Pantsers and Plotters



Today is a day of new beginnings. It is the Autumnal Equinox, and so Summer 2014 waves a fond last farewell, though she’s been preparing us here in the Mid Atlantic Seaboard for nearly a month now.

And so comes this Autumn’s turn at the plate. If I had to choose from among the four seasons we get here, this would be my favorite. It is a lovely blend of two things: the whisper of the indrawn life and the call of the out of doors. Happy Fall, to all!

New beginning thoughts bring me back to the very start of this tale we are writing with a more structured/intuitive balance now. Back to the days when there were a couple of characters and a genre among bits and pieces of scenes.

How to move forward?

Thinking to Novembers past in NaNoWriMo, I told Andrea about the ‘pantsers and plotters,’ the loving nicknames for those who either write by the seat of their pants or who meticulously plot out most if not every detail.

Sitting here together on the couch today, I brought back this memory of several months ago, and Andrea reminded me of how our process started together. I was surprised when she said she was a pantser, and I was a plotter for a couple of reasons.

I thought I was mostly a pantser for years. In fact, my first finished novel sprung almost completely into my head from a picture prompt from a friend’s blog entry. It was a simple picture of a general store with an apartment overhead. From that I thought of the people living upstairs – the sounds they might hear, and their possible wish for a house as a home of their own someday. Aha: Motive! From that came everything else though I wasn’t careful with the children’s names, and they must have changed at least four times during the course of the story.

Lesson learned. I now keep a document list of names and details we might be likely to forget.

What my sister said had merit that I’d forgotten until now. I’d incrementally moved toward more preparation with at first simple plotting techniques, as I read more about tools and thought of those I’d used as a teacher. In this way, I developed more of a repertoire of strategies for structure… without even realizing it.

Back to our current book:

Andrea reminded me (once again, thankfully) that she was writing and writing the book from her intuition, and once she had an overall idea in her head, I was thinking perhaps we might start pulling it together with some kind of structure. I thought it might be helpful to see where character and place arcs were coming from and heading towards.

So here is a lazy, hazy progression of what we tried once that cat was out of the bag.

Initially, I told her about the first plotting tool I used. I numbered the page from 1 to 15. Any odd number divisible by three (as in acts) might do. On line 1, we could write how the story begins, and on line 15, we would write how we imagined the story might end at this point. Then came the fun part where one by one we alternated – fill in line 2, then line 14, line 3, then 13 working our way toward the center.

That was definitely a no go, as it was too claustrophobic for her. I could understand, so I pulled out the next trick from my bag. Let’s do three acts – and figure out what happens in each according to Joseph Campbell’s 360 degrees of the full Monomyth, to be found in his iconic work, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces.’ I was particularly fond of that structure as I’d had the good fortune to study under Professor Campbell back in the day.

Too complicated to learn, said she. And again, too claustrophobic.

Okay, that is when we decided it was perhaps a left brain/right brain tug of war. Back in the bag.

I suggested Mind Maps next, in which whatever character, place, or overall story the writer wished to develop goes in the center circle of a piece of big white paper or cardboard. I happened to have that in my bag too. From the circle came radiating connections, and each of those had spikes radiating out on their own. It helped to ask What, Where, When, Why, and How questions which brought fullness to each ray and gave the characters more depth. And she liked it. The right brain approach appealed to her… and truth be told, I liked that method too.

We did one for all the major characters and some of the settings. There was much development that we wound up using, though much eventually fell by the wayside. Still, it was a helpful exercise, and I think she would tell you that as well.

So, plotting, if one chooses to go that way as opposed to flying (writing) by the seat of one’s pants, has endless tools, and I will include two resources I read and found helpful in my writing travels in case you happen to be looking for them. They can be followed step by step or used as a springboard.

Are you a pantser, a plotter, or a combination? Please feel free to leave a comment and share your method if you like. We can never have too many tools in our repertoires.



Climbing the Hill of Hope



We’ve been making great strides with the book lately.   After stopping for a while to work on other projects that needed our attention, we are back in the full swing of things. This is when I feel my best and see my future a little brighter. It doesn’t mean that in ‘the here and now,’ I physically feel well, but it greatly helps my mental state. When I/we are working on the book and it’s flowing, I get a glimpse of everything I want to happen, who I want to become. I imagine myself completely well, physically and mentally. I visualize all of the traveling we will be doing to promote her and it gets me excited. I see the book cover so clearly and can feel it in my hands. I am in the moment, turning each and every brand new page.

