Birthday, Indie Bookstores, and a Money Workshop

shook twins album butterfly

My anthem lately, from the Shook Twins’ Shake:

“What are you gonna say when they ask you why
You chose to live this way in your short short time?”

Short, short time is RIGHT! What we do with our time shows what our priorities really are. Ahem. March and April sped right by me, and the day and a half I spent editing my current book in Tillamook, OR seems a lifetime away. However, I did get a few lines of research going for Remnants 3 since then, including reading:

British Colonial Government after the American Revolution, 1782-1820

and Booze: A Distilled History

Flummoxed? Good! Keeps you guessing… 😉

All my spring doings have pushed me right up against a birthday. I’ll be celebrating this weekend by going on a comping trip, which I haven’t done since, oh, high school?!?! Looking forward to it, and 2000s Night at the Crystal, which is going to be my follow-up. (SO good, right??)

Then Taste Life Twice will be taking its show on the road again (not far), for the following events:

bookstoreday indie logo 2018 modified litsyIndependent Bookstore Day:

Saturday April 28th, 11-6 PM

This is the day to support your #local independent bookstore. Please know that these are mostly precarious operations hanging on by the skin of their teeth and the strength of their convictions.

Part of your community. Payers of local taxes. Donaters to local schools.

Please acknowledge that cheapest, fastest books aren’t always best for the world: support your local #indie shops.

In Portland, stop by where I work! Another Read Through (3932 N. Mississippi Ave), 11 AM -6 PM! There will be free swag, there will be refreshment–mental and culinary–and the community spirit that all indie bookstore owners are striving for will be there for all.

So come on down, buy a book and meet your neighbors.


I’m up next for Sunday Sessions:

Sunday May 6th, 3-4 PM

I’ll be back at Vintage Books (6613 Mill Plain Boulevard) in Vancouver, WA! I did a setting workshop for them last year which was really fun. This year I’m giving a workshop on Money & Writing: Supporting Your Dream & Making It Pay. I’ll talk about three different modalities of writing I’ve experienced, and touch on budgeting while writing (sounds kind of like Driving While Intoxicated, doesn’t it?).

I’d love to have you join me across the river for a strategy session!

Let’s see…Birthday, Bookstores, and Money… let me see if I can think of another way those three themes intertwine…LOL!

10 Reading-Related Habits

As an author, I take it as a given that I should be reading, widely and deeply. This is a rather convenient ‘should.’

crossroads of should and must ella luna illustration

claire beauchamp fraser outlander catriona balfeThis is in addition to the Must Read command my brain gives me a dozen times a day, whether to sate curiosity, escape worrying about a life problem, or follow a beloved character’s adventures.




gail carriger parasol protectorate octopus

How else does reading shape and influence my life, though? Books get their tentacles into many aspects of a reader’s habits: how and where to eat, for example, or the aesthetics of one’s apartment. Here are a few of my idiosyncracies, readers. How do yours compare?


  1. Home Décor: every available surface holds books somehow. The shelves above the microwave. The headspace above the dryer. The custom window-seat with hinged lids. And aaaaalllllll the bookcases.
  2. Productivity: reading the current book is a reward for tasks completed. This means that as an adult I have far fewer long stretches of deep-dive reading and more hour-long indulgent stints.
  3. Schedule: Due to the above, I almost never read in the morning, my most focused and productive time slot, but almost always do before bed, which is the worst time for me to attempt to accomplish anything.
  4. Addiction: I try as best as I can, but sometimes I still find myself buying armfuls of books when I am in austerity-budget mode, and have to merely shrug my shoulders and say, “I’m allowed a vice, right??”one does not simply boromir meme lotr
  5. Decluttering: due to the above, when I declutter periodically, instead of kitchen gadgets or shoes, my cast-offs are always books, and from time to time, clothes.
  6. Friends/ Lovers: If you don’t read, do I really have enough in common with you to hold a conversation?i love lucy friends read together
  7. Rest: Since I compulsively read lettering within visual range, if I want to meditate, I have to close my eyes. It’s a weird feeling to try not to read and interpret the signs when one goes on a walk. You try it and tell me if you see what I mean!
  8. Carry-all: As a writer, I always try to have a pen with me, for when inspiration strikes. As a reader, I always try to have a book with me, for when boredom (e.g. the waiting room) strikes! So, I don’t usually leave the house without a bag. If I do, I don’t carry a wallet either, and generally am back after an hour of exercise in the fresh air (like today).
  9. Politics: Perhaps I became an early environmentalist partly due to the feelings of guilt surrounding the acres and acres of board-feet I was consuming in paper form…
  10. Gift-giving: What will you get from me? Likely, a book!

margaret pinard costume grasping root book

In what other ways does being a reader alter the shape of your life?

