year 2011 archives

The End

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I’ve just finished writing the ending paragraph to my latest novel. My head is numb; my butt is numb and for a moment I’m elated. It feels SO GOOD to reach the end of this journey. I call a friend to celebrate because she knows how exhilarating it is to write The End. But the minute I hang up the phone my emotions plunge back to reality. This is just the first draft. The nuts and blots of the story are in place. Maybe. Now comes the arduous task of editing and revising.
Some of my writer friends can whip out a book in six months, some even three. But this book has been percolating for several years. I have a file folder three inches thick of scenes I’ve deleted, or research I want to include, or should I say wanted to include as the story morphed to an end. My characters names have changed; I’ve honed their actions and reactions. I know them better than I know my siblings. But still, this book really isn’t finished.
Thus is the task of a writer. Formulating an idea strong enough to carry a book, writing more than 100,000 words. Writing, rewriting and rewriting. I’m not complaining. I love my job. I am so grateful to have friends and family who support my writing and me. I can’t think of a better way to end this year by typing THE END, knowing 2012 is just around the corner, and that this is really just the beginning. Thank you all so much for your support. You have no idea how much you mean to me as I hole away to write my stories.

May Santa bring you everything you want, especially a prosperous New Year.

There’s still time to submit your Idaho ghost story

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Okay, I know this year has sped by way too fast. Here it is December already and my 2011 to-do list still has many things left to do. I hope you’re in better shape. I also hope you are planning on submitting your Idaho ghost story to The Other Bunch Press before year-end. You can find guidelines here.

Where is your marketing plan?

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When I left my day job to pursue a career in writing, I didn’t know I’d spend so much time marketing my work. Like many starry-eyed beginners, I had visions of sitting all day at my desk, waxing words that moved readers to tears. Just as I had to learn how to structure a solid story, now I’m learning how to create a great marketing plan, which is usually the first thing an agent or editor asks when queried.
Dear Author, what are you going to do to market this book?
Wait, isn’t that the marketing department’s job?
Dear Author, times are tough. We have no marketing budget for your book. Where’s your marketing plan?
In an attempt to better understand the revolving world of marketing and publishing, I recently attended the Idaho Book Extravaganza in Boise, Idaho. The two-day event was exhausting in that this event focused on the how-tos of marketing, not the how-tos of writing.
Marketing is just another aspect of a writing career, and it was great fun to discuss the industry with good friends like author Kelly Jones, and publisher and editor of Idaho Magazine Kitty Fleischman.
What are you doing to develop your marketing plan?

Kitty Fleischman, Idaho Magazine
Kelly Jones with her new book, "The Woman Who Heard Color"

A Ghostly Affair, standing room only

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Marie Cuff discussing paranormal investigation

Almost 50 people turned out Oct. 15 to hear Marie Cuff of Boise, executive director of the International Paranormal Reporting Group, discuss paranormal activity in Idaho.
The International Paranormal Reporting Group has been serving Idaho and Oregon since 2000 and is a member of the TAPS organization.
The event, held at the Twin Falls County Historical Museum, was sponsored by Other Bunch Press to kick off submissions for its upcoming book, “Hauntings from the Snake River Plain.”
Cuff discussed the mission of the group, talked about different types of hauntings and shared audio and video clips from the group’s investigations.
Check out a news story on KMVT-TV about the event.

Canyon Rim BookFest 2011

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It was great to see so many Idaho authors in one place. The new arts building is beautiful, especially the views of the canyon!

Bonnie Dodge, Dixie Thomas Reale, Patricia Santos Marcantonio

Kelly Jones and Donna Fletcher Crow with their latest releases

A Ghostly Affair. Meet the Ghost Hunters

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Do you believe in ghosts?
Do you have a ghost story about Idaho to tell?
Join us for A Ghostly Affair, as Marie Cuff, Executive Director of the International Paranormal Reporting Group, and her team talk about paranormal activity in Idaho. The Other Bunch will provide details on submitting your ghost stories for its new book, Hauntings from the Snake River Plain. Marie and her team will be investigating historical Stricker Ranch the night before. Come find out what she found lurking in the dry cellar, if anything. This will be a fun event, and admission is free!

When: October 15, 2011
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Twin Falls Historical Museum
21337A US HWY 30, Filer, Idaho

Join us for an enlightening day and learn a little about the history of southern Idaho. Hope to see you there!

Canyon Rim Bookfest 2011

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Join me and over 20 Idaho Authors on October 1, 2011, for the Canyon Rim Bookfest. Admission is free. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. participants will share tips and tricks every author should know. The bookfest continues 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Twin Falls Center for the Arts, 195 River Vista Place, Twin Falls, Idaho. Call (208) 734-2787 for more information.

Tomatoes, Peppers and Ghosts

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Bright sunny days. Temperatures in the mid 70s perfect for long walks. Cucumbers, peppers and squash awaiting harvest in the garden. This is my favorite time of year, yellow and orange with a hint of winter in the air. Summer was filled with boys learning to shoot pellet guns, riding ATVs, swimming pools and fireworks. My oldest grandson, Dmitri, had his first lesson driving a car. It’s been a blessing watching everything grow, including Lucy, the grasshopper-batting cat. The unfinished manuscript sits, three chapters short of The End while I juice elderberries, can tomatoes and prepare flyers for our upcoming event, A Ghostly Affair. So quickly the summer passes. I am blessed. I am loved, and as friend John says, life is good.


