Ready for the Sun.

Posted: March 8, 2019 by Rachel

current office view

It got cold again here in Las Vegas. Although I feel almost bad typing this when my friends and family back in Ontario, Canada are dealing with highs almost thirty degrees cooler, it’s still cold. And overcast. And rainy.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the cold and darkness of winter was getting to me. We’ve had some glimpses of sun since them, but nothing that has stuck. I know Spring is just around the corner, and that the clocks jumping forward this week will help, but, again: oof. I’m ready now.

I’ve taken to raising the blinds here in my office while I work. Most days it’s not the most beautiful view, but it does serve to remind me that there is a world out there that exists, which is especially hard when I’m editing page 87 of a 249 page manuscript that we’re behind on. My editing muscle hasn’t been put to the test in quite a while on works other than my own. And Men’s Adventure isn’t usually my go-to genre. But I will say this for the genre: it moves fast, which keeps me on my toes.

Now I’ve forgotten what I came here to say.

Right, the world outside my window.

To say it’s been a crazy last twelve months is putting it lightly. I’m not one of those people who takes pride in being insanely busy. To me, it just means unnecessary stress, and when I’m stressed I cry. Oh boy do I cry. I cried last night and again this morning. I’ll probably cry tomorrow, too. It’s how I cope. Shopping also helps me cope, but that’s bad, so I’m not going to talk about that. (I have two items to be returned to their respective stores tonight that I’m not going to talk about either).

What I’m saying is that I’m ready for a new season. A slightly slower season. A sit-outside-with-a-book-and-iced-coffee kind of season. A season of teaching my son to ride his bike without training wheels, of watching my husband and son race cars out on the road. A season of park visits and messy popsicle juice dripping down our arm. A season where I turn the computer off at the end of the day and don’t check my email again until the next work day.

I’m ready for the sun.

oof.

Posted: February 22, 2019 by Rachel

I’m not the least bit ashamed to say I’ve been struggling a bit lately. February. Dark, cold, tiring February. I’m not a fan. I’m not the biggest fan of winter overall, actually. One of the best things I ever did was leave Canada for Las Vegas eight years ago. The winters here are much more mild and forgiving, though I feel strange writing this as we come off of two days of heavy (for us) snowfall. You heard me right; I said snow. That photo was taken looking out my front window.

So, February has kind of been kicking my butt. Oof. I feel perpetually tired (I’m talking exhausted once 4pm hits) and my inspiration levels have been steadily dropping. As I’m in the thick of writing my new book (just a little shy of 30k words at the moment) I worry about letting this melancholy get any worse. I’m worried my book will go down the drain.

I know I’m not the only one having these feelings–they’re all over social media and in my inbox and ears too. February is hard on so many of us. I wish I could snap my fingers and make it Spring. Just give me the light. Give me waking up to a bright room. Give me iced coffee and pink lemonade.

Sometimes cooking some of my favorite recipes helps, like this apricot and cheddar chicken melt that Dom can’t get enough of, or this honey sriracha sesame chicken with cauliflower. But, oof, my cooking has suffered too. The other night I made breakfast for dinner: hash browns, turkey bacon and eggs all mixed together. I added salsa verde to mine and devoured it. The boys loved it too. DJ asked for it the next night, and you know what? I made it again.

All of this has just been a long-winded way of saying I’m over you, February. Of course, before I know it it will be the dead of the summer and I’ll be complaining about how much I’m sweating and the very particular way the Las Vegas sun has of feeling as though it’s burning into your skin. But that’s a story for another day.

things I think about at 5:30a.m. on (what happens to be) valentine’s day morning

Posted: February 14, 2019 by Rachel

First, and always: go back to bed. Then… everything else.

I must remember to get heart balloons while DJ’s at school. I did that last year and he remembered, and asked if there would be balloons this year. He has a great memory when he wants to.

Should I change things up now, while it’s early, and use my full name as a writer?

More rain? And while we’re at it: I’m over this winter darkness and am ready for Spring.

I really should try just to have one cup of coffee today.

I’m not anti-Valentines Day but that doesn’t mean I enjoy the bombardment of cheesy instagram posts and awful jewelry ads I’ll be faced with today. #cliche

Is that a headache looming or am I just really tired?

Don’t forget to look for a copy of the illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for DJ’s birthday. Also: see if you can find the second book on sale for mom and dad to give him.

I’m tired, I could go back to bed.

Just 918 words left until I hit the halfway mark of my first draft. Do I have time to do it today?

Where is DJ’s red shirt that he wanted to wear to school today? I really hope it’s not in the wash (when was the last time I did laundry anyway?)

