The Collection: Not-So-Common GREAT QUOTES

quote book with photo of picasso 90th birthday exhibition My quote journal dates back to 1990. 24 years of feathering out my little book of great quotes and wordy whatnot, and every time I seize upon another “good one”, I scribble it into an empty space.  There aren’t so many empty spaces left anymore.

Today, Steve Jobs (RIP) inspired an addition. And not sharing a few while I’m here? Impossible!

A woman’s instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage.” Gloria Steinem

F. Scott Fitzgerald on Hollywood: “It can be understood only dimly and in flashes; there are no more than a handful of men who have been able to keep the entire equation in their heads.”

Buono per l’anima, no buono per il portafoglio.” (Good for the soul, not good for the wallet.) ~ Anonymous

People have good hearts. They don’t always know how to help you. But when you define it for them, they come running to support you.” ~ Arnell

My Soul is a Light Housekeeper” – title of poem

A lie can travel half way around the world before the truth can put is boots on.” ~ Mark Twain

Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender. Seek refuge in the knowledge of Brahman. They who work selfishly for results are miserable.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

Lower than a snake with a belly full of buckshot.” Foghorn Leghorn 

Time let me shine and be golden in the mercy of his means.” ~ Dylan Thomas

The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”  ~ Steve Jobs

Please check out my interview at The New Writers Interface  where I share insights on publishing and filmmaking, and reveal how I came back from the darkest year, and lowest point, in my writing journey.



ONI THE LONELY: My First 2014 Release Available on NetGalley

Who doesn’t love a character who can punch a hole through the Earth’s core, or a sparky Buddhist dad who knows thousands of ways to cook tofu? I have to confess, I really cut loose with Oni the Lonely, let my freaky fiction flag fly, and had a blast writing Mari.

Oni the Lonely is a young adult paranormal romance and complimentary copies are available to reader-reviewers for a very limited time on NetGalley.

I hope you’ll check it out! In the meantime, here’s the cover blurb and an excerpt:

Mari Kato, 16, wants what everyone else her age wants: driver’s license. Too bad a family curse, passed on by her Japanese-born Buddhist dad, who claims to be thousands of years old, transforms Mari into a flesh-eating Oni demon when she feels frustrated (like every time she gets behind the wheel). But when her geologist mom moves their vegan-lifestyle-obsessed family to Rock Creek, Mari stumbles upon the gates of Hell and a mining company plundering its depths. Add in an evil cheerleader determined to steal Mari’s first boyfriend and plunge the Earth into eternal darkness. Suddenly getting the keys to the car isn’t as important as saving the world. Totally dealable… if she can find the courage to reveal her demon self.


Stuffed behind the driver’s seat, my emergency suitcase held a change of clothes and two-dozen pairs of size-seven pink canvas sneakers.  I’d gone through a lot of shoes in the last month. Ever since my sixteenth birthday.

“Your body is going through changes, Mari.” She reached back and patted my knee, sympathetic.

“Mom, stop it.”  I didn’t want to hear it.  Not now.

“Your father and I are just trying to help you.” Her pale blonde hair, pulled back in a ponytail, caught the late afternoon light.  She’s as blond, willowy and tall as my dad is dark, stocky and short.

Unfortunately, I take after my dad.

I shrank deeper into the seat, wishing I could disappear.  On top of everything else that could possibly go wrong in my life, I’m short.  My body is a mish-mash of two worlds.  My skin is the color of a latte, my eyes are brown, and I have a case of radish legs.  Daikon no ashi.  In Japan they have these thick white radishes called daikon.  Ashi means legs.  You get the picture.  Thick legs, daikon no ashi.

“If you really wanted to help, you’d let me drive,” I whined.  “My learner’s permit is still good.”

“Maybe when we’re closer to Rock Creek and farther away from traffic,” my dad answered.

“What traffic?”  I peered out the window. “We’ve been driving for over six hours.  All I see is desert and sagebrush.”

“There are cows, too.”

“Fine, a few cows.  As long as they stay on their side of the road can I drive?”  I wasn’t about to give up.  After we passed Bend, Oregon, and turned off the interstate I hadn’t seen a single car. “How about now?”

