year 2016 archives

15 Things You May Not Know About Jamie Duclos-Yourdon

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Oregon has so many talented writers. Take for instance Jamie Duclos-Yourdon. Jamie, a freelance editor and technical expert, received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. His short fiction has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Underneath the Juniper Tree, and Chicago Literati, and he has contributed essays and interviews to Booktrib. Froelich’s Ladder (Forest Avenue, August 2016) is his debut novel. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Here are some things you may not know about Jamie.

 1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

 When I was a kid, my mom said to squeeze her hand if I ever saw anything unusual. She hoped to prevent an embarrassing observation (we lived in New York, after all; everything was unusual), but I spent my time scanning my surroundings—and if I couldn’t spot the obviously unusual thing, I’d identify the smallest discrepancy.

 2) What is your writing routine?

I wake up at 4:30 every day and write for an hour. I usually manage 300+ words, which is slightly more than a page. It doesn’t feel like much, but if you keep at it every day—seven days a week, with no exceptions—the material builds up pretty quickly.

 3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

Oh, gosh … I probably go through four or five drafts before I’m ready to share a manuscript with a publisher or an agent, and those drafts have already been vetted by my writing group. If a publisher or agent is interested, then I’ll undertake another two or three drafts. The story is always evolving (and, hopefully, improving).

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career?

Having my first five books rejected. Through Book #6, I was still doing my best Nick Hornsby impression—which isn’t necessarily a knock on Nick Hornsby. It took me a long time to recognize my own voice and even longer to trust it.

 5) What part of your job do you love the most?

I love Q&As with an audience. Even if I’ve heard a question before—and more often than not I haven’t—the context is always different, the underlying assumption is different, my mood is different, everything is different. I learn something new every time.

 6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on a novel?

I’m always reading, whether or not I’m working on new material. I mostly stick to fiction, with a few news sources to keep me informed. I’m really picky, in terms of the former (and the latter, I suppose), and I don’t like to reread novels or short stories; additionally, I don’t feel guilty putting down a book after 50 pages. So my reading process is like no, no, no, no, no, YES, no, YES, YES, no, no, no …

7) What was the best advice you received as a writer?

A professor of mine once said, “Learn what you write and when you write.” If you write flash fiction, cool, write flash fiction. If you write 150,000-word novels, then do that instead. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Same goes for whatever time of day suits your creative process: find it and stick to it.

8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

I took a fiction workshop with Aurelie Sheehan when I was twenty-four. She read one of my short stories and said, “Oh, you write about responsibility!” That observation had a profound effect on my writing.

 9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

I’ve had a storyteller on my desk since 2001—a ceramic figurine of a Pueblo Indian, mid-story, surrounded by her children. I’ll be devastated when I eventually, inevitably drop and break her.

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I have absolutely no idea. Drunk?

11) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

Samuel Beckett said it best: Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

 12) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I’m currently at work on my tenth novel, a Mesopotamian ghost story about death and grieving and talking crows and ancient Sumer.

13) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

In January of 2002, an agent at ICM expressed interest in my first novel. I thought, “Yay, this is it! The big time!” and spent the next six months sitting on my ass. I’d love to get that time back.

14) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Read everything. Write constantly. Be on the lookout for a mentor. Don’t assume debt for an MFA. Find community and earn your inclusion. Success isn’t zero-sum. Listen to what your readers have to say. There’s nothing wrong with adverbs. Writers make boring protagonists. Know what your characters want and what prevents them from getting it. Study screenwriting to learn three-act structure. What seems natural and obvious to you is completely foreign to the rest of the world. You are a writer. You are a writer. You are a writer.

15) Something we don’t know about you?

I’ll be the Keynote Speaker at the 2017 South Coast Writers Conference February 17–18.

And: what’d you like us to know about your latest release:

Froelich nurses a decades-old family grudge from his permanent perch atop a giant ladder in this nineteenth century madcap adventure novel, Froelich’s Ladder. When he disappears suddenly, his nephew embarks on a rain-soaked adventure across the Pacific Northwest landscape to find him, accompanied by an ornery girl with a most unfortunate name. In their encounters with Confederate assassins, European expatriates, and a general store magnate, this fairytale twist on the American dream explores the conflicts between loyalty and ambition and our need for human connection, even at the highest rungs.

If you’re still scrambling to find the perfect Christmas present, consider Jamie’s new book from Forest Avenue Press.

Happy Holidays!

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454 Days Later

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I’ve been quiet and you probably think I fell into the ocean or got blown away by coastal storms. But no, I’m still here, learning all I can about my new home.

The reason I’ve been silent is that I’ve been busy. For a tiny dot on the map between Yachats and Lincoln City, Newport’s population is about the same as the town I left in Idaho. If you want a Costco or a Lowe’s you have to drive several miles, just like I did in Idaho. But unlike the town I left behind, there is so much more to do here I barely have time to read, let alone write.

Check out the latest issue of Oregon Coast Today and you will see there is always something going on. Add to that everything happening in The Valley between here and Portland and there is no time to be bored. Ever.

Take for instance last weekend. Since I don’t like to drive Portland traffic my son quietly obliged, taking me to Portland’s annual book festival Wordstock. I was so revitalized I’m still vibrating. My favorite author, Alice Hoffman, was in town and spoke about her new book Faithful. She even signed my copy and thanked me for stopping by. So many other talented writers attended, not to mention many Oregon presses including Ooligan Press, Tin House, and my favorite, Laura Stanfill from Forest Avenue Press. If that wasn’t great enough, admission to the event included admittance to the Portland Art Museum and the Andy Warhol exhibit. Now my son was vibrating, snapping pictures and studying one-of-a-kind art. Yes, it was raining. But in spite of the rain, it was a positive, energizing day.

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That evening my family took in The Drowsy Chaperone, a musical put on by my grandson Dante’s high school class. The students were top notch, high energy, and amazing. The day ended with dinner at The Ram and a glass of wine. Perfect.

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Many people told me I was crazy to move to Oregon. Several said I’d get depressed and miss the sun. And even though I miss my friends in Idaho, and sometimes I do miss the sun, mostly I love it here. Even when it’s raining.

Back Roading Beaver Creek to Toledo

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We’ve always been explorers, enjoying the back roads of Idaho and now Oregon. We’re not cityites who like to stare at window displays or order lattes. We like to travel back roads, sip home-brewed coffee, and enjoy the scenery.

Knowing we liked quiet places for our dogs to run, a neighbor told us to check out the road from Beaver Creek to Toledo. “It’s mostly gravel,” he said, “and it’s easy to get lost. There isn’t much traffic. Nice drive, though.”

Enjoying a challenge, we filled our coffee mugs, gathered our dogs, headed south on 101, and turned east toward Beaver Creek. We turned left where the road teed and stopped at the Beaver Creek Welcome Center, hoping they’d have a map of the area.

No maps, just a volunteer. “Follow that road,” he said. “Stay left.” He pondered a moment. “Turns to gravel. Think it’s twenty or thirty miles. Been a while since I drove it. If you get lost, you can always turn around and come back.”

We looked at each other. Turning back was rarely an option. Not when we wanted to see something new.

After considerable conversation, we waved a cheerful goodbye and followed the road. Within minutes we stopped at a small park with a picnic table and a large area for the dogs to run. While the dogs sniffed bushes, we picked blackberries and chomped on half-ripe apples from a nearby tree.

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“Yuk.” I spit out the bitter fruit.

“Just right,” my husband said happily.

We rounded up the dogs, got back in the truck, and continued on.

No cars tried to pass us. No trucks met us head-on. The only vehicle on the road, we traveled slowly enjoying the drive, heavy with vegetation on both sides of the road.

“Reminds me of the road to Fall Creek,” I said, commenting on the dense undergrowth. But instead of seeing obelisks of mullein and ponderosa pine, the shoulders of these roads were thick with evening primrose, foxglove, and purple loosestrife. I gawked out the window trying to identify the plants: Queen Anne’s Lace, mountain ash, ocean spray, and wild rose. Many more varieties than I would see traveling the gravel road from Fall Creek to Featherville, which held mostly fern and pine.

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“Look,” my husband said as two velveted buck dashed in front of us. He hit the brakes and we watched them dart into the trees. We knew they were watching us, waiting for us to leave. But try as we might, we couldn’t spy an eye or an antler.

Moving on, it wasn’t long before we hit gravel. The vegetation grew thicker, canopying the narrow road. Blackberry vines reached toward the truck, each branch heavy with green berries. We were driving into a jungle, secluded and uninhabited, with no signs to guide us.

“Wonder if we should turn around?” my husband said, recalling the words of the Beaver Creek volunteer. Unwilling to give up, we moved forward, deeper into the forest.

“Must be on the right road,” my husband said when we finally spotted a mile marker that looked lost on the gravel road.

“How many miles did he say?” I asked.

“Twenty or thirty.”

We’d been driving almost an hour, but I couldn’t judge mileage. We were moving slow, sometimes five miles an hour, up, then down, wind around a corner. Wind around another corner so dark with shade we couldn’t see the sun.

Climbing again, we broke out onto a sunny hilltop. The panorama of the valley was jaw-dropping, worth the worry of getting lost.

“I know where we are now,” my husband said. “Toledo is right over there.”

Leaving the forest behind, we headed down. Minutes later we were on familiar asphalt again.

“Not even twenty miles,” my husband said.

“Not bad at all,” I said. “Perfect way to spend an afternoon.”

And the very best part of the drive was that we didn’t once have to turn around.

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Goodbye, Nye Beach Writers Series. It was good to know you.

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For more than thirty years my vacation destination was the Oregon Coast. Leaving behind stressful jobs and busy schedules, my husband and I drove to the coast, almost every year, usually in late September or early October. We’d rent a vacation home overlooking the ocean and do nothing. Well, not really nothing. He’d golf and I’d either write or read. We’d take long walks on the beach, or just sit back and watch the sun set. We loved the quiet easy-going pace we found here and a chance to unwind and recharge before heading back to the real world in Idaho.

If you know anything about the Oregon Coast, you know there is always something happening here, either in Lincoln City or all the way down the coast to Florence. Even after all those trips, we never had time to do everything we wanted to do. Often we would leave saying next time I’m going to ….

One of the things I always wanted to do was attend one of the writer’s events back when they were still held in Yachats. But I could never fit it into our schedule.

When we moved to Oregon, one of the first things I did was attend a Writers on the Edge event at Nye Beach. It wasn’t long before I joined the board and became more involved in the organization.

A strong writing community is one of the reasons I moved to Newport. After thirty years, I still feel like I’m seeing the ocean for the first time. And every day I spend here, I learn to love Oregon more.

For our final event, Writers on the Edge will host Johnny Bargain on June 18 at 7 p.m. at the Visual Arts Center on Nye Beach. If you’re in the area, please stop by and help us celebrate a wonderful organization. And just in case you are interested, here are some things you may not know about our next author, Johnny Bargain.

11 things you may not know about JOHNNY BARGAIN

1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

The stories from my past were circling in my head. I’d wanted to write a letter to my friend’s 18-year-old son who had been gunned down in the 1960s by the police as he rode his Harley Sportster in Rosebank, Staten Island. Three bullet holes punctured the boy’s back, for no good reason at all. I wanted Stitch to know he had not been forgotten even though 50 years have gone by. The memories weighed heavily and I couldn’t shake them.

Over time, I mentioned some of the incidents to Carla Perry, publisher at Dancing Moon Press and she suggested that I record them on a tape recorder since I didn’t have the patience, eyesight, or ability to write them out on paper and I don’t have a computer. She said the stories were tragic, appalling, poignant, eye opening, and funny, and that they provided a glimpse into the world of motorcycle clubs and gangs that was unlike anything she’d encountered before.

So I headed down to California for a three-day biker party and by day ten, I’d managed to record several stories. Carla transcribed the recordings when I returned, but she said more stories were needed to flesh out a full book. When I said I couldn’t remember more, she suggested I create a map of my Rosebank neighborhood — the bars, Dapper Dan’s motorcycle shop, the houses where I lived, the police station, the location of the murders, the location of infamous parties, the cemetery where Stitch was buried, and the various motorcycle club headquarters. Each time I drew a building or marked an X on the map, stories flooded out, clear as the day they’d happened. So, I headed south again for another biker party and came home with plenty of material.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

I clear the space in my head by inhaling sweet weed, think of an incident from my past, turn on the tape recorder, and start talking.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

Carla Perry prepared three drafts for me. The first was to make sure the information was correctly transcribed and that I was okay with the short story titles. The second was to put the stories in order and correct name spellings. The third was the final draft. The cover designer, Sarah Gayle, also drew cartoonish maps to illustrate the locations where the stories took place, so those are interspersed throughout the book.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best thing was getting the stories out of my head so I don’t have to remember them anymore. I feel a sense of freedom knowing I’ve done what I hoped to do – reconnect with Stitch by writing this book dedicated to him. The worst thing is there are still more stories I’d like to get down on paper. Maybe there will be a volume 2.

5) What part of your job do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?

I can’t write longhand anymore because my eyesight is not so good and I will never use a computer, so talking into the tape recorder worked great for me. Telling stories from my past is not a job. It’s something I’m compelled to do to make peace with my early life.

6) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

The best advice was when Carla Perry suggested I draw a map of my neighborhood. That was amazing. Every street corner, every bar and tavern, the cafes, the movie theater, the houses my friends lived in, every building, park, church, and school contained vivid stories from my life in Rosebank, Staten Island. It was like taping into full-color movies of what went on in the 1960s. I could remember conversations, the sounds, the smells. It was all there, hidden away in my memory.

7) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

I just speak it out so my writing style is just the same way I talk. Except it’s a little more cleaned up through the editing process.

8) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I’m a retired building engineer. I’m an artist of three-dimensional representations that hang from the ceilings and walls. I’m already 80 years old. I never planned to become a published author.

9) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

“If I don’t see you real soon, I’ll see you down the road someday.” (lyrics from “Car Outside” © Jimmy LaFave.)
“I’m surprised you’re alive.” – Fred, a member of Johnny’s Yoga class.

10) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

Maybe more stories. Volume 2 of “A Collection of Bummer Summers.”

11) What would you like us to know about your latest release?

