Coffee Is My Spirit Animal

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 Coffee Is My Spirit Animal

Coffee is my spirit animal. If I were stranded on a desert island with one thing to drink, it would have to be coffee. It does more than just wake me up in the morning. It’s part of my morning ritual. I wake up and kiss C and I crawl out of bed just before the sun comes up to start brewing us some coffee. Since we started dating, I’ve noticed that he loves when we share our first cup of coffee together. We take turns making each other’s coffee and then bring it outside, where we sit in the crisp coolness of the morning air and drink together. DSC 0257 Coffee Is My Spirit Animal We talk about the things that we’ve seen lately that interest us, we share what we’re going to do during the day and when we’ve reached the bottom of our cups, it’s time to say goodbye as he goes to work and I go into my home office to write. There’s nothing I love more than a good cup of coffee with someone I love. Lately I’ve been trying Coffee-mate’s new Latin Flavors, Abuelita® Mexican Chocolate and La Lechera® Dulce de Leche. It’s impossible not to fall in love with these two flavors. DSC 0272 Coffee Is My Spirit Animal They’re amazing. Some of my closest friends are Latina. Over the many years we’ve known each other, we’ve gone to college together, celebrated weddings and quinceaneras together, had dozens of parties together and chatted about our lives over coffee. I’ve met their abuela’s and they’ve met mine. We’ve shared family recipes and tried each other’s cooking. Over the years, some of my friends have gotten married and started talking about having children. Parents have become ill. Little girls have grown into women. But the one constant is our friendship. Our moments together are sometimes further and further apart, so we celebrate each of them by having intimate heart-to-heart talks, talking about what matters most, and showing each other how much we care. Friendship and coffee go hand in hand. Over the years, some of my best memories have come from coffee dates with my best friends. It’s the one in our lives where we can go to unwind and talk about the things that worry us and what makes us happy. DSC 0262 1024x685 Coffee Is My Spirit Animal Thanks to Coffee-mate, today on the blog we’re giving away a special Coffee-mate Coffee Prize Pack including a custom designed coffee mug by Kathy Cano-Murillo of Crafty Chica, coasters and 2 full-value Coffee-mate product coupons ($31 ARV).  Contest begins on September 1st and ends September 26th. The winner will be announced on September 30th and must claim their prize within 24 hours. 02e00df7223d52eef4cb9ed058cd13ed Coffee Is My Spirit Animal  

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Turning Thirty: Why Thirty Is The Best Age Ever

turning thirty Turning Thirty: Why Thirty Is The Best Age Ever

Thirty wasn’t the age I’d most anticipated. It wasn’t the age I thought I’d be happiest. That was seventeen. When I was seventeen, I loved life, I was having a great time and things were going well. Or, as well as they can be going for someone who didn’t have a job or adult responsibilities.

Then came twenty-four. I had a breakdown. A small one. I WASN’T MARRIED. I HAD NO BABIES.

I got over it. It was mostly due to the insane beliefs I had at the time.

Those have passed.

Twenty-eight and I still wasn’t married. I had no babies, nor could I afford one. I cried and moaned and wailed. Loudly. All over the place.

Now I’m thirty-three (going on thirty-four) (A quick aside: I went to the doctor’s office the other day for a yearly check-up. The doctor leaned over as she was examining my pelvis and said, “So, let’s talk about kids. Do you want them? You need to get started on having some.” Thanks, doctor.) and am happier than I’ve ever been in my life. You can contribute that to the drugs, that’s fine; but I think it’s much more than that. I do a lot of “work” on myself and not the LA type of work women get. I’m not plastic. I’m sincere. And more than that, I’m working toward my dreams. I think that helps contribute to the happiness.

I’m thirty-three and not married, but I’m dating someone who I think is pretty spectacular. We’re comfortable with each other, we have a really good life together, and we both give each other space when we need it.

We’re even discussing the possibility of having babies.

With each other.

We’re madly in love.

(But we really don’t want kids right now.)

