www.teribrownbooks.com about Teri Brown Books by Teri Brown Teri Brown Visits Contact Teri Brown Teri Brown news TJ Brown blog
Teri Brown - Young Adult Author

And That’s a Wrap-Summer of Reset

For the past nine years I’ve worked at an afterschool program called Common Ground Extended Care. In that capacity I was a teacher, the head teacher and then last year, stepped back down to teacher again. We had 60 k-5th grade kids and the idea was to create a program that challenged the older kids while not boring the younger ones and vice versa. Through the years I hugged, taught, wiped up spills, read to, bandaged, counseled, reprimanded, played with and cooked for hundreds of children, (I did a cooking show called Cooking with Teri in which I would cook foods from around the world while giving a lesson). I booked numerous guests to come in and give presentations that went with our theme. We’ve had Shakespearean actors, history reenactors, soap-makers, candle-makers, bee-keepers, quilters, scientists, inventors, car buffs, city planners, biologists, scuba divers, cloggers,  jazz dancers, conservationists, puppeteers, numerous artists and authors, and the odd Dairy Princess or two.

We had musicians and bands of all kinds including a ragtime duo, a nationally known blues guitarist, a band specializing in ancient instruments, a blue grass fiddler, a saxophonist and a didgeridoo player who gave us a full blown concert with sound effects, loops and everything. Our kids got to dress up in bee suits and scuba suits, watch a salmon being dissected, throw a lasso, sit in vintage cars, make Lego robotics,  hold a human brain, dress up in traditional Budapest costumes, learn how to dance the tango, make gnocchi and that wasn’t even the half of it.

In all my excitement in my new job, I pushed away the sadness of leaving a job that I love with the best co-workers and the best boss I could imagine having. I cried on and off all day yesterday and there were a few children it just gutted me to say goodbye to. I got flowers and gifts and homemade cards with childish embellishments. I received sincere, heartfelt thank yous from parents whose children I have taught for years.  I’m excited for the new chapter in my life, but it will never be able to replace the old chapter in my heart.

Like the song says,

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.”



Summer of Reset Day Three

Resetting is slow.

Before I get into my slow resetting, I wanted to say something about why I'm doing the Summer of Reset. I mean, what's the point? I think humans need to occasionally reevaluate where they are in terms of their vision and goals. If they've veered off the path or if their former vision has changed, they need to recalibrate themselves. This summer, I'm recalibrating, readjusting and fine-tuning.

Day one: Activism in the morning: Called all my Reps about our health care followed up with 30 minutes of cardio, (which I highly recommend as a way of dealing with the frustration at our nation's current state of affairs). Food wise, I was almost on point. I say almost because I had Cheetos with my lunch salad. (Because all salads call out for crunchy, fake cheese crisps.) I finished the rough of an editorial letter for a client and also cleaned some things that needed cleaning and hadn’t been cleaned since spring term started. (It ended for me on Wednesday) Then I made a fabulous chicken dinner from Cooking Light magazine. And I mixed my rośe with calorie free tonic water. That cuts calories, correct?

Day two: Activism in the morning. 45 minutes of PIYO, (A pilates/yoga workout that hurts everything), and a two mile walk with my dog. I worked on my own writing, (YAY), and went to work. Food was not on point. In addition to my shakeology, salad and healthy snacks, I had two Rice Krispy treats, a small chocolate pudding, more Cheetos, (which are satanic), and two pale ale beers from Terminal Gravity. (If it’s pale, it means light, right?) One of the best parts of the day came at twilight when after playing with my dog in the backyard, I lay on the grass and stared up at the trees blowing in the wind. I acknowledged the perfect moment in the moment that it was happening which made it more perfect.

Day three remains to be seen. I did meditate, which is good.

