Moodboard: A Classic Kitchen

You guys, I haven't even found a house yet and already I'm having a hard time picking just one style for the kitchen. There are so many options! Painted cabinets or wood? Concrete, soapstone or marble? Subway tile or mosaic? Does it make a difference if the home is a 20s bungalow or a 50s ranch?

It's going to be difficult to choose. Good thing I've made so many moodboards.


This one is one of the more traditional I've created, at least as far as materials go. Whether it would win over a kitchen with a bolder color or perhaps some patterned tile is yet to be seen.

The breakdown:
1. The layout: One of the very first things I told my realtor when I met him back in October was, "I hate eat-in kitchens." I also told him I didn't entertain, and yet now all I want to do is invite a ton of people over to have dinner in my fabulous eat-in kitchen.

I absolutely love this kitchen by Petra Bindel. I imagine my moodboard kitchen with a similar layout: an upper cabinet or two with a reclaimed wood shelf growing out of the bottom and a table that doubles as an island.

The kitchen that inspired that layout (and, for a preview, about 3 other moodboards.)

2. The counters: I had black granite counters in the condo and I wasn't a huge fan of them. They showed everything! Not only did that mean I couldn't be a slob, I also couldn't wipe the counter off because the sponge would leave visible watermarks on the stone. Sigh. These are the difficult #firstworldproblems I deal with.

Despite that I've developed a love of soapstone. It reminds me a bit of honed marble in a way. Marble's having it's moment in the spotlight; maybe soapstone is next and I'd actually be ahead of the curve. That doesn't happen very often.

3. The cabinets: They're blue. If you've read more than one post on this blog you are already well aware of my borderline obsession with blue.

4. The backsplash: This is simply marble in a hexagon shape. I was inspired by this image where they left the hexagon edge exposed. I wouldn't do so in this kitchen because the backsplash butts up against the reclaimed wood shelf, but I may play with that in one of the other 35 kitchen moodboards I'm sure to make. (Sorry for making you click through to the image rather than posting it here. I can't find the original source but want to be respectful of their rights.)

What do you think? Any suggestions for this kitchen or my future kitchen brainstorming?


A Photo Tour of Reykjavik

I'm still trolling the whole of East Nashville for the perfect (for me) home. It's been slow going since apparently an extra cold winter is not a particularly good time to find a house (who knew.) The good news is I'm having a great time hanging with the parents and I'm saving money to go to awesome places like Iceland:

My Mom and I went to Reykjavik just before Christmas, and let me tell you: it is a stunning city. It's right on the water, there are beautiful mountains surrounding it, and the whole place has a very Scandinavian vibe. With the snow and Christmas decorations, it felt like a winter wonderland.

Yes Santa, Coke is true like a pig.

We took a trip around the Golden Circle. My bad photography doesn't do the place justice.

I'm not typically a woman who wants to go to a place repeatedly. It's no offense to the places I've been; simply an indication of how many places there are to go in the world and how little time I have to go to all of them. Iceland though, Iceland I would like to return to. In fact, I was already planning a trip around the Ring Road before I even left. 

The flight to Iceland is only six hours and Icelandair runs frequent specials. If you've ever considered taking a trip there, I highly recommend you act on that impulse. There's a reason it's so highly regarded. 

Anyone been to Iceland or going anytime soon? Recommendations for my next trip?


Trying to Design Around a Leather Sofa

As someone who owns a much-beloved dog who is not only allowed on the couch, but is actively encouraged to be on the couch, I often think I should suck it up and invest in a leather sofa. I could just sweep his dog hair off with my hands and if he got a little overenthusiastic licking his paws and started licking the couch, it wouldn't leave an ugly stain I'd have to figure out how to clean without staining it further.

All good things. But the problem is, I just don't know how to decorate with them. My current sofa is blue and this is where I'd ideally like my next living room to go:

I like neutral walls and floors (including rugs) with big, bold colors on my furniture. Leather sofas force the opposite.

