A Lifetime of Birthdays: November 11, 2016

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a5e64c8d1bede6fb51689147b33c691af0ac7c1cThe eleventh day in the eleventh month in my half-century birthday celebration brought mostly joy, there was some heartbreak, but you cannot have light without dark. In order to recognize joy, you have to have known the other side.

The whole house was “off” for the Veteran’s Day holiday and like good Americans we slept in, having said our Veteran’s Day thanks the day before. However, at 11:11 at a table full of writers, I said a quiet prayer for all those that gave the ultimate sacrifice and those still serving and in harm’s way. I feel very protective that our current soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coasties are not unduly taxed with new conflict on the heels of our new president’s potential actions. I’m remaining calm for now, but his rhetoric is a natural cause for concern. I am at the ready.

I had coffee (No. 12) with my husband (No. 1), and then went off to my regular Friday morning writers cafe to commiserate on work not done and celebrate work already accomplished in my writing life (No. 6). I had a wonderful breakfast (No. 10), lovingly cooked and served by the awesome staff at The Black Dog Arts Cafe (No. 24).  One of my writer friends gave me these wicked new earrings that I ended up wearing all day (No. 5).15002257_10211223208118342_7424042353158915850_o

Then I came home and worked some more on Wilderness Rim. I cleaned out my car to ready for its taxing abilities for that evening. And cleaned out my purse and took a 20-minute nap. I moved laundry along, and hung out with my dogs (No. 3).

Then my friends (No. 5, again!) arrived, both bearing gifts: A serpentine crystal necklace (No. 9)  and whiskey (No 11).  and we headed for prefunc drinks and nosh at Mama Stortini’s — the crab cakes (No. 10) were to die for. Then we headed off to the Seattle Thunderbirds Hockey game (No. 13). I think we all had fun — I certainly did, even if the ‘birds couldn’t pull out a win against the Calgary Hitmen. There was a couple of really confusing calls that may have helped the ‘birds lose this one.

Then I headed back home to my nice warm and dry bed, where my puppies and husband were awaiting my return.


Despite my apprehension about the future, I fell asleep with gratitude in my heart and a smile on my face. I have a ridiculously blessed life. It does give me resolve to be at the ready to defend such opportunities for others — as I have in the past, as I always will.

I also learned this day that some people have good hearts and were taken for a ride on both sides of the political aisle in this country. None of us is without our failings, but what we do with these mistakes and how we make things okay for the rest of the world…that is worth celebrating, worthy of the joy in forgiveness. However, that forgiveness doesn’t happen without introspection on both sides. My introspection gave me one epiphany: until you’ve actually experienced something, you can only TRY to understand. You can sympathize. However, you don’t really KNOW. Case in point, many of my friends don’t have children. If they do have children, they may not be dealing with #LifewithAutism (Hell, even fellow Autism moms experience something completely different than I do, too, since once you’ve met one child on the spectrum, you’ve met one child on the spectrum). Both my friends who are parents and those who are not are sympathetic to what I deal with daily. They are even very supportive. They try to understand. But, they do not know. They recognize that and it makes their friendship, their support, their love that much more genuine. And I’m grateful that I understand this human condition for both when I’m the one on the outside or the one with the experience trying to be understood. 3d4f0503dccf9b6682f8b632b091b0d5

There were some other things I learned yesterday, but I’m still processing them and until such time as I can coherently put them in words for you to understand…well, we’ll just have to leave it at that.

Fifty years old and I still feel like I’m a student of life. That I’m still figuring it out. At least I have the opportunity to do so.

Until tomorrow…

What are you celebrating or grateful for today?

A Lifetime of Birthdays:  Nov. 8, 2016

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I’m watching in horror the U.S. election results, and its not putting a nice cherry on my birthday sundae of a day.

Good things that did happen:

  • I made further progress on the publishing of WILDERNESS RIM. (#6)
  • I planted new plants for the homestead given to me by a neighbor  (#16, #24)
  • My son got his driver’s license today (#2)14939632_10211191550326917_4734683051755667270_o
  • The weather was beautiful and I got to be outside in nature (#25)
  • I got to drink really great whiskey while watching the early election results (#11)

Now I’m going to go pretend to sleep so my children will. Tomorrow is a new day and although the election results don’t look good from this point. There’s always a waiver. There’s always a will.



Write Life: What it means to be an ABNA Quarter-Finalist

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51BpdhlGzQL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX318_SY318_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA318_AA300_SH20_OU01_As my alter-ego Inkster reported to you all, I made the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in the Young Adult category, for my novel, WILDERNESS RIM. I was excited, of course.


Then I was sitting around with my writing pals the other day and they were all congratulating me and one of them, my dear friend, Vicky Bastedo, said, “Did you get your reviews yet?”


“Reviews?” and I tilted my head like a confused puppy.


Vicky and the rest of the table began to school me on exactly what this quarter-finalist title brought with it.






From Publisher Weekly folks.




Alex, another of the writers, laughed out loud and said, “I wished I’d had a camera to capture your face just then.”


Apparently I looked as horrified as I felt. Let this be a lesson to me to actually read stuff and not just go into happy-dance mode.


Then there was about 24 hours of gnashing of teeth, and had a flogging switch, I likely would have subjected myself to some self-pain, just so that I had physical wounds to go with the lamenting in my heart, while we all waited for the PW reviews to be posted.


The full reviews were not bad. In fact, they were pretty good. The points they made on where I need improvement, I can totally see and will definitely do. I would link them to you, but it’s not shareable, because it’s connected to my private createspace account. Bottom line, they enjoyed the book and seemed to give me some credibility to calling myself a writer.


Then today I learned that my entire an excerpt of the manuscript*  (typos and grammatical errors included) is available for a free download and up for review by Joe Q. Public.


Cue perusing Amazon for that self-flogging switch…


Yet, I thought on it further. I know to be a writer is to be bold and to be vulnerable. Normally it’s between me and an agent, or editor, or another writer. Rarely, save the stuff I post on my blog here, has someone opened up my work for public comment. I give props all the time to folks who put their work out there. It’s hard to do. Entering ABNA meant I would be putting my work, myself, out there. I made some progress (we all have to wait until June 13 to see if I make the next round). That’s something. I’ll take it.


After some thought, I calmed myself down (no self-flagellation necessary), and decided that it might be a good growth experience for me as a writer.


So, here’s an excerpt of the manuscript. Amazon is offering it free as an ebook edocument on Kindle. I downloaded it to the Kindle app on my phone with ease. As embarrassingly admitted, it has some typos and misspellings. I haven’t had it professionally edited yet. But if the reviews seem like people really dig the story, I might just do that and try to shop it around, or author publish it.


You will see excerpts of the PW reviews I got in the listing.  I’d love to see what others say about it. Be honest, but be nice, please.


What are you waiting for? Download an excerpt from WILDERNESS RIM today off of Amazon. Read; leave your review. I promise to use it as a learning opportunity. Joe Q. Public, you are now my writing mentor.


*Edit:  So, I learned later that it’s not the entire manuscript, but rather an excerpt. Somehow, my Kindle app pulled up my entire manuscript for me (maybe from a former Google Docs download? I don’t know), but just an excerpt for several others that contacted me and said they had done it. Sorry about the confusion. 

Write Life: Self publishing does not mean self-editing

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Photo copyright Craig Lloyd
Photo copyright Craig Lloyd


My write life went through a whole lot of ups and downs this past week.

First thing Monday morning, there was a rejection hiding in my email.

Jeff VanderMeer tells the audience a story about being charged by a Wild Boar, at his Seattle reading, Feb. 3, 2104. Photo by C. Brewster

On the up side, that evening, I got to meet Jeff VanderMeer, one of the writers and editors I greatly admire. I got to hear him read from his new release, Annihilation, which I was cruising through until I hit a dip and upside down part in the aforementioned rollercoaster ride that is my writing life. I should probably finish soon, will re-read, as is my habit, and provide a review. It’s the least I can do to make sure Mr. VanderMeer is supported, as any great author/editor should, especially given that he signed three of his books for me that evening. Plus he did his signing at one of my favorite book stores ever – Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.

Then I got a rejection the next morning.

I countered Wednesday by taking a class with Cat Rambo on submissions. I learned I’m doing things right – at least according to her. She has decades as a successful writer, so I trust she’s leading me down the right path. She also gave me many more ideas to up the ante in my submission algorithm.

Following the class, an email came in with not so good news. I had a contract declined. The declination reason was fully in my blame court due to my lack of clarity in the initial meeting with the client. This sometimes happens when you’re trying to do too much. Even though I proffered some other free work to the prospect, the sting was already felt. My bad, entirely. I’m confident as a writer and editor, but sometimes my business sense is not on point. Lesson learned. Here the roller coaster went way low and I was kicking myself endlessly for this dumb mistake.

The next morning, there was yet another rejection waiting for me. Thursday was very unproductive. I did lots of “business” stuff to support my writing life, but little writing or editing. I ended up watching a lot of television and the movie MELANCHOLIA, which fit my mood perfectly.

Photo copywrite Seth Sawyers
Photo copywrite Seth Sawyers

Then, I was offered another contract for editing – a novel manuscript – but when I read the first five pages of the work – I had to refuse. Even if I charged my top rate, which is still cheap by going-rate standards, the work would be so intense that it would take longer than it should, making it not worth my time.

