Pretty Baby: An Interview With Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica, author of The Good Girl and the newly released Pretty Baby, takes readers through suspenseful twists and turns after a chance meeting between two women on a train platform. Fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl will appreciate this interesting take on the thin line that separates sanity and darker impulses. We talked about her inspiration for Pretty Baby, being surprised as a writer, and what it means to be a villain.

Pretty Baby begins innocently with a chance meeting of two women in a train station. Tell us about how you found Heidi and Willow.

Truthfully, I believe Willow is the one who found me. I was struggling to come up with a new and compelling storyline for my second novel and starting to get a bit frustrated. I quickly dismissed each idea I came up with for their implausibility or lack of uniqueness when I was struck by an image of a young, homeless girl with a baby waiting beside the Chicago 'L'. I had no idea who she was at the time or what her story would be - or how it was that she sprang suddenly into my mind - but I knew she was at the core of my next book. I immediately started writing the opening scenes of the novel, where Heidi encounters Willow for the first time, and at that point the story was off and running.


Your book masterfully moves through twists and turns. I don't want to give away of them away, but I do want to know more about your writing process. Do you outline or plan? Do your characters ever surprise you with twists you didn't see coming?

I don't outline or plan, but prefer to develop my characters and let them take control of the writing process. When I begin each novel I have only a vague idea of where I'm headed, and take it one day or one chapter at a time. I find that overthinking the storyline takes away from the natural flow of events and makes the narrative feel deliberate or forced. My characters surprise me all the time with twists that develop in the storyline, and the unexpected decisions they make along the way. I often have little or no idea how my stories will end until I write the final scenes.

Pretty Baby dives deep into moral ambiguity. How would you define a hero? What about a villain? Can a character be both?

Yes, a character can be both a villain and a hero, and I think my first two novels are proof of this. A hero to me is someone who shows courage and makes difficult decisions for the sake of others; a villain is the antithesis of this, someone who intentionally inflicts harm on others, whether physically or emotionally. Moral ambiguity is certainly at the heart of Pretty Baby, as good characters make questionable decisions, or they make immoral decisions for moral reasons or vice versa. The line between good and bad blurs in this book, as issues of charity and abuse, adultery and mental illness emerge. At the heart of moral ambiguity are also those complex characters who do things the reader may not expect them to do, making us question whether or not a character is who we presumed them to be.

This novel alternates between several different points of view. How did you decide which characters could tell this story? What do the multiple voices add to the narrative?

Although I knew Pretty Baby would center on the story of Willow and her baby, my first instinct was to tell the tale from only Heidi and her husband Chris's perspectives. I started writing the novel this way, and then partway through decided Willow needed a chance to tell her own side of the story, and boy does she have quite a story to tell, one which certainly couldn't be held back. As an author, I love writing with multiple perspectives, as I feel they offer the reader a well-rounded view of the characters and a sneak peek at each of their innermost thoughts. It also provides readers with a chance to see the story from all angles rather than just one.

Your first book, The Good Girl, enjoyed great success. What changed about your writing process between The Good Girl and Pretty Baby? What's next for you?

In all honesty, not much changed between The Good Girl and Pretty Baby. I'm a firm believer in If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and so truly held firm to this when writing Pretty Baby. I did learn quite a bit about myself and my writing strengths and weaknesses in working with an agent and an editor, and was able to apply this knowledge to Pretty Baby, but as for my day to day process, not much changed.

I am currently finishing up my third novel, Don't You Cry, which simultaneously tracks the disappearance of a young Chicago woman and the appearance of a mysterious woman on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan in a small harbor town. Don't You Cry will release in the summer of 2016 from MIRA Books.



All Families Are Funny: A Conversation With Author, Molly D. Campbell

Molly D. Campbell is the author of the debut novel, Keep the Ends Loose, about a fifteen year old's journey when a family secret threatens to destroy her family. A wry tale told from Mandy Heath's point of view, it is a coming of age novel for both teens and adults. We spoke about writing from a young adult point of view, what it means to be a family, and how to be funny with writing.

What led you to take on the young adult's point of view and create the character of Miranda Heath? What did it take to capture the voice of a modern day fifteen year old?

I have always been very fond of precocious children. I was one myself. I wrote this the way I remember my own worldview at age 15. Young adult novels are very popular right now. I think it may be because young people have wisdom that they have never been given credit for. The Young Adult novel opens the door to their voices.

I also feel that humor is an important coping mechanism. I began my humor writing career when I was faced with major facial reconstruction surgery after having skin cancer. It required four surgeries. I looked like a monster, and was confined to home for a period of weeks. I decided in advance that I would turn the entire process into something upbeat, instead of depressing. I began journaling the process to a group of my friends via email. I dubbed them The Frankenstein Outreach group. My blog sort of evolved out of that experience of turning something awful into something funny.


What comes first for you: characters or story?

Characters, always. I begin with a character sketch, and somehow, the plot just takes over. I have never been one to construct elaborate plots in my head. Instead, I am fascinated by people. I see an unusual looking person at the mall, for instance, and I immediately start to project a house, a family, and an occupation onto him or her. I wonder what the person's name might be, and what it might be like to be that person. I have been doing this all my life as a source of private entertainment. I never thought it would lead to anything. But suddenly, after having two careers, raising children and then working part-time at a veterinary practice, I began writing about all the people that have wandered around in my head for years.

What do you think Keep the Ends Loose says about what it means to be a family? 

Families are fraught with disaster that always just simmers underneath the surface. Have you ever been to a family reunion that was drama-free? I am fascinated with family skeletons. I also love humor, as I said, and I wanted to tell this family's story from a humorous standpoint, rather than a tragic one. I feel that humor is the saving grace in almost any terrible situation. Also, I think that humor is a survival mechanism that many young people use to get themselves through the angst-filled teen years. At least I did. If it weren't for humor, I would never have survived high school.

Tell me about winning the Erma Bombeck Writing Award. What did you write for that contest? How did it spur you on? What about Bombeck's writing inspires you?

The Erma Bombeck Writers' Competitionis held in conjunction with the Erma Bombeck Writers' Conference, which occurs every two years at The University of Dayton, Erma's alma mater. I won twice, the first time in humor, and the second in human interest. I wrote about my husband first, and then my father. Erma is a real inspiration, and I am so proud to have gotten this recognition.

