Before I Write

October 16, 2009
Before I write, I make sure the house is clean, the lawn is watered, the laundry is done, I've figured out everything I'm doing that week, the following week, the following month and the following year, my "to do" list is updated, urgent and not-so-urgent emails are answered, the coffee is made, the refrigerator is clean, every room in the house is dusted, the hard drive is cleared of any duplicate files, the Netflix queue list is in the correct order, the grocery list is complete with necessary items for the week, there is paper in the printer, I know what I'm making for dinner, I add more necessary items to the grocery list, I recheck my New Year's resolutions, I start a list of new New Year's resolutions, I promise myself to sit up straight, listen more, chill out, have faith, breathe, appreciate. And, then I write. But first, I have to update the updated "to do" list, check that the porch is swept, the bills are paid, the beds are made, I've done enough Portia publicity, my entire career is visualized and charted, my dream vacation is planned, and...

Just Outside My Window

May 18, 2009
There is a secret world that I share every time I sit down to write. It's just outside my window. And it's wild. I mean, I have experienced some crazy Los Angeles wildlife in my own backyard. I've outsmarted squirrels so I could rescue the last remaining piece of fruit on my old fig tree. I've stared down gnarly raccoons that dared to poo in my kids' plastic turtle pool. I've spied on a pair of bottom heavy skunks waddling up my back stairs with their bushy tails pointing straight to the sky. And one day, late in the afternoon, Hollywood cinematographers refer to it as golden hour, the magic light just before sunset, a coyote trotted past my window. At first I thought it was a shadow produced from the large leafy branches of the fig tree. But it wasn't. I saw the long scraggly tail, then followed the fast moving shape up the hill behind a line of shrubs on the top tier of our hilly backyard. It had a narrow frame with a messy fur coat and a sinister grin. And the pointiest nose on an animal I've ever seen. The way he moved was eerie. It was as if he were a ghost. That's just the beginning. The bumblebees that buzz around the ground cover, the spiders with their four-star web work, and the elaborate ant colonies. But mostly it's the birds. A squawking flock of wild geese just flew overheard a minute ago. It's crazy out there. This wild kingdom has even crossed over into the pages of my books. If you read the first Portia Avatar story, Portia's Ultra Mysterious Double Life, you'll see that two birds are singing to each other in the last chapter. I had just spoken to my editor and needed a way to end the book. After I hung up the phone, I took a deep breath and listened to the sounds in the room. There were two birds singing loudly outside my window, each borrowing from each other's melodies. Immediately, I knew how the book would end. And in the second book, Portia's Exclusive and Confidential Rules on True Friendship, birds follow Portia whenever she walks around her small town of Palmville. A few of them even made it to the cover. So... maybe this world of nature stirring just outside my window is not so secret after all. Maybe it even plays a part of what inspires every day.

2009, Day 3

January 05, 2009
Happy New Year! This author portal-thing is so exciting to me. I'd love to hear what you're thinking and get some feedback. I just delivered the second Portia book last week. My tireless editor < I heart LIesa :)! > was working on it right up to Xmas Eve! Anyway, it'll be ready for the world on May 5 '09 . I'm hoping and wishing for an awesome new year for you and the world. Here we go... Anna

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