Monday, August 22, 2016

My Heart Tells Me

It is a cool, overcast Seattle morning. A silent calm fills the neighborhood. I am silent as well. My pen has been silent for too long. I wait in silence for the re-release of my books after the demise of my publisher and the signing with another. I wait in silence for medical updates on a sister's health after the loss of two other beloveds to cancer only months ago. I wait in silence, in a silent home, for the arrival of family to fill these rooms in joyous anticipation of our daughter's wedding.

A summer of waiting, of silence, of holding in tears. The tears of pain and joy so intermixed I find myself teetering, equilibrium at times difficult to maintain. I support the worried and grieving as well as the joyous as best I can, knowing what I offer is never enough. It will never be enough.

The losses will always be felt, but with time and patience the flood waters of hurt will recede. Though there may be glitches in the perfect wedding plans, the bliss will always be cherished, the memories locked away, a balance against future losses.

In the silence of one gray Seattle morning, I reminded myself there will always be losses and new beginnings. My heart told me to put pen to paper once again, knowing life's challenge is learning to negotiate the extremes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Night at Sheep Lake

Eight years ago, my husband and I took a friend backpacking to celebrate her fiftieth birthday. Since that first trip, she has made it her annual birthday tradition to gather a group of friends and head to the mountains in mid-July for a night or two of camping and hiking.
I began backpacking close to my thirtieth birthday. As I age, the pack feels heavier, the ground gets harder and the physical recovery from sore muscles and achy joints takes longer. Still, I never regret the effort. Sitting by a crackling campfire high atop a mountainside with stars overhead centers me. The calm is vast, the beauty a reminder of all that is good in this crazy world.
There's much to be said for annual traditions. They keep us doing something we might otherwise allow to slip away, replaced by the demands of life and work. I'm grateful to my friend for getting us out into the ancient tranquility of the Pacific Northwest mountains in the early summer each year. Now, our backpacks are out of the attic, packed, and ready for the next weekend escape. It doesn't take much - only one night - to shift perspective and refresh the soul.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rehearsal for Retirement

When I woke, I had every intention of cycling with friends in the afternoon. Instead I found myself drawn to Schmitz Park. How could I refuse?
Summer is that way. I set a plan only to find myself altering course throughout the day. Whatever it is that I end up doing tends to be different, but usually equally rewarding.

I am a college instructor, my annual schedule dictated by an academic calendar. As the years pass each summer becomes a rehearsal for retirement.

Most of us spend our working days waking to an alarm, trudging off to work, coming home. A routine set in stone. Weekends are filled with household chores and family obligations. Before we know it the kids are grown, the house is empty, and we find ourselves at retirement age wondering how to manage the shift from days controlled by structure to the absence of all routine.
I wonder how I will construct my own retirement when the time arrives, how tight I will plan in order to convince myself I've accomplished something each day. I hear retired friends complain of being terribly busy but never getting anything done, and I can relate having experienced a touch of this phenomenon during past summer breaks. But still I resist a tightly structured To Do list - for summer break or retirement.

I prefer a daily, weekly, year-round consistent To Do list, a list that includes only four items: write, read, exercise, spend time with loved ones. If I manage to include each of these activities every day, life is rich and full.
When a plan goes sideways, when I take my daughter's dog to Schmitz Park and leave my bike at home, I'm okay. More than okay. I rejoice the flexibility that allows me the joy of being alone in the woods with a happy dog.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail ...

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail 
shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.

Unlike the Pony Express, the West Seattle authors at the Morgan Street Festival did not read through snow, sleet, or hail last Saturday. But the gusts of wind and rain sure made the day interesting. Not what you'd expect at an annual event just two days before the summer solstice. My husband was scheduled to pick me up at 5:30 pm. At 3:37 he texted: "Geez you want me to come now?"

Fifteen local authors came together to share their works and talk about writing. There were hourly free book drawings as well as a grand prize basket with enough reading for the entire summer! Merryweather Books was on hand through sunshine and rain. 
Thank you, West Seattle for a wonderful day, and Alice Kuder for organizing the annual Meet the Authors event.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Coming Soon!

