Writing Review: September 2017

I think I’m going to post more check-ins of how my writing is going, maybe quarterly to start since I’m a little scared that if I commit to monthly I won’t have much to report. In between working on whatever book project I have going and writing for Isle of Books, I also usually have a couple publications a month on other sites. My freelance articles often seem like feast or famine…either I’m doing just a couple or I’m doing so many I’m genuinely concerned I won’t make my deadlines.

Personal life wise, I’ve had a really busy fall and I don’t expect it to let up until Halloween…meaning that progress on my book has been glacially slow. So slow that I’m a little embarrassed to admit how little I got done during the month of September. Things were going better earlier in the summer until my confidence got a little rattled and the recovery from that has been slow going. Not having time to write consistently isn’t helping much in that department.

On a more positive note, I did get quite a few other things published! Looking at this list makes me feel a little less terrible about how my book progress is going…

I also attended a one day writing conference in May and applied for a scholarship for another writing conference happening at the end of January/beginning of February…fingers crossed that I get it!



For Equine Journal:

How To Create The Most Innovative Equine Products: An Interview with Amy Hassinger


For 2kGrey and Intrepid International:

How to Be Mindful at the Barn

How to Be Mindful in the Saddle


For Minute Marketing:

14 Powerful Ways to Uncover Your Realtor Edge

What’s Your Story? 3 Books That Will Help You Find Your Brand’s Heartbeat

Social Media News: August 2017 Edition

Why You Should Be Future-Proofing Your Business

TRX Scores Big With Video on Facebook

Anthropologie Sells the Free-Spirited Lifestyle on Instagram

How Kayla Itsines Built Her Fitness Empire on Instagram

Adobe Hits it Out of the Park With Great Product Marketing on Facebook


For Coastal Premier Properties:

Cafe of the Moment: The King’s Craft Coffee Co

Restaurant of the Moment: Underbelly

Restaurant of the Moment: Coop’s BBQ

Restaurant of the Moment: Oink and Moo

Restaurant of the Moment: Grater Grilled Cheese


And I was quoted in this article: How to Make Money and Stay Motivated With a Side Hustle

2015 Writing Retreat at Big Bear Lake


At the beginning of August, I went up to Big Bear Lake, CA for a quick weekend writing retreat with a friend. It was a somewhat spontaneous trip as we only decided to go a couple weeks prior.

This was my first time going on a writing retreat AND my first time using Airbnb….I’m definitely a huge fan of writing retreats and Airbnb now!

My friend and I scored this tiny cabin pretty close to downtown and the lake. It was about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Maybe 300 square feet tops, it had a tiny kitchenette, living room, one bathroom, and a small bedroom. Outside, the owner of the property had installed a new firepit. Our cabin was called the John Muir cabin…so fitting for being in the great outdoors.




When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”-John Muir

We drove up to Big Bear on a Friday night after work. Saturday morning, I woke up early and worked on the Tesla book (more info on that project here) before heading out on a hike. We headed up to Snow Summit, which is a ski resort in the winter, and tried to do the “Easy” hike. Whatever we did, it definitely wasn’t easy, but the views made it worth it.


Then it was back to the cabin for lunch and more writing.

In the middle of the afternoon, we went to High Tea at an adorable tea shop we found. We drank a pot of tea each and dined on little sandwiches and cakes and got to wear hats.


We spent the rest of the afternoon posted up at a coffee shop that served amazing tea. (It’s amazing I didn’t turn into a teabag isn’t it?) At sunset, we walked down to the lake to see the colors.

We had a late dinner in town before going to the store for s’more fixings. We made s’mores at the outdoor firepit by our cabin.


On Sunday, we explored the shops in Big Bear, which provided me with additional inspiration for my book! In one antique store, I found a series of pictures from the Old West…roughly around the same time period that my novel is set in. I also found an early camera from 1898!



One of my goals for the weekend was to finish working on my Tesla book and I did! I woke up early Sunday morning and finished editing another draft.

Now it’s out for reader reviews. I’m so excited to have another book done.

Our trip to Big Bear made me think I should go on more of these mini retreats…I get so much done!

Have you or do you go on writing retreats? Is so, how often do you go?

New Adventures

Alright guys. I’m finally done moving. Still reading Game of Thrones. But I haven’t forgotten about you/this blog.

I also started writing as a contributor this website, Dressage Daily. It’s a website about horses and the sport I do, dressage.

My first article was published on Monday.

Charlotte Jorst and Vitalis


Also, for some reason my Twitter has been getting a lot of activity. So if you want to follow me, too, you can do it here.

Short Fiction: The Christmas Village

I wrote this story a few days ago, on the plane to Colorado. The idea actually came to me back in November, when I visited the display at Seattle’s Armory Center, but I just now got around to writing it. Hope you enjoy it and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Joseph really didn’t want to be at the Christmas Village on the 23rd of December. Or any day, really. He’d loved the Christmas Village they set up outside the mall food court when he was kid. He was sixteen now. Much too old to be at all amused by it.

But his little sister, Marley, wanted to go. His parents had promised to take her, but now his dad was stuck over at grandma’s house, fixing the hot water heater. His mother was elbow deep in Christmas cookies, having gotten a late start after her car slid off the road into a snow drift on the way back from the grocery store. Joseph had walked the two miles to dig her out and in thanks, he was now forced to take Marley to the Christmas Village.