Do I have time to shower before everyone else gets up?

I’m up, so I may as well get working on those 918 words.

I’m tired; I need coffee.

things and thoughts

Posted: January 29, 2019 by Rachel

I spend too much time on Instagram–this I know to be true. But sometimes it has its benefits, like when I came across a quote from Portuguese author Jose Micard Teixerira that so accurately summed up my belief system these days. He said, among many things:

“I no longer have patience for certain things… simply because I have reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism.

I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me, and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate.

I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities.”

I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that happened in 2018, but I grew up. I realized I can’t please everyone, and I shouldn’t have to. I let go of friendships that were doing more harm than good. I learned that self-care is choosing not to argue with anyone committed to misunderstanding you.

I shed a lot of ugly last year. And I’m so much better for it.

The Best Books I Read all Year (the 2018 Edition)

Posted: December 22, 2018 by Rachel

Here are (in my humble opinion) the best books I read in 2018, in no particular order:

PLACES I STOPPED ON THE WAY HOME — I read this book over a 24-hour period in two sittings. When I was done, I typed out a simple, one line review: Review to come when I catch my breath. Well, it took me nearly twenty days to find the words to describe how much I truly ADORED this book. Meg’s words touched me–her hopelessness, her excitement, her love, her loss–in a way that I simply didn’t see coming. She simply took my breath away and will continue to do so each and every time I, rightfully, re-read this beautiful memoir. In fact, the second I finished reading, I flipped back to the front cover and started reading it over again.

P.S. FROM PARIS — I absolutely loved this book. It was funny and quick, and will certainly be looking into his other novels ASAP.

THE GREAT ALONE — To try and wrap my mind around how I feel about THE GREAT ALONE is a near impossible thing. To start, this book was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. This book broke my heart. I spent a few chapters reading while tears streamed down my cheeks. THE GREAT ALONE is compelling, maddening, inspiring and downright terrifying. And oh so beautifully written. I haven’t felt so many emotions from a book in a very long time.

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE — Thought-provoking, timely and full of characters you want to root for.

NEON IN DAYLIGHT — A jaw-droopingly good first novel, Neon In Daylight was full of vibrant characters and beautifully crafted prose.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US — Curveball after curveball after curveball. This book had me guessing and guessing again. A total mind fu*k in the best way.

MY SALINGER YEAR — Described as “a memoir about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century”, My Salinger Year was incredible.


Honorable Mentions:


P.S. The 2016 edition

What I Read: October 2018

Posted: November 1, 2018 by Rachel

What I Read: October 2018

Wow. So, it turns out I haven’t shared one of these posts since March, which definitely bums me out. But, I’m here, and I’m ready to share what I read in October. October was tough. It was a busy month, and when I did have time to read, I had trouble doing so. Nothing kept my attention. Well, except these books, apparently.

What I read in October 2018:

  • YOU  // Technically, this was my second time reading this book, but that still counts. I started watching the new Lifetime tv show, and got about two episodes in before deciding I needed to re-read the book before I watched anymore. And, I have to tell you, YOU was just as good the second time around.
  • WORLDS OF YOU: POETRY & PROSE  // I’m thrilled to have a copy of this on my shelf because not only is it a beautiful cover, the writing was absolutely beautiful as well. If you were to read my copy, you’d see flagged pages and underlined passages, and, for me, that’s the sign of a great book.
  • EVIDENCE OF THE AFFAIR // Well. I’m a big big fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid and was super excited when I heard about this story. It kind of pains me to say that it was just okay.
  • FANGIRL // I’m kind of cheating by including this on the list because I started it months back and only finally finished it yesterday. I thought it was sweet and relatable and very funny.
  • THE DARK BETWEEN STARS // A collection of poetry by Atticus that was incredibly touching.
  • BONE // If you enjoy poetry, this is a must-read.

Read more

Why I Journal

Posted: September 7, 2018 by Rachel

Why I Journal

In my 34 years on this planet, I have written and completed over thirty-two journals, and I often get asked, why. Why I journal. I recently discovered AllSwell (and their adorable notebooks) and immediately followed them on instagram. Recently, I received an email from them (I’d forgotten I’d signed up for their newsletter as well) with the subject line “are you an apology addict?”. I was intrigued, so I read on, coming across this:

People ask if I re-read my journals. I keep them but rarely revisit them… RSVP no, thank you. For me, I release, process and move on — a better version of myself for it. If you read them you wouldn’t be getting an accurate picture of how I feel or who I am. And for me that’s exactly the point, they aren’t intended to be read by anyone, including myself. No apologies necessary.

