Winding the Year Down

Winding the Year Down

October, November, December…and then 2018 is a memory.

This is the time of year where I try to wind up all my projects, and leave myself at least a portion of December to breathe, grow, rest. To refill my mental, emotional, spiritual wells, so that I can enter into the following year with a sense of grace, balance, and a plan.

That the plan always gets derailed, or goes sideways at some point, doesn’t matter as much as actually making the plan.

Right now, October is about both endings and beginnings. I’m wrapping up a novel – this one will be out in December, in the Rite to Reign box set (only $0.99!). Pre-order it here.

Then, from October 17 – 21, I’ll be in the Tampa, Florida area for Autumn Meet. I’ll be giving three talks – one on Meditation with Tarot, one on my brother, Scott Cunningham, and one on Writing the Paranormal Romance. It should be fun, and I’m so looking forward to unplugging for five days!  If you’re in the Tampa area, check it out – I’d love to meet you.

After I get back from Tampa, I’ll dive into first round edits. November will bring second round edits, and also it’s National Novel Writing Month. I *think* I’m going to participate this year. We’ll see…I have lots of thoughts brewing about my direction for 2019 that didn’t look like this a week ago! Oh…and I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the family this year, which means massive housecleaning starts yesterday.

And December brings the holidays, and a vacation. This year, the hubby and I are planning a stay-cation, and we’re going to play tourist in Los Angeles.  Quality time with my man…a lovely way to wrap up the year.

One of my goals for the rest of this year is to blog more. I’ve been putting my thoughts on FB, but I think it’s time to move back to the blog.

The year is winding down, the season is changing. Pumpkin spice fills the air (not my favorite, but that’s fine) and in Los Angeles, we’re hoping for a wet winter. The days are getting shorter and that’s just the cycle of this planet we’re on. In due time, the light will return; but for now? Take a rest. Wind down your projects. Find time to rest, recharge, relax.

Sending you love and hugs, always.



A “Real” Writer?

A “Real” Writer?

Scott and Christine, San Diego 1982 Photo by Chet Cunningham

Scott and Christine, San Diego 1982 Photo by Chet Cunningham – all “real” writers.

It’s come up more than a few times lately, with more than a few of my friends. What is a “real” writer? When do I get to that point? When does it all just flow?  Well, in the 13-plus years I’ve been writing, this is what I’ve come to know about being a “real” writer.

So Much Noise.

A real writer writes. They hide in their cave/laundry room/nearest coffee shop and write.

A real writer only writes on Wednesdays.

A real writer writes five thousand words a day when it goes well. Other times it’s like pulling teeth to get five hundred words done.

A real writer only writes when the muse strikes.

A real writer complains. They talk to like-minded writer friends about their hopes, dreams, and fears for the current manuscript, and no matter what, they go back to that manuscript until that sucker is done.

A real writer feels like a fraud, and when they do write a book that sells, they’re secretly afraid they’ll never be able to repeat it.

A real writer dives into each novel without planning, never knowing what’s going to come out.

A real writer gets to go on author tours and talk to kids about their middle grade books,

and opens minds and changes hearts while on said tour.

A real writer has Hollywood knocking on their door constantly.

A real writer does it all – writes, edits, designs covers, reviews books, formats books, and puts books out all by themselves. All the time.

A real writer never gets screwed by her agent/editor/publishing house.

A real writer has discussions with his agent/editor/critique partner about what’s just not working about the current book, and how to make it better.

A real writer doesn’t make good money.

A real writer plots meticulously before starting a new book.

A real writer gets reviews wherever reviews can be posted. Some are glowing. Some are not. Sometimes it looks like the person reviewing never read the book. Sometimes there aren’t many reviews, and the writer’s heart bleeds for that book.

A real writer has written books that will never see the light of day. Conversely, a real writer publishes everything they’ve ever written.

A real writer makes serious money.

A real writer only writes and pushes his wares to real publishers. Big five or nothing, baby.

Market market market. Twitter and FB and Instagram and Goodreads until you die. It’s the only way to make an impression.

A real writer can only write one good book a year.

A real writer refills the well when life hits hard, and puts the writing aside until the storm has passed (because it always passes).

A real writer can write a good book every month.

A real writer only writes for the intelligentsia.

