Hidden Gems


This is a photo of me driving up to the mountains looking for hidden gems. It was by sheer accident, as my son snapped a photo of the waterfall, that the reflection on the car glass made my face appear to be part of the cliff. My hair weaves with the crags and crevices. My shoulders and body are clothed with trees and dirt.

There have been no alterations to this photo. I like to think that this reflects how much the mountains, and their plentiful hidden gems, are a part of me. 🙂

* A couple weeks ago I went to a low key concert in a neighbor’s home. The hosts had graciously brought in the talented singer/songwriter, J. Wagner. As usual, I sat, enamored to the songwriting.

Before one of the final songs, the musician talked about the dry spells that writers go through. He talked about a particularly long personal drought and how he wandered and wondered along the streets aimlessly, frustrated about his lost muse. People scuffed past, birds sang above, but still… nothing.

Out of the crowd, a gaggle of women past him. An elderly woman’s voice rang out and found his uninspired ears.

“Honey, I left my laughter buried beneath the river years ago.”

Golden, brilliant gem of words!

He said, that like a flash of lightening, a song came to him and he wrote it down in a notebook that he always kept in his pocket. It soon became this song…

Writers need to open our eyes and ears. And for heaven’s sake, don’t leave the house without a notebook.

So, I just finished up my taxes for the first year as a published author. As I was flipping through my receipts, I thought about all the things I should or could write off. Lunches with friends. Dinners with husband. Mileage up to the canyon. The sack lunch that I took hiking up to hidden hot pots. Writing is woven into every part of my life. Nuggets of inspiration fly through the night sky, or appear in a movie, or are in the way my kids react to one another.

A few years ago I heard a keynote from the amazing author Anne Perry. She spoke about the details in our lives that prick our hearts and make us stand in awe. Her hidden gem is “light dancing on water.” My mother’s is “clouds.” A friend of mine is “owls.” I thought to myself, “mine are the mountains.” If I am ever stuck in my writing, I take to the mountains. I always have, and I always will.

When I was in junior high I had a friend who said he wanted to marry me because he didn’t know any girl who loved nature and the mountains more than I. My husband said the same words. I said yes to him because I knew he was sincere and I loved the way he loved me… and the way he loved the mountains. 

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But what if our dry spell happens for no reason? What if we move to the desert, far away from mountains? Or we live in a city where there is pollution and not clouds? Or what if we are surrounded by all the things that should give us moments of brilliancy and reflection, but our minds are too polluted within the daily dredges that inspiration never gets filtered through?

Look smaller. Sometimes pearls of wisdom and diamonds of dialogue hit us on a crowded street when we are walking around aimlessly.

I find Hidden Gems everywhere. 

Because I look for them.

What is your hidden gem? Do you have a detail in life that inspires you?

Happy writing-


Skiing and Writing – how they relate


Anyone who knows me well, knows I love to ski. My gracious husband moved me back to the slopes because of my addiction to it. (Thank you Matt!)

Here is an excerpt from my novel Broken Smiles:  “Over time she got used to being on stage; she loved it, then craved it. A rush that few understood. Like a skier staring down a huge mountain, or a sky diver looking out of the plane to the world below. A true unaltered rush. No drugs, no alcohol – just pure blood and adrenaline ran through her veins.”

Sitting upon a ski lift this winter, which carried me up the misty mountains with the anticipation of first tracks, the correlation between skiing and writing came to me. I want to share.


We titer on the edge between having control and losing control. We push ourselves to feel the rush. Skiing has taught me how to enjoy beauty in the bleak, cold winter. Skiers observe the nature around us, we rise above the pollutions of mundane city life to play in the mountains.


Authors dwell in a space between having control and losing control of our writing. We push our voice to either educate, entertain, or inspire. Putting our thoughts onto paper for others to read is both scary and thrilling. Writing has taught me to observe, especially through the pollutions of every day life.


There will always be someone better or worse then you, and just when you are winning a race between your sister, you can skid along an unseen patch of ice and break your collarbone. (really happened!) Or, just when you think your writing is fairly decent, you receive a bad review or round of corrections from your editor to put you in your place. (again, really happened!) The point is, do you strap on your skies the next winter, even though your feet shake in your boots and your palms sweat in your gloves? Do you continue on your story, even though the writers block seems as impenetrable as a thick wall of ice?


In both cases, surround yourself with people who are better then you. Follow them into exciting new terrain, the backcountry. Let people help you with your form. Go to writers conferences, join critique groups. It is okay to fall. That is how you get better.

As a skier, sometimes I fall and sometimes I fly. Either way, it makes me feel alive, just like the process of writing does.