Still, the benefits are huge and I'm sure if I bought a leather sofa (and could find a way to actually like it), I could use it for 10+ years. So instead of spending my Sunday packing (like I should be doing), I created moodboards. Ah procrastination. Some college habits die hard.

I've always liked this West Elm sofa. I thought maybe if I put a colorful blue wall behind it I would like it. Didn't work. Thought I'd try a colorful rug. Again. Didn't like that either. Just colorful furniture around it? Better. I don't hate it. It's not as me at the board at the top, but I could live in it.

Then, I thought the unthinkable: black leather. The domain of 80's-era bachelor pads. Usually seen only in dimly lit apartments with a surround sound system and shag carpets. Yes, I went there:

And I actually kind of like it. The image on West Elm's site shows the color a little better:

Do I like it enough to spend considerably more money than the green Ikea sofa that would eat Rocky's dog hair like the Cookie Monster eats chocolate chips? I don't know. But atleast I have a viable option. And a craving for cookies...

So tell me, would I be adding myself to the design hall of shame if I bought a leather sofa? Any other suggestions for making leather more colorful without painting the walls or using a colorful rug?


Moodboards for Houses I Haven't Bought

Things are trucking along here for one side of the home selling/buying equation. The condo officially hit the market around lunchtime the Friday before last. By Saturday evening I had an offer; Sunday I had another. Some zoning questions came up Monday that nearly derailed everything and turned me into a raving lunatic who was on the verge of suing someone, but fortunately lawyers came to the rescue, sorted everything out and I had a signed contract by Tuesday (and kept my head).


The other side of the equation hasn't been moving as quickly. I have found three properties that I could see myself living in. Each time I have turned into a mental decorating machine, devouring blogs, shelter mags and Pinterest photos thinking about how that space could become mine. I suppose that's part of the process, yes?

I'm obviously not under contract with any of the three, given the headline to this post, but that hasn't stopped me from developing moodboards.

This past weekend I saw this house, which had a ton of space, great light from the front window and a yard that wasn't too big or too small. (My poor realtor; I'm like the Goldilocks of lawns.) It also had the original kitchen and bathroom from the 50s, which I was happy about...except that it was priced like it had at least a new Ikea kitchen. I made an offer anyways but unfortunately someone else also came in with a higher offer and I wasn't interested in getting in a bidding war over a house that had a pretty slim margin to begin with.

That did not, however, stop me from spending approximately 5 hours Sunday planning out how I would use and decorate an extension at the back. For as much light as the front of the house got, the back was a little gloomy. So, I figured why not embrace the darkness and turn it into a TV room complete with dark gray walls, a dark gray sofa and dark gray curtains?

Sounds delightful, right?

I don't think it's terrible. I actually really hope it works out that I can use that sofa. It's from West Elm and the chaise piece detaches so you can have it on the right, left or not at all.

One of the brilliant things about this move (aside from getting a fenced in yard so Rocky can sniff every blade of grass in the yard when it's 30 degrees out without me having to accompany him), is that I can finally buy all new living room furniture. Woo hoo! In fact, I might put everything up on Craigslist in the next two weeks so I don't even have to move it.

I have developed several other moodboards preparing for this eventuality, all involving this fabulous new ikea sofa (which, yes, means I need a house with room for two sofas...and a raise):

The room started here:

Assuming I find something soon, this is likely the general direction the house will take. Blue, Green, Black, White, Gray and Wood. What more do you need?

It then evolved into this because for some inexplicable reason I am in love with French chairs/settees at the moment:

So much beautiful furniture in one room. Now I'm still totally undecided on whether or not I like it all together, but they sure are beautiful pieces individually.

Sadly, these are not the only moodboards I've created for homes I do not yet own, but it's getting late and I have to go stand outside in the cold while Rocky tries to figure out which neighborhood dog peed on which plant, so I suppose I'll save those for another post--perhaps one in which I'm actually under contract for said house.

In the meantime I'd love to hear any thoughts or additions you may have to the general living room/den directions for my imaginary homes.

