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...

Well, revision is done, most people have agreed that I can use their first names in the book, and it is off to copyediting. The train has left the station, folks! I still can't believe I am getting two books published in less than two years. How did that even happen? 

I was thinking about self-promotion and when it turns ugly. It is a fine line to walk. You want to put your book out there, you want people to buy it, but you don't want to be annoying either. I have a few writer friends, bless their hearts, who aren't great about toeing that line. I get it, you need sales, but for... Read More...

Oh, revision. I really don't like you. It's not enough that I did this a million times before submitting to the agent. Now I have revisions from my editor. While I am deeply grateful for the suggestions and comments, once I am done with a project I really want to be done. I'm not good at revisiting. I alternately cringe at some things I find in the document--I wrote that? Ugh--and despair over making it better, or I think, I'll just go watch an Amazon prime video instead. But, like taxes, revision must be done.

I know writers who get stuck in an endless loop of... Read More...

If you start paying attention, most novels (and memoirs) employ the But...When principle. Think about it, If you don't have some sort of conflict or obstacle in a book, it quickly becomes a journal. This is where a lot of adventure stories fall flat (e.g. I got up and ate some cereal. Then I hiked 20 miles. Interesting to a segment of the population, but after awhile, not so interesting). You need to capture the But When in order to be successful.

Let's take a look at some well known stories.

"Cinderella lives a life of drudgery, waiting on her mean stepsisters. But when a... Read More...

The other day I realized that my author photo, the one I send to readings and the like, and also the one that I was planning to use for the back cover of Fire in the Heart, was circa 2003. 


I guess we'd all like to think we don't change over time, but I was probably due for a new picture. Fortunately, I know a good photographer. We trekked to a frozen lake and got some photos. As uncomfortable as I am having my photo taken, the author photo is something all publishers ask for. 

Is it that important? No. Nobody is going to reject a book because of your photo. Still... Read More...

Let's face it, I am not the most disciplined person on the planet. I want to do what I want to do, and I don't like being scheduled. I get enough of that at work. So plunking my butt down to write only happens when a) I get a row of days off where I don't have a trip  planned; and b) I get some inspiration. That isn't really the way to do mass production works.

After Geography was published (November 2015) and Fire in the Heart was sold (July 2016)  I set a goal of having a new manuscript to my agent by November 2016, my bookiversary for Geography of Water. I had a couple of... Read More...

Many people who announce with enthusiasm that they are writing a book come up with a title first. They may or may not realize that a publisher will likely change it. In my case, my two titles have never been changed, but it is definitely not something to get attached to. A title, as you probably realize, is super important. Just as people often pick up a book from its cover, the title can make or break the book. So don't knock yourself out trying to come up with one.

That being said, you should have a working title. You can't submit a query for a book called "Untitled". For... Read More...

You guys!

(Does anyone read this? I really hate that I can't enable comments here, but my website designer convinced me I would just get a lot of spam. Judging from the amount of email I get from people who think I should hire them to work on the site, he is probably right).

Anyway. I got the first half of my advance for Fire in the Heart! (Minus agent commission)

But whoa there, partner. You don't want to go out and blow it all on a trip to New Zealand (tempting). I have heard horror stories of authors getting big advances (mine is not that big) and having to pay them... Read More...