Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Still Learning!

After years spent learning how the publishing industry ticks while improving my writing, I finally achieved my goal. My debut novel has been published and released. I’ve graduated, right? Writing the book, sending out queries, editing, waiting, critique, editing some more, waiting, contracts, waiting, final edits, waiting, galley proof, waiting, release date confirmed, waiting. What else could I possibly need to learn once those lovely two boxes were delivered?

Scheduling book signings? Not too difficult, especially when shared by three friends. Marketing materials? Postcards were a snap. Book trailers? An amazingly talented friend managed the bulk of that task. Networking on various sites? Time consuming and nit-picky sometimes, but kind of fun. Revising my website and links? Yawn. Press releases? Totally blessed to have a Sister of the Quill volunteer to write the most significant of those. (Thank you, Inkpot!)

So what did I miss? My goal has been achieved. A pristine copy of my book now sits on my bookshelf, next to Harry Potter. (Yes, I know that’s completely optimistic, but after all, writers are dreamers.) I know what I’m doing now! Right? Wrong. Why didn’t someone tell me how difficult it would be to pen an intelligent, inspiring note and sign one of my books? Writing in books is forbidden! I learned that as a child. But I want to give copies of my book to special friends and family and I want to inscribe them. Here I am, a writer, used to putting words together in a semi-coherent fashion, yet it took me three hours to personalize just eleven books. Sigh. And I’m not done yet… Folio

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Folio Got Her Books!!!!

Hooray Folio! You got your books! Happy waltz, tango, rumba, swing, jitterbug, salsa, cha cha. Hope the champagne was good! Congratulations on work now tangible! Happy hugs, Inkpot

Sunday, December 20, 2009


November and December have thrown up obstacles to my writing. I blew all my words on composing the annual Christmas letter, all my physical energy on cleaning up and cooking for my holiday bash, my psychological energy on comparing Christmas today to Christmas past, my Mommy energy on reuniting my impulsive college son with my deliberate and serious high school son. I also used and abused my creative thrust knocking my head against the wall trying to figure out what to give to several very-difficult-to-buy-for types.

I can only hope that the delay in getting back to my novel full-steam is giving me a chance to subconsciously chew away at the plot and resolve some of my character issues. If it turns out the time was productive in that regard, I'll have yet another thing to be grateful for going into 2010. Love to all and especially my Sisters, Inkpot

Friday, December 18, 2009


I can't wait to scoop the rest of the Sisters here on the blog by congratulating Janet Fogg on the release of Soliloquy!!! That's right, folks. It's available for sale at Amazon and The Wild Rose Press. I hate being in Flagstaff and unable to give Janet the hugs I can barely contain at this. Sisters--it's up to you to shower the appropriate physical congratulations!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Secret of the Tree – a Memory of Christmas

I have never, ever been a good sleeper. Even when young I slept very lightly and would awaken in the silent, early morning hours, my mind busy with my own version of instant replay. Sometimes I’d tiptoe out of the bedroom I shared with my sister, curl up on the couch with a crocheted throw across my lap, and enjoy a few hours of privacy and quiet. If it was close to Christmas I would turn on the tree lights and that gentle, multi-colored glow illuminated my thoughts.

One night, I was awake but still in bed when I heard a scrape and muffled thud. My sister slept on so I slipped out from beneath the blanket and met my Mom in the hallway. Together, we peeked into the living room. The Christmas tree had tipped over and ornaments now decorated the carpet. So, with my Dad and three brothers and sister still asleep, the two of us quietly pushed the tree straight, tightened the screws that pressed into the tree trunk to hold it upright, and used a couple of dishtowels to sop up the water that had spilled from the stand. The silver angel tree topper, older than I was, tilted drunkenly to one side as she gazed down at our efforts, pulled sideways first by the fall and then by the tangle of her heavy power cord. Once the tree was secure Mom carefully straightened the angel, our cherished tree topper, and I plugged her in to test her blue bulb. The angel smiled down at us, her heart glowing.

