Daily Tao ☯ 5.18.17

A MUCH better work day today. Solid planning and outlining, editing some cool stuff for a project y’all will hear about shortly, and, of course, a mega-storm that as of this writing has dumped nearly a foot of snow on us, with more to come, which spurred me on to great focus and energy.

I am worried about the goslings, and I saw a hummingbird, so we put out some food for them, so they have enough energy to stay alive in this. Other than that, it’s a stunningly gorgeous winter wonderland. It snows in May a lot out here. Growing up, it always snowed on or around my birthday. This is a nice treat, considering we came out for the snow in March and ended up in shorts. 

As much as I accomplished, I forget how hard it is to start a book. It’s super strange to have the ideas bouncing around but not be getting up in the morning to write them down yet. Such is the annoyance of the outlining process for me. I spent so many years just diving in and figuring it out as I went that this whole planning a book stuff isn’t my forte. But planning I am, and with luck, I can start actual writing next week.  

Amazon launched their new bestseller list today, which is a very interesting set up and a clear shot across the bow to the NYT. One list is for actual sales, and one tracks which books are being read. In doing that, Amazon acknowledges how we buy books but don’t read them right away. I’m guilty of buying books that I don’t read for months, and we’re conditioning readers for a sale, which is rough on front list, but a boon to our backlist titles.

Case in point, I’m curious to see which, if any, of my books ever show up on either one of these lists. 14, Taylor Jackson #2, is a Kindle Daily Deal today for .99 — will those sales be enough to push me on? I have no idea. Will this help tap into the zeitgeist, as they claim? Perhaps, though the Reads list is limited to digital, so it’s not a fully comprehensive look, because there are still a lot of people only reading print. But as far as I know, it’s the first of its kind trying to measure what people are actually reading, and so warrants watching. 

Will you be paying attention to Amazon Charts? Do you pay attention to any bestseller lists?

That's today's food for thought. I’m off to watch the snow and keep dreaming up plot points. Sweet dreams!

Greetings From Colorado

Happy Tuesday, chickens! I've jetted across the country to Colorado, where I am taking refuge from all this travel at my parents'. I'm holed up trying to meet a minor deadline, and this is just the place for it. Fresh mountain air, beautiful scenery, and some pets to love. They have an adorable miniature pincher named Jetta, and a gorgeous Siamese named Jamocha. If my man was here it would be perfect. That, and the disappearance of the pesky sore throat and fever that joined the party this morning. Not surprising after two weeks of canned air. I am sucking down tea and lozenges at a rapid pace.

Every time I come out here, I'm struck by the same emotions. I thought I'd share the essay I wrote once upon a time, (August 2006, to be exact) just because it makes me happy to do so. Here you go, and have a superb week!


I’m away from home this week, visiting family in Colorado. I'm trying to work. I’m sitting on the deck, trying desperately to hit that magic 1,000 word a day vacation goal. I’m pecking away at the keyboard of my laptop, and I can’t concentrate.

It is just so beautiful here.

This is my home, where I spent my formative years. All of my firsts happened in this area. I learned to golf, and swim, and play tennis, and ski here. I learned to drive, had my first kiss, lost a close friend to suicide. I spent all of my time out of doors, leaving the house first thing in the morning and not returning until the gloaming. There were three of us in kindergarten, and it wasn’t until second grade that they decided to bus in some kids from neighboring areas, so we weren’t alone.

I learned to drive, to dream, to work. I fell in and out of love with my brother’s friends. I snuck off into the red rocks with a couple of friends to smoke cigarettes; we discovered dinosaur tracks in the rocks. I was isolated by geography, yet lived the fullest possible life that a child could lead.

These are often melancholy memories, for I left this area under extreme duress when I was a teenager. My parents moved us to Washington, D.C., someplace I had absolutely no interest in going to. I cried for a year. I left every part of me behind. For many unfortunate years, I believed I left the best parts of me behind.

This area is so fraught with emotion, with memories, that I can’t seem to work on the new book. From an objective sense, the beauty of the area overwhelms me. But what’s really happening is everywhere I look, I see the ghost of a smaller me, sniffing the bark of the pine trees trying to decide if the scent is chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. (Don’t believe me? Try it.)

I am so inextricably linked to these woods, these rocks, the greens, blues, blacks and browns, the deer and bear, that I can’t seem to keep Nashville and Taylor Jackson, my protagonist, foremost in my mind.

I’ve settled for writing some short stories. The tenor is completely different from some of my earlier work. It’s moody, and atmospheric, and I’m finding new expressions to illustrate my surroundings. I think once I’m back home, in my office, staring at the river birch outside my window, I’ll be able to refocus on Nashville, and killers, and homicide lieutenants.

This does not bode well for the lifelong dream – the house in Tuscany half the year to write, write, write.

In the meantime, I want to watch the black storm clouds lurk over the jade and stone mountains. I want to smell the sparkling air, tinged with the scent of wet asphalt, moldy leaves and the barest hint of skunk. I want to laugh at the antics of the towhees, scratching for dinner in the scrub oak.

I want to watch the golfers stream in off the course, shouting admirations to one another as they come in to the 19th hole for a post-round drink.

I want to watch the deer wander through the backyard, stopping at the birdbath for a quenching draught of water. They all seem to have had twins this year, so Bambi keeps interrupting my thoughts. (As does Jetta the Wonderdog.) They’re all adorable.

Each time I return, I realize that I didn’t leave the best parts of me behind, but stamped my imprint on the area in such a palpable yet subtle way that I will always feel like I’ve come home.

It’s okay that I can’t work on the book. There are other avenues to explore, other stories to put on paper. I hope to take it home with me, this texture and depth. For today though, this setting is just one spark that I will use to write something... different.


So tell me, what's your favorite place in the world???