A real writer writes no matter what’s going on in his life – death, birth, hurricanes or earthquakes, they’re writing.

A real writer gets agents and editors excited about their work.

A real writer writes every fucking day because there is no muse and the bills need to get paid.

And Then…

A real writer eventually learns that there is no correct way to be a real writer, and that what works for one person just won’t work for another. There are as many different roads to Publishing Nirvana as there are people trying to get there.

What is very interesting, is there are a LOT of people out there who want you to buy THEIR way to get to Publishing Nirvana, because THEIR way is the ONLY way. To which I call bullshit – be very wary of ANYONE who says their way is the only way to do anything, especially anything to do with writing. One size does not fit all, and these folks are preying on artists (because writers aren’t the only ones who get scammed in this manner).

So, to all you real writers out there, wherever you are on the writer’s journey, know you aren’t alone. What makes the journey worth while, for me at least, are the other writers/agents/editors we surround ourselves with, and the readers we reach with our words. You CAN do this. You CAN make this into your dream career.

Every writing career is a roller coaster. Sometimes it seems like we’re in free fall; other times it feels like getting to the top is taking forever. What is irritating and fascinating is that no two writers are on the same roller coaster.

Writers, musicians, artists of all kinds, actors, singers, dancers – the arts help to put the world around us into perspective for those who aren’t artists. It’s a gift, an obligation, for us to work on our art.

What is a “real” writer? One who doesn’t quit.

Chet Cunningham, June 2011. 325+ novels out and counting. He's as real as it gets.

Chet Cunningham, 325+ novels out and counting. He’s as real as it gets.


Go out into the world, dear hearts, be brave, and write. Paint. Sing. Film. Dance. And do it with your whole heart. Sending love and hugs to you.

Oh, and check out the writers depicted above. If you know a real writer, please give them a shout out by putting a link to their Amazon page in the comments.


Scott’s Page

So, I added a page here at my blog for my brother, Scott Cunningham. If you have photos of yourself with him, or have something you’d like to say about him, please feel free to leave a comment or email me a jpeg of the photo.

Here’s the link to the page… HERE.

Short and sweet post today! It’s been a good day, though. I got to meet Courtney Miller-Callihan today while I was attending the meeting at East Valley Authors, where she spoke. She’s an agent with the Sanford J. Greenburger Literary Agency.

We talked and I asked her some questions that I’d been wanting to discuss with an agent, and I pitched and it went well so I’ve got to get back to work and finish this book.

Hope you are all well and having a great weekend!


The Weight of Memories

The Weight of Memories

San Diego

I visited my dad on Saturday. Our visits tend to be short – not because we run out of things to say to each other (two writers talking? Never short of words!) but rather that he gets tired and I’m way sensitive to it, even when he’d rather I wasn’t. At 84, though, he’s allowed to get tired.

We did the usual things. Took a garden tour and liberated several Meyer lemons from his famous tree, and also got quite a few white grapefruit. I had printed a couple family photos, so I helped him put those into frames. And then came picture time.

late 1800's photo album

late 1800’s photo album


My Great Grandma Mary Eva (Meva) Burritt Jones Cunningham and Walter Jones, her first son by her first husband. Up in the corner is Sanford Jones, her first husband.

My Great Grandma Mary Eva (Meva) Burritt Jones Cunningham and Walter Jones, her first son by her first husband. Up in the corner is Sanford Jones, her first husband.

He’s been having me go through boxes of photos, to see what I’d like to keep.  I found several, and then I found the big box. Full of one book and several journals. My Grandmother Hazel’s journals. That just added to all the memories I’d collected that day.

My Aunt Amy, me, and Grandma Hazel Cunningham. Amy and Hazel were sisters.

My Aunt Amy Zedicher Whitmore, me, and Grandma Hazel Zedicher Cunningham. Amy and Hazel were sisters. 1988, Los Angeles, CA

With total permission, I lugged the box to my car and panted, doing so. (I’d added my photos from the batch I’d gone through earlier.) So many photos. So many memories.

Then I came across some photos of Scott. Here are two of my favorites.

Scott Cunningham, at the piano - 1975 or 1976 - not sure (photo undated).