Things I have gleaned so far:

  • Summer of reset has confirmed my love for Headspace. I wrote this on Facebook, “Great meditation this morning...was contemplating the "loop". How angry thoughts fuel angry emotions and how angry emotions fuel angry thoughts. It's the same with sadness, guilt, shame, hopelessness, etc. It perpetuates itself. I've been aware of this loop for years which is why I give my emotions the side eye. It saddens me how many people are caught up in this cycle without being aware of it. That loop can destroy lives. The trick for me is to spot the loop while it's happening and use distraction techniques to circumvent it. I acknowledge the emotion, try to trace it to its root and then try to move on. The meditation I'm doing helps”
  • Decluttering means getting rid of things in your life that aren’t working any more or just taking up space and energy. This can mean items, beliefs or even relationships. I’m going to be doing lots of decluttering this summer.
  • I’m trying to add to my Gratitude Jar daily. My hubby and I started this tradition four or five years ago and we really like it. Every time we think of something we're grateful for, we put it on a sticky and into the jar. On Thanksgiving Weekend, we pour ourselves some really good pinot and read them aloud. We always put the dates on them so we know what part of the year they were from. Sometimes I forget to do it for a month or more at a time so I am trying to remind myself to do it more often this summer.
  • I am really, really sore, but so far I am persisting.


The Summer of Reset

This is my summer of reset. I’m almost done with the revisions on a book that will go out this fall and it’s the best thing I have ever written, I’ve cut back my school hours and while I’ll be busy as all get out, it will be stuff I love doing. I’m still fighting every day for the country I love. I’m getting my nutrition, physical fitness and weight back under control.

I think the big thing that set this off is my new job. I’ll be a Youth Transition Specialist for the Tigard/Tualatin School district and I am thrilled and overwhelmed and so, so eager to get started. I felt deep down that I needed a new challenge. I’m still in school and I’m still writing and doing developmental edits on the side, but I just felt as if there was something else out there for me and lo and behold! The circumstances surrounding how I landed the job show me that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. For those of you who don’t know, YTP is a program that works with Vocational Rehabilitation to transition learning disabled kids from school to vocational school or employment. I’ll be mentoring, job coaching, helping them to write resumes and navigate transportation, and teaching other life skills needed to make a successful transition into adulthood. Everything in my skillset led me to this point.

To make room for a full time job, (only ten hours in the summer), I’ve given up my teaching job at Portland Community College’s noncredit program. I am, of course, going to finish my own education. After this summer, I’ll have 18 credits left for AA degree and at that point I’ll reevaluate how far I want to go.
I think the news that I passed my math class on top of a fabulous new job gave me the feeling that I can do anything. Like I’m Wonder Woman. I’m cutting the clutter from my life— both figuratively and literally. It’s time to get rid of the deadwood holding me down and making this a true summer of reset.

I can hardly wait!

When your Beloved Morning Routine Blows up in Your Face

There’s nothing better than a good morning routine. It sets me up for the rest of the day, emotionally, physically and mentally. It helps me maintain some sort of emotional equanimity so I can go the craziness that is my life all Zen and shiz. (Or at least a semblance of Zen and shiz.) My morning routine also shows me just how attached I get to having things a certain way and what kind of emotional reserves I have when things veer off path.

This morning, my routine blew up. My eyes popped open at 3:30 am, fully 90 minutes before I was supposed to wake up. My husband, who has been working overtime, got home at 4:30 and turned on the TV in the living room. My daughter, who had to catch a flight for a work trip, got up late and had to scurry around the house to get ready. My mom is visiting, effectively closing off my office/spare room as an escape route. I had nowhere to go. No place to escape chaos. No place to meditate, journal, or study.

Instead, I was stuck in the living room with my hands clenched as my husband watched the news and commented on the horror of the day’s events. I bit my tongue as I watched my daughter flailing about so I wouldn’t make a sarcastic remark about getting up earlier or having everything prepared ahead of time. Clearly, this wasn’t a teachable moment.

Or was it?

