Barn Dance! Almost Soon!

Edgar lips (4)Do you have friends who love playing games? My relatives were big card players–Pinochle, Canasta, Cribbage. I grew up to the sound track of shuffling cards. When Uncle Perlie came visiting, you could count on beer, stinky cheese, and those oily canned oysters.

Back in the day, I had friends who held board game weekends with Saturday all-nighters: Monopoly, Risk, and Clue, supported by pizza, chips, and beer.

Board games are technologized now. I think it’s called gaming, a verb, and singletons with pasty skin sit in cold dark rooms, hunkered over a device that pits cartoon war-gods with blaring guns against little kittens and ducklings. I think they eat sticks and dirt.

None of my friends ever played word games like Scrabble or crossword puzzles; that would defeat the purpose since those are the chosen games of the Intelligentsia. Word games had that nasty by-product of falling limply into the category of educational. [Pre-canned oysters rejoice!]

I don’t enjoy playing games. Yes, somewhere a room full of ex-boyfriends-and-husbands hold open hands above their heads, nodding in affirmation, and some testify, “Boy Howdy” in agreement. I don’t mean that; I mean whatever the current name for board games is…

The problem with making a blanket statement like that is there’s always, always, an exception to the rule. Then we do a butt-fall into some foreign place and notice in hindsight that perhaps we weren’t quite right about what we thought we didn’t like. Char-fried brussel sprouts with vinegar and brown sugar, for example.

And so it is with me and my favorite game. Apparently. It seems there’s something I might like as much as writing and it hurts my suffering-author-street-cred. I’m embarrassed to admit I enjoy editing; sliding words around, replacing one with another, looking for a smaller word to make a bigger impact. [Pre-canned oysters squint their tiny eyes with uncertainty about their future.]

I might spend a couple of hours writing a short thousand-word essay and then, as if I’m slipping into a hot tub, I settle into a dreamy few hours of editing. Do I over-indulge? If so, why do I constantly miss that correctly-spelled wrong word? Like now instead of know. Or if instead of is. Oy, these pesky little words that trip me up while trying to carve and sculpt just the right turn of phrase.

The last time I wrote about editing, I immediately got two emails from readers about needed edits in that very editing essay. The irony is not lost on me, and still I plow ahead… It’s the undaunted sign of a fanatic.

WEEKLY UPDATE: I’m half-way through editing Barn Dance. It’s the next book and I’m hoping to have it out by the New Year. Even as I love to languish in editing, I’ll try to hurry. As soon as I’m done with this edit, I’ll send the manuscript off to an edit-pro with a huge smile. In a few weeks, it’ll be returned with the computer version of red ink all over it. It’s an enthusiastic investment; I really love this part. It’s where I learn even more about punctuation and word tense–wildly spellbinding to a WordNerd like me. After that, I’ll incorporate those corrections and move on to the final version.

In a way, Barn Dance is a bit like both of the last two books. It is like Stable Relation, in that there are stories of ranch dogs and rescue horses, baby llamas and sage donkeys, goat anarchists and the most elusive and cantankerous creature of all–the old gray mare. Who writes. And it’s like Relaxed & Forward in that the book is structured in a short essay format.

My personal gaming reality? I sit in a cock-pit of two computer monitors and a keyboard. The window in front of me faces west; my pond and Pikes Peak. The window to my right opens to my barn. My soundtrack is quacking and braying and nickering, and the snacks of choice: apples and cheese and cookies, with time appropriate tea or wine.

It’s true. I’m the most similar to the pasty players in the basement; odd hours off by myself, staring at a lit-up screen and somewhat defensive about what I eat while making bad jokes about ducklings. I work at the fantasy of playing my game as a full-time job. A job that, if I’m wildly successful, could eventually rise to the coveted level of almost minimum wage.

As always, thanks so much for your support and comments. I couldn’t do it without you. And have a grate day!


Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Equine Pro

 

Crossing a Line, One Year Later

clara loveletterWhen I was twenty-four and just a baby goldsmith, I decided I wanted to show my one-of-a-kind jewelry in a New York gallery. Most of my friends were just out of college and I wanted to think my self-taught education was in line. I steeled my heart, borrowed a typewriter, enclosed some slides, and mailed off an inquiry to the best fine art jewelry gallery in Manhattan, located on Fifth Avenue across from MOMA.

