Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Choosing How to Connect: Second Annual Mouse House Retreat on the River

A glorious day here at River House on the Nisqually, with many of the writers in my Mouse House writers group. 

We wrote along the river. Ate strawberries picked that morning in my garden. Dodged a thunderstorm. Drank wine and hot chocolate huddled in the living room. We talked all things writing. Most of all, we came together in person instead of through screens.

With all the bombardment of  possible connection, we have to continuously and mindfully choose how we want to connect to the world. And what is most important for us to connect to, be it our writing, our readers, our family, or outward careers, our spirits.


 Lois Brandt


 Dave Patneaude


 Dori Hillstad Butler

Janet Lee Carey, Laurie Thompson, Kathryn Grace Bond, 
Lois Brandt, Dori Butler, Dia Calhoun, 
Suzanne Williams, Dave Patneaude

What a joyful day. Thank you all for coming. See you at the third annual Mouse House Retreat on the River!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

7:30 BELLS: Dwelling--The Birth of a New Novel

Dear 7:30 Bells Readers,

I wanted to let you know why there have been no new 7:30 BELLS posts for several weeks.  I've been writing all summer in a white hot heat, writing a new middle grade fantasy novel. The bells have been ringing and ringing for me as I write, so loud and sweet I can't hear anything else. Never before have I felt such joy or passion in writing a new book. I'm on the beam. I am the beam.

7:30 BELLS posts will resume. But for now, Social Media, networking, blogging is all sidelined. I'm focused on "connecting" -- my imagination, heart, and energy with this new work being born. This new work needs me to dwell and to dwell and to dwell with it. Nothing else matters.

I'm a writer first!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

7:30 BELLS: Numinous Bells

The vibrant feeling of being alive rushes in when elements blend into a numinous image. Like this water from our sprinkler dancing with the sun and wind, bejeweling the garden trellis.

The spray looks like some mystical being becoming suddenly, momentarily visible.

I stand, watching the water sweep in circles. No two moments are the same. They come and they go and they are gone--even though the sprinkler, like the day, like the year, like life and death, comes round again.

Don't miss a moment of it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

7:30 BELLS: The Best of the Bells: Sunlight and Moonlight

Occasionally I run past favorite 7:30 BELLS posts, like this one, from last June.

In the field southeast of our house, daisies grow wild. Last night as I walked through them in the moonlight they shone—luminous, white-skirted, acres of them kicking up a can-can in the windy moonlight.

Enchanting, yes. Bells, bells, and more bells.

Then, the next morning, I walked through the field in the sunlight. Dazzling, bright, the daisies still kicked up their skirts in the wind, but now I saw their golden hearts revealed.


There’s a time to be luminous and mysterious. A time to be bright, bold, and flash your heart at the world. Sunlight and moonlight together, two things we never see at the same time, create the whole story. Look and keep looking, at every hour, in every light, for parts of yourself you can’t see all at once. Then knit them together in the wind to see your whole rich story.


7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

7:30 BELLS: Mystery Startles Us Awake

Tonight, when I walked the meadow at dusk, clouds played a dark melody on the sky. It was beautiful enough. 

Then . . .a train whistle blew. The brass coming in. I stopped, listened. Then listened to the echo. And again the whistle blew and echoed. And I stood transfixed.

I'm not the first to be transfixed by that plaintive sound. But I wondered, why did it make me feel so alive? And the answer was simple. Because it was laden with mystery. 

Mystery, wonder--the things we feel but can't quite name--can't pin to any rational explanation, startles us awake and makes us feel alive.

Think about the mystery of that: What we don't understand makes us feel most alive.


Monday, May 23, 2016

The Treasure Hunt for Books

Summer is almost here! That means, or I hope it does, reading outside--under trees, in trees, in hammocks, on beaches, boats, camp-outs, picnics . . . .

Kids always get assigned summer reading. But now is the time to ask them to make a list of three books they WANT to read this summer. This is the time to teach them the joy of recreational reading.

And if you hear the inevitable refrain . . . "I can't think of anything," send the child on a treasure hunt. Take her to the library and turn her loose to browse among the shelves. The only assignment: find three books to read that look interesting. Any books except graphic novels (we want them to READ). We need to teach the joy of random browsing among books. The joy of finding unexpected treasure that opens up your world.

Happy Summer Reading!