For the past few weeks, I have been editing and compiling. I haven’t been doing much writing. I can feel it. Everything I am doing feels harder, takes more effort and will, is less bright and compelling. It’s a subtle thing, this effect that not writing has on me. Not slogging through waste-deep mud. More like walking on semi-loose sand for a long time.

When I write, the experience feels like I’m pushing back a curtain within myself, like I’m stepping around a barrier that exists in me, and the work of words gets me deeper, more into the core of who I am.

I was reminded of that fact this morning as I listened to Maile Silva and Shawn Smucker’s wonderful new podcast, Stories Between Us. Maile was talking about how writing connects her to a sense of play, to a place where the burdens of adult life feel lighter. (She says it better, so be sure to listen.)  I hadn’t ever thought of it that way, but it’s so true.

In my new cozy mystery, Publishable By DeathI had such fun. It’s a genre I love reading, and it turns out I love writing it, too. I get to make up quirky characters and give dogs whimsical names like Taco and Sasquatch. I get to design a town and design a bookstore. Even picking my pen name – ACF Bookens – was fun because it’s a play on books and my initials.

This morning, as I listened to Maile and Shawn talk, as I thought about my own writing practice, about how it keeps me balanced and level, about how it is one of the key ways I stay healthy emotionally and psychologically, Milo (age 16 months) sat in the back of the car chattering away in his own developing version of English that is made up of lots of syllables and animal sounds. He was chewing on his shoe and talking away, playing as he watched the autumn leaves go by. He had no responsibilities, no plans, no things he felt like he should be doing. He was just chattering on while he ate his shoe. It was beautiful. (I was also glad I’d cleaned his shoes.)

That’s much the way I feel when I write – like the best thing I could possibly be doing at that moment is play with words. It’s life-giving to lose myself in creation. It’s restorative and rewarding – all for the sake of itself.

On Friday for NaNoWriMo, I begin the draft of the next book in the St. Marin’s Cozy Mystery series, Entitled To Kill (even the punny titles were fun to write), and I get to play with a death at a farm stand. I can’t wait!

How about you? What does a regular practice of writing give you in terms of health or joy? What do you feel like when you aren’t writing regularly? 


Sales of Love Letters To Writers keep going up slowly but surely. I’m at 286 of the 1,000 I hope to see by year’s end with a REALLY BIG promo coming up the week of Nov 11th. (Stay tuned for details.) Plus, Love Letters To Writers, Volume II is set to come out on November 19th. 

I’m looking for ARC readers for that book, so if you’d like to get a FREE copy of the second volume with my humble request that you review it at your favorite retailer on the 19th, please email me at, and I’ll get a copy off to you! THANKS.