“Soon,” my dad answered.

“If I don’t practice I won’t get my license until I’m three hundred years old!”

“Well, I didn’t get my oxcart license until I was five hundred.”  He always saw the bright side of everything.  It was his nature.  Everyone said he was sparky.  When you’ve had a day like mine, sparky is just annoying.

“Dad, you are not thousands of years old, and you are not a demon,” I protested.  My parents exchanged worried glances, annoying me even more. “And I’m not a demon either.  There is no such thing as demons.”

“I denied my horns and claws once, too.” He sighed.

“It’s just hormones,” I stated.  Sex-ed taught me everything I needed to know about that.

“Demon hormones,” he answered calmly.

I rolled my eyes.  Dad told me bedtime stories about demons since I was a baby.  Happy, friendly demons.  Dancing demons.  He claimed it wasn’t Santa Claus who delivered Christmas presents, it was a red demon.

The Easter Bunny was a white demon.

Cinderella had a purple fairy god-demon.

“You’re obsessed with demons.”

“But I was one.”  Not that I ever saw him do anything vaguely demonic.  He was the least demonic of any creature to ever walk the Earth.

My mom looked at me pouting in the rearview mirror, then turned to my dad.  “It’s okay with me if she drives if it’s okay with you.”

He pulled the car to the shoulder.  Finally, something to look forward to.  Settling into the driver’s seat, I adjusted the mirrors as my mom climbed in back.  Ahead of me, the cracked and faded gray strip of pavement was divided by a worn centerline.  Probably rubbed off by all the people escaping from Rock Creek.

I put the transmission in drive.  Everything was better behind the wheel.  At sixty miles an hour, a mile went by every minute.  This corner of the world was flat as pancake.  There was nothing on the horizon other than more desert.  Then the minutes stretched out.  A mile seemed like ten minutes, and my brain started to completely shut down, until I saw something different. Something strange.

A block of stone.

Alone, sitting in the dirt that was the same color.  It was as if the Egyptians, after building the pyramids, had a left over block and stuck it in the middle of the Oregon.  Plop.  Here it is. Enjoy!

“Did you see that?” I asked my dad as we whizzed past.

He was staring blankly out the window.  “What?”

“A big stone block,” I answered.

My mom leaned forward over the seat and pointed to another block coming up fast on the other side. “Like that?”

“Yeah.”  I looked at the new block, identical to the last one.  A big stone rectangle.

“There’s a lot more,” mom added.

She was right.  At first there was just a stone block here and a stone block there.  Then there were more and more.  They were scattered everywhere.  On both sides of the road, like it had rained stone blocks.

“There’re hundreds of them,” I said, amazed.

“Hundreds of thousands,” my mom corrected me.  “That’s why we’re here.”

The deep bass of an air horn blared behind us.  I jumped, hit my head on the inside of the car roof, then looked in the rearview mirror.  A truck grill took up the whole thing.  The truck’s big engine roared as he pulled into the oncoming lane and passed us.  On the door of the dump truck were the words: Rock Creek Mining Company.

As he pulled ahead, I noticed the back of his empty truck was the same size and shape as all the stone blocks.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Slag,” my mom said using her best geologist voice.  “Made at the Rock Creek Mining Company.  That’s who I work for now.”

Some Days are Diamonds, Some Days are Rocks

Driving home this past weekend I started thinking about life’s best and worst moments.  There are those spectacular moments like, say, exchanging vows with my husband.  Or even quiet ones.  Like contemplating a tulip tree in the Foster Botanical Gardens.  These are forever committed to my memory.  But the moments  that stood out most in my mind Saturday were ones that led to expansive personal change (and, dare I say, even spiritual growth).  In all, I’ve had three of those moments.

Their shared common denominator (other than me)?  These moments all include four wheels and an engine.

I blame last week’s unexpected car repair (ignition!) for my philosophical wanderings.  Two came during exceptionally difficult times in my life, and I couldn’t help but recall Tom Petty’s song, Walls.  Because, some days are diamonds… and, well, some days just plain suck.  Or do they?

