Bring on 2019

This past year I wrote 59 blog posts, wrote and submitted three novel-length manuscripts, and two short stories. I also renovated a house and did eighty percent of the work myself. I have young children, a partner, and older parents with health issues that often require me to make an eight-hour drive to be there to help with their needs.
People ask me all the time if I sleep. The short answer is no, not much, but then I never have slept much more than six hours a night at any point in my life.
I also don’t watch television, or movies very much. I also left my part-time job this year as healthcare worker after 31 years, and that affords me more time to write. I am also extremely fortunate to enjoy excellent health.
Why tell all of you this? Because I’ve read the most incredibly stupid advice to writers about all the things you must do if you want to “be serious” about your career.
The types of articles and posts that contain this type of advice assume that what works/worked for them will work for everyone. This is not true. I’m going to say it louder for folks in the back THIS IS NOT TRUE!
Every writer is unique, what works for me, will most likely not work for you. I have wicked ADHD, which is why I don’t sleep and am driven to keep doing something, to move, to think, to create when most neurotypical folks are resting or sleeping.
I also tend to hyperfocus which means I can write in the middle of a busy street, or my living room surrounded by my family with all kinds of chaos going on. It doesn’t mean that I’m more serious than the next person it only means I have found a way to work that works for me.
And this is my advice for folks for 2019, find a way that works for you. Go ahead and read the books, try different methods, explore your options, and in the end trust yourself. You do you. My second bit of advice, please for all that’s good in the world and your sanity, don’t compare your output to anyone else.
The same folks who want to tell you that you must write every day like to say “we all have the same 24 hours a day.”
I want to point out that is not true. My 24 hours do not look like your 24 hours. We each have unique responsibilities and time constraints, physical and mental abilities, that make our 24 hours what they are, and yes we can control some of what our 24 hours look like, but work and family obligations are often beyond our control, as a mom of twins, trust me, even with the best-laid plans, two kids with fevers wreck your day, and may wreck your week!
My wish for everyone out there is to have a happy, sane and healthy New Year, filled with joy and that you accomplish your goals your way.

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.  Sign 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 

Embrace Your Attention Issues: Terese Ramin Interview


The bar. Again.

I met Terese Ramin at my first writers’ conference. Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling 2012 to be exact. I was loitering at the bar waiting to register. I noticed Terese’s conference badge, and struck up a conversation. She was presenting at the conference. We spent
most of the evening laughing, talking, and getting to know each other over
fries and good beer.

Terese is gracious,
encouraging, and supportive. She is also has ADD/ADHD, and is a successful novelist, and editor. She very kindly agreed to do an interview for this blog.  I have enjoyed Terese’s books.   This is the link to Terese’s Amazon page.   Her biography follows the interview.

1. When were
you diagnosed with ADD/ADHD?

 Terese: **I
was officially diagnosed with ADD in 1996 when I took my son for diagnosis at
his high school’s request. I took the test with him to be supportive.
Was there a specific event that caused you to seek a diagnosis?
son’s high school requested that he be tested (and put on medication).
Do you think having a diagnosis helped?
Terese: **Yes,
it helped *me* realize what had always held me back / been “wrong” with me, and
why there were “bad conduct” marks on my school records. Girls didn’t have
ADD/ADHD when I was in grade school.
Have you faced any discrimination because of your diagnosis?
Terese: **No.
As an adult, the only people who know about my ADD/ADHD are those I choose to
tell. And since being ADD/ADHD affects my entire life, I let people know. My
son, on the other hand, didn’t want people to know, didn’t want to take meds,
etc., because it would have labeled him in high school as “one of those kids”
who got called out of class to take a prescription medication. We worked with
his ADD/ADHD in other ways and, boy, am I glad! He’s very successful as a
teacher now.
How did you organize/ focus yourself to write books?
Terese: **When
was first diagnosed, I saw a therapist who gave me suggestions to help keep me
focused – creating a CD that looped with the question “Are you on task?” played
at 5 and 10 minutes  intervals.
also used a CD called High Focus that essentially
plays white noise. It was highly effective, especially played softly. I also
used guided meditation and a couple of “In the Zone” CDs that are used to help
athletes maintain focus while they work out.
What is the biggest challenge for you when writing a novel?
Terese: **Oh
man. <G> For writing a novel, I need to get to the place in the book
where I can go into hyper-focus. Hyper-focus is something I’m good at – as long
as I’m being stimulated by what I do, or as long as what I’m doing is a
relatively simple, repetitive task (I’m a great editor due to hyper-focus, and
I’m pretty good at detail work – as long my brain doesn’t decide the details
are boring.) Boredom is my biggest problem.
thing that works is for me to be able to get up and wander around doing simple,
non-thinking tasks as I write – taking care of the laundry, loading the
dishwasher, dusting, etc. Those are things I hate to do, but when I do them
during the process of working on a novel, I don’t have to come out of the
“zone” or the story to do them. Doing
simple tasks allows me to daydream the next line, paragraph, or scene, and
return to the computer able to write a few more pages.
Are you an Outliner or Pantser?
Terese: **HA!
I wish I could outline a novel or create a beat sheet, then just fill in the
blanks on the pages. The moment I start to do that, my brain screams “lunch!”
and refuses to budge – it’s that boredom thing or the restless ADHD thing
kicking in: an outline causes me to tell the story to myself, which means I’ve
already written it, which means “bored now” when it comes to trying to write
all 70-85,000 words.
counter this, I give myself a blurb to remind myself where I need to get to
from here, post that on the wall where I can see it, and slowly make my way
toward the end goal: a completed novel.
How do you handle the distraction of the internet?
Terese: **Badly.
I have a routine of getting up in the morning, handling my email, reading the
online news, doing a little Facebook / Twitter / social media to keep my name
out there, but that means I also use up my best creative time. I might be
finished with all of those internet things by 8 a.m., but then the dogs need
attention, there are dirty dishes that need attention, the laundry needs to go
into the dryer, etc. It would be far better for me to revise that routine and
start with writing, but it takes a long time for me to create a routine that
works for me. It’s much easier to fall back on the routine I have. The bottom
line is that I’m much much more productive
if I follow a daily routine, but creating the right routine takes thought and discipline that I sometimes don’t
Do you think that it would have been helpful to be diagnosed at an earlier age?
in today’s climate, yes. Back when I was growing up? Maybe – at least then my
parents and teachers would have understood the reason for why I was the way I
was. But being diagnosed earlier – especially back in a time when using
ADD/ADHD medication properly was still pretty new – might also have meant being
medicated, which brings up a whole new world of issues.
What advice would you give writers struggling with attention issues?
Terese: **Embrace
your attention issues. I look at my son who’s always done seven or eight things
at the same time – and that worked for him. When he was in school, if he wasn’t
listening to at least one sporting event, playing the guitar (or the bassoon,
or something), reading a book, talking on the phone, trolling the internet AND
doing his homework, I knew he wasn’t getting his schoolwork done. He’s never
needed to be medicated and I’m proud of the man he’s become.
I also look at the way he innately handled his ADD/ADHD and I realize that my
own process of staying in the zone by doing housework while I’m writing is much
the same thing. I just need to “stay on task” get back to that routine.
 I hope that reading Terese’s interview inspires you to start writing if you haven’t and to keep going if you have stopped.
Terese Ramin is the award winning
author of eleven novels and numerous short stories. Her autobiographical essay,
“Two-Puppy Theory”, is included in the anthology The Sound and the Furry, sales of which benefit the International
Fund for Animal Welfare. The Cured,
her most recent release with author David Wind, is her first suspense-thriller.
Her next release will be an urban paranormal romance with writing partner Dawn
Aside from writing, Terese works
as an editor, ghost writer, book doctor, and a paranormal investigator. She
lives in Michigan with her husband and a bunch of rescued dogs.

Yard Sales for the Distracted: Ten Tips for Shopping Yard Sales

“nose tonge (sic) & glasses in rear”

Now we know why he looks like that…

Yard sales are my favorite place to pick up books, kids clothes, and a good laugh. Yard sales are also very dangerous places for the distracted. I can wander for hours at a really big yard sale. I find myself reminiscing about things and people. A book, an album cover, or an eight-track tape can take me way down the rabbit hole.

I have developed some strategies that enable me to shop efficiently, and stick to my list. Yes, I keep I list of books, etc. that I want. Having a list of items I am shopping for also lets me enjoy my side trips down memory lane.  I don’t have to worry that I will forget why I wanted to come to the yard sale.

Here are my tips for staying on task, and not coming home with a bunch of stuff you will just have to toss or resell later.

  1. Take only the cash you want to spend. This is the number one way to only spend what you planned to spend.
  2.  Make a list, with sizes, if you are shopping for kids clothes. Use the Evernote on your phone and you will always have your list with you.
  3.  Stay hydrated and eat. Many a bad decision has been made when thirsty, hungry, and tired.
  4.  Allow yourself to reminisce and remember, and then move on!
  5.  Go with a friend, a good friend who will remind you to stop and think, one that is not afraid nudge you when it is time to move on.
  6.  If you are looking for bookshelves, or other furniture, etc. bring the measurements of the space you have available. It is not a deal if it does not fit!
  7.  If you are trying to match colors, bring pictures with you. The Evernote app lets you store pictures and is great for this.
  8. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a break. Remember that there will always be another sale.
  9. Try to avoid bringing young children with you, it is hard enough to stay on track when you only have to worry about yourself. Older kids may be able to help, unless they are just like you…
  10.  Don’t feel guilty if you make a bad purchase decision. Better to make a $1.00 bad decision than a $100.00 bad decision.

Why I love The Bloggess AKA Jenny Lawson


Hanoi Airport, 2009

This is the second installment in the year of Women’s Voices series and the featured voice belongs to Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. Her book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ( A Mostly True Memoir  is funny, heartbreaking and full of weirdness.  Her memoir is an open discussion of her struggles with depression, distraction, and anxiety. I adored her twisted tales of family, love, death, and taxidermy.

As someone who has had my share of weird adventures that are tragic/comic, reading this book felt like I was a sitting in a bar with an old friend. In our family and in my circle of friends, when things are bleak, we always find something to laugh about, even if we end up crying at the same time. This book is like that. Be warned, some might find her humor and style offensive. If you are at all freaked out by discussions of taxidermy, this is not the book for you.  If you want to sample her writing style before committing to the book, check out her blog here .

As a writer, the lessons of story and craft that I gleaned from this book are:

  1.  Be honest, except when an exaggeration will make better copy.
  2. Swearing is okay if done artfully, and she is a freaking Picasso with curse words. For those of you who know me: she swears more than I do, which is saying a lot!
  3. Do not be afraid to talk about the hard things, for example: exhuming dead pets, losing a baby, and taxidermy puppets.
  4. No matter how weird it gets, it can get weirder, and funnier.
  5. Truth can be funnier than fiction.
As a fiction writer I don’t have any plans to write a memoir, but after reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir),  I know that if I did, I would strive to be as funny and as honest as Jenny Lawson.