Oh and to answer the question I know everyone is thinking: I will be moving in with my parents in the meantime. No I will not be living in the basement and no I do no currently have plans to take up dungeons and dragons. (All joking aside, it's great to have the option so I don't have to rush or overpay to avoid living under a bridge. Plus, they're pretty fun and definitely better cooks than me.)

Back soon with more info!


An Update on the Home Front

For being a primarily a home decorating blog, this place has been terribly lacking in home decorating posts lately. The simple reason for that is I haven’t been doing any home decorating. It’s hard to motivate yourself to improve your current home when you’re planning on leaving it.
Yep—I’m planning on selling the condo and moving into a small house, with a small yard so Rocky can run around and mark his kingdom and I can read outside and attempt to keep plants alive.
This desire for outdoor space has been slowly creeping up over the last couple years but has kicked into overdrive now that the big apartment complex next to me is open and occupied. Overall the influx of new people has been good for the neighborhood, but it means I can’t sit on my tiny porch and read a book any longer without having to talk to someone passing every couple of minutes. Why can’t I just be a rude neighbor and ignore them you may be asking? Well, it would be cruel to leave Rocky inside while I enjoy the outdoors and he’s so darn cute everyone has to stop and admire him. I can’t blame them.
So yes, outdoor space is needed.
I technically started looking this summer, but I’ve only recently gotten serious. I have a new realtor who seems to be quite the whippersnapper, which means I need to get my place ready to sell soon since I suspect things will move quickly. The good news is that I will soon be forced to deep clean the place and take pictures of it, so you can finally see more than just small vignettes in the condo. Plus, once I have a new place, all kinds of new decorating will occur. Huzzah!


Escaping the Cult of Busyness

You know the Cult of Busyness, the one we all joined that has us proclaiming “we’re crazy busy!” at every social event and leaves us overwhelmed and drained every Sunday night because we crammed too much into our weekends and are looking at a calendar for a week that promises to be “insanely busy”? Yeah, that cult. I’m in it, and I want out.
For the last month, I have been “insanely busy”. I’ve had some things come up at work that have necessitated long hours in a windowless building. I signed up for a graphic design class. The hockey season has resumed. I’ve been involved in some really cool things like biking to the Jack Daniels Distillery, going to NY Comic Con and attending the Southern Festival of Books. (Photos coming soon!)
It’s sometimes been fun. But I’ve also eaten out for almost every meal, refused to allow anyone in the condo at Oktoberfest (which takes place in my neighborhood) because it’s filthy, haven’t seen one of my best friends since her birthday in August and have for the most part, felt completely overwhelmed the entire time.
Prior to this month, life was just “crazy busy.”  I have spent many a social evenings over the last couple years proclaiming my “busyness.” To be honest, there are times when there’s not even that much truth to it. Busy has just become the default word we use to describe our normal state, replacing fine. Perhaps there a pride to being busy; to be not-busy is to be boring, lazy, or worst of all, unambitious.
I don’t subscribe to that notion. Doing a lot does not always correlate to progress, and doing nothing is not sloth. Look at how many great ideas come to us when we’re in the shower, totally relaxed and not at all busy. How many great ideas are we missing out on because our brains are always focused on some preplanned activity?
Starting today, I’m changing both the way I talk about my life and the way I prioritize it.
The former is a simple enough fix: there are approximately a million words in the English language. I’m sure a couple of them would be sufficient replacements for “busy”. I consider myself to be an honest person. If my life is full of fun and exciting things that make me feel alive, then I’ll say what it is: full. If my life is filled with activities I did because I felt obligated or because I’m planning for some ambiguous future, then I’ll have to call that like it is as well: a lack of prioritization.
Now setting those priorities into an actual schedule is more difficult. I’ve made a lot of changes in that area over the last couple years, which have helped, but clearly not enough. I’ve cut back on volunteer work (sorry world- I’ll be back someday), I no longer feel bad if I don’t update this blog for several weeks at a time (sorry readers) and I’ve started saying maybe instead of yes (sorry people looking for yeses). Most of the things that would be automatic yeses don’t sound nearly as good a few days after the maybe.
More than anything I need to make time for cooking healthy meals, getting back in shape and sleeping a reasonable amount. I have a plan to do so. It involves making fewer plans during the week, using my vacation time to take the occasional Friday off instead of just hoarding it for long trips, not signing up for any class that lasts longer than four weeks, and potentially, even paying someone to complete some tasks for me (like cleaning.) I’m also refusing to feel guiltly for things that don’t get done. So my “novel” will take about 10 years to write. Well then it’ll take 10 years to write. C’est la vie.
I hope that anyone reading this and nodding along will join me in this effort to slow down and appreciate life more. Perhaps we can set an example for others, leading to a new cult: the cult of leisure.