…And the photos above are symbols of some of my favorite books of all time. Click on their links for my reviews on Goodeads. 😉



Images via ofundisputedorigin, PinterestParasol Protectorate Wiki, Pinterest, DavidBruceSmith, and Author

Why Writers Write…and All the Rest

(We have two events coming up, at OHS in Portland, and Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA! See details below)

The book is released!

And my spirit feels like it has been released as well.

margaret pinard grasping root launch pdx another read through

As I drove home after the launch party for The Grasping Root, I felt valued. All sorts of warm fuzzies from friends made me feel seen and my work validated.

‘Two years of soul sweat,’ as I said, and most of the toil invisible to others.

But this brief flare of glamour and clamor and attention is not why I write.

No, I write because it fills me up. This community gathering and learning and celebrating is what makes all the rest of the work worthwhile:

  • the months of self-doubt while making drastic editing changes
  • the frustratingly repetitious work of formatting the manuscript
  • the constant reevaluation of one’s own abilities when forecasting promotional campaigns months into the future
  • the tedium of reworking one’s biographical blurb to fit everyone else’s needs

While you’re in that rabbit hole of creation, you have a goal. (This goes out to the NaNoWriMos out there!) It is the light at the end of the tunnel, where others pick up your book, their eyes light up, and they tell you they loved when the MacLeans sing together, or when Alisdair gives a poignant reminder of their old home, or when Muirne decides to go out on her own to resolve her own flawed understanding…

Yes! Characters have flaws! Just like we do! And that is why historical fiction is my favorite way to show people themselves. It’s a little removed, the conflicts are different but the same, the inner struggles are tweaked but recognizable, age-old dilemmas. And the triumphs give us hope.

I hope.

Here’s to you, reader, who helped me see the light at the end of this tunnel and helped birth another book.

There will be a Goodreads giveaway for this new book as a thank you! Starts November 27th.

I will be one of 90 authors at Oregon Historical Society’s Holiday Cheer event! Turning 50 this year, it is a wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with Oregon authors of all genres. Talk is free, books are not!

  • Sunday, Dec. 3rd, 12-4 PM
  • 1200 SW Park Ave

The next public event for The Grasping Root will be held at Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA:

  • Saturday, Dec. 9th, 1-2 PM
  • 6613 E Mill Plain BLVD
  • Co-hosting with Lars Hedbor, author of the Tales from a Revolution series!

The Grasping Root is available in paperback at Another Read Through Bookstore,  and can be ordered through other bookstores or Amazon. Ebook copies are available through Smashwords and Kindle. It will soon be available from Multnomah County libraries, too!


Photo credit April Lampert

Samhain, Giving Up, & The Grasping Root Launch


It is one week since I resolved the last edit for The Grasping Root, folks, & since I am the The Last Word on these things, that means it’s…

grasping root remnants book cover


How did I get from my last post to this one, you ask? I’ll tell you.

  • Pressed PAUSE and spent time with family.
  • Eliminated things in my life that needlessly complicated it (one cat, several boxes, including 20-year-old letters passed at summer camp Lac de Bois)
  • Read a lot (check out the surge in Read Books on my Goodreads!)

I was getting real fed up with the mantra, “Just Keep Going.” So I decided that what I needed was what I wanted. Social time. Alone time. Cooking time. Practicing self-love instead of driving myself to exercise like I should.

I can see I lost some of you with the phrase ‘practicing self-love’–hang in there.

Magically, those 124 decisions I had to make about word choice and sentence construction flew by. They were set in perspective. My inner samurai sliced through the Resistance without attachment.

The same day, I started formatting. Tediousness ensued. Two days later, I sent off details to the cover artist for the paperback and began the steps for the publicity campaign I planned–oh, five months ago.

But now it’s happening!

The click-click-click of the roller coaster inching up and over the zenith is now definitely whooshing into the thrilling part of the publication process, where things wizz past and you forget what you’re supposed to do and who you’re supposed to be.

As my friend April reminded me, even writers are subject to the cycle of death and rebirth, ups and downs, giving up and letting go to gain something new.

let go or be dragged proverb zen hot air balloon

SO. Future steps:

I’m still hoping to arrange pre-ordering for these last couple weeks of waiting. If I do, I’ll be entering everyone who pre-orders into a giveaway contest! Free money, free candy, free books! Sign up for the newsletter to be in the virtual Room Where It Happens.

Goodreads will host a giveaway for The Keening starting Oct 21, so spread the news to those who would love this series about a Scots family in 1822 with some hard-core grit! After that, I’ll put The Grasping Root in for a contest too. 🙂 Connect on Goodreads and follow my author page for updates!

And the party you’ve all been waiting for…


  • Where: Another Read Through Bookstore, Portland, OR
  • When: Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, 7-8 PM
  • What: Samhain rituals! Scottish food! White Elephant Giveaways! Bringing a new book into the world and celebrating two years of soul-wringing work <3

See you there.


