How a Writer Goes Camping…

She stops at her local thrift store to pick up some inexpensive camping togs…

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…then hits REI to stock up on her camping supplies…

…and finally visits Staples to purchase pens and notebooks. Because how can you camp without writing materials?

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I’ll be out of town for a few days to camp with my dad, who has been trying for years to get me to join him on his annual hunting trip in the Colorado mountains. He knows his daughter: it’ll make a great story, Cheryl, says he. Blatant bribery.

But I guess it worked, because I’m going! :) It’s good to have a dad.

😀 Cheryl

Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI Fall Conference: Bruce Coville Wows and Inspires

Coville_Bruce_100 I have a special place in my heart for Bruce Coville’s books. It’s not just that they’re lots of fun—which they are—or that they’re great examples of craft, plotting, and storytelling—which they are. His book Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher saved my life.

This happened a few years ago, when I made one of my overly optimistic cross-country drives from Colorado to Pennsylvania with two kids in tow. Just before Christmas. In horrendous weather.*

After three days of driving and too many hairy moments to recount, we made it to PA late at night, in the middle of a snow storm. We were supposed to spend the night at my sister’s house with her husband and kids because my parents were at the hospital, where my dad had just had surgery. I’ve been to my sister’s house. It’s a large white farmhouse with a red barn only just off the road and, theoretically, it’s not that hard to find. At least, it’s not that hard to find in the daylight. At night, in a snowstorm, in one of the darkest counties in PA, when one’s brain is theoretically addled from WAAAY too many hours on the road, it’s another story. I drove up and down that road without seeing it.

Meanwhile, the snow is getting heavier, my eyelids are dragging, and both kids are awake and pathetic in the back seat.

Jeremy_Thatcher_Dragon%20Hatcher_hc What does this have to do with Bruce Coville, you ask? Well, it was his story, performed by his audio book company Full Cast Audio, that kept me awake and kept the kids and I sane for much of the cross-country drive and for ALL of that stressful night. We listened to it as we searched for my sister’s house. We listened when I finally gave up and headed to my parent’s house, even though I knew it was empty. We listened to it as we slipped and slid our way down their very long, very snowy driveway and I left it on for the kids while I stomped through snow drifts trying to find an open door and, when there wasn’t one, breaking into the house. We listened to it over the next week every time we drove from one house to another, because this was rural PA, where the minimum driving time between any two locations is 25 minutes. We listened to it when the cousins joined us in the car and we needed entertainment (so that I didn’t go crazy in my stressed-out, overtired state.)

So: it was with great interest that I sat down Saturday morning for Coville’s Keynote address. I came to the conference seeking inspiration and encouragement—and he didn’t disappoint. But more on that in a few days…

:) Cheryl

*Yes, I know. The weather is BOUND to be horrendous somewhere along a cross-country drive at that time of year. See overly optimistic, above…

Writing Friends…

bar1_udnr …are the best antidote to writing stress. I met with my writing buddies Chris and Laura at the Huckleberry this week, where we enjoyed freshly-brewed chai and scrumptious breakfast creations like their salmon omellette with fresh herb cream cheese, seasoned potatoes, and buttermilk biscuit, all in this cute lavender building in the Louisville Historic District.

Two hours of talk and food and de-stressing. Yay! We have to do this more often!

:) Cheryl

Inner Mean Girl: Week 4

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This is week 4 of the free online class Inner Mean Girl Cleanse, a class for which I signed up and then promptly decided I didn’t have time for (promptly meaning as soon as I realized the class involved weekly 1-hour calls). But…I’d already signed up and so I’ve continued to get their inspiring emails and links to expert interviews…so I feel like I’m auditing the course :). And this week’s topic feels so applicable to my current life that I figured I’d dive in and share.

Toxin: Unrealistic Expectations
Self Love Antidote: Give Yourself A Break

In case you hadn’t guessed from the sparse postings of late, I’ve been running a little ragged lately. This is just the message I need to hear right now. Or, to get more pointed:

  • It’s okay if the laundry’s not all put away.
  • It’s okay to take a nap and then serve salad for dinner.
  • It’s okay to ask for help from kids and husband.
  • It’s okay to stop and breathe.

Picture 090 I spent time yesterday (the class runs Wednesday through Wednesday) journaling and thinking about their message for the week, with the result that I *did* take a break and serve salad for dinner, and you know what? No one died. In fact, the meal was probably much more pleasant because I wasn’t exhausted and stressed.

This morning, I opened my blog reader to catch up on some reading, and this was the first post I opened: “The Minimalist’s Guide to Cultivating Passion”. In it, guest blogger Cal Newport challenges readers to do less in order to have time for our passions. From there, I ended up on mnmlist.com reading the post “letting go of fake needs”. Hmm. Anyone think there’s a message for me here? 

Even if you missed the beginning of the class, you can find call recordings, inspirational essays, and interviews online at Inner Mean Girl Cleanse. There are also a number of Self-Love Ambassadors who are blogging their journey through the program, like my friend Wendee Holtcamp. Feeling a little stressed, overwhelmed, or like you can’t get everything done? You’ll find it worthwhile to take a look.

:) Cheryl