Good Books I've Read Lately

The beauty of working in the book industry is I have access to so many books. Discounted books, free books, e-books, audio books, books that haven't yet been published--I have more books than I could ever possibly read. I added yet another one to my to-read pile today.

For whatever reason, I find books tend to go in waves where I'll read ten just okay books in a row and then will all of a sudden be hit with winner after winner after winner. I'm fortunately in one of the latter stretches right now and wanted to share some of these titles with you guys, particularly because several of them are being released in the next couple weeks.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Apparently, Marisha Pessl was considered a literary wunderkind when her first book Special Topics in Calamity Physics came out in 2006. I enjoyed the book--in fact I still have it, which means it has survived approximately 35 book donation purges in those seven years--but I had no idea how hyped the author was until I almost literally stumbled across her display at BookExpo America in May. She was there in support of Night Film, which was just recently released, and based on my appreciation for her debut, I waited in line for 30 minutes to get a signed promo copy. (Apologies to any of my coworkers reading this for slacking off!)

I'm glad I did. I started reading it that night and despite the fact that I was "working" 12 hour days that week (and enjoying all the goodness of NYC in the off hours), I was still cranking through about 100 pages of Night Film a night.

Night Film opens with the apparent suicide of Ashley Cordova, former piano prodigy and daughter of the cult-horror-film director Stanislav Cordova. Scott McGrath, an investigative journalist whose career and marriage were ruined by the elder Cordova, suspects foul play, and with the help of two not-entirely-welcome sidekicks, begins an investigation that leads them deep into the dark world of the reclusive director.

This is not a horror book of the Steven King variety. But it is suspenseful. Intensely suspenseful. In fact, on two different nights while reading this book I had to get up and turn on the bathroom light to keep my mind from ruminating on the shadows in the room. I'm not a person who watches horror films or otherwise seeks out scares, but this suspense simply sucked me in further and kept me up reading because I simply had to know what happened.

In a move that could have come off as cheesy but instead gave the story a dose of realism, the book is sprinkled with fake New York Times articles and recreations of websites. These elements combined with the extensive world the author dreamed up for Cordova almost trick the mind into believing it's a true story rather than a novel.

I suspect we'll be seeing this one on the big screen in a couple years--but the book's always better so I'd recommend reading it now. Just remember to leave a light on.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Wild is the only one of these titles I didn't receive as a publisher promo. It was released in 2012, was quickly chosen as part of Oprah's book club and promptly became hugely controversial in the way that popular travel narratives by women occasionally do. (Looking at you Eat, Pray, Love.)

I read reviews about these two books and I'm baffled because I don't understand what some of these readers thought they were getting. So I'll start with what this book is not: it is not a how-to book, it is not an advice book and it is not the journal of a perfectly happy, well-adjusted young woman who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) because she thinks it would be the fun thing to do. Quite the opposite. This is the story of a woman who loses her mother to cancer at age 21. The story of a woman left adrift as her abusive father has long been out of the picture, her stepfather marries another woman entirely too quickly and the fragile bonds of her family fall apart. It's the story of woman who treats her husband, the one remaining person in her life, terribly, cheating on him and distancing herself from him until their marriage ends. This is the story of a woman who searches for herself in the beds of strangers and the manufactured euphoria of drugs. And only then, when she has lost so much and made so many bad decisions, is it the story of a woman who hikes the PCT.