Winning in that competition opened many doors. I got my first writing gig, as a columnist for the website Moms Who Need Wine as a result. My writing and my blog just took off after that.

How did you go from winning that contest to writing Keep the Ends Loose? What advice do you have for other writers looking to capture their humor on the page? What does it take to be funny with your writing?

I began writing flash fiction as a result of my aforementioned fascination with names. I started a Twitter stream of silly names with short descriptions. I called these Characters in Search of a Novel. From these, I developed my first book of character studies, with illustrations by Randy Palmer. My book, Characters in Search of a Novel, came out in 2012.

I submitted a piece from my first book to a publisher, The Story Plant. That began a five year conversation and mentorship which resulted in my novel Keep the Ends Loose. i was very fortunate that Lou Aronica, The Story Plant founder, saw something in my writing and decided to champion my writing.

If I knew how to teach people how to be funny, I could probably make millions! I think that humor is a gift, and some people just know how to write humor. Humor writers do have to be very concise, yet choose unusual words. For instance, "Hauling out the Kirby is just way too involved" is probably funnier than "I hate to vacuum."

My advice to those who seek a career in humor or any writing style is to read the work of your favorite writers, practice your writing, start a blog, read some more, and write even more than that. If you blog, blog consistently. There is no magic formula. It just takes a lot of work, dedication, commitment. It has all been said before, by people much more famous than I am!



Landfall: A Conversation With Author Ellen Urbani

Ellen Urbani is the author of the debut novel, Landfall, and a memoir, When I Was Elena. Landfall follows the journey of two women named Rose as they navigate the troubled waters of their lives in a post-Katrina South. We spoke about belonging, parallels, and Urbani's journey as a writer.

What led you to Landfall and the chaos of a post-Katrina New Orleans?

Just as hurricanes draw their strength from myriad elements, many of the stories I write have no clear or singular origin. It could be said I wrote Landfall because I miss living in the South, or because New Orleans is my favorite stateside city. Then again, perhaps I wrote Landfall because I know what it is to live in conditions of marshal law or because I relish storms or because I have seen people who were here just a moment ago disappear. But I think it is equally true to say I wrote Landfall because chaos fascinates me.

To be clear: I am no masochist -- don't like pain or disorder any more than the next person - but I cherish the possibility inherent in chaos. In tracing the poetic etymology of the word, from Ovid's shapeless mass to Hesiod's form-free darkness, I note a focus not on destruction but on the growth that such destruction inspires: from cataclysms were born the cosmos, the elements, the gods. Without discounting the devastation inherent in chaos, or in tragedies wrought by storms of any kind, these facts still exist: When something has been destroyed, it can be rebuilt in any shape. When home has been eradicated, any place can be a new starting point. At those times when my own life has been uprooted by tempests, I have found that by focusing on fertility instead of the detritus swirling around me, mighty and previously undetected worlds open to me. As much as anything else, it is this promise of possibility in New Orleans, in us all, that led me to write Landfall.


Rose feels that everyone belongs to someone. What does belonging mean to you? How did you come to this as a theme? What do you hope Landfall says about belonging?

When I was a child, I performed in musical theatre. One of my favorite productions was Fiddler on the Roof, that epic tale of roots, of what it means to belong to each other and to a place. Though I was far too young to fill her shoes, it was the role of Hodel that most captivated me: the protagonist's second daughter who breaks with tradition, abandons her home and family, and travels alone to a foreign tundra.

Early imprinting sticks. Much of my young adulthood aligns with Hodel's insistent refrain: "I must go! I must go!" for I believed that one must run away to find oneself, to find the place one truly belongs. I regularly barreled headlong into the unknown - moving from coast to coast, country to country, chasing fresh passions. A man who read my memoir about the years I lived in Guatemala during that country's civil war called me out on this inclination. "Don't you know how precious you are?" he wrote to me after finishing my book. "I think at some level you must not or you would not have taken the chances that you did. As I read of the various events you experienced, I ached to be there to protect you ... [but] at the same time, maybe what pulled at my heart the most is that I think you would not have let me, that somehow you needed (or need?) to go through the trial on your own. I'm not sure exactly why that makes me so sad - maybe it seems such a lonely path to travel."

It is precisely that independent streak in me that I channeled into Landfall's Rose, who treks alone toward the flooded city of New Orleans in an effort to find the family of a girl her mother killed, because "if any part of [her history] were to be salvaged she knew she needed to do it alone." But I also gifted to Rose my hard-won realization that even the most self-reliant among us need anchor-points; places and people to whom we can moor ourselves in order to find our way home from our adventures lest we spin, untethered, through the whole of our lives. In running away from her family, Rose eventually circles right back to embrace them.

And as for me? Have you not guessed? I married the man who wrote that letter, and in so doing I came to better understand Fiddler's missive. For it turns out Hodel didn't stop with the words I took to heart as a young girl: "I must go!" Instead, what she said in full was this: "I must go! For there, with my love, I'm home."

Parallels make up another key theme for this narrative, which begins with sneakers the two Roses share and ends in a very surprising place. What did you learn about parallels as you wrote this book? How do these connections and overlaps demonstrate the things we all share as people?

I was raised to believe in miracles, to beseech St. Anthony if I misplaced my homework, and to put a statue of the Virgin in the window before bedtime to ensure good weather the next morning. But enough with all that. I outgrew Catholicism about the same time I outgrew my parochial school uniform. Nowadays I put my faith in the parallels that connect one action to another, one person to the rest.

Chaos theory posits that seemingly random events are in fact predictable from simple deterministic equations; that there is nothing random about any given outcome. This idea that a butterfly beating her wings in Argentina might be responsible for whipping up a wind that batters the Gulf coast may be a torment to those who prefer isolation, but I am equal parts inspired and soothed by the promise of a million invisible connections to people and places I might otherwise not knowingly touch. My personal religion is grounded in these convictions: all of our lives touch if we let them; we are each responsible for everyone else; together, we are capable of actualizing the unbelievable.

