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It finally happened! I got to write a blurb for another author (of course, I volunteered to do it, but still!). 

Blurbs..does anyone read them? It's hard to say, but publishers sure want them. They issue the command for you to go out and find them, preferably from authors with big platforms. I have been fortunate that everyone I asked, with the exception of one person whom I thought would, but said no, and the famous people, who never answered (Pam Houston! Call me!) did indeed come through. There are a couple of people whom I thought for sure would write one after getting a free... Read More...

This was the question asked by a local poet as he ran unhappily on the treadmill at the gym. As I slogged through an elliptical session, commiserating with our mutual dislike of the gym, but also its necessity in an icy world, I pondered his question. Was I writing very much?

Well, no. It feels like I've been wrestling my latest novel forever. I've bounced wildly back and forth with plot ideas. I had to kill a darling and some great prose because the concept just did not fit with the story. I've tried first and second tense. I got rid of a character. It's exhausting!

But that... Read More...

This is such a great description of how to write a good essay.

https://brevity.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/cut-to-bleed/

People tell me all the time I am brave to put personal things out there on the page. I don't see it as bravery. I see it as essential, if you want your readers to believe.

Of course, I don't write about everything. There are things I will never put on a page. You have to choose.

You can't have a wall around you as a memoir or essay writer. People will call you on it, as my... Read More...

So, authors have a strong opinion about Amazon. Through details that I don't quite understand, but involve discounted prices, books sold on Amazon don't pay as much to authors (unless you self publish). And it's best to support independent bookstores, which live in a community and nourish that place. HOWEVER. People are not going to stop buying on Amazon. It's simple and easy. It is almost the first question people ask when they want to buy my book. Amazon is not going away--and speaking as one who tries to buy books in her local store, but as one who also lives far, far away from most... Read More...

Eons ago, when I rode the Park Service Visitor Center desk, I could see them arrive. Frazzled. Overwhelmed. On an itinerary--five parks in five days! Plopping their elbows on the counter, they would ask the Question That Cannot Be Answered.

"If we (pay for the cave tour, drive to Hurricane Ridge, take the bristlecone pine walk, etc etc) is it worth it?"

I would stare them down. Just like, "How old do you think I am?" when asked your age, there is NO RIGHT ANSWER to this question. How much is something worth? In the case of book signings, it is tempting to... Read More...

A recent conversation in an online writer's forum went like this:

New author: "I was told by my publisher I needed to use Twitter."

Other authors: "Twitter is great, you can connect with others, retweet, blah blah."

Me: Ugh.

Confession: I kind of hate Twitter. It seems to embody everything I don't really like in the modern world: low attention span, reduce important things down to a common denominator, or enable people to talk about minutiae. In addition, does anyone really want to be that connected that they follow the random musings of several hundred people?... Read More...

This is probably the most FAQ I get! And my response is to shrug and say "I don't know." 

When you self publish, you know this. But with traditional publishing, you are basically on a need to know basis. Yes, you can bug your publisher, but after a while it feels like..nagging. Or you can patiently wait for your once a year royalty statements (this in itself requires an amount of trust in the company). I know that Geography of Water hasn't been all that successful in terms of the book publishing world and this is largely due to lack of publicity (someone told me yesterday that it... Read More...

I eagerly opened up a blog I had been following for a while. Its owner had been engaged in an athletic pursuit, not one that is particularly noteworthy, since hundreds of other people do it, but still, worthy of some praise. I wanted to see how this person had fared on the journey. Instead of stories of the trip, there was a request for....Patreon! 

I hesitate to lump this service in with Kickstarter and Go Fund Me, but it is kind of the same premise. I guess you can convince yourself you are supporting the arts. Or something. But seriously, asking strangers to pay so you can write... Read More...

Fire in the Heart has launched. A lot of people have said a lot of nice things. Some people have said nothing, but it's easy to think your hard-won book is the center of the universe--after all, you have struggled with it for years. I feel like more people would have celebrated if I had reached the summit of Everest. But that's the way the world works today. There are less readers. Also, everyone thinks they can write a book, what's so hard about it? 

As an author, I am often seized with the uneasy fear that I should be doing more. Shouldn't I be setting up events? Or bombarding the... Read More...

"You really bared your soul," a reader wrote after reading Fire in the Heart.

Gah! That's the thing about memoir. Unless you are reading one specifically for nature essays or for descriptions of what it is like to hike a long trail (and there are plenty of those out there), most good memoirs have to have a human element. Otherwise, what's the point? Some, of course, go too far, wallowing in a bunch of self-absorption and angst. You don't want to put it ALL out there! But many would-be memoirists don't include enough. 

It's hard to describe the feeling of having something so... Read More...

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