Filed under Gallery

Gallery: Questions Writers Should Ask, Irish Road Trips, and Pseudonym Considerations

Pacific Ocean at San Francisco California
Squeezing all the goodness out of San Francisco ❤

It's official: we have our tickets to Dublin! Things are wrapping up here in San Francisco, and we'll be off over the Atlantic in no time. As with many departures, it's both an exciting and bittersweet time. It's a bit sad to leave so many friends, but I'm so looking forward to all that Ireland holds. If you've been that way and have suggestions of must-sees, let me know!

★ There's nothing quite like pulling bragging rights on your friends' behalves, is there?! You might remember when I went out to celebrate Zoraida Cordova's first book launch. I was proud then, and proud now to see her featured in Cosmo Latina

★ This look at how high school reading lists have changed since 1907 is interesting. I'm more in sync with the 2012 reading list than any other, but I can't say I've read The Crucible. For shame!

★ Writing is a tough business because as a writer, all you want to focus on is the creation part of things. (It's the most fun!) But there's so much more to it than that, and here are a few questions writers should be asking.

★ These photos from an Irish roadtrip are making me antsy to leave. Let's go, already!

★ One of the things my profs harped on (for good reason) was the importance of learning how to learn, and learning how to think. The good news is, reading helps us do that!

★ If you're considering using a pen name, here are a few things to keep in mind when writing under a pseudonym.

This is my last full weekend in the city, and I'm going to get all the goodness out of it that I possibly can! With that in mind, I should add to my must-see request and ask: what should be on my list of last-weekend activities? Leave some of your favorite San Francisco places and activities in the comments. I'd love your suggestions!

Gallery: Elegant Workspaces, Living to be 100, and Resisting Creative Indolence

Downtown San Francisco, California in spring
❤ Hello, lovely ❤

Hallo, you! How's your Friday shaping up? This week has been whisking by with loads of coffee, window-shopping, and a frenzy of activity. I've been keeping up fairly well with my new writing schedule, and I must say that I'm ready for a weekend to stretch out, have brunch (yay!), visit the Academy of Sciences, and dive into the stack of books on my nightstand. Somewhere in there, we'll also be moving (again!) just temporarily until we truly depart for Ireland. It's been a strange few weeks, living out of our suitcases, and I'm so ready for the big departure day!

★ As if Mexico City weren't attractive enough, add this book-laden cultural center... whew. Sign me up!

★ I've been fascinated by Dan Buettner's research on living long and living well for ages, and he doesn't disappoint in his interview with National Geographic. So good!

★ The path of least resistence in creativity can be such a curse!

★ If you've been reading for a while, you know I love Sylvia Plath! This new book on Plath's summer internship withMademoisellein New York looks amazing, and I'm definitely adding it to my reading list.

★ Do you like a well-organized workspace, or a free-flowing, messy space? I'm usually pretty fast and loose with my desk, but Sarah McNally's ideas for cleaning up your office (and these photos!) are inspiring. Let's spruce up our workspaces!

★ I had no idea that Salvador Dali had anything to do with Alice in Wonderland, but take a look at these Dali-in-wonderland illustrations. As you'd expect, a bit disturbing, but beautiful.

The past few weeks of living in more of the heart of the city have been (somewhat surprisingly) great. I love getting up in the morning, grabbing a cup of coffee, and looking at all the art galleries, shop windows, and people as I walk to work. It might be my new favorite! What's been making your day lately?

XO, and happy weekend!

Gallery: Gender-labeling Books, Wind Portraits, and Handwritten Outlines

Colorful bedroom in the Hotel Monaco in San Francisco, California
Home sweet home?

Well! Hello, you! We're at the end of another week, and I've moved out of the apartment and into the lovely space you see above. I can hardly believe we're staying here! For the next few weeks, this place will be "home," and it's good to be settled, momentarily, before the bigger move. When Ryan and I loaded up our suitcases to come here, I struggled to get mine into the car and kept thinking, "What did I pack that's so freaking heavy?" Well. It probably doesn't surprise you that as I packed up my stuff, piling things into "to take" and "to leave" piles, my "to take" stash of books grew to be a bit more than I had intended. Oops! I can say that I only have four books, but two are pretty thick, and I've also got a stash of notebooks—four, also, I think!—packed away. I keep trying to downsize and wondering if I should somehow leave a couple of books or notebooks here, but I really think they're worth their weight!

★ This is a fantastic take on gender-labeling books. Really, read, read, read it!

What if we’re setting these boys up for sexism by telling them that they simply won’t enjoy this novel, no matter how much they like dystopian futures, because the main character is a girl? What does that say about our opinion of boys and their ability to relate to characters, and, moreover, what does that say about our opinion of girls in general?

★ Another look into allllllll the legwork (brainwork?) that goes into fleshing out a novel that we usually don't get to see. (I love inside looks at other people's processes!)

★ We sang "Colors of the Wind," from Pocahontas, in middle school, and I've always loved that imagery! Sophia Collier is taking on that challenge (Can you paint with all the colors of the wind, Sophia?) with her portraits of the wind. So fascinating!

★ How does writing affect your brain?

★ John Green is one amazing writer, and he's talking about why he thinks The Fault in Our Stars has had such success with both YA audiences and... well... A(?) audiences.

I might not be looking forward to lugging my books and notebooks for the hours we'll be travelling, but I know I'll be so happy to have them once we're really and truly settled. What book could you not leave home without? 


Gallery: Dimakaya Island and Spring Storms

Storm up Hyalite near Bozeman Montana
It's springtime. Bring on the greenery and the storms!

Hello from the Big Sky state! These past few days (weeks?) have been just crazy. Just three days ago Ryan and I moved all of our things out of our apartment in anticipation of having to move into a hotel for the next few weeks, after which we'll board a plane with one-way tickets to Dublin. (This is where I give huge thanks to having a boyfriend who's ambitious enough to bike 200 miles in the Davis Double Century, drive back home, and—the next day—pack up furniture and boxes of books, unload, and then reload them into a storage unit. Thank you!) And Tuesday, I left our echoing, empty apartment and took off for the airport and a flight home to Montana to see everyone before I make my leap across the Atlantic. Throw in work and writing and contract work and—just whew! In that whirlwind of activity, my usual gleaning of internet goodness hasn't produced much that I want to share, except for this video as a reminder to all of us (me included!) that the whole world is out there, waiting to be seen. ❤!

DIMAKYA ISLAND from Sarosh Jacob on Vimeo.

Wishing you mountains and oceans and sunlight this weekend!

Gallery: Shunning the Spotlight, Plath's Visual Art, and Villians as Role Models

Colorful leaning houses in San Francisco California

Yesterday, I saw a man on the train scribbling in his notebook, and I wished I were doing the same. In the hecticness that comes with a transition, I've had little time to write or read as much as I'd like. (And to be honest, doing either of those things on the train makes me sick, sick, sick!) Sometimes, I think, you just have to accept that maybe in this moment, things aren't conducive to long hours of creative work, but soon life will settle and you can jump in again. Until then... here we are! :)

★ I love Mo Yan, if for nothing more than the fact that the Nobel laureate wants out of the spotlight and says: "I just want to write, quietly, and do some charity work in secret."

★ Did you know that, originally, Sylvia Plath wanted to be a visual artist? She was so talented, in so many ways.

★ I admit to liking Disney princesses when I was young, but I also liked the villains. No wonder! Instead of being"defined by their sexuality and fascination with pretty objects and cute baby animals," villains are goal-oriented and take part in shaping their futures. Villains: true role models!

★ Astronaut Chris Hadfield really knows how to say farewell to his time on the International Space Station. The shots of earth from the station... gorgeous!


As I pack my things, I've been trying to be more conscious of the city I'll be leaving behind and have taken every opportunity to be out walking and exploring the craziness and beauty of San Francisco.

Happy weekending!

Gallery: Cover Art and Gender Bias, Astronomical Haikus, and Insights on Writing

Skull exhibition at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences

Happy Friday! How's your week been? After a whirlwind of activity this week and some nights lying awake, listening to the cars and the birds and all the night noises, I'm ready for some weekend! Instead of something crazy-exciting, I'll be sleeping in (fingers crossed!), reading, and packing up. That's right! We're actually doing it this time, and I couldn't be happier. Ireland, here we come!

★ Book covers bias us so much and can inform us on our gender biases. Maureen Johnson's coverflip project is amazing—I can't tell you how shocked I am at the books I'd choose or avoid simply based on the gendered appearance of the cover. Check out her essay in the previous link, and sample coverflip artwork here.

★ Why write things that people might not read?

I can’t think of a better answer to the ugliness of life than to bring your keyboard to the bar, to sing a song that no one will hear, to write a story that no one will read.

★ If he were alive today, Shakespeare would be such a hipster!

★ NASA wants your haikus.

★ If you're in need of some advice, these insights on writing better won't hurt!

Have a lovely weekend!