The absolutely true stories of my life are in that book.

Robert Hill is a New Englander by birth, a west coaster by choice, and an Oregonian by osmosis. As a writer, he has worked in advertising, entertainment, educational software and not-for-profit fundraising. He is a recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts Walt Morey Fellowship and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellowship.

Here are some things you may not know abut Robert.

1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

I initially became a writer because it was a way to connect with my mother who was a writer. Later, I became a writer because it was a profound way to connect with myself.

Early on I wrote great 2-page murder and mayhem stories for class assignments in which all my classmates (and myself) met with horrific ends on school field trips to haunted houses. I think I learned how to captivate an audience doing those. Later, I wrote clever (if I say so myself) verse in the vein of Ogden Nash and Dorothy Parker (yeah, dream on, Robert), some of which got printed in small, off-beat literary magazines that have since become bird cage liners. Professionally, I wrote advertising copy for over 20 years, first for general merchandise, then for movies (trailers, posters, home video package copy), plus a few “edutainment” software learning games, and then moved on to writing grants for non-profits. I didn’t sit down to write my first novel until I was 42, and that was the first fiction I’d written in more than 20 years. (Unless you count grant writing, which is 90% fiction. Ahem.)

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

My writing routine is to avoid writing as much as possible until I burst like a boil and have to get it out and onto the page. Once I sit down to it, I have to stick with whatever the arc is that I’m working on, be it a sentence or paragraph or chapter, and I cannot get up from it until I feel I’ve landed it. This can take a long time. I write out loud, often speaking the words as my fingers type them, but always reading everything back out loud many times, because I need to hear where the voice carries a word or clause, how two particular words rub up against one another, and especially, I have to hear the whole thing move towards the landing. It’s a kind of OCD, but until I hear these things the way my brain dictates they have to sound, I can’t get up from the keyboard.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

I’m constantly editing as I’m writing, so I don’t think in terms of drafts so much. Sometimes the editing is about shifting blocks of things around, moving moments from early on to later, things like that. More often than not I kill a few darlings (always a painful thing to do) in the revision process when I see that they do not serve the whole piece. After that, editing is more or less on the micro level – a word here, a clause there.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best thing was discovering that I had a particular voice, which I did not realize I had. In fact, I don’t think I ever really knew to have a voice until I was in Tom Spanbauer’s Dangerous Writers workshop and the emphasis was totally on voice. Tom and the other writers in the room saw what I could do, encouraged me to push it, and helped me realize something surprising in myself. I don’t think I’ve had a “worst” moment in my writing career. It’s writing. It’s putting words on a page, hopefully with emotion, that readers will enjoy. Neither my life nor anyone else’s is on the line, though. If no one wants to publish it, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not like going hungry, or having a terminal illness. There’s always another blank page and new words to start over with.

5) What part of your job do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?

I love when something surprising comes out of me that I did not know was in me. I hate when something totally banal comes out; but then love comes back when I toss out the banal and start over and something wonderful takes its place.

6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on a novel? Favorite authors?

I read mostly literary fiction. I belong to a book group that’s been meeting for close to 15 years. About half the group are writers; all are serious literature lovers. So we read as much for content as style and try to expand our horizons with international writers as often as possible. I say that, but give me an American novel about the dark side of the American Dream and I couldn’t be happier. I’m always reading. I read more than I write. Some favorite authors, in no particular order: John Cheever, Willa Cather, Elena Ferranti, Nelson Algren, Philip Roth, Dawn Powell, J. M. Coetzee, James Salter, Christopher Isherwood, George Saunders, Edith Wharton…

7) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

Best: shut up and write.

Worst: you should read x book which tells you how to write a best-selling novel.

8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

Probably John Cheever. He wrote poetry disguised as prose and I admire that.

9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

No, none. No, none. No, none. (Unless having to say or do things three times could be considered a superstition.)

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I used to want to be an architect, and maybe somewhere deep in me I still do. Although, to be honest, I no longer think in those terms of “if I could do it over again, I’d do X or Y…” If I really wanted to do X or Y, I’d do X or Y. But I enjoy writing. I’m good at it. It’s brought lovely things to my life – people, experiences. I have no desire to fold back time and erase what I’ve come to love.

11) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

“I’ll have a tall dark roast, no room, please.”

12) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I’m working on a novel about a middle aged man who discovers that the mother he thought had been executed for murder when he was a small child has been in jail all this time, and is now being paroled into his custody. The novel follows how they develop a relationship at such a late stage in life, how it affects the relationships he has with the aunt and grandfather who raised him, and about who he is as a man. It’s very much an exploration of self-identity. The working title is Unfinished.

13) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

I’m tempted to say I would have started writing fiction sooner, but honestly, I wasn’t mature enough to write about relationships, death, complicated emotions when I was in my 20s, nor yet in my 30s. I guess I was a late bloomer. So it’s not really something I could change.

14) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Write what you want to write because you love the craft of writing, not because you have dreams of fame and riches. You spend an awful lot of time alone in your head to create, so you better enjoy the process. Thinking about having to sell your work will only get in the way of creating your work, so stop it! Also, because it’s just you at that keyboard, you can say anything you want to say. No one has to ever read it if you don’t want it read. Push yourself to be honest, if that’s what you’re striving for. Don’t grind axes, nor sugar coat anything. And if you’re sitting down to write the story of your childhood/marriage/break-up/whatever, because you’ve told yourself the story so many times there will be no surprise in it for you if you write it as you’ve always thought it in your head. So do this instead: write it from another person’s point of view. Write the story you don’t know and you’ll discover something profound in the process.

15) Something we don’t know about you?

I am on dialysis, and awaiting a kidney transplant. Any 0-positive donors out there…?

And: what would you like us to know about your latest release?

The Remnants is about people in a small town who’ve spent their lives trying to connect in whatever way they can, all the while knowing that theirs is the last generation and after they are gone, their town, their history, the memories of them, will be gone forever. It’s sad and funny, hopeful, spiritual, and full of my favorite kind of writing: the run-on sentence. To me, the story of mankind, as it is manifest in the novel, is one long run-on sentence, with the past, present and future alive in a single moment.

The Remnants (Forest Avenue, 2016) follows When All Is Said and Done (Graywolf, 2006)Robert’s debut novel, which was shortlisted for the Oregon Book Awards’ Ken Kesey Award for Fiction.

 

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A few things you may not know about Rob Yardumian

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Newport, Oregon, has an active literary community. This Saturday, May 21,  ROB YARDUMIAN will read at the Nye Beach Writers Series in the Nye Beach Visual Arts Center. at 7 p.m.

Rob is a fiction writer living in Portland, Oregon. The Sound of Songs Across the Water is his first novel, and Sing With Me, Brother, For We Have Sinned is the accompanying album of original music. His short fiction has appeared in The Southern Review, The Antioch Review, The New Orleans Review, and other literary magazines. He has an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, and he is currently working on his second novel, Rider Keene.

Here are some things you may not know about Rob.

1) Why did you become a writer? How did you get started?