ROCK 1: Driving a car older than my then-editor, my 1980 ever-reliable Toyota Corolla gave up the ghost.  It seemed luck was on my side when I rolled it into a church parking lot within walking distance from my home, because, of course, I forgot to bring my cell.  En route back to the car, the beloved Pitbull refused to NOT follow me.  His cable and leash were nowhere to be found, so I improvised with rope.  Which didn’t work.  Half way back the dog went off and I wound up skidding hands down on gravel and falling into the bramble-lined ditch with him.

The lowest point in my life? Laying in a ditch, bloody and crying with a Pitbull on a rope.

He apologized, licking away my tears.  Good dog.   The awful, hitting-bottom moment contained a lot of clarity.

ROCK 2: After replacing the timing belt, water pump, and winter-proofing the current car, my husband and I drove home in an Oregon-style monsoon.  If you live anywhere in the Pacific Northwest you know exactly what I mean.  A December night where the sun sets early, the storm is relentless, and sheets of rain gust across the road.  Seeing twenty feet in front of the car was difficult.  Envisioning my future after the mechanic forgot to hook up the generator to the motor and helplessly watching the car die in rush hour traffic?  Tragic.

Without getting into details, the result wound up being the one and only time, in 12 years, that I’ve seriously considered leaving my marriage.  Bottom line: still married, relationship stronger.

DIAMOND: South of France, driving a tractor through a vineyard .  Epiphanal moments strike at the oddest moments, or maybe it was the exhaust fumes from the tractor, but in that moment I was simply OVERCOME with a feeling of calm, of my heart filling with gratitude, and the bone-deep, soul-swelling knowledge that everything was going to be okay.  Sitting atop the tractor with Bob, I tossed my camera to a friend and asked for a photo.  A memento of the moment when I knew for sure, that no matter what, from that second on, life would turn out well and obstacles and challenges would be overcome.

Rocks happen.  For a reason.  So do diamonds.  I’d like to think that we carry the diamonds in our hearts and that we can rely on their strength to carry us forward through rocky times.


Bloodhounds and Buddhism?

The Wisdom of the Buddhist Bloodhound This is me and my husband having fun on Kindle… with our dog.  Introducing THE WISDOM OF THE BUDDHIST BLOODHOUND featuring our very own Frankie Rose. Not only is she incredibly photogenic, but just look at that face.  You can tell there’s a lot of deep thought going on between those oh-so-long ears!

This book is a humorous introduction to the basics of Buddhism according to Frankie the Bloodhound – debut author, kitty enthusiast, and seeker of higher thought. She has compressed thousands of years of spirituality into 39 nuggets of wisdom (with full-color photos) in this unique canine interpretation of enlightenment that will delight dog lovers as well as readers on the trail to greater awareness.

Who would have guessed that the high-strung Bloodhound we adopted four years ago off Craigslist would make her literary debut on Amazon?


Walmart and the Eightfold Path: Part II

Back in March, I wrote about a blow out I had with my husband in a superstore parking lot ( see Walmart and the Eightfold Path).   Over a trash can!  It’s been a very popular post.  I also discussed a yard sale, dog poop, the night I rode the Max train home after a Portland Trailblazers game… and how someday being a better person might come naturally to me.  One commenter, Terri Patrick, even suggested that the garbage can might be symbolic — a sort of trailhead on my path to greater understanding.

I think she’s right. 

 What’s more, that post was inspired by a book.  My husband’s book.  At that time I was editing his draft, and in the moment, I felt somewhat taken aback.  Did he have to share our long-ago spat… the bloom of our love forever tarnished by a fight over a garbage can… really?  But as I kept reading my husband’s personal journey to enlightenment, and his version of the Four Noble Truths, I had to admit I fell a little bit more in love with him on every page.  He’s a funny guy with a big heart and whole bunch of chainsaws.  He likes beer and loves me.  And best of all, he’s mine.  

 So today I am proud to announce the release of his new book, The Redneck Buddhist, along with his brand new website!  

