May 22

Your Brain on the Internet


Hi everyone,
I just had to share this video that I came across while (you guessed it) mindlessly surfing the internet. It’s a hilarious and wickedly insightful view into what happens to our brains in this distracted world. It’s based on the wonderful work of Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, and I love the way he concludes that Attention is the Key. Enjoy!

P.S.: And remember to leave a comment on last week’s post for a chance to win a FREE COPY of The Pen and the Bell!

May 16

Happy Anniversary! (and a gift for you….)


Dear Friends,
It’s been a little over a year since The Pen and the Bell arrived in the world. We’ve been so happy to share this book with you, both virtually and in person!

As a thank you to our readers, we’ll be giving away a FREE copy of The Pen and the Bell to one lucky person who leaves a comment here  by June 1. We know most of you probably already own a copy, but it makes a great gift, too!

Your comment can be as simple as “Happy Anniversary,” or as elaborate as telling us what you enjoy about the book, this blog, or your personal writing practice. Any suggestions about what we can offer you on this website are more than welcome!

We’re looking forward to hearing from you. If you’ve been quietly “lurking” for a while, we’d love to hear your voice, too!

With gratitude,
Brenda and Holly



May 12

A Weed By Any Other Name….

Forget me Nots

Dear Friends,

Summer weather arrived in the Northwest this weekend and my husband John and I finally made it out into our too-long neglected garden. In the meantime, the weeds had grown like, well, weeds, and we spent hours pulling, hoeing, cussing and clipping in an effort to reclaim our garden.

Some weeds pose no moral dilemma. The pernicious buttercup, for example, or the promiscuous morning glory.  Clip and yank—into the compost with them—no looking back. But this year, conditions were just right for the forget-me-nots to thrive and there they are, their blue eyes winking at me as I wade through them, trying to decide how many to yank, how many to leave.

I’m reminded of the classic definition of weed: a plant in the wrong place. One person’s weed is another person’s beloved flower—or a bee’s source of pollen. John and I stopped mid-yank when we saw all the mason bees circling above the forget-me-nots, dipping in for a quick dusting. We realized we needed to leave some forget-me-nots for the bees.

Now, when we walk out the door, we can hear them buzzing, hovering above the forget-me-nots, and we can imagine that we’re helping to support them in their pollinating efforts.  If you want to help support bees, you can put up a mason bee house in your garden  or sign the petition to ban the pesticides that are wiping out the honey bees.

Consider the lesson of the weed, both in your life and in your writing. Do you swear at weeds you could simply move to a better place?  Could you—or someone else—make use of those weeds? Consider sending work to a new journal, finding the right home for that odd essay or poem. Or consider pruning and thinning what you you’ve written to let in more light, to allow for something else to take root.   

We hope you’ll share your “weed” stories with us here—and will find good uses for whatever looks, at first glance, like a weed. Beauty is in the eye of the bee.

Yours, pondering the complexities of weeding,