February 26, 2014

Getting My Geek On!



Geeking out over here!  I wrote this last night because I'm flying off this morning to go to the AWP writers' conference in Seattle!  I went to it in Denver a couple of years ago, and it rocks!  It's like Mecca for writers. I'll get to see so many people I haven't seen in a while and get to meet in person so many people I'm great friends with on Facebook but I've actually never been in the same room with.

So my posting will be a bit spotty for the rest of the week.  I'm going to take copious notes, however, and blog the conference next week.

And I wanted to fill you in on my stops for the rest of the week on the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour.  Isn't it great that I can be in two places at once?  Three places actually ~ tomorrow I'm stopping at two places, in addition to AWP.  I'm stopping by Darkest Cravings, and then I did a web TV interview with the wonderful Julia at Talk Story TV.  I have to tell you ~ Julia's the best. She does these amazing podcasts, and we had a great conversation.  It'll be up 9 a.m. MST this morning. On Thursday, I get to stop by Booklover Sue's blog. Thank you so much, Darkest Cravings and Julia and Sue!  You guys are so great!

So I won't be posting much, but I'll make up for it next week. Promise.

February 24, 2014

Great Giveaways, Batman!

Today on the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour, I get to stop by Saph's Book Blog.  Thank you for hosting me, Sapphyria!


Woman in Nairobi reading (via)
 
Wow!  The Goodreads book giveaway for How to Be a Man has ended, and people from across the globe have entered and won!!

I can’t tell you just how moved I am to put a copy of my book in an envelope and send it off to Hungary and India and Indonesia and England and Mauritius and imagine someone on the other end opening it and reading it. 

Imagine this copy that’s in my hands making its way in the world and perhaps touching another person.  I think about reading The Secret Garden as a child, how it brought me other worlds, how deeply it touched me. (Not that my book is anything like The Secret Garden, nor that I make any claims on its timelessness.)

Statistics:  869 people entered, and 20 people won.  Countries represented: India, England, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, Canada, Hungary, Italy, and the U.S.

Go, little book, and may your new family fall in love with you!

February 21, 2014

Melancholy

I'm so stoked to be visiting Lynda at Books Direct today for the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour!  We chat about all kinds of things ~ the sausage-making that is writing a book. You should stop by!
 
Grace, by gokul k, via National Geographic
 
The book tour is absolutely fabulous, and I'm loving it, but on the flip side, I’m a bit melancholy today, though I really have no right to be.  So to cheer myself up, I think I'll just stare at this photo all day.  I've always loved the faces of old people, and when I used to regularly create art, I loved to do pencil sketches of their faces.

February 19, 2014

Beauty and Ambivalence

Today I get to visit Lisa's World of Books on the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour!  Michigan, here we come! Thank you so much, Lisa and David!

Lone Wolf, southern Montana

This is where I spent my summers when I worked on our dude ranch growing up.  This is near one of our cabins where we would camp all summer and host dudes.  It's in southern Montana near the Crow and Cheyenne Reservation. It's beautiful, but you know how these things are.  The beauty and wonder of it is all tangled up with family and ambivalence. And that's why I'm a writer.

February 18, 2014

Without a Pocket-Handkerchief

Oh, so many exciting things happening on the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour! Today, I'm once again visiting South Africa on Karen Swart's wonderful blog. I also have my very first review, up at IndieReader, and it's a humdinger! Anyone who used the word "masterpiece" and me in the same sentence gets my utmost gratitude.  Finally, I talked with the welcoming and wonderful Julia Widdop at Talk Story TV, and I'll let you know when that vlog is up on!


The Trolls, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

This is what publishing a book feels like!  It feels like you get shoved out the door by Gandalf the Grey without a pocket-handkerchief.  But, boy, is it an adventure!

