Fashion Plate

So many people have said, “Hey, where’d you get that blouse?” to me lately that I felt compelled, for the first time ever, to discuss my clothing.

Yep. This blog is about my blouse.


I first saw this blouse about 4 years ago in an online ad. I loved it! I thought, it would be the perfect thing to wear for Christmas!

I followed the link over NorthStyle to see how much it cost. And that’s where my love story ended. Seriously? Sixty bucks for a blouse?

I didn’t get it.

The following year, the same thing happened. I admired it from afar. I didn’t buy it. I wore my Wal-Mart Santa Sweater for Christmas instead.

Year 3, same old story. Saw it. Wanted it. Talked myself out of it. Wore the Wal-Mart Christmas Tree Sweater for Christmas.

The fourth year, I said, that’s it! I’m buying it! It was December. I followed the link over to discover my blouse in my size was backordered…until frikkin’ February! That wouldn’t do! No Plaid Georgette Blouse for you!
This year, I was ready. The first time I saw that sucker pop up on an online ad in October, I was decisive! I wasted not one moment! I figured if I wanted this blouse for 4 years, that counted for something, didn’t it? I bought it and I’ve never looked back.

I love it! Everyone else loves it, too! It’s got long-ish sleeves but is lightweight, so when you start feeling the heat, no one can see you sweat! It covers my bum! It really is floaty and swirly! You can throw it in the washing machine and don’t have to iron it! I’ve already worn it more than I’ve worn half of the clothes in my closet, so I am sure I will be wringing every dime of my money’s worth out of it. It’s every bit as awesome as I hoped it would be.

Moral: If you want something for four years, it’s probably okay to buy it.

I won NaNoWriMo 2016!!

So, this was not my first NaNoRodeo, as many of you loyal readers already know. This was my 7th consecutive NaNo i-won-nanowrimo-2016win. I am so proud! I don’t always know what I will be writing, but this year I did.
I almost never write an outline prior to starting, but this year I did.

I always build in a buffer of five days in case I something comes up and I have to take a day off from writing, but that didn’t happen this year. I finished five days early!

I didn’t really look at my outline much as I was writing, but when I finished I discovered I had covered everything!

One thing that was the same this year is this: once I started writing, the words flowed out in a smooth (mostly) stream. I remembered not to edit as I was going and not to over think it, which is the death of all good “shitty first drafts” (nod to Anne Lamotte’s Bird by Bird).


Top 10 tips (I think!) for having successful author reading

As I mentioned in my prior blog post, there is a definite learning curve to this whole ‘promoting your book’ thing. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is this: assume nothing! (Remember Felix Unger’s lesson on what happens when you ASSUME?!).

Anyway, here are what I think are the top 10 tips (in no particular order) for having a successful (eg: well attended) author reading.

  1. Create a Facebook event (you can figure it out; it’s not hard) and then share it on your own page, your author page, and the pages of any friends that will have you.
  2. Make an author page on Facebook, if you haven’t done that yet.
  3. Design some flyers (this can be as simple as a photo of your book, the date, time, and place of your event) and put them up around the town where you’ll be speaking (grocery stores, hairdressers, health food stores…any place that has a community bulletin board).
  4. Ask the person with whom you book your event to send out a press release to any and every newspaper that they can.
  5. Write a press release, so it will be ready when you need it. This can be as simple as your (short) bio, your book title and a little about it, and again the date, time, and place of your talk.
  6. Word of mouth is your friend: tell people and ask them to tell people: their friends, their families.
  7. Make sure you bring business cards, book marks, and any other promotional materials you’ve got to every talk and/or signing you do.
  8. Consider offering a ‘free gift with purchase’ to your book buyers. This doesn’t need to cost  you much at all. In my book, there is an Italian grandmother who makes the best gravy in the entire world, so I gave out a recipe for it (from my own Italian Nana, whose recipe really IS the best in the entire world) as a bonus gift.
  9. It doesn’t ever hurt to have chocolate spread out around your book. As people reach for the chocolate, you are also drawing their eyes (and hands!) toward your book!
  10. If you are doing a library talk, they usually will have a sidewalk easel to put out to alert people about your event. Make sure they use it for you!

That’s all I have for you today. Please comment below if you have any additional tips that have worked for you!

Stevie Nicks in Boston

I saw The Pretenders and Stevie Nicks at the TD Boston Garden this week. The Pretenders opening for Stevie Nicks? OMG.


Stevie Nicks and Chrissy Hynde


I saw Stevie Nicks once before, when I was in my extremely early 20’s (or maybe even late teens). It was by accident. I was at a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert, when they started playing Stop Dragging My Heart Around and Tom started singing and then (the way I remember it), suddenly you could hear Stevie Nicks singing her part, and then there she was, walking on stage. Unbelievable! What a gift that was.

This time, Stevie started singing the song, after saying that Tom Petty wasn’t there, and then Chrissy Hynde joined in, walking out on stage singing Tom Petty’s part! Talk about a time warp. (PS: They rocked it!!)

This was more than a concert for Stevie this time around. She had a message to deliver. She said over and over that she is a writer. She never said songwriter. She said writer. She also said that she doesn’t feel old, even though at age sixty-eight, she most certainly was old, by anyone’s definition. She had written a song when she was twenty-one and never got to sing it on stage. It was always a dream of hers, and now, ate age sixty-eight, she was finally realizing it! Her message is this: only you know what your dreams are, and it’s never too late to make them come true.

And then she said Beacon Street was awesome and she was so moving there.

🙂 Right? It’s never to late to have a dream and to make it come true.