Are you in the Seattle area? Do you want some community fun? Do you enjoy meeting local authors? Don't miss the Morgan Junction Community Festival in beautiful West Seattle next Saturday.
Here's a news release from organizer extraordinaire, Alice Kuder: 

Morgan Junction Community Festival Welcomes Local Authors 

Where can you find Greek Gods, homicide detectives, and wanton boys all sharing one tent? This summer, they will be gathering under an awning at the Morgan Junction Community Festival.

These are just a few of the dynamic characters that West Seattle authors bring to life in their novels and memoirs for your reading pleasure in genres as diverse as fantasy, young adult fiction, poetry, and memoir.

At the one-day Festival on Saturday, June 18, a group of fifteen West Seattle authors will present their work under a banner inviting you to “Meet the Authors.”

This will be the second year for the authors’ booth located in the vendor area behind Zeek’s Pizza. Two tents will be for author presentations and a third will offer their books for sale through local bookseller, Merryweather Books. Merryweather’s also carries the books year round, with a special section of the store dedicated to local authors.

The Morgan Junction Community Festival is ‘the little festival that could.’ It is the quintessential hometown festival that would make Norman Rockwell proud. It’s so intimate they don’t even block off the streets!

Want to support a local artist? Read a book!

Participating authors listed alphabetically by first name:

Alice Ann Kuder, Allan Batchelder, Arleen Williams, Cherie Tucker, Christine Brant, Christopher Anderson, David Kannas, Gail Engebretson, Jeanette Chaplin, Lisa Richesson, Michael G. Hickey, Molly Ringle, Sonya Elliott, Theresa McCormick, Victoria Randall. See attached spreadsheet for titles and genres. 

This year we will also be having an hourly free book drawing as well as the grand prize basket at the end of the day. So stop by to hear some great stories and stock your summer reading pile.

Saturday, June 18, 2016
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Morgan Junction, West Seattle
Northwest Corner of California Ave. SW and SW Beveridge Pl.
  Meet the Authors booths located in Zeek’s Pizza parking lot
P.S. I'll be reading at 1:30 and 3:00. Come by and say hi!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sorting Options

Publishing is in flux. Advancements in technology and the ease of digital publishing have democratized publishing, allowing anyone to self-publish and causing the quantity of books available to skyrocket over the past decade. Here's how Steven Piersanti explains it in The 10 Awful Truths About Book Publishing.

The number of books being published in the U.S. has exploded. Bowker reports that over one million (1,052,803) books were published in the U.S. in 2009, which is more than triple the number of books published four years earlier (2005) in the U.S. (April 14, 2010 Bowker Report). More than two thirds of these books are self-published books, reprints of public domain works, and other print-on-demand books, which is where most of the growth in recent years has taken place. In addition, hundreds of thousands of English-language books are published each year in other countries.

When my publishers announced they were closing their doors on May 31, I felt the proverbial magic carpet being ripped from under me. It had been a wonderful ride.

I calmed. I took a serious look at my options. I made a list:
  1. let my books die
  2. try the agent route
  3. self-publish
  4. seek another indie press
Then I sorted through the pros and cons of each option. The clouds cleared and decisions formed.

First Decision:   I do not want The Alki Trilogy to disappear. I love Gemi and the gang. I want them available to readers in both print and digital formats.

Second Decision:  I do not want to seek an agent. I'd gone that route before. And frankly the chances of any agent or Big 5 New York publishing house taking on my three novels for re-release is basically nil.

Third Decision:  I could self-publish through CreateSpace. I've done so with No Talking Dogs Press. But I have neither time nor energy to dig into the process. The greater royalty rate isn't my driving force, and I believe the right indie press will lend my books professional appeal.

Fourth Decision:  I support indie publishing. I've had good experiences, built loyal relationships and enjoyed the process. It's where I belong.

All this to say, I'm very pleased to announce I've just signed a new publishing contract with Barbara Brannon and Kay Ellington of Bookadelphia.

The Alki Trilogy will be re-released under the Bold Face Books imprint with fancy new covers early next month.