I may have left my belief in miracles by the wayside in my youth, but I still see the miraculous in the everyday, and that faith permeates Landfall.

Landfall is also about journeys; what has your journey to becoming a published author looked like? What advice do you have for others who want to see their stories in print?

I am not a writer like so many of my writer friends are writers. Those others must write like they must eat, or sleep, or breathe; writing is as much a part of them as is their liver or their teeth. They write because they woke up this morning, and writing is what they always do next. I, on the other hand, am a writer in as much as I am anything else that I was once and may continue to be: a farmer, a counselor, a traveler, a teacher, an adventurer. For me, a story has to smolder in me and grow so unmanageable that I can no longer contain it, so wild it threatens to explode right out of my skin, before I'm sufficiently possessed to express it.

So my advice is to ignore all the advice. If you wake up and have to write everyday, then write every day. If you only feel like writing when your skin burns, then do other things on all those other days when there are other fires in you. Be true to yourself, only. Ignore whatever the hell the rest of us are doing in favor of tending your own flames. If they are strong enough, the world will notice.


How is writing a memoir about your own history different than a writing a piece of historical fiction?

In writing a piece of historical fiction about a mass casualty event like Hurricane Katrina, the one thing you can rely on is this: there will be no reliable accounts of the trauma. Which is not to say the survivors' accounts will not be true, for every one of them will be. Each story will be true to the experience and circumstance and horror of its narrator, but it will not match the story of the person to his left or the person to his right. To one the wall of water will be as tall as a hundred-year-old oak while another will say it almost reached the gutter of his single-story house and a third will not have noticed the water for he only saw his child crushed beneath the blue car with the spotless grill flipped by ... what was it? A wind? A wave? An angry god? Which is to say that the difficult genesis of historical fiction is culling a thousand people's divergent memories into a singular truth upon which to hang a fictional story.

In writing a memoir about the years one lived in a foreign country at war, the one thing you can rely on is this: it will not be a reliable accounting of the situation. Which is not to say the story is not true, for it is, to a word. It is true to the experience and circumstance and horror that I lived, but it does not match the story of my neighbor to the left or my neighbor to the right. To the one, any given anecdote might have been amusing at best, to the other it was mundane, whereas to me it was so foreign and frightening and colorful as to be worth dredging up ten years later and publically splaying. Which is to say that the difficult genesis of memoir is culling a thousand equally meaningful memories into a reliable story upon which to hang one's truths.

The take-away? The writing of one's own history and the writing of historical fiction may be built on a very similar framework, but as you can see they read very, very differently.



Speculation & Circus: A Conversation with Erika Swyler

Erika Swyler's debut novel, The Book of Speculation, tells the story of a family haunted by their mother's past. As Simon learns more about his mother's life both inside and outside of the circus, he comes to view his family gifted with ability to hold their breath like sea creatures and see the past and future through the tarot to be both incredibly susceptible to death in the water and lacking insight into their own conditions. I spoke with Swlyer about the power of the circus, writing from a male voice, and the uncanny connections that drive our lives.

So many beautiful books feature the circus from Erin Morganstern's The Night CircusSarah Gruen's Water for Elephant's, and Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. What do you think pulls authors to the circus? What captivated you? Do you have any formative circus memories?

Circus appeals to writers' escapist hearts. We see ourselves in it. Books and circus share the same goals--to captivate, entertain, and to make people think. I think we're also drawn to the idea of the romance of travel, and the tightknit relationships that form between performers. They're made families, chosen families. Circus is such a beautiful art form, but it's also quite dangerous. It's impossible to keep a writer away from writing about dangerous beautiful things. I can't resist them. My first memory of circus is of the trapeze artists--again, beautiful and dangerous. The trust, the absolute confidence they had that their partners would catch them was stunning. Trapeze to me represents the highest level of trust you can have in another human being. I find that hopeful.


Given the mermaid's lineage woven through the novel, I wanted to ask why you choose Simon to decipher the tale? What does the male voice add to the telling?

It was really simple. In an early draft I narrated part of the book from Enola's point of view. It was unreadable. It was too frenetic to be sustainable and didn't make a cohesive narrative. She's far too close to the curse to have perspective. I needed a voice who was connected to the curse, but also felt they were outside it. By nature of being male, Simon sees himself as safe from a curse, which has so far only killed women. He also functions as a foil to Enola's chaotic nature. He's a quiet kind of character who can subtly lead a reader to strange places without questioning his choices until they're already in motion.

That said, I've been asked a staggering number of questions about why I wrote a male narrator. No one questions men if and when they write female protagonists. There's an interesting pushback happening now where people are asking why the majority of award-winning novels written by women either have male protagonists or are about men. I'd venture a small part of it is an assumption that it's more difficult for women to write male protagonists believably and therefore requires greater skill. It isn't and it doesn't. Incidentally, a feminist way to write a protagonist is to write the character the story demands--regardless of gender--and write that character as a whole person.

The book turns on an interesting number of inter-generational connections. Churchwarry asks near the end of the book "Have you ever wondered why you're drawn to certain people?" What do you think The Book of Speculation says about the nature of human connection? Have you ever experienced this level of uncanny partnering in your own life?

I'm using the concept of fate to describe a more elusive idea about people seeking what they lack. Churchwarry asks that question of his polar opposite, who he's drawn to because of history and because of the same traits that make him care for Simon. We're drawn people who tickle something within us that we either recognize or feel we're missing. When people link up it feels like fate, but it's more by design. We're always looking for people who make us feel more. Often that means people might circle around each other for years because they share interests. Values and interests are things that flow easily across generations.

Early in our dating life my husband and I shared a few uncanny moments. We were sitting on a beach when I pointed to a spot in Connecticut and mentioned I had a friend who lived there. He said he did as well. It was the same person. We were both friends with a boy who lived in a different state, and we'd met him under entirely different circumstances. There were other overlaps. We'd been just missing each other for years. It was only a matter of time before we met. Ultimately that's not fate, but who we are. We're people who could be that boy's friend.

The story of your submission of the manuscript to publishers is quiet compelling. It amazes me that you hand sewed the volumes from tea stained pages with your own drawings and sketches. What lead you to this labor of love? What reaction did this receive from editors?

