Sunday, June 11, 2023

Summer Retreat

For several years, I've headed to the Santa Maria de la Vid Abby in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to spend some time allowing my writing self to have the front seat.  This is a wonderful place that feeds my soul.  I find my inner hermit. I'm surrounded by like-minded writers and maybe an illustrator or two. The starkness of the landscape, the beautiful Sandias, and time away from a crowded life.  

Build space into your life to breathe. Take time to just be you and not all the many labels that are attached to you. I let go of all that I want and focus on who I am.


I celebrate that I contradict myself. I celebrate that I am multitudes. Whether you are in a lull in life or in the midst of storms, I have found embracing the current moment to be so helpful on the journey to wherever. Get on the deck of the boat, grab the sails, and watch the water. The universe has a way of speaking to you. It speaks of feelings and futures. I hope you find a way to let go of the baggage, sweep out the cobwebs, and forgive all the wrongs that you've seen or experienced. Let the good light of hope soak into your bones.  

Open up to love. It never fails. 

A quote for your pocket. 

Corinthians 13:12 For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

A picture for your heart. 

Friday, November 25, 2022


 I am thankful for my creative life and all the gifts it brings. Shining stars surround me. I get to see new writers struggle and then find their way. It's a joy to see their phenomenal growth. It is an honor to plant seeds of creativity and tenacity everywhere I go. 

My life is far from perfect (oh, the perniciousness of perfection!), but it is the life I have lived.  Like most lives, scattered bits of debris from various life storms have left me a little broken, a little melancholy, and a little tired. I embrace reality and do the work of hope and turning over new leaves. 

We can't control the rain. Some gardens are green from the rain. They have rich soil. Some gardens eke by with poor soil and droughts. There is beauty in both landscapes. I am simply grateful for the chance to grow my creative ideas. Yes, my patch is a bit shabby and overgrown with weeds, but I love it. I hope that you find joy in your own journey. 

Live by these words from a fine poet,

Finite to fail, but infinite to venture. Emily Dickinson. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Covid changed my life

Covid changed my life. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. It made me get real. I didn't make enough money for lattes for two years. My husband lost 1/3 of his income. We scraped along on.  Credit cards became a thing again. We were broke. Again. Drastic measures were called for. 

I have been a freelance writer for twenty years.  I have written about 50 books for kids. I love writing books for kids. I love it down to my bones, and I'm good at it.  Here's the deal for children's authors. It's sucky--no health insurance, sick days, no retirement, or reliable month-to-month income, and when there is income, it is a pittance.  After 20 odd years, it is somewhat clear that I can't make enough money as a writer to face a pandemic followed by inflation. I got a job. I work for the International Ocean Discovery Program as a production editor now. I know a lot about tables. It's a whole art form. I think about accessibility (a lot).

During my Covid years, I wrote the best book ever. I'm proud of it, but guess what? It's been out thirty times, and no one has ever wanted to look at it. It didn't hit readers like WOW!  It hit me like that, though. So this is the time in my life when I say I am proud of myself. I am proud of my hard work. I am proud of my willingness to pivot, try new things, reinvent myself, and launch into the great unknown. I'm still squeezing in a bit of writing here and there. Who knows what will fly out of this imagination?

I hope that you celebrate your amazingness this week. I hope that you do what you love. And if you can't right now, I hope you stop kicking yourself. You are paying the bills. Or you are trying. This makes you the hero of your own story.   

A quote for your pocket: 

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Small Things with Great Love

Hi, readers! I’m jumping in here today just to update you with what’s going on in my writing life.  The journey to here has been epic and at the same time.

Currently you can find an excellent conversation with me and Janet Lee Carey about creative courage  To be honest, we go on to just talk about all courage. If you want candid, open thoughts, this is the place for you: Dreamwalks: Creative Courage. 

I have started sending my epic FOR THE LOVE GOD to agents  Wish my bread to come back on every wave.  

My alter ego, Cece Barlow, has been up to all kinds of mischief. I want to check out my newest work, please follow the link: The Four Winds: Regalia of Power   . This YA fantasy serial will appeal to readers who love speculative fiction/historical mashups! Oh, and dragons, magic, ether, the Salt City, caravans, the Great Library of Constantinople, powerful magicians of Egypt...definitely not traditional Western fantasy.  

