The Point


On the Square, the first book in the University Square series will release August 17th. And because I deal with anxiety over new releases by working, I started writing a new novel this week, the third in my University Square series. We also started homeschooling this week. And did I mention I started working on stripping the wallpaper in my daughter’s room so I can paint it? Because that’s how I roll.
The blessing and curse of ADHD is  I’m not able to sit still for long. Unless its something I hyperfocused on, then you could blow the house up around me, and I wouldn’t notice.
What is my point? Finding a balance is impossible for me. I am either working at top speed or sleeping. It makes me productive but also frustrated with myself at times. My busy-bee brain refuses to be still.

I’ve learned to work with it instead of fighting it, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be able to sit and watch the flowers grow. The last few months have been some of the most difficult in my life. I’ve spent much of my time distracting myself with books and movies. I’ve also filled several pages of my planning notebook with ideas for stories I want to write someday.
With the state of the world right now, it sometimes feels pointless plan anything, much less to spend time in make-believe worlds with my imaginary friends. But then a reader will message me asking when my next book will be published, and I remember the point after all.
I write to provide a bit of respite from the world and distract readers from real life, and that is reason enough to keep writing.

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. Her novel Double Six won the 2020 GCLS Goldie for Erotica. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering on her front porch and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted.  Sign Up for her email list and receive a free erotic short story at

Books available at


NineStar Press

Double Six

Complex Dimensions

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip


Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

Back to Work

It’s the beginning of a new school year at our house — a time of new lunch boxes and backpacks and school supplies. My kids love school, and as much as I love our lazy summer days, I crave the structure that the school calendar brings to our lives. I have taken most of the summer off to reset and recharge, including an almost two weeks long social/screen sabbatical. During part of that, I took my kids’ camping for the first time, and it went well. The best part was the campground had no cell or internet connection, true freedom from 24/7 overload, and a fantastic digital detox. I am energized and well-rested and finally out of the blender.

What is the blender? It’s those times in your life when, just as you are getting settled, starting to get used to the new normal, something else occurs which requires you to change your plans, to find a new way to accomplish the five million and two things on your to-do list. And for those of us who struggle with our ADHD on a good day, and schedule disruption can send us right off the rails and destroy our ability to focus. The unstructured time of summer is both marvelous on one hand because I do like spending time with my kids, but I also struggle because I crave alone time to create. I coped this summer by using my bits of time to research and outline three projects.

Are things going to settle down now? Nope. There will be all the craziness that fall brings. But my kids will be busy at school, and I will have uninterrupted time for writing, or as I like to think of it, playing with my imaginary friends on paper. Now that my kids can read, and read very well, it is hard for me to work with them around and I can’t sneak in the time I used to when they were younger. The fall and winter are my most productive time, and last year, I managed to write two novels and a novella between September and March. I cheat a bit by doing NaNoWriMo every year, and that pushes me to complete a novel in a month.

This year my goal is to complete all three of the books I outlined by May of next year. Can I do it? I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell going to give it a good go, and having the framework in place makes me feel like I can. Not writing over the summer was super hard. Writing is essential for my mental health. Blogging, one of my favorite things to do, and the one thing I try to keep with, no matter what, has been hit or miss the last few months and that has made it much more difficult for me stay on an even keel. Writing, art journaling, and telling stories are my touchstones. The past four months have made that clear to me that no matter what I need to provide time for myself to create. Going forward, I’m getting back to work, knowing that when everything is wacky, and I’m in the blender, the one thing I can do to anchor myself, is writing. My advice, if you are a creator and you’re struggling, set aside a few minutes to create. Even fifteen minutes of writing/drawing/painting or whatever is your creative outlet, can make a difference, make time and create.  

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking hereSign Up for her email list here

Books available at


NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip


Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 


Review: Plot Your Health Booklets

As hard as it can be to track your appointments and work schedule, if you add keeping track of another person’s agenda, it is enough to drive the most seasoned and committed planner nuts. At this point in my life, I need to track two kids worth of appointments for occupational therapy, orthodontia, and therapy, and keep track of their medications, and physician appointments as well as my own. There are those of you out there who use an electronic planner for this, and I salute your ability and if it’s working for you, keep going, you do you.
But if you are like me and prefer a paper planner, Plot Your Health booklets may be a robust solution to the problem of keeping everyone on track. Full disclosure, I trialed these for the developer/designer and am already a hardcore fan of her Plot Your Work planner for authors. I love my paper planner, and it works great for as an overview, but this past year we were trying different routines for each kid. We had home treatments to track and monitor as part of the kids’ health plans.
I was trying to keep it all in my planner. I tried highlighting and using different color inks. It was confusing because of my ADHD. I couldn’t remember which child was what color, or what color I wrote their individual appointments in so I was frustrated as hell.