It takes so much of your life to write a novel. If didn't put all of myself into showing how much I cared, how hard I was willing to work, I would have regretted it. I knew presenting a manuscript that way was a risk, and I'm certain some were tossed in a recycling bin. When you make any kind of art, you make it knowing that you may be the only person who sees values it. But I had to try. Editors are book people before anything else, and this is a book person's book. I hoped if someone connected with it as an art object it would help them connect more deeply to the story. That turned out to be a good instinct. Things moved quickly after the manuscripts went out. It was all done in under a week. I only spoke with two editors, both of whom were very enthusiastic. I'd been terrified, but those conversations confirmed I'd made a beautiful thing. From that point on it was a matter of which editor saw the same story I did. Hope Dellon was able to see the book I had written and the book I'd wanted to write.

Your novel and your work in publishing the book clearly demonstrates a love of physical books. What thoughts do you have about digital publishing? Do you see any way to create the same experience with pixels instead of pages?

My love of books and reading is cross platform and it always will be. I don't see print as being at war with digital. While physical books offer tactile pleasure and ask you to read with care, digital offers accessibility in a way people are far too quick to dismiss. Digital allows you to change print sizes, colors, contrast, text-to-speech, and to turn pages with a tap. For the visually impaired and anyone with fine motor difficulties, that means a level of independence that wasn't available before the last decade. To look down on advances like that is in some ways to deny people the gift of independent reading.

That said, we think of technology as disposable. Books are passed down, whereas e-readers are not. The book as an object is a bit like a horseshoe crab. It been perfectly suited to its purpose since its invention and hasn't needed to evolve. Technology is ever evolving. When we reach a stable point in reader technology perhaps people's readers will have soft edges, smell wonderful when you open them, and have small screens to capture an author's signature on an eBook cover, and places to leave notes for your family when you pass it down. Imagine a screen that could mimic the sensation of dog-earing a page. We're at a point when we can be nostalgic about our technology, but we're not yet at the point where our current technology can be a physical representation of history. When we get there, I'll happily sign everyone's readers.

The Book of Speculation is your first novel; when did you know you were a writer? What path did you take to reach this point in your career?

I'm always the last to know what I'm doing. I studied acting at NYU and somehow came out of it a playwright. I wasn't a good enough actor to make it. I've always written, but I had to try other things to find out what I should be doing. After giving up acting, I had to learn to write all over again. I started with short stories, took classes. I churned out an unreadable novel draft. And then another draft. And another. All the while I held down strange jobs, all of which I'm grateful for. Every bit of living is fodder. I submitted short stories everywhere, got rejected everywhere and was mostly miserable, but I kept plugging away. Eventually my agent noticed one of my short stories and reached out. I pitched the book and things grew from there. It sounds like a dream story, an overnight success sort of thing, but it wasn't. I'd been hanging around trying for years. Once you've decided that you're going to write, everything after is dogged perseverance. I'm aware that for the better part of a decade I looked to most people like wasted potential. Sometimes it takes that long to figure things out. Sometimes it's not wasted potential, it's just a really low boil.



Rome in Love: A Conversation with Author Anita Hughes

Stunning location: check. Beautiful people: check. Romance: of course! Rome in Love, the latest book by Anita Hughes delivers on all three fronts as it tells the story of young actress Amelia, who learns about love, Italian food, and Audrey Hepburn while living in Rome to film a remake of Hepburn's classic film, Roman Holiday.


Each of your books captures the magic of a certain place from the French Coast to Lake Como to the lovely California, I'd love to know what brought you to Rome for this novel.

I first visited Rome when I was a girl and fell in love with it. It has everything - ancient monuments, incredible food, wonderful fashion and the Vatican, a whole city within a city. Every view - of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain - is magnificent, and the Via Condotti has some of the finest shopping in the world. I couldn't wait to set a novel there!

What inspired you contrast Amelia's adventures with the backstory of Audrey Hepburn's time there?

I watched Roman Holiday last Christmas, and I loved the first scene. Princess Ann is dressed in a fabulous ball gown and a tiara and is meeting all the heads of state. But all she can think about is how her shoes are killing her and she wants to escape and explore Rome by herself. This gave me the idea of what it would be like for a young actress to get the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of Roman Holiday and have similar experiences.


What type of research do you so to make your books so authentic both in terms of the place and the historical elements you add in?

I start with places I have loved as a child. My parents were European and I grew up in Australia so I was always fascinated with different locations. Then I spend a lot of time online discovering local restaurants and historical facts and points of interest. It's one of my favorite things to do--I feel like I'm there when I sit down to write!

Amelia and her friend, Sophie, wear some amazing outfits. I suspect their clothes are a lot of fun to write about--how do you gather such specific details to outfit these women so well?

I have always loved fashion because I think surrounding ourselves with beautiful things, whether it is clothes or art or flowers, makes us happy. I read a lot of fashion magazines and spend time on websites of the finest department stores - Sak's, Bergdorf's, Neiman Marcus. On a day off, I might run up to Fashion Island and just look in the stores.

Rome in Love is your fifth book; what do you still like about writing? What do you look forward to the most about starting a new project?

Honestly, I love everything about writing. I love creating new characters and going with them on their journey. I become very involved and think about them all the time. I also feel like I am visiting the places I write about - Cannes, Rome, Lake Como, so it is like taking a holiday without leaving the house!

I love starting a new project because I love going somewhere new and creating new characters with new dilemmas. My next book, Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story, comes out next April. It is set in Majorca - a spectacular island off the coast of Spain!



Thriving at the Edge: A Conversation With Donna Stoneham

The Thriver's Edge by Donna Stoneham, PhD offers seven key pieces of advice on how to identify your life's vision and how to make it a reality. Through personal experience and research, Stoneham's book offers a road map to moving from a mindset of struggle to one of thriving. I spoke with Stoneham about her inspirations for the book, how to use social media for your benefit, and what it takes to keep thriving.

First, let's begin with your inspirations. What led you to explore what it takes to move beyond just living to actually thriving?