From The Hobbit
Up jumped Bilbo, and putting on his dressing-gown went into the dining-room. There he saw nobody, but all the signs of a large and hurried breakfast. There was a fearful mess in the room, and piles of unwashed crocks in the kitchen. Nearly every pot and pan he possessed seemed to have been used. The washing-up was so dismally real that Bilbo was forced to believe the party of the night before had not been part of his bad dreams, as he had rather hoped. Indeed he was really relieved after all to think that they had all gone without him, and without bothering to wake him up ("but with never a thank-you" he thought); and yet in a way he could not help feeling just a trifle disappointed. The feeling surprised him.
"Don't be a fool, Bilbo Baggins!" he said to himself, "thinking of dragons and all that outlandish nonsense at your age!" So be put on an apron, lit fires, boiled water, and washed up. Then he had a nice little breakfast in the kitchen before turning out the dining-room. By that time the sun was shining; and the front door was open, letting in a warm spring breeze. Bilbo began to whistle loudly and to forget about the night before. In fact he was just sitting down to a nice little second breakfast in the dining-room by the open window, when in walked Gandalf. "My dear fellow," said he, "whenever are you going to come? What about an early start?-and here you are having breakfast, or whatever you call it, at half past ten! They left you the message, because they could not wait."
"What message?" said poor Mr. Baggins all in a fluster.
"Great Elephants!" said Gandalf, "you are not at all yourself this morning-you have never dusted the mantel- piece!"
"What's that got to do with it? I have had enough to do with washing up for fourteen!"
"If you had dusted the mantelpiece you would have found this just under the clock," said Gandalf, handing Bilbo a note (written, of course, on his own note-paper).
This is what he read:
"Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo greeting!
For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any); all travelling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise arranged for.
"Thinking it unnecessary to disturb your esteemed repose, we have proceeded in advance to make requisite preparations, and shall await your respected person at the Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, at II a.m. sharp. Trusting that you will be punctual.
"We have the honour to remain
"Yours deeply 
"Thorin & Co."
"That leaves you just ten minutes. You will have to run," said Gandalf.
"But-" said Bilbo.
"No time for it," said the wizard.
"But-"said Bilbo again.
"No time for that either! Off you go!"
To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, walking-stick or say money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf's hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a whole mile or more. Very puffed he was, when he got to Bywater just on the stroke of eleven, and found he had come without a pocket-handkerchief!

February 17, 2014

Tour Progress Report

Today on the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour, I’m stopping by Cloey’s Book Reviews and Other Stuff.  I’m doing a guest post about why reading is a risky proposition. I mean, PAPER CUTS!

 

It’s been a month and a half but just a week on the How toBe a Man virtual book tour, and I thought I’d catch you all up on all the excitement.

I’m a book marketing newbie, but it seems to be going great! All that marketing background is getting put to good use, and the great thing about writers is that they write about their experiences and pass along valuable info about how to launch and to market.  I’m learning from the best.

I won’t run down all the things I’m doing (though if you’re interested, email me), but suffice it to say I have a lot of irons in the fire. I go from all out to collapsed and trying to catch my breath to all out again. (Maybe I'll do a long detailed post in the future.)

The blog tour has been fun.  I’ll be on the radio too and a number of other things.  It’s all new to me. Performance is not my medium ~ paper is ~ and so I’m a bit intimidated, but weighing on the other side is that it’s a subject I’m fairly familiar with. Hehe.

I’ve had a bunch of people stop me on the street and ask me if that was me on the front page of my local paper.  And what’s really great is that my seven-year-old daughter is my biggest ally ~ every time someone stops me when she’s with me, she says, “Buy Mom’s book!”  No prompting!

Sales are not  spectacular by national standards, but they’re decent ~ much more than I expected. I had set my sights low because, you know, short story collection, literary, etc., etc.  Thank you all who took a chance and bought the book!

Another reason I’m not at all disappointed is that I’m working on a career, not just one book, and so while I’m focusing my energy on this now, I have a novel coming out in July and another in January ~ both of which are complete ~ and I’m working on the next book.  A year and a half might seem like a long time, but dang I have to write and revise the next novel. Ack! It’d be great to stay two books ahead.

So, last and certainly not least, I wanted to thank you all! I’m having such a blast, and I hope How to Be a Man is a good read. I did my best to make it that way!