Last, I will leave a quote for your pocket.  
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Mother Teresa

Sunday, January 17, 2021

How to Create Art in a Mad World

The world feels like it's being shattered like glass on concrete. Covid rages but selfishness abounds, so many refusing to stop its spread. Homegrown terrorists calling themselves patriots have stormed the White House. The current president represents the worst of us, duping half and thumbing his nose at the other half. Families are splintered in all kinds of directions. Blame games are played at every level of society and the idea of "everybody getting together and trying to love one another, right now," a popular anthem performed the year I was born by a folk band called the Kingston Trio, seems impossibly naive. How do you stabilize yourself in such a world to create art? 

The thing is that the naive anthem mention above has carved into my creative psyche through the years. The only way to move forward is to cast aside fear. Personally, I've never lived in a more fearful time. All you have to do is whisper a vague possibility of an unclear threat to send people skittering in every direction. The grocery store was stripped of items again and no wondering is necessary, many whisper that next week will lead to blood running on the streets of  "the greatest country on God's green Earth." Picking up your pen and writing your words this week will be hard. Playing your music, hard. Creating your art, hard. But choosing your inherent ability to create is siding with the angels of this world. Turn off the discordant voices and be a voice of peace. Make a stand against fear. 

As fear sounds off every mountain, stirring up hate, you have the opportunity to shake off the madness. Use your art to stamp on fear. Dance until you can't breathe anymore. Slip through the portal into your other world and take down those baddies however you see fit. Isekai your way to something better. Art is the chance to be reborn. Let yourself feel the creative forces of the universe and watch the paltry fear fade into a distant haze. Stare into the light of good. Sow goodness and mercy morning, noon, and night. Don't sink into apathy. Heavens above, even though it feels like your veins are filled with sludge, don't let the monsters of this age steal the treasure of your art.  

In this time of "look at me, hear my voice," listen for the quiet voices that don't bring the hurricane, that don't bring fire, and that don't bring earthquakes. Remember the madwoman who saw fame as a fickle food that men ate and then died. Think of the Gallilee carpenter who spoke of the blessed souls: the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the merciful, the pure, the peacemakers, the persecuted. A motley crew, basically a band of flotsam and jetsom. Join the blessed with your art. Create the stuff you will be insulted for. Create the stuff that you will be persecuted for. Create the good, good stuff that you will be called evil for. 

The image of the creator is within us all. Remember that as you look at each face. Do the work of sanity in the madness around us. Keep talking. Feel what you need feel, but then work. Still struggling? Find a solid tree to sit under. Trees never get to take a step, but in their own way are arguing with their neighbors and reaching for the stars. Lean against that rough bark and think about the rough bark protecting you. Think about the roots holding this tree to the ground. Think about the gold leaves of spring that furl into the green leaves of summer, and fade back to gold leaves of fall to stark branches of winter. You are the art tree. If a windstorm, snowfall, or mudslide has taken you out, you will lay on your side and every bit you will be used to enrich the next forest to spring out of the seeds you scattered before you fell. Cling to what lasts in the mad, mad world and work. 

Now take on kindness. What kindness can you swirl into the patterns you create? Let go of your anger and animosity. Stop belittling humans with your fear-driven hate, regardless of the hate they are flinging at you. Open the doors you have shut. You have something to add to the creative canon. Nothing kills creativity like grudges and ill-will. Do yourself a favor and go to the ocean and cast a stone into the sea. Now see imagine an ocean without end, one of love. No matter how hot you are about whatever has happened to you. The sea will put out that fire. It will polish the dull surfaces of you. That love will make what is broken right. That ocean is deeper than infinity. 

It's time to let go. You know the debts you have accrued in this life. Time to take your ledgers and burn them in the woodstove. Know the Logos that brought us into the light for this moment and this time has covered all the debts. The universe is counting on you. Your art springs out of the ether of imagination. Your art is bigger than madness. Set it free. Good news, art comes with wings. Wheel high above the mortal earth and fly. I hope these words help you steady yourself. Take what you need to stabilize your craft. 

Here is a quote for your pocket.

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” Bertrand Russell