 And to celebrate the day, his other book, The Walk, will be a free download on Amazon until midnight.  Enjoy!  enlightenment-retirement-spiritual-journey

Walmart and the Eightfold Path

My husband and I had a big fight in the parking lot of Walmart. Over a garbage can. He wasn’t my husband back then. We’d only just moved in together (2001) and in the process of “nesting” I busied myself with vanquishing his bachelor ways. As a newly-minted couple, this was our first big blowout. I’d crossed the line when it came to the kitchen garbage can.

Years later, that very garbage can rears its ugly head… in a book my husband is writing about Buddhism. I’m trying very hard to lead a more aware and enlightened life, so editing the final draft I’ve had a chance to reflect. Some aspects of Buddhism come naturally, others I need to keep working on.

Example of Wrong Action:

During a garage sale last summer a neighbor racked up $25 worth of bargains and promised to pay me later that day. You can guess how that turned out. Not a dime. Seven months later, my keen sense of dog poo timing means every time I take my Bloodhound out for a walk she somehow manages to “lay timber” in this neighbor’s yard… where I’ve NEVER picked it up.

Example of Right Action:

Coming home from a Portland Trailblazer’s game I got on the wrong train. I wound up heading in the wrong direction, changed trains, and somehow found myself STILL on the wrong train and heading to the airport late at night. By now, the once fan-packed cars were empty. Except for me. And a young Hispanic guy who was bleeding.

A lot.

His knuckles were a crisscross of open wounds. He sat directly across from me and stared. I wanted to say something, but really, what could I say? I felt a little scared, too. He looked angry. I finally thought of something I could do to help him.

My friends tease me about being such a girl scout, prepared for anything. In my wallet I carry a half dozen bandages and some first aid cream. Digging through the folds of my wallet, I fished out my medical supplies. I leaned forward, held out everything I had and asked him if he needed help. What happened next surprised me. His eyes filled with tears and he hurried off the train at the next stop. Not a word spoken.

Compassion came naturally to me that night and it doesn’t in other situations. Like with dog poo. Logically, I know I need to cut out this passive aggressive Sh%^ (literally!) and stop judging the neighbor, but as I edit the pages of my husband’s book I’m left wondering if a fight over a garbage can in the parking lot of Walmart was what actually set me on the path to enlightenment… as slow and gradual as it might be!

Jamie Brazil is the author of the contemporary romance, Prince Charming, Inc. and a coming-of-age novel, The Mayan Sisterhood.

Did Sigmund Freud have a Barbie?

I’m dating Barbie.  Three afternoons a week, while my sister is at dance class, I take Barbie away from Ken.  I’m practicing for the future. – from a short story by A.M. Holmes

 My Barbie had a name.  A real name, not the name written across the top of the box she came in.   Ken wasn’t Ken either.  

 In my make believe world, Silverwood and Mortimer were the ideal couple.  Mortimer was actually “Mort” when Silverwood was happy with him.  She only used his full name, Mortimer, when he ticked her off.  Mort cleaned and dusted their house.  He cooked and made the bed, too!  If he’d owned a pair of socks, he would have picked them up off the floor – though at the time, socks didn’t play into his wardrobe options.  Mort was the quintessential stay-at-home husband, while Silverwood worked and socialized with her Mattel-issued friends.  

Decades later, I’m still inventing lives.  Instead of letting my imagination play out in a three-story dollhouse, I write novels.   Heroic versions of Mortimers are the stoic, supportive cornerstones of the Silverwoods’ lives.  The Morts are kind, smart, often deeply misunderstood clean freaks who are just as comfortable on a motorcycle as they are powering up a Hoover vacuum.  The Silverwoods are independent girls with unusual careers.  They’re neat and tidy on the outside, messy and complicated on the inside.     

The truth of writing is that no matter how many times I profess to be writing for publication, ultimately, fiction is therapy.  Writing is the way I sort and process all the mental-emotional junk I’ve accumulated.  Or it deeper than that? 

My Buddhist-leaning husband, who is most definitely not a sock picker upper, thinks it takes several lifetimes to work out our crap.  If he’s right, next time I want to come back as Silverwood!

If you have a minute, click over to author Susan Lute’s January 17th interview with me over at See Jane Publish: