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I'm reading over my new book contract (For Fire in the Heart, my firefighting memoir) and it strikes me that this is a big, big deal. Not that the first contract wasn't, but I was so giddy with getting a book published that it just was a bonus to sign something. However, there is something solemn and frightening about a book contract, and it makes sense to really read it. This one has clauses about not doing immoral things, which luckily I don't need to worry about, or disparaging the publisher on social media. Which again, I have no intention of doing--I love my publisher!--but it got me... Read More...

There's a reason for no blog posts lately. No, it isn't something extremely interesting, like I was climbing Mount Everest, or I set sail with a group of nice pirates. Basically, it's this, a secret my agent let me in on when I asked about my contract: nothing happens in August. Actually, it seems like many people take that time off in the publishing industry. At any rate, it's not a great time to look for an agent, or a publisher. Or sign a contract.

I remember when my job used to have a down time. We lived for it during the manic summer months, when we worked all hours... Read More...

There I was, at dinner with a co-worker. We were far from home in a tiny town, after a day of roaming the woods and puzzling over a project we had been assigned to analyze. I don't know how it came up, but this person who shall not be named revealed a personal story about one of his relatives--one of those stories that makes a writer's ears perk up. Whoa! I thought. What a great premise for a novel! But then: Hmm. Would using it be bad? It's not like this event didn't happen to other people in history...but...

That, my friends, is why knowing a writer can be... Read More...

I've given up feeling guilty for not writing more this summer. There's just..so much. The summer is really short here, and I feel compelled to be outside as much as I can, as much as working ten hour days will let me. There's time in winter, those long, long blue nights when the dark falls early and you are trapped inside. Summer is for backpacking and swimming and lying in hammocks. If that makes me not a "real" writer, so be it.

I do have a story simmering in the back burner, and I will get there. The Alaska memoir is temporarily stalled as I decide whether it should be a novel or... Read More...

I've now sold two books, one with an agent and one without. Before I had ever sold one, I read many opinions on which was "better." I've decided that it really depends on YOU.

Do you want to be in control at all times? An agent may not be for you. You aren't the one out there deciding where to send the book or even when to send it. My agent had to wait for a few months until she felt she had the time to devote to my book.  I didn't know what the publishers were saying unless I asked. Whereas without the agent, I was the one submitting, and I got the responses of yes or no... Read More...

Sometimes my life just takes an unbelievable turn. My agent emailed me last week and said that my memoir, which she has been shopping for some time, had received an offer. Since I am the least business minded person ever, I wanted to scream, TAKE IT. This, however, is why you want an agent. She unflappably said that she wasn't done negotiating. This week, things were finalized (though we still need to sign at some point). 

Basically, two books in less than a year (although by the time this one is published it will probably be 2017 sometime). How did I get so fortunate? I'll tell you... Read More...

I sometimes hear rumblings from authors about people passing books around to friends or checking out from the library. Maybe I'm just not monetarily motivated, but this doesn't bother me. After all, I love the library. Once I lived in a sagebrush town, population 50, that had no library. The horror! A bookmobile came around every week or so, and woe befall the person who missed that day. You can't expect someone to drop dollars on new books all the time--they are not cheap. And I love lending books to people whom I know will love them. I don't have the space for a shelf of books in my... Read More...

We don't have home mail delivery in my town. Even though the post office is only half a mile away, getting there during its open hours seems to require ridiculous feats of time management. I often realize it has been weeks since I got my mail. What's not nice about no home dellivery is that you end up waiting in line with all the other souls who keep forgetting to go to the post office, who save up their packages to mail or have to get a bunch of packages because they have waited so long. What is nice is that the post office people remember who you are. "I'll get your packages," they chirp... Read More...

When I was little, I loved the Miss America pageant. I never wanted to be a pageant girl, but I liked watching all the women from different states in their evening gowns, impossibly perfect women so far from my outdoors kid world. I didn't want to be them, but I was fascinated by their existence. As I watched, I wondered how the ones who were not chosen felt, forced to smile as the winner was crowned, especially the first runner up. She had to stand there while all the other runners up were announced, hoping she would be the one, and then finally, there were only two. Then she had... Read More...

When I mentioned to an author friend that I had added in a slideshow to my readings, she looked at me as if I were named Captain Obvious. "I'm doing that," she said. "You have to do that."

What she meant was just a rotating screen of slides as a backdrop, while I am actively preparing a PowerPoint with narration, but the point is clear: People want to be entertained! Maybe back in the old days, before internet, you could draw them in with just a reading and a book signing. Sometimes you still can, but that depends on the book and how many people in town know you. I'm a little sad... Read More...

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