Currently Watching: Free Solo

Happy Disney Plus Day! After a couple of Pixar shorts, I settled on the National Geographic film “Free Solo.” It is phenomenal.

I’ve never climbed other than messing around on a climbing wall. I’ve hung out with climbers and known a few Dirtbags during my time in Colorado. But I must confess that climbing and its culture fascinates me. I’ve read Jon Krakauer, some of them several times. If I see a climbing movie, I’m in.

I think it is the theme of Man vs. Nature as well as Man vs. Man that enthralls me. The climber must overcome his own mental road blocks before ever touching the mountain. It is a narrative thread I want to follow.

What do you read that’s out of character?

Currently Reading

I’m generally not a fan of writing books. There’s a whole industry devoted to aiding writers and scores of books about every minuscule aspect of writing. Most of them are nothing more than common sense packaged and marketed as a secret or revolutionary new method. Shenanigans.

I, however, have found this book to be very helpful in creating or clarifying character motivation and development. In my NaNoWriMo novel, I was struggling with one of my characters. Linus was flat and stereotypical. I really needed him to be something special to help carry the story forward. This book helped me find his motivation and make him whole.

The author’s also offer other “Thesaurus” books for emotions, negative or positive traits, urban or rural settings. I own most of them on Kindle, but cannot yet speak to their efficacy. What I really needed for the last book was a weather thesaurus to help describe the climate changes since I used weather much like a character rather than a function of setting. Maybe that’s the book I’ll write to enter the “train the writer” marketplace.


While working on a longer non-fiction piece, a professor once told me to add in the smaller details of my day; readers like the minutiae.

Juvenile Bald Eagle, Red Rock Reservoir, Iowa, January 2018

I didn’t believe him at the time, but after another decade as a voracious reader I appreciate the small things. It feels like voyeurism reading about a character’s bathroom habits or learning their favorite recipe for pasta sauce. It gives the mind a place to rest while processing the rest of the story.

Advanced Reader’s Copies

So excited to hold the first copies in my hand.

The Advanced Reader’s Copies of White Hell arrived on Saturday. I mailed out three copies to friends and fellow wordnerds around the country. One copy lives on my husband’s nightstand.

His reading is one that means the most to me as he supported me through graduate school and while I spent the past three months polishing and editing. In some small way, I wish I could give him a happier book full of big adventures. “White Hell” isn’t about big moments, but finding strength and hope in the darkest times. So maybe I gave him the book I truly believe in.


I’m six days into NaNoWriMo and I’ve decided to back down from the original goal of 50,000 words for November. Pushing myself to write 1700 words a day was adding stress to an already over-loaded month.

What I learned:
Focusing on word count forces productivity
Productivity is not creativity
Character creation and development drive my writing process
Location, location, location
I prefer to start with a hand-written draft
Write the scene first, then research the details
I like to use weather as a catalyst for action

I’m grateful for my progress and I’m glad I participated, but I must refocus on my original November goal of launching “White Hell.”