Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Blogs!

Hello, everyone!

I've created two new blogs to hold my business posts. now contains all of my Creating Space newsletters. I even broke the entries into categories so that you can look at just the Book Reviews or Small Steps portions of the newsletters if you wish.

(When I say I broke the entries into categories, I actually mean I hired Joe Rossow of Rossow Futuristics here in Las Cruces to do it for me. He did a great job archiving the entries and touching up the banners. It's a task that I've been meaning to get to for months, and now it is beautifully done! I'm very happy with the results.)

I've also made a place where I will write new posts strictly focused on writing. The first official post will arrive on September 23rd. There's already a bit to do and look at at

Please check them out! And I'd be very happy if you would link to them or leave comments.

Thanks for dropping by!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Can't Know

A few days ago, I received a request from a friend to blog about invisible illness. It wasn't a term I knew, so I asked her for more information.

Recently people with health challenges that are less obvious than wheelchairs or seeing-eye dogs have begun networking. One of their challenges is that, because they don't look ill, they may receive glares when parking in disabled spaces, or have people not understand when a sudden migraine or flare up of chronic illness or other disability stops them from doing things. To help gain support, they are having an Invisible Illness Awareness Week. As part of that week, my friend asked all her friends who blog to write about invisible illness this week.

I still don't feel I know too much about this. There is a lot of information available at

For my part, I'm glad to have the reminder to practice compassion. Yes, I may not know why someone has a disabled tag or cancels an appointment at the last minute. But I can give them the benefit of a doubt.

And doesn't it feel better to offer them compassion than to surge with anger?


Sunday, July 27, 2008


Hello, everyone!

I'm practicing taking weekends off. It has been a very good practice for me. Plus, I get to play with concepts like "What is off?" and "What do I do when I'm doing things just for me?" and "What am I trying to avoid by staying so busy?" Lol. I suspect that for many people, such questions feel more like work than play. I enjoy them. That may be why I ended up a coach.

Cooking is my new hobby. I've cooked in varying amounts for a long time, of course. (My story of a conversation when I was ten: Mom said, "Anna, cook that roast for dinner." I said, "But I don't know how!" She said, "Yes, you do, just do it." "But wait -- how long do I cook it? What temperature? When do I add the vegetables?" Then she answered those, and I cooked it.) After I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I arranged to get meat from a local, free-range, grass-fed ranch, and I found a farm that would let me get a weekly vegetable subscription in the Community Supported Agriculture model. It's local and organic -- very cool. The food has been really good. The meat arrived Wednesday, and we've tried two cuts, both very good. My first vegetable share I picked up on Thursday. Agriculture, of course, is slightly unpredictable. I love that about it! The challenge of figuring out to how to use what comes has been making cooking more fun for me. The meat available immediately was an entire lamb, properly butchered and frozen, of course. The vegetable share included probably more eggplant than I had prepared in my life. So, I spent a pleasant time reading eggplant recipes and lamb recipes. Also, I received a lot of hot peppers, some tomatoes, one pattypan squash, one beet, some chard, and a bunch each of basil and lavender. I feel very lucky that he could add a subscriber mid-season -- usually in this business model, you can only join at the beginning of the year. The food has been fabulous.

Eating great food is on my vision board. Looking at it this morning, I'm getting good coverage of what I wanted. I've added a circle of female friends, I'm taking time to read, my name is on the cover of books, I've made it to several of the vacation destinations I pictured. Doug is working on his electric car, so driving an electric car is coming along well. That covers well over half the surface of my vision board. Very cool!

Looking at the vision board is part of my morning routine. Since I read Steering by Starlight, I've been using Martha Beck's suggestion most of the time, and it seems to be working. That is, I look it over, appreciating what's on there, and then say, "Thank you. I quit."

So, life is going well. I'm looking forward to doing the teleseminar on Tuesday, and to working with my clients next week. Today, I'll spend some time on my new hobby.