When it must sit by the wayside, I have to admit, I’m in a lower place. I do my best to rally, but in order for me to fully bring myself back, I need to be working on our story.

The below was written during a break we had to take from the book. It makes sense I was feeling the way I felt below. I am hopeful for my future, I just have to keep the book alive in myself and on paper…

I expect a full recovery!


I got up and went to Physical Therapy again. It was too strenuous the first day and I couldn’t get out of bed the day after, so he had to lessen the intensity. He asked me to remember how I felt later today since I forgot how I felt during the day of the first session.

Well I’ll remember how I felt all right. My back is making sure of that. It went out on me as I was getting on the table for an MRI. Oh what fun trying to keep my head from moving for the half hour MRI while my back is spasming all over the place. Yes I can definitely tell him how the rest of my day was. I don’t think I’ll forget this time.

I wasn’t even thinking of being claustrophobic in the machine until the tech said “we’ll be putting you in to about your waist” It was then that I started to panic. I knew I had to just get through it without freaking out. I started counting and breathing. Just kept my eyes shut and pretended I wasn’t in a coffin.

Then I went for a massage since I didn’t want to be miserable for the next few days of pain my back would have in store for me. It usually helps but this time the guy was giving me one of the worst chair massages I’ve had. It was so disconnected and not soothing at all. He actually answered the phone a few times while one hand was still working on me. It was more comical than annoying at that point. I tried not to get upset about it. That would definitely not help the ounce of relaxation I was trying to absorb. Not sure if it helped or not. Trying not to move around too much.

Feeling a bit disconnected myself today. I guess that’s why I got massagus interruptus guy. Makes sense. I just have to say “tomorrow will be a better day.”

I got some troubling news today. Luckily it’s not health related so I am very grateful. Sure I cried for a bit. Spoke to my sister and my mom. It helped. I could really go off the deep end about it but I am trying to use my new skills and tell myself “all is well” and I really do believe it. I just have to keep moving forward and not give up. Whatever happens, it will all be okay. It’s a huge improvement I must say. In the past, I would have probably cried all night, curled up in a ball, unable to move. Instead I decided to sit and write about it. Sure, it’s not the best thing I’ve written, it easily could be the worst thing I’ve written, but at least I’m writing.

As time goes on, I will get my sense of humor back. It comes and goes. I’ve been waiting over a year to feel like myself again. I certainly don’t want this to be the personality I’ve settled into, but I know it’s a huge transitional time for me. One step at a time. I know I’ll be back…..


There is a special focus on peace this weekend, Saturday night and all day Sunday.

May it extend into forever.



john lennon singing no watermark free photos john lennong no watermark free photos


Pain and/or Suffering: Compassion and Choices


September 16, 2014

We’d like to communicate through our blog what it’s like for us to be disabled, in pain, and yet still try our best to be productive, compassionate, and creative members of society. I don’t think we’ve addressed this head on yet, so today seems like a perfect day to begin.

August 9, 2014   [original date]

Both of us are in poor physical and cognitive states today. [It feels so heavy and difficult to write and reread that. It makes us not want to feel this way all the more, hoping that it won’t always be this way. Putting it out here, writing it down confirms how much it sucks.]

This is what makes it hard to concentrate, stay focused, access creativity, while dizziness and double vision make it hard to walk a straight line or see what it is we’re attempting to do, even if we’ve resigned ourselves to only doing a little bit today.

We’re sensitive to the fact that each day not used to write the novel and yes, the blog too, feels like wasted time. Intellectually, we can tell ourselves that this isn’t true. That somewhere underneath all the fog is a land where ideas are being served up every hour on the hour, percolating with other things we’ve already written down, and that it will later pop out in the perfect voice and word choice, furthering our plot and ideas forward.

Maybe this is the way the process goes. We often think it does… except on these kinds of days. Maybe it happens anyway and the suffering part is a howling wind blowing the ripples on top of the lake, leaving the bottom calm and undisturbed. We both like that idea, and maybe we’ll have the chance to test this little theory tomorrow or the day after – see what the internal artist has to show for itself.


