Sunday, December 5, 2010

Keeping up with Twist Phelan

A Stanford graduate and former plaintiff’s trial lawyer, Twist Phelan writes the critically-acclaimed legal-themed Pinnacle Peak mystery series (Poisoned Pen Press). Her short stories appear in anthologies and mystery magazines and have won or been nominated for the Thriller, Ellis, and Derringer awards. A collection of her best--A Stab in the Heart: Collected Crime & Mystery Stories--has just been released as an ebook. Currently, Twist is finishing up a suspense novel set in the business world. Find out more at

Keeping up with Twist Phelan

I just bought a new Blackberry; my old one didn’t support the Kindle app. Yesterday, I took my skis to the shop to have the new Salomon ProPulse bindings installed. I’m debating between the Campy Super Record 11 and the SRAM Red gruppos for my new road bike.

I’ve always enjoyed owning the latest in technology and athletic equipment. I’m a compulsive adopter. Whatever the new generation gadget, I have to try it.

Remember the Apple Newton? I pre-ordered it as soon as it was announced. When TiVo debuted, I received a letter from the company founder, thanking me for being one of his first 100 customers. (He also sent me a hat with the little TiVo guy on it.) If the guys at Atomic tweaked their skate skis so they were a tad faster, I was at the head of the line to order a pair.

It’s not just tech and sports stuff. I’ve always tried to make sure that everything in my life is the latest and the greatest.
Last week I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond with a friend. While she shopped for towels, I checked out the gadgets in the kitchen department. There were things I had never heard of: mushroom brush, bacon press, olive stoner, S’mores maker. I’d put all of them in my basket before my friend grabbed me by the arm and led me into the china section.

“Listen,” she said. “I’d like to introduce you to Twist. You hate to cook. You don’t read cookbooks. You don’t watch cooking shows. You don’t eat pork. The instructions are still taped to the top rack of your oven. You don’t need any of this stuff in your kitchen!”

Of course, she was right. Everything in my life doesn’t have to be the newest gimmick or the latest advancement. I put it all back, except the S’mores maker, which rests on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet—never used.

Keeping up is often about following someone else's agenda. The bloggers and tweeters who send out news of the latest beta. The marketers, publicists, and journalists who blanket us with coverage about the newest gear. The geniuses who invent the stuff. The producers who make it in vast quantities.

Too many of my priorities were getting sidelined or trampled when I got caught up in keeping up. The endless onslaught of new things met invented needs I readily embraced. They weren’t necessarily the things I really required for happiness and fulfillment. I think if I can stop trying to keep up with all the should-haves and must-haves, I’ll do better at staying current with the things that really matter to me.

Bike and ski stuff? You bet. New dictation software or an improved e-reader? Absolutely. Sunglasses with a built-in MP3 player or an interactive refrigerator? Not.

Is there a Girl Scout leader out there who needs a S’mores maker?

Twist's Workspace


Patty said...

Great post! But, with all the authors out there breaking bones (Rosemary Stevens and Rhys Bowen this week!), be very, very careful while skiing/biking, etc.

twist said...

Thanks, Patty! So far this year I've sprained an ankle (snowboarding) and torn a rotator cuff (paddling). I am hoping 2011 will be injury-free!

Coco Ihle said...

Hi Twist! I used to be a "latest gadget gal" too, until too many brilliant people started inventing too many new gadgets for me to keep up with! So now I just live in "dinosaur denial!" I am shedding my dinosaur skin a bit to learn some of the new technologies so I can at least know what I am missing! :-) Great to see you here! Happy Holidays! Hope to see you again soon. Keep on writing!

jenny milchman said...

Wow, we are surely polar opposites. I don't even own a cell phone. And they will have to take my paper books from me only out of my cold, dead...You get the idea.

But I certainly admire early adopters. You are so optimistic and brave. Plus you get lots of goodies, which we Luddites continue to live our lives without.

Who could argue with s'mores made better, faster? I'll take it ;)

PS: Your books sound intriguing, too, and I really look forward to the suspense novel. Is PPP publishing it?

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Twist - you are amazing. I'm hoping 2011 will find you injury free too, sweetie!

Darla said...

I admit to feeling exhausted reading of all your pursuits, Twist! LOL That was balanced with admiration for your energy and passion... :-) Thanks!

Twist said...

Hi Coco! Some of the new tech is seductive, isn't it? I am getting a bit tired of magazine roulette. (Will Vanity Fair show up this month or not?) Electronic delivery would mean I'd never miss an issue. Of course, that means I need a tablet ...

Twist said...

Jenny, I am told by the friend to whom I gave the s'mores maker that the end result lacks the charred marshmallow edges I remember from Girl Scouts, but otherwise they are pretty great.
The suspense novel will go to NY. I am finishing up the first draft (always a happy time); then the real writing (aka, revising) begins.

Twist said...

Thank you, Kaye. This winter I am going to learn to downhill ski in addition to my regular snowboarding and skate-skiing. Knock wood, I will stay broken-bone free.

Darla, I guess it is a matter of perspective. I feel tired after watching someone whip up something in the kitchen!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Twist - I love reading my Vanity Fair on my iPad. I love love love my iPad. How's that saying go about trying to take it out of my cold, dead hands??

Darla said...

Kaye! LOL I just had to comment because I, too, love LOVE my iPad!!!! The poor thing gets dragged along with me *everywhere*... ;-)