Entries in It has turned her brain (70)


The Long and Winding Road: The Best of 2012

My adorable baby girl ringing in the New Year (on NYC time)

2012 was perhaps the biggest year of change of my life. I had a novel published and had another accepted for publication; I got hired to collaborate on a video game. I spoke at conferences, English classes, and signings. I moved with our large family across the continent to a very different but wonderful new life. As I look out my window at the palm trees and sunny skies beyond my balcony, I marvel at how different this day is from 1 January 2012.

Let's get to the lists. 

Favorite Books Read or Re-read:

(I didn't rank books written by close friends, many of which were excellent.)

1) 11/22/63, by Stephen King

2) Flora's Fury, by Ysabeau Wilce

3) Pope Joan, by Donna Woolfolk

4) Acceptable Loss, by Anne Perry

5) A Short Stay in Hell, by Steven Peck

6) The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

7) The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

8) The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

9) Tuesdays at the Castle, by Jessica Day George

10) French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen Le Billon

Most Disappointing (not Worst) Book of the Year:

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Best Music Purchased:

Ralph Vaughan Williams: On Christmas Day: Folk-Songs and Folk-Carols

Morten Lauridsen: Lux aeterna

Great Big Sea: XX

Gary Clark, Jr.: "When My Train Pulls In"

The Black Keys: "Little Black Submarines"

Favorite Movies Seen:

1) Moonrise Kingdom

2) Skyfall

3) Argo

4) Hitchcock

5) Life of Pi

6) The Dark Knight Rises

7) The Hobbit

8) Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

9) Brave

10) Frankenweenie

Best Meals Eaten:

Per Se, NYC

Jean-Georges, NYC

Patina, LA

Brenda's French Soul Food, San Francisco

Chez Panisse Café, Berkeley

Luscious Dumplings, Monrovia

Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, Pasadena

Yarn of the Year: madelinetosh 80/10/10 MCN in the Grenadine colorway

Rose of the Year: Cramoisi Supérieur


Here's to 2013 being fabulous! Happy New Year, everybody.


A Chapter and a Chore

I feel blessed to be able to work from home and be with my kids all day. It's a great life, even though it's not all fun and games. I normally have a pretty good routine for housework and other necessary but unlovely chores.

But some days? I just don't want to do my life. Yet my life must be done. I don't know if you've noticed this, but moms can't take vacation days or go on strike. And sometimes that lack of potential escape gets me down. When I feel lethargic, apathetic, or am tempted to procrastinate, I turn to a tried-and-true method of self-motivation, a little process I call "A Chapter and a Chore."

Step One: I find a book that looks juicy and compelling--one that I know I won't want to put down, one that will tempt me to shove saltines and DVDs at my children so that I can just keep reading. Some days it might be a romance or a fantasy; other days it might be a mystery or a horror novel. Or one of my favorite writers might have recently released a book I've been dying to read. I might find it at the library, on my overloaded shelves, or at the Kindle bookstore. 

Step Two: I make a list of the chores I'm dreading. It might include decluttering the kitchen island or ironing or even (some days) writing. I love writing, but some days Resistance gets me by the throat, and I don't want to get my writing done. I can't explain it, but there it is. 

Step Three: I read a chapter of the juicy book I found in Step One. 

Step Four: I force myself to stop reading. This is the hardest step, but I MUST put the book down at the chapter's end.

Step Five: I do one chore on my list, or one part of a chore--depending on the length and complexity of the chore. I might iron one shirt, or declutter for 15 minutes, or write 1,000 words. I cross that task off my list once it's done.

Step Six: I go back to Step Three and repeat it and the following steps as necessary.

That's it. On days when my energy is low and my list is long, I am amazed at how much more I am able to cross off my list than if I had forced myself to plod through without any kind of carrot. 

But the beauty of this process--other than accomplishing loathed tasks in a timely fashion--is that my mood lifts. I'm reading a fun book! I think about what's going to happen next while I'm doing my chores (unless I'm writing), and the chores seem to get done faster, because I can't wait to get back to the book. 