Seventeen years ago, I was very ill and unable to work for more than two years. At the time, I was in graduate school, running two businesses, and consistently working eighty hour weeks driving my body like a long-haul truck. My sense of value and self-worth were based on how much money I made and what I produced. At the beginning of my illness, I suffered the loss of my mentor, Ellen, who had a pattern of working 24/7 and didn't' take care of herself, died suddenly at age 50 from a stroke. Two months after her death, she appeared one night in my dream riding on a bus cursing at the bus driver to let her off. He said, "Lady, this is your bus. It's too late to get off!" As the bus flew by, Ellen screamed this warning, "Donna, be careful which bus you get on!" Her advice in that dream was the catalyst that set me on the path to thriving, because I knew if I didn't heed her warning, I'd likely share her fate. 

Tell me more about the concept of the Bright Shadow. Meditation led you to your Bright Shadow; how might others find theirs? 

Simply stated, the dark shadow is the negative unconscious aspects of ourselves we project onto others. The bright shadow is the part of our psyche that holds our greatest potential that we unconsciously reject in ourselves. The best way to discover our own bright shadow is to stop believing we're not enough and constantly comparing ourselves to others. When we focus instead on living from a place of authenticity and creative expression that honors our most cherished values, our deepest longings, and the expression of our unique gifts, were able to manifest that potential. Discovering what's most essential to living a fulfilling life that brings you joy is the first place to start! 


What would you say to someone who never even considered their life's purpose before?

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice asks the Cat, "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" The Cat responds, "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." Alice chimes back, "I don't much care where," to which the Cat replies, "Then it doesn't matter which way you go." The moral to this story is that even though it's possible to go through life without living one's purpose, it comes with a cost. Life isn't very meaningful and everyone loses out. Just imagine if people like Picasso, Maya Angelou, or the person you most looked up to growing up hadn't been living their purpose? I would encourage people who haven't looked inward to do that, so the world isn't deprived of their gifts!

You spoke of your illness and the death of your mentor, client, and friend as signposts for change for you. What clues should people be aware of to help them see when they are veering from their paths?

Inspiration or desperation are the two motivation that drive people to change. One of the things I often advise my coaching clients (and myself) is to trust your gut, or what I call your inner compass. Does the step you are about to take "feel" right in your body, even if it seems like the logical thing to do? A sense of listlessness or inertia is also something to watch for as a sign you may be off track, as well as feeling fatigued, unmotivated, or depressed. Making sure you're moving towards changes that provide greater wholeness and health, rather than running away from things you want to avoid is another good strategy that helps people stay on the path. Checking in regularly with your inner compass is critical to making sure you're still on the right bus!

One of the big moments for me in your book came in the chapter on resilience where you mention the concept of garbage in, garbage out with regards to too much media consumption. I know from my own experience balancing social media consumption often proves to be challenging. What tips do you have for others that need to cultivate more nourishing stimulation in their daily lives and less mindless or negative chatter?

Three of the most powerful words in the English language are, "Turn it off!" Easier said than done in our media-frenzied world, but if we don't hit the reset button periodically, we won't be as effective, present, or engaged with what matters most. This is where setting boundaries and maintaining a regular centering practice really helps. We need to create space each day to clear the clutter in our minds, and set boundaries on how much media and negative news we're willing to consume and how often. Meditating for even five minutes each day, reading inspiring and uplifting books, taking a walk outside and observing the beauty around us, and having face-to-face conversations like we did in the old days makes us feel better about the world and also helps diffuse the negativity and chatter.

Surely, this is a life-long journey to be self-aware and not just a destination. What do you do to maintain this mindset? 

Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do." Self-awareness is much the same. It's something we have to commit to attending to each day, because it's true that we become what we practice. There are two things you need to practice regularly to keep thriving: 1) Take care of yourself (eat well, sleep enough, exercise regularly, meditate every day, and cultivate a support network you can depend on). 2) Take care of others (count your blessings, focus on thriving back, and practice paying it forward). As I say in my book, the journey of living life more fully becomes the end goal for people who thrive. I invite you to take the thriver's quiz and see where you land.

This book speaks deeply about your experience in eye health camps in Nepal and about giving back. What causes do you work with now? What does it take to start giving back?

I am a long-time supporter of Seva Foundation and help sponsor eye camps in developing countries every year. I'm also donating 25% of all my book sales to not-for-profit organizations who help people thrive, as well giving talks to not-for-profit donors and volunteers. In the fall, I will also be offering a monthly complimentary webinar on thriving. My dream is be a catalyst that inspires people to thrive and give back.

To start giving back, the question shifts from "What can I get?" to "What can I give?" There are hundreds of opportunities to give back every day. It can be as simple as paying the toll for the guy behind you on the freeway or spending five extra minutes really being present for your child. 

One of the best parts of your book is how you pull in other resources to demonstrate your points. If someone wants to go deeper with this subject, what books or thinkers do you recommend they explore further? 

These are a few of the resources I recommend to my coaching clients who are committed to thriving: Daring Greatly by Brené BrownThe Gift of Awakening by Mark NepoI Will Not Die an Unlived Life by Dawna MarkovaSuccess Principles by Jack CanfieldWhat Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall GoldsmithTrue Refuge by Tara BrachBuilding the Bridge as You Walk on It by Robert Quinn, andBuddha's Brain by Rick Hanson. There's also a great Mindfulness mediation appthat's easy to use and offers great meditations from wonderful teachers.



The Balance Project: A Conversation With Susie Orman Schnall


Susie Orman Schnall's novel, The Balance Project, follows the perils of the overworked assistant to America's Darling of Balance, Katherine. Both Lucy and Katherine's stories call into question whether or not women can have it all--both a successful work and family life. The Balance Project novel stemmed from Orman Schnall's interview series on the same subject about how people manage their work and personal lives. She just featured Reese Witherspoon as her 100th Balance Project interview!

What made you first interested in the concept of Balance and interested in Lucy's and Katherine's story?

I had been struggling with balance in my own life--how to be the type of mother that felt right for me while still being a professional. I couldn't figure out how to do both things really well, so I started asking other working women in the hope that I would figure out what I was doing wrong. In January 2014, I turned this questioning into an interview series, also called The Balance Project, in which I ask interesting and inspiring women how they handle work-life balance. I've learned so much from doing the interviews, and it became increasingly clear that this is something all women struggle with in some way or another. When I was figuring out what to write my second novel about, I decided I wanted to explore the topic through fiction and so The Balance Project novel was born. The reason I chose Lucy and Katherine as main characters (two women at very different stages in their careers) is because I wanted to show that no matter how old a woman is or her marital/maternal status, she can still struggle with work-life balance.

Lucy goes through some growing pains in this book; what does it take as an author to let your characters make mistakes?

I think it reflects the humanity of all of us. No one lives life in a completely linear way where one life stage or situation leads smoothly into the next. I wanted to reveal the truth that a woman like Lucy, who is at that stage of life when she's trying to figure out what kind of adult she wants to be, is on a journey filled with loads of obstacles and challenges. And it's the approach to those obstacles and the handling of them that makes Lucy--that makes all of us -- who we are. Making mistakes allows us to learn, move on, and, hopefully, evolve.

How does sharing ideas about balance in a blog and non-fiction setting differ from your work as a novelist? What do you learn from approaching the subject both ways?

There's certainly less writer's block with the interview series, which is refreshing! I love that I have two very different platforms through which to illustrate women's approach to balance. I started with the interviews so I took the findings that I learned from them and I used that data to inform Lucy and Katherine's (and, truly, all of the smaller players in the novel, as well) characters. The interviews allowed me to keep the novel real. I wasn't making up what women deal with. I used a composite of what real women told me and that became the basis for the struggles Lucy and Katherine face in the novel. I also love having the interviews because they keep the conversation going.

The Balance Project does a great job capturing our current technological milieu. What role do you think technology can play in both destroying and creating balance in our lives?

There is so much good about social media and technology, all of which has been described in countless articles. My concern with social media is that it makes us feel that there is some ideal -- shown through photos on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. We can decide whether or not we buy into it or want to conform, but regardless of that decision, we become socialized through those images, they become the "normal," and it's difficult, even for women with the most willpower, to ignore the sense that we should be living up to the perfection. The noise can make us believe we should be living our lives a certain way rather than the way that is most authentic and that will result in the highest feelings of contentment and balance. Also, all those tempting stories of "The 10 Best Celeb Weddings" and "Why You Need This Smoothie Bowl in Your Life" are dangerously distracting. So I've heard.

If you had a magic balancing wand, what would you like to shift in your own life?

I'd like to destroy with a sharp machete the unfairly as well as unreasonably high expectations I have for myself that have been accumulating since I was a child. I'm getting much better at telling the voices to get a cappuccino and leave me alone, but they've built themselves a nice home in my brain and don't seem to be leaving anytime soon.



1 Comment

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

--Jim Ryun

So I just wanted to send a note to you today about habits.
What things are you really good at in your day to day life?  What can you always seem to fit in?  How did it get to be that way? How did that one item be it something you do well at work, having coffee at a certain time of day, your favorite way to exercise, making time for others--how did you get so good at that?  Probably because it's your habit.  It's what you always do.

Almost every book on writing mentions setting habits and creating a writer's practice.  Take stock of your dreams as a writer.  What daily action can you take to make that happen?  Where can you find the fifteen minutes to spend each day to get on the path to your dream?  It doesn't need to be an hour; it doesn't need to be perfect.  You just need to start.

Be well and write on!


To subscribe to my newsletter about writing, publishing, and reaching your dreams, please fill in your information below: 

Name *

1 Comment


How to Publish Short Fiction

A.) Write a story.

B.) Revise the hell out of it.  Like twenty times.  Revise like a poet.  Test every word to make sure it is needed.

C.) Review places that are looking for new authors.  Start with local publications, school magazines, or online only journals. is an excellent service to sign up for.  They tell you want kind of stories each place accepts, and at what level of writer.  You want to read some of the journals to see where your work would fit in.  You want to find people that like writing like yours.  Create a spreadsheet to track your research.  

If you don't want to pay for Duotrope, review these links:

D.) Write a query letter.  Use a formal letter format.  Find out the editor's name.  Describe your story in a single sentence with word count.  Tell why you are sending it to that publication.  Have a brief paragraph stating any other publications you have and your educational background.  Nothing else.  Do not tell them that you have been writing since you were nine.  Be professional.  Less is more; the whole goal of the letter is to get them to read your story. Thank them for their time.

E.) Follow the journal's directions for submittal to the letter.  Do they want email? Submittable? Snail mail?  Do exactly what they say.

F.) Send out to about 10-20 magazines and journals at a time.  Create a spreadsheet to keep track of where you have sent them.  Start with those magazines that might be a little out of your reach.  After about six months, send to the next round of magazines--aiming a little lower.  Again, keep track.   Repeat.

G.) Wait.  Don't pester anyone.  Just wait.

H.) When you do get accepted, send a note to anyone still reviewing your story alerting them that you found a home for the story somewhere else.  Thank them for their time.  Be nice.



You can learn new things--at any age!

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right."  Henry Ford

Imagine the power of our brains!  Too many of us feel that we are born with a certain amount of ability or smarts.  Luckily, science is showing us that idea is wrong.  Check out this presentation about how to grow your brain:

I am especially excited by the power of the word yet and Carol Dweck's work.  When you find yourself struggling to learn something new or do something you want to do, don't despair--remember the word yet.  You haven't mastered it yet.  But if you keep working at it, applying yourself, being in the process, you will.




PMS Triple Chocolate Cookies

You know, because well, sometimes you need something chocolate!

PMS Triple Chocolate Cookies


Preheat oven to 350 degrees:

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, mix together:

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn oil (or whatever oil you have on hand)

1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Then add:  (Use a slow setting to avoid spatter)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

Then add: (Again, keep it slow)
1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4  teaspoon salt

Finally, mix in:

I bag Nestle Tollhouse Dark Chocolate Morsels 10 OZ

1 bag Nestle Milk Chocolate Chips 10 OZ

Size cookies by your preference.  I used a three tablespoon food scoop.  Space them accordingly for a little spread while baking.

Bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on the size of the cookies) on parchment lined cookie sheets.

Let cool.  ENJOY!