All the best to all of you,

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Somewhere along the way I lost the anger

Fifteen or twenty years ago, I was captivated by Bob Kanefsky's song Creature in the Wood. I patiently replayed the tape, learning the tune in the slow way my ear requires, copying out the lyrics, and I sang it often, with much gusto, for several years.

Part of it was the expressiveness of Heather Alexander's performance of it. So rich and nuanced! Very beautiful. She performed the parody of her own song, Creature of the Wood, full out, with the good will typical of the filk community. The melody was lyrical, strong, comfortably in my range, and in a minor key as I still tend to prefer. The words were smart -- an entire story with emotion and surprise.

And, I admit it, the story of a tree that seduced and eventually ate men, made me feel strong.

That was anger. I had hit situations where I was treated like I counted less because I was female. I had found doors that were closed to me, or at least weighted and padlocked, because I was born an innie instead of an outie. I'd seen salesmen's eyes pass right over me to address Doug if I asked a question when we were together. I didn't yell at anyone, or punch anyone. I did vote for women's rights and speak and write in acceptable (yes, I hear the irony) forums. And I sang this song, and a number of other angry songs. Mostly when I was alone, and I took joy in them.

As I wrote last entry, I recently listened to some songs from that time. That led to me browsing Bob Kanefsky's lyrics this morning. They are now online, and you can read Creature in the Wood here.

I found it uncompelling. It's not just that it was written instead of sung. I'm still finding Zombies Robbing the Grave compelling, and I could sing it myself if I wanted to. But the cruelty doesn't work for me any more. It feels sad instead of strong.

Somewhere along the way I stopped being mad at men.

Times do change. I've been happily monogamous with my beloved Doug for twenty-two years now. Heather Alexander has been succeeded by Alexander James Adams. I've spent some years working on my personal situation, and I'm more concerned about people than about women these days. There are still some inequalities. There has been a lot of progress. And I simply don't have the anger any more. (At least not about that. There are still some causes that hit my buttons, and alert readers probably know what they are.)

A few weeks ago, I found myself describing the platform of an organization to advance women in business as "so 90's". Yesterday, when offered a chance to join a coaching organization dedicated to bringing affordable coaching to all women in North America and eventually the world, I found myself with very mixed feelings. I like coaching men. They've treated me well and paid me well and been enjoyable to work with.

I like coaching women, too. Now I find it hard to think of the differences between us as more important than the similarities.

There are a lot of lines of thought I could follow from this. I think this is the critical one. If the work I did on myself could bring me to peace with men, could bringing such work to everyone bring peace between other groups now in conflict? Would this kind of education not be more effective and less expensive than guns and armies?


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Songs like old friends

Today I put my first novel up for free download over at my other website. If you're interested, you can pick it up at For the moment, that page is very basic. It will serve the needs of the moment.

Space Pirates, an anthology that contains my third sf sale, will soon be available. In my bio, I offered The Cracked Bell to readers. So I'm setting it in place just in time.

The Cracked Bell is set in a world where music can do magic. After a couple days of working through it, making a few small corrections, I had a strong urge to listen to some filk tapes. I was surprised, when I dug them out, to discover that they were largely fifteen to twenty years old. My goodness! It doesn't seem that long ago that I was staying up late at night, listening to Leslie Fish and Cecilia Eng in the song circles of Portland science fiction conventions. Apparently more time has passed than I thought.

The sound is distant. Maybe that is how tapes age -- becoming less and less audible over time. Or maybe the tape player is malfunctioning -- I haven't used it recently. We play most of our music via iTunes now. Yet the memories are strong. Here's a song where Red Riding Hood's grandmother proves to be a werewolf -- I remember learning the chords and singing this with edgy pleasure, many times -- all the words were familiar, and yet I hadn't sung it in years.

I listened to Leslie Fish's song The Wheel. In a way, it is a Pete Seeger tribute, incorporating the phrase "Turn, turn, turn". Here's the chorus:

"There's a wheel turning on muddy ground
Gains an inch every time it goes round
Come on, let's make another revolution
Turn, turn, turn."

