Category Archives: SFWC

Anxious Much?

I was raised by a bitical woman (bitter + critical = bitical).  That explains where I learned to fail so well but it does not explain why, equipped with this knowledge, I can’t seem to shake it off.  I ended the relationships that were so toxic and damaging to me completely when my beloved died and they (plural) saw it as an opportunity to attack me personally when I was at my lowest.  I had all but ended relationships with them before but, without my beloved protector and personal encourager, it was no longer possible to have contact with them.  That is their problem, my problem remains but is different.

I set wonderful goals with appropriate steps to complete them; good time frames and even plan outside influences to create my success.  I have great technical plans and then I fail to follow through until completion.  My big girl pants just don’t seem to stay on as long as I need them to.  I shoot myself in the foot on a regular basis and when I get close to the goal line, I fail to finish.  I have volumes of stories that have never seen the light of day. This blog is the first time I have freely let my words leave without rushing to pull them back and protect them from harm.  It is a learning experience for me and, perhaps because I have so few followers, I’ve been able to let it go and be myself.

NaNoWriMo has been a great experience for me to “turn off my inner editor” which is really a technical writer and the child of bitterness.  Coaching others to complete the 50,000 word count has helped me grow and throw out my inner bitical critic. Seven years as a staff volunteer for the San Francisco Writers Conference has provided me with healing encouragement and hundreds of success stories and relationships with people who are happy to see me when I walk into the room.

To stretch those new confidence muscles even more, I have started my own critique group and am going to submit two short stories for publication in an anthology.  It is not so important that I get accepted for publication as it is I actually submit it.  I sent one of the stories to a beta reader.  Not just any beta reader but, one I consider to be a true American hero.  He served as an Army Ranger and later as an undercover police officer.  He gave much for his country, including the life of his mother when his cover was blown.  He is quiet, humble and extremely smart.  The story deals with PTSD, a subject he is an expert on.  I highly value his opinion.

I sent the story to my friend yesterday at 5:00 p.m. and was awake most of the night.  My anxiety level was sky high.  I expected one of two things; he would read it and politely say little or nothing or attack it with a full offensive.  Neither happened.  The time stamp was 10:27 p.m. the same day and he liked it!  His wife liked it! He gave me 12 suggestions (some I should have caught if I wasn’t so anxious).

It is time for me to succeed!  I have awesome friends and an awesome God!  Now Tessa, let it go and get it done.

Worry for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6


Leave a comment

Filed under All Things Crafty, Grief, Homeowner, Life Lessons, SFWC, Writing

Spring – Are You There?

I’ve always believed in goals but now that I am a fine and fancy widow, goals have become a critical part of my mental and emotional health.  I no longer am delighted with the love and approval reflected in my beloved’s eyes so I need to measure my own success.  This was a skill that I did not develop until I was 40.  I was not raised to believe in myself and my own success.  I was raised to always put myself last and to endure whatever was thrown at me, including fists.  Having someone believe in you can change your entire outlook on life.  I know it did for me.

I’m suffering from the early stages of spring fever.  My project list is down from 100 to 36 and I am itching to finish something.  The project list doesn’t include the new planter boxes I want or any gardening tasks! I don’t have the baseboard molding 100% done, I need a threshold and door sweep weather stripping installed and there is a 2′ x 3′ section of flooring still left to complete.  The problem is I need the big saw to complete these tasks.  It’s put up for the winter.  During the summer when the rains have passed, I leave the saw out under the awning and put it away for family get togethers.  I was going to drag it out for a few hours on Saturday but there was a light drizzle during the daylight that turned in to a rain at night.

We need the rain desperately!  One of the main NorCal water reservoirs is the Folsom Lake.  The marina has floating boat slip/docks.  They have been laying on dirt for over a year now.  We are far from being out of the water crisis but, I was so happy to see the live camera shot of floating docks!  Folsom Lake Marina Live Cam  Boats are permitted for launch starting this Saturday. Please pray for more snow in the Sierras.

FL Marina on dirt FL Marina Cam 2-5-16

Folsom Lake at capacity would mean plenty of water for the American River and all the towns between Sacramento to San Francisco.  It would mean no restricted watering.  One of the projects on the “list” is to change 1,800 sq. ft. of grass service into stamped concrete.  I removed another 400 sq. ft. from the front yard but never finished the project.  That will require some dirt excavation, a tree removal (it’s touching the roof), a walkway removal and another concrete pour.  Oh, and I’m not supposed to lift over 40 lbs. while doing it!

But the “list” is not getting any shorter, I need to accomplish something!  Arrrrgh!  My doctor said I was supposed to be kind and gentle with myself and stop beating myself up so much, to take it easy.  Raised in a performance for love environment, this is extremely hard for me even today.

I could work overtime tomorrow but I don’t think that is going to happen.  Too much goes to taxes and then there is the “list”.  The sun is supposed to shine from 6 a.m. to noon and then cloudy for the rest of the day.  President’s weekend is booked solid for the SAN FRANCISCO WRITER’S CONFERENCE (woot!) so I won’t be working on my projects then.  What’s that old saying, make hay while the sun shines or, in my case, finish something!  I can at least say my writing goals are fairly up to date.  I’ve started a local writing critique group and surrounded myself with author support. How are you sticking to your goals?

Leave a comment

Filed under Garden, Grief, Inspiration, Projects, SFWC, Uncategorized, Urban Farming

A Writer’s Listening Block

Every SFO Writer’s event I attend brings something new into my life. I spent years focused on making others successful: my husband’s business, my children’s success, my boss etc. I brought up spending more time writing with my beloved and he was all for it, he was my biggest fan. I almost stopped volunteering when he died. He used to be my beloved chauffer for the hour long drive to SFO.  It was a special “couple time” in our busy schedule and often included a special dinner. He passed away at 52 and even though he is gone, I still find strength in his belief in me as more than a Technical Writer but as a Fiction Writer as well.

My plan is to just keep writing at this point. To learn more about the craft and to position myself for success with several manuscripts in good shape before “launching” which I plan to precede retirement in 3-5 years. The better my craft, the fewer years to retirement. This year I will have written at least 120,000 words towards my own success not including my blog (while working full time, mom to grown-up kids, and a being the best grandmother). I am also building my platform! Hah, I would have thought that involved 2 x 4’s and nails a few years ago!

This is where my changing mindset has been and where it is going.  I learn new things based on where my head is so I concentrate on being open to learning new things and not experiencing a mental “hardening of the arteries”.

This year at Writing for Change I had preconceived ideas about the line-up, Nina Amir is one of the speakers again and will Karma really show up? I schooled myself to keep an open mind and go to promote literacy in the craft as a volunteer, model hospitality to the attendees and to learn three new things.

I enjoyed Adam Hochschild as a keynote speaker (To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918), he opened my mind about writing history and how it can still touch us today. Michael Larsen always encourages writers to hold up their books and in doing so, to be their own promoter and to take themselves seriously as writers (I love his punny jokes). Jim Azevedo at Smashwords is always fun to talk to as well as some of the usual suspects like Nina Amir (The Author Training Manual). Elizabeth Pomada always brings a touch of class and kindness to any event as well as a wealth of knowledge and the editor/agent line-up was first class.

So what about the “usual suspects” specifically Nina Amir? I listen as I volunteer to keep track of the pulse of the attendees and anticipate their needs. While Nina was speaking, several of the attendees made comments about how valuable her information was. Attendees were taking notes on the handouts and making game plans. I have heard Nina speak several times on multiple topics that were value added for me but, my mind was not open to learning anything new from her, my mistake. The attendees comments helped me to listen with an ear towards learning something that will take me one step closer to success. Why had I discounted some solid advice?  I started taking notes after that and now have several pages of ideas and “next steps” towards my success. My apologies to Ms. Amir for my jaded listening skills.

This year I will miss the first few days of the annual San Francisco Writers Conference as I attend my baby’s wedding but I plan on catching the last day or two. I’m excited about my busy President’s Day Weekend 2015 and the new beginnings for those who will listen and have the courage to embrace new things!

Happy writing!

Leave a comment

Filed under SFWC, Writing

Changing the World – One Book at a Time

Woot! How exciting, I have been invited back to volunteer at the Writing for a Change Seminar hosted by the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. This is a smaller version of the main conference and focuses on change. The invitation is a great honor! Writing for Change is just one day and is limited to 100 attendees while the President’s weekend event hosts over 600 participants, vendors, editors, agents and volunteers.

The attendees are all over the map in style, subject and beliefs. I LOVE IT! Some are a little rigid in their beliefs and express them almost as if you have no right to believe anything else, their passion shows. I don’t find it offensive at all and you do have the right to not engage those individuals in a conversation but then you miss out on the experience. The setting is professional and I enjoy hearing about other writer’s projects and especially about those the writer is passionate about. I’ve learned so many new things in the few years I have been attending.

I feel especially honored to be one of the very few volunteers invited back to help. To quote their website: “The theme of the conference is “Changing the World One Book at a Time,” and the goal is to encompass business, politics, technology, social issues, the environment, culture, the law, and much more.” The keynoter this year is Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion 1914 – 1918. Check out the other speakers at:

Follow Michael Larsen’s blog for writing tips, he has so much energy!

September 6, 2014 is just around the corner!

Leave a comment

Filed under SFWC, Writing

National Novel Writing Month is Coming this November

Last year was my first year at the on-line writer’s word frenzy known as National Novel Writing Month.  It reaches across the United States to almost every part of the globe.  I didn’t quite make the 50,000 word count but did end with a smashing 30,000!  This year I am going for it again!  I have a few ideas for the 50K but I haven’t decided on the winning project yet!

One of the really fun things about the event is the Night of Writing Dangerously, November 16th at the fabulous Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco.  We bring our laptops and plug in for word sprints, word wars and the famous candy bar.  Please consider sponsoring me for this non-profit, tax deductible event.  The funds support writers and the young writers program.

Read more about it at my fundraising page:

Thank you all for your time!

Leave a comment

Filed under SFWC, Writing

Mental Overload from the SFWC

Loved, Loved, Loved the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. There was so much to take in, I am looking at ordering some of the recorded sessions.
Best ever session was Sheldon Siegel’s session on Blood Money. Crime and mystery is not my genre but I knew my manuscript was too nice and sweet. The late evening session was poorly attended due to the overload of info and party fatigue 🙂 Lucky me, it was like having a three-hour personal tutoring session with a NYT Best Selling Author! By the time the session was over, I had bled ink all over my manuscript, killed someone in the first page, caused major misdirection between the main characters in the third chapter and generally added a lot of excitement in the novel. Oh, the re-writes!
A Conference attendee, Karl (The Tavern Priestess,, turned me onto a SciFi novel by Hugh Howey called Wool, it’s 1,000 pages of pure page turning. I zipped through it on my Nook in two nights. Then, I discovered there are 2,000 pages more, Shift and Dust. I made it through Shift (a necessary prequel) and am now 300 pages into Dust. I’ll sleep later! I wonder why my eyes seem to be sore…
This was the best session ever in the five years I have been attending. Awesome location, awesome people, tons of information! Thank you Harvey Pawl for the excellent hosted dinners at great SF venues!

Leave a comment

Filed under Science Fiction, SFWC, Travel, Writing

Let the Writing Begin!

Mark HopkinsI am still pushing through the extreme lack of energy after being ill. But, there is one event I would not want to miss. It’s time for the annual San Francisco Writer’s Conference, I understand there are only about 50 slots left.
This year NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names), Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey series), Rhys Bowen, (Molly Murphy Mysteries), Barry Eisler (Rain/Treven series), Chitra Divakaruni (Mistress of Spices) and Dan Millman (Peaceful Warrior) will be Featured Speakers. The director’s are all wonderful but Michael Larsen always has the most energy and punniest jokes.  In addition, over 100 other authors, agents, editors and publishers will be there. Many favorites will be back as well. The conference asks attendees to review the event and the contributors that earn great reviews are often asked back.

The InterContinental Mark Hopkins is a grand dame that sits on top of San Francisco’s Nob Hill. It was built on the site of the original Mark Hopkins mansion which survived the 1906 earthquake, but not the three day fire that ravaged the city afterwards. Lovers from around the world travel to the Top of the Mark lounge to view the city through its glass walls, my parents included!

I will be at the SFO Writer’s Conference as part of the volunteer staff. SFO is the city of my birth and a short drive in for me. I can’t decide if I want to check-in to the hotel or drive in each day. I’ve posted for either a roommate or a car pooler, we will see what happens.

This event always gets my writing flowing and energizes me. I’m especially excited this year because I have asked to staff Grant Faulkner‘s session. Grant is the executive director of the National Novel Writing Month and the founding editor of 100 Word Story. I attended the “Night of Writing Dangerously” this year at the beautiful Julia Morgan Ballroom. Can you say, “I NaNoWriMo?”

Check it out! This year the conference is bigger than ever.  Please check back for a post after the President’s Weekend event.


Leave a comment

Filed under SFWC, Stress Reduction, Travel, Writing

Information Overload

Wow!  Another great year at the San Francisco Writers Conference.  I was very tired, in information overload and almost did not go to dinner with the last stragglers.  We numbered eight and dined at Cafe LaPresse on the corner of Grant Street and Bush Streets in SFO.  The conversation was priceless as we shared details on our latest projects, digital covers and more.  Do Michael Larsen and Harvey Pawl ever run out of energy? The food and wine were wonderful topped off with Grand Marnier Creme Brulee, Yum!

So sad that I have to wait until next year to do it again, until then, keep writing 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under SFWC, Writing