Pigs fly; I got a positive response by return mail and then borrowed money to buy the gold and gemstones for the new pieces. A few weeks after that, I boarded a plane wearing jeans and a t-shirt, carrying a backpack with new collection of work tucked inside. Such a risk. It all felt like watching a foreign film–precarious and surreal.

I checked into the Fashion Institute Dorm, changed into a ridiculous white dress with huge shoulder pads that made me look like an aircraft carrier, and set about walking the two miles to the gallery. That way I’d have plenty of time to get up a good head of anxiety and blister a toe in my new shoes. The meeting was a blur; I remembered to shake hands when I met the gallery director. In a conference room, I pulled my work out one piece at a time and he critiqued as I went, using phrases like “negative space” and “visual tension.” All I could think was Just say it–not acceptable, you don’t need to explain how bad my work is… and then he finished with a question, “Can you leave the pieces with us today?”

The rest of the day is even more of a blur. I blistered the rest of my toes going back to the dorm; I might have skipped most of the way. When I got some of my wits back the next day, I called the gallery to thank them again and got the news that one piece had sold already.

I said the word out-loud: Artist. Calling myself that name in my basement studio was one thing, but now I’d crossed a line. Okay, skipped over it really, but it changed things. Over the next year, I had work in galleries across the country, and almost as an afterthought, my work got more popular at home. I also lost a couple of friends. They stepped away quietly but I noticed. The attempts to reconnect failed. Is there such a thing as success guilt?

Maybe you know the feeling. A dear friend plans a wedding on the heels of the worst break-up of your life. You get a promotion in your dream career when your sister is out of work. If you’re in a place of scarcity it can feel like there isn’t enough luck to go around and one person’s gain depletes your possibility. Or if you’re the one with good news, you bite your tongue because mentioning your good fortune would be like rubbing salt in the their wound. Most of us have been in a place where it takes as much courage to say congratulations as it does to put on the white dress.

A year ago, I crossed another line. I went from writing endlessly in a little studio to holding an actual physical copy of my memoir, Stable Relation, in my hand. When I exposed it to the world, and I exposed myself as well. It took Zen-like focus and wild audacity. I knew a hard reckoning would come. On the high side, no silly white dress.

Writing is like constructing Frankenstein. Playing god with an 80,000 word manuscript, and when it’s finally done, being brought to your knees, trying to wrestle five words into a byline. It’s a hope that your words will catch the wind and at the same time, the profound understanding that you are less than a fleck of dust in this big, complicated world. It’s yelling, “Hey, look at me!” and knowing that your underwear is on your head.

And then, I saw a photo online of my book on someone else’s tablecloth and my mind imploded. In the next few days, more readers posted photos of the book and Stable Relation became my traveling gnome. I was over the moon. I was hiding under my bed.

Reviews started coming in and most were positive. People commonly said that they couldn’t put the book down; they’d finished it without taking a breath. Where’s the next book?

Wait! This literary “snack” had taken me two and a half years to write, a few thousand dollars, and a serious time commitment every single day since. What’s the word for simultaneously choking and laugh-howling with horror?

A year later, this is what I notice: I can laugh without choking again. My list of improbable things has been severely edited and my battered confidence is standing steady. I’m word-fearless and inspired to write stronger every day. I even dabble in poetry; fearless I tell you!

I’ve received heartfelt emails from kindred spirits in other countries, made friends with people I’m in awe of, and my rural mail-carrier told me her mother loved my book.

Now and then, I notice something missing. Someone missing. I don’t need a parade but those who have remained silent are noticed. I hope they’re well. What does it mean when we choose to miss events in our friends lives? When we don’t acknowledge passages like divorces or children born or new paths taken? Have I offended them? Could it be that our emotional landscapes at odds with each other?

I spend so much of time trying to be a human thesaurus, always searching for the right words to understand these inexplicable contradictions. All the while I’m painfully aware that I can’t control how those same words will be heard…in my writing or in my life.

In the end, maybe assuming good intention is a more productive use of energy than doubting motives. Change has an ironic sense of humor and we might do better to smile and act like we’re in on the joke, even in hard times. The other word for that is grace.

