Author Archives: Risa Nye

The Writing Year in Review: 2017

I’m copying (stealing?) this idea from a new author friend, Erika Mailman. In a year where it felt like I didn’t do much writing, it’s good to look back and see what I actually did. It felt like a rather unproductive year, writing-wise, but the evidence shows it wasn’t as unproductive as I thought. For quite a while after my surgery*, I didn’t feel like doing very much, including writing. But I eventually pulled myself away from the couch and Netflix, and got some words written down. The surgery itself prompted me to write, which turned out to be the silver lining. So here’s an overview of the year in writing:

— I wrote several times about my healing process, in a series of updates, in the weeks and months post-op.  I am much improved since those early days, but am still awaiting the final version of the obturator that will blend in more naturally and allow me to laugh the big laughs without being self-conscious. As soon as I get the long-awaited appliance with tinted gums and lovely matching teeth (that is, teeth in the same shade as my natural ones), I’ll be writing what I hope to be the last installment of this crazy adventure that began on March 1.

–Once I was able to swallow normally and avoid the sting of alcohol, I got back to writing my Ms Barstool columns for It took me a while, but I’ve enjoyed getting back on the bar stool and back to work, if you call that working.

–The trip to Antarctica may not have inspired much writing, but I loved capturing the beauty of the ice formations. And if one picture is worth a thousand words, then the math is kind of impressive.

–I started writing for a new (to me) publication called Collegiate Parent (, and have had two articles published there. I loved most of the work I did as a college counselor, and this gives me an outlet to further explore the subjects of interest to parents of college kids today.

–The one piece I submitted to Purple Clover was published this year, and I’m mentally composing a list of ideas for the future. I love writing for this site.

–After years of wishing and hoping, I was invited to participate in a panel with a celebrated group of local women writers (including Erika, mentioned above), and read an excerpt from my memoir, There Was a Fire Here. The reading occurred between the fires to the north and the more recent fires in Southern California. The timing was coincidental, but the fires were on everyone’s minds that evening. Thanks to EBUG for granting this wish!EBUG reading night

— And I was delighted to have my book, published in 2016, reviewed here. My thanks to Elizabeth Fishel and Wendy Martin for their support, encouragement, and kind words.

–Once again, I had the opportunity to attend and then write about the Telluride Film Festival at The article is embellished with trailers and such. Some of the films are out now, but a few are not. Sneak previews!

— A humor I piece I submitted (and nearly forgot about) was selected to be included in the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop humor anthology, available next spring. I’ll be attending the EBWW  this April, giving me the opportunity to hobnob with fellow (sister?) writers and meet more contributors, while surrounding myself with some terrific folks who also love cake.

–I have recently discovered a new outlet for short pieces based on writing prompts called Retrospect. It’s been fun to give this new (to me) site a try. So far, I’ve had three pieces published there and look forward to submitting more in the new year. (If you are a Beatles fan, read this one!)

–When people ask me what I’m working on now, I again borrow from a fellow (and there must be a better word!) writer, and say “I’m composting.” Thanks, Mary Volmer, for making it sound like staring at a blank screen or looking out the window is part of a process.

As I look back over the year, I can see that a lot of energy was expended off the page, what with one thing and another. I hope that in the coming year I’ll be able to focus outward, keep moving, and find more outlets for writing. Also: stay/get healthy, think positively, and find the words I know are here, waiting to be discovered and shared.


Onward to 2018!



*Removal of a benign tumor in my upper jaw, called ameloblastoma, aka The Fiendish Thingy

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The World Works in Mysterious Ways: Birthday Edition

Today, November 14th, is my birthday. I’m moved, overwhelmed, and touched by all the birthday love I’ve received from friends and family. And here are two things that happened to mark this day in 2017: The dream I had night before last, where my sister appeared as a surprise visitor–here to spend my birthday withContinue Reading

Fighting off worry in the midst of beauty

The counties to the north–Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino–are still on fire as I write this. Some people, unable to go back to check, still don’t know for sure if they have homes anymore. All those affected by these raging fires have been on my mind over the past few days. Living in the Bay Area,Continue Reading

Good Morning, Little School Girl

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The House I Live In (That’s America To Me)

It’s the name of a song. I heard Frank Sinatra sing this song twice in two days recently. Because of the disturbing events of the last few days and months, it made me think. What was the story behind this song? And why did it become identified with Sinatra?  I was curious about who wroteContinue Reading

I Was Here

Several years ago, I wrote articles about the craft of writing for Hippocampus Magazine. This is one of them, which came to mind this morning as I was reading a book about writing. I sometimes wonder, as I’m reading, why a writer has chosen to highlight a particular incident in an essay or a memoir.Continue Reading

Put on a Happy Face: A Healing Update

It’s been a while since the last update, and in this case no news is good news. There are still the little things that only I notice, but the bigger issues seem to have resolved pretty well. I need to steer around foods that are crunchy (so long tortilla chips and cookies), foods that requireContinue Reading

Card-Carrying Grandmother

First, a little background. My Grandma Eve was my Grampa Mike’s second wife. His first wife, my dad’s beloved mother, passed away before any of us grandchildren got to meet her. So Grandma Eve was the grandmother we knew growing up. If I have the story straight, my grandfather engaged the services of a matchmaker,Continue Reading

A Few Words About a Neighbor

Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers, has been in the news lately. The PBS News Hour shared writer Anthony Breznican’s touching memory of a difficult time in his life, when he meet Mr. Rogers in person. It was a sweet story, bringing back a memory of my own. Breznican’s story reminded me of when I was aContinue Reading

I Still Miss Someone

It wasn’t easy to find a good picture of those blue eyes. This one has two pairs of blue eyes, and lots of love. Susie left us two years ago today. Still have a hard time believing it. I just heard this song for the first time a few nights ago, sung by Rosanne Cash,Continue Reading