Wednesday, June 7, 2023

10 Things That are Still True About Me

 Some days, I feel changed (and not always for the better) by age and experience. Other days, I marvel at how far away I am from being a 20-something (or even a 40-something). 

And then I find a post like this one from five years ago and realize that I really haven't changed all that much. The face in the mirror is older, but inside, I'm still very much the same.

  1. I love my job. Sure, I complain sometimes about the details but, big picture, I love working with young adults and daily, I meet young people who shatter the notion of a lazy, entitled younger generation. (Yes, even after the pandemic).
  2. I am an optimist. Most days, #1 fuels this.
  3. I appreciate excellence and have little patience for people who don't do the work.
  4. I love creating characters, whether for the stage or the page.
  5. I live for a flexible work schedule. I've done the traditional work day, and this is much, much better, but I also work more hours now than when I did the typical work week.
  6. Becoming a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me.
  7. I have a love-hate relationship with technology. When it works, it's a fabulous tool, but I'm always not-so-secretly afraid something will go wrong and I will look foolish. (It's happened).
  8. I love to learn new things. These days, you're more likely to find me reading (and writing) non-fiction than novels.
  9.  I am grateful beyond words for the life I have. Yes, bad things have happened and no, I haven't simply ignored them. But, I know that neither good nor bad will feel that way every moment of every day. I know what I'm good at and I'm willing to work hard. And, I have a husband whose job provides health insurance.
  10. No matter where I am or where I live, I will always, always be a Jersey girl.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Novels and Non-Fiction

 Invariably, I have multiple projects going on, typically a mix of non-fiction proposals and chapter-by-chapter fiction pursuits. Sometimes, this is a good thing.

Other times, it's overwhelming. 

At best, having multiple projects keeps things interesting. Not feeling up to figuring out the conflict in that chapter today? Work on a blog post, an essay, or a portion of a proposal.

Sounds logical, right? Ha. Appearances can be deceiving.

At best, multiple projects guarantee that there's always something to work on, no matter my mood or method. At worst, they're distractors, and I find myself feeling as though wherever I am, it's the wrong place to be. If I'm with these characters, nothing is happening with those characters. If I'm enmeshed in the saga of my created community of people on the page, how will I ever get that proposal or sample finished, let alone get it off my computer and into the hands of someone who can make it into the book I've been dreaming about?

It's a conundrum.

I've tried being practical, assigning different projects to different days, or splitting the day, focusing first on one project, then another. Sometimes, this works. Other times (many times) creative looks at practical and says, "I don't think so. I don't feel like working right now. I think I'll just take a nap."


Other times, it's me who needs to take a nap. The same side of me that creates characters and proposals and concocts storylines and premises also dreams up ways to bring classroom content to life and create reasonable methods of assessment. Consequently, despite my best intentions of sitting down to write after I finish teaching, grading, or planning, some days, there's just not enough brain power left to make that happen.

My practical husband is quick to remind me that I can't do everything. This then awakens all the projects, who band together, demanding to know which of them is getting fired. This, by the way, is the only time the fiction and non-fiction stick together because they know that, loving author that I am, I won't abandon any of them.

How could I?

If I wanted to engage in self-analysis, I could easily make a connection between my love of learning and my desire to do all the things, as my colleague Sarah would say. 

But I don't want to engage in self-analysis. I want to write. I want to put words on the page, turn pages into stories, and find a way to share those stories with the world. 

Luckily, there's no shortage of material because, as I've already established, no one is being fired.

With apologies to Shakespeare:

Novels or non-fiction: that is the question. 

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to create

          New people and new places, 

          Or to take up an idea

          And by sharing it, reach out

         To educate; to entertain....

I guess I should just be grateful my dilemma is nowhere near as serious as Hamlet's.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

All Good Things Must Come to an End (The Final Blogiversary Post)

lumpi via Pixabay

 It's been fun celebrating with you this week! Most of the time, you can find all of the Lisa writing news here and on my Facebook page but, since things are published in standalone posts, sometimes it's challenging to find the thing you're looking for. My website is (usually/mostly) up-to-date with all the latest in one place.

Finally, one book I didn't give away (because I couldn't figure out how) is my Kindle Vella middle grade story, Jersey Girls Don't Rule. Amazon often gives away the tokens needed to read Kindle Vella stories (and the first three episodes of Vella books are always free), so I hope you'll stop by and check it out. 

Meanwhile, if you haven't entered to win any of the book giveaways included in this week's posts, you have until noon today to get your entry in.

Thanks for hanging out on the porch swing with me!

Friday, June 2, 2023

Still Here (A Blogiversary Post)

athree23 via Pixabay

 When I retired from Education Career #1, I committed to posting here regularly. I'd been dabbling at blogging for six years, squeezing in posts whenever time and the muse showed up simultaneously. Since one of my goals when I left my job in public education was to move toward full-time writing, posting regularly was a step in that direction. Although I'd heard other writers complain about how blogging detracted from "real" writing, as a newly retired person, I was excited to do both.

Lately, though, I've been finding it easy to identify with those complaints. With multiple writing projects going on alongside Education Career #2, it's no longer simply a matter of time, but a matter of creative energy as well. 

Yet here I am. Still. For one reason or another, I always decide in favor of sticking to the promises I made when I first posted from my perch on the porch swing, and again in 2015, when I launched Organizing by STYLE

Here are a few of the reasons I continue to show up.
  1. I like talking to my readers. Sure, I can still do this to a certain extent with articles and non-fiction endeavors like Know Thyselfbut they're more like business meetings. Blog posts, on the other hand, are more like sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee (iced tea for me, please) or, some days, a glass of wine, depending on when I sit down to write the post.
  2. It's good practice. Writers get better by writing and we get better at meeting deadlines when we get practice doing that as well. Enough said.
  3. I'm better with words than other formats. I've been encouraged more than once to go on Instagram, something I did last summer before Know Thyself came out, but I'm a writer, not a visual artist and I hate selfies. Perhaps I'll learn to love Instagram over time but, right now, I'd much rather be here than there. Did I mention that I like talking to my readers?
  4. I enjoy it. Most of the time anyway. Sure, I sometimes wish there were 27 hours in the day so that saying yes to blogging didn't mean saying no to something else but, most of the time, I like being here.
So, I guess that means you're stuck with me. And, if you'd like to throw a topic suggestion my way, I wouldn't have a problem with that. 

Thanks for reading. Oh, and if you'd like to enter to win a copy of Courting Peace, email me at with "Blogiversary Giveaway" in the subject line, and Courting Peace in the body of the email. One entry per person, please, limited to the contiguous United States for paperbacks. Deadline to enter is Saturday, June 3 at 12PM EST.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Stepping off the Porch Swing and Into New Territory (A Blogiversary Post)

 For almost two decades, organizing has been a key interest and writing focus for me. When I started working seriously on the book that would become Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff, I began including posts about organization here on the Porch Swing Chronicles. 

In 2015, I decided to step off not just the porch swing, but the porch itself and move my organizing posts to a home of their own, my Organizing by STYLE blog. Over time, themed posts like "3 Keys Thursday" and, later, "True Confessions Wednesday" became regular features. In 2021, I gathered my True Confessions Wednesday posts into a volume of their own.

Since the publication of Know Thyself in 2019, I've been posting less frequently at Organizing by STYLE but you can still find revolving features ranging from "Thursday Thoughts" to "Throwback Thursday" (and yes, "3 Keys Thursday") on -- you guessed it -- Thursdays on the Organizing by STYLE blog

To enter to win a copy of Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff, (paperback), email me at with "Blogiversary Giveaway" in the subject line, and Know Thyself in the body of the email. One entry per person, please, limited to the contiguous United States. Deadline to enter is Saturday, June 3 at 12PM EST. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Dishing with Marita and Friends (A Blogiversary Post)

 One of my favorite things to do is to put my characters on the porch swing and let them talk. Here's a post from 2019, featuring key cast members from the MAC books (Casting the First Stone, Chasing a Second Chance and Courting Peace). Credit for the first three questions goes to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (and the page-a-day calendar I had back then). Anything else that arises is just life on the porch swing. :-)

Would you rather visit a gourmet grocery store or a nice office supply store?

