Author Interview: Sandi Ault

SandiTiwaAspensMy guest today is Sandi Ault, author of Wild Inferno, a 2009 Women Writing the West WILLA Award finalist. This book was also a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards in 2009. Wild Inferno is the second book of the “Wild” mystery series, preceded by Wild Indigo, winner of the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award for 2008. Her third, Wild Sorrow was released in March of this year, and Wild Penance is set to hit the shelves in February, 2010.

Welcome and congratulations, Sandi. You are a prolific author! Tell us how you came up with the idea for this series. Was Wild Indigo your first published book?

WILD INDIGO was my first published book, but not the first book I wrote. I actually had a “near miss” with my first book—it was accepted by an editor who then had a heart attack before the book came out, causing the project to stall in pre-publication. It never made the shelves, and I was heart-broken. But I wrote another book and another after that. WILDWILDINDIGOpbfront INDIGO was my third book, and it was an instant success. Thirty agents were interested in representing it, and I got to talk with them all and choose the one that seemed best for me. How cool is that?

Then, when my newly-chosen agent sent the manuscript to publishers, there were many of them interested as well, so the book went to auction. At the auction, Berkley Prime Crime was the highest bidder, and they bought two books, not just the one they’d seen.

One more note about that first book that seemed such a tragedy: it is being released in February, 2010. The title is WILD PENANCE, and it is a prequel to the series and the fourth release by Berkley Prime Crime. So let that be encouragement to anyone who has experienced a big let-down! Sometimes, in the long run, that let-down becomes a double down winner!

That gives us all a great deal of hope. Perseverance is key!

From meeting you at the WWW Conference and looking at your website, I can see that you immerse yourself in the world and details of what you write about. For background on Wild Inferno, you’ve served as a volunteer firefighter and Fire Information Officer, responding locally and nationally to wildfires. Which came first, the experience or the book idea?

WILDINFERNOCoverThe experience came first. I had been serving as a wildland firefighter for several years, and I couldn’t wait to write my sleuth, Jamaica, onto a wildfire. And it was really easy to bring along her medicine teacher, Momma Anna, and even her wolf, Mountain, because we frequently have wildfires on Indian lands and work with Native American tribes and fire crews. And what an exciting world wildland firefighting is—surging with adrenaline, everything happening at breakneck pace, a whole culture of the best of the best at war with a deadly force and so much hanging in the balance! A perfect setting for a murder, too, as there is so much chaos and confusion. I loved placing the story at Chimney Rock at the time of the Lunar Standstill because Chimney Rock is the world’s only known natural observatory for that phenomenon, and there happens to be an ancient Puebloan ruin there!

Likewise, for Wild Indigo, your main character, Jamaica Wild, has a wolf as a pet. So do you. How did that come about?

I don’t really like the word “pet” for a wolf. It’s not the same as having a dog live with you. I say that I live with a wolf. He doesn’t belong to me, nor I to him. We choose to live together, and it’s quite an experience to do so! My experiences with my beloved wolf, Mountain, were pretty close to what I describe as Jamaica’s experiences with him. He was my greatest teacher, challenge, and friend. He passed beyond the ridge while I was finishing WILD INDIGO, and I am pleased that he lives on in the series. He would love that, too. The wolf I live with now, Tiwa, is a very different character from Mountain. Mountain was an alpha wolf, and Tiwa is more a beta personality. He is not so much a challenge, but perhaps that’s also because I learned so much from Mountain about living with a wolf that Tiwa didn’t have to teach me all the things to do (and not to do.)

How closely related to you is Jamaica?

I think she’s actually very close to me in many ways. She lives in a remote cabin, spends a lot of time alone, lives with a wolf, and has a handsome and exciting male companion. She loves adventure, wild places, and Native America and is curious enough to be in trouble about half the time, if not more. That is all very close to my nature. But Jamaica gets to be younger and slimmer and maybe even stronger than me. No, I take that back—she’s not stronger than me. I’m pretty strong. Make that younger and slimmer. And maybe a little smarter, too.

You also write quite knowledgeably about the Pueblo Indian culture. How did that evolve?

I have always been a student of Native America. My grandfather was one-quarter Cherokee, and my grandmother had some Sioux blood, although we don’t know how much. I studied with a medicine teacher and a shaman from native tribes when I was younger. But more than that, my husband and I were adopted by a Tiwa family when we got married, and they have taught us and included us in all their family customs and rituals. Over the years, I have made friends with a number of Pueblo Indian families through my research and through introductions by my Tiwa family. So I have a tremendous amount of direct experience with the Pueblo Indian culture. And I do tons of research, enough so that I might have earned a PhD with as much study as I’ve done. I read everything I can, I do at least two months of field research for every book, I interview extensively, attend ceremonies, hang out at trading posts and on reservations, and research, research, research. I research as if I were writing non-fiction, so that what I write is as credible as I can make it.

You are a former journalist and newspaper editor. How has that helped (or WILDSORROWcoverhindered) you in writing fiction?

It has helped tremendously. One thing a journalist (and an editor) learns to do with great skill is to get the hook in quick, develop a dynamic plot, and make the lead flow through a story. And that little extensive research habit of mine we just talked about comes from journalism, too. The only problem I encountered when writing fiction that related to journalism was that I had a little trouble breaking out and letting myself just tell a wonderful story without worrying about facts. But I’m not sure that was all because of my background in journalism. I’ve learned that it’s a common problem with all writers—that fear of cutting loose and going for it and shutting down the internal critic long enough to get the story on the page.

I can sure identify with that, Sandi!

I see that you teach Wild Writing Workshops. What kind of advice do you give to aspiring writers in your classes?

I don’t really give advice. I teach skills. If you came to one of my workshops, you would see your writing skills improve right inside of the workshop. You wouldn’t have to wait to go home and read your notes, or study, or even practice to see it (although practicing good skills makes them even better). You would see it right in the workshop. And not only your own writing skills, but everyone else’s, which would also inform you about what works and doesn’t in your own writing. I am aces at teaching skills. I have a gift for it, and many of my students have gone on to become published authors themselves.

Well, if I’m ever in your area or you are in the Pacific Northwest, teaching a class, I’d love to take one from you!

You are certainly passionate about the West. Did you grow up there? Were you raised as a cowgirl, on a ranch?

I was born in Las Vegas, but I did not grow up in any one place. My father was in the Air Force, WILDPENANCEand we traveled all around the world. But I think my roots sank deep in the West at birth. The West is not only a place; it is the embodiment of what remains that is wild and free in our country. It is the frontier for important decisions about questions like: do we have the right to use up all the earth’s resources? Or do we want to share them? Do we want to grant other species the right to live on the land alongside us or must we annihilate them so that we can spread even deeper and more densely across the land and dominate it? And do our needs supersede all other species’ needs? Do we want to have beautiful places left intact so that we and our children and our grandchildren and their grandchildren will have beautiful wild places to retreat to, so that they can nourish themselves spiritually and creatively? Do we hope to see a bear or a bison or a wolf or even a mountain lion outside of a zoo in the future? And if not, will they be the same creatures in captivity? Do we need them for our own existence, biologically, environmentally? And especially relevant to human beings: what is going to happen to Native America if we keep on like we have been? Will Native cultures be able to survive the land-grabbing, resources-gobbling, money-means-more-than-anything machine that has been chewing up our country for the last two hundred or more years? The West is the frontier where most of these issues will be decided, and soon.

We live on a knife edge. The West is vanishing. Native Cultures are being squeezed to extinction. Amazing great heaven beasts are being extirpated at an alarming rate. Water, minerals, lumber, resources, and land, land, land are driving a race to have what is most valued in terms of dollars as opposed to what might be even more precious in other ways. I am hurrying as fast as I can to record what I see of the beautiful, precious, delicate, vanishing West. The West is going to teach us the lesson of what we truly value. It’s not going to be an easy lesson to learn. I hope it’s not going to come too late.

