Writing Buddies

Chrissie and Linda Stanek

In my last post I was highlighting a beautiful wedding in Ohio. The next day was incredibly awesome as well. That was the day Chris and I got together with one of my favorite children’s books authors and her husband. Okay, I might be a little prejudiced. She has been my writing partner and friend for over 15 years, but seriously, her writing is amazing. It was such a treat to spend time with her. This visit was the second time I had met her in person, the first time I met her husband, Ken, and it was the first time she met Chris.

Since they were only about a half hour from our hotel, we decided to meet at a restaurant for lunch and then figure out the day. Lunch went way too fast, and we were really enjoying talking with each other so we relocated to their house. It is a lovely dwelling that feels open and cozy at the same time. I would love writing in that environment.

To my delight, Linda has a passion for cats. She often fosters pregnant feral cats as a hobby. I had fallen in love with her last batch of kittens from her posts on Facebook and was hoping to get a chance to meet them. Unfortunately, I just missed them, and they had moved on to find forever homes by the time I got there. However, she did have four other cats of her own. We sat and talked with each other all afternoon, and the cats casually strolled in and out amongst us, stopping for occasional pets — as cats do.  

Linda has written several books and lots of articles, but I have a favorite. It’s called Night Creepers, and I just love science in it. So much so that I asked to purchase a copy for my granddaughter, who is due in early August. Not only did Linda agree to let me have a copy, but she gave it as a gift, signed it, and also gave me some of the other books she and another writing partner of ours (Jen Funk Weber) had written. Is that an amazing friend or what?

Books by Linda and Jen

Perhaps you remember Jen. I wrote about time with her on Marco Island a few years ago.

Back then I had written:

Once upon a time, about 13 years ago, I was an aspiring children’s book writer. On my journey through the world of writing and publishing, I discovered some of the best friends a person could have. It all began on a forum.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: SCBWI forum to be exact.

In the huge, international world of writers, by some random quirk of fate, six of us found each other, and we’ve been close friends and critique partners ever since. Linda Stanek lives in Ohio, Jen Funk Weber lives in Alaska, Linda Covella (we call her Elsie to differentiate her from the other Linda) lives in California, Dale Ibitz lives in Connecticut, Mary Beth Schewitz jumps between Chicago and Florida, and I jump between northern and western NY.

A group does make one stronger. In writing and real life. …

It is such a blessing to me to see how our group has stuck together over the years. It’s true that now we only communicate a few times a year, but we are there for each other always. Case in point – the visit to Linda and Ken’s lovely home.

The afternoon mimicked lunch — it flew by. Ken is super interesting. He was a crew chief for the Goodyear Blimp and had lots of interesting stories to tell. Who knew that when I was a kid watching the blimp on TV as it hovered over Super Bowls and Olympics, a future friend was on board? Life is funny that way.

I remember hearing about Linda meeting Ken — she was writing an article about blimps. It was really fun to see the article she wrote for Highlights for Children framed on the wall in her office. (Fun fact: That magazine once paid me for one of my articles, but it’s been over 10 years, and as far as I know, still hasn’t been printed. If you see an article on Edvard Grieg written by Christine Pollock, let me know 😉 ).

blimp article

We chatted the day away – talked about life in general, travels, dreams, writing, art, school talks, public speaking in general — all sorts of stuff. They shared a curio cabinet with us, and I really loved how they collected soil from different places that were special to them. It added a lot as we heard stories about the places. Ken also shared stories and interesting details about the model planes he built.

When we got hungry we headed out for a yummy meal at a nearby Mexican restaurant then still couldn’t finish the day off. Back to their house for more talking. Finally we hit a point where we had to reluctantly say goodbye and get back to the hotel since we had to head home to NY the next day.

That day was a day I will treasure for long time, and I hope we all get to visit together again sometime soon.

** Bonus note – our writing buddy, Linda Covella (the only one in our group I haven’t met in person) recently got an recognized for some of her work:

Linda Covellas book

Highlighted Blog #21 – That Little Voice

I just love Radar. Pictures of that adorable dog and other animals draw me to this blog. The author is great with a camera and writes in response to various challenges. So interesting!

My contributions to Photo Challenge prompt ‘Ruling the Roost’ shows my new doglet Radar viewing his domain (he could be auditioning for ‘The King and I’) and a playmate attempting to figure out who is in charge, a neighborhood cat who rules from on high, and precious Chili, the doglet who shared my life for […]

via Ruling the Roost Photo Challenge — that little voice

Highlighted Blog #20 – A Mama’s View

This mom, homeschooler, writer has a very approachable writing style as she shares observations on life and addresses trending topics. Her writing is eclectic. Sometimes she covers daily life, other times she shares quotes and personal thoughts. It’s always interesting.

Special is an interesting word. It can mean something good or something bad. It can be seen as a compliment or as a way of describing something which you are not really sure of, not really sure if you think it’s good or bad. Every now and then I look at my life and have […]

via Special — A Momma’s View

Highlighted Blog #20 – A Mama's View

This mom, homeschooler, writer has a very approachable writing style as she shares observations on life and addresses trending topics. Her writing is eclectic. Sometimes she covers daily life, other times she shares quotes and personal thoughts. It’s always interesting.