Scott Cunningham, at the piano – 1975 or 1976 – not sure (photo undated). Sorry it’s blurry – it’s a photo of a photo. =(

And this one…

Scott and me at about 6 months pregnant - June? 1990

Scott and me, when I’m about 5 or 6 months pregnant = May or June, 1990

Carrying the box to my car, I strained under the load. It was a long, old fashioned cardboard file box, and it was full. My dad hovered as I carried it.

“You okay? You don’t need help? Looks heavy,” he said.

I smiled at him. “Memories carry weight,” I answered.

He nodded. “There must be at least fifty years of memories in there.” He was referring to his mother’s daily journals, I know. In those, she poured out everything but in such sparing details, which is a blog post for another day.

But as I loaded the box in the car, I noticed he stood a little taller. “You’re officially the family historian,” he said to me.

And it looked like a bit of weight had come off his shoulders.

Happy to help, Daddy. Any time.

Dad's first computer, a Trash 80 (TRS 80) 1983. He was definitely an early adopter.

Dad’s first computer, a Trash 80 (TRS 80) 1983. He was definitely an early adopter.

Happy Monday, my friends. What memories do you carry, that have more weight than maybe  you want?


Scott Cunningham – 20 Years Passing

Scott Cunningham – 20 Years Passing

It’s been twenty years since my brother Scott died. Twenty years. Which means my youngest son will be twenty this year. How did this happen? (For I am still a mere seventeen myself.)

My brother Scott Cunningham

I remember the day. It was a Saturday; my husband had two shows that day in Hollywood, and I had just been lazing around the house, being pregnant and happy and playing with my two year old. Until that afternoon, when my parents called.

I couldn’t believe it and yet it was utterly believable. The last time I had seen Scott, my heart had broken, and I will spare you the details. The time before that was in January, and we’d gone to lunch. Our conversation ranged over many topics and lunch, as I remember, took hours. I wish now I had recorded our conversation.

Anyway, the phone rang and my world shifted. It had happened to me before; the year I turned twenty, both my cousin Lori and a dear friend named Mark had died. Two separate, tragic instances separated my months and geography; both of which my parents had called to tell me about.

But those paled in comparison.

As Rosamund Pilcher said in her novel Coming Home, and I’m paraphrasing; Until you were told a loved one had died, they were there, living their lives, going about their business. It was the telling that killed. That last sentence has stayed with me. Haunted me, because it is true.

We knew his death was coming; it had been a long haul, three years of decline. Three years of giving our love, doing our best to banter the way we always did while hiding our shock at how thin he grew. Three years of feeling him slipping away. So by March we were taking it a day at a time.

Then I got the call.

In 1993, we had pagers. So in my grief, I paged my husband, who had to go on stage just then (in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream), so he thrust the pager at his friend Paul, and said call her. Paul called me and I told him about Scott; Paul had been at our wedding, and he had met my brother. Paul was on one side of the stage when Tom looked at him – and from Paul’s expression, Tom knew.

I cannot do justice to Scott, for I am only a sister, one he fought with, laughed with, at times protected, and loved. But here are some places you can go to hear from people who knew him, probably better than I.

Donald Michael Kraig wrote this article on Scott.  The Llewellyn Worldwide Publications site has his books listed, and they’re all on Amazon as well. And someone put up this video that Scott did on YouTube and while I normally wouldn’t do this, here’s a link. Because this is so totally Scott, lol.

And we can’t forget the Wikipedia site.

Two of the books I love:

The Magical Household by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington

and Whispers of the Moon by David Harrington and deTraci Regula,

which is the biography they did of him.






Though, seriously, all of his books show a side of Scott I only barely grazed as we were growing up. We shared an apartment for a little while; but through our childhood, we shared a bond that I feel will never be broken.

My older brother Greg and I miss him, and we cling perhaps tighter to each other with one of us gone, so long ago now.

The moon is full, Spring is here, and it’s been twenty years since Scott’s passing. But I like to think he’d still recognize me, even with my thinning hair and thickening body, for my smile is still as bright and my arms still hug tight. I shall go outside into the moonlight tonight, and pour some wine into the soil for him.

Hug those you love, for our time is short in this world. A last note: I know I’m not the only one who has lost a sibling/spouse/parent/friend/cousin. As Gregor Caine says, “We all have our dead.” May we honor those who have gone before us, and love and cherish those who are still with us.

~ Until the next time. ~


Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?