That’s right, travel season is nearly upon us, and this year it is all about family.

In 14 days spring break will FINALLY be here and my dad, sister, and myself will travel to the British Virgin Islands where we’ll spend a week semi-conscious on the beach.

In 46 days I will have administered my last final exam and submitted my grades and I’ll get on a plane for Seattle. I’ll spend about 2 1/2 weeks visiting my parents and sister, helping my mom in her amazing garden, writing a lot, and camping with my nieces. It will be awesome.

Then, in 107 days, my husband and I will take a family vacation with my parents to the Dordogne in SW France. I will wallow around in prehistoric cave art, stuff my face with truffles and foie gras, drink lots of wine, and post photos on Facebook that will make everyone hate me. Apologies in advance.

These trips will no doubt be fabulous, but the best part is that in the next 4 months I’ll spending almost 5 whole weeks with my family. This makes me really happy because they live in Seattle and I live in NYC and I never get to see them this much in such a short time. Yay!

The Return, Part II

I’m back, again, in New York, and thus end my whirlwind travels for the summer.

Only 6 days after returning from Italy, I headed out again to visit my family in the Pacific Northwest. It was everything a summer vacation should be: warm, sunny, and relaxing (see gallery below for evidence).

Now it’s time to buckle down and get to work.

I have a number of projects lined up for the coming months:

1. Finish polishing my current project

2. Educate myself about astronomy via several Coursera classes

3. Brainstorm, outline, and begin drafting my next project (which will draw on the aforementioned classes)

4. Get ready to participate in the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference and Pitch Slam, taking place here in New York at the end of July

5. Work on my new blog, a site devoted to gluten-free recipes that don’t involve the use of unhealthy, yucky, scary substitute products (more to follow on this as it develops)

And I think that’s enough to be getting on with.

To work!

The Return

It’s 4:30am, Day Two of the Great Jet Lag Escapade, and I’ve just returned from a whirlwind tour of Italy, in which I consumed every edible, drinkable, and cultural experience I could lay my hands on.

The trip was fantastic, offering a glimpse of what the Grand Tour of yore must have been like (you know, if you had a chaperone, gobs of time on your hands, a well-developed sense of superiority, and infinite money). Still, to wander the loggia of Florence, admiring the sinuous bodies of marble sculptures, to climb the towering domes of ostentatiously beautiful cathedrals, and to stroll the shores of rivers like the Tiber and the Arno, turgid with history, was all pretty spectacular.

And the food. And the wine. I partook of it all and I have no regrets (well, maybe a few…eating all that gluten wasn’t exactly without consequences…).

Now I’ve returned to Brooklyn and am eager to get back to work. The last few edits to the novel, and some more work on the query letter, await. I have some ideas for new short stories and plenty of brainstorming work to do for the next novel project. I’m also taking a couple of Coursera classes on astronomy, which are turning out to be very interesting.

A few small items to mention: I have a recipe published in the latest issue of Flash Fiction Online, titled Norwegian Waffles (for weekends, before or after the apocalypse), as an accompaniment to a delightfully creepy story by the wonderful Sunil Patel. Also, upcoming in August, my story The New Arrival will be podcast on Pseudopod – details to follow!

Before I leave you, I thought I’d share a few photos from my journey through Florence, Tuscany, Rome, and Pompeii. Enjoy!

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One of these days

One of these days I’ll figure out how to properly schedule my summer.

Some years I plan too little and end up sitting around Brooklyn, boiling and bitching about how bored I am. Other years I plan too much and have permanent jet lag. This summer has fallen into the latter category. Without question, this has been the Summer of Travel. Three weeks digging in Missouri. Two weeks visiting family in Seattle. And now, two weeks coming up in Norway.

I’m not complaining (well…Missouri kind of sucked, so maybe I’m complaining a little), but the problem with the Summer of Travel is that it is most decidedly NOT the Summer of Writing. Don’t get me wrong, I did make headway on my various writing projects between trips, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped or envisioned when the semester ended in June.

Still…Norway! I’m very excited. There will be fjords, and mountains (and if we’re very lucky) trolls! Also 22 hours of daylight. Yikes. I’ll try to post some updates, but in the meantime, have a fjord:


You’re welcome!

Bon voyage, my friends! I’ll see you in September 🙂

Two archaeologists walk into a bar

The title of this post pretty much sums up how my weekend is going to play out.

I’m heading to Austin, Texas today for the Society for American Archaeology meetings. I’ll be presenting two papers, attending sessions, and listening to some interesting talks. But mostly the conference will consist of a bunch of archaeologists hanging out in a bar, drinking and catching up.

In the end, then, archaeology conferences are not very different from writing Cons.

This will be the first time I’ve attended the meetings in several years and I’m excited to see old friends from graduate school and from my fieldwork in Honduras. Since I’ve funneled my money and time mostly into writing workshops and Cons these last few years, I expect it’s going to feel a little strange to be at a big convention filled not with Doctor Who enthusiasts but people whose eyes light up at the mention of lithic analyses and studies of surface treatment on pottery.

Clearly the two communities to which I belong are unconventional, albeit in different ways 🙂

The flight to Austin is pretty long, so I’m hoping to take advantage of the time to work on revisions to my novel and begin preparing critiques for the upcoming Paradise Lost Writing Retreat (also in Texas, one week from today).

I didn’t get as much writing and editing done while on vacation last week as I intended, though I did come up with a whole new plan for the ending of Project Awesome, so I have a very full to-do list. Plus, as soon as I get back from the meetings Spring Break will be officially over and end-of-semester madness will begin. Any serious writing I want to accomplish between now and the end of the May will probably get done in the next five days or not at all.

So–to the airport and adventure-bound!






Vegas debrief

It’s my last morning in Las Vegas. I’m sitting in my room at the Aria looking out on the sprawl of hotels and pools and kitsch all spilling south toward the mountains. I came here on Thursday for a writing retreat and after three days of eating, spa-ing, partying, and (of course), writing, it’s time to take stock.

This is the second year in a row we’ve done this particular retreat. The idea is for a small group of journey-woman writers to escape their daily lives, get to know each other better, and support one another. Rather than revolving around critiques or workshopping, this retreat is just a chance to write in the company of other writers and to be able to talk freely about issues and challenges we’re facing both in our manuscripts and in our careers.

Every time we’ve done this retreat it’s been fun, easy, and drama-free. Best of all, it’s also always very productive, providing a needed jolt to languishing projects and a reminder of how much you can accomplish when you prioritize your writing and shed other distractions.

There are a number of different retreats, workshops, and Cons that I’ve taken to attending over the years. Each are different and each are awesome in their own ways. This particular retreat has a couple of qualities that I think make it distinctive.

First, it’s usually a small group (typically between 5 and 7 people). This has the advantage of intimacy, of really getting the chance to talk and work as a group with no cliques forming or drama brewing. Additionally, this retreat is organized collaboratively. No one person decides where we’ll stay, what we’ll do, or who will be invited. Both years the retreat has taken shape organically. Thus, we all feel we have a say and a piece of what’s happening. This, obviously, wouldn’t work very well with a larger retreat or workshop, but it works great with a small group.

Second, because it’s focused on producing material rather than critiquing material, I always leave this retreat feeling like I accomplished something meaningful. Typically when I go to a critique-based retreat I leave thinking of all the work I have before me (not necessarily a bad thing, but still…) rather than feeling good about the work I’ve already done. Both types of retreats galvanize you, albeit in different ways.

Third, this retreat emphasizes fun and socializing and indulgence as much as it does productivity. Vegas is a mad, crazy playground and thus the perfect place to let go for a little while — to dance and drink and eat and let your hair down. For better or worse, in co-ed work-related situations (which, at the end of the day, writing workshops and Cons are) many women often feel they have to monitor their behavior more carefully than they otherwise would. Indeed, I’m sure many men feel exactly the same way. While we always miss our male writer friends at this retreat, there is something freeing about being temporarily in the company of other women.

As always, when I leave a writing retreat or workshop I’m thinking as much about the writer friends I’ve been spending the retreat with as the ones who aren’t here. That’s the downside of retreats: whether you’ve invited everyone you know or just a small group, there are always friends absent. Because our community is so spread out and many of us only get to see each other a few times a year, these retreats — and their fleeting intensity — are both wonderful and a little sad.

So, as I head for the airport, I put my first writing retreat of 2014 behind me. I had a wonderful time and I moved my novel that much closer to completion (I wrote about 5.5K across 2 days). I’m chalking this one up as a win.

The Big Easy

Yup. I’m off to New Orleans today to visit my in-laws, eat po’boys, and thaw out post-arctic cone of shame (or whatever it was called..)–that is, if the freezing rain in Brooklyn and thunderstorms in New Orleans don’t result in a cancelled flight 😉

I plan to spend the time at the airport and en route writing. Or, so I hope. This has been a frustrating week in the novel-drafting department. I’ve been spending hours sitting around thinking about my novel. About where it’s going. About what the next chapter is going to look like. About specific lines of dialogue and character dynamics.

Actual writing accomplished after all this thinking? Oh, about 300 words.


I know thinking about writing is sometimes as important as putting pen to paper. But still, GAH.

Perhaps a change of scene will be the trigger I need to escape my own head. If not, I suppose I can drown my frustration in fried food and booze. It is, after all, New Orleans.

We shall see.


I’ve been meaning to post some thoughts on my time at MileHiCon, but this week has very much gotten away from me. Somehow it is Thursday. Better late than never, though. Yes?

