Tag Archives: Writing

Let’s Have Dessert First!

In the spirit of the season, we’re posting dessert first on the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop. But first, here’s a tidbit from Heather Miles!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the rafflecopter to win those fabulous prizes!



Heather miles

My web address for my blog is: www.heathermiles.net/blog

Facebook: Heather Miles
Twitter: Heather Miles (@heathermmiles) | Twitter

Heat level 8

Kasey Blakely doesn’t know that her date is anything more than incredibly hot. It’s after things have moved past friendship, that she learns her new lover is also slated to be her partner in a corporate merger. He knew it all along withholding his identity to have her.

Self-assured, future CEO, Kasey Blakely stumbles into Joshua Crawford, leaving her breathless and momentarily senseless. Taken with her, he learns she’s more than just a beautiful woman, she’s slated to be his partner in a corporate merger. Never feeling as smitten or intrigued, he’ll do anything to have her, including, not revealing his last name. After a passionate exchange and the prospect he could lose her, does he come clean with his identity. Always confident, Kasey, struggles with her growing love for a man who has claimed her heart and changed her world, but should be forbidden. She’s all in…then all out. Despite the warnings not to mix business with pleasure, Kasey and Joshua risk it all. Committing to return to California with Joshua, Kasey’s world unravels. Were her fears right, or can they manage the MERGER of their hearts and their future partnership?

Find it on Amazon! 


And now, for my posting on dessert…

Ah, dessert, elusive dessert. Dessert has always been the bane of my existence. Mostly because I love it so, so much. I love baked goods, but I never really made them. Let’s just say that I learned to cook at a young age as a survival skill,  but baking seemed beyond me (probably because, like Lemony Snicket, there was a series of unfortunate (baking) events. Though these incidents did fuel my love of firefighters. They’d all show up in their turnouts, and I would hide somewhere with a good view while someone explained about the rolls. Or the bread. Or the popcorn. Or how the back wall of the kitchen just happened to catch on fire. Twice. And I swear, by all that it good, that I wasn’t the one doing this. I have my own baking mishaps, but the fire department never came to those).

In any case, I was a box cake, buy it at the store, kind of girl.

And then I became allergic to eggs. My first baking episode post diagnosis looked like this:

My super awesome disaster

Yes, that is an actual picture of a real cake I sort of made. I keep it because it’s both funny AND sad, which always makes for a great story. Apparently, without eggs (and using a baking soda egg replacer), a box cake will turn into, at the slightest touch, chocolate dust. This was five years ago, for my son’s second birthday. And yes, I squished it together with a mixture of willpower, upper air strength, and frosting. It held together long enough to take this picture, sing Happy Birthday, and look at it sideways. And then, it was frosting-covered chocolate dust.

It was horrible (tasted OK, as I recall, but it wasn’t pretty. Boy child didn’t seem to care, but then, he’s boy child. He’s not picky, unless it’s green).

In any case, shortly thereafter, I discovered that I also have celiac disease, so welcome to a wheat-free lifestyle. At the time, I thought I’d never eat dessert again. It was depressing.

I discovered, after a while, and reading many, many blogs, that I can bake. It’s just a matter of being creative. And using pumpkin. I’m an expert on using pumpkin these days.

So,  here is my recipe (and yes, it’s pumpkin.). It’s an adapted version of one that I found in Sunset magazine. The original is a two layer cake, but it was too much, and everyone felt over-full and sugar comaed (yes, I just made up a word) afterward.

Gluten free praline pumpkin cake

1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 c butter

3 tbsp plus 3/4 c whipping cream

1 c chopped pecans (this I kept, because, well, pecans are fabulous)

2 flax eggs (to make a flax egg, combine 1 tbsp flax with 2 tbsp water. Normally, recipes call for three, but I find that with pumpkin recipes, it needs to be thicker, or you’ll never get it cooked through)

1 c granulated sugar (because this cake is so stinking sweet)

1/2 c vegetable oil

1 c canned pumpkin

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 c flour (I had a mixture of 1/2 c gluten free all purpose baking mix, and  1/2 c sorghum flour. The all purpose tends to be made with garbanzo bean flour, which in baked goods isn’t awesome unless you really overdo the sugar. Sorghum is sweet and delicious, but doesn’t rise very well without some complicated mixture involving arrowroot and tapioca and xanthan gum–all of which I have, and have made before, but it’s complicated, and I didn’t want to have to think too hard on Thanksgiving. So here you go)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or you can make your own with ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Which I did this year because I ran out on THANKSGIVING DAY, but I added ground cloves because I like cloves. If you don’t, just leave it out).

1/2 baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 c powdered sugar

So… Now that you have all the ingredients, here’s what you do with them:

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Butter one 9 inch cake pan and line with parchment.

Over low heat, mix the butter, 3 tbsp whipping cream and brown sugar together until melted and blended. Pour the mixture into the pan and sprinkle with most of the pecans (reserve some for the topping)

In a bowl, mix the flax eggs, granulated sugar and oil until well blended. Stir in pumpkin and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients (omit the powdered sugar; that’s for the frosting)

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet stuff (I’m being totally specific here… I harp on my students all day for using non-specific language, and here I go, doing the exact same thing). Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. At higher elevations, decrease the heat and extend the cooking time. It just works better. i’m not at a high elevation, but I cook as though I am because it just seems to work better for me. I think I live at that funky “in-between” elevation. Let it cool in the pan for a bit, then invert onto racks and remove pans and paper. Let cool completely.

For the frosting (topping), take your remaining whipping cream and the powdered sugar and mix until soft peaks form. Once the cake is completely cooled, then you can put the cream on top. Top that with the remaining pecans.

It is a pretty cake, and it tastes fantastic, even for people who are accustomed to wheat cakes with eggs (which are admittedly a whole lot easier to bake). This cake came out super moist, and sure, my cakes don’t rise like a normal cake, but it was delicious. This is very, very rich, though, so you only need a small piece to be satisfied. I’ll admit, I wondered if Husband’s blood sugar would ever be normal again.

I wish I’d taken a picture. But since I don’t Instagram my successes (only my dismal failures), I didn’t take one.

Happy eating!






Romance Weekly: Take Away


This week’s questions are from Julie Abdinoor. If you like romance, and want to know how writers think, follow the links and see how everyone else answered.

1. What are the ages of your characters?

In Highland Deception, Isobel is twenty-two, and Malcolm/Kenneth is almost thirty. Because it was set in 1725, it made more sense to have him be older than she.

2. What special things or places inspire you to write?

Music inspires me always. I do best when I’ve assigned a song to a character–that way, when I’m writing a scene, I can listen to a song and it helps me really get into the character’s head. It’s weird though, how music chooses to inspire me. For instance, for my latest WIP, Devil of Dunmoor, the song Counting Stars  by One Republic makes me think of my hero, Ethan. Which is so weird, because I really thought The Last of the Mohicans sound track would be my inspiration.

Places that inspire me? Well, I finished my first three or four books in Fort Bragg, California, in a little motel near the water. The place is rink-dink and as fantastic as a 1970s leisure suit–all the tile is cracked in the bathrooms, and the decor is… um… dated, but I love that place. The showers are hot (and I mean really hot) and it has a great little path down to a private beach, and that makes it totally worth it.

The last book, though? Not so much. We got a little trailer over the summer, and now, instead of our trip to Fort Bragg, we’re going to new and different places. I actually plotted Devil of Dunmoor in Valley of Fire State Park, in Southern Nevada. I still love the ocean, and I think it would be great inspiration for the Scottish moors (because there really is something about that place–especially if you go north toward Eureka–that reminds me of the Irish Sea. It’s more of a feeling I get when I’m there as opposed to actual physical similarities, though).

3. What is one message that you hope women will receive when they read your stories?

Well, I’ve already talked a little about how the one thing I want people to take away from my stories is a sense of hope. That there is hope that things will work out for the better, and that everyone will get their happy ending. That there is hope that we will all find the love and the happiness we deserve.

But more than that, I think what I want women in particular to take away from my books is that they deserve the fairy tale. We deserve a man who will love us with his dying breath, who would move heaven and earth for us. We deserve to feel loved, to be wanted, and to have great sex. We deserve our own heroes. They may be imperfect, they may have crummy days and be crabby, but at the end of the day, the men in our lives should be heroic.

I know mine is.

Follow the link to find out what SC MItchell has to say on the subject!




Today is the inaugural post for Romance Weekly. A bunch of us romance writers have gotten together, where we link to one another’s posts. In each post, the authors will answer three questions, which are different every week. So here are my questions/answers!

1. What made you start writing romance as opposed to any other genre of literature?

Honestly, it’s because every story that I ever loved had at least some element of romance to it. Part of writing romance is about the HEA. We don’t always get those in real life–sometimes, the best friend dies. Sometimes, the hero stays dead. Sometimes, you won’t get your happy ending, no matter how hard you try or how much you beg your higher power for it. There will be times when the answer you get from heaven is no.

But in romance, that answer is always yes! No matter what obstacles stand in their way, the hero and the heroine will live out their happy ending. Every. Single. Time. There is something comforting about that. These are books that you will read over and over again, books that are an escape from the tragedy we are so often dealt. I write romance because I want that escape–my life is complicated enough. When I read for pleasure, I want to know that things are going to work out. I don’t pick up a romance because I want an ugly cry–I pick up a romance because, when I turn the final page, I want to think to myself, “Darn right. As it should be.”

2. Why do you think romance continues to be a market leading genre?

Well, first, I think it’s that people want a happy ending. In this age of high speed communication, we are inundated with bad news: kids shooting each other at school, people killing doctors in hospitals, flu outbreaks across the nation, starvation in Africa and the Middle East, war, famine, poverty. Bad things. I think, after awhile, people just get tired of it, drained of compassion and hollow inside.

I think romance balances that out. When someone picks up a romance novel, they know they’re getting a happy ending. That love will conquer all, despite all the bad stuff that happens to them. What romance novels offer, and what so many major critics of the genre fail to understand, is that romance is the one genre that consistently offers hope. It’s not all pain and blackness. In the end, the characters find real joy. There is beauty in that message, and in it, an implicit promise that, no matter how bad things get, everything will turn out as it should. I love the optimism in that. It’s why I started reading romances in the first place.

3. In what way do you see romance today reflecting the way women’s role in society has changed?

Well. That’s a good question. I suppose it could be summed up this way: in the past, women had to wait for the men to rescue them. Now, the women can rescue the men. We expect our men to be strong and brave, but we expect the same thing from our heroines. We don’t expect our heroines to be able to punch out a bear (all the time), but we do expect that they will behave in a manner that will allow her to solve her problem for herself. When I think of the older romances, the women were relatively helpless. Certainly this was part of the zeitgeist–women were supposed to be domestic, young, virginal, subservient, and generally well-behaved. Romances today allow for poorly behaved heroines, older heroines, and working women and single mothers. Instead of having only those two infamous depictions of femininity–the Madonna and the Whore–most heroines today are painted with shades of gray, with flaws and strengths. Not every heroine is a virgin, but neither is she a fallen woman. Not every heroine is young, nubile, and sublimely beautiful, either. I think this reflects society’s changing values, where we are honoring people who are like ourselves rather than some idealized, false notion of perfection.

I really hope that answers that question. Shucks, that was hard!

Want to know what other people think on these topics? Follow the link to read more! I can’t wait to read what she has to say!


You know, as authors, people often disclose to us that they are writing their book. Maybe they just have a kernel of an idea, maybe they’re half way done. And they think that anyone can be a writer.

And you know what? They’re totally right.

Anyone can be a writer. If you’re putting words down on paper, you’re a writer. Trust me on this one.

There are a lot of good writers out there. There are a ton of former English majors out there (myself included!), and, for the most part, we’re all a pretty decent set of writers.

Before I ever set to write a story, before I ever thought to myself “Can this get published?” I was a good writer. I could crack out a paper in a couple of hours. I told stories to myself before I went to sleep.

Even the whole process of writing a book didn’t set me apart, in the great scheme of things. Lots of people have written books. Some of them are pretty decent, too.

Now, I’m no pillar of the publishing world. I’ve got a total of three books out, with a fourth book due out early next year, all out with small presses. Let’s be honest: most people won’t make it rich writing books and publishing them. Authors get between 7% and 35% in royalties from our publishers for the books we sell (and sure, there’s variation in there). Many people with small presses don’t get advances, and of those that do get an advance, it’s generally pretty small, so most of the money we earn comes from royalties. When you’re in competition with millions of other books, it’s pretty hard to make a decent living.

Most of us have other jobs that actually pay the bills, and if the writing supplements that, then AWESOME!

But, to all the budding writers out there, there is one thing that sets authors apart from writers.

It’s persistence.

Writing a book is hard work. So much goes into it. It takes persistence and patience to write a book, and to see it through to completion, especially when it’s a longer book. You will get stuck. Hopefully, you’ll push through it. But the real test is when you go to submit.

Writing the perfect query is hard. Shipping it off is harder, if you ask me. You will check your email a dozen times a day, hoping to see an email that says, “Congratulations! Your book is awesome!” (Because you know it is, right?)