1 Comment

Ten Days to Write, Dream, and Explore: A Writing Vacation in Ireland

Why not combine your passion for learning and writing with your love of travel?  Join us for the Writer’s Workshop: Ireland 2015 where you will follow in the footsteps of great literary luminaries like James Joyce, Shaw, Yeats and Frank McCourt while attending an optional writing and literary workshop held in five star hotels.

Your Ireland writing vacation starts upon your arrival in Dublin where you will tour the Chester Beatty Library and meet your fellow touring writers, workshop leader, Dr. Brandi M. Granett, and tour leader, Susan Trestrail.  Luxuriate in the four star accommodations at the Ballsbridge hotel as you continue your writing vacation in Dublin attending the Writer’s Museum, James Joyce Center, Shaw birthplace and Trinity College.  Possibly attend a match at nearby Aviva Stadium.

Next, you travel to Sligo and stay in a luxury hotel with extraordinary views of Sligo Bay.  Experience the same country side that inspired William Butler Yeats as you visit his grave, the Model Arts Centre and the County Museum.

Your next vacation stop: the city of Galway.  You will have two days of sight-seeing while staying at the prestigious Ardilaun Hotel, a four-star select hotel of Ireland as you see the Lynch Stone, the Spanish Arch, Eyre Square Park, Galway Cathedral.

Travel on to Limerick and stay at the gorgeous four star Castle Oak House Hotel a Gregorian manor with classic rooms situated on the River Shannon.  Visit the Frank McCourt Museum.  Enjoy a round of golf or horseback riding or bicycling around the beautiful Lough Derg, one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in Ireland.

Head to Killarney with a stop at the Frank McCourt Museum.  Arrive at the Killarney Plaza, situated next to the Killarney National Park and in the heart of the Killarney Town at the gateway of the Ring of Kerry within walking distance of dozens of pubs and restaurants.  Visit the Kerry Writer’s Museum and attend a cooking demonstration and celebrate a final diner with your fellow tour writers. 

Return to Dublin for the conclusion of your extraordinary Irish journey.

Be sure to sign up soon to be a part of this very special opportunity.

Call Jim Trestrail with Cruise Planners @ 1.630.473.0391 or Susan Trestrail with Writers’ Workshops @ 1.630.205.2305



1 Comment


Writing Exercises Inspired by James Joyce, Part 2

The Eyes are Window to the Soul


Joyce often use descriptions of characters to flesh them out and to drive the narrative.  Once we see the characters through this lens, we receive a hint of who they are to be in the story.

Gabriel in The Dead is introduced thusly:

"O, then," said Gabriel gaily, "I suppose we'll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh? "

The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great bitterness:

"The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you."

Gabriel coloured, as if he felt he had made a mistake and, without looking at her, kicked off his goloshes and flicked actively with his muffler at his patent-leather shoes.

He was a stout, tallish young man. The high colour of his cheeks pushed upwards even to his forehead, where it scattered itself in a few formless patches of pale red; and on his hairless face there scintillated restlessly the polished lenses and the bright gilt rims of the glasses which screened his delicate and restless eyes. His glossy black hair was parted in the middle and brushed in a long curve behind his ears where it curled slightly beneath the groove left by his hat.

When he had flicked lustre into his shoes he stood up and pulled his waistcoat down more tightly on his plump body. Then he took a coin rapidly from his pocket.

"O Lily," he said, thrusting it into her hands, "it's Christmastime, isn't it? Just... here's a little...."

He walked rapidly towards the door.

"O no, sir!" cried the girl, following him. "Really, sir, I wouldn't take it."

"Christmas-time! Christmas-time!" said Gabriel, almost trotting to the stairs and waving his hand to her in deprecation.

The girl, seeing that he had gained the stairs, called out after him:

"Well, thank you, sir."

He waited outside the drawing-room door until the waltz should finish, listening to the skirts that swept against it and to the shuffling of feet. He was still discomposed by the girl's bitter and sudden retort. It had cast a gloom over him which he tried to dispel by arranging his cuffs and the bows of his tie.


In this story we learn Gabriel is a man of letters, generous, and sometimes unaware of other people’s feelings or motives.  In this description we see as being fancy, polished, and taken aback by the girl in his aunt’s employ.  These are important details to note as the story moves forward.

We meet his aunts here:

Just then his aunts and his wife came out of the ladies' dressing-room. His aunts were two small, plainly dressed old women. Aunt Julia was an inch or so the taller. Her hair, drawn low over the tops of her ears, was grey; and grey also, with darker shadows, was her large flaccid face. Though she was stout in build and stood erect, her slow eyes and parted lips gave her the appearance of a woman who did not know where she was or where she was going. Aunt Kate was more vivacious. Her face, healthier than her sister's, was all puckers and creases, like a shrivelled red apple, and her hair, braided in the same old-fashioned way, had not lost its ripe nut colour.

In this divine description, we learn not only about the aunts but how Gabriel views them as this description is written from his vantage point.  He is not altogether uncharitable, but his view is more honest than sentimental.  As for the aunts, we are witness to their decline and perhaps out of date ways, which Gabriel later uses in his speech to the assembled guests.

A drunken guest is presented as:

In fact right behind her Gabriel could be seen piloting Freddy Malins across the landing. The latter, a young man of about forty, was of Gabriel's size and build, with very round shoulders. His face was fleshy and pallid, touched with colour only at the thick hanging lobes of his ears and at the wide wings of his nose. He had coarse features, a blunt nose, a convex and receding brow, tumid and protruded lips. His heavy-lidded eyes and the disorder of his scanty hair made him look sleepy. He was laughing heartily in a high key at a story which he had been telling Gabriel on the stairs and at the same time rubbing the knuckles of his left fist backwards and forwards into his left eye.


We know from an earlier mention that Freddy Malin’s alcohol intake is a concern for the aunts.  In this piece of description, the tension is further stoked.  We clearly see that Malins is not very kempt or well.  Joyce uses this description to heighten our concern for the evening’s events.


In a tender moment, Gabriel sees his wife and once doesn’t recognize her:

Gabriel had not gone to the door with the others. He was in a dark part of the hall gazing up the staircase. A woman was standing near the top of the first flight, in the shadow also. He could not see her face but he could see the terra-cotta and salmon-pink panels of her skirt which the shadow made appear black and white. It was his wife. She was leaning on the banisters, listening to something. Gabriel was surprised at her stillness and strained his ear to listen also. But he could hear little save the noise of laughter and dispute on the front steps, a few chords struck on the piano and a few notes of a man's voice singing.