Gallery: Lit-Theory Love, Perspective, and Being an Artist

San Francisco spring day

What a gorgeous day!I don't know how the weather's been for you, but I think it's safe to say that San Francisco's spring has sprung. All I've been wanting to do for the past week is be outside as much as possible—I can't get enough! The fact that we're almost weekend-ready is perfect, and I can assure you that there will be picnicking. I've got a few outdoors plans for tomorrow, as well as some major blog changes that you'll see soon. Exciting!

★ A question I've asked myself: "Who's afraid of a little literary theory?"

★ Need a little perspective? Here's today. Take a peek and see everything else.

★ Reasons to get yourself outside: green spaces boost happiness!

★ Watch this TED talk on being an artist—right now!

Art is about going a little bit nuts.

. . . is not for anything. Art is the ultimate goal.

. . .

Let's be artists, right now.

Now get outta here! Get yourself outside. Make some art. All of that goodness!


We need the tonic of wilderness!

We need the tonic of wilderness
Weekend safari. Coming right up!

No gallery today—I'm kicking you out into the world! Go out, enjoy yourself, and make some discoveries. In the words of Thoreau: "We need the tonic of wildness..."

Yes! Now, go on. Have fun!

Gallery: Beautiful Writing Sheds, Written Monuments, and Advice from Ira Glass and Neil Gaiman

Dropbox Power through chalkboard art

Hello, lovely! Are you here? Did you make it to Friday? Is it time to lounge and get weekend-crazy and book-ridden? It sure is! I have a mountain of books I want to take to Dog Eared Books this weekend so I can stock up on others, and I'm so looking forward to swapping them out for new reads. That, plus the forecast of amazing weather, is enough to make this look like one top-quality weekend coming on. I can't wait for new books, gallons of sunshine, and a burrito date. Things are getting fancy over here. Hah!

★ If I had this writing shed in my backyard, I don't think I'd ever leave!

★ You might want to know what Neil Gaiman has to say about writing. It's concise enough to fit in the palm of his hand.

★ I can't tell you how excited I was to learn that Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son has won a Pulitzer! You can read more about him and his thoughts on writing in my interview with Adam last February.

★ This library is on a mission to create something amazing by having patrons write their own history in blank books which can then be checked out!

"We were really interested in seeing what would happen when we created a new kind of monument,” Strandquist said. “A monument not built out of stone but an evolving, tangible, interactive, collective and sustainable monument to all our histories, regardless of race, class and identity." 

Ira Glass's "Advice for beginners"—one of my favorite encouragements for anyone doing anything—is now a web comic. And a good one!

★ This video with Alan Watts talking about living a good life is amazing. Really, bookmark it for later if you can't watch now!

"Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than to have a long life spent in a miserable way." —Alan Watts

Do you have any suggestions for new books I should snag once I've swapped my old ones out? I'm definitely going to pick up my own copy of The Orphan Master's Son now, and I do have a couple of things on my reading list, but I want to hear what you think!

Happy weekend. Enjoy it!

Gallery: Writing as a Business, Holi Festivals, and the Exhumation of Neruda

Seal Rocks at San Francisco, California
Seal Rocks off San Francisco's coast

Happy, glorious Friday! What've you been up to this week? Scribbling on napkins? Catching disjointed bits of conversation to use in your stories? Or have you been like me, finding references to famous authors all over and finding that no one knows what you're talking about? Hah! This week, I've been heartily reminded that the things we know are not necessarily known by others. Case in point: a friend was supposed to be meeting a guy named William Faulkner yesterday, and when I heard that, I excitedly pointed it out to another friend. "William Faulkner? Ok. Do you know him, or what's the big deal?" was the response. I, crazily excited then, said, "William Faulkner." (pause) "William Faulkner?" (pause) "The Sound and the Fury? . . . As I Lay Dying?" Haha let's just say the point was lost on them, and I learned that I have yet to find my lit-nerd soul mate. :)

★ This made me laugh: If Strunk and White Titled Some Famous Novels.

★ Have you ever been to a Holi festival? Those photos are enough to make me want to go, and NOW!

★ Here's a good look at the intricacies of writing as a business, and how changes in publishing are affecting authors. It's a bit of a downer, but a good read, overall.

★ If you're looking to kick your creativity up a notch, here are a few websites to do just that.

★ I still can't quite believe this... they've exhumed Pablo Neruda's body to see if he was assassinated. Crazy!

What do you say: be my lit-minded, book-nerding, word-loving soul mate? We could be good together! 

Happy weekending, lovelies,