I copied out all the words, feeling the song was as comfortable and topical as ever.

Then I listened to Zombies Robbing the Grave -- a translation of John Varley's story Millenium into verse by Bob Kanefsky, set to music Leslie Fish wrote to accompany a Rudyard Kipling poem (Bridge Guard on the Karoo). It's almost like being at a cocktail party full of old acquaintances, and knowing this one had a relationship with that one, who then hooked up with the other. A few lines of Zombies Robbing the Grave had been coming to mind often recently:

"We grasp at this last solution -- these desperate raids on the past
From a future choked with pollution, on a world that's dying fast."

It was good to hear the whole song and set those words in context.

That old friend, too, felt all too topical.

Filk has a strong bias towards minor key and melancholic themes. Even so, I was very happy to be in the company of these songs I'd loved back when.


Friday, June 06, 2008

The Burrito Lady

The first day I trained for my brief employment, I found myself wishing there was a taco cart in the parking lot. Our breaks were short, and we were far from restaurants. I felt far too rushed driving to the nearest fast food place to purchase a lunch.

The second day, miraculously, a woman pulled up to the building in a station wagon. She had coolers full of fresh, hot burritos. They were good and inexpensive.

As long as we were in training, the whole class took our breaks together at the same time. So, she came for ten minutes only, and we could have warm, indulgent food. Once we moved to the floor, all our breaks were staggered so that the phones were always covered. I couldn't buy burritos any more. It's surprising how much that one mid-morning indulgence made the whole day feel softer.

I love the way she showed up to meet our needs. I wondered how she'd known. How did she find that entrepreneurial opportunity? One day, I asked. She said she'd been bringing burritos to the construction crew before us. Which answers one question, and still leaves a few open. What kind of network let her know about the construction crew? How can someone be ready to create burritos in bulk for such an opportunity? Did she cruise the town, looking for large groups of hungry people?

No doubt there are opportunities everywhere, to someone who has the perspective to see them.

Or maybe burritos just abhor a vacuum.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I took Memorial weekend thoroughly off. I told people I was unavailable. I did not give my attention to keeping up with email. I even refused a leisure activity or two that did not sound like fun.

It was wonderful.

I'm going to adjust my affirmations. I've used a series of goals for my business -- it has left too little attention for the things I really enjoy. I like to have time when I can choose what to do, in the moment. I love games and conversations that do not contribute to any goal. It's more important to me to preserve flexible time than to meet a high income goal. Good to know these things.

My speech to the local association of women accountants last Thursday night went well. I like this, and I would like to do more of it. Who knew I would like speaking in front of people? First I really enjoyed being on panels at science fiction conventions. Then I was giving small presentations at the networking group. Then I gave this speech. I had a touch of nerves. Not bad. I mostly felt in my element, and I was very happy when one of the women approached to say that what I had said had really helped her. Excellent!

A few others took my card.

So, I'm not sure what comes next. The group of accountants is having me teach at their fall retreat. In the meanwhile, I don't have any other presentations set up, and I'm not sure how or where to create them. Something will come up.

Interesting times. And some vacation was just what I needed to feel energized to meet them!

May you find the balance of work and rest that energizes you.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Red Food

Today, I copied my barbecue recipe for a friend. Lots of tomatoes in there.

Then, I boiled up some beets. I sliced them and scraped away the skins, getting my left fingers noticeably pinkened.

Then, I made some red sauce. I had purchased some ready-to-prepare dried red chile, and I followed the instructions. It became thick, and bubbled and splattered. I tasted it -- a little too hot for my palate. So I added a can of tomato paste, and a little water. Tasted it, and added a little more salt.

So I've had quite the morning for red food. Don't know if it means anything.

It was fun.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Not the gifts I was expecting


I think I failed the faith test. Rereading my last post caused me to smile ruefully at myself. I took a small detour since then.

I was really getting stressed by not having enough income to cover our monthly expenses. So, I got a job. I've just worked at Convergys for six weeks, and quit yesterday.