What are your secrets to successful promotion?

WMSeriesminisiglogoIf there are any secrets to success in any area, I wasn’t privy to the memo. There are only two reasons for my success as an author, in any respect: hard work and grace. It is probably the fact that I’m practically obsessive-compulsive about my writing that makes it award-winning, and brought me the profound initial success that came to me right from the first query letter I sent out. I won’t start a manuscript until I’m filled to brimming over with the research, the knowledge that is the foundation upon which the story will rest. I won’t let go of a manuscript until it is as perfect as I can possibly make it. This means endless polishing, editing, fine-tuning, honing, and refining. It’s often that sixth or seventh draft that finally hums like a tuning fork in my heart. Never the first few. And when I do turn in my manuscripts, my editor seldom has any edits to recommend. In fact, none at all for the past two books, and hardly any for the first two. As for the grace part, I have been extremely fortunate in many ways.

As for promoting, I think the surest way to succeed is probably to write the very best story you have ever heard. Fall in love with it. Tend it like a newborn and nurture it until it has everything you ever wanted in a story. Then, when you send it out the door into the big, wide world, you will want to do whatever you can for it, and so will anyone else who reads it. Beyond that, I have always loved and celebrated the independent booksellers. They are the folks I have tried to partner with to help them find ways to put my stories into the hands of their readers. And they have been wonderfully supportive of my series in return. It’s a very satisfying team relationship. My fans have been part of the grace I was talking about. They have gotten behind my series and spread the word, acted as WILD Wranglers at my signings, participated on my website and given my books to their friends, family members, book clubs, VA hospitals and community groups. They bring me gifts and take me to coffee when I’m in town and send me the greatest e-mails and letters you can ever imagine. I’m so lucky!

Thank you, Sandi, for a wonderful interview. This has been fun, and I wish you the best with your next book!

For more information and to order Sandi Ault’s books go to her website http://www.sandiault.com

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The Last Rose of Summer

Rose, Mums

The last rose of summer and the first mums of fall.

Rose1

A Rose is a Rose is A Rose

Spider Web 1

Spiders busy in the cool weather.

I’ll miss the roses… the fresh garden tomatoes…And the spider webs!

Good-bye, Summer. Hello, Fall.

Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 5:05 am  Comments (3)  
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Cowgirl Dreams is USA Best Book Award Finalist

Finalist Award, 2009

I was thrilled to receive the news that my first novel, Cowgirl Dreams is a finalist in the USA National Best Book Awards. It’s not an Edgar or a Spur or a WILLA, but I’m happy to have my efforts recognized in whatever form I can!

Fellow Authors: It’s worth the effort to research and enter contests with your book. There aren’t that many publishers or awards organizations who will recognize you without a little “tootin'” from your own horn!

Author Interview: Jana Richman

My guest today is WILLA Award-winning Jana Richman, author of The Last Cowgirl. This is a bittersweet story of the heart, a poignant coming of age tale, a tapestry of relationships and love. It grabbed me from the beginning and yanked me right into Dickie’s life, into her heart and kept me riding through the pages right along with her.

Jana175Jana, welcome to my blog. Did you grow up on a ranch?

Sort of. When I was about ten, my father bought a run-down ranch similar the one George found for himself in The Last Cowgirl. We were ill-prepared for it. My mother hated the idea, having been raised on a farm herself and finding no romance in the life. But my father, whose own father worked as a hired ranch-hand his entire life, was driven to own land and live a life of ranching. However, he never moved us to the ranch permanently. We stayed in town during the school year and lived at the ranch during the summer.

How much of this story is from your own experiences?

