Organizing and Controlling

A picture post today:


The quote reads:

“When I cannot bear outer pressures anymore, I begin to put in order mybelongings….. As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects.”

-Anais Nin

Anais Nin’s words were the inspiration for my publishing company name (Taste Life Twice), and here she is again, apt.


What have you been organizing and controlling lately? And what outer pressures can you connect it to?


Image property of me

Ague, Bile, Catarrh, Dyspepsia–and Other Household Names

I’ve been reading.

girl in mountain of books

If we’re friends on Goodreads, you’ve probably noticed I read a lot. Which is a good habit for writers. I recently read What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, a reference for the general period I write about: the 19th century.

It’s pretty fascinating. And helpful. One of the themes was the different diseases dealt with, and how little was known about them. Since I myself have been annoyed with not knowing how my own body works, I read avidly, and diagnosed myself with the catarrh*.

Catarhh: a disease in which the head, nose, and throat fill up with mucus due to an inflammation (basically like a cold or mild flu)”

But what about the other ‘household names’ that complete my macabre A-B-C-D? Here, in titbit form, are the explanations, for those who read, or write, Regency, or Victorian, or in-between historical fiction:

Ague: malaria and the chills that went with it. Later generalized to include any similar fever or chills”

Bile, or bilious fever (not in the above book, but an interesting exhibit found here): yellow bile and black bile were two of the four humours in the body. The others were blood and phlegm. All people had all four in the [actual] blood, but the preponderance of one or other of them indicated your personality and general state of health.

Dyspepsia: indigestion. It made one cranky and so the term came to be applied by analogy to crankiness in general.”

And here is a quote from Goodreads using the last one:

“He keeps looking at me so oddly.”

“Oddly? How? Give me an imitation.”

Considering that she had only about a second and a half to do it in, I must say it was a jolly fine exhibition. She opened her mouth and eyes pretty wide and let her jaw drop sideways, and managed to look so like a dyspeptic calf that I recognized the symptoms immediately.

“Oh, that’s all right,” I said. “No need to be alarmed. He’s simply in love with you.”
P.G. Wodehouse


Hope that balances out your humours on this Monday!


*How hilarious is it that the New York Times keeps this content available from their archives so that it shows up on the first search page? 1865!

Image via Odyssey 

5 Things That Spell “Author Life”

An author’s life often involves being torn in many directions:

  • too many story ideas at once
  • the day-job creep
  • the marketing of the books

But sometimes there is a magic moment of balance when all the different directions feel right.

Here are five shots from this author’s life that feel right just about now. Recognize any?

1. Reading anything, anytime, anywhere


You will note two stacks of books by each side of the bed, in addition to three open books in various positions. Morning, noon, or night can find me reading in this, the coziest nook in the house, whether research, health, history, or literature. Fair game.

2. Looking at the world differently


Yes, this is just an over-decorated streetlight base, but look at the colors! And yes, maybe others would notice, but appreciate it? As a rainbow of extraneous joy in an otherwise overcast day? Leave that to a writer (or other artist).

3. Valuing Old Things


Maybe this is particular to historical writers, but man, my knees get weak at something from my favorite era, and often others’ eras, too! Here is a library book I’m picking through for research for Remnants #2, and I’m having to be extra careful with it, as it’s from 1877. They really knew how to make beautiful things.

4. Treating Yo’self

paris pres de parc georges brassens bakery treat pear sponge max poilane selfie

It has oft been said that writing is a solitary profession, and I find this to be very true. More than any entrepreneur’s venture, your work depends on your brain, your willpower, your discipline, and your follow-through. Which means, you need to reward yourself as well. Here’s my reward in Paris: a pear sponge cake from Poilane near Parc Georges Brassens. Heaven.

5. Surrounding Yourself with Excellence


Like an ultra-marathoner whose body is whittled down to only the absolute essentials, a writer who takes care of herself will eventually realize she only has time for people who support her.

No toxics. No drama. No flakes. Some authors have a ‘street team‘ of fans, some have a critique group that goes on for decades, but I am working on my own pool of awesomeness: these lovely people! Captured at my recent potluck; theme: An Everlasting Meal.

So what do you think–do these 5 shots adequately convey an author’s life? If not, what’s missing? Share and comment!

Festival Fun, Contest Winner, & Research Titbits

Thank you to all the wonderful Readers who came out for the NW Book Festival!


It was a BEAUTIFUL sunny DAY, as you can see, and I got to talk to many lovely book-lovers 🙂 Topics included:

  • the Europeans’ love of Harleys
  • the propogandist nature of Stevenson’s Kidnapped
  • the several causes of waves of Highland Clearances
  • the difference between fantasy and ‘modern fairy tale’
  • and of course: HOW SMALL A WORLD IS PORTLAND!

There were a lot of great new covers that I saw, and I’m looking forward to catching up on all the other writers I met.

But the exciting thing for YOU ALL is the result of the drawing for the $30 gift card to Another Read Through bookshop. I am happy to report that Ali MacLean of Vancouver, WA has won!

Thank you again to everyone who came out and enjoyed the sunshine with us local authors. You sprinkle our work with excitement. 🙂

And on a completely different subject: RESEARCH!

I finally received two hard-to-find tomes from my Interlibrary Loan service, and my rewrite is picking up as I pour over them.

First up is Pictou County’s History  (1972). I am loving the details, the organization, and the anecdotes:

“[The Harriet‘s] owner, William Lowden, Master Mariner, a Scotsman who lived fifteen years in Russia before coming to Pictou…”

“A master workman’s tools were a square, a carpenter’s broad axe, a one and one-quarter inch chisel, a saw, a pin mall, and an adze…”

“In the beginning, Gaelic preaching and praise were given priority in the Kirk and English in the Secession churches…”

“…[religious] bigotry was an aspect of the white man’s civilization that the Indians, as with white man’s diseases, could have done without.”


What, these don’t stir your blood and make you want to jump into a chair and start writing?!?

Well, we have been called a savage breed

“…writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camaraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels.”

Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm