Enlighten Me, Hard to Label, The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

My Niche is Life


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Someone asked me recently how I would categorize my blog.

This is important:

Niches MAKE a freelance writer’s career! 

I know this from the multiple webinars and classes I’ve attended given by successful freelance writers; writers who make enough to support themselves with their writing; writers who are well-known by editors and get major assignments for feature articles; writers who are paid to ghostwrite books for uber-busy CEO’s, who sell every essay they write for a nice amount; writers who…do I need to go on to convince you? Probably not.

So when asked that question, I began to mini-panic because even though the questioner is not a freelance writer and therefore doesn’t know all this, it’s still important for me AS a freelance writer AND a blogger to have a well-prepared sound byte.

Which I don’t have because I don’t have a niche for my blog.

As a writer, I like to write creative nonfiction pieces about spirituality, self-improvement, travel, and education. These are my passions. I love to write personal essays about those singular seconds in life that snap us awake like alarm clocks blaring in the predawn. Do you know these seconds?

The second you heard your newly born child or grandchild cry, or coo, or say your name.

The second you spotted your soulmate.

The second you got your first big career break.

The second you had your first loss.

The second you heard bad news from your doctor.

The second you shared your darkest secret with a friend and realized she would never judge you for it.

These are the seconds that change our lives and they fascinate me because in that tiny space of time, a pinpoint is poked in the fabric of the universe and light pours in like a laser tattooing a new synapse in the network of your brain. Nothing is ever the same…and it was just a second.

You could have ignored it, missed it. But you didn’t.

That’s what I love to write about. How do I collapse that into a sound byte?

So, when my questioner asked me to describe my blog, I said I like to blog about life, and insights, and enlightenment.

I wasn’t satisfied with the answer and I’ve been trying to edit, rewrite, and re-phrase for a week.

My blog is about those seconds that poke holes in our lives so our universe can expand.

How’s that?

Let me know what you think, so the next time someone asks, I’ll be able to answer with something that sounds at least an iota more writerly.


Books, Enlighten Me, The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

Alexander McCall Smith


Your first sentence is the most important thing you’ll write because it might be the only one that anyone reads.

So says Alexander McCall Smith, author of one of my favorite series, //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400034779&asins=1400034779&linkId=bc6631b913342eaff914fb2ee5bd8fda&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=FFFFFF“>The #1 Ladies Detective Agency,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400079446&asins=1400079446&linkId=b8d2810df755effcdc44bbf2edb12244&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>44 Scotland Street Series,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400077087&asins=1400077087&linkId=f1e886a36d86868808ae5157e249c19d&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Professor Dr. von Igelfeld series,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400077095&asins=1400077095&linkId=cd635f39cf172cf14dcc5f95feb47fde&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Isabel Dalhousie series,

AND a crate full of stand-alone //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1101972831&asins=1101972831&linkId=e42836ef3815c76b29cded06ddcb5f69&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>novels,

AND short stories, AND… hmmm.

You get the idea…this guy is prolific and his work isn’t formulaic or repetitive. His characters are dynamic and chock full of contradictions and quirks just like the rest of humankind.

I got to listen to him talk about his work, his life and his travels for 45 minutes today at an event hosted by the Westerville Public Library. Walking on stage in his traditional tartan kilt, Einstein hair, and rhinestoned reading glasses, he began his talk with the subject of culture and etiquette.

Americans, he says, have issues with etiquette but they all seem to revolve around when it’s okay to wear white shoes.

casual classic clean couple
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Other things he’s picked up in his studies of culture include that Californians bond over stories of their health challenges, and German professors use their doctorate in their titles, making a professor with a double doctorate, Professor Dr. Dr.; his wife Frau Professor Dr. Dr. . Of course there’s a complexity if the wife has her own doctorate. Then she’s addressed as Dr. Frau Professor Dr. Dr.

In a talk sprinkled with such humor, I was enlightened, making my way to the highest level of nirvana in a short 45 minutes. Buddha had the 8-fold path. Alexander McCall’s Smith (AMS) has the UK Tube that employs, I believe, two major rails for a high-speed trip to self-actualization.

RAil # 1 on the AMS Path: Everything is what you want it to be. I can’t count how many times he talked about events gone awry that always led to something positive and funny. These same circumstances could bring most of us to tears or tantrums. The moral of the story is that everything that happens in our lives will be sad if you want it to be; joyous if that’s what you’re after; funny if you look for moments to laugh.

The trick is to figure out what we want more of in our lives and look for that in every situation…every single one.

Rail #2 on the AMS Path: People are kind when we are kind. Throughout his talk, Alexander McCall Smith spoke about living in or visiting different countries and how kind the people were there: Botswana, Italy, Scandinavia, Scotland, Muncie Indiana. Yes…Muncie. I’m sure that he’d receive kindness from the same stranger who cut in front of you in the Starbucks line because he exudes a very strong kindness-aura. You can’t help but feel better about the world when you’re in the same room with AMS.

I hope his kindness, nothing-is-serious energy rubbed off on me when he shook my hand. I could stand to be more kind, to take myself less seriously, and to exude so much warmth that I could wear a kilt on a cold November day in Ohio.



And, BTW, I’ve become an Amazon Associate, so if you click through my book links and purchase any of these from Amazon, I will make a commission from your purchase at absolutely no additional cost to you. I am using this commission to defray the costs of maintaining my website. 