I get asked this question a lot and I find it difficult to answer. Some characters in the book (George, Ruth, Annie, Heber, and Stumpy) are based upon people I know or have known in my life, and others (Bev) come entirely from my imagination. As I mentioned above, my father did buy a small run-down ranch when I was a child, and many of the ranching scenes in the book come from my own experience. The book is set in Utah’s west desert, which is where I grew up, and the love and sadness that Dickie feels for the place are emotions I share with that character. I believe this is no doubt true throughout the book—that the overall sentiment comes through my own experience.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Last Cowgirl coverTwo moments in my life have stuck with me as pivotal events. The first was my father’s decision to buy the ranch. I grew up hating that decision and it took years for me to realize what a positive difference it made in my life. It changed my life completely, shaped the way I view the west, contributed greatly to my understanding of the west and taught me how to live in the west.

The second event was the nerve gas incident in 1968 that killed about 6,000 sheep. It wasn’t the event so much as the reaction to it—or lack thereof—from my community that stayed with me. The event passed without much conversation, without much outrage, seemingly without much notice. I’ve written about that in several different genres—both fiction and nonfiction. The cognitive dissonance required by the people of my hometown—most of whom were receiving a paycheck from the military branch of the federal government at the time—always fascinated me. Outsiders wrote about the people of my community describing them as apathetic dupes, but I knew it was much more complex than that. I go back to our (westerners) relationship with the federal government over and over in my work.

Those two events were the basis of my exploration in The Last Cowgirl. I initially thought it would be George’s story, but as I tried to write that, I realized that George wasn’t reflective enough to tell the story so it became Dickie’s story.

You’ve used flashbacks seamlessly, and the book is written in present tense, which I didn’t even notice until I was half-way through. Both of these techniques are evidence of your writing skills. Do you have a writing background?

I used to be a CPA and then went to work on Wall Street, but I was always a closet writer. When I was growing up, my father thought reading was a “waste of time” when there was real work to be done, so I did my reading and writing on the sly. I don’t come from a literary background. That’s always intimidated me but never stopped me. When I decided to come out of the closet, I moved back west and enrolled in a journalism graduate program at the University of Arizona. After that degree, I got an MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in nonfiction. I did a lot of freelance writing—any job I could get—to get myself through both graduate programs. I deliberately let my CPA license lapse so I could never fall back on that.

What do you like/don’t like about writing?

There’s nothing I don’t like about writing. That’s not to say I find the process easy; I don’t. But I love the process. As my husband likes to say, I’m ill-suited for any other life. I can’t get out of bed before 10 a.m., which means I cannot hold most jobs. I am decidedly not a team player, as has been noted on every report card and every performance appraisal throughout my life. The word “team” makes me shudder. And I like to lie. Writing fiction is a good job for me even if the pay sucks.

The part I don’t like is the part that has nothing to do with writing—the marketing/promotion of a book. I do it because I want to go on writing, but it’s not nearly as fun for me as sitting in a room alone. I love to hear from people who have read the book and have found that it resonates with their experiences, but it is stressful for me to market my own work. I would find it much easier to market the work of another writer. Maybe we should set up a system to do that for one another (just like you’re doing here with your website!)

Hey, good idea!

How long did it take you to write the book?

That’s also a difficult question to answer. I started on it before my previous book came out in 2005, but then got pulled away from this novel for the final editing and marketing of that book. My guess is about 2 years—maybe a little longer.

How long to find an agent/publisher?

I already had an agent before I wrote The Last Cowgirl. I’ve worked with the same agent since 2001. He has handled my nonfiction and fiction. When I was working on the nonfiction book, I spent close to a year writing and polishing a book proposal. Once I felt that it was ready to show, I started to attend writing conferences. I won a nonfiction fellowship at the Writers @ Work conference in Salt Lake City and that included meeting with an agent or an editor. I met with an editor from Norton. She didn’t end up buying the book, but she showed enough interest in the proposal so that I knew I had something, and I went from there. I showed the proposal to a select group of writers that I had some earlier contact with. Eventually it got the attention of my current agent and the rest is history. He’s been fabulous to work with. I feel as if he understands my work and he gets it in front of the right editors whom he believes will have an interest in the work.