More importantly, he’s supportive of my dreams and I’m supportive of his. The one thing that really made me skeptical about marriage before I met my boyfriend was the fact that not every boyfriend I had before him had supported me as a writer. It’s one thing to want to want to have sex with a girl and still another to want to date her, but to support her career as a writer? It’s sincerely not every guy’s cup of tea.

So I’m thankful it’s my boyfriends and that we don’t have an issue there.

Not everyone is so lucky and I honestly feel sorry for them. Not because I have an awesome boyfriend, but because they settled for falling in love with someone who doesn’t fully support what they wanted in life. They had to change for him, instead of becoming who they were meant to be.

I met a girl in college–one of the nicest girls, really–and she was engaged. “Does your boyfriend say anything about your writing?” she asked. At the time I had been dating this guy for about a year, so I guess she was curious what he thought.

“No, what do you mean?”

“Well, you know, you write erotica and some of it is about your ex boyfriend. Does he ever say anything about that?” she explained.

I knew what she meant. I’d had a few boyfriends (both artistic types) who supported my writing only begrudgingly. Either they projected their fear of walking away from writing onto me, or they complained when I spent too much time writing. Those issues were theirs but they spent plenty of time making sure I thought they were my issues.

“My boyfriend doesn’t like it when I write about certain things,” she said.

“I’d find a new boyfriend.” I said.

They’re married now.

Now that I’m in a serious relationship, I have to admit that I certainly don’t write about ex-boyfriends but when I wrote about sex, I was mostly single and had a lot of wild sex. I needed to write about it. Now I need to write about how wonderful it is to be in love. My writing is usually a reflection of what I’m living in the moment.

My thirties have been the point where I finally reached my maturity in a lot of ways. My work ethic matches my big dreams. My relationship with my family is at a good place. I’m happy. I’ve got everything I want. More than that, I’ve come into my own. I’ve accepted myself as I am–my body, my hair, my flaws, my personality–and I love myself far more now than I ever did.

Thirty is by far the best age.

Have you reached your thirties yet? What are your favorite things about this decade so far?

Image source.

I’m Your Friend, Not Your Competition

federico saenz recio Im Your Friend, Not Your Competition

As a writer and an artist, I compete against myself. Yes, I get jealous and yes, I’m cautious about who I make friends with these days, but generally speaking, if you’re another writer or artist, I’m your friend, not your competition.

Within the world of writers, there’s this very pervasive cutthroat nature. People “network” not because they want to help you but oftentimes because they want to use you or use a story you told them. This isn’t always malicious, but for a small-town girl, I sure was put off by it initially and it’s something I still can’t get used to.

I’ve been learning this lesson over and over again, starting from my college days when a really good friend wrote a play surrounding a character he based on me. He doesn’t speak to me now, unless he has something to promote or something he wants from me. Namely, to connect with famous people or more accomplished people I’ve become friends with over the years. I don’t believe in categorizing people by fame and riches. I like to treat everyone as equal, which is probably why people who are often used by others end up trusting me. I don’t “sell” my friends to other friends.

Recently I learned this lesson again when some ‘writer’ asked me for details on a story I’d written. It turns out she wanted to piggy back off my story, and it sounded like she wanted to do it the easy way: by ripping off my sources and insight. She probably wouldn’t credit me. I’ve learned that the hard way. But boy did she kiss my ass. Call it intuition, but I got disgusted by her flattery. The way she’d sweet talk me and say charming things and then when I told her she needed to fuck off (in a nice way, of course!) and go find another story, her sharp cat claws came after me.

I think that’s the first sign of knowing if someone is out to get you or out to compete with you: their flattery knows no bounds but stops when you call people on it. True friends don’t need to flatter each other. What we say means something. We’re genuine. And we certainly aren’t playing a game with our compliments. We either mean it or we don’t.

Today I wanted to put out into the Universe a message to other writers and artists: I’m your friend, not your competition. That certainly doesn’t mean everyone you meet is, or will be, but I am. I’ve wanted and longed for a community of fellow artists (of all different mediums) to be friends with, and while I know that’s not possible with everyone, I know it’s possible with some of you. So, if you’re an artist of any kind (and whether you do art for a living or a hobby), I want to connect. I want to chat. I want to get to know you. And my hope is, in doing so, that we can all help each other and celebrate how cool it is to be a creator.

Above art is by Fede Saenz, an American-Argentenian artist and isn’t it gorgeous?

5 Things You Should Know About Hiring An Editor

It’s no secret that I’m an editor-for-hire. I’ve been editing in various capacities for over a decade, whether on the staff of a college paper to the staff of an online magazine owned by AOL. A little over a year ago, I opened my doors to the public to edit for a living, as a freelancer, and in the meantime I’ve hired my own professional editors to help me with my own writing.

These past two weeks I spent some time looking for an editor for an article I wanted to pitch or publish on Huffington Post. I get really nervous when I want to publish something nationally and rightly so: publishing on some venues can bring you a lot of visibility and readers but only if your words are crafted together in a clear, concise and compelling way. What I needed was a great editor who was also affordable. I searched. I asked friends. I got half a dozen sample edits from people I didn’t even ask to give me samples. And finally, I settled on the top 5 I found. I hired one and loved what she did to my piece.

5 things you should know about hiring an editor 1024x1024 5 Things You Should Know About Hiring An Editor

In my experience both as an editor and as one who’s worked with various editors, here are 5 things you should know about hiring an editor.  

You get what you pay for. Although this isn’t true about every editor, usually paying a premium rate will get you more thorough edits; edits you’ll actually learn from and improve from rather than a clean, light edit that will just barely make your work shine. Unfortunately, most writers are poor which leaves the editor little choice in what type of service she gives you. Most editors are clear when they quote you about what you’re getting: light, medium or heavy edits and the various rates they charge for each.

Editors might leave things unsaid. If you’re a tough client or they don’t feel they’re getting paid enough, editors might leave some things unsaid. They might not give you their all if you’re not paying them what they’re worth. You can’t blame them, really. It’s like paying for a strip steak and expecting a filet mignon.

We hate difficult clients. If you can’t take criticism or correction, don’t hire an editor. Save everyone’s time. If you’re paying for someone’s expertise, take it. Listen to why an editor is suggesting a change. Don’t take it personally. If something angers you, take a step back and calm down before responding. Always treat your editor with the respect she deserves. When a writer gets outraged over something an editor suggests, it sometimes makes the writer look inexperienced.

Not every editor provides free sample edits. I once had a potential client who demanded a free sample edit and became infuriated with me when I said no. Literally infuriated. I started to wonder if she was going to come to my house and punch me in the face for telling her no. When I first started my editing business, I provided sample edits as a complimentary service, but then I had one terrible experience with a client and that was all it took. I stopped giving free sample edits after that and that’s been a business policy that’s served me well thus far (although I do sometimes make exceptions on a case-by-case basis).

Everyone is an editor these days. I ran across an “editor” in a forum recently. Judging from her bio and her website, I didn’t have much faith in her and she didn’t have the kind of credentials I would look for in an editor. However, she had several thousand fans on one network alone and several doting followers. She pitched herself as an “editor for indie authors” which is another way of saying “I might scam you into believing I’m something I’m not.”

Learn more about the editing process here

Find out more about my  editorial services and past clients on my website. 


Links I Love: My Own Personal Love Story

heart windows Links I Love: My Own Personal Love Story

Today’s “Links I Love” is going to be a bit different. I love sharing other articles and blogs, but since this blog is new and we have a lot of new people here, I thought I would share with you some of my own links I love.

It’s important that people be able to read anything they want without being shamed into thinking their taste is stupid. For some reason, it’s all the rage to tell people they’re dumb for liking certain things. That’s why I wrote this post on why you should read whatever the fuck you want.

The world has changed. If you’re a creative person, it’s time for you to create your own opportunities.

It’s no secret to most of you that I fell in love about four months ago. I’ve blogged a lot about our relationship. Some of my favorite posts include this one on being with someone who will let you be yourself. This is really important and I think it’s a sign of a healthy relationship.