By the time my husband went to bed and my daughter left for the airport, I was a mess. My nerves were shot, my stomach was churning and a two ton heavy thing sat on my chest. Not a great way to start a day that was already crushingly busy. I had to volunteer at the school, take my mom to a hair appointment as she had a wedding to attend that afternoon, get dinner in the crockpot, pick mom back up, make it to my math study group and then go to work. I had to turn it around and fast or otherwise I would come home and dive into a vat of wine. I had maybe fifteen minutes before my mom got up. It was time for some ninja calming techniques.

Deep Breathing

Ten very slow breaths. I imagine that my stomach is a drawer that opens as I take in air through my nose. As I let the air out, the drawer contracts closed. I count on the bottom of the outbreath.


Mountain pose. I stand very tall, feet close together, arms by my sides, fingers pointing down, eyes gazing in the distance. Then I dive to a loose standing forward bend to stretch out my back. Then I straighten with my arms over my head, stretching first one arm upward and then the other.

Creative Scheduling

Then I spend about five minutes jotting down my schedule. Was there anything I could move or change? It took me a minute to realize that I could skip or reschedule study group and run up to the tutoring center to get my questions answered after dropping Mom off to get her hair done which would save me about two hours out of the day. That would also give me time to stop at the store to pick up an item I was missing for dinner.

Mindset Reset

Then I took a moment to realign my thoughts. Instead of resenting running my mom around, I reminded myself to be grateful that I still have my mom with me. My struggles with math show my commitment to my goal of getting a degree. Instead of being pissed off that I had to stop at the store, I should be grateful that I have access to have so much available food. Gratitude is a game changer in my daily struggle for equanimity. My ego is like a petulant child always wanting to run the show, always wanting its way. Gratitude is a quiet way of putting my ego back in its place.

I took a deep breath. Then another. It was going to be okay. A hint of anxiety was still there, lingering just below the surface and I knew I would have to remember to deep breathe until bedtime, but a bad start to the morning didn’t mean I was stuck with a bad day. It took just ten minutes to come to grips with that concept. Lesson learned.

I’d still rather have my morning routine, though.

Mindful Writing

In writing, as in so much of life, we often concentrate on the goal. We peck away at our keyboard, longing to finish the paragraph, page, chapter, book. When we finish the book, we find that our goals have moved further off into the distance. We now need to write the query, polish the synopsis, obtain an agent, and score a book contract. Then we have more goals: second book contract, promotion, third book contract, more promotion.

Add in an industry fraught with rejection and reviews that judge both the writing and the writer, it’s no wonder that writers have historically reached for that bottle of gin, or wine or other mind-numbing poison. The advent of the Internet has been both a Godsend and a bane—research and communication are easier but at times it feels as if everyone else in the world has good writing news except you. The Internet is good at creating that little flutter of anxiety that means if you don’t hurry, ALL THE CONTRACTS WILL BE GONE AND THERE WILL BE NONE LEFT FOR YOU.

It never ends. Like a sailing ship, the goal is always just over the horizon—we never actually reach it and it becomes ever more elusive. “So concentrate on the writing,” we’re told. Yet, who is really satisfied with their own writing? Oh, we may be in flashes, but overall? “Not I,” said the little red hen.

Often, in spite of what it looks like on the outside, even working writers aren’t assured of anything. I have a total of seven traditionally published books that have been translated into four different languages, two novellas and a half a dozen articles in Writer’s Digest, yet I’ve had four agents and no books on the horizon. No one is more aware of the quicksand that most authors are sitting on than I am. I teach novel-writing classes for my local community college, attend conferences, write for magazines when I can and constantly worry about my next book sale.

So what is the solution? Perhaps the answer lies less in the goal or the outcome and more in the process. Perhaps the process is the point. It’s being mindful of the writing while actually doing it. I’ve always enjoyed timed writing sprints with friends online. It makes the time and the writing go faster, but maybe this method simply keeps me more focused on the word count than the actual words. I get sloppier in my sentence structure when I’m racing and less aware of word choice. What if in my desire to outwit my inner editor, I’m bypassing my inner writer? The one who actually enjoys word play?

People say you should only worry about what you can control and we certainly can’t control the publishing business. But maybe if we concern ourselves more with the process and less with the outcome, we will worry less about where our writing is going and enjoy the act of writing more.

So next time I sit down to work on my manuscript I’m going to try something new. I’m going to forget about daily word count goals and word racing. I’m going to open the document without expectations. And I am going to play with each word, each sentence and each passage—and try to be mindful of what I’m doing each moment.

Yes and No

I think one of the most important tricks in life is to figure out what to say yes to and what to say no to. This one still knocks me on my arse... I actually think that those two little words are the building blocks of your life. Your yeses and nos basically dictate how you spend your time.

People tell you that I'm the queen of no. My husband-who says yes to way too much-made up the name. My friend, Miriam, however, says I need to say no much more because she thinks I say yes way too often.

The truth lies somewhere in between. I say no to others and I say yes to myself to excess. And I’m not talking about the “Yes, I can have the extra piece of cake or third glass of wine.” (Though I do that a lot too!) I'm talking about the, “Yes, I can go to school and work three jobs and train for a half marathon and write books.

Then I’m all shocked and butt hurt when I crash and burn.

I think part of the problem is that I really don’t know what I want and the options are dizzy-making. I'm afraid that I'll say no and lose out on something good. For instance, last spring, I quit my day job. Then in the summer, I took it back (with a lot less responsibility.) I was ready to give up my college degree dream as a something impossible because it really doesn’t make financial sense. Then I registered for fall term because in spite of it being impractical, I want that degree. I just do.

I waffle. I waver. I says yes and then no and then yes again so many times it gives me vertigo. People tell me to slow down and enjoy life. What they don’t understand is that excepting a few moments of freak out, I enjoy being busy. I like feeling accomplished. I also pencil in time for friends & family, time alone, time to get out in nature, etc, so it's not all work. Sometimes I burn out. Sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I’m exhausted. But I try to remind myself that those times of exhaustion and burn out means I’m out there swinging, out there trying, out there living, and THAT makes me very happy. As anyone who has overcome cancer will tell you, living so you have time to love and learn and experience is the only thing that counts.

So for me, saying no opens up time to say yes and vice versa. It’s everyone’s job to find a yes/no ratio that works for them. I know a fellow author, (and fellow cancer survivor), who decided after a successful career writing romances that she didn’t want to write them anymore—her taste and priorities had changed. She said no to one thing so she could say yes to another. So mind your yeses and your nos. Because that, my friends, is how you make a life.

Am I Becoming my Social Media Persona?

I’ve become a perfectionist. From the stoned flower child reading in a horrendously dirty house with overflowing sinks and cat-boxes to an over-achiever who posts pictures of her adventures, gourmet meals and lovely garden. I’ve gone from someone who refused to make lists on moral grounds to someone who has written blogs about how to get organized.

I’ve been headed in this direction for years, but I think these tendencies have grown exponentially with my use of social media. Now I receive pats on the back from complete strangers for my industriousness and I find the positive feedback almost irresistible. Instead of, “Look, ma, no hands,” I can now show the whole world my accomplishments. Look what the weird chick raised in Alfalfa, Oregon has done. You thought she wouldn’t amount to much, didn't you? Ha! With each pat on the back, I become more like Pavlov’s dog looking for a treat than a human being who fucks up on a regular basis. I can’t just can my vegetables, I have to show people I’m canning my vegetables. I can’t just climb a peak, I have to show people that I’m climbing a peak. I can't just make dinner, I have to show people my turnip bacon risotto with a French leek salad...oh god, there I go again...

While I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with sharing your life with others, I’m worried that other people will believe that this is all my life is. Furthermore, I’m more worried that I WILL BELIEVE THIS IS ALL MY LIFE IS.