So, what do we have to offer you today, gentle reader, as I struggle to write to the end of this post? I think it’s the difference between pain and suffering, a concept I read in the upcoming book title. I contemplate its intention along with my meditation practice: Meeting the Dragon: Ending Our Suffering By Entering Our Pain by Robert Augustus Masters.

One of the most important concepts, I feel, is that there is always a cognitive and emotional component to any physical pain… and most of the time vice versa. We can find ways to hold a conversation with ourselves to find out what magnetizes to the original, physical pain message that builds it into a mountain of suffering.

It is this connection and this conversation’s insights that can be gleaned from a number of actions: meditation as I mentioned, rapid writing to and from one’s self, role-playing with a trusted, safe, non-judgmental partner, or via the use of a tape or video recorder.

You may be surprised at what answers swim to the surface of your lake. Knowing is the beginning of change. And change can actually make the pain less. If it doesn’t go away, which I am most definitely not promising, at least there’s the possibility it can become manageable more of the time. There’s a new perspective.

It takes time and dedication, discipline and a sense of worthiness, but works regardless of how many times it becomes two steps forward and one step back. It has moved me forward, allowing the creative spirit some room to come forth.

For additional, hopefully helpful further reading on related topics: For the Time Being by Norman Fischer

I am definitely wishing those of you who are hurting the best of success in facing your pain. For those who’ve never had a day of pain in your life, I am delighted for you, and I hope it continues all of your days. However, there is a lot to be learned from this process, so should pain seek you out one day when you least expect it, hopefully you can remember that others have trod the path before you and unfurled themselves from the fetal position it often causes.

There are other aspects to this, such as communicating with your writing partner when you both feel ill and so forth, but that’s for another day.

Best wishes! [Leslie]

Have Dahl’s Hopes

Dahl Quote

(Andrea)   There is magic everywhere. We just have to be aware and open.   It’s a puzzle, but once you see the pattern you can find it if you want to. It’s also a game of hide and seek. Ask a question, spin yourself around, and then go find the answer.

Sometimes, it’s about admitting you’re afraid. Look at your fear and know that it will all be okay.

I took yesterday off since I worked all day [that] Saturday. I was very happy about being able to get some good organizational work done on the book. I was a little discouraged when I read on the Internet that some readers don’t like flashbacks, and that they are much more interested in the present. You may lose the reader if it’s not done correctly.

I have fretted about this since we need back story. Can the flashbacks hold the reader’s interest? Without them, I feel the story would fall short, so I am leaving them in. We may need to tweak and remove unnecessary parts, but I vote yes to the back story. (Leslie: “And I like it too.”)

After taking yesterday off, however, I haven’t been able to get back into the groove again today. I’ve been getting down on my work. Still, I know it’s a good story. Will others feel the same?

I watched a show that is in its final season. Though earlier seasons were enjoyable, this was not very good. They kept doing flashbacks for no reason other than filling space. It’s really boring. That was also where some of my fear’s been coming from today.

As I was sitting in doubt, my other sister sent me a “Words with friends” word. I looked at the word she sent, and it was, “Hope.” It was a much needed word on a day like this… a synchronicity of sorts, bringing the shift that I needed.

I shuffled my letters. Not the best ones. HHPADLS. What to do with that? I tried a few different combinations using ‘S’ at the end of hope. They all came back as ‘Not a word.’ I finally tried something different since I knew the word ‘Dal’ as lentils. I added an H for extra points to see if it would go. It did.

Now, sometimes I look up words when I don’t know what they mean. I wasn’t going to with this one but something nudged me.

Half way down the search results, I saw, ‘Roald Dahl.’ I’d never heard of him before but I did see a blurb that he was the writer of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Willy Wonka is a longtime favorite of mine as I am sure it is for many people. But the thing you see is that Willy Wonka has continued to come up since before I started writing the book and it keeps coming up. I see it all over the place. It’s even referenced in the book we’re writing.

Then I read some of his quotes. They spoke to me clearly. Of all the great ones, this one jumped out at me:

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Well, I believe.

The next word my sister sent was, “Have.”

I put them together and I ‘Have Dahl’s Hopes’

See the magic. Be the magic. That is my wish for everyone in this day and age.


(Leslie) This was written when August was brand new, and a lot’s flowed under the writing bridge since then. After writing the above, Andrea had seen Roald Dahl pretty much everywhere in the interim… so it only made sense to post this entry on what would have been his 98th birthday… today: the thirteenth of September.

Since this awareness of his existence has become evident, he whispers to us. We strive to approach that state where he lives, looking ever more closely, more carefully, for every tiny speck of magic. Then we can expand it on a daily basis, seeing ourselves stepping inside as we do.

EARLY EDITION (T-85 minutes, Birthday Edition)

It’s Still Summertime Here, Evidence to the Contrary.


It’s my cousin’s 50th birthday today, and I wish her much joy and health!

What does that have to do with writing? I feel that working on this book and sticking with it bears some similarity to that milestone. We are more than halfway. We can feel the story’s growing heft and what that means for our writing.

At the moment, we’re sitting in the screen room attached to the house that our family rents for a week each summer. The rhododendrons are at their peak bloom, with some displaying the darker, richer pink of the soon-to-bloom. That’s us. We are blooming every time we sit down to write, both in the story and with each other.

Beyond the blooms are the dark green leathery leaves. My eye doesn’t see more than a foot and a half deep before it looks like impenetrable, primitive forest. That’s also us. We know what we know, yet how it all comes together, which chapter comes before another, and how that background character eventually says enough to get his S.A.G. card? Those are mysteries right now… They tantalize us at every turn.

The sun and foliage cast wavering shadows across the furniture and floor, as well as the screens that surround us on two sides. There’s such a pleasant breeze. Much better than in the house at this hour where the air stifles everything it touches.

We, too, dabble in moving shapes of light and dark. It’s at the heart of our trade, our art. They’re woven together, the good and the bad, if such things truly exist: the mistakes made and the noble deeds done. There’s growth, meaning, and plenty of messes to clean up after.

Today, we love what we do so much that we are sitting side by side in the middle of the screen room so we can easily access each other’s computers and also have the beautiful view I describe.

Minds alert. Bodies relaxed and upright. Senses reaching out, minds remembering things that might be used.

The world is every writer’s fodder…. in the best of all possible ways.


The above was written earlier this summer when the season was still brand new.

It feels good to look back at what we’ve accomplished since then. We know our beginning and our ending, having drafted both. We figured out the first four chapters’ order and revised them as best we could in three or four passes. Then we sent our wee ones out to a professional editor for overall impressions and in-line suggestions. We received our feedback last night, and it’s incredibly helpful, broken down into pertinent categories for us in the overview.

It’s exciting because our editor’s notations led us to the conclusion that she wanted to read on. You may be thinking, ‘Of course she does as she will get paid for more,’ but the evidence in the details gave us a deep knowing – her interest in particular characters and plot points was well documented. Either way we find it inspiring, but that’s our perception, of course.

I heartily recommend the company that helped us take our text to the next level.  First Page, Last Page is a great resource for a variety of services, and editing is found under the ‘Our Feedback’ tab. Depending on your choice, you get quite a bit of help from their careful readings.

This is the first time I’ve written this way, but I have to admit it’s encouraging. Usually, I write the whole first draft as quickly as I possibly can, usually in November during (Inter)National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, with my inner editor tucked firmly away until Later, which is so far yet to happen. That is, at least, with the four novels I’ve so far “finished,” (50,000 words to ‘win’ the month) partially… or wholly, with a beginning, middle, and end.

There are many lists to help you get ‘Revision Ready’ at The Writer’s Block Blog, and this link will take you to one of them, from which you can navigate to others if you like. If you’re at that stage of the process where you’ve finished your first draft of whatever form of writing you’re working on, these can be helpful.

To end today’s post, I’ve included my own list of 6 actions around different points along writing’s way.