This is the first time I’ve refused work. I hated to do it, especially given that I had that other contract declined. I need all the work I can handle and then some, at least until I start getting paid more often for the writing side of my freelance life. My editing rate is lower than the typical standard, because I’m still building my business. So, I work six days a week, sometimes seven. Refusing work seemed to go against my DNA coding. But, this manuscript was not ready for prime-time, folks.

It harkened me back to the fervor that has been happening over in Chuck Wendig’s world with his post regarding improving the reputation of self-publishing by not putting out, well – crap. Herr Wendig is a huge supporter of indie publishing, I believe. He’s a hybrid writer himself, successfully straddling both author-publishing and traditionally publishing chasm. And it is a chasm. Do both worlds put out trash? Yes – I’m always quick to tell you stories about the errors I’ve found in big-name author’s books; however, those instances are story-worthy simply because it happens less frequently. Is the scale heavier on the indie publishing side? It is. When Wendig says there is a self-publishing shit volcano out there and it’s a problem, I can’t disagree. The manuscript I refused to work with until, at least, the writer did another revision is only one such example.

Listen, all you self-publishing people: hire an editor. Every author I’ve worked with (and they are mostly in the author-publishing realm) are just floored when I return a manuscript to them with the errors I find – both mechanical and craft-wise. Some of these are manuscripts that the author has revised multiple times.

Yet, it’s amazing to me that so many writers do not know how to do proper punctuation. Many novelists are so caught up in their own world that they forget the reader doesn’t know what you know as the writer. Then there’s continuity errors, foreshadowing that is never fulfilled…and on and on. Recognize, at bare minimum, that we are human and make mistakes. Editors help ensure your mistake-ratio is harder to calculate.

Therefore, every manuscript needs a seasoned editor’s eye, regardless of frequency of revision. Especially, if the only other people you’ve had read it are your family and friends. The final product after they’ve paid me (or another professional editor) to do editing? A stronger sell in the market that is just inundated – near a million books a year between traditional publishing and self-publishing. You want something strong to stick out from the shit volcano, my darling fellow writers. If you have a good story, it won’t matter how it’s published. People will be drawn to it.

There’s been many other blog posts, outside of Wendig’s, recently by both traditionally published, as well as, indie-published writers who say, self publishing is an option. As creative word smiths we are in an incredible time with heavy opportunity to get our work out there. We should take advantage of it, but do so only after you’ve invested the time into properly vetting your work. It’s simple, the reason why:  if you don’t put a good product out there, no one is going to take you seriously. Your best friend might be a good beta reader for you and tell you, “Hey, that’s a great story.” But can you trust them to be objective? Can you trust your entire creative reputation on a best friend or spouse wanting to encourage you? Some folks have the rare relationship, where, yes, you can. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

Photo copyright A Geek Mom
Photo copyright A Geek Mom

Self publishing does not mean self-editing. That’s a horrendously bad idea. One of the reasons I haven’t self-published yet is because I don’t currently have the dough to shell out for a professional editor. I won’t self publish until I do. You want to add to the argument that self-publishing is less-than? Put out a manuscript that hasn’t been professionally edited. Be an example for the Big 5 (or six or three…whatever) and other indie-publishing naysayers as to why their format of traditional publishing is the only way to go. Personally, my goal is to be a hybrid author: one who is traditionally published and one who does author-publishing, as well. I won’t limit myself. But you bet your bootie I’m going to do it right. I won’t be an example for how to do it unprofessionally.

One Lovely Blog Award. Pass it On.

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Thank you, Tommia– author of Tommia’s Tablet – for the nomination of the One Lovely Blog award.

The rules for One Lovely Blog Award are very straightforward:  thank the blogger who nominated you and link the post to their page, and then state 7 random facts about yourself and nominate those you feel are deserving of the award.

I know Tommia in real life. She is in my writing group SnoValley Writes! She also knows when my life needs a creative push and checks out my favorite fanfic from the library for me to read, or gives me a new book mark, or some other trinket or generous gift. She is a giver in this world. The world needs more Tommia’s. Oh, and she’s a damn fine writer.

Seven random facts about moi?

  • I see the dragonfly, wolf, cougar, octopus, and raven as my totem animals.
  • I once had an IV of caffeine. True story.
  • I have survived tornadoes, hurricanes, a volcanic eruption, earthquake, and Black Friday shopping.
  • There are bookshelves in every room of my home except the kids’ bathroom.
  • I was born near the Great Lakes, live now near a river and close to the Pacific Ocean, am a Water sign (Scorpio), but don’t really like to be IN the water. I like to be by it, but not in it; I’ve nearly drown several times in my life.
  • I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 8 years old.
  • I believe everyone should have a garden.


The folks I’d like to nominate for the award are: