Shigamitsuku to You Too

A friend of mine posted on Facebook about her book addiction. She buys more than she could possibly read. There is, of course, a term for this. Tsundoku. The article she linked to went on to say that the word in Japan comes from doku, or reading, and tsun, to pile up. A pile up of books. However, Google translate came up with poison for doku and tsun for tsun. Not helpful. The whole word translated to Loading.

Now, I don’t speak Japanese and don’t pretend to understand the nuance of their language, and these might be Google translation errors, but it got me thinking about my own addiction – to glass.

I have two bottles, one a rich cobalt blue that I am incapable of getting rid of. Oh, how I have tried. The color of cobalt blue and the smooth surface of the glass entices me to pull them from whatever donation pile they make their way too. The thought of tossing them in the recycling bin gives me shivers.

Why is this? I’m not a hoarder, and for the most part have no trouble tossing worn items or things I haven’t touched in years into the bin. But these two glass bottles defy me. I have not used them for anything but décor for decades. Literally decades. Yes, I could fall back on Marie Kondo and say they spark joy, but not enough to have them displayed. I don’t fear that the minute they are gone I’ll need them. The color and material just click for me. I have other blue glass and perhaps I don’t agonize over those because they were gifts from special people, and I have no intention of getting rid of them.

Of course, this needs a Japanese name. Using Google translate again, I came up with Shigamitsuku – or holding onto. It works for anything you hold onto.

As I write, the glass bottles have moved into the garage into the “extra jar” storage. We’ll see if I can get rid of them after they’ve aged out there for a summer. Or better yet – anyone want them?

Who Was Sydney Porter?

Ever since Sydney Porter: Dog Girl came out people have asked me where the name came from. I started with my love of the name Sydney. Some names just resonate with us. As a writer I read the obituaries (I know, weird uh?) looking for unusual names. The name of the character can communicate thematic elements, foreshadow the story plot or just be fun to say.

In this case, I started with the name Sydney and researched famous people in history. Of course every internet search turns up lots of extras. In this case, there are a number of living people who sport the moniker Sydney Porter.

The Sydney Porter that sealed the deal for me though, was William Sydney Porter. While that name might not ring any bells, the name O. Henry might. The American short story writer was born William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). His stories often had twists and surprise endings. In addition he was known for his witty narration. Who better to aspire to? Given that the story Dog Girl is about a girl that turned into a dog and part of the story is written from the perspective of a dog, witty narration seemed appropriate.

So that’s the story. I hope O. Henry’s ghost would approve.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow! This year has whizzed by and here it is Thanksgiving Week. With the world topsy-turvy as it is, I am thankful that I have family and friends who are normal. I know, I know, Normal is subjective. To ME, they are polite, kind, thoughtful, caring and supportive. I happen to think that is normal, even if we don’t see it on the news each night.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

I’m grateful for everyone who bought a book this year. Sydney Porter: Dog Girl came out at the end of October and it has been fun to share the story. I’m especially grateful that the book reached Amazon Best Seller status and #1 New Release.

I attended the Society of Women Engineers conference sWE19, which was a blast in addition to a traipse down memory lane. I reconnected with so many engineering buddies and heard the latest in technology and science. Folks, there are some AMAZING things happening in our world, and some equally AMAZING women engineers doing them. I am grateful that so many young people are choosing engineering as a career – we need them and we need diverse engineers designing the products we use.

And I’m grateful for you. If you’ve made it this far you are a reader, follower, friend. Thanks for sticking with me. Fingers crossed that next year will yield several more book releases and a few sneak previews of chapters from the book I’m writing through National Novel Month (which is in November). Its a dystopian sci/fi thriller. At least that’s the plan…. 🙂



SWE WE19 – November 7

I’m embarrassed to admit that the last time I came to a SWE conference was the Long Beach conference in 2009. Ten years ago. Then, I was amazed to see around 7000 attendees. This year, in Anaheim, the unofficial tally is over 16,000. I’ve heard there are around 600 employers here looking for new hires. It is a good time to be an engineer. Alas, that phase of my life is past me. My goal of finding tips on making STEM fields appealing to middle-grade and higher school aged kids in fiction took me to a few sessions today.

Standing Room Only at 8:30 AM. These chairs filled quickly

The Keynote address by Carol Malnati (VP of R&D at Medtronic) netted a few inspirational thoughts. “Don’t let adversity harden your heart. Let it harden your determination.” She encouraged listeners to focus on what’s in front of you, not the entirety of the challenge/problem and to love the journey you are on. These are fitting words for anyone. She closed with, “Enjoy losing your way, finding yourself, as we live, we learn, we lead.”

Next up was a session on Reaching Out to Over 1000 Middle School Girls. Sarah Gilmore, Strategic Account Manager at Keysight Technologies in the Denver area spoke about a program I’d never heard of. GESTEM. Girls Experience STEM. She is the chair of a group that runs an impressive program for middle school girls. Their goal is to expose girls to STEM who wouldn’t be exposed in their day to day life. It strikes me that as an author that is a wonderful goal for myself.

My next session was Human Space Flight: Is the Technology Ready? The short answer is – don’t go buying a ticket to stay on the International Space Station (ISS) or a hotel in low-earth orbit any time soon. While things are moving steadily forward, you should invest the $28 million it will cost you in todays dollars until it is safer and more common. The technologies that will enable your higher than anyone view of earth are the Delta Heavy IV rocket, the crew capsule (Orian and SpaceX) and BEAM Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. These technologies are at Technology Readiness Levels of 7 and 8. You don’t want to don a space suit and climb into one of these systems until they hit 9.

The last session, Do After School Robotics Programs Help Keep Girls in STEM, reviewed data from a five-year, national study. The short answer is yes. Though I think that was what we all thought intuitively, it is nice to have data to back it up. I learned two new ideas in this session that I think have applicability in many fields. “Gracious Professionalism” and “Cooperatition.” We can compete with grace, courtesy and cooperation. We don’t have to nuke the competition. Interesting thought in today’s nuclear melt-down political environment.


Travel to SWE 19

Weird to be back in Long Beach, California. I lived here between 1984 and 1991, under the private plane path to the landing strips. Now I’m deplaning at that very airport – though it has changed. Originally built in 1920, the art deco building I remembered is still here, it’s blue and white coloring reminiscent of the Pacific Ocean and the fog that cleared just as we landed. A new, modern terminal was built to the west with shops and an outdoor eating area. Baggage claim is still a carousel outside, but at least it’s covered.

The ride to Anaheim and WE19 conference was a cruise down memory lane, though not all of it fond. Mostly I remember that the LA area freeways are – overall – ugly and crowded. Nothing has changed.  

I’m here to attend the Society of Women Engineers 2019 National Convention. Might even be international by now. I’ll have stats later, but besides being a lifetime member and Fellow, I’m here to pickup tips on how to encourage kids, and especially girls, to consider a STE< career.

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) is all the rage these days, mainly because companies have figured out that a workforce lush with female voices is more profitable. See this article for more.

I’ll be posting as I go with interesting facts and ideas for middle grade and YA authors to mine for topics and approaches to write science-based fiction. If you have questions you’d like answered, I want to know! Comment here or on my FB page.


Cover Reveal!

I’m excited to share the cover of my next book – Sydney Porter: Dog Girl to be released in November through Keyes Canyon Press! Artist Basia Tran really captured the essence of Sydney’s transformation from an 11-year old girl into Syd the dog and back again. Signup for the email list to get early notice of pre-order info.W_BookMockup_02


Solitude or Loneliness?

“Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone and has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” Paul Tillich

They say writing is therapy. It has taken me some time to appreciate the truth of that. Recent suicides by famous people who on the outside look to have everything that could make a person happy opened a window into loneliness and its role in my life.

red and blue hot air balloon floating on air on body of water during night time
Photo by Bess Hamiti on

As I write, I am alone. The solitude sort of aloneness that I need for my mental health. My partner is off on a camping trip and I stayed home with dogs and my own schedule.

I’ve been journaling this week about the meaning and roll of loneliness in human existence.  I’ve also shared my thoughts with those in my weekly orbit of conversations. These people ranged from those who live alone by choice, those who live alone due to the death of a loved one, and those who are surrounded by people and still feel a deep loneliness.

In the quiet of morning, memories come back to me of times when loneliness defined my life. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a deep psychoanalysis, but this is a subject we need to talk about, not hide away in shame. The recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain illustrate this.

We moved a lot when I was a kid. Every 2-3 years, and I wasn’t fast, or good at making friends when we got to a new house. My sister excels in this, and I’m jealous of that ability. So much of my childhood was playing alone, which I became very adept at, to the point of pride. I don’t need friends I told myself. As hard as it is to say, that attitude stuck with me well into my 50s.

In high school I dreamed of becoming a hermit, living in the mountains, off the land, and far from human contact. This was the era of Euell Gibbons and his wild foods movement. I figured I could handle it. I could eat trees and not have to kill anything. Plus, there was the advantage of not having to make any friends – since there would be none to be had. In hindsight it reflected my lack of relationships. I wanted to hide.

I got involved in school and work, joined groups, often took leadership positions, yet in all those years there isn’t one person I’d call the type of friend I keep touch with. I had a best friend in high school (at personal expense to my dad’s career he kept us in the same high school for 4 years) and a best friend in college. Those two are still friends. The rest turned out to be acquaintances. They didn’t fill the hole I felt inside.

Like a lot of people, I was lonely in plain sight of folks to connect with. Psychologists believe that over 40% of adults report feeling lonely despite unprecedented technologies to connect people, and loneliness has grown to be considered a public health crisis.[1]

Two of my friends have developed the ability to convert loneliness into solitude, one through a long list of satisfying activities and the other through meditation. Learning that inspired me to rise early this morning and combine meditation and yoga before beginning my day. This is important to me because loneliness can trigger serious health complications like a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety.[2]

In looking at quotes about loneliness I came across this one that seemed to sum things up.

The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness – Norman Cousins.

I wish you all the best in your personal battles with this many-armed beast.

Paul Johannes Tillich (August 20, 1886 – October 22, 1965) was a German-American Christian existentialist philosopher and Lutheran Protestant theologian who is widely regarded as one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century.

[1] Work and the Loneliness Epidemic, Vice-Admiral Vivek Murthy, September 2017

[2] Vice-Admiral Vivek Murthy, Work and the Loneliness Epidemic, September 2017


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