This survey pretty much accurately reflects my personal 2017.
- I spent about 15% of my time this year worried about our country, something I spent maybe 1% on before.
- I also got to see a lot of the country: California, Nebraska, Idaho, Texas, Arkansas, New York, Missouri, and Oklahoma. And we went to Iceland!
- I discovered that my great-great-great grandfather was murdered - and that my great-great grandfather took revenge.
- Book-wise, I worked on two great books: Run, Hide, Fight Back (2018) and The Lonely Dead (2019).
- In my personal life, there have been challenges, but those have also led me to a great support group and more of a spiritual practice than I have had in years.
- In the middle of the year and hours from home, my car broke down, which cost thousands of dollars and stranded me at my brother's house for a week. But that meant I got to spend more time with him and his family than I have in decades.
- And a recap of the best and worst of 2017 wouldn't be complete without mentioning Brazilian jiujitsu. It doesn't make any sense that I love it, but I do.
As for the first day of 2018, I always like to start off the New Year the way I want I want it to go. So today I will run, write and pay attention. I've decided "Pay attention" is my phrase for 2018.
Would you like to make $48,000 a month?
It's easy! All you need to do is run a cheesy literary award competition and charge $19.95 an entry for each of 12 categories - and then make it seem like it's a select group because there are "only" 200 entries per category.
Be sure to make your award appear more "real" by adding quotes, with the insinuation that they are about your "award." Take one from the New York Times, which is really from a 1992 article about the importance of the Caldecott and the Pulitzer. Throw in another quote from a guy who was once an editor at Dutton - only he died at the age of 86 in 1983. And there's a quote from agent "Julie Pickering" - only her name is Juliet and her agency is in London. And this quote:
“Wow! I’m so honored; thank you!! I’m deeply grateful… Thank you so much for the recognition! This means a LOT.” – Kathryn Le Veque, NY Times Bestselling Author.
Only she's not a NYT bestselling author, but a USA Today bestselling author (which are different nuts to crack).
While alll of the quotes appear to be real, almost all of them seem to be about COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AWARDS. Other clues: Grammatical mistakes. Calling something a "fiction novel." Art work that seems to have been hijacked from the 1980s.
Remember that money should flow to the author. Don't tell yourself that it's "only" $19.95 - they are counting on 2.400 people to tell themselves that, month after month.
I am on the road all the time! This school year I'm doing visits in Texas (several times), Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Idaho, Kansas, New York (twice), Missouri (twice), Maryland, Alabama, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Iowa (twice). That's just what I know about so far.
Do you travel a lot? What would you add?
We just got back from a week in Iceland. I read a lot of blogs before we went, and packed accordingly. Here's the feedback I wish I could give my past self.
Great ideas of things to bring
This week, three books I had had on hold for weeks or even months all showed up at the library. What to do? Each must be returned within three weeks, and they are all so popular that I can't renew them.
I decided to start with Gin Phillips' Fierce Kingdom, which is about a mother and her four-year-old son who are trapped at the zoo when a shooting breaks out. Oh. My. GOD.
What a great book! It has been forever since I fell headlong into a book. Reading it was like a fever dream. I didn't edit in my head, didn't question word choices. I just loved it. It was like being a kid again, when books were pure magic and I didn't even know there were tricks tucked in sleeves.
And I did something I haven't done in years: I decided to stay up as late as it took to finish it.
It was totally worth the lack of sleep.
Here are some examples of her writing (some are screen shots, some I typed in):
Check out how repeition makes things more powerful.
"This girl's bones feel like china, like blown glass, like handles on teacups. The girl feels like all kinds of precious things."
"People say she's a nice girl. She makes mostly A's and B's. Hardly ever C's. She saves her money in the bank. But now she wishes that she were the kind of girl who set things on fire instead of the kind of girl who proofreads her work. She wishes she knew how to scare people. She wishes she had worked yesterday instead of today, and she wishes she carried pepper spray like her mother has told her she should, and she wishes she had an Almond Joy, cold, and she wishes she were home in bed and her pillows were fluffed, and she wishes she had grabbed that little boy Lincoln and run with him and saved him, and she wishes she were a woman in a video game with pistols on her hips and cleavage . She wishes her father could still pick her up and carry her, but she is too heavy."
And I love the rhythm of her sentences - long galloping ones followed by short declarative ones.
This was a five-star book for me!
The Girl I Used to Be has won The Oregon Spirit Book Award from the Oregon College of Teachers of English. That book is very special to me, because the character of Nora is 100% my mom. Writing her in the book was a way of keeping her alive.
I got my first OCTE award October 4, 2013. I had temporarily moved home to take care of my mom on hospice - and was also writing The Girl I Used To Be. I told my mom I was going to cancel going. It was the end of September and the hospice nurse insisted she weeks maybe months, to go. Mom told me not to cancel. She felt God was telling her that she would die before then - and she did, on October 1. I came for the award and just cried when I got it.
Then I was back in 2014 for another award. The writer Brian Doyle asked about her right before he got up to speak. He and my mom used to write each other - she was a fan of his writing. He got the wrong idea that she had just died, and before I could correct he he got called up to talk. The first thing he did was ask for a moment of silence, announcing that my mom had just died. I’m sure everyone who had been there the year before was very confused.
Brian himself died just a few months ago from a brain tumor. We had shared another weird moment. A year ago, we spoke at a joint library event. They used the photos below to advertise it. Even _I_ thought the woman next to Brian was me - but it was another writer named Constance, whom I have never met.
Circles within circles.
THE GIRL I USED TO BE has gone back for a third printing in paperback - less than two months after it came out. I love this book so much. One reason is that it has a character that's pretty much 100% my mom in it. Writing her into the book was a way to keep her alive.