 

I read that and I thought: BINGO. There’s someone who not only gets it but who could perfectly put into words exactly how I feel about journaling.

It’s a release. A way to process my emotions before I know how I truly feel about something or someone. When I’m having a tough day, I go to my journal and I always come out with a much clearer head.

I journal to flex my writing muscle.

I journal so that I don’t forget the good, but also so that I can learn from the not-so-good.

I journal because it keeps me accountable.

I journal because its the only place I can be me without judgement, without fear. My journal is a dream catcher, an idea incubator, a place to learn about myself.

My journal never looks the same from year to year, but I always carry it with me. There are often times when I have a few minutes to waste, and so I can pull out my journal and gather my thoughts for the day.

**

Now that you know why I journal, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I don’t often come across people who keep journals, so if you do, please comment below and let me know.

How Am I Doing with that Must-Get-Around-to-Doing-that-Soon List?

Posted: August 9, 2018 by Rachel

By sheer, dumb luck I came across a list that I had written two and a half years ago. My MUST-GET-AROUND-TO-DOING-THAT-SOON LIST that I had completely forgotten about. Dare I read it over and see what I can scratch off the list?

My Must-Get-Around-to-Doing-That-Soon List

Book (and take) that vacation to Mexico for our fifth anniversary
Read more classics
Stop comparing myself to others
Publish my second book
Quarterly organization of DJ’s closet
Buy a new journal for 2016 (preferably before 2016 begins)
Try one new restaurant each month for date night
Go back to Bardot for the beet and goat cheese salad
Host a wine and cheese party
Try one of those wine and paint places
Spend a Christmas in Canada
Stop comparing myself to others
Give up caffeine for a month
Give up alcohol for a month
Be more patient
Finish reading The Most of Nora Ephron
Have updated family photos taken
Do something wildly out of my comfort zone

All in all, that’s not so good. But it was a good reminder, and I’m hopeful that if I come across this list again in another two and half years, I can scratch off a heck of a lot more than three things.

I’m curious, though, as to what is on your list, so please share!

parents are funny

Posted: July 10, 2018 by Rachel

I called my parents in the middle of the day today, wanting to remind them about something. My mother answered the phone, her voice full of concern, as I’d just spoken to them yesterday (if I don’t call enough I’m in trouble; if I call too often she thinks something’s wrong). “I just wanted to tell you to watch World Of Dance tonight; Easton’s going to be on it.”

She put my dad on the phone. I was so happy to hear his voice. The number of times I call them and get to speak to my dad alone is likely one in twenty. He told me he’d been reading up on the new car we bought. He rattled off some specs I already knew; it’s likely that I’d told him in the first place.

When I think about Canada, my dad is what I miss the most. I’ve been a daddy’s girl from an early age. (I gravitate towards my father-in-law, too. It’s just in my genes, I suppose). When I think about my childhood, some of my favorite memories are of playing catch on the street with my dad. Tim Hortons trips with my dad. Playing tennis with my dad. I’m thirty-four and I still say, “Hi Daddy” when I first hear his voice.

Today’s phone call didn’t last long; I was staring down a work to-do list that would make the average person go cross-eyed, but it sure felt good to hear my dad’s voice.

I’m not so sure this had a point other than to say that parents are funny, and I constantly wonder what DJ will remember about me the most when he’s my age.

700 Books

Posted: June 19, 2018 by Rachel

There are a lot of truly great things about my job, but among my favorite is meeting our authors. I’ve had June 18th and 19th marked on my calendar for a month; a potential new author and his wife coming into town. We had dinner at a nice steakhouse last night, and met again today for a working lunch.

“How many books have you written now?” I asked.

The author combed his hand over his gray beard, pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and smiled. “Over 700.”

I wish I knew the exact number, but am aware that it doesn’t entirely matter because SEVEN HUNDRED BOOKS. At least.

This is where I had to reel it in. You know: it. That writerly instinct that makes me want to yell out something like: “how do you do it how do you come up with so many ideas do you plot first or are you a pantser how do you find time to edit TEACH ME YOUR WAAAAYYYSSSS.” Just like that—lack of punctuation and all. The good news is that I ended up with the answers to these questions, I just had to sit back and let it happen organically.

My boss and the author left the cafe we met in twenty minutes ago, and here I sit. I said, “I’m going to stay and work for a bit; get everything we discussed down before I forget it.” It’s the truth, but also not. I’m feeling inspired and motivated but also transfixed. I’m motionless with terror and awe in equal parts.

700 books.

1. I have the coolest job.

2. I better get writing