Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Bedside Reading List Updated

I maintain a bedside reading list on my web page, listing the books I've read this year so far. Right now, I am reading almost exclusively memoir, since I am in the process of writing a memoir. Go to:


and select bedside reading list from the drop down menu to find the list of books. I've recently added Running with Scissors, Lucky and Reading Lolita in Tehran to the list. These are three very different memoirs. I am now reading Struck by Lightening, which is another unique work.

I'm beginning to understand that the only rule to getting a memoir published is to lace it with plenty of drama.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Writers and Readers

I’ve written a lot of technical training materials, knowledge bases and the like. I am always astonished by the reactions I get when I send something out into the world after honing it to what I believe to be a sharp tool. What I think to be clear, concise and economical turns on the page like an artist mixing all of the colors on the palate.

I realize that no matter how hard we writers strive to gain clarity, we will always fall short. Our writing must be sifted through a filter called Reader. No two filters are the same, and none is an exact match for Writer.

When editing my work, I am on the lookout for areas where I know I fall short. I subconsciously slip into the passive voice when I don’t want to come out and say something. Passive voice weakens the overall effect because I’m being evasive and risk losing an opportunity to make a strong point. I am told that I overuse adjective clauses.

Everything comes back to Reader. I try to imagine Reader not as someone reading but rather listening. When I write, can I hear my voice? Will Reader hear it?

Sometimes I am Reader. I like to read writers who have a strong voice, ones who clearly convey humor, drama, anger, fear. When reading the work of such a writer, it seems easy to rise up with my own voice. John Irving, Pat Conroy, Amy Tan are examples of writers who make me want to write. T.H. White’s Once and Future King embodies one of my favorite narrator voices. There are many others. They seem unconscious of being read, as though they were written not to be read but seen.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

A writer with experience...

You know, all of the newspapers I wrote for were weeklies. Some didn't even pay me. I started out writing theater reviews. They gave me a pair of tickets and a byline, and I felt overpaid. That's where it started. Once I had been published, it was easy to get other weeklies to let me work for them.

The big deal for a news reporter is to go from the weekly to a daily. That's arriving at the big time. After working for the Star Tribune, I was finally offered a job at a daily in the desert in Southern California. Whoohoo. They offered me an hourly wage of $8.50/hour. This was in 1995.

I turned down the job, moved to Washington and became a computer analyst instead, abandoning the dream of being a writer. I started working on making money. I've come full circle.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Sisters in Crime!

Today, I went to the web site, Sisters in Crime. My friend, Esta, gave me some info on it after I showed her a piece I'd written about what it was like working at the Long Beach Police Department as a clerk.

Sisters in Crime is an organization based out of the mid-west, with branchs all over the country. It turns out that there is a chapter in this area, and the current chapter leader is based in Everett, Washington! I emailed her, and she wrote back with information about when they meet and what they do.

The local chapter is comprised of writers and readers, men and women (she said in her email, "guys can be sisters too." There is at least one well known mystery writer in the bunch.

So, I plan to go when they meet again in June. Here's the web site of the organization:


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Keyes' Courage to Write

In Ralph Keyes’ book, The Courage to Write, he asserts that the difference between those who succeed as writers and those who fail resides in who is willing to walk through the fear of writing. If fear alone made a successful writer, I might be the greatest writer of our age.

It is encouraging to think that many successful writers experience a measure of fear regarding their writing. Even better is gaining an understanding that successful writers turn their fear into fuel for their work.

I’ve noticed that it is easier for me to write something when I feel strongly about it. Fear, anger, excitement are easier to express than indifference, routine or boredom.

Keyes also says that the most successful writers are not always the most gifted. He quotes numerous professionals in the writing field who demonstrate that it is tenacity rather than talent that will often reward a writer with success. Barbara Horngren, a Southern California-based travel writer, once told me as much. Pointing out a feature article in the travel section of the Orange County Register, she said that the writer of the article was known in the field for his quantity rather than his quality.

Well, it’s somewhat comforting to know that I don’t need to worry so much about being a good writer. But the notion of tenacity is one I have known and applied in other areas of my life. In most of my aspirations, it’s a matter of knocking on enough doors or worrying a knot until it loosens enough to easily unravel. Tenacity, patience and desire. I have them all. Fear? Yes. That too. Guess I am a writer.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Writer's Web Page and Resume

It was a busy weekend. I've been working on getting all my ducks in a row. It isn't easy considering that many of my ducks have not returned from wintering in the south.

I created a web page, which is still pretty bare bones. I have some book reviews, reading lists, my resumes (both of 'em) and one clip. I plan to add more clips and other stuff in an effort to make myself more accessable to those in search of my skills while not laying myself bare to spammers.

I do all of my coding by hand, so it's slow work. I feel like I accomplished a lot in the short span of a weekend.

Nancy's Web Page

I'd love to hear from others how you build your presence as a writer. Web page? Blog? Sky writing?

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Rita Mae Brown says that a writer needs the weight of one cat to serve a number of purposes. Here is mine, before unpacking from my move last December:

Everything Tea in Snohomish Has Story Hour

Everything Tea, a Snohomish, Washington tea store is presenting their last story time of the season this Wednesday evening from 7:30 to 9:00pm.

This month's stories will be about mothers. So far, we've had ghost stories, creation stories, erotica, and Irish folktales.

If you like to sit by a fireplace, drinking tea and eating pastries while a professional story teller weaves alternate worlds, check out http://www.everythingtea.net.