Only, more than likely, you’ll get rejected.

The first one will sting.

The second one will sting.

The third one will sting.

Every time I’ve been rejected, it has broken my heart. Every time. The real test of your mettle as an author is whether you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.

I’ll be honest, every time, I think about quitting.

You will question: is it worth it? What kind of blows to my ego am I willing to take in order to achieve this dream? Because it’s one thing to think you’re a good writer. It’s another thing to have other people in the industry think the same thing.

I’ve gotten some really harsh rejections, ones that made me question what I was doing. And it’s when I’ve gotten those that I’ve gotten some chocolate, had a glass of wine, and told myself I will never subject myself to that again. Let’s face it, sometimes life is hard enough without adding additional blows to the ego.

If you need an ego boost, a rejection letter is not usually the place to find it.

Anyway, I think that’s where authors and writers differentiate. I don’t think it’s a matter of talent necessarily, or innate ability (because editors rock). It’s a matter of being able to take the criticisms and the rejections and try again.

And doing it again and again and again until you finally get a yes.

It’s about believing–no, knowing–the yes is out there.

Maybe this book won’t hit. Maybe it will be the next book or the book after that. Maybe you’ll write for 15 years and finally get that yes. Maybe you’ll hit on the first book. But, if you keep trying, and you keep honing your craft, you will eventually get it.

Be brave. Be persistent. Never give up.

It will happen.


Back when I was younger, I always listened to what “they” said.

“Don’t wear orange,” they said.

But I like orange, I thought.

“Pretty girls don’t wear orange,” they said. “Pretty girls wear pink and lavender.”

So I wore pink.

I like pink, I told myself.

“You don’t want to be a writer,” they said.

But I like to write, I thought. It’s part of who I am.

“Writers are weird. Nice girls aren’t weird.”

So I decided to study other people’s writing instead.

It’s okay, I thought. I love language, so this works, too.

“You want to be scientist,” they said. “Smart people are scientists.”

So I got a degree in a field where I could both study language and be considered a scientist.

I did what they said. I abided by their rules. I kept trying to be who they thought I should be.

And then, one day, something changed. I had children.

What “they” said still mattered. Until I realized I didn’t want my children to listen to them like I had. I didn’t want my babies to be constrained by what others thought they should be. And that I didn’t want to be like them.

I’m a writer, I thought. So I wrote. I started writing a romance novel.

“When are you going to write something someone will actually read? No one will read that,” they said.

I kept writing my romance novel, because I liked it.

“You’ll never get published,” they said. “Don’t do it anymore.”

I kept writing my novel. I submitted. Got rejected. Submitted some more.

In less than a year, I got published.

“Well, no one will ever read it.”

Meh. Some people have read my books and most people haven’t.

So I’ll keep trying.

I’m a teacher, I thought. And I’m good at it. So I started thinking of myself as more of a teacher and less as a scientist. And I discovered I never needed to feel bad about doing what I love and what I’m good at. I don’t need to be ashamed that I’m not working in a hospital anymore; I can say, “I work at an elementary school with children with autism,” and be proud of that.

What they say shouldn’t have mattered, but it did. It shaped who I became, until I took me back. Until I realized that I can wear any color I want. Until I realized I could do what I loved and be proud of it. Until I realized that everything that makes me a writer–the wild imagination, the penchant for daydreaming, and sure, the quirkiness–had always been there, and would remain there even if I never put a single word on paper.

I don’t want the kids to listen to them. I don’t want them to give up on their dreams because of what they  say, because the great and powerful they say a lot of things that are, simply put, shit.

As long as the kids aren’t hurting anyone, then whatever they decide to be will be just fine by me (I do put caveats on the dreams and aspirations, because well, there’s Dexter and Breaking Bad. Some dreams and aspirations I just can’t get behind). I don’t care what the kids do, so long as they’re doing what they love, with people they love who love them back. I hope  they don’t forget to chase their dreams. I hope they know that today’s failure is just a temporary set back. I hope they know that the only real failure is in not trying at all.

So today, the kids and I wore orange.

The Release of Jessie’s War!