When I was in my twenties I worked at a record label in Los Angeles. I was asked by one of our graphic designers to contribute a couple of pages to an art project they were putting together. I wrote two one-page stories as my contributions. Although the book was never published, it kindled my interest in fiction, and I kept writing from there.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

I write all day on Saturdays and Sundays, and a few hours on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Discipline is not a problem for me, as I’d rather be writing than just about anything else I could do on a weekend.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

I typically write two complete drafts, then ask my readers to review the book and give me feedback. I’ll do another draft or two after that.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career?

Getting an MFA helped me learn how to edit my own work. I’d say that’s a critical skill any serious writer must learn fairly early in the process.

5) What do you like to read? Favorite authors?

Jim Crace, Glen Duncan, Denis Johnson

6) What was the best advice you received as a writer?

“Get black on white.”

7) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

My second novel, Rider Keene, is in its third draft. I hope to begin shopping it this fall.

8) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Take notes on the books you read. Write down what you liked or didn’t like about them. What worked or didn’t work and why? What would have made it better? What kind of choices would that have required from the author? Why do you think he/she didn’t make that choice? What would you have done differently? Even if the book wasn’t a success, pick out one or two things about it that did work and explain why you liked them.

9) Something we don’t know about you?

My family has two boys, two dogs, and four cats. And next year we’re getting chickens.

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Probably a criminal mastermind with houses on three continents and a stable of flashy cars. Or a doughnut maker. I like doughnuts.

For more information about Rob, go to http://robyardumian.com

 

Writing a Good Book

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Check out my post on Resources for Independent Authors. Today we are talking about making your manuscript better with self-editing. Lots of interesting information on Kathy Gaudry’s site for writers.

Getting to Know You

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Plants have always been my passion. You’re more likely to find me outside playing in the dirt instead of indoors sitting in front of the TV or holding a book. For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in plants. What is it? Does it have medicinal purposes? Can you eat it? Moving to the Oregon Coast, then, has been this gardener’s dream. Here, if you want something to grow, just toss it on the ground, forget about it and a week later it will be an established plant. In southern Idaho if you tossed a plant on the ground, it was destined to die.

As an Idaho Master Gardener I know a lot about plants. But here in Oregon I feel like I’ve dropped down the rabbit hole. My head bobs at every step as I try to identify plants I’ve never seen before. Like the large bush that attracts birds and borders my yard on the north. The plant is prolific; I see it everywhere. But it took a trip to the county extension office to learn that the plant is a wax myrtle. I didn’t know that the pretty yellow plant along the side of the road is scotch broom and that it’s invasive. I was familiar with perennial geraniums but didn’t know that Herb Robert was not the same as cranesbill geranium even though they look alike. Is it an azalea or a rhododendron? What makes them different?

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My yard is a wonderland of new discoveries. I knew I had a lot of blackberries bordering my lawn, but I didn’t know that I also had salmonberry, thimbleberry and evergreen huckleberries, not to mention the salal that grows like trees.

A walk through my neighborhood is truly a walk in the forest. Trilliums. Yellow skunk cabbage. English daisies and woodland strawberries that cover the ground instead of grass. Western buttercups and lewisia. Each forward step offers a mystery to be solved.

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Moving to Oregon has been a grand adventure and I’ve enjoyed getting to know all about the plants that grow in my yard and neighborhood. With the ocean just down the road, I’m eager to start learning the names of the interesting treasures I find on the beach.

 

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15 Things You May Not Know About Paula Marie Coomer

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Paula Marie Coomer began life in Louisville, Kentucky, and lived most of her childhood in the industrial Ohio River town of New Albany, Indiana. The daughter of over 200 years of south-central Kentuckians, she is a predictable mix of Cherokee, African, Scot, and a dash of English Puritan. Her fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in many journals, anthologies, and publications, including Spilt Infinitive, Perceptions, Gargoyle, and Knock, to name only a few.

Coomer has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, was writer-in-residence for Fishtrap, Oregon’s much-loved advocacy program for literature in the West, and has been a visiting scholar for the Idaho Commission for Libraries since 2002. She is a former long-time instructor of English for Washington State University, and was commissioned as an officer of the U.S Public Health Service, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander before she resigned her commission in 1995, ostensibly to be a writer.

I’ve known Paula for several years and am excited to host her here today. She’s a great friend, an awesome teacher, and is always eager to talk about writing. Here are fifteen things you may not know about Paula Marie Coomer.

1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

My first memories have to do with my awareness of myself as an observer. I wrote my first book at the age of four. No one else could understand what I had written, but I could. I even sewed a sort of binding with needle and thread—which I got in trouble for.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

    1. If I’m doing research or composing a new draft, I’m usually in an isolated situation. Usually I go to the Inn in the Idaho mountains where I am in writer-in-residence (which is how I got to BE writer-in-residence). I hole myself up for as long as I can—usually at least 4 days. I’m fully focused. I do nothing besides eating (and very sparsely, at that) or getting up and moving occasionally.
    2. If I’m revising, I usually work in my studio at home half a day, beginning almost as soon as I get up. Then half a day on the other things I have to do—the paying job, author gigs, etc. At times during this phase I hire a housekeeper and an assistant to free up my time for the writing hours.
    3. If I’m doing edits, I spend mornings at a local coffee shop working. For some reason at the level of line edits, it helps to have background noise.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

That varies completely. My novel Dove Creek took 15 drafts. The 16th draft sold. Blue Moon Vegetarian took 3 drafts. Jagged Edge of the Sky took four. Single poems can take 10-20 drafts. Short stories can take a dozen drafts. I tend to write in layers, rather obviously.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

It broke my heart a little bit when I realized I was never going to be a New York writer, living in Greenwich Village, part of the U.S. “g-literati.” But that turned out to be the best possible thing, because I have a great independent publishing house at my back. They give me infinite freedom as an artist, and they like me enough to give me a job that allows me the time I need to keep writing. I have a decent following, and people love what I write. I’m so busy I can’t even imagine being any busier in my writing career. I really couldn’t ask for anything better.

5) What part of your job do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?

I love the serendipity. The way, when I’m working on a story or a book, the pieces just come to me, show up in my life in the most random of ways. What I dislike the most is the effect it’s had on my body. Luckily now I have a standing desk, so I rotate between sitting and standing, but writing is really, really hard on the body. We were not designed to sit for long periods of time.

6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on a novel? Favorite authors?

I mostly read according to whatever I’m researching for the next book. Right now my stack of reading material looks like the course requirements for an herbalism class or a course on mountaineering. I’m preparing to write a follow-up for the Blue Moon food book series focused on the healing nature of plants. This is also research for my next novel, which features a mountain woman who is a healer. Otherwise, I have a few living favorites—Lidia Yuknavitch and Lance Olsen are my literary heroes. I also do presentations at regional libraries so often I have a novel I’m reading for that. Otherwise, I try to read a few poetry books now and again. I don’t read any mainstream books or authors. Most of the books I read are written by women. I prefer the voices of women writers.

7) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

      1. Best: Don’t give up. If you keep writing, someone will publish you.
      2. Worst: Teaching gives you control of your time. It will give you time to write. The truth is that teaching sucks your life force and your creativity and gives you very little in return; however, to donate yourself to the world in this way is very noble and to some extent a necessary part of mastering your craft.

8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

Lance Olsen, Ray Federmann, Lidia Yuknavitch.

9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

I have lots. First, I have feathers and rocks everywhere. A feather in your path is a blessing. The always present themselves to me at difficult times. Rocks possess certain energies. If I’m drawn to the energy of a certain rock, I always pick it up. I have certain types of gems and semi-precious stones that are meant to absorb bad energy. Occasionally I soak them in water and sea salt to cleanse them. I regularly smudge the house with sweetgrass, sage, or cedar.

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

A visual artist.

11) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

From the I-Ching: Perseverance furthers.

12) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I have a new novel finished. It’s very, very experimental, and I have no idea if anyone will want to publish it. I have a collection of essays and one of short stories that both need final revision. Then I have the 2 final books in the Blue Moon series, Blue Moon Medicine Woman and Blue Moon Folkways in the Kitchen. What is that 5? Five books in process, a book of poems I’m slowly working on, and research for the next novel.

13) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

I don’t really know. I don’t have much in the way of regrets.

14) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Let writing change your life.

15) Something we don’t know about you?

I spent two summers of my life picking fruit in California and Oregon, living out of the back of a pickup. It was the most horrible work but the people I worked with made it worthwhile. Stories I still haven’t told.

And: What would you like us to know about your latest release?

Jagged Edge of the Sky is the story of two women, one Australian and one American, who both go outside their marriages almost on the same day and with the same handsome, mixed-blood aboriginal man. The situation tears the Australian family apart; the American family keeps it secret. At once a women’s story, an immigrant story, and a family saga, the most important message the book delivers is about the despicable state of mental health services in our country.

 

 

Emily McIntyre writes about her dreams . . .

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Sawtooth City in the late 1800s. Photo courtesy Community Library Regional History Department

Since April is national poetry month, Emily McIntyre wants to share a poem with you. Emily grew up in the gritty mining camps of Saw Tooth City and Rocky Bar, Idaho Territory, in the 1870s. She lived in a log cabin and carried water from nearby Beaver Creek. She was a great companion to Lizzie and George Harmon until the nefarious Kerry Chapman Troupe came to entertain the miners in the spring of 1882.

Back East there is a better life,
No digging in the dirt,
Or staring in a miner’s pan
Until your eyelids hurt.
A place where parasols are made
Of Paris silk so fine,
A place where steamboats paddle by,
A place that I’d call mine.
Back East is where I wish to go—
I’d like to run away
From all these mountains, trees, and chores.
Back East is where I’d stay.
Somewhere there is another sky
That’s just this shade of blue,
Somewhere back East, away from here,
Where all your dreams come true.
Emily Ann McIntyre
Saw Tooth City
April 29, 1882

 

You can read all about Emily’s journey in Goldie’s Daughter.

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PERFECTLY IMPERFECT

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I’m happy to announce that Waiting will be part of an ebook boxed set with two other great books, Goddess of Suburbia, by Stephanie Kepke and The Paris Effect, by K.S.R Burns. Thank you to our wonderful publisher Booktrope for this opportunity, and to Michelle Fairbanks for the fantastic cover.

Here’s the scoop on this exciting new project:

The Perfectly Imperfect boxed book set consists of three novels about strong women in transition.

Suburbia meets scandal in Stephanie Kepke’s Goddess of Suburbia, a hopeful and honest portrayal of that moment in every woman’s life when it’s time to make a change, even if that means risking losing it all. When pillar of the community and PTA mom, Max, finds herself embroiled in an Internet scandal, she must learn to stop living her life on auto-pilot or forever remain a suburban lemming running toward the cliff of old age. This story is a must-read for women looking to reconnect with their passions and live authentically.

In Bonnie Dodge’s Waiting, three generations of Foster women, senior citizen Maxine, attention-seeker Grace, and aspiring artist Abbie, think they are nothing alike. But they all share a secret. They wait. For love, for attention, for life, for death. In their journeys between despair and happiness, they learn there are worse things than being alone. Like waiting for the wrong person’s love. With sensitivity and humor, Waiting carries readers into the hearts of three women who learn that happiness comes from within.

In K. S. R. Burns’s highly praised debut novel, The Paris Effect, a food-obsessed young woman sneaks away to Paris without telling anyone. Not even her husband. Once there, she’s robbed, stalked, arrested, and kidnapped (almost). Worse, she finds that her numerous issues have come right along with her. Grab a croissant and settle in for a decidedly non-touristy trip to the City of Light.

An amazing deal for three terrific stories in one ebook. For updates on our release date, launch parties, and more, like the Perfectly Imperfect Facebook page. Be sure to check the page often.

Lost in Atlanta Places 3rd in Contest

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My short story, Lost in Atlanta, placed third in the 2016 Idaho Magazine Adult Fiction contest. The story is about two women who get lost looking for information about Peg-Leg Annie.

FEISTY AFTER 45 The Best Blogs From Midlife Women

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My blog, Facing Another Birthday with Humor, is in this best-selling anthology just released from Mill Park Publishing. You can get your copy here.

13 Things You May Not Know About Evan Morgan Williams

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Today I’m talking with EVAN MORGAN WILLIAMS, who will read Saturday, March 19, 2016, at 7 p.m. at the Nye Beach Writers Series in the Nye Beach Visual Arts Center, Newport, Oregon.

Williams’ stories are works of realistic fiction, set mainly in the Pacific Northwest, often on the Pacific shore. His stories deal with people making difficult choices, choices that invariably mean tugging or loosening the ties that bind. An award-wining author, Williams has published over forty stories in such magazines as Witness, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, and ZYZZYVA. He has an MFA from the University of Montana, and has taught in a public school for over twenty years. Most recently, he has held a Writers in the Schools residency, an AWP Writer to Writer mentorship, and gave the inaugural reading in Eastern Oregon University’s revived Ars Poetica Visiting Writer Series.

Hi Evan, tell us some more about you.

1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

I have always felt that writing was a calling. In college, when I read the short story collections of Barry Lopez, this was made particularly clear to me. I got started by writing stories that probably sounded like cheap knock-offs, though earnestly done at the time. That was a very long time ago.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

My writing routine is to write in the early hours of a weekend morning and for a little while after work during the week. Sometimes, I’ll go out on a Saturday night to a quiet venue to write. My discipline is highly variable; I’m not as disciplined as I should be. I work better when I’m facing a deadline or working with others, as in a writing group. Like everyone, I’m challenged by distractions online. I recently deleted my Facebook, and that has been very helpful.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

My book is a collection of stories, and I revise exhaustively. Most of my stories have been drafted and revised over the course of many years. Sometimes, rarely, a story will come to me fully formed, so to speak, and in this case the revision process goes pretty quickly.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best thing that happened with my writing career was the discovery, after many important and formative experiences such as an MFA program and working with a mentor in Portland, that I could write a story that resonated with my internal vision all by myself, and that others would like it too. A few of my most well-received stories never went through any workshop or critique, ever. Of course, I’m not opposed to those processes; they have been extremely helpful, too.

The worst thing that happened was my own fault, spending about 8 years doing almost no writing after I graduated from my MFA program. I was teaching middle school and throwing myself into it, but I was getting a diminishing return. By the time I went back to writing, I was extremely rusty, starting from scratch.

5) What part of your job do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?

The part I love the most is when a story acquires a sense of compelling reality that feels more real than the reality that surrounds me. I have heard athletes talk about “flow” or “being in the zone,” and I think this must be something akin to that.

The part I dislike the most is structuring narrative out of raw notes. Plotting a story remains the part I resist the most. It is hard labor, a battle between commitment and skepticism. I have a few tricks to make it go better, but it’s still extremely difficult.

6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on a novel? Favorite authors?

Reading is a necessary component of writing new work. It is a reciprocal process. You get ideas from what you’re reading, and you read differently when you’re writing. My all-time favorite authors are Hemingway, Barry Lopez, and Garcia-Marquez. This year, I’m trying to read the entire catalog of Propellor Press, a small press in Portland, Oregon.

7) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

The best advice was from a retired editor at Esquire, who was teaching a class at the University of Montana. He had four pieces of essential advice, of which I only remember two, but I go back to them all the time: 1) Know your own secret and 2) Seize form. I like the advice because it is suitably vague that I can bend it to my purposes. But it is also rigorous; one has to maintain certain disciplines.

The worst advice was probably something that someone said during a badly run writing workshop.

8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

I wouldn’t say that my writing sounds like Hemingway, not even close, but reading Hemingway’s stories taught me how the flow of language on the page doesn’t just relate a story in a neutral way, but rather becomes the story.

9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

I have a “special pen” that I found in a load of used office supplies that the BLM donated to my school. It’s somebody’s retirement pen, with a tortoise shell finish and gold accents. The lettering on the side said something about the “Interagency Fire Team,” but it has worn off.

10) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I am working on a neo-noir novel, set in 1980s Los Angeles, about a young Japanese interpreter who gets caught up in someone else’s scheme. I am still early in the process, but I enjoy the convenience of noir: everyone is corrupt, compromised, complicated. Every character is capable of contradicting their type.

11) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

If I could turn back time, I would buy that beautiful Craftsman house at 23d and Sherman for 67k in 1994.

12) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Write a lot. Read a lot. Immerse yourself in a supportive community of writers, and give as much as you get. Develop a thick skin because there will be a lot of rejection, but also develop a strong internal editor because a lot of that rejection will be deserved. Be very clear on how ambitious you want to be; the writers who get published have worked really hard to make it happen.

13) Something we don’t know about you?

I believe that cake is tawdry and that pie is sacrament.

And: what’d you like us to know about your latest release:

My book of stories, Thorn, is realistic fiction, set mainly in the Pacific Northwest. It features an ethnically diverse cast of characters: men, women, rich folks and poor, each having to make difficult choices. Five of the stories are set on the coast. The book won the Chandra Prize at BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City)

Rain or Showers; That is the Question

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When we were contemplating a move to Oregon, we were warned about wind and rain. “Stay away if you don’t like the rain,” we were told. “It rains there every day.”

Well, not really. It doesn’t rain every day, but yes, it does rain a lot. In southern Idaho rain is scarce. We were lucky to see ten inches of rain a year. In Oregon we see that much rain in one month. Idaho weathermen talk about wind and drought. Oregon weathermen talk about rain and showers.

“What is it?” my husband asked me the other day. “Rain or showers?”

Thus began the debate. Was it raining, or was this a shower? We asked our resident son. “It’s raining,” he said.

“No,” his wife said. “It’s a shower.”

Which sent me to the Internet and dictionary. What should be easy to differentiate appears to be tricky. Even though “showers” are indeed rain, there’s a subtle difference as far as weather forecasts go.

This is what I learned.

“Rain” as in “a rainy day” or “occasional rain” is more widespread. Most, if not all, of the area will see rain and it will last for a while. Unlike rain “showers” the duration of rain is steady and prolonged. Rain tends to be light to moderate in intensity and generally comes from stratus clouds. Rain usually lasts longer than showers.

“Showers,” on the other hand, are more scattered. It could be raining in Lincoln City, but dry in South Beach. Showers tend to be shorter in duration, while rain could last all day. “Showers,” also known as “rain showers,” tend to be quick and come in bursts. Showers come from puffy clouds or cumuliform clouds like cumulus or cumulonimbus. Compared to rain, showers cover a smaller area but can be more intense. Conversely, showers are more dispersed than rain. Isolated showers are those that are divided during a certain time frame. Local showers is rain that happens in a much smaller area of coverage. There are also patchy showers, which happen irregularly within a specific area. Showers often start and end more abruptly compared to rains.

Yesterday we drove to Lincoln City and it started to rain. “So,” I said. “Is this rain or showers?”

My husband turned on the windshield wipers. “Showers,” he said. “Anything over three clicks on the wiper switch is showers, not rain.”

So there you have it, if you ever get caught in a debate about rain or showers. Either way you’ll need an umbrella.

15 Things You May Not Know About Lauren Kessler

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This weekend Nye Beach Writers Series is hosting Lauren Kessler, from Eugene, Oregon.

Kessler is an award-winning author, (semi) fearless immersion reporter and self-designated guinea pig journalist who combines lively narrative with deep research to explore everything from the seemingly romantic but oh-so-gritty world of ballet to the wild, wild west of the anti-aging movement, from the stormy seas of the mother-daughter relationship to the hidden world of Alzheimer’s sufferers. She is the author of nine works of narrative nonfiction, including her latest, Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts and My Midlife Quest to Dance The Nutcracker. Her other work includes Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging; My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, A Daughter, A Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence, and Pacific Northwest Book Award winner Dancing with Rose (published in paperback as Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s.

Please join us February 20, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Nye Beach Visual Arts Center. General admission is $8; students are admitted free. Open mic to follow.

 

15 Things You May Not Know About Lauren Kessler

1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

I write for many reasons, but mostly I write because I am intensely curious about…well, about most everything…and writing funds my curiosity and gives legitimacy to my nosiness.  It allows me to ask questions without being a nuisance (usually).  It allows me to immerse myself in people’s lives without being arrested for stalking.  I can even eavesdrop.  At one point early in my writing career, I thought maybe I should specialize.  But I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t set those boundaries.  And so, during the past decade, I’ve written about exotic plant smuggling and assisted suicide, about communist spies and women’s basketball players, about a whorehouse in the Mojave desert , about my mother.  About Alzheimer’s.  About 21st century teen girl culture. About ballet. I write to learn.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

When I am writing (as opposed to researching, traveling, immersing myself in the world I am going to write about) I keep to a strict routine. A routine means I can focus on the work itself and not waste energy on thinking about how my day will or should go. I wake early, go for a run, then work for about 5 hours. I stand when I work. I drink many many cups of green and herbal tea. When things get tough, I chain chew Orbit Sweet Mint Gum. I don’t have a problem with discipline. This is work I love. I am intensely aware of the privilege I have to do it.

3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

I have never counted. And it is actually impossible to determine, given the every day fiddling, tweaking, revising, rewriting that is a normal part of the process.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best: When Stubborn Twig, which won the Oregon Book Award, was chosen as the first statewide “Everybody Reads” selection to celebrate Oregon’s sesquicentennial. I had the opportunity to travel to 23 cities and towns across the state to talk about the book, about writing and about our state’s history. Second best: Appearing on the David Letterman Show for Happy Bottom Riding Club.
The worst: When, mid-book, my editor at Viking — whom I loved and had worked with on other projects — left the publishing house.

5) What part of your job do you love the most?  Hate or dislike the most?

I love the act of writing, how alive I feel when I am making connections, when it feels as if I am truly truly using my brain. And I equally love diving into the worlds I want to write about, immersing myself fully, learning by doing.

I dislike pitching book ideas to my agent because sometimes what grabs me is not what grabs him.

6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on a novel? Favorite authors?

I am a voracious reader. When I am researching a book, I immerse myself in the literature of that world — narrative nonfiction, novels, memoir, poetry, film — as well as, of course, the research and writing of experts. I read, alternately, narrative nonfiction and novels, trading off. All-time favorite authors: May Sarton, Joan Didion, Raymond Chandler, Vladmir Nabokov.

7) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

Best: Sweat the small stuff.
Worst: Stick with what you know.

8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

The iconic narrative/ literary nonfiction writers: John McPhee, Gay Talese, Joan Didion

9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

Nope.

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Unhappy.

11) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

Apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.

12) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I am at the beginning of a new project, another immersion into a fascinating world…but it’s too early to talk about it.

13) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

I would not wait at Penn Station for three hours for my then-boyfriend Phil who missed the train (as I too-much-later found out) because he was busy romancing another girl.

14) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Read, read, read.

15) Something we don’t know about you?

I know all the lines to Vachel Lindsay’s poem, The Congo. Also TupTim’s speech in The King and I.

And: what’d you like us to know about your latest release:

(this is adapted from the flap copy and back cover)

The mother of three grown children who hasn’t had a ballet slipper on her foot in forty years, Lauren Kessler launches herself, full-force, on a journey to dance in the world’s most popular ballet with a professional company.
The result is a midlife quest at turns harrowing and hilarious, an exploration of what it means to venture far outside your comfort zone, to truly test your own limits and raise the bar(re) on your own life. Lauren’s quest to dance The Nutcracker with the Eugene Ballet Company tackles the big issues: fear, angst, risk, resilience, the refusal to “settle in” to midlife, the refusal to become yet another Invisible Woman. It is also a very funny, very real look at what it’s like to push yourself
further than you ever thought you could go—and what happens when you get there.

Kessler blogs at www.counterclockwisebook.com about health, wellness and living an engaged life. For more information, visit her website at laurenkessler.com.

Diabetes and Me

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I just returned from the doctor. There is good news and there is bad. The good news is that the new doctor was personable, asked lots of questions, talked to me instead of a computer, and gave me a good sense of well being. The bad news is that my A1C reading was 9.1.

I have an autoimmune disorder that acts like Lupus without the rash. Most days I feel like crap. On the outside I look great and full on energy, but on the inside I fight to function. I’ve had this disease for many years and I don’t run to the doctor every time I feel sick. But a few years ago I was scheduled to fly to Portland to see my grandchildren and I felt awful. Too sick to get on a plane. So I called my doctor and made an appointment. Eight hours later I had a diagnosis. Diabetes Type II. Yeah, happy birthday to me.

That was four years ago and it’s been a daily battle. The first two years I was able to keep my A1C numbers in the 6.1 range with diet, exercise, and oral medications. Then the numbers started climbing and no matter what I did I couldn’t bring them down to a healthy level. So I wasn’t surprised when my new doctor told me my A1C was high. What surprised me was that it had jumped two whole points in six months in spite of a low carb diet and exercise.

People with diabetes have bodies that don’t use insulin properly. Over time their pancreases can’t make enough insulin to keep their blood glucose at normal levels. Their pancreases may even stop working.

According to a recent report, there are about 27 million people in the U.S. with Type II diabetes. Another 86 million have prediabetes, which means their blood glucose is not normal, but not high enough to be diabetes yet.

So why am I telling you this? To bore you? To make you sad? To scare you?

To warn you. To encourage you to pay more attention to your health so you won’t end up like me, pricking your finger twice a day, counting carbs, and wishing you didn’t have to watch every thing you put in your mouth.

Signs Symptoms Type 2 Diabetes that Commonly Happen

I was naïve. I knew lots of people with diabetes. I knew so many I began to believe diabetes was innocuous. People didn’t die from diabetes. Well, yes, they DO die from organ failure and heart disease, all a result of diabetes. Television commercials lead you to believe living with diabetes is no big deal. You can go to picnics. You can eat hot dogs and corn on the cob. You can smile and dance and have fun.

The reality is living with diabetes is HUGE. It’s hard work. Even with diet and exercise most days it feels like I’m are playing Russian roulette. I’m afraid to test my blood sugar because I don’t want to see the high numbers. It scares me and makes me depressed.

Be smarter than me. Any type of diabetes is a big thing. If your doctor says you are prediabetic, pay attention. Stop eating flour, sugar, and high carb foods immediately. Begin an exercise program and stick to it. Keep your blood glucose numbers between 80 and 100. That way you can truly be happy and healthy and smile and dance and have fun.

 

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15 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT BRITTNEY CORRIGAN

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Brittney Corrigan

 

 

 

 

 

There is always something artsy or literary happening on the Oregon Coast. That’s one of the reasons I picked Newport, Oregon, to retire. This weekend the Nye Beach Writers is hosting Brittney Corrigan, poet and writer from Portland, Oregon. (Jan. 16, 2016 at 2.p.m. at the Nye Beach Visual Arts Center. General admission is $8; students are admitted free. Open mic to follow).

Brittney is the author of the poetry collection Navigation (The Habit of Rainy Nights Press, 2012) and the chapbook 40 Weeks (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, and she is the poetry editor for the online journal Hyperlexia: poetry and prose about the autism spectrum (http://hyperlexiajournal.com/). Brittney lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is both an alumna and employee of Reed College. You can find all this information in her bio, but here is something you may not know.

1) Why did you become a writer? How did you get started?

A writer was not something I became – it’s something I always was. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I started with short stories and poetry, and over the years my focus turned to poetry almost entirely. But it was my high school English teacher who most encouraged me and made me believe that it was who I really was at my core.

2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

I don’t have a specific routine. I have two children and a full time job, so I write in bits and pieces whenever I can make the time. I carry poems around in my head for a long time before they make it to the page. Being part of a writing group that meets regularly also helps to keep me motivated and generating new work.

3) How many drafts before you feel a poem is finished?

Since my poems gestate in my head for quite some time, they usually only go through 1-2 drafts.

4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best thing was seeing the publication of my first book and first chapbook both in the same year. I wouldn’t say that I have a worst thing, but the most challenging part is finding large stretches of time to focus on writing, especially now that I’m working on a new manuscript.

 

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5) What part of writing do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?

I love the excitement that comes when a new poem is pouring out of me onto the page after turning it over and over in my mind for so long. If I have to pick a dislike, it would be how difficult it is for new poets to get books published and find an audience.

6) What do you like to read? Do you read while working on poetry? Favorite authors?

I read plenty of poetry (which is very inspirational for my own work), but I also love fiction, particularly novels written in the magical realism style. My favorite poets are Sharon Olds, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, Natalie Diaz, and Deborah Digges. My favorite novelists are Tom Spanbauer, Barbara Kingsolver, Erin Morgenstern, and Ann Patchett.

7) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

The best advice I’ve had over the years is to just keep at it when it comes to both writing and publishing. The world of a poet is stacked high with rejection letters, but it’s important to keep sending the work out there into the world. I don’t have any specific memories of bad advice.

 

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8) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

I would say the poet Maxine Scates, who I have worked with off and on since college in classes, workshops, and on my senior thesis at Reed College. She is a gifted poet and teacher, and her guidance has been invaluable to my own writing process.

9) Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

Not specifically, but I’m riddled with OCD tendencies, so superstition runs strong in my veins!

10) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Well, my day job is an event planner at Reed College, where I work with faculty members on the public lecture series on campus. And I absolutely love it.

11) What quote or personal saying do you live by?

From Henry James, “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!”

12) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I’m working on a new manuscript titled Daughters, a series of persona poems that reimagine characters from mythology, folklore, fairy tales, and pop culture from the perspective of their daughters—characters such as Bigfoot, the Mad Hatter, Medusa, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Taking on such topics as aging, rebellion, loss, abuse, and judgment, the voices of Daughters aim to turn the reader’s conceptions of the characters on their ends and throw light upon what it means for a girl to come out from under her parents as a woman of her own making.

13) If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

I would travel before having children. I would love to see Ireland in particular.

14) What advice would you give beginning writers?

Find a writing group or partner, develop your writing discipline, and read, read, read!

15) Something we don’t know about you?

I have a soft spot for rescuing feral cats.

 And, what would you like us to know about your latest release?

Both of my books were released in 2012. Info on those is at http://brittneycorrigan.com/. A sample poem from Daughters can be found at http://brittneycorrigan.com/poetry/daughter-poems/. Published poems available online and forthcoming can be found at http://brittneycorrigan.com/about/publications/.

For more information about Brittney visit http://brittneycorrigan.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/Brittney-Corrigan-Writer-293186861938/?fref=ts

 

 

Do You Blog?

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The first thing an agent, editor, or publisher asks a writer is, “Do you have a blog?”

Blog, you say. What is a blog? Why do I need a blog?

Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich wants to tell you. She just released her book The Essential Marketing Tool for Authors: Book Blog Tour, a helpful guide in making sense of all the shoulds, woulds, and coulds.

Barb has taught in colleges, universities, and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance – mostly Regency.

She is the author of six books and over twenty YouTube videos all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

I am so happy to have Barb Drozdowich here today. Please ask her lots of questions about blogging, and just in case you already know Barb, here are some things you may not know.

Fifteen things you may not know about Barb Drozdowich

Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?

I’ve always been required to write quite a bit in my various jobs. After doing a survey of book bloggers in 2013, I decided I needed to publicize the results – to create a bit of a summary to accompany the results and make it available to anyone who was interested. The best way to do that was by creating something to publish on Amazon. As I created a summary of the results, I decided to make the book so much more. There was and is a lack of understanding of the role book bloggers can play in the promotion of books and I decided to use the book to be a comprehensive guide rather than just survey results. This first book, The Author’s Guide to Working with Book Bloggers started what would become a series of 6 books all aimed at helping authors and bloggers with various technical subjects.

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What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?

I have a house with young children, so my writing fits into whatever spare time I can find. And sadly, I’m not very disciplined but I respond really well to deadlines. 🙂 I can produce an amazing amount of material just in the nick of time. I think that will be my reality, until the kids are grown.

 How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?

I create a rough draft that is hopefully pretty complete in terms of content and fire it off to some wonderful beta readers. I get them to tell me if the content is complete, and whether or not it is understandable. Usually they have some changes that they feel need to be made. Once I make the changes that my beta readers suggest, I fine-tune the language and grammar and I then send the book to my outstanding editor. She typically does two rounds of editing followed by proofreading and we are good to publish.

What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?

The best thing that has happened to me because of my writing is getting notes from authors thanking me – helping them to understand the subjects I cover. I haven’t had a worst yet. Even the critical reviews that I’ve gotten have been well balanced and constructive – no trolls yet!

What part of your job do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?

I LOVE working with authors. My background is as a technical trainer and I can easily break down technical subjects and explain them in a way that non-technical people can understand.

I’m a voracious reader and anything I can do to help authors sell more books, write more books, I’m happy to do! Often authors spend writing time trying to figure out the various technical tasks that they need to do as part of their job. If I can help them understand various tasks or help them do things more efficiently, they have more time to write books – it’s a win-win for us both.

What do you like to read? Do you read while working on a book? Favorite authors?

 I always have a book or two on the go. My genre of preference is Historical Romance and I have many favorite authors! I read a lot of technical information to help me stay on top of my regular work so the escapism of romance helps me shut my brain down at the end of a busy day.

What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?

The best advice is to keep writing. I haven’t really gotten any bad advice. I’m often the one that is explaining why advice is bad that authors get from other sources. 🙂

Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?

My biggest influence is my mom, hands down. She’s now a retired English teacher with a wicked red pen – literally – she’s old school with pen and paper and is militant about proper grammar and sentence structure. She was the first person who saw a lot of my writing and there was a sea of red ink at the beginning. I’m learning. 🙂 Now she has to hunt to find something for her red pen.

Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?

No. I’m not really a superstitious person.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I think I would still be a technical trainer and a voracious reader!

What quote or personal saying do you live by?

I really like two sayings: “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you” and “It is what it is…”

What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

I currently have a box set (combination of the Book Blog Tour book and my Author Platform book) in proofreading and my Book Blogger Platform book is in formatting and should be available any day now. I have a re-write of my Goodreads for Authors book in the hands of some beta readers and I am currently polishing my new book “Blogging for Authors,” in preparation of submitting it to my editor. There should be quite a bit published in the first half of this year.

If you could do anything over again, would you and what would it be?

I don’t think I would do anything over again. I feel that things happen for a reason and whether it is a good experience or a bad experience, I have learned from everything. The sum of my experiences has made me the person I am today.

 What advice would you give beginning writers?

Everyone else will tell them to keep writing – which is very true. From my point of view, I would encourage them to create a platform – create a community of friends and supporters that will help with the marketing side of writing a book!

Something we don’t know about you?

My favorite job of all time was working at Toronto’s Metro Zoo driving the trains.

And: What would you like us to know about your latest release?

My latest release is me explaining Book Blog Tours from the point of view of an author as well as the point of view of a book blogger. There is a lot of misunderstanding out there about Tours, and I have written this book to cover all aspects of tours and clear up all the misconceptions. This is a second edition book. In this edition, I have added quite a bit on DIY tours as many authors prefer to set up their own tours.

to learn more about Barb go to :

Author Website: http://barbdrozdowich.com

Business Blog: http://bakerviewconsulting.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/BarbDrozdowichAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sugarbeatbc

Google+: https://plus.google.com/110824499539694941768/posts

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sugarbeatsbooks/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7234554.Barb_Drozdowich

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSgVt36XlVAHWj5dkSd0Zyw

Tech Hints Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/DfCRj

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Barb-Drozdowich/e/B00EN3CIDM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1437240887&sr=1-2

 

Barb, thanks for joining us today, and thanks for all you to do help writers!