Here on the west end of Malibu, I spend most of my days writing. I’ve been at a particular pitch for twelve years or so, and what I’ve come to realize is, if a writer stays with it consistently, they’ll realize they’ve created a lifestyle that feels like a spinning wheel whose spokes include the writing of a book, the book’s pre-release promotion,  post-release promotion, oftentimes travel to book events, and all the while, a work-in-progress that perpetuates the cycle.

I discovered long ago that balance is key to being a writer. I don’t think it’s healthy to spend too much time at my desk. I’m in the habit of stringing three or four hours in front of my computer then going outside to walk around, see if the sun is shining, put Groove Music on my headphones, and walk to the beach to watch the surfers. A little air and movement always does me good.


But it’s amazing what can happen from the simple act of walking outside while taking a break from my desk. Last week, it was this: WP_20200524_10_12_55_Pro

An egret walked around our backyard. It’s been seven days since this majestic bird appeared, and it shows no enthusiasm toward leaving. The Malibu terrain this time of year is hot and dry, and that means the prevalence of lizards, which, I suspect, is the egret’s draw.


Egret Front Door

As you can see from the above photograph, the egret has made itself quite at home. Even our female, German shepherd, Ceili has grown used to it, though this isn’t always the case, especially when our other two shepherds are involved.

Here are Ceili, Ronin, and our 9-month-old puppy, Sorcha: three German shepherds with Irish names.


When it comes to seeking balance in my writing life, the environment I live in, and those that populate it give me a sense of balance.

I’m like may writers. I live on a wheel that constantly spins. It suits me, this combination of creativity, dedication, and purpose. Being a novelist is a fulltime job with no “there” to get to, only the commitment and perseverance it takes to stay on the path. As for the outcome of each book, beyond doing the very best I can do, it’s not my business. My business is to enjoy the process. I am grateful beyond measure when anything comes from one of my books, but it’s enough to enjoy the quality of my days; that I am spending time the way I like to, building something that matters to me, then walking outside to see what’s happening.


Eulogy for Shadow

The mornings without her are the worst, in that slip of time between the dream state and the metal glare of remembering Shadow’s not there—that she won’t be eye-level to the bed as she has been for years, drawing me impatiently from my slumber, anxious to start her day.
The world was a big, joyous place, according to Shadow, and I couldn’t help but see it through her eyes. Every morning she’d squeal and clamor as if time were wasting. There were scents outside with clues in the yard, and sticks and pine cones shaken to the ground that couldn’t wait another minute. Oh, get up, get up, she’d insist; the world awaits with endless possibilities!
I am listless in her absence. I do not want to rise from this bed. There is no comfort in this house, yet I cannot bear to walk outside where she used to play. I cannot put my shoes on without remembering how the act sent her into spinning rapture, and there is too much space around me without her underfoot.
I never knew silence could affect me physically, that it could start with a ringing in my ears then land so heavily on my heart. If I rise now, every gesture in the rhythm of my day will lack her, and every movement without purpose in this world now grown flat. I roll to my right and see her toys strewn around her fleece covered bed. I should get up and put her bear and her balls away, find some place to put that pine cone, but I can’t bring myself to disrupt her last arrangement. I want to leave everything as Shadow placed it because I still marvel at the single-mindedness with which she marked her place in the world.
I think I will lie here until her spirit comes wet-nosed to soothe me. I lack the strength to rise to a world that exists without her, and there will be no joy if her spirit does not come. I need to lie here until I remember what joy is; I’ve been too long following her lead and have forgotten how to find it on my own.
I am frozen in this bed with the thought of taking my heart back from Shadow. The prospect seems something I am incapable of, and right now I would rather lie in this pain forever than place one foot to a floor where she does not lay. She was ceaseless, constant, beautiful, unending. She came lovingly, unquestioning, every time I called her name.
Hear now, Shadow, my voice as I call you, “Here pretty girl; baby come home.”