30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 10

10. A fruit you dislike and why

I’m going to cheat a little because I can’t think of any fruit I dislike. Sure, I favor some–cherries, blueberries, pineapple–but don’t hate any. Well, I don’t like plain raw mango. But I do love mango in anything, so that doesn’t count.

Let’s talk tomatoes instead. A my 13-year-old likes to point out, they are technically fruits rather than vegetables. And I really, really dislike raw tomatoes. Unless they’re in fresh salsa. I like them cooked or dried. I like them in things as long as they’re not raw. I love tomato soup (but not tomato juice). When I was really little, I was allergic to tomatoes. I outgrew that, but maybe it’s the root of my aversion. Don’t know. Just don’t make me eat ’em raw.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 9

9. Your feelings on ageism

My feelings on this mirror my feelings on any other kind of prejudice. Nobody should be judged because of the category they fall into. I have friends in their 70s who do more before breakfast than most young people do all day. I know people in their teens and twenties who are wiser and braver than their elders.

Also, as I get older, I discover the benefits of age. It’s true that I can’t get by on as little sleep as I used to. Yes, my body is less reliable (*glares at reading glasses*). But that’s outweighed by freedom. The older I get, the fewer fucks I give about how people judge me. I can become my more authentic self. Woohoo!

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 8

8. A book you love and one you don’t

Oh boy. I love a lot of books. I guess I’ll choose one of my all-time favorites, The Book Thief. I read it in less than two days. I was in the final chapters when my husband and kids came home from somewhere. “Leave me alone!” I squawked, then took off and hid myself in my bedroom  while I finished. I cried over this book. I can’t think of another book that has literally brought me to tears.

I hate to pick a book I don’t love because an author worked hard over it, and just because it’s not to my taste doesn’t mean it lacks worth.  Here’s a review I wrote of a book I did not enjoy. I won’t name the book or the author.

I had to give up reading this book on page 27. It tries too hard for quirky and whimsical, at the expense of narrative. In chapter 2, for example, we begin with a scene between the protagonist and her best friend, and then suddenly we’re shifted to an entirely different scene involving the boyfriend. The best friend never does reappear in that chapter. Some of the prose is actually lovely, but I just couldn’t read this book any longer.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 7

7. What tattoos you have and if they have meaning

I have three.

My first is on the side of my right shin. It’s a scale of justice atop a book. The scale is shaped like the Greek letter psi. This is my academic tat, symbolic of my law and psychology degrees, as well as my career as a professor.

My second is on my left upper arm. It’s the Earth with wings. The reason for this one is twofold: first, because I love to travel. Second, to remind myself I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders.

My third is on my right upper arm. This is my literary tat. It’s a feather pen plus the first three words of Stasis, my first novel: “This far down.”

I’ll be getting my fourth tattoo next month. It involves a skull.


30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 6

6. Someone who fascinates you and why

This one is really hard for me. I have a PhD in psychology plus I’m an author, both of which are evidence that I find human beings in general fascinating. All of them. Each person has his or her own story. One of my favorite pastimes is people watching, because it’s such fun to catch little glimpses of others and to wonder about who they are and what they’re doing. Sometimes those strangers become characters in my books.

So I’ll pick a famous person who especially interests me: Samuel Clemens (ie, Mark Twain). Of course, he lived during an exciting time in American history, and he did so many fascinating things in his life. He’s also one of my all-time favorite authors. And he was so witty, plus progressive in many of his beliefs.

And here’s a treat. You may be familiar with K.C. Kelly, who’s done such a great job narrating some of my books. Here he is in a radio documentary as Mark Twain.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 5

5. A place you would live, but have never visited.

Ooh, this is a tough one! I’ve visited a lot of places and would happily live in almost all of them, at least for a while.

In the US, I’m going to say New Orleans. I’ve always wanted to go there but somehow never have. I’d love to stay there long enough to really get to know the city, which seems so different from anywhere else I’ve been. (And I’ll finally be visiting there–for a few days–in November!)

Outside the US, the possibilities are endless. Let’s go by continent, shall we? North America? Montreal. South America? Santiago. Europe? Florence. Asia? Bangkok. Africa? Gaborone. Australia? Sydney. I pretty much chose these at random, because I’d be happy to live almost anywhere, at least temporarily.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 4

4. Ten interesting facts about yourself

I’m not sure how interesting these are, but here goes:

  1. My day job is criminal justice professor.
  2. When I was in college, I took 3 years of Russian and 1 of Latin.
  3. I’m now the shortest person in my household.
  4. In my youth, my jobs included fast food, taking care of the (live) animals at a science museum, scooping poop at a dog show, proofreading Edwin Sapir’s works, a deli, teaching Sunday school, and a pizza place.
  5. I spent 10 nights this April in hotels.
  6. I’m allergic to grass (the lawn kind, not the stoner kind). It gives me a rash if I touch it.
  7. I don’t cook often, but I do enjoy baking bread.
  8. Farthest north I’ve been is Skagway, Alaska. Farthest south is Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Farthest east is Warsaw, and farthest west is Hawaii.
  9. I have problems remembering numbers. I’ve been known to forget my own phone number.
  10. I’m getting my 4th tattoo next month.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 3

3. Your first love and first kiss; if separate, discuss both.

First kiss first. I was in 6th grade and I went to see Star Wars with a boy. So it was my first date too. At the end of the movie–before our moms came to pick us up–we had a quick kiss on the lips. I was unimpressed.

My first love was a boy I dated during my junior year of high school. I asked him out first–there was a Sadie Hawkins dance–and the night I asked him we talked on the phone for 4 hours. He kept talking about things we could do during the summer. Since this was January and we hadn’t even gone out yet, I thought he was being mighty presumptuous.

Next month, he and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary.

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 2

2. Your earliest memory.

I was two. At the time, we lived in Illinois, but we were visiting my grandparents in Oregon. I remember standing at the counter next to my grandmother–I must have been standing on a chair–and helping her decorate a cake. I also remember when my grandparents’ friends came over for a little party during that visit and I was the center of attention. My parents say I got so worked up they had to take me outside into the rain to calm me down. But I don’t remember that part. 🙂

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 1

In a fit of masochism, I’ve decided to try a 30-Day Writing Challenge. Join me! You can comment here with your own responses to the day’s prompt.


  1. Five problems with social media.


  1. It can become overwhelming. It takes a lot of time for me to keep up with my personal and professional social media.
  2. It can be a time suck. I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve spent playing on social media when I could have been doing something more productive.
  3. It can be destructive. Because of the nature of social media, some people are tempted to use it in harmful ways. It gives trolls and others free rein.
  4. It can be misleading. Because it’s so fast and unmediated, social media lends itself to fast rumors and misinformation.
  5. It can mangle language. I wince at all the misspellings and grammatical errors–especially when I’ve made them!