Rough Drafts & Creative Writing

The Disappearing Rainbow” & ” The Clumsy Kid,” courtesy of Colton Anderson

Four. More. Days!!!!!! I’ve been going on little sleep in anticipation of the book launch party! I hope to see you there!

I’ve been assigned my first editing job. Yep. It’s a crafty selection titled, “The Clumsy Kid,” and was written by my creative nephew, Colton, who is in 3rd grade. My heart was full when he called me and asked me if I’d be willing to edit his book (seriously, soooo cute!). When I saw him the next day and asked what he had in mind, I realized he not only wants me to edit the book, but publish it (hardcover preferred), type it (no problem) and change the illustrations, which are “rough sketches of stick people” to “real” illustrations (yep, this is a problem here!).

In addition to this, I was asked to speak with a class of 3rd graders about the creative writing and editing process. I can’t tell you how excited I am! We are going to do a fun writing prompt and I’m going to share my very first published book with them: a book that went through a few rough drafts before being published with a wallpaper book cover. And guess what?! I was in 3rd grade at the time. I’m also going to show them the many rough, ugly stages of my novel, red marks/corrections/edits and all. I can’t wait!

So amid all the crazy plate-spinning and learning of the business side of marketing and selling books (definitely not as fun as the writing side of things), I realized that if this whole process inspires just one kid to chase a dream or pursue writing, it was all worth it.

All the hassle. All the hustle. All the humility. All the hope. WORTH IT.

Book Launch!

I’m beyond excited to launch my debut novel at my favorite bookstore!!! Come celebrate with us (and if you’ve never been to Fox Den, you might want to come prepared with your holiday gift list…they have the most unique gifts around)!


Refreshments, Raffles, Reading & Conversation (sorry, can’t think of an appropriate “R” word at the moment). After almost 3 years of this project, I can’t wait to share it with you!

Cover Release!

I’m beyond thrilled to see the long-anticipated cover for Becoming American! I absolutely love it!!!

I have to admit that other than how people would respond to the story-line and characters in the book, I was most worried about the cover. What if it didn’t draw people in? There are many times I buy a book just for the sake of the beautiful cover (I know, kind of judgemental, but it’s true). I also wanted to incorporate some of the symbolism in the book. Although I had sent over some other covers I like for ideas, I didn’t want to nag and wanted to trust the designer.

Low and behold, the universe pulled in the thoughts of my publisher, myself and a designer I’ve never met or communicated with. And the cover of my dreams came to fruition. I’m just as excited for the back cover as the front, though I’m unable to upload that side of the book for now. I hope you like it as much as I do:)


Today I’m thinking about God-winks. Otherwise known as coincidences or irony . I heard them called “God-winks” and like that idea better than random chance.

I began writing Becoming American about 3 or 4 years ago. It started off as a short story assignment that led into a long story. It even had a different name at that time: We All Bleed Red. Anyway, I poured a lot of energy into it and then when I sent it out to publishers, it needed some story-line edits and I felt lost in the drafts. I was burnt out, but didn’t see it. The best advice I had gotten was at a writer’s conference when my current publisher, who was a guest speaker, advised to separate a while. Take a break. Come back with a fresh perspective.

It was tough. I’m the kind of person who only starts a project that I know I can finish and finish well. Maybe even with a slight perfectionist drive. But, I also get distracted by other projects and tend to go “all-in” all at once.

Well, I listened. I took a break.

One day on the way home from Woodbury, I asked God whether I should let this go. I was questioning myself. Questioning Him. At that time, I really struggled with doing anything that wasn’t productive. Gardening? Only if it produced vegetables. Running? Only if I listened to self-development and pushed it until it hurt (didn’t take long for that part!). Well, I kid you not, I pulled onto 94 and a car cut me off to the point where it caught my attention.

I was shocked. Not by the idiot driver, believe me, there’s a ton of them on 94. It was the license plate: ALLU.

Allu is the name of my main character, which is obviously not a common name (with a couple of random numbers). I was ecstatic. I might have even waved to this random person who I normally would’ve honked at (keeping it polite here people).

This doesn’t always happen. I wish it did. Believe me, there are plenty of times when I question what I’m doing and nothing happens. I can’t find the signs anywhere. But then there are times of extreme doubt when little God-winks show up.

Just the other day, I again was questioning myself on whether I’m doing the right things with Becoming American (aka We All Bleed Red). I have majorly edited it several times. I had gotten some good advice to change some major elements in the book. Yes, three weeks before publication. I wasn’t sure what to do. I began to unload groceries from the back of our truck and a very shiny quarter caught my eye. It was right there on the back seat, under my bag of groceries. It was tails. But the tail was a Pearl Harbor Memorial.

My book centers around Pearl Harbor and World War II. I made the decision to make the edits and it turned out, I found a simple way of addressing all (six!) of the concerns (on a side note, I’m thankful to this reviewer who lived through the internment experience and offered a few suggestions). I’ve worked too hard on this project to not have it as accurate as possible and I want this book to honor the battalions mentioned and be sensitive to the people who were involved in this time period of uncertainty.

It could be mere coincidence, but I’d much rather believe these are signs we’re on the right path. Little assurances.

When was the last time God winked at you? Did you notice?

WWII Veteran, 97, receives Frances highest honor

“A debt that France owes America’s greatest generation for their service in World War II is a debt that the French people will never be able to repay in full,” Lacroix said. “The French people will never, ever forget the sacrifice of Mr. Higashi, of all the men and women who served in Europe for their country, but also for my country.”

Higashi, one of three South Dakotans to be recognized with the Legion of Honor last week, was born in Belle Fourche where his family operated a small vegetable farm. The family later moved to Spearfish where Higashi graduated from high school in 1941, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Months later, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II that put the freedom of Japanese-American families in jeopardy.

Japanese American families, particularly those on the West Coast, were forced to uproot their lives, ordered to give up their homes and businesses, and forced into relocation centers or internment camps.

To keep reading this great article, click on the following link:


Over the weekend, I got the opportunity to visit the Military Intelligence Language School exhibit at Fort Snelling.

A lot of our success against the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II, is due to the work of this group. Their history is fascinating and is just coming to light after being classified during the war and couldn’t be spoken of.

When Pearl Harbor was bombed, Executive Order 9066 was signed by Roosevelt, encamping thousands of Japanese-American families, many of whom were born in the US and never been to Japan. Imagine, tomorrow you wake up to find you are being encamped at an unknown location because you are Norwegian. Or German. Or Irish. Forced to sell your belongings at a next-to-nothing price. But you’ve never been to Norway or Germany or Ireland. You were born here. You’re American, aren’t you?

This is what Executive Order 9066 did on the West Coast. This posed a problem for the Military Intelligence Learning School (MILS), composed primarily of Japanese-American men and women, who were stationed in San Francisco at the Presidio. This group was trained in military heigo and was responsible for interpreting enemy documents and war plans, interrogating enemy soldiers and even assisting soldiers in the field, (including paratroopers), in communication efforts with the enemy.

The problem/irony in being located at the Presidio in San Fran? Anytime the linguist specialists were ordered to report to General DeWitt (who was heavily responsible for the Executive Order in the first place), they were arrested while crossing the grounds to the General’s office! Seriously?!


So, the language school was relocated to Savage, Minnesota and later on, Fort Snelling.

It’s a fascinating story. These men and women even helped with the aftermath of World War II, including assisting in Japanese War Crime trials. Their efforts were critical in winning the war.

And their story is just coming to surface.


Deep breath. After one more round of edits, my manuscript for Becoming American will be sent off for reviews.

I know we’re told over and over in life not to care about what anyone thinks, BUT I DO! I care all the time and am admittedly a “people-pleaser” to a fault. If someone is rude to me when I smile at them or I can tell they are whispering about me, I WANT TO KNOW WHY!

Why? Because I want to be likeable. I don’t want people to ever feel like I’m a jerk. There’s enough of them out there already.

And especially now, I really care about what others think. I really want readers to get something out of my book. Emotion. Knowledge. Something. And, I want them to like it. Maybe not all of them, but the majority anyway and especially the reviewers if their reviews are going on the back cover! After all, who wants to get a ” this book is total shit” review?

Regardless, I am thrilled for my reviewers! I’ve connected with a handful of authors and organizations and can’t wait for them to share their opinions and thoughts on the book. They’re really the first ones to read it, other than Freddy and the kids (who were almost too brutally honest and made me cut the first few pages of what I thought was beautiful writing…their thoughts? Boring! Too flowery! Boo. They’ve obviously never read Nicholas Sparks).

So, stay tuned for the positive reviews! God knows, I will not be posting any of the ones that are unfavorable!


Ever feel like your life is messy? Not a complete mess, but messy. You know, like your yard is a weedy wreck and more creeping charlie than grass? Like you have too much clutter on your countertops, dressers? Like people who are supposed to be getting back to you are not? Like people who you always go out of your way to help are nowhere to be found when you could use a little help with something?

Today the breaking point for me was trying to get my middle school daughter’s schedule to print. After finally getting it printed, it was another issue to try to figure out how to read it and lay it out in a planner to simplify the transition to middle school. Another frustration. And the dog is barking and the hamburger is burning and I’m trying to solve another issue with a neighbor and a family member and…the list goes on. And I’m supposed to feel inspired enough to write or edit or whatever I’m supposed to be doing right now.

I lost it. Over a ridiculous printing malfunction. And I don’t like to ask for help. To look incapable of anything. It’s a serious flaw.