Enter the Plot Your Health three-months-at-a-time booklets. It was the perfect thing for us to bring to our appointments, and it also enabled the kids to participate in their wellness plans. I was able to track appointment dates, medications/treatment and reactions to different therapies. The planner features color-in mood trackers. My kids enjoyed filling out their mood trackers. We made it a family thing and did it together. I let them choose which feelings they wanted to track and what colors they wanted to use for each feeling. This feature, in particular, was fantastic. It was the perfect way to get them to open up and discuss how their day went and what things might make the next day better. The small size makes it perfect to slip into my bag or jacket pocket to take to appointments. In a house where none of us is neurotypical the Plot Your Health is the best way I’ve found to keep myself and my kids on track.

You can get your Plot Your Health Planners here. For you writers out there, check out the Plot Your Work Planners as a way to keep you on track to write and publish your work.

Mood Trackers were great conversation starters

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here. Join my email group at

Books available at


NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip


Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories 

How to Get Off the Crazy Train

This is my first post in about four weeks. I’m glad to be back. The title of this post reflects how my life has been; I won’t bother with the details, but let’s say, two writers on deadline, twins, aging parents with health issues, work, travel, a cracked tooth, and root canal, collided in one spectacular episode of crazy train in our house. Sometimes I refer to it as being in the blender. Both are phrases to describe that awful can’t catch up, always behind, I really should be doing (fill in the blank with whatever you feel most guilty about not doing) feeling.

I know everyone struggles when life goes sideways, but for those of us with ADHD, the collapse of routine adds another layer of stress that we have to work hard to bounce back from. If your kids/partner/ other family members are also non-neurotypical the loss of routine becomes a tsunami of overwhelm. 

How do you get off the crazy train? For me, it means letting go of things that can be allowed go of without causing too much trauma. For me, one of the first things that goes are blog posts. And the social engagements that do not feed me and cause extra stress. After that, making fancy dinners, which means I raid my freezer for our home cooked stockpile of meals I make over the summer, knowing it will get crazy at some point in the fall. This week is the start of NaNoWriMo, and I’m doing it again this year. If you notice on my list of things I let go, working on my current novel was not one of them. And that is because, for me, writing grounds me, even if I  can only squeeze in thirty minutes of work, doing just that little bit keeps me in the game.

Here are my steps for getting off the crazy train. Your mileage may vary, but here is a list to get you started.

  1. The extra thing: Blogging or anything else you can lay aside and pick back up when life settles down. No, this does not mean skipping your exercise plans.
  2. Say no to social engagements that do not feed you. You don’t need to give a reason, just say no. Really.
  3. Eat good food. Drink water. As tempting as it may be to say eff it and eat everything and drink a bunch of wine, just don’t.
  4. Breathe. Take a ten-minute walk out side, make it fifteen if you can. Walk, without your phone, the world can rotate without you being plugged in for ten minutes. Walk, breathe, and remember that it’s okay to take some time for your self.
  5. Make some art, or cook, bake, or do that one thing that always grounds you.

This is my list. I hope that you will come up with your own list for the next time the crazy train rolls into your life.


Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here. Website:

Books available at


NineStar Press

Knotted Legacy

Both Ends of the Whip


Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories




Courage and Radical Self-care

I’ve written before about how overwhelm can derail the best of plans. This past year I had a collection of short stories published (you can get them here) and I  signed a contract for a novel in January. In addition to writing I also teach cooking classes, work as a consultant, volunteer at my kids school once a week, work a day job, write this blog and another one, and I have kids and a partner, pets, etc.

Are you tired reading this? Or overwhelmed? I know I am. If you add in the current political climate I am beyond stressed. Like many people with ADHD I struggle on a daily basis with control and focus without outside pressures and demands. I have written before about self-care, here and here and I think that all of the ideas in those posts still work.

This post is about having the courage to stop doing things, in order to do the things that nourish your body and soul. For me that means letting go of my cooking blog for now, and more than likely letting go of this blog in the future. 

When I started this blog I did so because I needed a creative outlet, even if it seemed like I was shouting down a well most days. It was excellent writing practice. It gave me some positive feedback, and I made some amazing friends as a result of it. But with one contract signed, and wanting to publish more I’d much rather be working on my next book. I’m cutting back on my posts and holding on to this blog for now, because if life has taught me anything it has taught me that things change.