February 14, 2014

Martyred for Love

Today on the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour, I'm visiting Fang-tastic Books and talking about how writing and reading is one of the deepest forms of love because it's as close as you can get to another person's insides. (I can't say it enough: Roxanne rocks!) 




I was listening to NPR this morning and they interviewed Robin Wright, who plays Claire, and writer Beau Willimon from House of Cards.  Season 2 is released for binge viewing today.

It was fascinating!  I agree with a lot of what they said.  Love is in fact transactional, and Claire and Frank’s relationship is self-serving, sure, but one way to look at love is that that is what love is - a transaction to fulfill your emotional, sexual, and even lifestyle needs.  Anyone who denies this is either naïve or, well, in denial. 

We don’t like to look at love this way.  We also don’t like to look at the origins of the Valentine holiday.  Every time you have a saint, you have to have someone who was viciously murdered for their beliefs. There’s a bunch of different stories about St. Valentine, but generally he’s believed to have been killed for marrying Christians and generally helping them, which was a crime at the time. 

At its most basic, doesn’t this accord completely with our idea of Valentine's?  Someone died ~ was martyred ~ helping couples in love.  St. Valentine is in fact the embodiment of love, much like Jesus: a martyr, someone who gives of themselves and they are killed for it. That’s what we say: “I love you so much, I would die for you.”

I guess it’s just in my nature to recognize the yin and yang of everything.  Love has a dark side, but I would also be the first to acknowledge that it is the force that moves the world.  It’s the force of all good in the world.

May your life be filled with love.

February 13, 2014

'ZAP!!' by eLPy

I get to hang in South Africa today! The stop on the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour today is at Eclipse Reviews.  Not every day you get to take part in a Book Blast!  Thank you so much, Janine! 

(via)

I’ve been reading That Which Lives Within, the poetry collection by eLPy, a friend of mine.  I just had to share.  I love this one for its playfulness, assonance, and enjambment.  It combines a lighthearted conceit with deadly seriousness. Thanks, eLPy!

ZAP!!

by eLPy

laps
things don’t fall in laps
except maybe lapses
in judgement, in time
relapses in addictions
afflictions, predispositions
of some form or
many others
whatever secrets under cover
keep you up
like a hover craft
you never land, never grounded
gotta keep far from that
undiscovered, uncovered but
never elusive, all inclusive
quicksand
it doesn’t all come real quick
and as easy as it is
to slip, so you know.
you’ll fall before it falls
into your lap
your brain’s got more substance
than that
try and put it to use
while you’re waiting
for that something to fall
into your lap
I bet then, you’ll feel the
lightning              ZAP!

February 12, 2014

New Friends, Old Friends

Today, I get the pleasure of hanging out over at Roxanne's Realm.  I know you'll like her.  She's an amazing writer and advocate for all things book. Thank you so much, Roxanne!


Civil War Drummer Boys Playing Cards, by Julian Scott

"There's not a word yet, for old friends who've just met." ~ Jim Hensen

February 11, 2014

Like Cats and Dogs

Today on How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour, I get to stop by the blog of one of my writing BFFs, Pembroke Sinclair! Please check it out.  Thank you, P ~ you rock!


Not a very good pic, but here's Zoey and José. 
 
Our dog and our cat are the unlikeliest of pals.  When they first met, you would have thought they’d be enemies for life.

Our cat is an old outdoor tom who showed up on our doorstep one day with a hop-along limp and an easy-going nature.  He’s the John Goodman of cats. He’s all black and round and he’ll show up every once in a while with a torn ear.  He prefers to be outdoors, and so he’s our outdoor cat.  He has a cushy place in the garage with a doggy door and a heat lamp and food and water. He began as “The Neighbors’ Cat” and now he’s just José.

Our dog is a beautiful red curly Golden named Zoey.  She’s a teenager with a teenager’s love of chewing things up and getting into trouble. She’s got the lovely sweet Golden temperament, but she’s also got a little bit of eye-of-the-tiger, assertive.  By that, I mean she won’t back down when another dog comes around. She’ll be playful, but she won’t let it go.  We got her at six months old about a year ago.