The writing is wonderful. As I've learned in my writing adventures, conveying emotion is hard. It's so easy for writing to become overwrought or cheesy, like the literary version of a soap opera on Telemundo. Unlike my poor, sad story, Wild does not come across as a soap opera.

The author's honesty is impressive. I believe memoirs should be read the same way as novels, as a story with complex characters overcoming something that gives the story a narrative arch. That said, I really respect the author for putting herself out there, warts and all. Strayed shows some ugly sides to herself, sides I wouldn't tell some of my closest friends, and yet for the sake of the story, she told the whole world. I respect that.

This book admittedly isn't for everyone. But it was for me. If you enjoy books with flawed characters, fine writing and a large dollop of adventure, it may be for you as well.

We Are Water by Wally Lamb
I love Wally Lamb. Most people know him as the author of She's Come Undone. I however am partial to I Know This Much is True. It's the story of twin brothers, one of whom is schizophrenic and chops his hand off in the opening scene. Uplifting, right?

Lamb's books are like that. He has a way of taking a very complex character, a character who you probably wouldn't want to hang out with in real life, and turning them into someone you'll shed tears over. We Are Water is no different.

We Are Water is the story of the Ohs: the divorced Orion and Annie and their children Andrew, Ariane and Marisa. After 27 years of marriage, Annie left Orion for Viveca, the art dealer who turned Annie into an art superstar. With Annie and Viveca's wedding coming up, Lamb weaves through each family member's story, showing how they're dealing with this change and the forces that led each of them to this point.

It's a sweeping novel that incorporates not only the Oh's struggles, but also the 1963 Norwich flood and the story of an African-American artist named Josephus Jones who struggled to gain acceptance for his work in the 1950s and 60s. Both story lines hugely impact the Oh's modern-day narrative, with the latter proving especially emotional for me.

I'm making We Are Water sound very sad, and in some ways it is, but the characters are each so resilient in their own way, and you grow so attached to them over the course of 500+ pages, that by the end, you can't help but feel hopeful for each of them and their futures together. Above all, this is a novel that makes you think about the bonds that tie people: how they are formed and how strong they really are.

We Are Water will be available October 22.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we have The Rosie Project, a bit of a rom-com told from the male perspective. In particular, this male is 40-something Don Tillman, a socially awkward Australian scientist who has decided it is time to find a wife. I can not do the premise justice on my own, so instead I give you the publisher's blurb (courtesy of Goodreads):

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.
Or a believer in astrology...which means I'd be out. Given that Rosie Jarman is all of these things (probably including an astrology believer), she is definitely out. And yet, when Rosie comes to Don seeking help finding her biological father, Don puts aside The Wife Project in favor of The Father Project, and shockingly, finds he's having fun.

Don Tillman is one of the most charming narrators I've ever encountered in a book and I found myself literally cheering him along as struggles to make sense of his feelings for Rosie. The Rosie Project is an easy and fun read, and I dare you to not fall a little in love with Don as he stretches himself to make friends and find love.

The Rosie Project will be available October 1.

(Whew, writing reviews is hard! It took two weeks to cobble together these feeble reviews. If you like them, I'll keep them coming though as I find great upcoming titles in the book bins. Perhaps not four at a time though... If you'd like to follow along with what I'm reading in the meantime, you can find my Goodreads profile here.)


Five Dream Trips

It has been 335 days since my last big trip. Sure, I took a weekend getaway to NYC back in February, but we’re coming up on one whole year without a week-long adventure. It’s making me antsy.

I have a 1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die page-a-day calendar on my desk that shows me a different destination each day. (Today’s is Medina, Saudi Arabia.) I save the ones that really inspire me and when that mid-afternoon food lull inevitably hits, I stare at them and daydream about the trips I want to take.

I want to go nearly everywhere (although Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly high on my list…) but there are five trips in particular that I would categorize as dream trips. I don’t think any of these will be my Fall adventure since all five require money, time and serious planning, but who knows—maybe the law of attraction will help make one a reality for me in 2014.

