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When you publish a book, or even write essays or stories for publication, it's not like people are beating down your door, unless you have written WildTwilightHarryFiftyShadesSeaBiscuit. But rest assured, either your past skeletons or misunderstandings just may appear when you least expect it. Be prepared.

An anonymous old boyfriend wrote me to say he regretted his past actions, and while I think I know who it was, I am not quite sure. I prefer to think of it as the whole gang of loves gone wrong, all professing sorrow for their misdeeds. Various past friends have cropped... Read More...

I'm convinced that we all are imaginative people. We all have the "what if". Writers, though, can't let go of the "what if." They can't just meet the Russian girl traveling solo across the country by herself at a remote trailhead and just think, that's interesting! How brave! Writers (or maybe it's just me) start to imagine...what if she walked into the wilderness and disappeared?  Or maybe less sinister--what if she meets the park ranger driving the Rhino over the sand dunes and falls hopelessly in love? (Too romance novel? OK). What if she mistakenly... Read More...

Since I can't bug my agent every day about the status of the memoir, the best thing to do is...write something else. This is how I roll: I work on two things at once. That way when I get annoyed/disgusted/nauseous/stuck with one, I can pop on over to the other. I'm writing a memoir and a novel. The memoir is (surprise) another Alaska book, about being a wilderness kayak ranger in Alaska, while also navigating personal treacherous waters; the novel is about a 14 year old girl in 1982, one of a set of identical twins, who is witnessing the unraveling of her parents' marriage as they hike... Read More...

How to have a great writer's group:

1. Good writers. This sounds cruel, but it's best to pick your folks carefully and with a goal in mind. Keep it small, too. We have six, which I think should be the max. It helps to have a specific genre in mind (a lot of ours is memoir, but we have a poet as well. We'll keep him though).

2. Expectations. At our last meeting we went around and said what we wanted from the group. Some of us wanted big picture on a work in progress. Others wanted input on smaller works. Some of us are just deer in the headlights and aren't sure (me). It's... Read More...

 Making a lot of money was never my goal when I began the publisher search (and that's a good thing). I always wanted to publish traditionally.  If I had chosen to self publish, I would have had 1) more control over the process and 2) keep more of the profits. I can see why people do this. That was not important to me. Let's be real, hardly anyone in the author sea is going to make a fortune. I didn't have time to learn how to self publish, and I knew I was keeping my day job. Plus, we are at the point where anyone can self publish, and often those books are....well, awful. They... Read More...

Ever seen the Missed Connections section of some newspapers and Craigslist? Because I have nothing to say about my writing, here's a parody. All in fun, people.

I saw you in the backcountry this August. You were on the East fork of the West Fork of the South Fork..Wait. Was that the Middle Fork of the South Fork...? North Fork of the South..? Oh, forget it.

You were the guy in Carhartts and boots at Grain Growers! Does that narrow it down? I was getting a fence stretcher and some pig's ears. You know, a typical shopping expedition for a woman around here.... Read More...

The first inkling that this book club was going to be *different* was when Sharon and I prowled the quiet, snowy road, just trying to find the house where it was taking place. When we did find it, I had to be careful not to say anything inappropriate. Something like, "Wow, my whole house would fit in this living room!"  I sometimes think about what financial success would be like, and because I don't really like to clean, I don't think a big house would be the way I would go. But it was beautiful, large windows looking out onto the constantly falling snow.

It's always interesting to... Read More...

This is what happens: Six of your friends, among them people you have known for over twenty years, the people who stayed in the place you left, will show up. They will bring Prosecco and buy books and ask you to read. You will sit around on small chairs in the children's section of the bookstore and eat sugar cookies and talk about the old days. When finally it is obvious nobody from the general public is going to show up, everyone will endure another white knuckle drive to the next town, where you will encounter many cars stuck in the snow and will attempt to push them out. Because this... Read More...

The best things about a local book signing? Getting to see your friends you never see because, life. Meeting people who apparently live in the same town as you do but whom you have never met. The worst things? Figuring out what part of the book to read--you don't want to have spoilers for those who have not read that far, and you don't want to bore those who have already read the book. Another thing? What to wear! And how to wear your beautiful, slippery-soled Old Gringo boots that cost a fortune but darn it, you want to wear them despite the ice without falling and killing yourself.

... Read More...

Once in a while, I see where someone has posted on Facebook or  in a blog: "Guess it's time to start on that book!" All I can say is: I hope you have lots of time!

One thing I didn't realize before setting out on the road of traditional publishing is how glacially slow it is. As an example, with the Geography of Water:

  • First submittal was in fall of 2012
  • Contract signed in fall of 2014
  • Publishing was in the fall of 2015.

Along the way there was: work with a developmental editor, revisions after two Press readers gave input, review... Read More...

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