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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...

I  think the number one question people ask writers is "where do you get your ideas?" 

I find that ideas are everywhere (it's just carrying them through to a plot is the hard part). You can get them from news stories, from eavesdropping listening to conversations, or just randomly thinking as you walk or run (which is why I never listen to music exercising. Some of my best ideas come from 20 mile hikes or mile long swims). I have had all sorts of ideas and 99% of them never make it to the page. People have also suggested them to me. 

Like I... Read More...

Hi follks,

I have entered the horse latitudes of writing. In case you don't know what horse latitudes are those subtropical areas on the ocean dominated by high pressure and calm winds. Much feared by sailors, these areas meant you sat on a becalmed ship until you were able to catch a breeze. They are likely called "horse" because in the 1500s, much horse shipping occurred and horses would often die in these areas (perhaps because of lack of water as supplies got strained).

Fire in the Heart is apparently steaming along at the publisher but I am not involved in that. so it's... Read More...

This is my second time begging asking for blurbs. It never gets easier--you are asking, in some cases, a virtual stranger, to drop everything and read your book, and implied in there is that they will like it and write a nice blurb--but now I have a larger circle of writer friends, so it wasn't as painful as it was with Geography. While some of the ten writers never responded, a gratifying number did, with evocative prose that made me want to read all of their books (that is the point, isn't it?)

What is entertaining to me about blurbs is that often they reflect more... Read More...

I've been running almost all of my life, and I've been writing almost all of my life. Both can be the most wonderful experience ever, when the stars align. A soft, rollercoaster trail, where the miles come effortlessly. A scene where the words appear as if someone else is writing.

They can also be desperate, miserable, painful slogs.

Whenever I start thinking of running as a chore I have to accoomplish, I know I need to back off and do something else, or, if I can't. find a different trail, or decide this will be a picture-taking or dog training run. Or, I will just run for... Read More...

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