year 2010 archives

Idaho Authors’ Holiday Book Fair

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I’ll be joining writers Patricia Santos Marcantonio, Dixie Thomas Reale, Jennifer DeNaughel, Betty Hare, Cliff Johnson, Niels S. Nokkentved, Jack Goodman, and Merri Halma at a holiday book fair December 11, 2010, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Zulu Bagels & Java Jungle, 1986 Addison Avenue East, Twin Falls, Idaho. Stop by, say hello, and support these local authors. Our books will make great stocking stuffers.

So, What Have You Published?

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Tell people you’re a writer, and the first thing they ask is, “What have you published?” There are lots of ways to answer this question, but I really like award-winning author and blogger John Shore’s observations on the book publishing industry. Check out his recent Huffington Post blog, “Why You Want a Big Book Publisher to Reject Your Book.” Being a writer is not the same as being published and here are some of the reasons why.

2010 Idaho Writer’s League Writer of the Year Award

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Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Emily Dickinson

Talk to any writer and they will tell you that their writing efforts often go unnoticed. For every book/article that is sold, there are a dozen more waiting to be discovered. Writers understand this. They know the road to publication, recognition, and fame is long and painful. That’s why you’ll often hear writers joke about sticking their head in an oven or opening a vein.

I read somewhere that a writer must write over a million words before they have mastered the craft well enough to be considered a serious writer. Contrary to what some believe, writers don’t just sit down at a keyboard and the words pour out in logical sentences. A writer-friend’s impatient husband often asks her when she is in her office hunched over her keyboard pondering just the right word, “What are you doing in there?”

Most of the time what “we are doing in there” is trying to make sense of the words, voices, and stories that pop randomly into our head. I once labored thirty-six hours over a scene, only to delete it with one keystroke the next week. Because, when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and no amount of superfluous words will make it better.

But sometimes it does work. And when it does, it makes up for all those long, lonely, and frustrating hours at the keyboard.

That’s why, when I received the 2010 Writer of the Year award from the Idaho Writer’s League, I felt a tinge of satisfaction. Of all the Idaho Writer’s League members in Idaho, my work stood out.

I may not be a best-selling author like John Grisham or Nora Roberts. But I am a writer. And now I have an award to hang on my wall to prove it.

Journey Stories . . . Coming to America

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Some people shake their heads when I tell them where I live. They know where Twin Falls is, but they have no clue where to find Jerome, Idaho.
Jerome is eleven miles northwest of Twin Falls, or as locals say, “North of the river.” Jerome is smaller, and not as busy as Twin, but Jerome has its distinct advantages.
Take for example the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition “Journey Stories.” This traveling exhibition is slated to visit up to 30 states and 180 communities through 2015. In Idaho, Jerome is one of two towns hosting the exhibition. The other town is Hailey.

Mobility is part of our American heritage. “Journey Stories” will try to answer some of the questions surrounding our mobility. Where are you from? What is your story? Why do we move? How do we move? Do you think changes in transportation have changed us as a nation? Why would people need to think about moving or exploring?

My own family moved from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Twin Falls, Idaho, in 1959 because my father hoped for a better job working as a serviceman for Sears. Coming from a farming community, Idaho seems to suit my family well. My parents are deceased, but my brothers and I still reside in Idaho. We have moved away from Twin Falls, but not very far. We seem tied to the land and the many adventures living in Idaho brings.

How did your grandparents come to America? Why did they come? If you have a travel story you would like to share, go to Journey Stories and share your story. And if you are near Jerome, Idaho, in December, drop by the Jerome Public Library anytime after December 11, 2010, to see this memorable exhibition.

Balancing life

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Those who know me know that I don’t write in July and August. Because, for me, writing requires that I set myself apart, enter a dreamlike world that creates a positive place where words and ideas flow. This is a selfish place and doesn’t accommodate “What’s for dinner?” or “Where are my shoes?” Some writers can write even when distracted, and I envy them, but when I sit down to write, I lose track of time. I forget to eat. I don’t like interruptions. And in July and August when my grandsons visit, I want to bake cookies, go swimming, and play.
This leads me to the topic of this post, balancing life and setting priorities. Today I’m sitting in my son’s living room in Hillsboro, Oregon, hanging with my grandsons while my son and daughter-in-law spend some much needed time alone. In a couple of days I will be back home, and back at my keyboard. As I check email and plan my September schedule, I am overwhelmed. One friend has uploaded a book to Smashwords, and is already selling copies. Another has sent a manuscript to her list of dream agents. Another is blogging about her latest release. Another is designing a trailer for her new book. When I look at everything my peers are doing, I feel inadequate, like a slack, because the only writing I have done in two months is write a blog.
If it sounds like I’m whining, I want you to know that I’m not. I’m just stating the facts. July and August belong to my family, and I have learned to schedule my writing time accordingly. Along with this, I’ve learned to use my time wisely, to be present in the moment so I don’t look back and say, “I wish I had . . ..”
Laurie Halse Anderson, the successful author of Speak, Prom, and Wintergirls touches on this topic in her own blog today. Laurie’s blog is thought-provoking not only for writers, but for everyone. Basically, it boils down to deciding what’s important, and then making time for it.
If you struggle with finding time to do something you love, hop over to Laurie’s blog ( for some wonderful suggestions to make that happen.

Looking for Ghosts at Stricker Ranch

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I have been blessed with a son who takes time from his crazy schedule to make sure my grandsons spend a good part of July with me every year. This isn’t easy because he has to load his three sons into a car and drive 8 1/2 hours to make this happen. Each year we do something fun and memorable. One year we went to Lagoon Amusement Park in Utah. Another year we painted birdhouses and made stepping-stones for the garden. This year, grandson Dante is big into ghost hunting so we took a trip out to the historic Rock Creek Station and Stricker homesite south of Hansen, Idaho. Besides a “haunted” house, there is an interpretive center at the site, and the Friends of Stricker, Inc. are restoring the old store, which is one of the oldest buildings in southern Idaho.
Stricker Ranch is a great place to learn about the Oregon Trail. Dante thinks it’s a great place to look for ghosts. Here he is his with his brother Dmitri hunting ghosts in a cellar once used to store food and supplies, as a jail, and reportedly for protection from Indians.

Bronte Sisters Rock

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I was probably ten years old when I first read Jane Eyre. I followed that quickly with Wuthering Heights, and even wrote a paper on the light and dark elements in Wuthering Heights when I was in college. These books remain my all time favorites, my go to books when I want to be transported. I still read them today, even though they were written over 150 years ago. I could go on and on about these wonderful classics, but I won’t. Instead, I’d like to share a video link my friend, Robin Lee Hatcher, posted on Facebook today. She did not make the video, she was just passing it on because it’s too good not to share. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Check it out: