Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Today is a good day. I got up early, finished an article that had been hanging over my head like an anvil, and three people have shown up to pay for their auction wins. Money may not buy happiness, but having people come to your door and give you some is still pretty sweet!

So here’s my happy list for this week.

1) The Lost Girls. The Boy has a knack for picking out perfect books for me. The one I just finished, The Lost Girls, is the true account of three women who left their fast-paced careers in New York City to travel the world for one year. I loved every word of this book, although I was dying with envy the entire time. I found so much to relate to in their struggles–from the time Amanda gets unfairly put on probation because she couldn’t read her boss’s mind to their fears about being able to maintain freelance careers on the road. It’s so fun to live vicariously through these amazing women! And to my delight, they have a website full of travel tips, advice, and profiles of other women who have taken the leap.

2) Inside Jokes. On the other end of the book spectrum lies Phase of Darkness, a battered novel I found in our resort’s library in Curacao. Since I’d already consumed every scrap of reading material I’d brought with me, I was desperate for a novel. And desperate you would have to be in order to get through this book. A story about a colonial African nation on the brink of revolution, Phase of Darkness can be distinguished by its spectacularly terrible writing. The authors (yes, it took TWO people to write this masterpiece) refer to all their characters by their first and last names. Repeatedly. I didn’t fully appreciate how hilarious this was until The Boy got a hold of it. He had me all but rolling on the floor as he read lines like, “You will rue the day you messed with Bebo Lubanya,” said Bebo Lubanya. Think that’s funny? Of course not, because it’s an inside joke. But The Boy and I will carry Phase of Darkness within us, for better or worse, for the rest of our lives. And if all else fails, I can be comforted in knowing my writing will never be that bad and Phase still got published!

3) Live (Good) Theatre. I’ve often said that nothing can move a person more than live theatre. A bad play is a particularly awful hell on earth that can leave you squirming in your seat, feeling drained, mortified for the actors, and desperate to escape. But a good play can lift you up. It can inspire you, change you–make you cry or think or believe like never before. The Boy and I saw five plays at this year’s local Fringe Festival–a celebration of amateur theatre–and the best by far was Six Guitars. Chase Padgett becomes six very different guitar players as he explores the differences and similarities between genres of music. From his octogenarian blues player to his perky middle-aged folk singer to the young rock star with his wagging tongue and devil horns, Padgett made his characters come to life so well that you fell in love with all of them. And were sorry to see them go. Ninety minutes flew by like five. That is the mark of a great play. You don’t have to wait for a Fringe Festival to appreciate live theatre–find a local theatre company and see one of their shows. Even high schools mount impressive productions these days. And if you stumble upon a bad play, well…I apologize.

4) Recycling. A man on a scooter just roared away with my laundry rack, which he will be using for…drying beef jerky? Yep, it’s true. One of the awesome things about selling my belongings for the impending move is hearing about all the creative uses people have for my old stuff. One woman bought three barrettes from me to use in an art installation, while another will be painting my old rocking chair black. Is there something in your house that could have a new life? You’d be surprised at all the possibilities.

5) Getting to Know an Old Friend in a New Way. Okay, so the person I’m thinking of isn’t exactly an old friend yet. He used to be my boss, and we could really only truly become friends after I quit. But I have to say, seeing my somewhat conservative former boss rocking out at a KISS concert is one of the highlights of my summer. I’ll never forget it. People have so many different facets to them, but when you only see them in one circumstance, it can be easy to forget. I think most of us have friends that fit certain needs–the friend to go on road trips with, the friend to go to the opera with, the friend who loves movies, the friend who will always go dancing, etc. Why not take your opera-loving friend dancing someday? You’ll never regret being able to explore a different side of their personality, which is yet another reason for us to move out of our own comfort zones as well. Who knows what facets of our own personalities we have yet to discover?

Now it’s your turn! What have you been up to this summer? What’s been making you happy?

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
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  1. Michelle D. Argyle

    I’m in the deepest caverns of rewriting my novel, so not much is making me happy except moving forward on it, hah. But I’m loving the nice weather we’ve had, and food always makes me happy. I like your good theater one here. Since my hubby’s an actor, I definitely know all about that. 🙂

  2. Story Teller

    Do you know about the special hell that is the bad play, too? Whew! I went to one recently and have yet to completely recover.

    Good luck with your rewrites. I will join you in September. Definitely NOT fun.

    What’s your ultimate go-to comfort food?

  3. Story Teller

    Oh, I LOVE those too! My go-to comfort foods are definitely potatoes or cheese, though.

  4. Story Teller

    And now you know why I have a weakness for poutine. Sigh….


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