On that note, here’s the story of how we fell in love. And it’s no surprise to any of our Instagram/Facebook followers that we love to cook. It’s one of the ways we connected and one way we show we love each other. Here is one meal (recipe included) that C made for me that made me convinced I should marry him: tomato-cream sauce with tortellini


I Love You More

“If we like your farts, we love you.” – Men

I legitimately had a conversation with a male friend of mine about farting and how it signifies some special place in a relationship: where you feel so comfortable with a person that you’re able to fart in front of them.

I rarely fart in front of people. I rarely talk about farting. I think it’s kind of gross. But it’s taken on a whole new shade with the boyfriend and me lately. We’ve finally reached that stage. Past the “lovey-dovey”, everything’s perfect phase that happens for the first few months or years for people who are in love and we’ve wandered into the “man, you get on my nerves sometimes” which is also the phase where we feel comfortable enough to fart in front of each other.

And let me tell you, it’s awesome.

No longer do you have to lie in bed with an uncomfortable stomach ache and try to hold in your gas. And you don’t have to hope and pray that something doesn’t slip out in the bathroom while you’re going.

It just doesn’t matter.

In fact, one day Charlie and I just stayed in bed snuggling and we just…well, we farted. A lot. It was incredibly funny and even while I’m writing this, I’m a tad bit embarrassed to share our farts with the world.

But really, past the fart jokes and crudeness of this post, what’s been happening between us feels very real. It feels like he’s become my family and not just my boyfriend. He understands me and loves me, but he’s also more than just a “Prince Charming” romantic ideal to me: he’s a real man who makes me love him and also irritates me on occasion.

I mention that last part simply to talk about a stage in a relationship where you have to allow yourself to live with another human being and be lived with. And that’s difficult for me. I think it’s difficult for anyone their first time living with someone and spending a lot of time together. All of a sudden, the relationship transitions from fantasy to reality. And reality is sometimes less glamorous than fantasy.

For us, I think there will always be a little bit of fantasy, and I don’t say that to brag. Absolutely not. I say that because although I’ve determined to keep some things private about our relationship, several of my readers have expressed interest in wanting to hear more details about it. Some of them want to know because they saw how unlucky in love I was for years and none of us saw this coming. I sure didn’t.

Never in a million years did I think I would fall in love with someone so deeply and so hard, but I have. And the fantasy elements I’m speaking about are just simple romance. Like the other morning when he brought me coffee in bed. It was a small token of his affection, but one I cherished in private, and then, as any good blogger does, I cherished it on the internet.

coffee in bed I Love You More

The other night we went to a friend’s wedding shower and the bride-to-be (my dear friend whom I love and have seen grow up from a teen to a woman) said to my boyfriend, “You better treat her well” to which I said, “Trust me, he does.” So she turned to me and said, “Then you better treat him well!”

That’s more like it. And I do try my hardest to treat him as well as he treats me. In fact, sometimes I think we’re in a competition for who can be the most thoughtful or romantic or who can cook the best dinner for the other.

To illustrate our “competition”, there was a time we would say goodnight and I love you and it would end in a battle.

ME: I love you, babe.

HIM: I love you, too.

ME: I love you more, babe.

HIM: No, I love YOU more.

I think it’s safe to say we’re competitive.

But this battle didn’t end there. Nope, I had to have the final say, especially since we battled it out so often.

So I thought I’d be clever and find something that showed him how I really felt and also something that would win the battle. So I found this key chain on Etsy with the words “love you more” pounded into metal.

What more could win the battle than WORDS IN METAL?

love you more key chain I Love You More

He was shocked when I gave it to him. I’d wanted to make it super romantic and hand it to him when we were having one of our battles, but I couldn’t bear the excitement so when we were sitting on the couch after work, I leaned over and gave it to him. Then I told him I won.

He sat there stunned and then he laughed. He followed it with, “No, I definitely love YOU more” and he kissed me.

I think it’s a healthy competition, but I definitely won.

Image sources: Instagram/Etsy

Wedding Gift Giving Etiquette

What’s the right wedding gift giving etiquette? I’ll explain below. 

wedding gift ideas Wedding Gift Giving Etiquette

I’m enjoying the last bits of the sunrise with my coffee while writing this. Morning seems to be my most contemplative time and the time before the world starts making so much noise that it’s hard to concentrate. I’ve been dealing with an old work injury this week. My shoulder hurts so badly sometimes I can’t do anything but lay down. I think it’s time to invest in a new office chair.

