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Once as I was lifting weights at the gym, a man I had never spoken to before strode in. "Hey, True Believer!" he hollered. I am still not sure what he meant. Was I a believer in fitness? In dragging myself to the gym when I really wanted to lie on the couch? Who knows. I was reminded of this last night when I went to a local book club. They had picked The Geography of Water as their November book and wanted me to come talk about  it.

As I stuffed my face ate delicious food, it dawned on me that what an author really needs is a group of True Believers. People who are champions... Read More...

The evolution:

"I just want to have a book published before I die."

"I have a book contract! I don't care if only my mom reads it, that's good enough for me!"

"So...everybody! I wrote a book! It's for sale! If you want to buy it...."

"Hey! Over here! Here's a book! That I wrote! Buy it!"

I'm sort of kidding. But it's easy to let Book Enthusiasm take over. I'll travel all over to sign the book! soon becomes...where can I afford to travel? which then becomes, I can't really afford to travel. You have to be strategic. My publisher asked if I would come to... Read More...

I'm at the "wanting to vomit" stage of my new novel. What helps: to look back at the first paragraphs, because they're good (this helped me a lot through The Geography of Water). Otherwise, there's always the writer's favorite thing, procrastination! I don't recommend trying some of these, but I may or may not have done some:

1. Go  into bathroom. Peer at face. Google "facelift". Decide to keep face as is.

2. Google "how to cut hair in layers." Try it. Fill with regret.

3. Tell yourself you are getting exercise as you walk to the jar with homemade brownies.

4.... Read More...

The young hippie paused at the doorway of the old barn, biting her lip. She had an interview with the rancher who lived here, and if the alternative paper in Portland published it, her couch surfing days might be over. But suddenly her Birkenstocks seemed out of place (she had already stepped in cow poo once). She tossed her long, wavy, brown-sugar-colored hair in determination. She couldn't let a little bumpersticker like "Canadian Wolves--Government Sponsored Terrorists" stop her, could she?

Suddenly she stumbled over an old rake. So clumsy! And there he was, the rancher. He... Read More...

Winter, we keep saying, is coming. Even though it was sixty degrees yesterday, and there isn't much snow in the mountains. We need a big winter here. Last year was disastrous for this state and especially for Washington. 

The good thing about winter is that it brings me inside. I bake bread. I make real food--crockpot stews, Cornish pasties (look them up), lasagna. I do yoga. I go to the gym. All things I neglect during the summer mania. I also write.

I'd love to say I am one of those highly disciplined writers who arise at five to pound out 5,000 words a day. Alas, this is... Read More...

All I'm saying is, if you have accomplished something, you'd better be ready. Not that reporters have been flocking to my door, but one came from our local paper. He was very nice about a) me wanting to sit outside instead of in; and b) my cat, Puffin, leaping on his shoulder (the cat loves to do this, and the sight of a black furry projectile can scare some).

I lead a lot of conference calls on the phone, with high ranking people I don't know, so I have gotten pretty good at thinking on my feet. But still. There are questions I fumbled around, such as, "what other writers inspire... Read More...

1. Even if you start out thinking, it's enough just to publish a book even if only my mom reads it, you will eventually start thinking bigger. Like, I want to sell a bunch of copies! Oprah, are you there?

2. Even though you carefully did not base any characters on living or dead people, you start wondering if people will think it's THEM in the book,

3. When your friends buy it in droves, you might be scared they won't like it and have wasted $16.95.

4. Speaking of $16.95, you will get 10% of that with each book sold.

5. You often will wonder if people... Read More...

When you sign with a small publisher, they don't have the money to send every author out on a book tour. I have no regrets with my publisher at all, though it would be nice to travel and get paid for it. (I guess that's called "work travel" and I've done plenty of that this year.) However, I have good friends with independent bookstores in their outdoorsy towns who want me to come there. I want to go there! But it's all a matter of finances. I have an author friend who did a DIY book tour, and it did seem to pay off for her, however, her book was a timely story collection about war, which... Read More...

I got my book in the mail today! And the first thing I thought was...it's so...tiny. It's not many pages at all, and I spent so many years  on it. Shouldn't it be more? But it is what it is, I could have put some filler in, in the end though, it's like living on the outer coast of Alaska....stripped down to the essentials. Of course now it seems much more real, and I've started thinking toward its debut in a month or so. Will there be good reviews? Scathing ones? What will some of my long lost friends think, will they be looking for themselves in the book? They aren't there, but it is... Read More...

Hello out there! Does anyone read this? I've been absent for a variety of reasons: house under evacuation order, working on fire support for the past three weeks...

Once I let a co-worker read an essay I had written. "It's so..personal," he said. Well...that is what memoir is supposed to be. Isn't it? I've always written this way. If you don't put yourself in the fabric, it becomes a dry recounting of facts. We've all read books like these. Of course, it is a fine line to balance. We've all read books where the author overshares. Sometimes the scale is tipped dangerously toward pity... Read More...

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