He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something. He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were a painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark panels of her skirt would show off the light ones. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter.

This moment sparks a romantic reverie on the part of Gabriel that comes crashing down around him when he learns his wife once loved another in her voice.  This ties together his earlier inability to connect with Lily, a discourse on the relationships between men and women, and his own lack of understanding regarding the mystery that is his wife.

In this exercise, picture one of your characters.  Build a portrait of them that both provides a visual for the reader and works to foreshadow their ultimate conflict.  What tension can be built into or hinted at in this description?  How can you show through the physical what might be at work under the surface? This can be as long as you would like and may or may not be included fully in your story.  Sometimes we need to write beyond the margins of our stories to have a full understanding of our characters.  Sometimes by writing more than we need, we stumble upon the exact right thing to say.




Writing Exercises Inspired by James Joyce: Part 1

The Places We Live

James Joyce begins several stories in the collection, Dubliners, begins with a description of a house.

The opening story, The Sisters, starts with:

There was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. Night after night I had passed the house (it was vacation time) and studied the lighted square of window: and night after night I had found it lighted in the same way, faintly and evenly. If he was dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse. He had often said to me: "I am not long for this world," and I had thought his words idle. Now I knew they were true. Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears, like the word gnomon in the Euclid and the word simony in the Catechism. But now it sounded to me like the name of some maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.


Araby begins:

North Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers' School set the boys free. An uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbours in a square ground. The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.

The former tenant of our house, a priest, had died in the back drawing-room. Air, musty from having been long enclosed, hung in all the rooms, and the waste room behind the kitchen was littered with old useless papers. Among these I found a few paper-covered books, the pages of which were curled and damp: The Abbot, by Walter Scott, The Devout Communicant, and The Memoirs of Vidocq. I liked the last best because its leaves were yellow. The wild garden behind the house contained a central apple-tree and a few straggling bushes, under one of which I found the late tenant's rusty bicycle-pump. He had been a very charitable priest; in his will he had left all his money to institutions and the furniture of his house to his sister.


For this exercise, imagine a house, either one you know or something you imagine or one you encounter on your trip.  Describe this house as much or as little as you want to begin the story.  Use the description to set the tone and theme.  Imagine this house as a doorway to another place, the world of your story.  





The Older I Get, the Less I Like Rules: An Interview With Author Cathy Lamb

Cathy Lamb, 47, is a women's fiction author. Her first novel, Julia's Chocolates, was published when she was 40, in 2007. All of her nine novels have been published byKensington Publishing in NYC. The most recent book, What I Remember Most, is the story of Grenadine Scotch Wild, a successful artist and painter, who is on the run. Again. Lamb lives in Oregon; she is married with three kids and has an odd cat named KC who meows to her and insists she meows back. She does.

When did you know you were a writer?

I knew I had to be a writer when I was 16. There was nothing else that interested me. I became a teacher simply so I could support myself, not starve to death, and have health insurance until I published. I did not have a lot of confidence that I would publish. I knew, though, that I had to try until my brain exploded. Yes, I was that desperate to become a writer. "Write until you can literally write no more," was my motto.

I knew if I ever gave up I would regret it. I knew I would be seventy years old one day so I told myself: Wouldn't it be better to reach the age of seventy and say, "I tried and failed," instead of, "I tried and quit because I couldn't take the rejections. I didn't buck up and fight back because I am a total wimp." I would have regretted not bucking up and fighting back and no one likes a wimp.

Continue reading here:



Interview with Kathryn Craft

Kathryn Craft is the author of The Art of Falling (Sourcebooks, 2014) and The Far End of Happy, due May 2015. Her work as a developmental editor at follows a 19 year career as a dance critic.

A longtime leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she now serves as book club liaison for the Women's Fiction Writers Association. She hosts lakeside writing retreats for women, leads writing workshops, and is constantly looking for other ways to bring people together using literature, wine, and snacks.

Please check out the rest of the interview here:



6 Pieces of Writing Advice from First Time Writers Over 40

At 23, as a shiny new MFA graduate, I stumbled upon Deborah Spark'sTwenty Under Thirty, an anthology that collected the early works of rising stars in contemporary fiction. From this book and the convoluted thinking of youth, I imagined a certain expiration date on writing success. If I don't publish X by age 27, I'm finished. As I passed 27, then 37 and finally 40, I began to take a longer view about publishing careers and realized how silly it was to think that authorship possessed some sort of expiration date.

Then I looked around my community of writers on Facebook and found six amazing women who started publishing after 40. I reached out to them for motivational advice for writers over 40. So here's 6 pieces of advice from authors who didn't let turning 40 stop them from achieving their publishing goals.

"We need your wisdom so you'd better start now."-- Kathryn Craft, 58, is the author ofThe Art of Falling (Sourcebooks) and The Far End of Happy, due May 2015.

"Be honest in your writing. Dig deep. If you are crying when you're writing part of your book, good. It'll come out in your story and you'll make your readers cry. If you're laughing while you're writing part of your book, excellent. You'll make your readers laugh."-- Cathy Lamb, 47, her first novel, Julia's Chocolates (Kensington Publishing), was published when she was forty, in 2007. Her latest book, What I Remember Most, was published in 2014.

Continue reading at:


Who is the Blocked Poet?


Who is the Blocked Poet?

In my next book, Best Laid Plans, Miranda, a poetry professor, engages in a torrid love affair with a student, finds fame as an internet celebrity for posting word sculptures as the Blocked Poet, and weighs a marriage proposal from her childhood crush, Scott, that would include becoming a step-mother to his adopted six-year old daughter, Lynn, who faces the loss of her biological mother to HIV and drug addiction.  Best Laid Plans explores how life often takes us to places we never knew we wanted to visit.

If you want to follow the Blocked Poet, please check her out at: 

Instagram: blockedpoet

Twitter: @blocked_poet


For more about Best Laid Plans, please email me at