I’m supposed to go visit a friend today who’s stopping through the Los Angeles airport on her way to Washington. She’s a Facebook friend who I’ve never met and she’s from Australia. I met her through an article I worked on a few years ago and we’ve stayed in touch since. What I’m really debating is whether I should bring the dog or not. The weather is great today and there are some dog friendly restaurants we could go to, but with a dog in the summertime you really shouldn’t take any chances leaving them in the heat. So…this is the debate I’m having in my head.

I also need to run to Macy’s to get a gift for my friend’s bridal shower tomorrow. I can’t believe she’s getting married! She’s someone I’ve known for years and I met her when she was 16. She’s now totally in love and happy.

You would think with as many weddings as I’ve been to, I would know gift-giving etiquette but I wasn’t entirely sure if I was doing it right. I told C what I usually do is buy a gift for the shower and for the wedding, but I wasn’t sure if you actually needed to do both. I did a little digging and it turns out The Knot and Emily Post’s granddaughter disagree. Most people suggest you should buy a gift for both, although you don’t have to, according to The Knot. It seems like tradition is loosening up these days for most people, but Emily Post’s granddaughter says you are obligated to send a wedding gift even if you can’t attend.

She explains:

…[T]here’s an expectation to send a [wedding] gift whether or not you attend. There’s also no connection between shower gifts and wedding gifts: If you gave a shower gift, you still give a wedding gift, regardless of whether you attend the wedding. Keep in mind that anyone invited to a shower should also be invited to the wedding, with the exception of office showers.

So much surrounding weddings is a bit confusing these days because everything is so muddled between tradition and modern practices. Do we treat things traditionally if it’s a non-traditional wedding we’re attending? Does one have to buy gifts? Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? 

My mom and I were recently talking about etiquette after we threw a bridal shower. She’d been getting several invitations to weddings and we were discussing gift-giving. She felt it was a bit presumptuous for couples to expect a gift; after all, it is a gift so it should be the attendees choice. I agreed (and so does The Knot), and I think most couples hope for gifts but don’t expect them.

I suppose it depends a lot on the couple and the attendee. If you’re close with the couple, you’re happy to bring as many gifts as you can afford or you feel comfortable enough not to get them anything and they’ll know you still love them. I know I’ve been invited to many weddings I didn’t even feel comfortable attending because I didn’t know the bride or groom at all, or I knew the couple in the past but hadn’t spoken to them in years.

How do you feel about wedding and bridal shower gift-giving? Do you feel it’s obligatory? Do you attend weddings of people you haven’t spoken to in years?

I need to log off and get started with the shopping and/or driving to L.A. but I’m wishing you all a good day!

Image source.

The Girls Who Read August Wrap-Up And Twitter Party

phonto The Girls Who Read August Wrap Up And Twitter Party

Today’s book chat is all about wrapping up LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS. By now you should have finished the book so we can discuss it without worrying about spoilers. I would love to know whether you liked the books or not because I’m hoping to continue the series for at least 2 more books, but we can always switch it up. Let me know in the comments or via email if you have any book suggestions.


Part of the reason I love these books is the simplicity of them, but another reason is how Charlaine Harris seems to take me away from my busy life and sets me somewhere else for a moment; somewhere with dwarves and maenads and vampires. This week I was reading LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS while soaking away in a bubble bath and really, it was the most perfect afternoon a girl could ask for.


By now you’ve read through LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS. The following are a few questions for discussion. Feel free to answer these OR use your own commentary for discussion. (Answers can be posted here on the blog or saved for the Twitter Party.)

  1. What do you think about the new characters Harris introduces in this book? Particularly the supernatural ones? I like that she introduced more than just vampires in this book. To me it makes the setting a little more magical and strange. I love it.
  2. What did you think about Lafayette’s death? I loved Lafayette and was sad to see him go. What about you?
  3. Given the chance, would you date a vampire? I’m down for anything, but I don’t know if I could handle the near-anemic aspect of dating a blood sucker. Ha!
  4. Comment on anything else you loved (or hated).


