quote from charlie

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”  charles bukowski

the silver linings playbook

I LOVED the novel The Silver Linings Playbook and can’t remember the last time a book made me feel just plain ol’ happy.  I look forward to reading more of Matthew Quick’s novels.  If you get a chance to read the book BEFORE the move, do so.  I’d be curious to know how you think the novel compares to the film.

Here’s a great interview with Matthew Quick (“Q”), who has insightful things to say about the mental health community and how he dared to pursue his dream of writing, even if it mean getting down to it in his in-laws basement.



My friend and writing sister Nichelle Tramble Spellman suggested my writing group come up with a word to focus on for the year.  I chose “surrender. “  I learned after please please please was published that I have no real control over how my books will do or what reviewers will say.  We can think this in theory, but it’s something different when you’re reading reviews on Amazon or walking into a bookstore and seeing that your book is just one of MANY books on the shelves.  It’s probably like letting your child go off into the world.  In a word, it was stressful.

Now that years have passed since please please please I have a new attitude.  I can do my best to promote my books, but at a certain point, it doesn’t feel all that healthy to obsess over sales or take a bad review as though it’s an attack on my personal character. I’m starting to think that novels are a gift, and the user can do with them what they will.  I do hope people like shake down the stars, but I also plan on letting go of the outcome and all the other stuff out of my control as much as I can.

We’ll see how I do.

What’s what your word?

p.s. LOVED this video, and she says it so much better than I do…

oprah winfrey’s thoughts on what it means to surrender


all about the blog


“Inspiration is for amateurs–the rest of us just show up and get to work.” -Chuck Close


After writing Please Please Please I wrote two more novels that were basically drafts–very good drafts–but not good enough for publication. Looking back, I think  I was trying to write like I thought I was supposed to write and write like anyone except ME. I needed to find my voice and celebrate it.  I like humor, for instance, and dramadies, and quirky characters; and I always try to surprise myself and the reader. The good news was that I never once gave up.  After my second novel failed, my agent simply told me–write something else, as easily as you might say, bake another pie, or take another walk.  But I took her advice.  I kept writing.  Along the way I fell in love with the process of writing and stopped writing for fame or to say told you so to those who doubted me.  I started to enjoy waking up at the crack of dawn (sometimes before the crack of dawn), having my tea, and getting to the nitty gritty.  I learned over time to like the days when the writing was going poorly, and I mean POORLY, almost as much as the days when I was having “fun.”  It was all part of it.  Falling in love with the process helped me not to be attached to the outcome.

YEARS later, after the aforementioned Two Books That Went Nowhere, I started yet another novel which would turn into Shake Down the Stars.  I was teaching what felt like a gazzillion classes at the time  and waking up at the crack of dawn to write.  I worked on my third novel while on my vacation and on weekends.  I worked hard and I had fun.  The end result was a two-book deal from NAL/Penguin.  Shake Down the Stars is finished and out of my hands, but I now owe my editor a second novel.  As of today, January 27th, I only have four chapters, and the book has to be completed by the end of August, 2013.  (D’OH!)  All of this is to say, I’d like my blog to be a place where I can occasionally post things that make me (and hopefully you) smile, and things (articles, links, etc) that have helped me along the way.   Thanks for stopping by.  Please keep in touch.  -R.