Sterling gave me the best advice to give it a break for a while. Sad, I needed advice from a nine year old. But, he was right. I needed to walk away for five minutes before I went all “Office Space” on my laptop ( although, when he beats up the fax machine with a baseball bat, that’s my favorite scene of the movie!!!)

Anyway, it was a reminder that I need to de-clutter and simplify. My home. My life. My schedule. The running around constantly (I need to get my kids on board with this one). The other alternative is to give it all up. All the material stuff that doesn’t matter. Sell it all and travel lightly around the world. Soooo tempting. I think about this all the time and Freddy and I talk about constant travel when the kids are self-sufficient and out of the house.

UNTIL then, simplify, simplify, simplify. De-cluttering my house and schedule is like cleaning out and de-cluttering my mind and will hopefully leave space for creativity and maybe even a little peace.

Goodnight Moon

If you’ve ever tucked a child into bed, or remember your own childhood, more than likely you are familiar with my all-time favorite baby book, Goodnight Moon. It was written over 70 years ago and still sells like crazy! In fact, it’s always my go-to book for baby shower gift baskets. Not only is the repetition fun for little ones (who like to add their own good-nights to every object in the room to put off going to bed), but it’s fun to read!

I was surprised to read that the author, Margaret Brown, was quite the party animal in the day and liked to throw elaborate drinking parties! So it turns out, maybe a little drinking causes creativity? If so, there’s hope for most of us (I can imagine her saying goodnight to everything in her room as it spun around her after a rough party…how she remembered it the next day to write it down, is impressive!)

Anyway, I love reading rejection letters from famous authors and this is one of my favorites! It reminds me of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie (another great!) when Freddie Mercury tells his record label, something along the line of “you’ll forever be remembered as the guy who lost Queen.”

My personal favorite children’s bedtime story…73 years after being published
“Long, confusing bedtime story…Miss Brown, telephones do not belong in a child’s room!”

I love how the agent confesses, “Parents do not want to answer questions at bedtime. They want their children to quickly fall asleep so they can finally read their own books,” and that they are seeking books about “kittens, colors and barns!”

Anyway, I had to share this! It shows we can’t let others put limitations on what our vision is nor can we please people all the time. Don’t worry about what others think! Odds are, someone will be positively impacted by your work, possibly even billions of babies, turned mothers, fathers and grandparents who at one time and maybe still, say goodnight to the moon and the light and the red balloon.


If repetition is the key to all learning, then anticipation is the key to staying excited.

Everyone goes through the valleys of life. Sometimes I don’t even know why I’m in one, but I recognize the feeling. You know the one. The feeling of being overwhelmed by life. When it seems like every time you turn around, life laughs at you and throws you something else to handle just to see if you can handle it without completely breaking.

I try to take a step back (after a lot of coffee, chocolate or yes, wine) and take myself out of the picture frame to see what pulls me through these times. Usually, I come up with the same answer: gratitude and anticipation (and yes, coffee, chocolate, wine and a good laugh with friends or hubby). Anticipation always keeps me excited or gets me excited about life again.

Anticipation of what?

Anticipation of anything I’m looking forward to. Big or small. It could be a wedding (I LOVE weddings and yes, good wedding cake…especially the almond-flavored cake with raspberry layer) or it could be the excitement of planning a vacation full of adventures and unknown or favorite places.

But most of the time, the anticipation is for the smaller things. Like looking forward to bringing the kids to a nearby water park for the day. Or watching one of the kid’s sporting events. OR having a full 2-3 hours without the kids! Or here’s another BIG anticipation: once in a freakish blue moon, a full day of ADULT TIME. The last time this happened, we tried to cram in EVERYTHING and after kayaking the Kinni and hitting up the winery, we accidentally FELL ASLEEP! Can you believe it? We fell asleep and woke up at 2 am, realizing it. Seriously. We stay up hours later binge-watching Netflix when the kids are home. Hours. Later.

The anticipation of little things pulls me through the week, but then sometimes, there are the BIG ANTICIPATIONS. The release of my book cover is one of these. I am so excited to see the cover options for this book! It’s part of why I love working with such a great agent (Brittiany) and smaller publishing house. I have creative input in the cover. Coming up with ideas and throwing them at Brittiany is one of the coolest parts of this publishing process, even if it means trying really hard to be flexible and letting go of control (at least a little bit).

SO, beyond the 4th of July shenanigans and the craziness of sports camps for the kids and Basilica Block Party (full weekend in Minneapolis!), my BIGGEST ANTICIPATION of July is the cover release for this thing that started off as a 4-paragraph short story challenge for a writing class four years ago and now is going to become a real book. I still have to pinch myself once in a while.

Find the things. Find the exciting things, both small and big every week and especially when you’re walking the dark valleys and it doesn’t feel like there’s much in life to be excited about. Turns out, there’s usually a lot of goodness in your life, meant especially for you, but if you don’t search for it or focus on it, it’s easy to overlook.