What has been your biggest obstacle in getting to this point of your writing career?

Writing is one obstacle after another. What other job do you know where you work for hours, weeks, months, years for nothing more than a remote possibility that you might get paid some nominal amount of money in the future? It’s an absurd career choice. I would say my biggest obstacle thus far has been the recognition that I either need to live alone or I need to live with a partner who has a deep understanding of the creative process. I was set on the former, but I’m lucky enough to have found the latter.

Any favorite authors or genres you enjoy?

Everything. I read literary nonfiction, fiction and poetry. I read work that challenges me every step of the way, and then I’ll read crap for a while. I won’t name names or titles, but there’s endless crap out there to choose from.

What is your next project?

I’m working on another novel.

How would you like to be remembered?

You mean next year or after I die (assuming it’s not next year)? Next year I’d like to be remembered like this: “Oh yeah, I liked her last book; I think I’ll buy her next one.” I don’t spend too much time worrying about whether I’ll be remembered after I’m dead. What do I care? I’ll be dead.

You are also the author of a non-fiction book, Riding in the Shadows of SaintsShadow of Saints: A Woman’s Story of Motorcycling the Mormon Trail. Can you briefly describe your inspiration for, and what this book is about?

I grew up Mormon and after meeting me most people are shocked by that. I am too. But there are pieces of me that are undeniably Mormon. What exactly does that mean? I’m the first in my family to leave the Mormon Church after five generations of devout Mormons. Why? That’s what I wanted to explore in the memoir, Riding in the Shadows of Saints. And I wanted to explore what we mean by “faith” in America. And what we mean when we claim a particular religion or none at all and what we mean when we say we do or do not believe in God.

Jana, thank you for your willingness to share your writing journey with us.

You may purchase The Last Cowgirl from your locally-owned bookstore. If you do not have one close by, you can purchase it from The King’s English Bookshop at www.kingsenglish.com or any independent bookstore.

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 12:40 am  Comments (8)  
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Author Interview: Liz Adair

Liz photoI’m happy to welcome Liz Adair to my blog today. Liz is the Pacific Northwest author of five novels, including her new Western love story, Counting the Cost, and she is co-editor of her mother’s letters in Lucy Shook’s Letters from Afghanistan. Liz is also known for her Spider Latham mystery series, for The Mist of Quarry Harbor, and teaches workshops on “Using Family History in Fiction.”

Counting the Cost is a wonderful, bittersweet story that takes place in New Mexico in 1935. I take it this is somewhat of a departure from your usual writing. Tell us what inspired this book.

LIZ: This is a departure.  My other books were all carefully plotted, have aCounting cover bit of intrigue in them, are set in contemporary times, and are lighter fare. Counting the Cost simply welled up inside me and forced itself out my fingertips. I think it was part of my grieving process after my mother died, for the story arc shadows her brother’s life.

I understand that you grew up in New Mexico on a cattle ranch. How does that background influence your writing?

LIZ: Actually, it was my mother who grew up on a cattle ranch, but she married a man who worked for the Bureau of Reclamation, so we were hydro-electric gypsies. Two of my uncles worked cattle all their lives, and trips back to New Mexico were full of cowboy stories and horseback riding.

How big a role does setting play in your books?

LIZ: Setting plays a major role. One of my reviewers noted that I write about small town people.  I think that’s because I’m a small town person myself, and it’s a comfortable voice.

You give workshops on using family history in fiction. Is all of your fiction based on your family history?

LIZ: All my fiction relies heavily on family history.  I call it Green Fiction.  Recycling, you know?  It may just be that I don’t have any original ideas.  Or that I’m lazy.  But, it works for me.

How close do your characters resemble family members?