I’ve seen some snarky comments about bloggers staying on brand in the midst of the crazy, unsettling political and social upheaval going on right now. I have two things to say about that:

  1. Just because I don’t write about politics does not mean I don’t care. I am not unaware. Please do not suggest I am not sincere about my beliefs because I am not shouting them from this blog.  I am not a political blogger. I don’t plan on being one anytime soon. There are many many others more qualified than I am to do that. Go read their blogs. 
  2. In the midst of chaos a safe space that offers a peaceful place to rest your brain is necessary for survival. Stressing your adrenal glands long term without a break is a recipe for collapse. Life is a marathon not a sprint. I intend to survive this BS with my body and soul intact. 

Taking care of yourself enables you to cope with all the changes and stresses that come along and this is my message to you:


 Make a list of things you are no longer going to do. Then find ways to stop doing those things. Let go of what is not working, make space for what is. Post it where you can see it as a reminder in your calendar, or journal, or the refrigerator.  I’ll go first. 

I’m no longer going to stress over getting everything done because I’m putting myself, my family, and my creative projects at the top of the list.

I’m no longer going to work on any creative projects that I don’t enjoy. This may seem radical but it’s not. If you need permission I’m going to give it to you. If a project no longer makes you happy/satisfied/fulfilled, just stop. That novel you’ve been working on so long, you don’t even remember why you started it? Let it go. Write something that makes you excited to sit down and work. Write something that feeds you.

I’m no longer going to do exercise that makes me dread putting on exercise clothes. That gym membership you signed up for and don’t use? Let it go. Find an exercise program that makes you happy, walking, hiking, yoga, swimming, city- league hockey, slow pitch soft ball, whatever gets you moving and makes you happy do that instead. 

I’m no longer going to attend family gatherings/parties/social events that are stressful. That annual family thing that makes you want to scream and run from the room? Let it go. Politely decline. No explanation is necessary. “I’m sorry I will not be able to attend,” is a complete sentence.

The amazing Audre Lord wrote these wise words, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Caring for myself means staying on brand, staying positive and fighting in my own way for the things I believe in. 

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to care for yourself. 

Holiday Hell, Part 2


I wrote a post last year that talked about how to deal with the holidays and the stress and overwhelm that they can bring here , and I wrote about grief here. Today’s post talks about how to deal with grief at the holidays. I am not talking about the generic sadness that can strike because imagined holiday joy is offset by the reality of dealing with family, or work, or horrible happenings in the world at large.

I am talking about the kind of grief that comes from spending your first holidays without the best friend, the child, the mother, the brother, the son, the daughter, the husband, the wife, the partner, the father, the grandfather, the grandmother, the auntie, the uncle, or sister that has left this world.

I am talking about the kind of grief and sadness that sneaks up on you randomly and delivers a heart crushing pain. It can be little things that trigger it, a familiar smell, a place that reminds you of them, a store display, a gift that you might have bought, lighting the candles, a song that you hear, an ornament, or a tradition that now seems empty.

I have lived a bit at this point in my life, and have had my share of holidays that were about getting through them rather than celebrating. I know that I have been fortunate to have more years where I have reveled in all that is wonderful and good and happy about the holidays. I know that this year many of my friends are trying to find a way through the holidays. This my letter to them, and to everyone who is trying to support them.

  1. Take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to feel better, even if that means that you are doing something completely different.
  2. Let yourself be as sad as you need to be, don’t try and stuff your feelings because you are afraid of making others uncomfortable.
  3. Do not self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. As hard as it is, feel your feelings, masking them with substances is not good for your health.
  4. Let others do for you. If you cannot get it together to do what you have always done, let someone else do it.
  5. Surround yourself with people that love you, birth family, or made family, whoever it is, let them love you.
  6. If you are considering self-harm, please, please, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline . They have online services that are there to help.

If you are the one trying to help someone that is struggling here are your five tips:

  1. Ask what you can do to help, and then do it.
  2. Do not change the subject if the person grieving wants to talk about their sadness, let them express how they are feeling. Listen.
  3. If you are concerned about how someone is handling their grief, ask them. It is okay to talk about being sad.
  4. Love them, even if they are not themselves, even if they are angry, moody, or cry a lot, hold them if they need/want it, give them space to feel what they are feeling.
  5. If you are concerned that the person is at risk for self-harm, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline . They have many resources, to help you help the person you are worried about.