[Stevie and Chrissy singing Stop Dragging My Heart Around this week in Boston. Sorry for the crappy picture but it’s the only one I was able to get. P.S. Remember when we all had our lighters lit in the audience at concerts? Now the audience is all lit up with cell phones! HA!]

And here, for your listening and viewing pleasure, is my favorite song by The Pretenders:

Blog Identity Crisis

I’ve been experimenting with different looks for my blog, which some of you will (of course) have noticed. I actually spent a lot of time setting it to look ‘more professional’, with my author presence dominating the show. As my husband is always telling me, “Focus!”

cropped-1st-booksiging-author-expo.jpgHere’s the thing, though. I have to reinterpret what the word focus means to me. In this case, I interpreted it to mean focus on one thing. In this case, I chose my authorship (word!). I redesigned the blog to highlight that.

It’s changing how I’m writing, though. I used to write about anything and everything  but now when I go to write something, I’m thinking, how does this fit in with my blog’s look. Should the way my blog looks be informing what I write about?
I don’t think so. Also, when I look up my blog online, I don’t recognize it anymore.

I took a writing class last weekend and one of the participants mentioned how he had spent a lot of time working on pieces that he never did anything with, and how wasn’t that a waste of time. I told him that I didn’t think so, because all of that work got him to where he is today. It was part of the process. It was therefore all worthwhile. So I am applying my good feedback to myself and my blog. All of the work I did helped me figure out what I don’t want.

So for now, I’m going back to the old look. I may continue to experiment, but I want my blog to be about the writing, not about the theme.

The BRAVE Interview #4: Kristen Conley Leighton

Hello and welcome to the next in the series of The BRAVE Interviews! It’s the Who, What, When, Where, How,  (and sometimes Why) of YOUR ‘one brave thing’!


Welcome to Interview #4 with Kristen Conley Leighton!

  1. WHO are you? Share whatever you want to about yourself personally.

Wow, so we’re starting with the hardest question!  Most days, I’m not really sure.   That statement can be traced back to the day I was born.  See, I was switched at birth.  Truly.  I was somehow confused with another baby girl born at almost the exact same time.  The next morning, a nurse arrived in my mother’s room with the wrong bundle. “That’s not my baby,” my mother said to her.  “Go back and try again.”   

The socially acceptable answer: My name is Kristen Conley Leighton.  I am a yoga teacher and a storyteller/writer. 

  1. WHAT is your One Brave Thing (so far!!) for 2016?

I destroyed a manuscript that I had been working on for seven years.  I’m not sure if that is brave or just plain stupid.

My trusted readers advised me to set the manuscript aside because so much of the story wasn’t working for them.  The consensus was that I should begin writing a new novel.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was born to tell THAT story, the one I’d just thrown away.  Instead of taking the professional advice, I turned to a blank screen and began rewriting the manuscript I had discarded.

  1. WHEN did you do it?

 It was March of this year. 

  1. WHERE did it occur?

The magic happened in the space in my home where I read, write, and practice yoga.

  1. HOW did you make it happen?

 I had burned the pages, permanently deleted all the drafts from my computer, and smashed the memory stick with a hammer before putting it in the trash.  I had no other choice.  It was a good thing, really.  

  1. WHY did you do it?

That’s a great question, and one my husband keeps asking over and over again.  It probably would have been easier to start working on something new.  That said, I had a pretty strong feeling that if I couldn’t save the drowning man in my novel, I’d never be able to save myself.  I felt like I had to tell the story.  And, based on feedback from the original manuscript, I had to find a better way to tell it.

This novel and its main character brought me closer to all of my well-guarded fears and insecurities than I’d ever come before.  The subject I was writing about could not be explored from a safe distance.  When I tackled the story in a more honest way and allowed myself to dive in and swim around in all of that fear and insecurity, well, I think it resulted in a more empathetic character in the final draft.   If you love a drowning man with a fierce heart, he just might figure out how to swim to shore on his own.  The first draft lacked heart.  Deep down, maybe I always knew that. 

So, that’s it.  It’s not glamorous…but it is my “one brave thing.”

Thank you so much for telling your story here, Kristen!

Check out Kristen Conley Leighton’s other writings here on her website:

NaNoWriMo 2016

Well, I began Day 1 of NaNo 2016 quite on the ball. I had my outline done–first time ever, and I’ve been doing this compsince 2010. I had a Google doc ready to go. I told the fam that after I finished work, I would start writing until suppertime (thank you, thank you, husband who did the cooking) and after eating, I was going right back to writing until I hit 2000 words. I didn’t want a repeat of last year, when I didn’t even start writing until, like, Day 5.

(Last year I was ambivalent)

Anyway, I was at about 2000 words (I had just checked my word count-yay!) when I noticed something odd happening with my mouse, and the document scrolling rapidly upward. I stopped it, but didn’t think much of it, until I went back to the document to continue writing…and it was almost GONE. I only had about 700 words left.

And on Day 1!

It’s important to say here that I am working in Google Docs because it supposedly saves your work every 5 seconds, so you don’t have to worry about losing it if your computer dies, or if other acts of God occur…well, I am here to say that there is a ghost in that machine.

Anyway, all was not lost. After frantically trying Control +Z over and over to no avail, I did what all self-respecting computer users do as a last resort: I googled: how to recover lost work in Google Docs.

There was one lonely comment in that thread: File/See revision history

So I tried it.

And it worked. Sort of. I got back about 1500 words. Still lost a lot, but not everything.

Onward. It can only get better from here, right?

PS: Now I am backing up frequently in Word, too.


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