Images via me, ShinyStarrlight

What to do when you lose the magic

Warning: No easy solutions appended.

I’ve been feeling the loss of magic in several areas where I usually excel at conjuring: walking, cooking, writing. I usually love getting lost in a character’s journey. I feel satisfied with myself when I walk a few miles instead of using my car. I pat myself on the back when I put together an entree involving pantry staples, leftovers, and just that dash of magic that makes a dish delicious.

magic cooking illustration penelope dullaghan

But recently, these pleasures have lost their sheen.

The editing work gets done because I’m on a schedule and people are waiting for me. Or it doesn’t.

The cooking gets done if I manage to curb spending and snacking cravings, but it doesn’t give me that I-care-about-myself-therefore-I-cook feeling.

The walking gets to be more tiresome, as in lugging bags back up the hill from the farmers’ market and feeling drained, not charged with the healthy produce possibilities.

There seems to be in each of these examples a magic that is lost. A sort of pride-in-accomplishment result that has suddenly disapparated and left me with no motivation to take these higher roads.

undine arthur rackham illustration lost magic

This is called depression.

For walking, I’m not worrying about it for the moment. I’m driving more for work anyway. It’s a higher bill for gas each month which hurts my tree-hugging soul as well as my checkbook, but I can’t focus on this.

For cooking, I started replacing one meal a day with a protein shake–Soylent–in the hope that this would free up brainpower and motivation for making at least two healthy meals for myself per day. It’s helped considerably in the past six weeks.

But for writing…it’s different. Because it comes from such a personal place, it’s hard to dropkick something into starting after it’s become stuck. I’ve even lapsed on Morning Pages. Where I used to be able to summon the concentration for editing merely with setting (table, blanket on chair, pages, laptop) or sufficient anxiety-quieting props (tea mug, pretzels, music)…

It just doesn’t work.

I watch YouTube videos. I sort out finances. I clean the sink. I lay on the floor on a pillow and fall asleep. I deal with my health insurance, for god’s sake.

What am I avoiding? Is it that day, the facing of a work not yet worthy to see the light of day? Is it the editor’s comments, which seem less and less to understand my characters’ background?

Or is it the long term goal, launching the new book, and having nothing left to hide behind?

Whatever it is, it’s taken the magic out of the process.

I need something else to temporarily replace my own motivation.

Ice cream?

A meal out?

The trouble is, enough layers of these temporary substitutes and you get cumulative effects that you can’t easily wash away: debt and weight. They become, in the present, yet another threat of unworthiness.

What I want is for someone to tell me what a good job I’m doing, and that I don’t have to keep up the brave face. But that’s external. What can I do for myself?

What to do?

Move. If running in the morning isn’t happening, I roll around on my bed, stretching the spine and the big muscles. I do my chiropractor’s prescribed exercises (oh yes: side effect of depression is bodily pain, easily manifested by Psychosomatic Me). I take 5-minute dance breaks from work. I watch Yoga with Adriene’s videos, particularly for Upper Back Painfor the Service Industry, and the Rinse.

Be still. Say no to the endless demands on your time, including but not limited to: taking out your minuscule recycling container, cleaning your bathtub, going out for a carton of milk, scanning social media, answering emails, popping joints, reading books you don’t enjoy, shaving, constantly reaching for your phone.

Instead, say yes to things that make room in your heart: good movies, good books, good times with friends.

friends april nesa

Spend time with good people. Not energy vampires. Not superficial acquaintances. Not people who may be good for your career. Ask for help from those people whom you trust, whom you’ve had deep conversations with, who know what an emotional toll feels like.

I went to a kickoff potluck for the Wayfinders Academy this weekend with a friend. It gave me all sorts of deja vu for when I was in Public Allies: the inside jokes, the feeling of being in a crucible, the special cheerleading provided by loved ones for your journey, and the feeling of having an openness, a kindness, a trusting nature.

Thirteen years after my PA experience, I feel the loss of that hope. I realize that it is another type of magic lost, to no longer have that feeling of possibility, of loving kindness. Now it is responsibility, obligation, and the shoulds which crowd in on me just as heavily as when I left Washington DC.

Where is the path out of this lost place? I remind myself of a few things.

Writing is what I want to do.

Success doesn’t come quickly.

This, too, shall pass.

I described the feeling to a friend recently as being suddenly outside the house of your life. You can look in the window and see the life you used to lead: commitments, joys, habits, goals. But you are outside amid a howling gale, where none of those things inside matter anymore. How do you apparate back inside, where you have control, and your effort matters once again?

Step by step.

Bite by bite.

Word by word.


Do you have comments or suggestions? Chip in below. Regular book launch programming will resume in the next post, we hope!


Images via pinterest, terriwindling