Arm the cats before you arm the teachers.

DON’T ARM THE CATS. Please. I beg you. I know some of y’all think we should force our teachers to be peace officers (do they get additional security salary?), and probably next will be arming our toddlers. But here’s my supposition. If cats would murder each other for no apparent reason–without guns–what would happen if we armed the everybody and their dogs?

I bring this up, because the latest thing around Chez Frazier is that Marlowe Badger Kitty–aka the Troublemaker is getting his comeuppance.

Marlowe is beautiful (and I love him) but he is also a certifiable, Watch List jerk. Just ask Ziggy the White Wizard Kitty.

Atticus Ninja Kitty (who is only a troublemaker with snakes, gophers and full-grown deer. And some people if he deems them unfit to step foot on the property) has decided to thug-up on Marlowe while he’s sleeping and punch him in the face.

At the initial face-punch, Marlowe leapt up, did a slobbering mid-air spin (a formidable feat considering his size) did his little “What the hell?” purr-meow, shocked, appalled and no longer asleep. I could almost hear Atti say, “That was for the White Wizard, you dirty rotten face-slasher. Nobody picks on old men!”

The boxing matches started about a week ago.

Everything seemed normal. Or as normal as it gets around here.

Marlowe was nestled into his little cat bed, tucked his beautiful, black and white duchess-faced nose into one of his enormous, fluffy white paws, dreaming his kitty dreams.

I know this, because that’s where I left him to go write in the living room. It was Bodhi the Wonder Dog Border Collie who alerted me that danger was afoot. To be more accurate, danger was a-pussy-foot.

I followed Bodhi back into the bedroom, saying, “What’s up Bodhi Doghi?”

And I saw what could potentially be an Active Shooter situation if either cat had been armed.

I told Bodhi to stand down. For the moment. “Yeah, buddy I don’t know what they’re doing,” I told him. “We’re all stressed out. Break it up if claws came out, brotherly neck-bites become bloody. Or if one of them pulls a pistol.”

Atti swaggered right up to his brother (no sneaking, butt-wiggling or pouncing) and punched his brother-cat eight in the kisser.

When I say Atti *punched*, it’s because no claws were out, and Atti’s  little paw was actually balled up in a little furry fist and just let Marlowe have it. All of it. Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Other the initial yelp (yes, it was a yelp) of surprise, there was no hissing or spitting–no Game of Thrones Red Wedding nonsense going on. Just two brothers, sitting on their haunches, smacking each other about the head and neck.

Now it’s a regular show, kind of like Turner Classic Movies, nobody knows the schedule, and I’m not sure I even know the rules.

Atti casually strolls by, makes note if his brother is sleeping, and then just full-on clocks him.

I get it, Atti. Wouldn’t be so satisfying to just haul off and punch somebody in the puss? And you know I mean puss like a face–not the D.Strump kind.

I’m making a list of people for which I’d dearly love to punch in the face. Not strangers, but folks I genuinely (and rightfully in my opinion) just need a reality check.

We’re learning a lot from the Florida kids if we’re paying attention. I know we’re all exhausted. And I don’t plan on punching anybody in the face.

Probably . . .

Because now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure there are folks who think I need a good sock in the snoot, too.

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Knock You Naked Salsa: A walk on the wild side . . .

Wrangling baby tigers, swimming with jaguars and interviewing three Texas governors—

And now I’m hungry . . .

with the pictures to prove it—Kit Frazier admits she’s participated in some once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

“If you see a chance, take it,” says Kit. “And while I’ve done—or participated—in some amazing things, the one I’m proudest of is when I meet readers who tell me my books make them laugh. Especially during tough times.”

As the managing editor of a regional magazine, I Kit says she’s met some of the most interesting and at times, eccentric people. “I love writing about Austin, Lake Travis and Central Texas, but the newspaper that publishes the magazine frowns on fiction, my first love. So, obituary writer Cauley MacKinnon, my alter ego was born.”

Cauley is the hell-on-high-heels obituary writer in Scoop (Midnight Ink, Sept. 2006) and Dead Copy (May 2007), A MacKinnon Christmas (Nov. 2009), and the upcoming Morgue File.

Migas!“This is the hardest, most emotional book I’ve ever written,” Kit says. “Cauley has misgivings she’s known Detective Jim Cantu her whole life–or she thought she did.

“He’d been a savior to the young girl who’d witnessed the murder of her father. But when her childhood hero guns down a man in cold blood and leaves his pregnant wife and three children behind, Cauley’s got a choice. Destroy the legend she’d grown to love–or find the man she never really knew?”

Kit’s blog (www.kitfrazieronwriting.com) is just the beginning of her adventures, with foundations laid for her YouTube channel on writing, publishing and publicity, along with a vlog with her eccentric, ridiculously funny friends. “Kind of like Sh*t Southern Women Say), centered on the outrageous lives of fallen Southern Belles and the men they play with and stay with,” Kit says, “And of course, the men who just flat out need killin’.”

Email Kit at kitfrazier@gmail.com.

Kit’s Knock You Naked Central Texas Salsa

  • 4 ripe tomatoes and quartered (I use Roma, but use what you’ve got)
  • 1 Vidalia onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded (If you’re more adventurous and your tongue can take it, substitute 1-2 habanero or serrano peppers.
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 15 ounce can crushed san marzano tomatoes
  • 5 ounce can diced green chiles (mild, medium, or hot, and I often use poblano or Hatch chilies when they’re in season)

 

  • Note: You can add 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro. (I don’t, because some folks have a genetic reaction to cilantro, that makes it taste like dish soap)

Bring it all together:

  1. Place the fresh tomato quarters, onion quarters, garlic, peppers, lime juice, cumin, sugar, and salt (and cilantro if you’re so inclined) in your favorite food processor and pulse those babies until they’re coarsely crushed to your taste.
  2. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and green chiles. Give it a few more pulses until mostly smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I do serve with fresh, restaurant-style white tortilla chips, but I also use this salsa on eggs,

A walk on the wild side . . .

in migas (scrambled eggs with tortilla chips) and just about anything that needs a little kick.

 

*Note: If your salsa’s a little too spicy—don’t drink water—it just makes the heat worse. Drink some cold milk or eat some yogurt! Your tongue’ll be cooled down in no time.

 

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Reclaiming Valentine’s Day.

VALENTINE’S DAY. A made up holiday heralded in with jewelry commercials featuring

Award-winning short story about Austin Romance for the jaded. On sale now for $1.99!

cheesy jewelry (Jane Seymour anyone?) and *chocolate* diamonds–good marketing for the brown diamonds that nobody wanted.

This year, I’m reclaiming Valentine’s Day. My ex insisted we get married on Valentine’s Day so I’d remember our anniversary. I sometimes still forgot *and I’m not going to get into it, but yes, the divorce-that-wouldn’t-die drags on*.

Because I don’t own a lifetime supply of Brain Bleach, I’m rebranding my own Valentine’s Day tradition.

I’m sending small little reminders of affection to some of the people in my life that mean the world to me.

I sent  a completely unromantic John Wayne calendar to First Reader and a little something-something to mail to my favorite five-year-old. I love to send him *mail* because you should see this kid’s face light up over mail. Yours, his, the neighbors–doesn’t matter. It’s MAIL!

I’m also taking a carload-full of leather coats, beautiful sweaters and books to the women’s shelter, because who needs to reclaim Valentine’s Day more than these women?

Valentine’s Day should be more like Halloween (and it kind of is). Optional and maybe fun.

This year, I’m ignoring the anniversary and reclaiming the day. I’m dressing up the dog, doing a small splurge on myself, and meeting some girlfriends for dinner. Do something different. Invite folks over for dinner, send a little kid some mail. And call your mama.

 

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Thoughts on Super Bowl *snowflake* ads: Snowflakes are patriotic, too.

I WASN’T SURPRISED when the Twit-o-sphere began bashing “Snowflake” Super Bowl ads last night. After all, the State of the Nation is divided. But I’m proud to be a snowflake.

When I a little girl, I got a lot adult-eye rolling with tutting over my tearful sniffling

Yes. I bleed red, white and blue. And snowflakes are making a stand.

and snuffling over everything from three-legged dogs to Christmas coffee commercials about soldiers coming home. Now I get friend-eye rolling.

Yes. I probably am “over-sensitive” snowflake.

And if I thought I bawled my eyes out over last year’s Budweiser ad with the puppy forging his way home, and his Clydesdale big brothers who had his back, it was nothing compared to this year. This year, the beer company canning water sent me into tear-overdrive.

While I love Austin-based GSD&M ad agency (the brains behind the Don’t Mess with Texas anti-littering campaign), I think they missed the point this year, dissing on the Bowl ads for not being funny enough. Sorry pardners. I think my favorite marketeers are out of touch with what’s going on in our country.

A lot of us are upset. And apparently jaded.

Twitter went ugly on Dodge’s MLK’s voice-over for Ram pickups. Sorry, Twitter Trolls. I loved it.  When the country’s racial flame is fanned by a thumb-happy president, I’m thrilled some of our corporate citizens are taking a stand.

And when we, as a country, have turned our backs on Puerto Rico–a US territory, btw, Budweiser began packing water. Way better than pitching paper towels to a waterlogged population.

And Hyundai supporting cancer research? Be still my heart.

While some of the ads were cute (I’d crawl across broken glass for Peter Dinklage), cute wasn’t what got me last night.

It was hope. If the Supreme Court says corporations now have personhood, it gives me hope that some of that personhood has stepped up to embrace corporate responsibility.

Many of the ads were a statement on our State of the Union. Yes. Dodge was selling hopped up trucks. But they were also making a stand, and a statement, on what so many of us are feeling in a divided country.

My mother, Betty Frazier, a USAF chief master sergeant, and my dad, Stephan Frazier, a USAF full-bird colonel, instilled in me love, honor and a sense of patriotism that rises above the fray.

So yes, when Challenger, the bald eagle flew the stadium, I sniffled and snuffled. And to this day my heart beats a little faster at The Star-Spangled Banner.

I watched the Super Bowl this year while live-chatting with First Reader. And he knew I was going through a box of Puffs Plus. He put it perfectly. The leadership around here doesn’t have a lock on patriotism.

Snowflakes are patriots, too. Our Constitution includes all of us. There’s a reason we put our hands over our hearts and solemnly swear, “United we stand.”

And you know what they call a lot of snowflakes banding together? An avalanche. And as Jon Snow said, “Winter is coming . . .”

See y’all at the polls.

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Writing Stall: Black, Blue & Red Rule Enforced. If you’re not broken, bleeding or in need of bail money, do not knock.

OKAY. I’M NOT so much blocked as stymied with a scene that’s been giving me trouble. First problem is, I’ve got too much going on. And while, yes, it’s funny, it doesn’t move the plot. It’s going to get axed into a blood bath that’s going to a visceral as the Game of Thrones Red Wedding. But I’ve made up my mind to get my sticky little fingers off of it. For now. And I’ve been fretting with it, yelling at the characters and rewriting  I did the XXX to do a search/find, and  move on, otherwise I’m going to be chasing my *tale* for two more weeks.

And if you’re really suffering writer’s block (or running in circles like me) here are a few things you can do to get over it:

When it comes down to it, First Drafts are the blue collar work of powering through and getting done. Start hacking away. Begin trying stuff. Sometimes, the quirkier, the better. The trick is find something that works for you.

  • Get outside. Go for a walk, throw a stick for the dog, watch your cats play ice hockey.
  • Eliminate distractions–I’ve affixed a sign on the door to my Writing Cage (yes, I call it a Cage: Black, Blue & Red Rule Enforced. If you’re not broken, bleeding or in need of bail money, do not knock.
  • Use a different side of your brain. I paint, do home improvements, write haiku. Whatever works for you.
  • Change your environment–to to a little coffee shop, a crowded mall for people watching–whatever works for you. I used to like to go to my little island, aptly named Cauley Island in honor of my heroine. I can’t go there anymore because Ex is still there with his Next Ex Wife.
  • Read a book.
  • Write longhand.
  • Listen to music (try classical or jazz to mix it up).
  • Brew some coffee or tea.
  • Create a routine. It’s like The Field of Dreams–If you build it, they will come.
  • Spend time with someone who makes you feel good.
  • Brainstorm ideas with writer buddies.

Forward motion is critical. You need to generate momentum to get out of your funk.

For right now, I’m going for my silver bullet solution–forget prose for now and go for dialogue that moves the story along. It’s kind of like screenwriting. Try it.

You can write. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Just type a few words. They don’t have to be good (all first drafts suck). As Nora Roberts, one of the most prolific writers I know, says you can fix a broken page. You can not fix a blank page.

 

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How #MeToo Took down an Olympian predator. I wonder who will *examine* the doctor first. In prison . .

I WISH THEY’D quit calling Olympic events Women’s Gymnastics and call it what it is–

Gabby Douglas, you are a real champion. Thank you for your corage.

Girl’s Gymnastics–Gold Medal Winner Dominique Moceanu is 14-years old, for heaven’s sake. And while it’s a little to late for Larry Nassar to zip up his pants and keep his creepy fingers to himself.

