First night, second night, third—nights piling upon nights, hours upon hours, a mountain of lost time. Each hour of lost sleep is compounded by the hour before it, a perpetual wheel of spinning time.
My mind attaches to it like a leech, this notion that “I must get some sleep.” Worry builds upon anxiety, builds upon helplessness, builds upon the minutes ticking by. I don’t want to look at the clock, don’t want to know what time it is, how little time I have until I have to get up, have to give up this struggle for the night.
Write about a time when you were too hot or too cold.
It is a rare occasion that I am too cold. I’ve always been “cold-blooded.” Born with the desert in my blood, I guess. Warm sun, hot showers, cozy socks and slippers, a burning hot fire, fleece blankets—these all put me in my happy place.
Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
Genre: Fiction | Themes: Preschool, Parental Rivalry, Murder
A cross between Desperate Housewives and Bad Moms, Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies is a delectable tale of moms (and dads—but mostly moms) behaving badly.
With a plot twist à la The Hangover (the beginning of the book starts at the end of the story), readers are uniquely introduced to characters through multiple perspectives—we get to know their personalities through their own words, but their appearances and looks are described by other characters, often painting a very different picture from how the characters perceive themselves.
Writing Prompt: Irritated
There are two people someone might refer to as “hipsters” posted up directly in front of me. I saw them at the coffee shop earlier, her in a pair of baggy, split-legged pants, a black top with plunging neckline, long, un-blowdried hair twisted up into a loose bun on top of her head. And he in a fedora, a bird’s feather tucked into one side, baggy, cloth pants, and deeply sun-tanned skin. They both sat and typed away on their shiny laptops, no doubt working away at freelance or remote jobs, their only connection to the real world.
Unbound, by Steph Jagger
Genre: Memoir | Themes: Adventure, Skiing, World Records, Travel
Why do we have to wait for life to break us before we reinvent ourselves? What if we’re the ones holding the hammer, and all we have to do is take a swing?
These are the questions that Steph Jagger asked herself when she set out to accomplish something extraordinary—something absurd. Steph was doing quite well at the time: she had a loving family, a successful career, and an apartment that she’d purchased with her own money. She wasn’t going through a terrible break-up, or grieving for a lost loved one, or trying to pick up the pieces of her life. Life had not forced change on her; nevertheless, she wanted a change. She wanted more. She wanted gusto.
Hot, so hot. The sun was like a member of the family, unyielding and exacting. We planned our days by its moods.
Whether or not the temperature was below 100 degrees determined if we left the house or not. The heat was a presence, a heavy blanket that sat upon our skin, sucking the moisture out. The taste of it seared my lungs as I breathed it in, boiling my insides.
Writing Prompt: Three Strands
Three strands: Me, my mother, and sleepwalking
A beginning: white, translucent skin kissed by the sunlight in a thousand scattered freckles, so similar in body, her skin, my skin, her compassion, now mine. She is the owner of the love in me, my first draft, me her masterpiece.
Growing up wild in the desert, her mini me, infusing her into me, her music, her burning incense, her fingertips covered in slick aloe vera, sending the sharp, healing scent into my pores.
Genre: Fiction | Themes: Paris, Bookshops, Love, Loss, Friendship
What Chocolat did for chocolate, The Little Paris Bookshop does for books—infusing them with love, magic, and mystery, not to mention the capacity to heal.
On board the Literary Apothecary, books are medicine, and Monsieur Jean Perdu is the “capitano” who prescribes them carefully and lovingly to each individual person.
Think about it. Where do our obsessions come from? Mine: reading, words, the earth, the stars, the universe, melancholy music, edgy images, fairy tales. These are the product of my childhood.
I was born in the desert, a steampunk wonderland of oases and sand dunes, raised on dusty books that smelled like age, fairy tales that took me away from the screaming in the living room (for I must have heard it, though I don’t remember it), the drawn out and vibrating melodies from the record player on the bureau, lulled to sleep by songs about pain and love and heartbreak and searching, songs about life.
Writing Prompt: Why I Write
I write to feel the scratch of pen against paper. I write to see my words, scrawled in spidery black, pink, purple, and blue cursive across the paper, marching in a line from some beginning to some unknown end.
I write because it brings me closer to that feeling I have no name for, that place I can’t identify, that memory I can’t quite put my finger on. I write because it sends blood to my heart and sets it aflutter.