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On Mount Howard

I'm leading a workshop! When I thought about what I really cared about, it was weaving in landscape and character, and how setting influences personality and actions. Having lived in many states and environments, it has been a fascinating social study. In my books I have explored that theme and I probably always will. The landscape I live in influences everything I do. It is a constant hum in the background. I can't wait to see what the participants will come up with.

Immersing yourself in nature is a good way to be creative. I regret that hike I took, said nobody ever. That's why... Read More...

I just wrote my first book proposal in years. Guys, this is hard. But necessary. Actually, writing the proposal--and the awful, awful chapter synopsis, really helps you think about your book and what it is about. Also, if you don't have an elevator speech, you are sunk and better go back to the drawing board. So I am casting a net and hoping to find Last Layers of the Ocean a home. Wish me luck.

This is a shortie as I have lots to do. Also, I am finally, finally going to send out an email update to those on my email mailing list. THIS WEEK I PROMISE. So if you want to be on it, hit... Read More...

Hey folks, 

I bought several cartons of my book and need to get rid of them since I live in a tiny house. If you are interested, hit the contact button and send me a message. I am selling them for $10/book plus shipping (media mail).

Folks who signed up for the email list, I am getting something out soon. Lots of news. Just been super busy lately!

Don't you just hate it when you follow a blog and the author just disappears? I have become part of the problem. I'm not sure why I haven't written in so long. I guess because life happens. In April, I sent my agent two ms--the revised kayak memoir and the new novel. Publishing is different than other things and I have waited for three months to ask her what she thinks. The answer will chart my future. As for other writing, I started on a new novel last week. I didn't get very far. Summer is not good for writing. I admire people who can do it. There is just too much to do outside.

I... Read More...

It's funny how you can start out with one dream, and when that's achieved you want more. First I just wanted to get a book published. Then I wanted it to do well. Then..

I have a friend who wrote a compelling memoir. Her book is still going strong years later, and she is at the point where she can command a fee for showing up for events, for which she is still requested. A friend of mine in a different town is going to one of her events and she talked about how good the book was and how much of a fan she was, and how unbelievable it was that I was a friend of the writer. To which I... Read More...

I can't believe I did this, but I finished an 82K manuscript in 2.5 months. How did I do it, you ask? Especially because the last three took, cough cough, five years? I got a big jumpstart when I was on furlough for 35 days and that momentum carried me forward. I also made the time, something I haven't done before. Anyway, it's a novel called The Lightning Within Us. It is looking for a home. I am not sure if I will be hunting up a new agent, or if my current one will take it on. I'll figure that out in the next couple of weeks. 

This one was super messy. I didn't really have writer... Read More...

There may be some authors who can sail through one book effortlessly, but that is not me. Eventually I get completely nauseous at the sight of my work in progress. I hate my main character; she is a wimpy whiiner and I want her to just go away. The other main character is vague, what is it with him? For some reason, I find writing secondary characters much easier than the main ones. Also, I obsessively look at word count (don't do this). So after a while of wanting to throw up, I need a change of pace. 

Furlough Fling started as a joke. I was on furlough for 35 days, as were a lot... Read More...

Because Fire in the Heart has been out for a year and a half, I sometimes reflect on what I could have written and what I did write. These sometimes diverge. If I wrote it today, it would be a different book (remember, there's a huge lag in when you finish writing and when it is published...sometimes years.) I was thinking about all the reasons I left fire, and most are still true. But there's one big iceberg most people don't mention, and it's the big divide between us and them.

In the old days, everyone who was capable "did fire", whether you were categorized as full-time... Read More...

One of the most valuable things I have learned about writing is this: You need to know your why.

As in, why are you writing about this? Why do you want people to read it?

For Fire in the Heart, The Geography of Water, and The Last Layer of the Ocean, I have a why.

I'm still struggling to find it for the work in progress. That, I have realized, is why it has been so difficult. And why it has required considerable thought and changes. I still have hope I will find the why. Otherwise, it's not worth bothering. Yes, some commercial authors can churn out many books a year,... Read More...

In my day job, I've been working on "fuels reduction" projects in northern California, and it's never as easy as people like to think it is. Blaming the California fires on "tree huggers", lack of forest management, or the need to rake the forest floor is the easy way out and not true; it is a combination of factors that caused the devastation.

Paradise, California, is built on a slope, in an area born to burn. When it did burn, the area had not seen rain for two hundred days. But that's not what I want to write about. Just viewing the homes and lives lost, and looking at the sad... Read More...

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