That angel is with us still though a hole now pierces her bodice, the heat from the bulb nestled there having melted through the old plastic decades ago. So the angel has retired. Each year she briefly supervises my Sister’s decoration efforts when fragile old ornaments are unwrapped and admired, and tremulous smiles capture our lips as we remember our youth, of our Mother taken from us, too young. The angel’s smile remains as sweet and gentle as my memories demand and it was long ago that she plummeted to the carpet, and long ago that my Mom died. But my tears are as fresh as the day we lost her and the hole in my heart is as real as the angel’s.

And now, with the holiday season upon us, I thought I would share the Secret of the Tree, that long-ago adventure I shared with my Mom. In a few days I’ll visit my darling Sister and we’ll scamper downstairs to unpack the old angel. We’ll hug and weep a little and our love will take wing, flying beyond the top of her Christmas tree into the night sky, as we cherish and share the memory of my Mom’s gentle smile, now the smile of an angel. Folio.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tis the Season

Does anyone else get flat-out emotional during the holidays? Remember the old Folger’s Coffee commercial where the guy surprises his family by coming home at dawn… “Peter, you’re home!” I cried every time. Each Christmas program my kids performed in--even year after year when they sang about the inebriated grandmother getting run over by a reindeer—had me weeping. I don’t know if it’s the solstice, shorter days with not enough sunshine, memories, expectations, or what, but I am a puddling, sniveling mess all season.

Today I went to a book signing event hosted by our Frontier Market. They had several local authors at tables throughout the store. Mostly, they looked bored and lost and wondering how to attract organic food lovers over to their tables to sell them romances, children’s books, or books on tough love. I wanted to show support and generate good authors’ karma by buying books and hoping it comes back to me. (Does karma work if there’s a mercenary element to it?—a topic for another day.)

I started chatting with an author of several books about speaking to animals and plants and generally being one with the world. I might be a skeptic about just how far the intuitive mind goes with respect to, say, the family goldfish. But the author drew me in with answers to my questions about just how she asks animals questions.

Bottom line: with her talk about dogs and how they react to their human, combined with my seasonal emotional imbalance, tears filled my eyes and I ended up buying a book I’ll probably never read just to get out of there. You see, our old dog “crossed over” this summer and I miss him. It’s also the first Christmas I won’t see either of my grown children and that’s the tough part of this year. I pretty much melted in the middle of the supplements aisle.

I love Christmas. Trees, presents, decorations, cards, lights, tinsel—and tears.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Long Winter's Nap

SB -- Mid-December, the shortest day of the year approaching and my energy level is as dim as a 20 watt bulb about to burn out. Full of morning optimism, I promised myself a full evening of productivity. Once again, I find myself craving the couch, a nice glass of red wine, the Pendleton blanket and a good book, followed by an early night, all snuggled and cozy. Mama in her kerchief and all that.

A friend, Mario Acevedo, says that being a writer is like having homework every day for the rest of your life. Some days I’m so full of inspiration the words can’t stay imprisoned in my head. Sometimes firing up the computer and--even more challenging--firing up the brain, is impossible after a full day of work.

Difficult as it can be at times, writing is important to me. I don’t know why. It’s probably a disease, but it doesn’t make me itch or require giving up chocolate or alcohol, so as far as illnesses go, it’s not so bad. I’ve learned that no matter my best intentions, I can’t reliably write in the evenings. If I don’t write regularly, I suffer all kinds of angst you don’t even want to know about. So I’ve had to learn what works, and doesn’t, for me.

I get up ridiculously early. The house is quiet, no one calls or texts or wants to carry on a conversation. It’s not the time of day to do laundry or vacuum. More importantly, I’ve trained my mind to expect to write then. It works for me. I don’t have time for long sessions and I am usually frustrated when I have to stop and launch into my paid work day, but little by little my manuscripts grow. Bird by bird.

How about you? When do you write? Do you have a habit, a ritual, a mind game to get you going? Is it the same time every day? Weekly? I would love to hear how others get the job done.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Treading Water

I can often tell which writers can handle the pressure over the long haul by how well they take critique and rejection. Quitting is taking the easy way out. And those who can quit may not be cut out for the agony of waiting, working, waiting, working, waiting. Those who tread those murky literary waters indefinitely are the ones who will survive until the ship comes along. This Inkpot has enough air still to continue bobbing along. My talented and encouraging Sisters help a lot! Thank you!

