Around here in the last week:

… Focused a TON on the new 30 Days of Lists challenge!

… Began the 1st draft of another novel. I would *love* to be able to average ~2000 words per day and finish the first draft by mid-August. We’ll see.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 7.54.09 AM

… Marathoning Friends episodes while I work on Blurb books.

… Harvested our first red bell peppers from our garden. SO delicious!

bell peppers

… Andrew’s boss went out of town for about 5 weeks, so he is mostly off work (from his day job) and booked a bunch of freelance projects!

And now for this week’s links!


in found

Book Review: Uncertainty

As part of my attempt to stay BRAVE, I read Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields

I enjoyed this book – but it is definitely ‘light’ reading for me. Kind of a feel good, encouraging, don’t really have to think that much self-help book. The subtitle – Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance – is promising, but I expected the actual content of the book to more clearly show how to do it.

I guess I just have a very picky editor with high standards inside me that is hard to please. I mean, how many times in a 195-page book do you need to tell me what we’re “going to” be discussing? Just get on with it!

That said, there were some great takeaways:

Like this quote about living with uncertainty:

“One of the single greatest determinants of high-level success as an innovator or creator in any realm is the ability to manage and at times even seek out sustained high levels of uncertainty, bundled lovingly with risk of loss and exposure to criticism” (10).

As last was my YEAR OF BRAVE I’m still really trying (trying) to be more comfortable with uncertainty. Some of my brave choices have been incredibly nerve-wracking. I’m a planner by nature so having any kind of unknowns in my future is totally new to me.

I’m working on it. I don’t know about “sustained high levels of uncertainty,” but I’m getting there.

Another great idea Fields suggests is the power of ‘certainty anchors’: “A certainty anchor is a practice or process that adds something known and reliable to your life when you may otherwise feel you’re spinning off in a million different directions” (46).

For example, I heard Judd Apatow say in an interview that he will go to Gap and just by 12 polo shirts in various colors so he doesn’t have to think about it. Or, Fields uses examples from novelist CJ Lyons or blogger Darren Rowse who both structure their work and daily routines to be anchors in their life.

In my own life, I realize that this is why my husband and I pretty much eat the same thing all the time. In the summer we almost only eat salad. I don’t have to think too much when I go to the store. I don’t have to find new recipes or plan time to experiment. I buy vegetables, wash them, throw them in a bowl with whatever protein is on sale that week and we’re done. (In the winter I have about 4 soup/stew/chili recipes that I make over and over and over).

I think the longest chapter is actually about meditation, which is a little too much for me. Personally. I know plenty of smart, successful people swear by it but I am just not ready and reading about it in the middle of a work/business/self-helpy kind of book just seemed out of place.

I still think you should read Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields. At least once. Especially if you have any intention of carving out a creative life for yourself.

P.S. A year ago today is when BUILD ecourse launched!


in courage and fear, dreaming and planning, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, great work, resources

photography resources

photography resourcesJust because I no longer have a photo business doesn’t mean I don’t still love it. Obviously.

I actively try to improve my skills every week – I’m still taking photos for Project Life even though I haven’t put any pages together.

Here are some great posts from around the web from the last couple months!

1 comment

in photography

My summer workspace

Here’s the thing about my house. I love it … but it is CRAZY hot upstairs in the summer. Like 12+ degrees hotter than downstairs. Like I-don’t-ever-want-a-2-story-house-again hot. I think we need to replace the windows with double pane and maybe re-insulate the attic, but still. No money for that at the moment, so it is crazy hot upstairs.

Which means that in the summer (from about July 1 to mid/end of September) I almost never go up there. My workspace in the summer is 100% downstairs. Whether I’m writing or reading or brainstorming or on a Skype call or answering emails, it is going to be almost entirely from this spot on the couch for the next few months.


Couch made up as a bed: Oh, yea. I sleep on the couch. All throughout the summer (unless we have guests), our couch is made up as a bed. It’s just about the perfect twin-size so nights that it is just unbearable upstairs (and usually nights that Andrew works all night), I sleep on the couch.

Laptop propped on a book: Because of the heat the laptop puts off, I can’t actually handle it being on my lap, and I don’t want it on the soft couch surface so I just prop it on whatever hardcover library book I happen to have on hand.

Pile of books: Always. Obviously. Here’s my to-read pile for July. Library and borrowed and bought.

Brace on each wrist: Between 15 or so years of computer and crocheting, my wrists are basically shot. Someday I want to figure out how to build an ergonomically sound treadmill desk, but who can afford that. So, I wear braces on each wrist to keep them straight while I work.

Giant water bottle: 32 ounces. I drink about 2 of these each day. I use the water bottle A) so there’s no cup for Fang to knock over. Which she would. and B ) because it holds so much more than a glass and I don’t have to get up as often and interrupt my working flow.

Dress: Last year I decided I would do pantsless summer. And now I kind of want to do pantsless life. Skirts and dresses nearly every day.

Also pictured: My orange pen, foil on the arm to deter the cats and a giant pile of DVDs behind the couch because we don’t have shelving for it yet.

Not pictured: My backyard hammock where I will read in the early evening when it’s cool

Where are you working this summer?


in BUILD YOUR PLATFORM, creative space

June Book Report

June I did A TON of reading, but not a lot to add to this list.

Why? Because last month I edited a gigantic novel for a new writer. I read it through twice (took me 2 weeks). I imagine the final version will be changed from the version I read, too.

Turns out I LOVE editing fiction. I can do it from my hammock. I love to read. And I love to think through and solve problems. I’ve got a few more editing clients coming up in the next few months, but if you’re looking for an editor definitely hit me up.

So, other than unpublished novels … My favorite reads from June:

Anne of Green Gables seriesMy annual re-read. I still love this character so much. This year, Anne actually inspired a whole new book series idea for me (that Andrew says is my best idea yet). I will never get enough of the Anne series.

Brush with Darkness by Jamie Maltman: This is book 1 of a projected series, and I edited book 2 for the author (so we agreed I should probably read book 1 to get caught up). To be honest, I did not expect to like it as much as I did. Pseudo-historical fiction (Rome/Greece/Mediterranean) + fantasy. Not really the kind of thing I would seek out. The story was really good, though. I love being sucked into a story. He did something interesting with art being the source of the magic/power in the world. Still some amateurish bits in the writing, but I imagine that will improve with later books in the series. Here’s another review with more details re: the story.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman: Really liked it. Appreciate that it was not for children. It’s kind of compressed Harry Potter + Narnia for 20-year-olds. The main character was only sometimes sympathetic, but it went with the story, really, that you want to smack him several times throughout the book. I actually really like this review even though it is 1 star, particularly point#4.

I plan on getting the sequels (The Magician King and The Magician’s Land). Any other magic-as-a-hidden-part-of-real-life books I should read? Other than Harry Potter, obviously. And Jonathan Strange (a favorite). I don’t love made up worlds (like Middle Earth, Narnia, etc), but magical rules in ‘real life’ are fun. Ideas?

Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis: I love Michael Lewis. I plan on reading all his books. This was his first and has been on my to-read list for a long time. I’m kind of glad I kept putting it off, though. I really think I enjoyed it more because I have listened to the first 6 months of Planet Money (and so understand the economics of the mortgage bond industry slightly) and seen The Wolf of Wall Street (so have a visual for the chaos). Liar’s Poker is a memoir of wall street from about the same time as the DiCaprio movie. (P.S. counting this for U.S. History (but I won’t be posting my review there until I get to that rough time period)).

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown: Yea, I know. Garbage in, garbage out. But all of his books must have been best-sellers for a reason, and I’m trying to figure that out. I have in mind an idea for a mystery/thriller series and I am finding Dan Brown’s style interesting (not ‘good’). Knowing exactly where to stop a chapter so the reader really wants to turn the page is a skill.

Interestingly, while still not a great book, Angels and Demons is far better than books 3 and 4 in the Langdon series. This one was published first. Then Brown had his insane success with book 2 The DaVinci Code. So I’m imagining his editor working hard on book 1 (Angels and Demons ) and then throwing up his hands and saying ‘screw it, who cares,’ and putting out far worse books 3 and 4.

The Dream Engine by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant: This book will be published *very* soon, but as it was the book they wrote ‘live’ as the Fiction Unboxed project, I’ve been reading a little bit every day through the month of June. It’s about a 15 year old girl who learns that she is special and is plucked by a secret organization to save the world. You know. Most YA books. I like it, but don’t love it but can’t put my finger on why. I think just the simple fact that there is a heavy focus on world-building, and I don’t feel like I know the characters terribly well.

(and others… )

Read anything good lately?


in Amy, resources


In the last week around here …

… my strawberry plant is not doing very well. I moved it so it gets less sun. We’ll see.

… I spent $5 on the recent This American Life live show. I love Lin-Manuel Miranda with all my heart, so have been very excited about this!

… I photographed a last-minute wedding on Saturday. Harassed by a groomsman and spent Sunday *exhausted*. Not sure I ever want to shoot a wedding again.

… Found out we might actually get to go on a mini vacation this summer. Not 100% sure on details yet, but I’m excited!

Maggie placed a large ad this week, so I’m expecting to be busier in the next few days!

… I’m joining Kristin’s book club! I love reading.

… Andrew is having a rough week. Not limited to a homeless drug addict attacking his employees.


in found

NURTURE: Resting and resetting

I am taking next week off from Lemon and Raspberry.

hammockI haven’t done this in AWHILE. Whenever I go on a proper vacation, I have always just worked ahead so posts went up while I was gone.

But I feel like this is something I need to try. I am now halfway through my year to NURTURE, and I really feel like this is the perfect time to rest and reset. Nurturing can be working more on the things I already have in my life, but it can also be stepping back from other commitments. Just taking a break.

I don’t have anything specific planned. I’ll get a little bit ahead for the following week. I’ll read and think and plan and reboot. And probably plan some more, because that is what I do.

I need to get some distance from the every-day-content-creation that I’ve been on for so long.

And then I’ll probably redo all of my SPARK ecourse tasks when I start up again.

We’ll call it a reward for my 1 year quit-eversary. We’ll call it an experiment. We are not going on a proper vacation this year, but next week is a holiday in the U.S. and Andrew’s birthday, so why not. I have no idea how this will go, but I think this is the time to try.

Come back on July 7 for my June book report! And I’ll be sure to let you know how this brain-nurturing-break goes.


in Lemon and Raspberry

L&R Book Club: Ignore Everybody

These last couple months reading The Creative Habit have been fantastic. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and I’ve thought a lot about my creative process. I am definitely planning on re-reading it and we have had some great discussions in the Facebook group.

For the summer months, I thought it would be fun to read something lighter and easier. Something that doesn’t included multiple exercises for each chapter. Something that you can pop out of your purse to read while you’re in line at Target if you want.

I hope you join us! For July and August, the L&R Book Club will be reading:

Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

Official book blurb:

When Hugh MacLeod was a struggling young copywriter, living in a YMCA, he started to doodle on the backs of business cards while sitting at a bar.

MacLeod has opinions on everything from marketing to the meaning of life, but one of his main subjects is creativity. How do new ideas emerge in a cynical, risk-averse world? Where does inspiration come from? What does it take to make a living as a creative person?

Now his first book, Ignore Everyone, expands on his sharpest insights, wittiest cartoons, and most useful advice. A sample:

* Selling out is harder than it looks. Diluting your product to make it more commercial will just make people like it less.
* If your plan depends on you suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail. Nobody suddenly discovers anything. Things are made slowly and in pain.
* Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether. There’s no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one.
* The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours. The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.

After learning MacLeod’s 40 keys to creativity, you will be ready to unlock your own brilliance and unleash it on the world.

There are 40 little chapters, so we’ll plan on reading the first 20 in July, the second 20 in August.

Grab your copy of Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod from Amazon, your library, your friend’s bookshelf, your local bookstore, Audible. Wherever. July 1 is a week from today!


in business book, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, resources

1 year quit-iversary: An ode to support from a spouse

I quitRather quietly last week I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of quitting my day job. My last day in a cubicle was Friday, June 21, 2013.

There are a lot of things I could say in this post, like how to quit your day job yourself, or 3 things I wish someone had told me, or plans for my future non-cubicleness. …

But really, I just want to tell you how grateful I am to my husband because I 100% could not have done this without his support.

I suppose as a proper blogger, I should be focusing on a good takeaway for you the reader. I should be able to distill this into a couple good lessons or tips for you do use in your own journey. I shouldn’t make this all about me.

But I can’t do that. Because I could not have quit my day job at this point in my life without Andrew’s whole-hearted commitment to make me happy.

You see….  When I quit last year, I was *barely* making enough money through L&R, #30Lists and working for Maggie to cover what Andrew’s salary did not.

Since then, a year later, I have not really increased my income at all. We still have very little money. And what is Andrew’s response to that? “Read in the hammock. Watch a movie. Do whatever makes you happy.”

Yes, I have read a lot in the last year. 50+ books since the beginning of 2014. But I have done more than read in a hammock too. I’ve painted the garage and done more yardwork than I ever wanted to. I launched a minisite and a book club just for fun. I’ve written 2 novel rough drafts, and edited 2 more. I’ve completed my big ecourse and grown that community. I’ve shot a few weddings and shuttered that business. I spent a whole week taking care of my grandmother in Phoenix. I’ve dropped everything to drive to Andrew’s work for an impromptu date. I’ve thought and dreamed and planned and worked (and planned some more).

I may not be making any more money than I was a year ago, but I am approximately 17,000x happier than I was in the cubicle.

All because my husband supports me, supports my goals, and (most of all) believes that me being happy with zero expendable income is a much better way to spend life than me being miserable and having a bit more money to spend.

I’m super excited for my next year of cubicle-less-ness.

Feel free to go tell Andrew how awesome he is on his Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. It will embarrass the heck out of him.


in Amy, FIND YOUR GREAT WORK, happiness is



in found