We’re looking for your Idaho ghost stories

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Is your local library haunted? Does a ghost lurk in the shadows of your elementary school? If so, we want to hear from you. The Other Bunch Press is seeking ghost stories for its new anthology, Hauntings From the Snake River Plain.

All submissions must deal with hauntings or ghost stories that take or took place in Idaho. The book will be released in the fall of 2012.

For more information go to

We hope to hear from you!

Lidia Yuknavitch – The Chronology of Water

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I try to visit my son in Oregon once or twice a year. This year my visit coincided with a reading by the wonderful Lidia Yuknavitch. If you haven’t already read her book, The Chronology of Water, you can pick up a copy here.
Thanks, Lidia, for a wonderful reading.

The Writers’ Block and Me

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Please join Amanda Turner, host and producer of The Writers’ Block and me as we discuss my books and writing this Thursday, March 10 at 1 p. m. MT. Listen live at If you miss the broadcast, you can listen to it here.

Another place to buy Voices from the Snake River Plain

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I’m pleased to announce that you can now find Voices from the Snake River Plain, at the Herrett Center Store on the College of Southern Idaho campus. Stop by and check it out!

Alice Hoffman, Taylor Swift and Me

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If you know anything about me, you know that Alice Hoffman is one on my favorite authors. Now, before you turn your nose and dismiss me like a clerk in a bookstore did recently, let me tell you why.

I stumbled across Hoffman’s books years ago at a writer’s conference. Hoffman wasn’t there, and she wasn’t well known among the audience of genre writers. But an author whose work I admired commented on Hoffman’s books, and when I got home, I looked up Hoffman. I went to the library and read about her in the journals of literary criticism. I read all her published novels. Then I read them again. I took out pen and paper and rewrote some of her paragraphs to get a sense of her rhythm, voice, and style.

When I tried to tell my son the English professor why I liked Hoffman’s work, I could only falter and say, “When I read her books I feel like she is sitting across the kitchen table from me, and that we are drinking coffee and telling each other our truest secrets.” Not that her work was brilliant or sent me to the dictionary, or even avant-garde. Not that her writing was political, or historical or made me want to move to New York City or Massachusetts. But that her writing made me deal with my emotions, and do it honestly.

Wow. I wish someone would say that about my work.

This observation comes today because I just finished Hoffman’s latest novel, The Red Garden. Now, I have read every book Hoffman has published including the books for young adults, and at first this book didn’t speak to me. It is not a novel, but a collection of short stories that act as a novel. And if you read them fast, you miss the message each story contains. There isn’t much of a plot. Some of the characters lack motivation. But if you read them slowly and listen to the voice of the author and try to keep in mind the connection of the characters, you get to the underlying gist of the stories, an eerie sort of longing and contemplation about life and death. A Tree of Life that bears Look-No-Further fruit. I can usually finish a Hoffman book in one sitting. With this book, I had to slow down and let the simple, common, haunting words hit their mark. After reading “The Principles of Devotion,” I had to set the book aside for the rest of the day. It is one of the shorter stories in the book, but did it ever punch me in the gut. A dying sister, a loyal dog, small and unfulfilled wishes. Wow. I was so paralyzed by her words I had to stop reading.

This is not meant as a review of the book. I do not believe in critics’ reviews because each reader brings something different to a book or to a movie. Who’s to say which interpretation or experience is the better? What I’m trying to convey is how this author evoked my emotions. Did the book make me laugh? Yes, a couple of times. Did the book make me cry? Yes, once. Did the book make me feel? Absolutely, all the way to the end.

The same thing happens when I listen to the music of country and pop artist Taylor Swift. If I were fifteen and falling in love for the first time, I might be drawn to Taylor because she has spunk, energy, and charisma. But I’m nearer sixty and I’ll tell you what draws me to Taylor — her talent and ability to tell stories honestly.

I was first drawn to Taylor because I was writing about my 16-year-old protagonist Abbie Buchanan and wanted to capture the raw emotion of a teenager. When I would write about Abbie, I would put on Swift’s music from Fearless and let Abbie’s emotions bubble. In my Hoffman tradition, once I discovered Taylor, I devoured everything she released. For Christmas, I asked for and received her first album, Taylor Swift. I was expecting a so-so album since it contained songs Taylor wrote in her early teens. But these songs are as powerful as those in Speak Now and Fearless. I love Taylor’s songs and find myself waking up with them in my head. Like Hoffman, the stories Taylor tells stir my emotions. They make me remember I’m human, the elements of life–the breathing, the loving, the hating, the messing up, the forgiving and accepting.

And then there is me, inspired by these talented artists who dare to tell it like it is without any apologies, who inspire me to face each new day with enthusiasm and deepened insight.

To that I say, Wow. Absolutely, Wow. And a very gracious Thank You.