brutally honest. To own the insults. To say “Yeah, you’re right. I am a horrible human being. Deal with it.” On this side of the line, we’ve already snapped. We’ve stopped caring if your delicate sensibilities are offended. I drove right over that line the other night in the grocery store parking lot, and it seemed like the right story to tell for the first time I’m linking up to the Pour Your Heart Out meme.

But first, I have to give you a little background info: I was diagnosed with Celiac disease just before Halloween. I could go into all the clinical details, but the short version is that if I ignore it I’ll get progressively more miserable and will die young of complications – statistically, the likely winner here is cancer. The only known treatment is to eliminate every single molecule of gluten from my diet. And we’re not talking “skip the breadsticks and you’ll be fine.” We’re talking “Go replace every kitchen implement you’ve ever owned because they all harbor gluten molecules from your heady days of baking bread and cake from scratch.”

(Did I mention I’m an avid baker? I kinda geek out on food.)

So I’m learning how to bake all over again. It’s a little stressful. Sure, there are gluten-free flours, but they don’t behave the way good old all-purpose wheat flour does. It’s kind of like learning how to walk again when you really need chocolate.

The other night, I was trying. In sheer desperation for something like normal – because the last couple of months have been anything but normal – I pulled out one of my brand-new gluten free cookbooks and decided to bake a chocolate cake. Step one: mix up seventeen different flours. Step two: Run out to the grocery store at 9:30 pm to find gluten-free defatted soy flour.

Grocery store parking lot

This is where the horrible people are.

It took me almost an hour in the grocery store to find the stupid soy flour. By the time I got back to my car, I was successfully not crying. That was my big accomplishment for that moment. Buying soy flour and not crying. Started up the car, glanced in the rear view mirror, and pulled out of the parking space. And the next thing I know, I’m being tailgated by an older woman in a Buick. In the parking lot. Glaring, gesturing, the whole bit. It’s probably for the best that I can’t read lips, because whatever she was saying wasn’t flattering.

And there it was. The line. On that side, I was three seconds from dissolving into a puddle of stress tears. On this side . . .I’ve already snapped, honey. Bring it. You’re right, I am self-centered for being wrapped up in my own world for just a moment, instead of putting my own concerns on the back burner to make sure you were comfortable first. Because it must be rough to have some big, scary minivan bearing down on you from three parking spots away as you drive down the lane. I am a horrible person. You might want to get used to it. The world is full of horrible people, and if you start following all of us around parking lots screaming obscenities, someday one of us is really going to snap, and both you and the innocent kids in the backseat of that minivan are going to get a vocabulary lesson.

Vocabulary lessons weren’t fun in elementary school. They don’t get better with age. Back off.

For the record, I did not stop the car and give Old Woman in a Buick an earful. But boy did I fantasize about it on the drive home! It’s one of the perks of being a writer – I may not be able to come up with the perfect retort on the spot, but catch my attention and someday you’re going to end up in a story (even if it is only in a blog post) and I’m going to have my say. What about you? What have you said or done (or wished you had) the last time you crossed the line?

You know the old stereotype of the morbidly insane guy sitting in the corner of a bar frantically scribbling in a journal? There’s a grain of truth in it! Here are 5 things that make most writers crazy – including me!

Now, I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who likes things “just so.” It’s not so much that I find some higher moral purpose in having the dish towels folded lengthwise, then crosswise (as opposed to the other way around). It’s that at some point, I spent actual time and conscious thought to figure out the most efficient way to fold them, and I don’t want to do it again!

retro housewife

This is not me. This is not my blissful family. The cake, however, is real.

That wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that I don’t live in a bubble. I live with a husband, four kids, and a dog. All of whom conspire against my simple desire to have a life that runs smoothly! But instead of ranting, I’ll just pour a fresh cup of coffee and share my top five things that drive me absolutely crazy. (I’m a writer – we’re supposed to be crazy, remember?)

Do me a favor: at the end, tell me how many of these drive you absolutely nuts too – or share your top pet peeves 🙂

5. Cold coffee. Yeah, yeah, laws of thermodynamics and all that. It’s still no excuse for coffee to get cold before I’m finished with it! And microwaved coffee just doesn’t taste right.

4. Missing Pencils. I buy the silly things by the case, and you would think, in a house with homeschooling kids and a writer, that we’d be tripping over writing implements! But no. I’m pretty sure there are Fae Folk who steal them out of my pencil jars at night. I want my pencils back!

3. Disrupted routines. I’ve spent all that time and energy figuring out my routines for a reason, people! It’s so I can get all that boring, mundane stuff done without thinking about it too much. This frees my brain up to make up stories while I’m fixing dinner or driving the kids to their activities or whatever. Mess the the routine, and you’ve just interrupted me in the middle of a story. Not cool, dude…

2. Interruptions. I know, some writers can sit in the middle of a crowded place and pen the great American novel. I’m just not one of them. I need peace and quiet. Interrupt me in the middle of a story, and I completely lose track of what was going on. By the time I take a few deep breaths and quit being so frustrated, chances are the next interruption is about 30 seconds away. Stack up a few of those and watch the sparks fly!

1. Patience. I’ll be the first to admit, I am not a patient person. Once I’ve figured out a goal, I like to sprint toward it without any regard for obstacles. Reality, however, disagrees with me. I’ve got a story idea file that’s growing faster than I can ever hope to keep up with it, and there are days when I think, “If I could just get a week – or a month – away to do nothing but write…maybe I could finally get these stories down on paper!” I want it, and I want it Right Now! But instead, it’s a long slog. A short story here, a flash fiction piece there, outlining, drafting, editing, revising, and editing again until each story is just right. But hey – every hour I carve out is a few hundred more words, a few more pages, right?

Those are my top 5 crazy-makers. What are yours? (Oh – and if you and I have #1 in common, sign up for newsletter updates. You get the next installment in my current flash fiction piece on Friday afternoons. Everybody else has to wait until I publish it on the blog Monday!)

You always know a writer when you see one – they’re the quiet ones, antisocial, sitting in a corner, watching . . .

I realized this morning that I haven’t posted much here since the Hydra Publications blog hop last month. Bad blogger – no cookie! But you know how it is with those writer types . . . when they’re quiet, you know they’re up to something. So I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve been working on for the past few weeks:

  • The first module in my series for Hydra Games is getting ready for its big play test debut on Saturday! Which reminds me, I still need to write up that NPC . . .
  • Outlining the next two modules in the series.
  • Preliminary outlining for a novel set in the Andronia world of Hydra Games.
  • Character sketches are finished for my modern fairy tale novel. You’ve already met two of them! I’m finishing up the magic system and starting on refining the plot next week. This thing is getting interesting – and a little dark.

Unfortunately, time is running short – as always! Stay tuned . . . I’m posting another short flash fiction installment tomorrow. A little fun to get the weekend started 🙂

When I tell people I’m a writer, I get the feeling that half of them have a really romanticized idea of what I do, and the other half don’t actually believe I do anything. So what’s a writer to do? Blog about it, of course!

So what do I do, exactly? Here is a typical work day:

4:45 am – The blasted alarm goes off. I hit the snooze button.

4:50 am – I stumble out of bed. My hero brings coffee, which he has made because he gets up earlier than I do. Apparently, some men don’t actually need sleep. I don’t get it, but he makes the coffee, so I don’t ask too many questions! (I drink a lot of coffee. It makes 5am am bearable.)

5:00 am – Sit down at my desk, take that first sip of coffee and spend a few moments in prayer.

5:10 am – Check email and Facebook. Check my to do list to see what’s on the docket today. (Hang around here long enough and you’ll hear a lot about my to do lists. I’m kind of an organizational junkie.)

5:30 am – Pound the keyboard. I don’t have a lot of writing time, so I have to make the hours I do have count.

6:45 am – Transition from wildly creative writer to wildly creative mom and teacher. Make a few notes about what I want to work on later.

7:00 am – Ideas are percolating while I do other stuff, like breakfast and homeschool. I’ll make notes throughout the day, but won’t get time to work on them until tomorrow morning. I keep reminding myself to be patient!

So there you go – the play by play of a writer’s day (at least the writerly portion!). What have you always wondered about those mysterious creatures who call themselves writers?

P.S – Come back next week, when I’ll share my top 10 essential writing tools.