Six Suggestions for Start and Finish:

  • Open up your senses and take it all in. The world is a direct and often metaphorical treasure trove of inspiration.
  • Let your memory wash over you like a gentle wave, ebbing and flowing with ideas and analogies.
  • Write down your dreams as close to waking as possible and in as much detail as you can recall. Better yet, use a digital voice recorder.
  • Review what you’ve recently written to see if you can continue that flow or launch into a new direction or chapter.
  • Leave notes for yourself about your intentions at the end of what that session’s writing produced. Any thoughts about where you want to head next are especially helpful.
  • Close your eyes (or leave them open!) and let the last scene unfold on your inner movie screen. Any details that might be worth adding?

As for the evidence that summer’s drawing to a close: the fluttering yellow locust leaves heading downward like a gentle rain, the temperature dipping below 70 degrees during the daytime, and the children back to school one step up from last year may seem to suffice. I choose to believe it’s summer still, at least for another twelve days or so.

Happy dreaming, mind-mapping, drafting, revising, editing… you know: Writing!

(Best wishes, Leslie)

Distractions, Distractions, Distractions


(Leslie) We knew we would start writing a blog long before our book would ever see publication. This blog would be a record not only of our process and progress, but also of our interactions as we worked to overcome our health distractions. We tend to experience similar genetic challenges, and it helps us understand each other. In my bones I had the feeling that the blog would support the book, but also turn into its own thing with its own identity and message.

There were so many times when we’d be sitting on one of our couches, laughing at a line or having an, ‘Aha,’ moment. We’d look at each other and simultaneously say, ‘We should be recording this for the blog!’

Then last week arrived. It felt like time to start, so we did.

Here, then, is an entry Andrea wrote during this year’s annual family vacation, on a topic which most people can relate to in one way or another. I know I can. It’s basically the method behind my own personal madness. Enjoy.


(Andrea~) You guessed it. Today is all about distractions. We’re up in the mountains for our annual family vacation. Some of the players have changed but the usual suspects remain the same.

We are trying to get some work done even though there is family all around us. We stole away to Leslie’s bedroom for a little while on our second day after the longest game of UNO ever.


Soooo, the above sentences were written two days ago. It’s all I wrote because I got distracted. I am going to try and start again Before I do, here’s a link with tiny tips if you should ever find yourself in the Distraction boat:

Tips for Overcoming Distraction

Sometimes, I feel like such an imposter as far as my writing goes. There are so many incredible authors out there. Who am I to think that I can enter the arena? I have to remind myself, “Why not me?” and keep typing away. I pray that somewhere out there, there is a market for my style, ideas, and desire to entertain the only way I know how. I try to make myself laugh and not everyone appreciates my brand, but hopefully there are more who will.   One can only hope.

Two days ago we did some research because we need a way to fund our mission. That is, until we got distracted and pulled away by the events around us. It has been a little frustrating since we are finding more negatives than positives as we work. We’re not giving up though. We will keep going until we are completely satisfied and are both in agreement.

It’s great working with someone who is open, flexible, and rational. I consider myself much the same way, and hopefully my sister agrees. If she doesn’t, I truly hope she lets me know when she finishes reading this entry. It is so beneficial to work with your compatible partner.

Being a General Manager for many years gears me toward taking the lead in certain situations. It’s truly not my intention if that happens from time to time. I always had to take charge in the past, but I consider myself incredibly open-minded and rarely competitive. On a side note, my competitive nature comes out when I see that someone else is overly competitive. Then I want to beat them. Otherwise, all is well.

I know this is completely off course for what I am supposed to be writing about, but I got distracted by my thoughts. Par for the course.

I was able to write 1800 words yesterday, and I was very happy about it. I went in my room, put in my earbuds, and started writing. Yesterday morning I had the scene in my head and could picture what I needed so it was easier to write. I was determined to focus and just do it. Sometimes, it’s easier said than done but I was able to do it this time. That’s all I can ask for.

Today I thought of a scene I needed to insert. If I added the motivation for one of the characters to act a certain way towards the protagonist, it would make the plot clearer. I thought of this scene on the toilet, and I hoped it was a good idea! I feel some of my best thinking is done there since I am not being distracted by the outside world. It’s my own little “think tank (pun intended ;).”

I am trying not to distract myself as I write this. Trying not to think of the aches and pains that are running from my fingers down to my elbows and then up my arms. My head has been pounding for days, but I am hopeful that I will have a few headache-free days ahead of me on my vacation.

We just spied a dragonfly (Squirrel!) How does one not get distracted by the beauty of nature? (Squirrel!) This dragonfly was a striking cobalt blue, so we felt compelled to sit and stare for a bit. This turned into the need to get as close as possible, trying not to make a sound. The sneak worked because we were able to come within inches. We both love dragonflies. It was easy to get lost there for a while.

Time to turn to research once again. I hope we will find what we are looking for soon without getting too distracted. (Squirrel!)

How the ‘We’ Came to Be


Words hold power.

Whatever their intent.

Once spoken out loud,

Can never return home again.

Words written can remain hidden for as long as we desire. We can keep them to ourselves as thoughts, but do not be fooled. They are still heard. We are led by them regardless. An intention is set, and consciously or not, they are still out there.

These thoughts set a change in motion:

“I do not want to hurt in this relationship anymore, so I have to let go. Doesn’t stop the hurt though.“

“I can’t take this job another day: I have to get out. “

Then things got complicated. However silent, the truth was out. I couldn’t take it back or unthink the thoughts.

Thus began the breakdown of my foundation. It started with that story I told myself. The story that woke me up to the possibilities of a better life and a belief in myself. It’s important because it has made me who I am now.

But does it explain how the, “I have no idea what to do with my life anymore,” statement became a focused team effort?

I heard from so many, ”You should write.”

“Write? What? Who am ‘I’ to be writing?”

Being a chef for many years, everyone said, “Write a cookbook.”

I didn’t want to write a freaking cookbook. Hmmm, maybe I’ll write about how I used food to get my body and mind healthy again. The only problem was, I wasn’t healthy, and I couldn’t maintain my health through food anymore. I was so distraught, I reverted to my old habits.

I have a talent for looking fine on the outside, but the inside is another story.


For months my sister said, “We should write together.”

“Huh? Write what?” I thought it over.

I do express myself better through the written word. But once again, who am I to be writing anything?

Lost, I remained in solitude with my thoughts… and books and blogs. I read a lot, and the repeating message was, “Do what you love. What did you love to do as a child?”

The answer was, ‘I loved to write.”

I loved words. I loved to write poems, but after one poem was found when I was twelve, it was repeated so often with ‘intent to tease’ that it became my tormentor. I put down my pen… for good.

Or so I thought.

And then one day, my downstairs neighbor was screaming at his young daughter. It made me ill, and I was shaking. Screaming has an immediate reaction in my body. Even raised voices can do it. It came to me immediately, and I knew I was supposed to write and what the content would be. My purpose, which had escaped me for so long despite asking over and over to whoever was listening inside. I recognized it as the missing piece right away.

I needed a mentor now. A partner. My sister. I always knew if I was to write, we would do it together. She is knowledgeable in this area. I knew how lucky I was that it was all finally coming together. It was time to do this.

“What am I, crazy? Really, I’m going to write a book now after all these years?”

But the answer immediately came back loud and clear, “Yes. I am going to write a book with my sister.”

The wild adventure begins. How fortunate I am to be given this chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do, but had completely forgotten once life got in the way.     (~Andrea)


I looked at my sister and saw myself… struggling with identity issues now that an earthquake of health challenges and new questions had entered her mind. Unlikely, but true: I entered a similar phase of my life twelve years earlier. It took me a long time to move one step after another from where I was to where I am now.

I still experience chronic pain and wrestle with depression, but something is different now. Time has passed with lessons learned. Pain and suffering can be two separate things.

I saw Andrea suffer and said to myself, “I know this. Maybe I can be of help.” I started researching the kinds of things she might do from home. One of the opportunities I found didn’t suit her, but it wound up giving ME a road forward. I am now slowly moving through training myself – as a life coach and writing mentor. Continuing aspects of what I did when I was a teacher. It gave me great joy then and now with my first coaching clients.

If only I could find something to engage my sister. She was not ready to take suggestions at first, but I held a space for her in my own consciousness so that it would be there at the right moment, if she had need of it.

I knew she was a good writer, but honestly I didn’t know how good. I didn’t know how much the writing would take root in her mind, heart, and spirit. How the story would become alive for and within her, as it had for me in my novels.

That is the point when a writer starts dreaming about their characters and story, waking with ideas, watching a movie and seeing a structure, or noting narration or exposition they’d choose to avoid. It’s there, percolating under the surface all the time, tendrils reaching out for resonance and impact.

I spent time with her during her transition. By that I mean the time before she started writing our book, as well as day One and after. I cannot easily explain how much lighter her whole self became immediately upon grabbing a pen to find her purpose and principle character. It was a lightning mood transformation from the much denser self she carried during all those months prior to finding herself in writing.

It was like watching a parched sponge placed in a beautiful clay bowl of liquid, swelling and springing back to life as it absorbs that for which it’s always longed: Water.

Water in the desert.      (~Leslie)


So here we are, sharing our stories with you in case they help you in any way hold hope in your life. We want you to know, that however slowly or quickly, with each step forward, things can improve.

We say this in the lightest, most pressure-free manner possible as we are traveling the uphill and rocky road ourselves.

We welcome your comments.

Collaboration Elaboration

“Monsters lead such interesting lives.”

Quoted by ‘My Hero,’ Bugs Bunny.


Bugs always met others who were not willing to collaborate. Imagine if the ‘other guy’ worked with Bugs and not against him… how much more they could accomplish, whether it’s surviving on a desert island, taking a road trip to Albuquerque, or writing a blog. Simple, right? Well, that depends.

Collaboration is an interesting monster. Something completely foreign to me, but I am enjoying the process. Bugs is a character and so am I, or so I’ve been told. My ‘Cartoonus Operendi’ would be Tangent Girl. Able to have 5 conversations with the same person all at once.

Leslie writes with sophistication, and I write in a simpler fashion. We work well together since the multiple characters benefit from our different styles. Leslie is ‘pomme de terre’ whereas I am simply ‘potato,’ a sweet potato but potato nonetheless.

Not the couch variety but hey, it happens from time to time.

In fact we’re collaborating right now. We’re using TeamViewer software because it lets us share the same screen. The bonus is it’s lightweight and free.

Here’s the link if you’re interested:

TeamViewer at CNet’s

“Leslie here: we’re demonstrating collaboration on this post, invisibly all along, but now with new improved Quotes ™ added. When I chime in, quotation marks will envelop my words.”

“I think what I love most about collaboration is that I let down my defenses so I can hear another person’s ideas. In this way Andrea and I can create our best possible writing.”

I think what I like most is the silliness that happens throughout the process. It makes those days that are tedious more enjoyable. I’m excited when we go through what we’ve written and tweak it together, weaving two styles into one without stepping on each other’s toes. It can be a delicate process, and we’re learning all the time. We’ve come a long way as human beings and do our best to leave our egos at the door.

“The process of growing as human beings continues. We check in with each other’s state and self-care because we know how easy it is to push ourselves beyond what’s best for our health. We have challenges in that and other departments. We have to schedule our time in conscious chunks in order to do our best work, stopping before our brains turn to mush.”

“As to what you said earlier about our egos, Andrea, I think it’s true that we make our best  effort. Happily, it’s getting easier as we continue. It’s all about the listening. Not just hearing the words, but listening to our own impressions as well as each other’s. The work we do on ourselves benefits the project as it helps us grow. It’s the very opposite of a vicious cycle. I call it the Slinky™ construction theory (S.C.T.), where each time we head back around to familiar territory, we’re up one level.”

Speaking of collaboration, we just collaborated right before your very eyes. It was behind the scenes. Being a potato, a simple carbohydrate, I didn’t understand this so-called Slinky™ theory and asked for collaboration elaboration. ‘Construction’ was added for my clarification.

It comes down to balance and reining in one another. It’s very important to actually enjoy the person you are working with.

“I’m grateful for when these three things happen:

  1. I like my writing partner. That’s you, Andrea, who also spots things I miss.
  2. We make each other laugh.
  3. At least one of us knows how much fun to have if it gets too serious, or how much serious to add if we have too much fun. The roles switch back and forth between us. That’s because of the balance you mentioned before.”

“What would you say is the most important point of this post, Anj?”

It takes interesting monsters and heroes to craft a good story and a great life.


“Thank you for reading along with us. Today is our launch day. We are excited to start. Our intention is to publish new content on Wednesdays and Sundays. It will be written by one or both of us.”