In no particular order, my dream trips are:

1. Hiking the Grande Randonnée in France
Unlike most of my trip ideas, this particular one has a very distinct inception point: this article by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was drawn to the article because I enjoy Gilbert's travel writing (it's often exactly what I was talking about last week), and by the time I finished the article I knew I had to recreate her trip. 

The Grande Randonnée is a series of walking trails connecting small French towns from the border of Spain to the border of Belgium. I encourage you to read the article, but if for some reason you can't, the Cliff's Notes version is that Gilbert and her husband spent two weeks walking between towns in the South of France eating cheese and baguettes and drinking wine. Is it any wonder why I want to take this trip?

2. African Safari During the Wildebeest Migration
I went to South Africa five years ago and by far the coolest thing I did was go on a safari. I’ve always planned to go back and do a longer one, but this time I want to go to the Serengeti, specifically during the Wildebeest Migration. Every year huge numbers of wildebeest migrate south to north across the Serengeti following the rains. Naturally all the area predators come out to prey on the weak, making it an amazing time to spot wildlife. You can do a traditional jeep tour, but I'm all about the hot air balloon tour. I would be willing to go up in a hot air balloon here, but I suspect a view over the Serengeti is a wee bit better than anything I'm going to find in Tennessee.

Western Australia Tourism

3. Traveling the West Coast of Australia
If you’ve talked to me for longer than 10 minutes, you probably know my love of Australia. I spent four months there in 2006 and would not hesitate to move back if the opportunity arose. I spent my time on the East Coast—Sydney, Brisbane, even down to Hobart, Tasmania—but two different well-traveled individuals told me they had adventured west and "it was one of the most amazing trips" they've ever taken. It's not nearly as exotic as the savannahs of Africa, but Western Australia is one of the most remote areas on the planet, making the landscape is unique. Both of these individuals told me they've never seen so many stars as they saw in Western Australia. How many stars do you see when you go outside? Imagine looking at the skies in this video instead. (Starry skies start around 978.)

4. Southeast Asia
A few years ago I was involved in this work project that involved a lot of IT meetings that I didn’t understand. The meeting was once a week for an hour and a half and I literally didn’t understand a single thing. I would spend the first ten minutes trying to figure out what all the acronyms meant and what was going on with all this data before I gave up and started planning a trip through Southeast Asia. It would start in Bangkok; work through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos; perhaps swing over to Myanmar/Burma and maybe even head to Nepal and India; then head back east to Malaysia and Indonesia.

I eventually figured out enough of the IT lingo to do my part in that project, but I’m still dreaming about taking that trip.

Adventure Cycling Association

5. Bike Across the U.S.A.
This is the most recent addition to my list and the one that’s occupying the majority of my daydreaming time. Imagine how incredible that would be to see the country from the saddle of a bike. People actually do this so the route planning is as easy as buying a map from the Adventure Cycling Association.  In my case it would actually be two maps: one that gets me from Oregon to Virginia and another that goes from Virginia to Maine.

Think about it: the forests of the Pacific Northwest, the mountains and geysers of Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National park, row upon row of corn stalks in the Plains states, the rolling hills of Appalachia, the quaint towns of the Northeast. If you time it right, you may hit the Northeast right when the leaves begin to turn for fall. Sure the trip would involve spandex, a sore bum and really bad tan lines, but THAT is the kind of adventure you tell your grandkids about from the comfort of your retirement rocking chair.

Okay, your turn? What is your dream trip? If it’s biking across the US, you know where to find a partner in crime…


The Law of Attraction and Magazines

Remember the "law of attraction?" It had a huge moment a couple of years ago due to a book called The Secret. I never read The Secret or any other book related to this law and don't want to misrepresent it, so here's the summary from Wikipedia instead:

The law of attraction is the name given to the belief that "like attracts like" and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results.[1][2][3][4] This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from pure energy, and the belief that like energy attracts like energy.
I believe the whole premise is to visualize what you want and put a very clear signal out to the universe and the universe will respond. I don't have thoughts one way or the other on whether or not the universe will actually respond, but I do think there's something to be said for putting your desires out there. Not just thinking them, but saying them. To actual people.

