The Start of the Season: Silvertops

My sweet tooth has been getting the better of me lately. I would blame it on pregnancy, but the fact of the matter is that it always gets worse at Christmas.

There are so many delicious cookies and types of fudge to make. Most of it gets given away, but there’s one kind of cookie that ends up getting mostly consumed here: the silvertops.

They’re known by many different names, but the peanut butter cookies with Hershey Kisses on top will always be silvertops to me. (The name comes from the foil on the Kiss.)


Want to try your hand at my family’s recipe? Check it out below.

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The Mystery of the Alarm Clock

The older I get, the more I realize that I like old technology as much as the new at times. Case in point: my alarm clock. I’ve had the same one for at least fifteen years because it knows how to wake me up properly.

I’ve never been much of a morning person (and it has only gotten more pronounced with pregnancy), so the abruptness of regular alarm clocks kills a little piece of my soul. There’s no easing into the morning with them. They just start shouting mercilessly.

Enter my alarm clock. Stick in a CD. (I think most kids still know what those are.) Set the time. In the morning, I’m eased into the day with gentle music. Yes, my husband’s alarm goes off a few minutes later as a precaution (and as the signal to the cat that he can finally start begging for breakfast), but at least I’m at some level of alertness instead of being startled awake.

The trouble, though, is that things have recently changed with my alarm clock. Does it know that my sleep schedule will soon fall under the dictates of a crying baby? Is it showing some resentment because I missed a milestone anniversary that I’m not aware of? Has post-modernism taken over? Or does it just prefer words now? I’m not sure. But now the display always looks something like this.


The hour has been transformed into a J, regardless of the hour. As minutes tick away, they look like secret messages. Joy. Jog. Jes. Jig.

The clock still knows the hour. The alarm still goes off faithfully. It’s like time is a secret it’s chosen to keep to itself for some unknown reason.

I feel conflicted about what to do. I should take the batteries out, unplug it, and see what it does when it gets power back. But part of me is afraid that it won’t work properly again if I do (and I’m not thinking CD player alarm clocks exist anymore), and part of me would miss this strange phenomenon.

So I put off doing anything about it for a little longer and enjoy this strange phenomenon. Maybe I’ll figure out what’s going on eventually.


Slow-Mo November

When I decided to focus this NaNoWriMo on my first novel, I determined to let the story take its course. No specific guidelines or word counts. Just an intentional focus on the story because life demands it.

What I didn’t expect was to reach the halfway point with only 444 words.

I’ve found, though, that this story isn’t in first draft mode, even though I’m trying new things. Words don’t gush onto the screen at a furious pace. Instead, each is meticulously chosen with the obsession that comes with later drafts. It’s like it wants to be as close to perfection as it can be the first time around, and it won’t let me move any faster. It really feels like writing in slow motion.

But that’s okay. The lacking word count doesn’t reflect the amount of thinking that’s gone into the story. It’s more like a butterfly carefully working its way out of the cocoon. Hopefully what emerges is far better than what I would have if I hurried through.

How are you writing projects going? Do you sometimes find that your writing seems to move in slow motion?

Post #601

I originally had another idea for today’s post, but then I realized something. This is post #601.

601 blog posts. It’s taken seven and a half years to reach that number, but here we are. And how different everything is than when I started.

Back in 2010, I didn’t quite know what to write, and I posted for several months before anyone even stumbled across my blog. I suppose I could have changed that, but I was too introverted to start randomly following people and too private to advertise to people I knew that I had a blog. Not that the second one has changed much. Only three people who know me personally have ever been here.

I’m still working on the same novel, though there are plenty of new projects in the works as well. But even seeing how much that first novel has changed over the past seven years is amazing. It’s grown up alongside me. Maybe one day, it’ll finally reach maturity, though I’m not counting my chickens yet. After all, I used to think it would be publishable by the time I was sixteen.

But one thing hasn’t changed. I still love to write. This outlet has turned into a good excuse to keep consistent with my writing habit, even in seasons when it’s not the easiest thing to do. And it’s allowed me to see how much I’ve changed as a person and a writer over the past seven and a half years. It’s like a writing time capsule, and one that I get to enjoy with you.

How long have you been blogging? Has your blog changed over the years or have you stayed consistent throughout?

My Non-Traditional NaNoWriMo

After having a great time with it last year, I’ve forgone NaNoWriMo this year. And seven days into November, I’m glad that I did. Life is centered around preparation right now — painting the baby’s room, picking out the right car seat, readying myself emotionally and physically, making sure my classes will survive without me during leave — and 1,667 words a day would have ended up falling by the wayside.

But that doesn’t mean my novel (the very first one) isn’t getting any attention. In fact, I think it’s had its most productive month in a long time.

The word count is low, but the ideas are flowing. I want to try new things and apply ideas that I’ve learned since the last time I touched it.

It’s not a traditional NaNoWriMo, but this month is still about that novel and making something happen.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What writing projects are you currently working on?

The Great Mystery Book: The Voynich Manuscript

I have a thing for gathering random facts and information. I think it’s partly nature and partly nurture. My mom has always been a collector of facts, to the point that she could easily win Jeopardy if she ever applied to be a contestant.

As I grew up, I realized just how handy knowing so many random things can be for writing, which has only fed my need to create a personal menagerie of random facts. My husband always laughs when our evening conversations start with me saying, “So I was watching this documentary on poisonous potatoes in the Andes today…” (And if you’re interested, it’s “Food: Delicious Science” on Netflix.)

Needless to say, when I happened across a TED-Ed about a book written in a seemingly real language no one knows and filled with unusual paintings, I had to watch it. We live in a time when so many mysteries can be answered with history and science, but this is one that has remained an enigma. It’s enough to get the imagination going, whether it’s to figure out the truth behind the book or find inspiration to write a story in which there’s a similarly mysterious book.

Have you ever heard of the Voynich Manuscript? Do you have any similar mysteries in your stories?


Today, NaNoWriMo’s writing prompt was a simple one: why I write. Even though I’m not planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year, it seemed like the perfect topic for today’s post. 

Why do I write?

I write because I have to. Words flow through me, bidden or unbidden. Simple morning walks, people watching, the silence of waiting for students to finish a test — all transform into narration whispered in my mind.

I write to understand what I’m facing. When I’m afraid, struggling, unsure, my characters face those fears along with me, and we work through them together. Sometimes I invite the characters in so we can confide in one another. But many times, they come on their own, knowing when I need them the most. Together, we fight through and find the answers.

I write because I have something to say. My mouth doesn’t always know the right words, but they flow out of the pen effortlessly. It’s as natural as breathing. I don’t always know if they’re words that others need to see too, but they’re the words that I need to express.

I write because I love it. It makes me feel alive. It’s what I was born to do.

Why do you write?