LIZ: It depends on the character.  Often I take characteristics from one and add them to characteristics of another so that the resultant composite can’t be recognized. However, because I’ve used a physical trait of someone I know well—like wispy hair, for instance—I know how this person feels about and deals with that grooming challenge.  Combine that with another family member’s ambition or trustworthiness, and I’ll know how they will react in a stressful situation. The two combined traits, and what I know of their original owners, work together to create a three-dimensional hybrid, and I don’t have to spend hours on a back story or character bible to know how this person will react when the chips are down.

I’m not out to embarrass anyone or hurt any feelings.  It’s just easier to mine the personalities of people I’ve grown up hearing stories about all my life. When I get finished, they’re not family members any more.  Each has become his own person.  Characters tend to do that.

What are the pros and cons of writing about family members?

LIZ: The pros are that they are easier to know and trust as they move the story along.  A con would be if you created a caricature and hurt someone’s feelings.  I think you have to be careful.

When did you first start writing?

LIZ: In earnest?  Probably in the mid-1980’s.  Oh, I always dreamed of being a writer, but I didn’t have the discipline before then.  I didn’t have a clue what it entailed.

What was your first published book?

LIZ: The first two in the Spider Latham Mystery Series came out at the same time.  That was The Lodger and After Goliath.  The third in the series, Snakewater Affair, came out a year later.

Do you feel that your writing has grown since then?

LIZ: Oh, my, yes!  I’m a much better writer now, and I attribute that to being a part of an active writers’ group.

Afghan Cover_1Tell us about Letters from Afghanistan. Were the letters written to you?

LIZ: Yes.  I was a young mother when my parents went to Afghanistan in 1965.  My mother and father both worked for the Agency for International Development (AID).  Dad was in charge of purchasing machinery and teaching the Afghans how to maintain it, and mother ran a small hotel/restaurant that catered to the American contingent and visiting diplomats.  She had fifteen Afghan men working for her, and she became very involved in their lives. She would write long letters home about her interactions with them.  Some letters were hilarious; some were poignant, but none were dull.

I was a busy mom and teaching school to boot, and I’d enjoy each letter and put it away.  It was only years later, in 2001, when I went to edit the letters for the family, that I discovered what a treasure these letters were and what a window they were into the soul of the Afghan peasants.

Have you traveled to that country?

LIZ:  I haven’t.  By the time I was able to do that kind of traveling, it wasn’t safe.

On the back of your book is a blurb stating that part of your book sales go to benefit Serving Women Across nations (SWAN). Tell us a bit about this group.

LIZ:  SWAN is a humanitarian outreach organization that was begun by my two daughters, Ruth Lavine and Terry Gifford, and I. The purpose is to help women and children through microloans, malaria medicine, mosquito nets and school supplies and uniforms. Terry is the motivating force, and it is she who travels to Bolivia every year to oversee the microloan program there, which includes a mini-business course and continuing education as the women take out loans and become entrepreneurs.

Most of the funding for SWAN comes from the “Pattie Wagon,” Terry’s concession trailer that you may see at ball games or at Sedro Woolley celebrations, and SWAN also sponsors a Century Bike Ride that coincides with Sedro Woolley’s Blast from the Past.  You can find out more about SWAN by visiting www.swanforhumanity.org

Where can we find your books?

Probably the easiest way is to go to Amazon.  My mysteries are out of print, but can still be found on line. The Mist of Quarry Harbor, which is set in the San Juan Islands was published by Deseret Book and is sold mostly in their outlets. My newest, Counting the Cost, was published by Inglestone Publishing, a small company in Phoenix.  Any book store that doesn’t have them in stock can order them in, but Amazon is probably faster. Also, check out the book trailer.

Thank you for sharing with us, Liz.

Thank you, Heidi.  What luck to have found you manning your booth at the Sedro Woolley Fourth of July Celebration.  As I read your book about your grandmother, Cowgirl Dreams, I see that we have much in common. We’re kindred spirits.

Yes, indeed. I love making connections that way. Meeting new friends is part of the reward in having a book published.

Liz will be a presenter on “Using Family History in Fiction” at the Skagit Valley Writers League/Pacific Northwest Writers Association “Connections” Workshop Oct. 17 in Mount Vernon WA.

Published in: on October 9, 2009 at 1:07 am  Comments (5)  
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E-books, Vooks and Wovels

KindleTechnology is an awe-inspiring thing. We’ve all been hearing about the trend toward e-books for some time, especially with Amazon bringing out the Kindle and other manufacturers with their versions of electronic readers. Travelers like them because they can download multiple novels, and it’s less bulky than packing several books, and students can download large textbooks onto their Kindle.

Although e-books by themselves haven’t hit the best-seller lists yet, this seems to be the wave of the future. I’ve believed for some time that if our youngest generation reads at all, it probably will be in some electronic form. After all, now you can read books on your iPhone.

Paul Gillan, author of Secrets of Social Media Marketing, writes that teens today spend 60 percent less time watching TV and spend that time on-line (on MySpace, Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube via computer or cell phone).

Now there is something called the “Wovel,” a serialized novel that is iphonewritten for easy reading on the cell phone. According to Writer Magazine, these are all the rage in Japan (a poll indicates 86 percent of Japanese high-schoolers read cell phone novels) and now U.S. websites like Quillpill and Textnovel have popped up. These sites allow people to post serialized novels in 140-word increments (think Twitter).

And, Publishers Lunch just had a post about the “Vook,” a video book form, which embeds original video clips within a browser-based version of a digital book.

This is all very exciting in the fast-changing publishing world. But, can the feel and smell and permanence of a “real” book ever be replaced?

Moira Allen, editor of Writing-World.com e-zine sums it up very well, in my opinion: “To be permanent, something must be physical.  That, I think, is why we writers (and readers) are still drawn to “real” books — by which I mean a construct of paper and ink that can be held in the hand.  It’s not just that many of us still prefer to curl up on the sofa, or a deck chair, or by the fire, or even in the pool, with a “real” book.  It’s partly the knowledge that even when we put that book down, it lives on.  It will endure.  It can be handed on, perhaps to a friend or relative, perhaps via a used book store, or even a library sale.”

She ends by writing: “Perhaps this is the ultimate answer to the apparently endless debate over ink vs. electrons, and the possibly silly question, “which will win?” Perhaps, in fact, it’s not a competition and never was.  Perhaps, instead, it is a remarkable partnership.  The printed page gives our words endurance; the electronic page gives them wings.  Why would we want one to triumph over the other, when, as authors, we gain so much from having both?”

How many of you read books electronically?

Published in: on October 6, 2009 at 6:08 am  Comments (1)  
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Refilling Your Well

SunsetWhat do you do when you feel like you are “at the end of your rope,” with no more to give? Writer and artist Julia Cameron writes in The Artist’s Way that each of us has a well or a reservoir of energy and creativity that we are continually drawing from in dealing with the stresses and the demands of our lives.

But if we are always taking something out, we will eventually run dry. That’s where I was about a week ago. After nine months of intense marketing my book (and learning about marketing as I went), revising mywell sequel to submit to the publisher,  traveling, taking care of my home, hubby, and two cats, as well as my various writing groups, and completing several editing jobs, I suddenly found my well dry. Even though the sun was shining (and that usually gives me lots of energy), I had no energy, no ambition, no creativity and no desire to do anything or go anywhere.

So I took an afternoon off, drove to my favorite beach park on Puget Sound and just sat by the water. I watched the seagulls swooping and fighting over tidbits, listened to the gentle lapping of the water, gazed at the white-blue cloudless sky and the glittering sea. I read a little, walked some, jotted down a few words in a notebook. I thought a little, but mostly I just “was.”

The next day, I awoke with amazement–I had more energy, I could think again, and I was eager to do things again.

I’ve done this before, and I seem to forget to “stop and smell the roses” when I’m in my busy, frenetic rut. Nature refills my well and helps my creativity.

What do you do to refill your well?

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 8:16 pm  Comments (7)  
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