Marley was an okay kid most of the time. She was nine, which meant she was already showing glimpses of the pre-teen brat she would become. Like the Hulk, Marley could erupt into a full-on tantrum without warning.

As they entered the doors by the food court, a wall of sound immediately accosted his ears. His stomach turned at the smell of too much fried food in one place. A baby was howling, which was about what Joseph wanted to do, too.

Marley grabbed the sleeve of his coat and hauled him towards a dense knot of people, crowded near the edge of the tables. Joseph allowed himself to be propelled along behind her.

“Look at the train!” Marley cried, shoving herself between people to press her nose against the glass. Joseph nodded apologies to the people who shot them dirty looks.

The sheet of plexiglass only came up to his stomach. A large, plastic train chugged around the track on the outside of the display. Little kids could pay fifty cents to go into the “conductor’s booth” and take a turn driving it. A coating of glittery fluff lay over everything, giving the impression of new-fallen snow.

He hadn’t been to the display in several years. Joseph noticed some new structures in the village, along with some small, printed sheets of paper tacked up at intervals on the plexiglass.

“Let me use your phone,” Marley said.

“For what?”

Rolling her eyes dramatically, Marley held out her hand. “I want to take pictures.”

With a sigh, Joseph reached into his coat pocket and handed it over. Marley scuttled away, a triumphant smile on her face.

Joseph stared at the village. Someone had obviously put in a lot of work to make it. Which didn’t make it any less lame.

To his right, a couple and their two kids stepped away from the display. He slid over to take a look at what the small paper said. A brunette girl about his age was standing there, watching the train go around. Her red wool coat was still buttoned up to the top. Joseph gave her a brief smile.

Someone had devised a series of fake newspaper issues about the town and put them up around the display. The Daily Herald was printed on the top. He glanced at the date in the upper right-hand corner. December 19th, 1897. More than a hundred years ago. He squinted at the town again. There certainly wasn’t anything modern about it, but now that he really looked, it did look very turn-of-the-century.

“Do you see it?” the girl asked.

Startled, he glanced over at her. “See what?”

She tapped a finger on the glass. Her gold nail polish was badly chipped. He looked beyond her hand to the article she was pointing to.


            On Sunday, Mrs. Hendricks reported her dog, Max, missing. Please be on the lookout from a large sheep dog.

“The dog is missing,” explained the girl.

Joseph stared at her, not sure what he should say. She certainly didn’t look crazy.

“You know the article’s fake, right?” he asked.

She shrugged. “It’s fun to look, though.”

Joseph grunted and turned back to the display. But the girl wasn’t content to leave him alone.

“Brigitte,” she said, extending her hand.

He shook, tentatively. Her skin was cool and dry. “Joseph.”

She nodded to the display. “My favorite part is the ice skaters.”

Joseph peered between two buildings until he located the thick slab of plastic that amounted to a frozen pond. A few figures twirled around the ice, to the whirring sound of machinery.

Brigitte waited, expectantly.

“To be honest, I’m not really that into it. I’m only here because I had to take my sister.” He pointed at Marley, standing on the far side of the display. She held Joseph’s phone out in front of her as she took a picture.

“She’s cute,” Brigitte said.

He nodded, though he never thought of Marley that way.

“It was nice of you to do this for her.”

He felt himself flush a little. “My mom made me.” He glanced at Brigitte.

She gave him a wink. Her eyes were very dark blue and lined with thick black lashes, the combination of the two standing out against her very pale skin.

“Why don’t I know you?” he asked. “You must go to Silver Lake.” There was only one high school in the area and Brigitte really didn’t look old enough to have graduated.

Brigitte looked back at the display. “Marina Heights,” she said.

“But that’s across town.”

She nodded.

“You came all the way over here for this?”

A smile curled her lips. “You can’t put a price on something you enjoy.”

“But why this?” He gestured at the village, all wood and plastic and tiny trees and mounds of fake snow. “What’s so special about it?”

She took his hand. “Help me look for the dog.”

As they slowly moved around the outside of the display, he tried to really look at. With Brigitte’s hand closed in his, the snow glittered a little more. He noticed the tiny embroidery stitches on the clothes of the figurines. An owl roosted in the hayloft of the barn. A cow nudged her calf in the snow. The soft glow of embers shone from the blacksmith’s shop.

And the Christmas Village seemed just a little more magical.

Christmas display at Seattle Armory Center

Christmas display at Seattle Armory Center

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up and More…

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I didn’t win NaNoWriMo. Not even close.

But I did get my first draft to 100K. 100,000 words, people! So if you’re keeping track, I’m officially 2/3 of the way done with my first draft.

You really can lose and still win.


It was a busy month, trying to finish up my online classes, starting a new job, and traveling for Thanksgiving. I didn’t get to write near as often as I usually do, but interestingly, when I did, I spit out far more words. Like lack of productivity on the project made me more productive when I actually had time to work on it.

The most interesting things that happened in November were that I changed the title (though I think it might change yet again) and added another family character. A fourth sister. A dead sister.

I’m impatient to get to revisions, though I know I’ll kind of hate my life while I’m doing them, but still. I already know I have tons of changes to make, especially with this late-game addition, so I’ll have plenty to keep me busy.

My classes are winding down, so I’m hoping to get this draft done by the new year! It’s like I’m taking a second chance at NaNoWriMo. 50K words in December.