So. MileHiCon. For those unfamiliar, this is a lovely little regional con held in Denver, Colorado. I decided to attend primarily because it seemed like a great opportunity to catch up with my friends — an increasing number of which are located out Colorado way. Happily, a couple other members of my extended writing family had the same idea, journeying in from California, New Jersey, Texas, and Iowa.

It was awesome to see everyone, and I was reminded how interesting people brought together by writing can be–and how different we all are from one another. I mean, in everyday life we tend to be drawn to friends who are similar to us–similar backgrounds or jobs or interests. But writers are brought together because of the dreams they have and the words they put on pages rather than their shared religion or beliefs or occupations. So groups of writer friends tend to be fascinatingly diverse.

Also, while you might not get to see your writer friends very often, they sometimes know you better than your close friends do (or at least they know a part of you that your close friends may not really understand). It’s really lovely to be around people who just get it, who you don’t have to explain the writing life to. They know.

In addition to seeing old friends, cons are great places to meet new ones. MileHiCon was no exception. Everyone I met was warm and friendly and interesting–be they pros or newbie writers or fans. I would definitely describe the general vibe of MileHiCon as welcoming and unpretentious. And fun. It was fun.

Here are a few pictures from the trip:

I’m glad I went, but boy did being away for four days wreak havoc on my day job and my household. I’ve just been feeling behind all week, which is an awful feeling. So, today is catch up day. I will catch up on course prep (mostly writing quizzes and recording supplementary lectures for my students to listen to online), lay some more pipe on my novel, PROJECT AWESOME, try to outline that short story idea that’s been nagging at me for days, go to Pilates, and — of course — clean the apartment (bleck).

We’re also having a costume Halloween party this weekend, so I need to prepare treats and eats and put the finishing touches on my costume. Any guesses as to what I’ll be dressing up as?

Anyway – that’s a lot to do in just one day, so I’d better get to it!

This, that, and the other thing

Things have been busy around here of late.

We’re well into the semester (midterms are this week!) and it’s beginning to get cool and crispy and fall-like around Brooklyn, which I love. This is, hands down, my favorite season in New York. Spring is too short and gets hot and humid fast, but fall lingers with all its lovely, orange-y light. Halloween is coming (which we celebrate with a big party) and then it will get cold and I’ll drink lots of foamy hot cocoa and start thinking about Christmas with my nieces, and eggnog, and cross-country skiing in the mountains.

First, though, gotta get through grading those midterms! 😉

Lest you think it’s all been school and fantasizing about the holidays, I’ve also been keeping the flame burning on the writing front. I recently finished, polished, and subbed a new short story and have reached the 60K mark on the first draft of PROJECT AWESOME. I’m projecting this draft will clock in at around 90K, so now it all feels like running downhill (or so I’m telling myself).

Perhaps most exciting is that this week is MileHiCon and I’ll be flying out to Denver on Thursday to see a whole big bunch of my favorite writer-folk! Yay!

So, yeah – happiness on a sunny, cool Monday.

What’s new with you all?

From the road

Greetings, dear Reader! I’m coming to you live from Kansas City, MO. After a brief three days at home I’ve headed back out again, this time not for vacation but for work. My research partner and I are putting the pieces in place to start a brand new field project right here in Missouri this coming summer.

We typically do our fieldwork in Honduras, but things in Honduras have not exactly been peachy lately and the college that provides our funding won’t accept legal liability for the students we take with us into the field. So, while we wait and hope that the drug-traffic related violence and political instability in Honduras will be short-lived, we’re planning something Stateside so we can keep our field school running.

A lot of this trip is about logistics. Meeting with people. Getting permits and paperwork in order. Making plans, etc. There’s as much of that in archaeology as in any other profession — maybe more!

As those of you who follow me on FB and Twitter are aware, I had a bit of trouble getting down here (the usual BS delays and weather and such), so even though it’s an archaeology work trip, I did get some writing time in as I waited in the airport and on the runway, and so on.

I’m feeling a little frizzled and frazzled on short stories lately. I think this may be from the encouraging/discouraging rut I’ve been in lately where my shorts are getting bounced right on up to the editor and then, after a long, hope-filled wait, being passed on. I know this is ultimately a good thing and it means I’m getting very close and that I should be inspired to work harder (which I am, really!), but it’s also discouraging. So, I’m taking a few days off from shorts and focusing on my novel.

I’m at about the 50K mark and have finally gotten to the part of the novel where the protagonist and antagonist are really up in one another’s faces for the first time…and I’m putting waaaay too much pressure on myself to make it mind-blowingly awesome on the first go-around. I know I just need to get it down on paper, move on, and fix it later…but I can’t. I’ve been looking forward to writing these scenes since I first started conceiving of the novel and now I can’t seem to write a single word I find pleasing.


So, maybe it’s a good thing that I’m busy in meetings all day. Or maybe I should take the next twenty minutes I have free and write something, anything, to move this thing forward.

What do you think?