It was an interesting experience. I admired their systems. I liked the people I worked with. The job was ATT Wireless Customer Service -- I was one of those voices on the other end of the phone when you call customer support. I was not yet very good at it, but I would have been eventually.

The real mismatch for me is that I really, really didn't like the rigid schedule. To keep wait times for customers calling in as brief as possible, a call center needs to keep as many reps available to answer the phones as possible at all times. That means scheduling breaks and lunches and time of arrival and departure to the minute. That means relatively little flexibility for days off, or choosing what time to start work.

The pay was reasonably good, especially for this area. And I wanted my freedom more than the paycheck.

So, instead of the safety net I was hoping for, I've left the job with a stronger understanding of what is really important to me. I was drained after doing the work there. I'm energized by writing, editing and coaching.

Time to go back to finding ways to do more of those.

I've had other gifts from the detour. I really did enjoy meeting my coworkers. I have a new appreciation for housework. Look! I can start and stop and take breaks whenever I want! Look! The results are entirely under my control! Look! I can actually see and touch the results of my efforts!

It's pretty cool, actually. And after six weeks of working both at Convergys and on my business, while Doug studied long hours at school, our life feels very soft now. I like that. I've been cooking a lot, and Doug and I get to eat meals together and talk. Heavenly!

Everything does work out. Convergys gave me six weeks of relief from worrying about our budget, and an interesting view into other ways of doing things. I'm thankful for the gifts, even though they were not what I expected.

And I am very thankful to let my time take its own shape again. Note to self: avoid work with strict half-hour lunch breaks.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The moment I most liked in all of the filmed Lord of the Rings trilogy was when Legolas had despaired. He was ready to give up, and Aragorn counseled him to hold -- to do the best they could as long as they could.

So they fought. And they held out long enough for help to arrive and rescue them.

And I realized why despair is a sin.

We usually think of hope as the opposite of despair. However, faith can serve as a stronger cure for despair than hope. Faith -- faith that the universe will reach out and bridge the gap between what we can do and what we need -- lets us go on when we can't see how we can prevail.

Suppose that neither despair nor faith is provable. That is, suppose we cannot know whether we will receive help when we reach the end of our abilities. What happens when we despair? We stop acting. What happens when we hold on to faith? We continue to act, as long as we can. Which of these behaviors is more likely to succeed? The one that proceeds from faith.

So we find that faith is functional, and pragmatic, when we cannot know if help is on its way. In effect, we are more likely to find the universe benevolent if we believe it to be so. Because our actions will give more chance for the universe to bring us help when we believe it will do so.

This is why one of my chief functions as a life coach is to help my clients have faith. With faith in themselves and in the universe, acting becomes easier and more effective. I also help them select the best actions to take, in the best order. And I'm there, as a safety net of ongoing support, to ward off despair when the inevitable challenges come along.

Now, I also believe in science. There are times when we can know that a path we are on will never lead to where we want to go, or will cost more than it will be worth. At those times, it does pay to accept the feedback of the universe and try a different path.

So both accepting the reality of the situation and having faith are useful strategies. It's our responsibility to learn what we can and have the faith we can, and the universe takes care of the rest.

Seth Godin has a cool book on one way to decide whether to continue when the going gets hard. It's called The Dip, and I recommend it.

Meanwhile, I find I'm more in need of faith than course correction just now. My best study of what I need to build my business suggests more effort in the same direction. There are signs what I'm doing is working, and needs refinement and more time. So on I go.

May you have the faith to continue where you need to, the insight to see where to change paths, and the wisdom to know the difference.

All the best to you,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sailing on Momentum

I'm still traveling on the impulse of that moment of insight I captured last post. I feel launched into Terra Incognito. I do not know where all of this leads.

Meanwhile, I crafted a page at to talk about the service I do offer. It's my goal to offer the fullest support to writing your own book of any editor on the web. And I do have some unique advantages for that. I have advanced listening skills. I have the North Star philosophy of freeing the voice and essential self of my clients. I have the wide knowledge to work with science fiction, and the authenticity to work with personal narrative.

Your book, in your voice, your way, excellently. That's the goal.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

True Value

I woke up feeling manifesto-ish. Since I started calling myself a writing coach, I've heard about a lot of people who will:

1. Strategize your book launch so that you rise to the top of a bestseller list.
2. Write your book for you, so you don't have to.
3. Do both together.

I truly believe that these actions, especially when done together, will eventually cause the value of being a "Bestseller" to plummet, and raise the resistance of readers to buying books.

In other words, if you use marketing tactics to push low quality goods, not only do the tactics become ineffective, but the perceived value of all associated goods also falls.

In short, I think this is evil.

Now, it's not necessarily evil to market something excellent. Nor is it necessarily evil to hire a ghostwriter to create a book for you. But, if someone creates a poor quality book, then creates a massive marketing campaign to make it a bestseller, then books, bestsellers, and readers all suffer. And that is evil.

For me, evil is taking actions that reduce the size of the pie for everyone. A book is a significant commitment of time for most readers. So, having been sold a bad book, the reader's time is wasted, and she becomes less willing to buy the next one. The marketing strategies that sold her that book begin to stink in her mind, tainting anything else associated with them. And when she sees that that book has become a bestseller, she discounts the value of the next bestseller.

So, I've been a bit appalled when people hear what I do and say, oh, you're like so-and-so -- who does one of the actions above. I'm apparently not getting my point across.

The fault is mine, of course. I need to let people know clearly how what I do is different.

For a start, here's a small manifesto:

The Value of Writing Authentically

1. I believe that each person is unique, and the true expression of that uniqueness is the best gift they can give to the world.

2. I believe that some people have a calling to write a book and share their experience, knowledge, wisdom, voice, and ability to entertain with the world. Yes, that includes fiction.

3. I believe that such aspiring authors gain immensely from the process of writing the book themselves. New knowledge emerges in the process. They discover themselves and learn how to speak of their topic. They gain the well-earned self-respect and prestige of being an author.

Oh, it's terribly old-fashioned of me. But I believe that doing the work yourself has value.

And creating true value makes the pie larger for everyone instead of smaller.

That is why I offer writing coaching and editing instead of ghostwriting or bestseller creation. I make the process of writing easier and more fun -- and you still do it yourself -- and I work with you to make the completed manuscripts excellent and authentically yours.

If you want the journey and the learning as well as the final product, talk to me. If you only want the final product, and you don't care if it is truly an expression of you, and you are willing to accept the credit for a low value book, as long as it sells well -- please talk to someone else.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Are the bills important when you've been hit by lightning?

I'm working through Fabienne Fredrickson's Client Attraction course. Today's assignment: see if you have a compelling story, and if so, consider adding it to your marketing materials.

This is a fun assignment. I don't know if my story is compelling. But here it is:

Doug and I had moved to New Mexico. I was taking poker coaching, and very much enjoying it. Wasn't quite sure I wanted to start playing higher limits.

I'd twice almost signed up for counseling training, and not quite done it. There was something about it that both appealed to me, and didn't feel quite right. I'd studied all the NLP books I could lay my hands on, and also trained as a hypnotist for a year. Still not quite right.

Some of the most brilliant memories of my life have been times when I could be there for someone as they made a new realization about themselves. There is nothing I've done that has had more meaning for me.

So, Doug and I and our cats had moved to a new town. We were looking for a chiropractor. We tried one, and while waiting, I picked up a copy of O. Martha had an article in there, and it mentioned her book Finding Your Own North Star. I was intrigued.

I went to the bookstore and picked up a copy. It was amazing, so exactly to where I wanted to go. I wondered if Martha had a website.

I remember sitting at the computer, feeling like I had been hit by lightning. Martha Beck teaches life coaching. Just thinking about it, I'm tingling again. That is so right.

Then I had to chase Martha down at The Crossings because my email wasn't getting through. Hey, it's only an 8 hour drive! No problem.

But that's another story.