We had José first, and then we got Zoey.  The first thing Zoey did was to bounce all around José, a blur of red around a puff-ball of black. José was not too keen on the idea.  If we would have asked him, he would have voted against the whole, “Oh, let’s get a cute puppy!” idea.  It wasn’t long before José put Zoey in her place.  A good swipe of the claws, and Zoey backed off.  But only for a moment ~ soon she was back, bouncing around in a circle, and she soon learned just how far those claws could go.  José is at a disadvantage because he has a bum front leg.  It’s fused straight from something that happened before he came to us.  When he walks, he has to swing that front leg out and around. So when Zoey bounces in and then right back out, he can’t chase her down and give her a whoopin’, which at first he would have done had he had the chance.

But their relationship has evolved.  She’ll wait at the back door  until we let her out just so she can go harass the cat, but now he waits for her right there on the back step.  Our back door is glass, so they can stand almost nose to nose. She still goes out and bounces around him, but now he walks up to her, tail in the air, and rubs against her.  They’re the best of buds.

There’s a lesson in all this about the old and the young, ancient enemies, and all that. But I’ll just say, it’s nice to see them standing there, leaning in.

February 10, 2014

Welcome to the Virtual Book Tour!

Sunrise Fog on the Madison River, by Chuck Haney

The first official day of the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour!  Welcome!

I'm so excited to travel around the interwebs and hang with some really cool people. I would love it if you would join me. We can exchange virtual cocktails and war stories. 

This is how this works.  Every day during the week, something about How to Be a Man will be posted on the hosting blog.  A few days there will be two stops.  It may be a spotlight mention, it may be a guest post, or it may be an interview.  I'm also doing some internet radio and possibly internet TV.

See the right side of the blog or my website for a schedule of the stops. 

I'm so grateful to my first stop, the Creatively Green Write at Home Mom!  She and I chat a little, so if you'd like to find out more about the book, stop by. Thank you so much, Wenona!

I'm afraid I'm going to be sick of the sound of my own voice by the end of the tour, but I hope you won't be!  I'll do my best to be a good guest.  I won't leave the towels on the floor or eat all the ice cream!

See you at some of the stops along the way!

February 9, 2014

T-1 on the 'How to Be a Man' Virtual Book Tour

I don’t usually post on Sunday, but it’s an exciting day.  T-1 on the How to Be a Man virtual book tour, and the Chilton Tippin at the Laramie Boomerang wrote a great piece about the book and about me. 

Here’s an excerpt.  Click over to the article if you’d like to read it all.

(via)
 
Tamara Linse wanted to be a man.
She grew up on a ranch near Lovell, the youngest of seven brothers and sisters.
In the day, she broke horses, chased cattle and mended fences.
Evenings typically found her keeping house with her mother and sisters.
Masculinity dominated ranching life, Linse said.
In her family, respect was measured in ruggedness and stoicism — in the ability to stand firm before pain or fear.
“What matters is what you can accomplish and getting the work done,” she said. “In my family, the girls went out and did everything the guys did, and then also came in and took care of the house and had the kids and did all of that as well.”

The book tour officially starts on tomorrow.  I can’t say thank you enough to all the book lovers and bloggers out there who are hosting me!  Here’s the stops (so far) on the tour.
 
How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour

Feb 10 - Mar 10  More stops will be added during the tour. Thanks for stopping by!

Feb 21 Books Direct
Feb 28 Booklover Sue 
Mar 10 Mythical Books
 
Brought to you by Bewitching Book Tours

February 7, 2014

David Quammen's "Walking Out"

I love it when I come across an amazing new story, one that sticks with me.  Someone on Facebook linked to this great David Quammen story, "Walking Out."  It reminds me of Jack London's "To Build a Fire."  Nothing more compelling than life and death.  You should go and read the whole thing immediately, but I wanted to highlight this part.  Isn't it great how this dialog says so much about the father and son's relationship and the father and mother's relationship? Amazing stuff.

David Quammen, by Joel Sartore (via)

"We have a moose tag," his father shouted.

The boy said nothing. He refused to care what it meant, that they had a moose tag.

"I've got one picked out. A bull. I've stalked him for two weeks. Up in the Crazies. When we get to the cabin, we'll build a good roaring fire." With only the charade of a pause, he added, "Your mother." It was said like a question. The boy waited. "How is she?"

"All right, I guess." Over the jeep's howl, with the wind stealing his voice, the boy too had to shout.

"Are you friends with her?"

"I guess so."

"Is she still a beautiful lady?"

"I don't know. I guess so. I don't know that."

"You must know that. Is she starting to get wrinkled like me? Does she seem worried and sad? Or is she just still a fine beautiful lady? You must know that."

"She's still a beautiful lady, I guess."

"Did she tell you any messages for me?"

"She said … she said I should give you her love," the boy lied, impulsively and clumsily. He was at once embarrassed that he done it.

"Oh," his father said. "Thank you, David."

February 6, 2014

Endings, or a Failure of Imagination

Happy Endings, by Terry Jackson (via)

I’ve been thinking about endings.  The endings of stories are the payoffs.  This is where the author says, “Hey, this is how it really is” or “This is how it should be.” 

You can see authors trying to find a new way for society to be, trying to imagine a world that is better.  Or you can see them failing, them seeing no way out. 

And it says something about me that I tend to write at least ambivalent endings, if not tragedies.  I have a hard time with happy endings.  They often seem contrived.  Is that a failure of imagination on my part?  Me, who has long considered herself an optimist?

One thing is for sure.  The author needs to push against her or his own proclivities and against received plot lines and against society’s expectations.  It all depends on the internal logic of the story, but I think authors have an imaginative duty to lead the way, to try to imagine a different ending. 

That’s the only way we as a society can change.

February 5, 2014

'Amour'

Amour (via)
I’ve been wanting to watch the movie Amour since it came out, and I finally got the chance to this weekend.  I thought, that’s my kind of movie, and it was.

It’s the story of an elderly couple, Anne and Georges, who are retired music teachers.  In the first scene, Anne has a ministroke while Georges watches.  She stares off into space at the breakfast table and doesn’t respond when he touches her.  The rest of the movie is her slow decline and him trying to take care of her, as she doesn’t want to go back into the hospital.

The brilliance of this movie is the way it captures the everyday, the significant details.  They sit at a table eating and chatting, and everything they do and say is both so right for that moment, so exactly mundane and beautiful, but also ripe with larger significance. 

For example, a pigeon gets into their beautiful apartment twice through an open window.  An everyday sort of thing.  But the symbol of the pigeon means so much more.  It’s hope, it’s life, it’s escape, it’s love.  The first time, Georges shoos it out the window.  The second time he catches it by throwing a towel over it and then sits in the chair petting it.

And in it’s very quiet and subtle way, the movie reminds me of Million Dollar Baby, the Clint Eastwood-Hillary Swank boxing movie.  There’s one scene in particular where Anne refuses to eat and drink and spits water out that’s like the Hillary Swank character in Million Dollar Baby, but also because they are both about the human spirit and about love, respect, and dignity.

What Amour does in the medium of film, I aspire to do in fiction: mold everyday lived experience to have such coherent resonance and emotional impact.

February 4, 2014

Productivity


Love this piece by Emerald Depths

I’ve been reading ~ er, skimming ~ books on productivity.  This inevitably happens when I feel like I’m not getting enough done in my life.  Which is ironic because I’m being really very productive out of necessity, what with the book coming out.  Plus, 2014 came in with a bang in a number of other ways, and I’ve been totally slammed.

And since I’ve read these books before, they’re all tips that I’m familiar with, but it’s good to be reminded.  Prioritize the big things in your life.  Focus your time on those things that are important and in such a way that is the most efficient.  Try to keep your email inbox empty.  Go through and delete spam, do those things that take less than 2 minutes, and those that take longer file somewhere.  Let things go. Put your power where your passion is.

Of course, what makes this all the more complicated is that I have a natural long-cycle manic depressive cycle that pulls me first one way and then another. Boy, it’s great when I’m in the manic phase, but then I get to anticipate the inevitable crash.  

But, hey, I’m full-bore right now and it’s all good!  Keep on trucking!