Special is an interesting word. It can mean something good or something bad. It can be seen as a compliment or as a way of describing something which you are not really sure of, not really sure if you think it’s good or bad. Every now and then I look at my life and have […]

via Special — A Momma’s View

Highlighted Blog #5 – Butterfly Mind

Butterfly taking off at Southwick State Park Beach
Butterfly taking off at Southwick State Park Beach
Butterfly at Southwick State Park Beach
Whether you want to gain insight into a new book, look at some beautiful garden photos, mentally join a sailboat excursion or vicariously enjoy some travel through interesting images and great writing, Butterfly Mind is a one-stop-shop for great content. I love it when Andrea posts.


Tools for Establishing Routines
animation calm down GIF by Chibird
Oh May it be So

My life is kind of getting away from me – lacking routines. You know the feeling? I bet most can relate. It’s a struggle balancing life, home, family, friends, work, play, faith, exercise, etc. Fortunately, one of the perks of being an Automattic employee is that we get time with a job coach if we want.

My Job Coach

After some video training I browsed through a list of coaches to see who might be a good fit for me based on their backgrounds and their summaries of their points of focus. For a start, I could meet any coach I wanted for a 15-minute video session to see how we interacted. Finally, I picked one to meet with for 10 sessions.

There was one who stood out to me. Sara. She’s a mom who enjoys salsa and who lived in Lisbon. Maybe that’s all what drew me. Plus she is just simply inspiring and focused on establishing peace. We met, and I immediately felt really confident working with her.

Now I’m almost half-way through our sessions, and I have to tell you it’s amazing. I’m not overwhelmed with info from her (she definitely guides me, but at my own pace so I’m not lost in the currents of life). Sara suggests little tweaks that make me so much more productive and helps me see where to focus as I establish routines. She also gives me resources to study to become a better human in general.

So that’s been happening, plus some travel for the company’s meetup, during which I learned soooooooooooo much. After the Grand Meetup (GM), I attended  Rochester WordCamp and learned even more. So many thoughts. So much to write about.


But first, I had to get organized. ‘cuz I’m like that. I sorted arenas of my life into categories, made myself some new Trello lists (while looking into Asana), updated my calendars, cleaned out my Simplenote lists and updated my tags, and now I’m ready to write, by golly! There’s even a list of thoughts and topics from my last few weeks I want to write about.

Not all of it will be here — some will be on my Inspired by and Thankful For blog, and some will be for internal work documents, and some will be communications with family and friends, but I have scheduled time for daily addressing my own mind-dump needs.

I’m really looking forward to this new routine, and am feeling a bit less scattered already.

AFK and Blogging

Well, technically I’m not afk if I’m blogging, but I am away from keyboard for work-related customer-support-type stuff. This was going to be an interesting time off, I thought as I headed into my 11-day break. It was one of the first vacations I had in a super long time that had no real agenda. And best of all, I was not feeling like I needed a break.

Now that I’m a few days into the relaxation time, I’m realizing I might not have listened to my body well recently. Twice now, I have slept almost 12 hrs at night, even after taking naps. I didn’t know I was quite capable of such sleep.

tired jet lag GIF

When I’m not sleeping, I’m reading, or yakking with visiting friends or hiking or shopping or watching movies. I’m also honing my CSS skills for fun, taking a Treehouse courses. And I’m indulging in writing time.

Did you know that I have fodder for blog posts that are a year old? How embarrassing. Over the next few days you will probably see me writing about a few past events that were year-highlights for me.

One of the things I love best is how it takes one down memory lane so you can re-live pivotal moments in life. And it’s handy when you want to share these events with people.

In the past two months I found myself using the resource a few times. Once I was trying to explain the beauty of the iceburgs on Lake Ontario, especially as they break up. Then I remembered I had blogged about it, and could easily share the images. Then one day Hudi asked me about my recipe for bread, and Mollie asked for my recipe for yogurt. That one was hidden in my recipe for sour cream, but it’s in there.

And sometimes it’s just for sharing goofy family stories. Hudi mentioned they had a Henry in their apartment, and Chris and I knew what he was talking about, but Mollie didn’t. We caught her up on the basic idea of Henry, but linking her to a record of the account while it was fresh in our brains really gave her more understanding.

I love blogging. And this week while I’m still afk, I am also indulging on reading other people’s blogs from my Reader. I’m off to do that now.

Blogging Days

wp-blue-640x960Today I’m thankful for blogging time.

If you have any inclination to write at all, perhaps you can relate. Thoughts shape in your head and swirl around as you mentally format those thoughts into words, then those words into a specific order, and then the challenge is on to find better words. These concepts compound and intensify, and if they are not liberated, they billow in the brain begging for a release.

But there isn’t always time for that release. So today I’m super thankful for days like today, where I can cozy in and write for a while, freeing my mind.

  • For November (the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US), I’m trying to blog about something for which I’m thankful for each day of the month.