Angel: Oh, definitely the gourmet grocery store!
Charli: Does the grocery store have ice cream?
Bets: Groceries? Office supplies? Ugh. Shoes!! (shakes her head and guffaws) Groceries.
Marita: Well, as long as we're not following the directions, I'll just go to the mall!
Angel: First question and we're already making up our own rules?
Bets: Angel, we have met, have we not?

Do you wake up naturally most mornings or are you awakened by an alarm?

Charli: (groans) Alarm.
Marita: Mine goes off before yours.
Bets: Depends on whether or not I'm temping that day. See, Angel. I can follow the rules. Sometimes.
Charli: When she wants to.
Bets: You got that right, kiddo.
Angel: I'm awakened by an alarm named Spencer. Luckily, she's cute.

If you could take an all-expense-paid trip to any city in the world, where would you go?

Marita: Paris.
Charli: Someplace I could try out my Spanish....Spain.
Bets: London. Or maybe I'd stay closer to home and pick New Orleans. I've always wanted to go to Mardi Gras.
Angel: Somewhere in Hawaii. I'd like to see the Pacific Ocean. But I'd rather take a cruise. I don't really like to fly.

Charli: Hey! Let's play "Would you rather?" I'll start. Would you rather travel by plane, train, car or cruise ship? I pick cruise ship.
Marita: Me too. Though planes are okay, too.
Bets: I'd take a plane to get to my cruise ship.
Angel: (laughs) Trains, cruise ships and cars for me, please.

Bets: Okay, I've got a question. And you can't say "both."
Would you rather marry for love or money?

Charli: Love.
Angel: Love.
Marita: Love. But it wouldn't hurt if he had money.
Bets: Do you perhaps have someone in mind?
Marita: No, but I do have a question.
A big, inexpensive wardrobe or a few key, expensive pieces?

Bets: That one is actually hard. I like a lot of clothes, but I could also get by on a few really good things. (She thinks for another moment). A few expensive pieces.
Charli: Me too. Then again, I can live in jeans and tee shirts.
Angel: A big wardrobe. And a walk-in closet.
Marita: Me too. I like choices.

Angel: I have one.
Read the book first or watch the movie first?

Bets: Do I have to read the book at all? Movie!
Marita: Movie.
Charli: Book first. Angel?
Angel: Book first.

Bets (stands): Okay, everyone I'm getting drinks!
Strawberry daiquiri or iced tea?

Charli: (slumps) Like I have a choice.
Bets: One of these days, kiddo.
Angel: Tea for me, please.
Marita: What do you think?
Bets: Be right back. And if anyone out there in cyberspace has any questions, send 'em our way!

Or, if you'd like to enter to win a copy of Chasing a Second Chance, email me at with "Blogiversary Giveaway" in the subject line, and Chasing a Second Chance in the body of the email. One entry per person, please, limited to the contiguous United States for paperbacks. Deadline to enter is Saturday, June 3 at 12PM EST.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Porch Swing Chronicles Meets Front Porch Book Club (A Blogiversary Post)

  It's always fun when someone asks me to write a guest post or join them on a podcast. Back in 2021, I had the opportunity to slide off my porch swing and join Linda Culbertson and Nancy Shank on their virtual front porch for their Front Porch Book Club podcast

I never know what to expect when I visit a new podcast. Years of teaching and acting have made me reasonably comfortable with off-the-cuff conversations, but awareness of rolling tape definitely adds an edge. Most of the time, things turn out well and I have fun, and this time was no exception. I had a blast!

Sisters Linda and Nancy have a really interesting set-up. Each book gets two air dates. The first is a discussion between Linda and Nancy, book club-style, about the book they're featuring. The second (that's where I came in) is a conversation with the author. It's light and fun, but they asked me some of the best questions I've even been asked about anything I've written.

I hope you'll check out the Casting the First Stone episode, along with at least some of the other episodes Linda and Nancy have posted in the past two years!

Today's Blogiversary Giveaway:

To enter to win a copy of Casting the First Stone (paperback or e-book), email me at with "Blogiversary Giveaway" in the subject line, and Casting the First Stone in the body of the email. One entry per person, please, limited to the contiguous United States for paperbacks. Deadline to enter is Saturday, June 3 at 12PM EST.

**(Please note: the giveaway has no affiliation with the Front Porch Book Club).