Weekend Update: Friends, Family, & Freedom

Wild winds that wrap around the oaks like long fingers, shaking the remaining acorns to the ground, low hanging clouds nipping at the mountain ridges, making those jagged tips disappear into the mists, and rain. Glorious rain. (In California, we do the happy dance when rain arrives.)

Friday sees a stormy start with the tink-tink-tink of rain outside. Even though it’s cool, I take my mug of coffee out to the terrace to inhale those fabulous earthy scents and say good morning to the hordes of turkeys that coo and gobble-squak, greeting one another after what I imagine was a scary night sleeping in the trees (lightening!). I wonder–do they have an opinion about the rain? Do they do their own version of a happy dance? Trade war stories of close calls with lightening?

It really feels like autumn now, at least for this small slice of time.

Besides being a full work day (almost done with the current manuscript’s third draft. woo!), I squeeze in an early afternoon tea with my dad and a late lunch with mom. Gotta fit the family in–I’m so grateful to have them in my life. As an only child, my parents are also my best buddies so the occasional tea and lunch with them does the heart good.

Saturday I wake to sunshine and get the day started right–with coffee, a jog through the puddles with my pup, then off to face an open, eager laptop. Work day for me. Soon dad texts me pictures of a hot air balloon festival happening nearby. Apparently he stepped out on his wife’s ranch and voila–balloons soaring in the sky.

 

After my writing day is done, I help out a friend and fabulous human being who has just returned from India where she works with Voices4Freedom to free slaves. Then, once the children (yes, children) are freed from slavery, they begin their education at one of the schools she and her team started with Schools4Freedom. Incredible work. I happily help her out with the V4F website while I eat homemade banana nut bread, drink hot tea, and give GRATITUDE for my freedom and for the food on my table.

Saturday evening I’m excited and tremendously proud to watch a new Hallmark movie directed by one of my pals, Christie, called A Wish For Christmas. Love these holiday romances–warm and happy. I’ve come to look forward to Christie’s new film each year. She and I studied at Playhouse West together and I enjoy her sensibilities as a storyteller/filmmaker. As an added bonus, one of her daughters is in the movie and is a darling addition.

Over the weekend I also have a great time looking over yearbook photos from 8th grade that a friend and classmate shared on Facebook. Very fun! What a great group to to have been part of. I have such fond memories from that time–lots of smiles in the photos which serve to punctuate those memories. (Funny, I forgot that my buddy Bart and I were voted “Best Smile.”)

Sunday is another full workday and I leap over the finish line of that third draft, earning an adult beverage. Wine here I come, then time to dive into a friend and fellow novelist’s debut book (a techno-thriller) and snuggle in for a cool night.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

xo Isla

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Weekend Update: Leaves & Loves

Last week, I was invited by a great publication to do an interview on what it means to be a romance writer who also supports equal rights for women (commonly labeled as a feminist). Sure! Love to! I’m honored!

On Saturday I started in on my responses and found myself fired up. As an autumn storm brought heaving gusts of wind that spun the gold, green, and brown leaves through the sky, I dove in and didn’t come up for air for hours.

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Finally I surfaced, took stock of the fallen limbs, the smattering of raindrops on the deck, and was struck with a a bone-deep love for the fact that I’m a woman, a romance writer, and a woman who celebrates other women. What a time to be a woman. Truly.

Important issues in our culture that have been hiding in the shadows for decades–centuries!–are coming to light. Women are coming together, holding hands, and championing one another through difficult discussions (like sexual assault). Now, for clarity, I’m not talking about political affiliations; what it means to be a woman in our culture in this day and age, goes beyond the presidential election. I’m speaking simply about my own gratitude to be a woman surrounded by really awesome women doing really awesome things with their lives. (I love men too, but that’s another topic.) 🙂

On Sunday, the leaves continued to drift and spin and scatter, tree limbs kept falling on the deck, making me think a bird was trying to fly through the french doors, and the rain drizzled enough to coat everything–including my favorite heart-shaped grape leaves–with a nice dampness, but not enough to make true, foot-stomping puddles. I read over my interview responses, tweaked and refined a bit, then got to work on my current book, listening to the occasional gong from the wind-chimes.

 

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The final moments of the weekend were rewarded with a glass of red wine and some homemade “kitchen sink” ramen–so satisfying on a cold evening. (Okay, maybe a cool evening. Yes, this is California in October, not New York in March.)

I hope everyone has a marvelous week!

xo Isla

PS- I’ll post a link to the article once it’s published!

 

 

 

Cheers To You, Autumn

Autumn equinox brings the balance of day and night, light and dark. And here in the mountains of California, the first crisp day of Autumn brought a cool morning that required a thick, fully zipped sweatshirt in order to sit out on the terrace and sip coffee; the morning routine. (I wore pants too, but that may or may not have gone without saying.) It was as if Mother Nature decided to give us a proper sampling of the weather that was to come. And we are so grateful for the break in the heat–even though I do cherish warmth.

Saturday was a work day for me as last week we had a fun family visitor in town (Auntie Connie!) and I lost a couple days. I’m nearing the finish line of a second draft for a new book and am enjoying dipping into the story as the season changes around me, readying for those shorter days and longer nights.

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Wine + California Sunset 

Saturday evening I celebrated the productive day with a glass of wine out on the terrace to enjoy the sunset, followed by a big bowl of popcorn (with the usual parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper) and a “brief” binge viewing (3 episodes) of Longmire on Netflix. I’m almost through the season and ready for the new episodes–a terrific show. I enjoy the pacing, the characters, the turbulent emotions just under the stoic surface with a strong spine of care and duty in the core.

Sunday saw another burst of warmth which took me by surprise. I was so ready for sweater season! It was a long, hot, fiery summer, and autumn is a very welcome change around here. Still I hunkered down, read a little, wrote a little, enjoyed homemade pizza made by my fabulous mother, and tried to nap given that I feel a cold trying to come my way, but I was too busy adoring my snuggling puppy to get any real sleep. 🙂

I’m ready for this week, ready for the harvest of that which has been planted in prior seasons, and ready to hunker down and see these characters that are in my heart through to the finish of their story.

Much love to all,

Isla

 

Hazy Horizon, Snazzy Couch, & Sassy Soap

The hazy line of the horizon continues, providing smokey air and gorgeous sunsets. And while we continue with short walks and indoor activities due to the fire in a nearby county, it was a good weekend all in all.

Worked half days both Saturday and Sunday on current work-in-progress, did afternoon puppy walks then yoga alongside videos, and enjoyed wine on the terrace in the early evening.

The light is changing–darker earlier in the day–and leaves have begun to fall from their trees. The air is tinged with a bit of coolness (anything below 100 degrees is cool air to me after this summer), and I’m giddy about the approaching turn of seasons. It’s been a long hot summer–a LONG, HOT summer in California–and I’m very ready for autumn.

Gigi enjoyed our snazzy new couch–an incredible gift from my mom to me and my little lovebug. And dad and his new bride brought me back gifts from their honeymoon in Hawaii. Adoring this bar of locally-sourced lemon soap. To say I love my family would be an understatement. (Even if they didn’t spoil us with couches and soap.)

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Gigi claiming dibs on the chaise part of the new couch
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Filthy Soap
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Swanky lemon bath bar

A good weekend, now I’m looking forward to a good solid week of work.

Thank you, as always, to our firefighters.

xo Isla