Today is April 1! And, I’m not joking when I say that Jessie’s War is out on Amazon. I’m starting a blog tour, and holding a contest–one lucky winner will get a cameo choker! Here’s a picture.Image

In any case, here are my tour stops. Please come join me. I’m actually off for two weeks, so you can count on me to be hanging around the various blogs–just to see what’s happening! (Because I’m nosy like that)

Blurb Blitz:
April 1:  Love Triumphs Past and Present<http://annmontclair.wordpress.com/>
April 2:  Fantasy Powered by Love <http://fantasypoweredbylove.com/>
April 3:  Straight from the
April 4:  The Muse <http://claireashgrove.blogspot.com/>
April 5:  Racing To Read <http://racingtoread.blogspot.com/>

Virtual Book Tour:
April 8:  Bookgirl Knitting <http://bookgirlknitting.blogspot.com/>
April 9:  Review Must Read Faster <http://mustreadfaster.blogspot.com/>
April 10:  Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and
April 10:  STOP 2 Review  My Devotional
April 11:  Words of Wisdom from The Scarf
April 12:  Simply Ali <http://www.simplyali.com/>

Blurb Blitz:
April 15:  Welcome to My World of Dreams <http://www.jhthomas.blogspot.com/>
April 16:  Krystal Shannan – Where Love and Destiny
April 17:  Andi’s Book Reviews <http://andisbookreviews.blogspot.com/>
April 18:  Books and Other Spells <http://nightskydarkstar.blogspot.com/>
April 19:  Wicked Readings by

Virtual Book Tour:
April 22:  Long and Short Reviews <http://www.longandshortreviews.com/>
April 22:  STOP 2 review Journey of a Bookseller
April 23:  It’s Raining Books <http://www.its-raining-books.blogspot.com/>
April 24:  Janna Shay’s Fair Play <http://jannashay.wordpress.com/>
April 25:  Rachel Brimble Romance <http://rachelbrimble.blogspot.co.uk/>
April 26:  You Gotta Read Reviews <http://wp.me/p2oqHj-6hd>

What I’m Up To

Today, you can find me on Callie Hutton’s blog, where I am discussing attainable resolutions.

Number one on that list: Not punching buffalo in the face. Because that would be weird, says the girl who once kind of punched a llama. It’s a long story. Maybe, one day, I’ll tell it.

So come visit me on Callie’s blog, and you can see the resolutions I’m relatively sure I’ll be able to keep. On Sunday, I’ll be on the Soul Mate Publishing blog. I think I’m going to write about how I feature prominently in my books. On Monday, I’m blogging on Eleni’s Taverna, where I’m going to talk a bit about my upcoming release, Jessie’s War. If you click on the link, you’ll get to read about an interview I did with my hero, Cameron Mackay, from Wandering Heart, part of the Highland Sons anthology. See the shirtless guy over there? Yeah, that one. That’s the story I’m talking about.

Then, January 18th, I’ll be posting on the Writing Secrets of Seven Scribes, which is a fantastic blog if you’ve never been there. I’ll be posting on either why I write jerks, or… something. That same day, you can catch an interview with little old me on the Musa blog, where I talk about all things… ME!

So, hopefully you’ll join me on my various and sundry adventures in the blogging world. I hope to see you around!



Fun With Search Engines

Some days, when I look at what drives traffic to this blog (hi, Mom!), I am pleasantly surprised. For instance, yesterday my top search terms were Meggan Connors and Meggan Connors author.

Hey, I resemble those search terms! Yay!

Then today: el mariachi hair.

Um, beg pardon?

It’s kind of like the search term: Do I look good in leather pants?

Oh honey, if you’ve come to this blog looking for an answer to that, I’m afraid the answer is probably no. (Also, unless your name is Kate Beckinsale or [a much younger] Antonio Banderas, no one looks good in leather pants. No, no. Seriously. No one.)

Happy New Year, everyone. May you be blessed with health and happiness in the new year. And no, you still probably can’t wear leather pants.

My Muse has ADHD

My muse has been busy… Just not in the way I want her to be busy.

She’ll offer up ideas for random scenes in the middle of a manuscript and then remind me that my intro needs work. She’ll then offer up another scene from the middle of a different story entirely. Then she’ll start singing songs. It’s… tiresome.

Sample conversation between my muse and me.

Me: Hey, muse, let’s get to work.

Muse: Are you at that again? So. Tiresome.

Me: Yeah. Come on.

Muse: Here, write this.

Me: Uh, that’s from the middle of a story I haven’t started yet. Can we do a beginning first? Just a really good first chapter?

Muse: Do an outline. Oo, oo, maybe you could write this.

Me: That’s a totally different story.

Muse: Hey, don’t you judge me.

Me: No judgement. Just trying to figure out what we’re writing. So, which one are we writing?

Muse: (Singing) Her name was Lola. 

Me: Our book’s about a showgirl named Lola?

