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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...

I should have known this, but somehow didn't. Fire in the Heart isn't even out yet, but the reactions to it seem much stronger than the novel. It turns out people are pretty invested in firefighting, even though this is my story, not theirs. Though the vast majority have been supportive, there have been some surprising reactions. Insistence that things really weren't that way. Possessiveness, as in one firefighter wanting me to send him the ms so he can "see if it's right". Um. No. Someone I wrote about in the book a little less than flatteringly, wanting an advance copy. Doesn't... Read More...

Yesterday we did more filming of the book trailer. I recruited one firefighter friend and set some piles ablaze to get the smoke we needed. We pretended to dig fireline, sit and share crackers, drink water, hold the line, and walk. It was all pretty entertaining, anyone want to hire me to act in a movie?

Near the end, my videographer thought she wanted a closeup of sooty eyes. "Can you throw some ash in her face?" she asked my friend. Then she wanted me to open my eyes and have ash fall from my eyelashes. 

All for the sake of art! I closed my eyes and Joann threw a bunch of (... Read More...

I went to the Oregon Book Awards.
I drove for six hours.
I spent money on a hotel.
I curled my hair.
I did not win.
In the end, it doesn't really matter what a judge picked. What matters are the emails, the messages, the conversations I've had with readers, who appreciated and loved the book.
It's still hard not to win, though.
The woman who won my category was really surprised. She didn't write a book until she retired. This is her first book, and she self published it. So, that is pretty great, and I'd rather lose to someone like that than some... Read More...

Yesterday we recorded the voice-over for the book trailer! It is a little difficult to read without a) laughing hysterically; b) coughing; c) swallowing; or being distracted by a cat trying to get on your lap. Also: editing a voice-over is a ton of work! When we didn't like the way I said a word, I would start reading over the recording and then they would edit the new words in. I can see how it would be easy to spend hours at this.

We recorded three takes: one like a book reading (you know what that sounds like probably); one with pauses, for showing screen images, and one... Read More...

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