Where do you write?

North Myrtle Beach in March

Sky, sea, and sand. What’s not to love? Grab a chair and write!

Me, I write wherever and whenever I can. Inside my van parked in the lot while waiting to pick up my daughters from school is a cramped but quiet spot. Propped up with pillows, sitting in a patch of morning light in my bed is a comfy place to write. I’ve written at airports, bookstores, and coffee shops. I’ve written while sitting at picnic tables, park benches, and desks. Since I initially write long hand and then type and edit on the computer, I don’t have to worry about screen glare or finding a power source when creating a first draft. So really anywhere is as good as any place else.

North Myrtle Beach in March

A good place to walk and clear your head.

However, my all time favorite place to write is at the beach. Sand, surf, and sunshine? I’m there as often as I possibly can manage. Just last month during my annual spring break I spent a week on my favorite beach: North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My only interruptions were the gulls checking out what I brought for lunch and wayward frisbee. If only I could live there year round, just think how productive I could be!

Where’s your favorite writing spot? Let me know in the comments below.

Top Five Arguments Against Christmas Cards and Why I Send Them Anyway

Spreading holiday cheer is worth the time and expense.

Spreading holiday cheer is worth the time and expense.

“Christmas cards are a thing of the past.”

“Don’t you care about trees? Send an e-mail.”

“Facebook is the new delivery system. Post your message there. That’s where all your friends and family are anyway.”

“Who has the time? Don’t even bother. They just get thrown away.”

“Postage is expensive. Don’t forget about your carbon footprint.”

I know all the arguments. Hear them, read them more and more every year. According to Eric Garcia at MarketWatch the number of paper cards delivered in 2014 dropped by 30%. But you know what? I like Christmas cards. I like sending them out and I especially like getting them. My name and address handwritten on an envelope is especially cool because (duh, dun, duh) it hardly ever happens! Makes me feel like a kid, oooh something’s in the mail for me and it’s not a freaking adult-world bill. They’re pretty, they’re filled with joy and family pictures and messages of love. They make me feel good.

The Christmas Card Wreath. Now isn't that festive?

The Christmas Card Wreath. Now isn’t that festive?

Sure I care about trees. It’s why I hug them regularly, donate money to grow new ones, and take good care of the 400+ year old ones in my yard. My bookshelf honors their sacrifice. Why not send an e-mail instead? Really? Does e-mail make me think of holiday cheer and settling down with a nice, hot cocoa in front of a roaring fire? NO. It makes me think of work, work, work, work, work. I get thousands of e-mails a day, and delete 70% of them. Don’t make me sift through my e-mail to find a link to to your animated Jesus gif. Yes, that’s a thing.

Ah yes, much better than reading e-mail.

Ah yes, much better than reading e-mail.

What about Facebook? I do put holiday messages from both my family and my company out on Facebook and Twitter. My friends and customers hang out in those places. I hang out in those places. But just like my enjoying a good ebook does not preclude me from enjoying the weight of a solid hardcover in my hands, the sound of a page turning, the smell of fresh print . . . I digress. Anyway, not all of my friends and family use social media. Some are intentionally modern luddites. Yeah, that’s a thing too.

It does take time to find good cards to send, purchase said cards, look up mailing addresses, stuff and address envelopes, pay for and affix stamps, journey to the post office, open the mail slot . . . when you could be doing something else, anything else. Isn’t that the point though? I have chosen to take time away from my daily routine to do this small gesture because I care to do it. I also bribe my children to help. My twelve year old has very nice printing and my ten year old can stick a stamp like nobody’s business. I can get an easy hour of child labor for a couple candy canes.

Once I release those cards into the world if the recipients choose to throw them away, well that’s completely up to them. Free will I say! We like to save ours– especially the pictures– the others will most likely forge a new life cut up and put into some crafty kid’s project. Yes, repurposing Christmas cards is also, a thing.

The price of a stamp has risen! In the grand scheme of spending, a stamp is still pretty cheap. In a society that has no problem handing over $4.65 for a Venti Teavana ® Oprah Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks— Yes. Thing– spending 49 cents on a stamp is a matter of perspective. Got 100 cards to send? Well there’s some real money. That’s when you weigh your priorities. If food on the table, medical care, and heat in the winter top your list, then of course, Christmas cards and Chai Tea Lattes shouldn’t even be on your list. But if you’ve got an entertainment budget that includes The Baby Mop . . . unfortunately, a thing . . . you can splurge on a few stamps.

The dreaded carbon footprint could be holding you back, but you could do what I do: stop at the post office on the way to or from work. You’re out and about anyway. By the way, if your carbon footprint is the reason you don’t go out and about then why on Mother Earth are you using electricity to read this blog? Better yet, get your stamps from your mail person who comes to your house most days and once stamped, put the cards in your mailbox with the flag up. The post office is already doing its part to promote good stewardship.

So, no, I don’t think Christmas cards are a thing of the past. I still send them and receive them with happiness in my heart and I will continue to do so right up until the zombie apocalypse. Not a real thing.

Photos by Karin Blaski © 2015

The Pent Up Writer


My college semester is in full swing. I know this because as of Valentine’s Day I’ve conducted 306 assessments (in lay person’s terms, that means I’ve been grading a lot) with no end in sight. So how’s the writer part of me get the time to, you know, write?

I’ve always had to squeeze writing into my life which already bustles with teaching, parenting, husband-time, driving, cleaning the house (okay, only once in while for this one–I’m not a cleaner, I know this about myself), and fighting off illness. Then there’s those other distractions: cats on the internet, Game of Thrones on HBO (all the characters in various stages of bat-sh@# crazy, with swords), The Walking Dead on AMC (all the characters in various stages of dead, plus bat-sh@# crazy, some also with swords).

So, I didn’t write for almost three weeks. And like an addict, I went through withdrawal. Constantly musing about my not writing. Muttering under my breath, “I need to write something”. Talking about writing and then not-writing. Reading about writing and then not-writing. Writing a blog post about not writing. Wait. That sorta counts as writing.

My angst reached critical mass last weekend. I woke up at least a dozen times Saturday night with a brand new fully formed story playing in my head that would not let me go. I kept pushing back, whining, “I’ll get to you in the morning. Please, just let me sleep!” At 3 AM I finally gave up the fighting and the sleeping. I scribbled out that story from start to finish in one five hour blazing burst. Then I went back and revised and edited another five hours.

Which is completely unlike me. My usual writing style is to rough draft a little, pick a little, rough draft some more, pick some more. The same pattern over the course of weeks, months, (yes, years for my first novel). Critiqued, revised, beta read, fine tuned adds on another four to six months. My creative burner is normally “slow and steady wins the race.” I am the tortoise who gets there eventually.

But not this week my friend. This week I was the hare.

Photograph © Silviu Matei