You might think it would be better to do a chore first, but I find that once I've read a chapter and am excited to continue reading, I'm far more motivated to do that chore quickly and efficiently. It feels like an indulgence, and that helps me keep the martyr complex at bay.

Try it! Maybe you work all day, and when you get home, the laundry or the dishes or yard work seem too much to bear. Or maybe you've set a goal to write 5,000 words, and suddenly that seems horribly daunting. Or your two-year-old has dumped out all the toys from all the bins yet again and can't be expected to sort them all alone.

I'm betting A Chapter and a Chore might just get you through those moments with grace and ease. Or maybe it's just me. So if you DO try my method, let me know in a comment.

Now. My guest room needs cleaning, and I just downloaded the new J.K. Rowling novel. Time to get going!


The Jane Austen Tea Party

It began a wishful tweet and ended up a delightful afternoon. I can't remember which one of us brought it up first, but the planned event grew from four or five of us to more than a dozen. Most of us made our own frocks, shawls, and/or bonnets. Many made scrumptious treats to accompany our tea and cocoa. Some entertained us with lovely muscial offerings. A few had a lively "Wentworth vs. Darcy" debate. Conversation was wonderful, and new friendships were made. Divine.


Dispirited: Available at an Amazon Near You

I can't believe this is real.

Today, my YA dark fantasy Dispirited is available as an ebook on Amazon!

I'm a little verklempt



I am thrilled to report that my novel Dispirited will be published April 6, 2012 by Zarahemla Books. (That deserves to be in boldface, yes?)

I've known about this for awhile, but had to keep it under wraps until the publishing schedule was more or less set.

Isn't the cover magnificent? The photograph is by Cali Gorevic, and it actually inspired the setting of the novel. I saw a print of it in my doctor's office years ago, and it perfectly complemented the mood of a story I'd been kicking around in my mind for a long time. I was delighted when Cali agreed to let me purchase the right to use it. The cover design is by Zarahemla's Jason L. Robinson, and he was terrific to work with. You may not know this, but it is extremely rare for authors to have ANY input at all on their book covers (unless they're self-publishing, of course). I am a lucky, lucky woman.

Longtime followers of this blog will remember me writing about a work in progress called The Holly Place, which later underwent a name change to The Desolate. Jana Winters Parkin, who named my cookbook Comfortably Yum, was the genius behind this latest name change. Dispirited is the perfect title!

My editor at Zarahemla was Stephen Carter, and he was a dream come true. The book is definitely stronger due to his input. Stephen is brilliant, kind, and funny--a trifecta of awesomeness. I'm grateful to both Stephen and Chris Bigelow, Zarahemla's owner/publisher, for taking a chance on this novel.

Since the print is so tiny in the above image, here are the quotes on the back cover:

Dispirited is a deliciously creepy read that will keep readers turning pages deep into the night...if they dare. With a brilliant dash of romance, Luisa Perkins has created something for everyone.”

Elana Johnson, author of Possession

“Luisa Perkins spins an eerie web with her haunting tale of a displaced spirit told in tight, lyrical prose.”

Melanie Jacobson, author of The List and Not My Type

“In Luisa Perkins’s new novel, Dispirited, a teenage girl discovers that a young boy’s spirit can shake loose from his body, and she sets out on a daring quest to restore everything to its proper place. Its storytelling is propulsive, taut—without a single unnecessary word—vivid, romantic, and fascinating.”

Glen Nelson
Director, Mormon Artists Group 

Pretty nice blurbs, right? 

Dispirited will be available in print and as an e-book, either at Zarahemla's site or on Amazon and other online sites. It will also be found at Cold Spring's Country Goose and the Barnes & Noble stores in Cortlandt, Newburgh, and Poughkeepsie, New York (and hopefully other locations as well).

This book has been a long time in the making. I loved writing this story and can't wait to share it with you all.