It makes perfect sense. Let's say you want to get married. If you don't tell anyone that marriage is what you really want, then others will likely assume you're fine with the way things are and it may not even occur to them to set you up with their friend Bobby who is not only a great guy but an incredibly interesting one who sailed around the world a year earlier. Or say you want to open a bakery. If this is a secret desire, then you won't have people alerting you when the perfect location opens up. They would alert someone else who they know is looking for a storefront, and you would miss out.

A couple of years ago I got it in my head that I wanted to start a digital travel magazine. My magazine failed for a couple of reasons, the biggest two being: I tried to do everything myself and I don't have a great love of digital.

I decided to go digital because it's so much lower risk from a cost perspective, but I don't read digital magazines. Not even Lonny, which is a great magazine. If you gave it to me in a print edition, I'd sit on the couch and devour it. But I never even think about it in digital. Digital magazines just don't have that tactile quality that I love so much.

Now that artisan magazines like Anthology are proving that print magazines can still thrive, the idea of starting a travel magazine has come roaring back. In particular, a travel magazine that focuses on the stories behind the travel. Not just where to go (actually, not where to go at all), but how the act of going can change a person.

So this is me executing my own little law of attraction. I would like to do this, but I can't do it alone. So if you're reading this and thinking it sounds like an amazing idea that you'd like to be a part of, email me. Or if you know someone who writes amazing travel stories or takes beautiful pictures of interesting places, forward this info to them. (Please.)

And if there's something you want to put out there for the universe or simply for anyone who may stumble upon this post, leave it in the comments. Let's test this law out!


My Complete and Utter Camp NaNoWriMo Failure

NaNoWriMo--a cutely shortened version of National Novel Writing Month--is a truly insane idea. Every November, more than 250,000 writers get together and attempt to write a 50,000 word mini novel in a month. 

NaNoWriMo is November, but no writer worth his insanity salt is willing to wait around until November to write a terrible novel in a month, so the organizers offer two "camps"--one in April and one in July. 

Now I don't have the numbers for the camp, but of the 250,000+ people who attempt this feat in November, about 213,000 fail. I am now one of those failures.

I decided on June 28th to sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo. I had no outline, no characters, no story idea of any sort. I spent approximately 10 minutes thinking about a story arc before I went to bed that night, about another 30 minutes dreaming up my main character the following day, and sat down at my computer Monday, July 1, ready to write. 

To write 50,000 words in 31 days, I had to produce 1,642 words a day. On day one I did 642. Day two: 2,363. Day three: 718. Day four: 0 (Hey. It was the 4th of July. I had eating to do.) Day five: 955. Day six: 1,652.

Then the wheels fell off. I had a three hour writing class one evening. I had a meeting with my ladies’ book club that, not surprisingly given that it was “Ladies Night” at the restaurant, turned into a three hour "drinking and eating with a little book chat thrown in" club. I spent the evening before that speed reading 350 pages of the book. I had a friend visit for the weekend. I had another writing class. I celebrated turning 31.

From days seven to 22, I wrote a combined total of 711 words.  On day 23, I gave up.

Now this failure does not mean the death of my book. I’m actually quite excited about it now, far more so than I was when I conjured up the idea. I have not yet decided how I’m going to proceed with it, whether it would be better to chip away at this draft making up a plot and characters as I go along or to step away, build a plot and truly flesh out the characters, and return in November to really write. I’ve never done this before so I have no idea what will work. Hopefully my enthusiasm for the project will override my inexperience.

I definitely failed Camp NaNoWriMo, no doubt about that. But I feel like the fact that I'm more enthusiastic and invested than I was a month ago actually makes this a winner of an experience. To invoke the oft-used cliche: I may have lost the battle, but I'm pretty confident I can win the war.

Anyone else attempt NaNoWriMo or otherwise working on a novel? Anyone actually finish a novel? If so, do you have any advice for me and the other 213,000+ NaNoWriMo failures?