I'm glad to have remembered that. Even though I am frustrated because my practice is not yet paying our bills, there is something real and true and important -- life coaching is a calling for me.

So, eventually, I'll be able to hear what the universe meant when it hit me with lightning.

Until then, continuing on the best I can.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Where to blog?

I now have potentially three places to blog. I'm running a minutely detailed journal of my training in business, my marketing efforts, my new realizations, and in-jokes that are funniest to sister Martha Beck coaches within the protected Martha Beck coach forum. I've started a new journal to gather my newsletters at -- it is not quite ready for prime time. I'm having trouble getting my banner picture to the right size.

And then there is here, my old faithful. How kind to me you have been these long years, oh blog of mine! We've been through changes together. Plenty of stories to tell.

I think it will shake out like this: my personal thoughts will continue to appear here. The Martha Beck coaches forum can enjoy seeing me at my worst. And eventually those posts most likely to match the themes of my business will appear at

At the moment, those themes are space activism, science fiction, success and self-help, and writing. Mmmmm, one of these days I may need to trim that list.

Well, we'll see how it rolls along.

Yesterday, I finished the final campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic V. The campaigns in this entry in the series were imaginative and carried a good story along. I liked that.

And this evening, I watched Enchanted at the local second run theater. I enjoyed it.

Wouldn't it be a better world if more people broke out into song and dance?


Saturday, February 16, 2008


I'm way imperfect. I've made a load of mistakes. I'm subject to bad moods, I've occasionally refused to listen to reason, and I can be incredibly stubborn.

And it was a major teaching moment for me when my coach said, "Anna, you are so, so perfect."

Oh. Because everything is. You are, I am, everything is. So, so perfect. Oh.

A couple weekends ago, I was at the OneCoach Mind, Marketing and Millions event. Jeff Stibel was talking about the secret he's employed to create multiple multi-million dollar businesses by the age of 35. I bet you'd like to know it. Would like me to tell you? Well, ok then, I will.

He fails a lot. He said someday he'd write a book, and he'd call it "Fail Your Way to Success". He said, "If you are not failing, you are not testing."

That last sentence is like a road widening before me. If I really want to find my limits, I'm going to want to fail. A lot. Frequently, repeatedly, in a wide variety of new ways, creatively, successively, reachingly, daringly and progressively.


The first way I'm wanting to fail is to be imperfect in public. Which is perfect.

I feel a lot more blogging coming on.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blogging in sheltered places.

Hello, everyone!

Martha Beck and her group recently created a forum only for Martha Beck Certified Coaches. (Oh, yes -- they also changed the name of our certification from North Star Certified to Martha Beck Certified. Either way, I have that certification.)

After a few weeks, I decided to start a thread that collected all the thoughts and actions I took to work on building my practice. Some angst, some whinging, a lot of small details that I expected only coaches to find interesting, some posts that assumed we shared common experience and language, some wins, some celebrations, useful tactics and more.

I've been having a great time. Writing many, many words there.

There is something interesting about writing to a select group. In a way, it's like letting my inner child play in a gated community. I have appreciated both the extra security (at times) and the shared interests.

I read through the Mark Joyner blogging course. It amuses me a bit to find so many people thinking of blogging as the new, hot thing. This blog is approaching its sixth anniversary.

There wasn't much there I didn't know. It was laid out in the usual very organized and logical fashion for a Mark Joyner product. And the daily learning format is very approachable and effective. Also, it did remind me of some things I've known but haven't applied. That's helpful.

I suggest it more for people who have never blogged, or who want to start a business blog, than for personal bloggers or blogging veterans.

Anyway, one principle of building traffic to a blog -- which this blog has always ignored -- is to focus very tightly on a single subject. It increases your visibility in search engines, and lets people who are interested in that subject know they'll find something of interest in the blogs.

I've been focusing on building a coaching practice inside my gated community. It has its points.

So, I've started the process to create another blog, attached to, that will repost my twice monthly newsletters and other closely related thoughts. I'll let you know when its ready for public consumption.

Have a great month!