To my blog readers here, I’ve used this space to transition myself into my new surroundings. It’s been the place where I confess my dreams and my shortcomings. I wander around in old pajamas and spill coffee on my keyboard. Mainly I sit in slack-jawed amazement, balanced between wild joy and abject dread. If you have been with me here from the start, what tolerance you’ve shown. I’m sure I haven’t thanked you enough. I’m equally sure you can’t know how much your support has carried me. It’s been the very best part.

Thank you. Big. Always.

 

Quote-Hoarding as Therapy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was called The Book of Quotes, curated by two guys in my high school. They were skinny/tall, a bit too smart, and not remotely athletic–way before that geek title was claimed with pride. Back when a dork’s best defense was his intelligence. The Book of Quotes was their prized possession; a spiral notebook carried everywhere, poised to immortalize the key words, when the world became bizarre. Entries were made daily, of course.

I was friends with the dark-haired one but definitely not smart/male/cool enough to hang with these guys on a regular basis. We were self-segregated in those days. Okay, that part hasn’t changed much. But one day when we were sitting in the library, they opened the sacred book and read a quote–obscure and out-of-context. It went splat out on the table, followed by snorting, giggling, and faking sophistication while pushing my glasses back up my nose again. We all just wanted to be in on a joke instead of the butt of one.

I had a secret. I kept a book of quotes, too. It wasn’t like theirs; mine was meant to be an oracle for lost girls. Like this:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”― Eleanor Roosevelt

You catch my drift. Mine didn’t involve arcane jokes or adolescent innuendos. Mine was literary and heartfelt. The quotes were my battle cry because if a good quote is repeated enough times, it becomes an internal tattoo.

 “Assume a virtue if you have it not.” Shakespeare
The habit stuck; I’ve been a quote-hoarder all these years but never so much as when I was starting to write my memoir, Stable Relation.  My studio was wallpapered with tape, thumb-tacks, and hand-written quotes that I relied on like a professional therapist. Every morning, I rolled out of bed hours before breakfast, let the dogs out, and started writing. I had no idea that birds were up in the dark, too, but they warbled and chirped a soundtrack to my book. I typed on, in the shadow of the quote that was my long-time favorite:
Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. –Rabindranath Tagor

When an old-friend-quote shows up in real life, take it as an omen.

This blog started out as wishful thinking. I’d just finished my book and I was strangely confident. Sink or swim; Stable Relation was just what I wanted it to be. Every word of it.

The problem was what to do next. How had it not occurred to me that writing the book wasn’t going to be enough? Now what? I had no confidence in the process.  I was still that girl who chanted the magical words from other books. In a world of literary giants, my little book was invisible…unless I spoke up for it. A daunting prospect, so I recycled an extremely well-worn quote for that:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Or in my case, one blog post. Here’s where I thank you, dear reader, again and again. It’s been a wild hike this last eighteen months.

The full-circle-crazy part? It happened while scrolling through Facebook. I came upon a quote that I thought about copying for an instant… but then I recognized the attached photo. It was one of mine, and now that I looked closer… I hadn’t recognized the words out-of-context. For all of the editing and word arranging needed to tell a story just right, I’d never once thought of dissecting my writing into a small bite. But umm, now that I think about it, that is how a quote happens, isn’t it? What a world!

Are you a quote collector, too? Words are free magic. We share them like our breath, our experience, our mutual lives. Words come from teenage boys, or ancient texts, or our own imagination, to remind us we are more alike than different.

The magic happens when a printed word takes flight, and carries us along.

Shrews for Shakespeare

mousekiller ShakespeareI was an above average student, as long as I could avoid any science class involving frogs. Then in junior year English, we had to read a play by Shakespeare. I joined the chorus of moaning and whining. For crying out loud, what language was this anyway? But then a crazy thing happened; something that I couldn’t explain because in 1970 we hadn’t invented the word GEEK yet. At first the Bard’s language was intimidating… but it dawned on me that I understood most of the words. Even more bizarre, I liked the writing. Then in true teenage fashion, I really liked liking it. No one was more surprised than me. Well, except for my family.

My father ruled our home with a strong hand and no one was smarter than him. Not the stupid people on the news or the stupid politicians or the stupid rich people. And most certainly, not his daughter.

His rant began when he saw my school books. What a waste of time to read something that old! He said schools didn’t teach anything worthwhile and when I defended reading Shakespeare, he accused me of trying to get above my raising. Not actually good news in his world view. You would have thought I was pregnant with Shakespeare’s baby. My response was, well, shrew-ish.

Public school had been a godsend. While books might have been the passport to the world, we didn’t have them at home; without school I would have been lost. And reading Shakespeare was how my particular rebellion began.

After graduation, I took a trip with my boyfriend but that wasn’t the worst part. I did something that proved I was a smarty-pants. We went to a Shakespeare festival in the next state. The response from my father was predictable. Other kids wrecked cars or had drug problems but all that paled in comparison to my father’s problem: A daughter with the beginnings of an education and a desire for a bigger life.

“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart concealing it will break.”   

Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew.

Surely every parent feels this rub. My father was defensive and I almost understood. He was a product of the depression, holding onto a feeling of lack all his life. He believed in the class system that put him down; that had never given him what he felt he deserved. It wasn’t that my father wanted me to fail; he just didn’t want me to do better than he had. He didn’t want to be shown up by a girl.

I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. It’s still all the rage to try to intimidate girls and women into silence. In 2012, Malala Yousafzai reminded the world there is nothing as scary as a school girl with a book. She survived an assassination attempt and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize; extremes on the continuum that all women walk.

I recently read that the most prevalent human rights issue in the world is the oppression of women. I can believe it; the impact of sexism crosses lines of race, age, education, and income–across cultures and down through time. Insidiously common because it starts at home, misogyny is just an inbred superiority complex, and as common as dirty laundry and dishes in the sink.

When college didn’t happen, I home-schooled myself. I spent my twenties with an endless line of Penguin Classics in my backpack, sometimes writing unsolicited papers on them. An artist by vocation and an English major by avocation.

I learned to own my words and to translate other words in my favor. Society called men ambitious, while the name for same traits in a woman was not nearly so flattering. I wish that B-word that rhymes with witch would be replaced with Shrew. It’s a nostalgic word that reminds me of the first time I consciously became aware of my own intelligence. Shrew. Just hearing it makes my shoulders straighten a bit.

Understatement: I’m no Shakespeare.

Sometimes at book-talks, people ask me who my favorite authors are and I rattle off a list–mostly women, I notice. I never mention the Bard. I sound like an elitist even calling him the Bard. As if I can still be shamed for exercising my brain. As if being a geek shouldn’t be something to brag about.

Well, I’ll raise my shrew-ish hand high and proclaim it: Shakespeare was my first.

Chime in; who got inside your brain and stirred it up? How did you first get above your raising?

We Had a Book Club Before Oprah.

We formed a book club before it was popular. You can tell by our dated name: Women who read too much (and the dogs that love them.) We were an eclectic group of women, of varied backgrounds and status, with jobs that ranged from engineers to doctors to tech queens to research scientists and everything to the left and right. In the beginning we didn’t all know each other but we did have one huge commonality: we loved books. I read the best books of my life with those women.

Screenshot (10)
The Parliament of Eight Wise Owls book club, with two readers off screen.

Our first book was Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. It set the bar high but I could list another fifty just as good. In the beginning I was a dyed-in-the-wool fiction reader, but being in the club meant reading books that you probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. Every time it was Lauren’s turn, she picked a non-fiction book. I’d silently grumble, then end up wild about the book, until I finally switched sides entirely.

We took turns picking authors from around the world, and then matched our potluck dinner menus to the book theme or nationality. We began each meeting with a glass of wine, but it was the book talk that I valued the most; first reasoning out my opinion, then seeing that book from other perspectives, and then enjoying the routine every month for a few years. There was always a delicious feeling walking up to the door with a covered dish and the latest read, anxious for our particular brand of bookish sisterhood.

And the elephant in my brain the entire time; the un-named what-if was always behind me, leaning against a wall. He whispered, “What if it was your book? What if you ever wrote yours??” It was a dream so precious and improbable that I made up an imaginary sarcastic loner to poke me, rather than share it out loud to my friends.

Life happened; there were weddings and divorces, members transitioned in and out, and eventually I moved away. For a while I commuted back but there were changes in my life that made returning difficult. Some of the other original members fell away that next year as well, but I understand the book club is still reading on. Long live the Women Who Read Too Much; thirteen years later and I’m still curious about what they’re reading.

It’s been a hectic month here, crowded with events I would never have dreamed of in my book club years. I was invited to take part in an event for local authors at the Pikes Peak Library District. Libraries are a sacred place, you know. Then traveling to the Midwest Horse Fair and meeting readers there was amazing, as well as having a day at Main Stay Farm. I gave a webinar I created from a blog post, and I just generally talked with authors and met readers. I’ve been busier with book work lately than my day job. (Which isn’t saying much if your day job is outside work and it’s springtime in the Rockies.)

NIEAseal-2014-Finalist-XLThen this week an email informed me that Stable Relation had been selected as a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards. It’s not a well-known as a Pulitzer but it’s special to me and I’m very grateful. It comes with a promotion. Now I’m officially an “award-winning” author. It means I can post this sticker. With a big smile.

But that isn’t the best thing that happened this week. I got another email, this time from someone trying to find examples of my goldsmithing online. I assumed she was an old client and I told her that I was out of the business. Then she told me that her book club, The Parliament of Eight Wise Owls, from Livermore, CA, had chosen my book. They were meeting that night. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard of a book club reading Stable Relation, but it was certainly my first invitation to join the conversation! I downloaded Skype, tidied myself up, and sat quietly at my computer. At the appointed time, and by the grace of the internet, I joined them. It started with cheers and laughter on all sides. I asked if they had wine, and my computer screen was instantly filled with glasses. So I lifted mine as well and we started by toasting book clubs.

They each introduced themselves with wit and candor, and I was warmly included in their circle like an old friend. We talked about authors we liked and the value of memoir and Stable Relation might have come up. I spoke as an author part of the time, and a longtime book-clubber the rest of the time. My smile muscles were exhausted by the time I said good-bye, but just before that, I offered to send them bookmarks, if someone would send a list of the names for spelling. Susan sent me that list, with a short paragraph describing each member with such affection. They are a group rich in experience and kindness–the perfect bookish sisterhood.

(The Owls found my book online, largely because of reviews. So thanks to you, if you left a review, and if you’ve meant to leave one, a gentle reminder. It makes all the difference on this side.)

And thank you, Owls, from your honorary member! Here’s to book clubs; sharing books is a great way to build friendships. Books have opened unexpected doors for me, connecting the past and the future, in ways that fiction can’t imagine. Because for me there’s nothing that joins people like a good dose of real life non-fiction.

When I Met You.

20160313_140155-1Welcome to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. Let me start by saying it was never my fantasy to spend a few days standing on the cement floor of a convention hall, under fluorescent lights with no windows. It came with the extra tease that people walked by all day long, on the way to the barn where the horses are stalled, while I stood behind my book table.

The other authors did a great job of hawking their books, confidently asking people passing to stop and look, and I just couldn’t start the conversation with buy mine!

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not retired and I don’t have a trust fund. I need book sales just as much as anyone. At the same time, I can only do this selling thing the way I can do it. If I start to feel like the guy at the state fair selling the Chop-o-matic… well, it won’t work for me. It’s awkward; I’m the one who hates it when people try to sell me things. Clearly, I have issues. So I was cross-dressing as an author, wishing I was in the barn where I belong, and trying to find the words that wouldn’t betray my books or me.

That was when I met you.

You were the Mom who knew nothing about horses, but came along with your daughter who was transforming herself in this horse world you don’t understand. All you could see was how beautiful and competent she’s becoming.

You were the husband of the woman who stopped to tell me she loved my blog; you were quiet until we compared dirt bikes to horses, and found we had a sense of humor in common.

You were the lonely horse owner who came back a few times to tell me again about how your rescue horse chose you, and follows you, and shares your heart in a way that has never happened before in the history of mankind.

You were the elderly woman who no longer rides, but still belonged there with us.

And maybe my favorite: the teen girl whose friends competed, while she stayed loyal to the leased,  lame, and un-rideable horse who was her best friend. What a horsewoman she’ll make!

Thanks for the reminder that authors, even a memoirist like me, need to tell the personal story that is a shared experience. Sometimes we get so wound up in our own subplot, that we can’t see the bigger story. (Replay the famous Rick-Ilsa Hill of Beans speech from Casablanca one more time!) I could have written a chapter for each of the people I met. Is this where the term Dear Reader comes from? It’s a term I’ll use will full heartfelt affection from now on. I loved meeting you.

In the meanwhile, it’s springtime on the high prairie! It isn’t green yet, but the birds are back and the hibernation is over. We’re all a little itchy to get on with Our Upcoming Events!