Enoy Our Bananas

On the bright side, bananas do come in between those random shocks. We must enjoy our bananas! Love from the Inkpot.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's Not Pending

Folio! What a fun and true look at what's pending! "Pending" allows for time to look forward, for time to reconsider, for time to celebrate those little steps toward whatever we are waiting for.

What's NOT pending for me today: shopping for necessary household supplies, picking up my child from school, shoveling snow, and cooking dinner.

This writing business is a bizarre one. Its slogan could be "Hurry Up and Wait..."

The pain of the business is parallel to the angst suffered by the chimps who were subjected to punishing electric shocks. Those that got them on a predictable time table coped much better than those that got randomly timed shocks. Those in the latter study group spent every moment cowering in corners, full of anxiety. If our industry was more predictable, it wouldn't frustrate so much. Only the bravest and strongest among us can handle this uniquely punishing business. This intrepid Sister suggests we celebrate our persistence and patience and give ourselves the kudos we deserve. Love and strength from the Inkpot.


Pending, pending, pending, and… pending! I now leave things pending or am left pending by others far too often. Especially when dealing with anything in this crazy world of books. Working on my new manuscript is pending, let alone an end date to actually complete it. Marketing materials are pending. Blogs are pending. Query letters are pending. Research is pending. Everything is pending! What, you want less whining and specific examples?

Well, one of my Sisters of the Quill is waiting to hear from her agent regarding an editor’s interest in her latest manuscript. Now that’s a fingernails-chewed-to-the-quick pending! Another Sister is anxious for the first glimpse of her book cover, which will coincide with release of that book. Whoa! Talk about toe-tapping pending! A third Sister has just submitted a revised manuscript to an agent who expressed interest, pending penning those revisions. So is her pending over now? No! Now it’s almost worse, knowing there’s a call pending from the agent.

Then there’s the consuming habit of yearning to write books, to actually sit in a chair and write. Who knew that in addition to actually writing books, we would also need to be business professionals and marketers and accountants and public speakers and readers and researchers and mentors? Sigh. So some days, writing is left pending, and that’s not right. But then again, there's always tomorrow, which is always pending. It makes me wish I could perfect that time-travel theory I'm exploring in my new manuscript. I know, I know, it's pending!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Great Read

I just finished reading a great book by our dear Sister of the Quill, Julie Kaewert. A brilliant prequel to her earlier Plumtree mystery series. And I got to read it before publication! Look forward to seeing it bound and facing out in the bookstores. May the words, paragraphs and chapters be with us! Love from the Inkpot

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Sisters of the Quill,

Having always been a big fan of writing with pen and paper, I’ve had to work hard to evolve with technology: conquering cut and paste back when Word Star made it infinitely more cumbersome, track changes (which this editor now appreciates as much as the invention of the printing press), the social realm of Face Book and LinkedIn (still amazed my son wanted to friend me!). And - soon to come - zipping and unzipping files (which sounds a bit intimate to me).

May mastering these technological means by which to share our worlds through our words ward off brain rot.

I’m up for the new adventure of blogging because of you: the sisters I never had growing up, friends that will never be surpassed in generosity, and my most precious co-conspirators in literary crime. You understand and share my obsession with pulling the sunshine and dregs from the ether to slap down on paper. I admire you, Janet, Julie, and Shannon. I am grateful for the opportunity to take this journey with you. Love and Hugs from the Inkpot.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sisters of the Quill Blog Start

Good morning, Sisters!

My head is now officially spinning around! I think I have finally grasped how to blog. More comprehensively, anyway. Yes, it's taken me all this time. Totally pathetic, I know. Posting wasn't a problem and I've posted on my blog and even sent those to Facebook, but I just got linked to the two blogs for my press. I now understand how to post to those blogs, which feed right to their website. Sigh. This stuff makes for long days and little writing. But enough whining!!!!

A Sisters of the Quill blog! That's what jumped to mind as soon as I received your email, Sister. My only concern is whether I'd then want to continue my own blog. Might be good, though. Could keep one under my name and post to it, plus we could share a Sisters blog. We could all do that even though I suspect this Sisters blog will be more fun!

So we can talk about how we support each other, share the craft of writing and critique, and how we became Sisters. Laugh about some of our pain. Hmmm?