I worry that in only showing the glossy public part of my life, I’ll become more shallow and less real. Yesterday, I opened my mouth and said something super stupid and hurtful to a friend. I didn’t mean to sound like I was bragging, but it did. Like one of those perfect pictures I post, or the list of things accomplished, it only revealed part of the story. Yes, I can do XYZ in five days, but I didn’t share that I cry myself to sleep at night, become a raging bitch and scream at everyone I love while doing it. Why didn’t I share that too? Have I become so used to only being the #allthethings Teri that I can’t share the cost of #allthethings?

On the other hand, do people really want the truth on social media? I know writers and agents who have shared the truth about their lives and their professional reputations suffer. Can I share which books have sold well and which ones haven’t without harming the illusion of success? How important is that illusion anyway? People are attracted to successful people. Is that our mammal herd mentality kicking in? How honest is too honest?

And just what are you supposed to share on social media anyway? Share too much and you get derision. (Don’t you have a life? You obviously aren’t getting enough done.)If you show pictures of your food, people don’t think you are serious enough. If you share political posts people think you’re too combative or confrontational or even naive. If you show pictures of animals who have been mistreated and or ask for donations for this or that cause, you’re subjecting people to things they don’t want to see.

That leaves us cat videos, people. Cat videos.

I’d like to say that I'll stop sharing about how I try to do #allthethings, but I know I won’t. I will, however, try to  post  more about the price of doing them and my failures. Expect this post in the future. "I totally fucked up today and it hurt. #human"

Leaning In and Letting Go

It’s strange. Now that I’ve reached a certain age, I can see my past friendships more clearly and because of this, I’ve become more resigned that some friendships, no matter how close we were formerly, just never had the steam to make it. There are those that last a long time and those that fade quickly, but perhaps the ones that are the most puzzling are those that last for 20 some odd years and then just sort of implode or fade away.

Remember when you were a child how easy it was to make friends? We both want to play on the swings so let’s be besties. As you grow, friendships became more and more complicated. By high school, friendships are like minefields—fraught with danger and oh, so very important. After school, making friends becomes more difficult. With work and children, friendships sort of happen on the fly. It’s a self-preservation thing—your child has reflux, my child has reflux, please for the love of god, be my friend. Or with work friends, it’s like we’re at the same place at the same time want to grab a drink before heading home? Proximity and convenience friendships are very real and for good reason. Some of these friendships last and some don’t.  This is a pattern that has repeated throughout my life—some  last, others don’t.

Sometimes you really hit it off with someone and after a few months they’re just too busy to meet up anymore. It takes me a while, but I usually get the hint. Others last a few a few months and then suddenly I’m too busy to meet up and they get the hint. (Others never seem to get the hint but that’s a whole nother blog!) Not all friendships are meant to last. There are still other friends that you love but neither one of you seem to make time to get together no matter how close you once were. You’re still friends on social media and you send them a card for Christmas, but that’s it. Some friends, god bless their hearts, you can go a year or so without seeing and when you do get together, it’s as if you just spoke last week.

The twenty-plus-year friendships that implode are the hardest to explain. Sometimes I think that you just outgrow them. I had some very good friends during my evangelical Christian period that I just don’t see anymore. They’re aware of my change of heart and perhaps they can't reconcile themselves to the fact that someone they once thought they were going to hang out with for eternity is now choosing hell. (Better drinks). Or maybe their spouses found out and realized that not only am I no longer in the fold, I’m most decidedly anti-fold, and they put their dominant foot down. (Many religions frown on people hanging out with non-members, and evangelical husbands, especially, can have real hesitations about their wives hanging out with an intelligent, irreverent, contentious woman. And yeah, I’m an intelligent, irreverent, and contentious woman. Which makes me a lot of fun to be around, but again, that’s a whole nother blog.)

It’s also difficult to keep friendships going in the age of social media. Some people who I thought were sane turned out to be bat-shit crazy and there are those, especially during this political year, whom I'm just like, “Oh, dear lord, I didn’t know! You think what? You support whom? How are we supposed to go out for coffee? I can’t even look at you! In fact, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth…” On the other hand, the Internet has brought me some really close friends that I've met in real life and would totally go to bat for. From, you know, afar.