Muse: No, dummy. Oh, what do you think about a romance revolving around food trucks?

Looking west across 50th Street at pizza truck...

Me: Funny idea, but we don’t write contemporary. There’s that whole thing about how you like to pepper my manuscripts with dead bodies. I had to take three out of my historical because they didn’t fit. Not sure death and mayhem are good for a book about food trucks.

Muse: Hm. Maybe just a severed limb?

Me: Yuck. No.

Muse: Your loss.

Me: So… What are we doing?

Muse: Writing about how I like Barry Manilow. Oh, what do you think about cranberry-orange chutney?

Me: Are we writing about it?

Muse: No silly. We’re making it.

I go ahead and make the cranberry-orange chutney. It’s delightful. 

Me: I made the chutney. Now let’s get to work.

Muse: Oh, Mandy!

Me: I think I’ll take a nap.

So tell me, how do you control an unruly muse?

The Heart of a Writer

My thanks to Brooke Moss, who inspired this blog post. In today’s post, she talked about how she’s been getting grief from friends and family who don’t understand how busy she is as a wife, mother, and published author.

While I’m still awaiting publication (next month!), I can relate. After all, I have two kids and work full-time. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve gotten grief for not having time for anyone anymore. It started when I first had kids, and then got worse when I went back to work full-time.

I live a tightly regimented existence between the hours of 6AM and 8PM. I don’t really talk to my friends during those hours because I’m either getting ready for work, at work, or actively doing something for the kids. Playing with them, doing homework, coaching soccer, taking the kids to their various lessons, cooking dinner, or trying desperately (and futilely) to bring my house back from the brink of chaos.

It is a very… busy… life.

And then, to make things more interesting, I decided I was going to write a novel just over two years ago. So now, my days are regimented from 6AM to midnight.

I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands.

My friends (the ones who “get me”) understand this. I will make time for my friends, absolutely, and if one of them really needed me (and you know who you are), I would drop everything to help them, because honestly, they don’t ask.  So when they do ask, yeah, I know it’s important.

Earlier today, during one of my fits of guilt, the husband and I were discussing my time, or lack thereof. I was telling him that if I invested the same amount of time on a second job that I have with the writing, I could have us out of debt. I’d never be home, and I’d hate it, but I would do it.

And do you know what he said? He said he knew I’d give up the writing if he asked me to. And then he followed it up with this kicker, “But I wouldn’t ask you to do that, because you’d be giving up the only thing you’ve ever had that was just for you. You’ve wanted this since you were ten years old. Who am I to tell you no?”

I wanted to cry, because he’s right. That man knows my heart. If he asked, I’d give up the writing. Just like my grandmother before me. And if I did that, I would spend the rest of my life… missing something. Eventually, I would tell my granddaughter about the stories I tell in my head to help me go to sleep. I’d tell her how I’d never been free to write them down, and she would feel sorry for me like I felt sorry for my grandmother all those years ago.

I was fifteen, and to this day, I wonder if that’s the only real conversation I ever had with her.

I sometimes wonder if she told me because she thought I might be the only person in the family who really understood. I never thought of my scientist grandmother as having the heart of a poet, but I guess she did. She gave up that heart because my grandfather told her it was a waste of time.

A waste of time.

My husband supports every crazy idea I’ve ever had–and I’ve had a bunch. When I told him I wanted to write, he got me a giant monitor so I could see it, because we didn’t know how long my vision would last. He’s taken me to conferences, driven me two and a half hours over the hill so I could attend meetings, read all my contest entries, and helped me choreograph fight scenes. He’s done all of that, while less supportive people have done nothing more than roll their eyes and suggest that I give up writing altogether to focus on cleaning my house or relaxing, as if the latest episode of Maury Povich is somehow more important. (Aside: is that show even still on?)

People who don’t write don’t understand what those kinds of suggestions do to those of us who do. When they tell me to stop wasting my time, they don’t understand that they’re not helping. That they are, in fact, attacking the very essence of who I am. Those people, who deride the “weird writer types,” are attacking me, because I am a “weird writer type,” whether I write down the stories in my head or not.

So when I don’t call, don’t freak out. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’m so busy I can hardly see straight. At the same time, I don’t need all sorts of unwanted advice about how I can achieve balance by giving up the one thing I have that is mine–writing. When you do, you are telling me I should give up that which makes me me. 

I am not ashamed of who I am.

I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a teacher. I am a friend.

I am also a writer.

And there is no shame in that.