I wonder who’ll give Nassar is first physical after he turns over his shoelaces and gets to spend the rest of his life in Prison Orange. 

Nassar was the team doctor for USA Gymnastics for decades. Back in 2016, a woman filed a criminal complaint against him, saying he sexually abused her as a teenager. Since then, more than 150 women have come forward with similar stories. Many are athletes, including US Olympic gymnasts. Last year, Nassar pleaded guilty to several counts of sexual assault. Over the past week, almost all of his victims let him have it at his sentencing hearing.

Judge Aquilina (my new favorite judge) sentenced him to 40 to 175 years in prison. That’s on top of 60 years he already got on child porn charges. And next week he’s up for more sentencing for other charges.

While many men are cowering beneath their collective desks waiting for the other spike heel to drop, USA Gymnastics faces a reckoning over how and why Nassar was able to assault so many athletes under its watch for decades. You know why these men have been criminally carrying on this way for decades? Because for years, male doctors have poo-pooed women’s cries for help. Just like some American’s poo-poo tRump’s filthy attitued–and mouth–as “Locker room talk.”

Three board members resigned this week. The US Olympic Committee is calling on the remaining members to clear their desks. Several companies have pulled out as sponsors. And the NCAA said it’s investigating Michigan State, where Nassar also worked and treated athletes. Michigan State’s president resigned.

When one man can abuse more than 150 girls, and yes, they are GIRLS,  for decades, the problem runs deep. At least some of these women are getting justice, but this isn’t the last you’ll hear of this.

I’m certainly not saying this to all men–my male friends have spoken out publicly with outrage and sympathy for not only the high profile women and girls who are finally being heard. And for those who are calling #MeToo a Witch Hunt?

Fair notice, men who can’t keep their hands to their sides and their Docker’s zipped. I hope you’re running scared . . .

 

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Dogs–the best medicine. And how you can both live longer. And happier.

DOGS ARE AWESOME. Seriously. Take any situation, add a dog and it transforms into

Dogs. Making life better one doggie kiss at a time . . .

instant awesome. A big puddle of mud? We avoid it. But add a couple of dogs? Instant entertainment. And possibly a YouTube video that’ll break the internet.

Bodhi Doghi keeps me from being critically introverted. When I take Bodhi  out and about, people stop and smile, say hello and ask if they can give him a little skritch. Bodhi and I’ve made a new friend, and I’m not such a recluse.

Dogs can be a financial benefit–hear me out on this: When I took Tahoe the Wonderdog to my booksignings, I typically had more than 40 people lining up to say hello to my dog. And buy my books. If you’ve ever held a booksigning without a dog, you may get three people who don’t avoid eye contact, and one of those three just want to know where the bathroom is. And dogs in vlogs, dogs in blogs, dogs in Youtube videos automatically up your subscribership.

Bodhi also makes me eat better. Many of y’all know I’ve got an eating disorder that started when I was suicidally depressed. I just flat out stopped eating and nearly died. Not because I wanted to be skinny, but because I was clinically depressed.

Enter Bodhi and his fresh meat and vegetable diet.

Because he’s a Border Collie, he won’t eat alone, and he usually takes a bite of broiled brussel sprouts when I take a bite of brussel sprouts. Is he following me? Nope. He’s leading me. Border Collies are smart. And Bodhi’s smarter than me.

And if I would never not feed him three times a day, it stands to reason he’d prefer I eat, too.

When we were still in our lakehouse, Bodhi Doghi and I used to swim and dive and play water-fetch for at least an hour every day. Being outside in the fresh air, getting daily exercise, and well, having fun, made us both happier and healthier. And made writing much easier. And better . . .

A Harvard University recently conducted a study and found that just by owning a dog, it not only has the ability to make you happy but it can make you healthier.

Just petting your dog has the ability to lower your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, making you calmer and more mindful. Owning a dog for those who are isolated within their homes (like most writers I know) forces us to get out of the house (dogs have to potty, ya know). And we all need exercise.

And 41% of North Americans today  have a dog–as opposed to the French, where nearly everyone has a dog, and sometimes their dogs have their own dog. And French dogs are healthier than American dogs, just as French people are by-and-large healthier than Americans–30% of Americans are obese, compared to 9.4 of our French cousins across the pond. With obesity comes diabetes, and an increase in medical costs and earlier death rate.

The BARF diet for dogs! *better than it sounds*

Sadly, we’re passing those bad traits off to our dogs.

And we have to start looking around the world at these statistics.