Write Your Life, Writing life

Pane of Glass

I started out onto the deck this morning to play fetch with Mika and met loss. She (this tiny cardinal) was on top of the gas grill right below the new sunroom windows and I know how she died. On our other tall windows, we have applied stickers made especially for birdy-eyes so they can tell that this is a trick…there’s a barrier that will prevent them from soaring through the air toward the paradise they can see but not reach. The pain of glass…from a pane of glass.


As women, we don’t physically die when we hit the glass barrier, but there is some death isn’t there? We start out thinking we can do anything, be anything, make anything of our lives; we’re smart, capable, lovable, worthy; the sky’s the limit.

Then some jerk puts in a glass sunroom. I was that jerk.

I told my daughters, and continue to tell the same story to my granddaughters…’YOU ARE AMAZING! YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!’

Look at them…

IMG_4129IMG_4488Thoughtful, smart, strong, resilient, confident, talented, full of grit and perseverance.

Should I be telling them that there might be some jerk who puts up a glass sunroom that will knock the wind out of them someday?

I refuse.

Women…we must all refuse!

There was an experiment a few years ago where scientists kept a goldfish in a little, tiny goldfish bowl then moved it to a large aquarium. What they found was that the goldfish had learned its limits…that his ability to swim was limited by glass barriers. She could see more space, more fun things to do, tunnels to swim through and rocks to hide under but she didn’t think she could get to it so she didn’t even try.


We tell our daughters that they can do anything but we allow some jerk to build artificial glass barriers. We are jerks-by-association when we don’t stand up for equal pay, equal rights, equal respect, equal attention. We are jerks-by-association when we teach our daughters that they must learn to be more like a man in the office, ignore their emotions, or deny the feminine energy that gives us our greatest strengths.

We began to nurture a man’s right to ‘get in touch with his feminine side’, but we’ve almost outlawed it for women if they want to succeed in business or government. And we’re jerks-by-association when we allow that to continue in this country.

“It’s just a bird,” my husband said.

But it isn’t…is it? It’s a message from the universe to all of us. Stand in our own power, soar like we were meant to soar and watch out for those glass barriers erected by jerks and jerks-by-association.

Call them out, find a way around, pull your sisters and brothers together and TEAR THEM DOWN!

That little bird did not die in vain if we heed its message…as women…as Americans…as men in touch with their feminine energy. All of us together can shatter the obstacles…and shatter them we must…for this little bird…and all the little girls we love including the ones who have become us.


Make your voice heard…VOTE!!! 


Enlighten Me, parenting, The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

Who is Julie Marie Wade?



Brief Bio:

Funny you should ask…I just finished a book written by Dr. Julie Marie Wade…yes, Dr. She earned a PhD, teaches at Florida International University, is widely published, and took the time to attend the virtual book club of which I am a member. I feel like I’ve actually met her.

About her writing:

She is a poet, and so uses that language, word-play, imagery that the poet uses so well to write about abstractions and also the universal human experience…really, who hasn’t squeezed a zit? But who among us has equated our zits with semiotics?

Take that, multiply it by five thousand, add your mother to the equation and voila…you have a lyrical essay about Skin which grossed me out, brought tears to my eyes, made me think about symbolism, and filled me with compassion for the author and for all teenagers everywhere!

What is important about this? 

When you read the book…if you read the book…Small Fires, you will understand that it’s about parent-child relationships. In this case, tragic relationships because Julie no longer has one with her parents and I’m sad for them. Yes, for them.

As a parent, I can’t imagine my child doing anything that would cause me to abandon our relationship which isn’t to say there isn’t something out there somewhere, but I can’t conjure up that scenario. I’m not, nor have I ever been a perfect parent. There have been times that I’ve been so livid with my children that I could hardly be in the same room with them…I won’t go into the horrific details, but suffice it to say, the details that made me that angry probably would have been mildly annoying to someone else, and ignored by someone else…which is why I’m trying to stay open-minded about Julie’s parents.

It’s difficult.

So, help me out…

tell me what your child could do that would cause you to cut them out of your life completely. And help me understand how and why.

I really would like to know.

Add your comments and/or share this question with someone else who might be able to expand my consciousness.



The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

My Favorite Writing Podcasts

I haven’t always listened to podcasts, but at a writing conference a few years ago, I heard about one that started my podcast journey! I find these podcasts inspirational, educational and motivational…so they’re good. 🙂

  1. #amwriting podcast
  2. storygrid podcast
  3. writers on writing
  4. writing unblocked

And on Creativity and everything else in life:



If you have another writing podcast that helps you live a writerly life, please share!

The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing life

The Write Life


I’ve recently retired from 30 years as a teacher, administrative coordinator, and finally a high school counselor. I LOVED my career, especially the final 6 years of it working with some of the best educators and administrators in the country. HOWEVER, I am enjoying a new immersion into the RIGHT life for me….a WRITING life. After years of spending my emotional energy on the needs of my students, I’m ready to once again put all that energy into the written word.

Thankfully, I’ve made the acquaintance of several accomplished and aspiring writers in the last two months who are encouraging me to re-start this relationship with words and who are holding me accountable to my commitment!

I’m starting out with some writing contests. It’s interesting how these submission guidelines have helped me structure my time and my work because for weeks after stating my intention to rekindle a writer’s life, I avoided my computer and panicked about the blank page in my head.

I had no ideas!


And I really worried that it wasn’t just a transition period, but that it meant I no longer had a creative cell in my brain!

The writing contests have ignited that little spark, so that now, I’m once again thinking about sentences, words, ideas as I walk, play games on my iPad or sit on the deck with a glass of wine, listening with only half an ear to my husband talk about his concerns, his day, his list of wanna-do’s.

I may not even submit to all these contests, but the call for submissions is helping me prime the proverbial pump!