It can be sad to lose friendships, but sometimes it’s liberating. Like peeling off  jeans that don’t fit any more and screaming, “SCREW IT, I’M WEARING YOGA PANTS!” Other times you just nod sadly and think, yeah, it’s for the best. Sometimes there’s just too much history to pretend that either of you have anything in common any more. As I’ve grown older, I realize that is better for me to have a handful of real friends that I can invest in than it is to have a lot of friendships that I don’t have the time for. That’s the leaning in part of this blog.

The point, I think, is to be open to new friendships and relationships while remaining committed to the ones that are mutually satisfying and edifying and letting go of those that aren’t.

Foreign Covers

I've been lucky enough to have sold foreign rights to many of my books and I thought I would gather the covers altogether. I'm missing a few, but am at the mercy of my publishers to get copies so what can I do... though I would like to see the Russian version of the Summerset Abbey Series!


Speaking of the Summerset Abbey Series,here is the latest rendition from Sweden!

cover five











Is that not gorgeous???

Here are the ones from Portugal and France:
cover threecover one











Here is the original:

Summerset Abbey Cover (2)











Now for Born of Illusion. Here is the original:

born of illusion4.indd











Here is the Brazilian cover:

cover two











And the Italian:

cover four









Which one is your favorite?

Thirty Steps to a Good Writing Day

  1. Make coffee. Nothing can happen without coffee. Apparently there are people out there who claim productivity without coffee or some sort of caffeine, but I’ve never met any and I, for one, doubt their existence.
  2. Drink coffee, while checking email and scrolling through social media because you can’t be expected to write while you are waking up.
  3. Make a to do list. Even if you don’t follow it, it makes you feel so much more accomplished.
  4. Do a few household chores.
  5. Exercise.  We’ve all read articles on how sitting is killing us and it’s difficult to be creative when you know damn well that every ten minutes in the chair is shortening your life span.
  6. Get a bottle of water and set it on your desk. You just worked out, you need water.
  7. Ignore the bottle of water and drink more coffee.
  8. Bring breakfast to your desk and scroll through email and social media because you can’t be expected to write while eating breakfast.
  9. Spend ten minutes on the phone explaining to your husband why you can’t pay the bills or go grocery shopping because you are working and he should respect that.
  10. Bring up your manuscript
  11. Answer some emails
  12. Watch cat videos
  13. Read a chapter of your manuscript to get into the groove and make a few corrections.
  14. Bring up the thesaurus on your computer.
  15. Scroll through twitter and see if anyone wants to write with you.
  16. Write for twenty minutes and then realize that you don’t know if this remote town in Spain had electricity in 1917 and spend another twenty minutes researching only to discover that they didn’t and now you have research what kitchens without electricity looked like in 1917, Spain.
  17. Write for twenty minutes and then realize you don’t need that scene and that you are padding and delete the only scene that mentioned the kitchen in the first place…
  18. Drink more coffee.
  19. Realize it’s lunch time and you have written one deleted scene.
  20. Eat lunch while checking social media because you can't be expected to write while eating lunch.
  21. Take a few sips of your water and congratulate yourself on your commitment to your health.
  22. Drink more coffee.
  23. Hit upon an idea and write for two hours in a vortex of creativity. Come up for air when you realize you need to make more coffee.
  24. Realize there is nothing for dinner and you really do need to go grocery shopping but you have to pay bills first to see how much money you have left to grocery shop with.
  25. Look at your to do list.
  26. Cross off a couple of things feeling accomplished. Ignore all the things you didn't get done.
  27. Drink more coffee knowing you probably won’t get any more work done that day.
  28. Console yourself that that’s okay, because you are now 1500 words ahead of where you were that morning.
  29. Try not to feel bad because those 1500 words have nothing to do with the project that has a deadline.
  30. Stop at Starbucks on the way to the store because you deserve it!