In North America, the obesity epidemic is up 60% as animals are plagued with obesity, and that statistics continues to climb.

And cancer.  One in two dogs today is diagnosed with cancer. And it’s getting worse. In the 70s, dogs used to live to be 17. Today, they’re only living to be 11. And the Golden Retriever itself is only living to be nine or ten.

When the Broad Institute conducted an extensive study with cancer, which showed that although 10% of cancer is genetic, 90% are the results of lifestyle and environmental factors, the things that are around us.

Since we can’t do much about the 10% genetic-thing, we can greatly influence diet, exercise and relationships.

Racing greyhounds and arctic sled dogs have eaten raw food diets for . Extending those feeding practices to the family pet is a more recent idea, proposed in 1993 by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst. He called his feeding suggestions the BARF diet, an acronym that stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. And I’m sorry, but a BARF diet for dogs? It’s just awewome.

Billinghurst suggested that adult dogs would thrive on an evolutionary diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated: Raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps. Grain-based commercial pet foods, he contended, were harmful to a dog’s health–caveat here–talk to your vet before changing your dog’s diet and definitely ask your vet before feeding Fido bones–and avoid pork and chicken bones.

While some veterinarians disagree, as does the FDA. The risks of raw diets have been documented in several studies published in veterinary journals.

Potential benefits of the raw dog food diet that supporters tout include shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, higher energy levels, and happily, less poop to scoop.

Of course, if you’re going this route, you need to be aware (and wash your hands) from the bacteria in raw meat and some other raw foods. Research reliable sources and sites, and talk to your vet, and if you decide to go this route, read up on how to introduce the new diet gradually.

Since Bodhi and I are both eating better, getting out in the world and getting more exercise (and interaction), we’re both happier. And healthier.

 

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Friends are the family we choose for ourselves

IT’S BEEN A rough couple of years for most of us, and I don’t know what I’d do without

Because, yeah.

my friends, particularly my female friends. Friendships come in all shapes, sizes and species–and they often from unexpected places.

Most of my friends come from commonalities–writer’s groups, Humane Society volunteers and Facebook.

In fact, three of the women I’ve met on Facebook I’ve met in real life, and they stepped up in big and unexpected ways when my life started falling apart–in the space of one year, my mother and sister died less than three months apart, and while I’d been planning to leave my husband three years before I had the guts to do it, he took the opportunity of my mother’s death to make it real.

I started seeing a good shrink five years ago, and she finally kept me after our hour was done, and said, “You can stay in this marriage if you think it’s important. But he’s never going to be able to give you what you need–you’ll have to find more female friends to do that.”

Your girlfriends don’t provide each other just emotional support. Having deep, meaningful, supportive friendships is one reason why women live to be five to ten years longer than men. And, as women, many of us have been raised–by family or by society–to look out for others before we take care of ourselves. Good female friends will be the first to offer you life-saving advice: Hey. Go have that lump checked; I’m so sorry you lost your baby; Your husband’s a jerk–move on.

And they’re usually the first ones to take you to the doctor and sit with you in the waiting room, waiting for the diagnosis, sit with you on the sofa and grieve with you over the loss of a child. And help you pack up and/or throw a party when you finally get the guts and means to get out of a bad relationship.

I’m not saying male friends are bad and can’t form close and meaningful friendships–but when was the last time a man went bra shopping with you and said, “Love you, sweetie, but no. Just . . . No. Let’s keep looking.”

But to have good friends, you need to be a good friend, and I haven’t always been the kind of stable friend I should be. I often check out when things get bad at home, hide in my blanket fort with a good book and a box of crayons and shut out the world.

No more. And if you’re in trouble, reach out. Make good friends. And be a good friend. I’m doing my best . . . and if you need me, just call.

 

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Saving the world from emotional porcupines

Kathy L. Murphy, the Pulpwood Queen, has been leading the charge on literacy front. In

Kathy L. Murphy at her 2018 Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend.

these times of willful ignorance, reading is more important than ever.

She’s also a cheerleader for authors (’cause you know, writers (at least this one) are introverted, have a lust for learning, and we’re pretty much like emotionally needy porcupines.
So, when the opportunity for authors to gather together, lean on each other for support (and whine about writing) it’s actually a public service–a few of Kathy’s contribution is Pulpwood Queens Book Club, author chats and the Pulpwood Queen’s Annual Girlfriend Weekend.
And now she’s championing Pat Conroy’s Literary Center. Being a huge Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides, and The Great Santini are two of my favorites) I was delighted when Kathy started a fundraiser for this cloister of literacy, master classes, writer’s retreats and a venue to get your writing out into the world.

