Thank You.

I started blogging weekly, more than five years ago. October 20, 2011– to be exact. I was just finishing up grad school and my first book, Neverending Beginnings, hadn’t even been published. I had a different non-writing job than I do now. I hadn’t met Julia Kelly & Alexis Anne and therefore, had no idea I’d co-host a monthly podcast. I’d never attended a huge national conference, much less presented at one. Five years ago I’d maybe run a couple of 10Ks, but if you’d told me I’d a half marathon once, let alone twice, I’d have swiftly dismissed that as crazy-talk. I had never been to Paris, or Belgium, or Portland, or Austin, and I’m sure there were countless beers I hadn’t tried, books I hadn’t read.

Five. Years.

The thing is though, when you do a thing for so long, it’s easy to just keep doing it because it’s that thing you do, right? You roast chicken every Monday, and make quinoa bowls every Wednesday. You go to happy hour at that one brewery every Thursday. You meticulously move things from this week’s to-do list to next’s every Sunday night. You always brush your teeth before you wash your face. And then maybe one day, you forget and wash your face before brushing your teeth, and you realize it’s no big deal. Or you can’t get to the chicken on Monday and realize it’s just as good cooked in the slow cooker on Saturday. And maybe you break your brewery routine to join a friend for jazz at the cafe around the corner and realize there’s this whole other world of things to do on Thursday nights. And that to-do list? Well, perhaps if it’s not getting done there’s no sense in re-writing it.

Five years. Thirteen weeks. But today, I break my routine.

I don’t know what it will feel like not to publish a blog next week. I haven’t not spent some of the hours leading up to Thursday preparing a blog post for the last 273 weeks of my life, so I imagine I’ll feel like something is a bit out-of-order. However, for some time, I’ve been feeling like this whole thing has just become a little too habitual for me, just one more thing to check off the list and write down again on the next week. Like it’s missing a bit of soul. I’m quite certain there is a whole other world of writing to do out there just waiting for me to breathe some life into it and better serve readers.

So that’s my plan. I’m going to take some space and explore some other venues and new projects. But I can’t step away without saying thank you for spending a few precious moments of your day with my words. Whether you’ve been here for all 273 weeks, or are finding yourself here for the first time, I am so very grateful.

Five years. Grateful.

 

Since I won’t be blogging every week, I will no longer send a weekly e-mail. However, I’ll still be sending a message on at least a quarterly basis with an update on the progress of my latest novel, including excerpts,  release dates and pre-orders, so I do hope you’ll stay on my mailing list (or sign-up for the first time, below). And again, thank you.

 

Let it Burn

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A few weeks ago, on Christmas eve some of our neighbors stopped by for a beer. We were talking about the holiday season, and how much we’d all enjoyed our tiny tabletop trees– all the lovely Christmas tree smell but easier to get in the house, with far fewer needles shed and super easy clean-up. No waiting for the city’s special pick-up day, that little guy will fit right in the large garbage can in the ally, or we realized as we kept talking– in a fire pit. Which, you guessed it, my neighbors just happen to have. Continue reading

What’s On …

Just a few little notes about what’s on my playlist, my nightstand, and my stove these days.

On my playlist: I just got back from a trip to Austin, TX! On the plane I listened to Norah Jones’ new album. The whole thing is really lovely, but, this was one of my favorites:

On my nightstand: Last week I blogged about my intent to put my writing first this year; to start the day creating art. As a part of this, I’m kicking off 41secwnbauleach writing session by reading a short passage from Barbara Abercrombie’s A Year of Writing Dangerously, 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement. Only twelve days in, but I’m loving it so far!

On my stove: Super, super simple slow cooker pork. We had frozen half a pork shoulder last month when we over-bought for pork mole (which I like to call Roast Beast around the holidays– because Dr. Seuss). Anyway, this week seemed like a good time to thaw it out, make some pulled-pork barbecue in the slow cooker, and try to hold on to our Texas vacation feeling just a bit longer. This recipe was easy and delicious!* We served with pickle slices and roasted potato wedges. (*Full disclosure: we skipped the green peppers, because we didn’t have them, and used a more vinegar-y sauce.)

So– what’s on in your world these days?

Resolute

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I didn’t make any resolutions this year, which isn’t really anything new, I typically don’t. However, in the past I have set goals for the new year. Last year, for example, I taped two index cards into the back of my planner: one for personal goals, one for writing goals. There were ten goals total. Want to take a stab at how many of them I met?

I think it’s likely that you were over-generous in your guess. (Thank you.) I met one goal. That’s right, one. And if I’m being honest, I only met that one because it was set to be extremely achievable.

But you know what wasn’t on my personal goals list? Running two half marathons. And what wasn’t on my writing goals list? Doing a reading at an amazing library a few months ago or hearing from a listener that the podcast I’m part of helped her. I had wins in both areas this year, but none of them were the ones I set down and arbitrarily jotted down twelve months ago. There was an interesting article in The Guardian recently that offered this about long-term goals: Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Hating Game / Dogfish Head’s Beer for Breakfast

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a book I love with a pint to sip while reading it.

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At some point a few months ago, my friend Julia gushed about how much she enjoyed Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. Then at my local writers conference in September, Sarah MacLean told me she loved it. Then my friend Lindsay read it, and sent around a message saying we had to discuss it. Clearly, with all this prodding I moved it to the top of my to-be-read list. And while we’re talking lists– it’s worth nothing that the novel was in the top ten of Goodread’s Choice Awards for romance and named one of NPR’s best books of 2016. A good book to round out my 2016 Books & Brews series, I suppose!

The premise of the story is classic, bitter work rivals who can’t stand each other, until eventually they start to piece together that maybe they very much can. An enemies-to-lovers story, if you will. Main characters Lucy Hutton and Josh Templeman are executive assistants for co-CEOs of a large publishing house who have a daily routine of disdain for each other. Things get complicated when they are forced to compete for a promotion. And even more complicated when the facade of hate starts to crumble.

Here what I loved about the book: Continue reading

Holiday Cheer

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Here’s to more inspiration, friendship, unconditional kindness, and laughter than seems reasonable this season. Also, a healthy dose of wanderlust. And while you’re doling out the holiday cheer– don’t forget a health dose of gentle-loving-tenderness for yourself, okay?

The Thing Is, I Like It All

The other night after a long walk to see the festive grazing deer made of white lights and sparkly trees in the heart of downtown, we stopped at a bar for a holiday beer (as you do). I was all set for an Anchor Christmas Ale, or maybe even my yearly glass of Troegs Mad Elf. A quick skim of the menu, which was at least 8.5 by 14 inches with draughts on one side and bottles/can on the other, didn’t reveal much at all in the way of festive beer (my elf friend arrives next week according to the “coming soon” section) and so I started to read more closely for a second choice. Continue reading

What’s On For the Holidays …

Just a few little notes about what’s on my playlist, my nightstand, and my stove these days. (Special Holiday Edition)

On My Holiday Playlist:

I’m more grateful than I’m ever really able to articulate for years of happy childhood memories. Not the least of which are Christmas seasons filled with family and friends. The first notes of this song bring all that back. A few years ago, I found my original scratched-up-sticks-on-several-tracks-vinyl copy. It’s perfectly imperfect and the absolute best way to kick off the season. Continue reading

Rock Scramble

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There’s a great hike here in Virginia, and I was privileged enough to spend a large portion of my life with it basically in my backyard. It’s up a mountain called Old Rag and when we were visiting family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I climbed it again, for the first time in years. Continue reading

Books & Brews: My Beer Year / Three Notch’d Brewing Company’s Biggie S’mores

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a book I love with a pint to sip while reading it. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope your day is full of all your favorites, as well!

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m mostly a fiction reader, but that when I do pick up non-fiction it typically has close ties to food (aka, the delicious memoir)– so you can imagine my excitement when I heard about Lucy Burningham’s new book My Beer Year. Because you know if anything gets me more excited than food, it’s beer. The premise behind the book is that Burningham, a journalist who has written extensively about craft beer, decides to study to take the test to become a Certified Cicerone. If you’re familiar with the concept of a sommelier in the world of wine– someone who is able to identify styles by taste and know the history of a particular type of wine while also suggesting a food pairing– then think of a Cicerone as this to the world of beer. In My Beer Year, Burningham  shares the details of her journey to the exam, from visiting hop farms, to attending the Great American Beer Festival and traveling to Belgium to cleaning beer lines at a local brew pub.

Here’s what I loved about the book: Continue reading