Using the hashtag #TheGirlsWhoRead, find us on Twitter on August 21st for our second official Twitter Party to talk about the book. We’ll also be chatting here on the blog.
When: August 21st, 6 PM (PST) until 7:00 PM (but I will check in all day)
Host: @thereallisakerr on Twitter
What: Discuss LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS and anything Sookie Stackhouse related.
Hashtag: #TheGirlsWhoRead
Additional Info: Find all our book club members on Twitter using this list and Tweet to me if you’d like to be added to the book club list on Twitter.

If you missed out last month, it’s not too late to get involved. If you want to join, here are the details:

How to Get Involved

  • Read the monthly book.
  • Leave a comment on the blog post which starts a discussion about the book and a comment on the final discussion on Thursday, August 21.
  • Once a month we will host a  Book Club Twitter Chat, be sure to follow #TheGirlsWhoRead, and @thereallisakerr on Twitter.
  • Share this with your friends.

Full details and instructions of the book club can be found here. Follow “The Girls Who Read” board on Pinterest.


Our next book will be Club Dead, book 3 ‘in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries! Make sure you finish reading the book within one month and check back on the blog on September 18th. We’ll just be meeting once a month and we’ll also be hosting a Twitter Party. Details above.

If you missed any of the book club posts, read them here.

Settling In To My New Home Office

office Settling In To My New Home Office

I set up my new home office today. It’s not finished and of course I have loads of filing to do (Which begs the question: Do I really want to be self-employed? The answer is yes, but good lord, the filing you have to do!) but you get the idea. I’ll have a corner where my paintings go and hopefully I’ll migrate my art supplies into this room at some point.

Believe it or not, my favorite blogging spot is on the couch or on my bed, but those are both terrible for your posture considering that I’m now working 8-10 hours a day. I’ve never actually had a dedicated spot to work and it’s time for one. I need calendars for blog events, post ideas to hash out and organize, and jobs I’m doing for my blog. I also need a filing system, a place to make and keep notes, and just generally a place where I can keep just blog-related things.

While I obviously work well on my computer, sometimes it’s easier to have some things on-hand: notepads, calendars, and colorful inspiration. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of endless Internet tabs and lose track of the day and time and what event I’m supposed to check-in on.

Not to mention, this week I officially decided to take weekends off (or at least start weaning myself off of the internet/work on weekends). In order to do that, I need a really well-organized and functional work space. Having and office that I can close the door to (and keeping the computer in there) will make a huge difference for me, I hope, when I’m spending time with my friends and family. We all know there’s nothing worse than being around that person who can’t put their work or phone away. I’ve become one of those people, and am determined not to be that person.

What about you? Do you have a home office? What do you use it for? Do you work from home? If you do, do you find work constantly crossing over into family or relationship time? What have you done to prevent this?



Love Is The Sweetest Thing

love is the sweetest thing Love Is The Sweetest Thing

I couldn’t more grateful for having Charlie in my life. I don’t know how I got so lucky but I did. Today I woke up with a slight headache and more than slight cramps. I usually only have one bad day per month on my period, since I was diagnosed and treated for PCOS a few years ago. Before that I did have some horrible cramps, among other symptoms.

I got in the tub and soaked and read. Then I got up to work. As I was working, I realized I was feeling more sick than I did before I woke up, so I wrapped things up and asked Charlie if he’d lay down with me for a little while. I really needed him to wrap his arms around me and pull my head towards his chest as I rested and tried to feel better. And he did. He remembered from our first few weeks of dating how I like to get in bed and wrap myself up in a blanket burrito, so he made me lay down and started tucking me in, burrito-style. I got out my heating pad and he tucked it under my lower back and then he climbed into bed with me and laid down with me until I got comfortable enough to rest.

Before long, we were sandwiched in between Olive and Molly, who were obviously ready to nap.

I wasn’t able to sleep but I do feel much better now.

Like U2 says, love is “the sweetest thing.”

Image source.