Writing, whether it’s the hope of banging out a bestseller or journaling for yourself, brings meaning and has the power to change our own lives. And our world.

The center is where writers help other writers and is a tribute to Pat’s life and works.

Why donate?

Here are a few of the many reasons to help out:

  • Host readings by acclaimed regional and national authors
  • Offer writing classes both at the Center and also off site, hosting classes at venues such as schools, senior centers, military bases, etc.
  • Expand literary arts education programs currently available by placing writers in K-12 classrooms to work with students
  • Sponsor lectures, master classes and special events
  • Provide space for book groups and writing groups
  • Create mentorships for middle and high school writing students
  • Offer ongoing professional development for English teachers
  • Provide need-based scholarships to our programs
  • Secure financially and renovate our location in downtown Beaufort
  • Collaborate with libraries and other organizations
  • Create an English Teacher of the Year award

Now, y’all know I don’t do this often. But if you can donate and or spread the word, you’ll be helping budding new writers, readers and authors in need of inspirational kick in the behind. And emotional porcupines.

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If motivation were a drug I’d be mainlining

I DIDN’T START 2018 with a lot of expectations, based on the last two

Yes. I lost my house. Yes, I’m mad. It’s time to move on.

years and you know, Idiot in Chief is still on his Golden Toilet. But this malaise is lingering, and every time he opens his mouth or metacarpals this thumbs, I feel like I die a little inside.

Time to get proactive. Yes, I’ve been writing my so-called representatives every day. It’s a disillusioning fact that we live in a time an place that we have to protest every single day.

But I’ve let it (and the dissolution of not only my marriage, but also the life I led and what hurts me the most–my home), eat into the things I should be doing, need to be doing, and I’m working on getting my act together. Get motivated. Move forward. As the Colonel used to say, “Press on.”

It’s easy to get sidetracked with all the static bombarding us on a daily basis. And while it’s important to keep up the resistance, it’s time for me to look inward. I’m letting it all get to me–and the *all* are things I have no direct control. To that end, I’ve turned to my love-hate relationship with my Daily To Do List:

1. Force myself to Do The Things

Not All The Things. I’m prioritizing All the Things and knocking off at least three a day. Inertia breeds inertia. I know we’re tired, but once I get the wheel rolling, it becomes a little easier. Forward motion does the same thing. I perpetuates itself. The initial push is the most difficult, but the endgame is worth it.

2. Seek inspiration — every day.

I think back to when I wrote my first book. I had an idea, I studied the path to publication, hung out with people who’d successfully forged the path before me and paid attention.

If you have lost motivation with work, see if you can do more challenging tasks. Read articles and watch videos that inspire your creative spark. Meet new people. Go to events.

3. Focus on the End Game

Yes, I’m a world-class procrastinator. But I’ve started something new. When I reach a place in my Work in Progress that needs research, I key in XXX. When I get to the revision stage, I do a search on those letters and research accordingly. The goal is not just to get finished. It goes back to what we think about our purpose in life.

4. Track my goals weekly

Tracking my goals is crucial, but checking them every hour is like revising the same page until I think I’ve got it right. Or as right as it can be.

5. Set a reward for attaining each short-term goal

A friend once mused that writers are probably the only profession where we reward ourselves for a day we met goals–the last cookie, a glass of wine, a romp with the dog. She commented that attorneys probably don’t do that. But who says they don’t?

Probably a cookie or a glass of wine will not lead to particularly healthy habits. Romping with the dog? Totally a habit worth picking up. I’m going to choose healthy rewards–things I often feel I don’t deserve or are a waste of time. While a material reward like the last cookie or a glass of wine can be good treat. they are temporary. An inner reward feels better and is more sustainable. Instead of a cookie, think about how it feels when your editor calls you bawling her eyes out over a scene I cried over while writing.

6. Find someone–or someones–to hold me accountable. And return the favor

I used to belong to a writers group who cheered each other on, and held us all accountable. Distance and circumstance, and to be honest, I’ve let procrastination and malaise, have thwarted my goals. Being accountable to others infuses responsibility. Doing the same for others is my reward.

7. Let go of anger

This one is the hardest for me. I’m clinging to my house and the *things* I need. Like my coats, my sweaters, my winter-worthy boots. My enormous Jacuzzi bathtub where I used to soak and do revisions. I have no control over that loss. I need to move on . . .

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