Reentry: After Travel Self-Care

IMG_2538 I  spent last week in a fog after attending the Surrey International Writers Conference this year. Reentry into family/work/real life after travel /learning /inspiration/ and only having to take care of yourself can make the strongest among us freak out. Combine jet-lag, sleep issues, the time change, and all the stuff you did not do while you were gone and it can overwhelming and frustrating. All the ideas that you have for getting back to work to finish projects or start new ones can come to a grinding halt as your mind and body try to adjust, add a little ADD/ADHD into the mix and you have the perfect storm for feeling and acting like this:


Here are five things that can help with reentry:

  1. Exercise. Walk or swim, or whatever it is that gets your body moving and rests your brain.
  2. Nature. Get outside, breathe, disconnect from electronics. Give your mind time to appreciate world without a screen.
  3. Eat well. Drink water.
  4. Be gentle with yourself.
  5. Be gentle with your family. Little ones often are sad/mad that you left them, they may cling or be difficult to let you know that they missed you, and are unhappy that you were gone. Sometimes big people behave the same way if they have had care and feeding of the littles. Remember that while a conference is work/career related, you were able to enjoy the company of other adults, and the parent at home was dealing with the fallout from your absence.

Conferences can be well-springs of information, inspiration, and support. Do not let after conference stress keep you from attending, try these tips after your next conference for a smoother reentry.


Is It Worth It? Tips for Evaluating Creative Projects



So I’m getting ready to go to a writing conference next week, and in the process of clearing my schedule, travel preparation, creating two editorial calendars, and meeting scheduled teaching obligations, I have been overwhelmed with new opportunities, and new project ideas. It often happens that when I am very busy and productive, my brain boils over with ideas for new projects. I like to take advantage of the times that my brain explodes with creative project ideas, storing them away like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter.

As a person with ADD/ADHD this is how my brain is most of the time, but some days it is worse. It can be overwhelming and frustrating. It feels like there is a tower of ideas in my head, each thought touching and building off other ideas and thoughts. It is a struggle sometimes to pull out the thoughts and ideas that best move me towards my goals, and not have everything come crashing to a halt because I choose the wrong idea to develop.

I never worry about running out of ideas, but I do worry about sorting out which idea/project/ new venture is best to pursue. After struggling to find a way to decide which ideas to take up, and which to let go, I choose this system. Any idea/project/venture that I choose to develop has to meet all three of these criteria:

  • It has to feed me creatively, or financially, preferably both.
  • It has to fit with my goals and it has be a step toward achieving an annual or lifetime goal.
  • It has to align with my ethics and my values.

You will notice I don’t include that it has to be feasible, practical, or sensible. I have found that if a project meets the criteria listed, than the project becomes achievable, and it is reasonable to commit energy and resources to the project.

If you have a creative idea/project/venture that you are struggling to get started or complete, back up and examine why. Ask yourself: Why this project? Why don’t I want to get started? Why don’t I want to complete the project? Take the time to examine the project using the criteria listed above to evaluate it.   Remember, it is perfectly fine to quit a project that does not move you towards your goals; it is okay to quit a project if it is not ethical and does not fit with your value system; and it is more than okay to quit a project that does not feed your body or your soul. 






Staying Focused Awash in Grief.

Over the last three months I have struggled with focus. Why? Grief.  In the last twelve weeks there have been eight deaths that have directly, or indirectly touched me. The last time I lost this many people, this close together, was in the middle of the AIDs epidemic.

Grief is difficult for everyone. For individuals with ADHD, it it compounded by behavioral issues. I wrote about keeping it together when a family member faces a health crises here.  Some of the same issues complicate grief for individuals with ADD/ADHD, impulse control, issues with substance abuse, the inability to be still, discomfort in your own skin, and an increased incidence of depression and suicide.

My tips for handling grief can be summed up in a few sentences.

1. Do not self-medicate. I am talking about the urge to binge watch/spend money/shop/drink/smoke/eat chocolate/ whatever your make-me-forget-not-feel drug of choice is, don’t do it. Feel your feelings no matter how uncomfortable they are.

2. Pay attention. Being sad is normal. Not getting out of bed for days is not. Get help.

3. Find someone to talk to about your feelings. A therapist, social worker, clergy, your best friend, your family.

4. If you are a creative, create. Do the thing that feeds your soul.

5. Give yourself time. So many times we think that we should be able to “just get over” whatever it is that is making us sad. A very wise woman once told me “some things you don’t get over, you just get through.”

6. Find a peaceful view. Just sit with it. This is mine.

Please give yourself time to heal.

If you are struggling with depression, please, please, get help, don’t make a decision in a moment that is permanent. This link is for the National Suicide Prevention Organization their number 24/7/365 is 1-800-273-8255.