  • Midwest Horse Fair, April 15-17, in Madison, WI. I will be in the Horse’n Around Magazine booth, #2304. Drop by and tell me about your horse!
  • Mountain of Authors, April 23, 11-5, Pikes Peak Library District, at Library 21c, located at 1175 Chapel Hills Dr, CS, 80920. This is an informative day with speakers and a wealth of local talent.
  • WEBINAR Calming Signals: Are you Listening?, May 10, 7pm ET, 5pm,MT. Windrush Farm in Massachusetts invited me to create a webinar. It’s available for anyone to watch live, or taped at a later time, with proceeds to benefit their therapeutic riding program. Who knew making this presentation would be so much fun?
  • Horse Symposium, Oslo, Norway. October 29-30. International speakers on horse welfare. I’ll present on Leadership that Builds Confidence and Ulcers and Stress. I’m very excited about meeting the people at this event.

This week I’m off to Madison, WI, for the Midwest Horse Fair. Please stop by and distract me from myself!

For as solitary as writing is, it’s also the thing that brings so many intriguing people into my experience. I am so profoundly grateful to you, DEAR READER, for the stories you share with me, as we exchange notes on this horse/life. It’s the thing I never expect but appreciate the most–the reminder that we are all more alike than different. Thank you.

 

 

Donkey Skills for the Recovering Introvert

Critically acclaimedThey say you always remember your first. Back then you were worthless for anything but daydreaming. Tossing in damp sheets at night, waking to a full moon, and playing it out in your head, over and over again. Then up in the wee hours, clutching a cup of tea, and worrying about how it would all work out in the end. I’m talking about book writing, of course.

“There is a romantic notion to writing a novel, especially when you are starting it. […] A lot of 50-page unfinished novels are sitting in a lot of drawers across this country. Well, what it takes at that point is discipline […] It’s largely an act of perseverance […] The story really wants to defeat you, and you just have to be more mulish than the story.”— Khaled Hosseini

Stubborn? Being more “mulish” than the story? Ha! We totally own that; us donkeys are the stuff that inspired mules in the first place. Let the writing romance continue!

If you ask me, writing is the easy and fun part. The challenging part–the Big Girl Panties part–came later. Yes, I created this blog to whine about my dysfunctional relationship with the scary bits–the publishing and promotional aspects.

Silly me. It ends up that experience really is the best teacher, and to my surprise, even the business parts are wild fun. I’ve become absolutely chatty. Maybe I’m channeling Edgar Rice Burro.

Here are my upcoming events. Come and introduce yourself…

  • Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, Denver, March 11-13, NE corner of the Expo Hall. I’ll be in the Author’s Co-op booth, signing both my books and talking about horses.
  • Mile High Mustang Club, Elizabeth, CO, March 22, 6:30pm: Speaking on Relationship Advice from Your Horse: Leadership that builds confidence in both partners.
  • Midwest Horse Fair, Madison, WI, April 15-17, with the Horse’n Around Magazine (booth 2304 in the main hall of EXPO building) signing book and still talking about horses.
  • Mainstay Farm Clinic. Richmond, IL, April 18th, private clinic.
  • Mountain of Authors, Pikes Peak Library District. Colorado Springs, CO, Saturday, April 23.
  • Webinar for Windrush Farm, May 10th, Calming Signals: Are You Listening? (info here: http://wp.me/p2G3Wf-66 ) Anyone can join us; proceeds benefit their therapeutic riding program!
  • Horse Symposium, Oslo, Norway, October 29-30. Presenter, more details to follow.

If you belong to a group that might enjoy a presentation or clinic, contact me through the link at the top of the page. I’d be happy to talk about any ideas you have.

And please, the usual heartfelt request to please take a moment and post a review–Stable Relation if you haven’t already, or Relaxed & Forward, when you’ve finished it–to Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. Indie books only stay afloat by word of mouth, so I count on you. Reviews keep the title alive on the search engines and that means that my books come up on other pages as a recommendation. It’s incredibly valuable in getting them in front of brand new eyes. In this way, Amazon and Barnes and Noble actually advertise for me, and in case it isn’t obvious, my advertising budget could use the help.

Whether you leave a review or not, most of all know that I appreciate each of you taking the risk on my books. Reading time is a precious commodity and sharing that means so much. Thank you for letting me be on your nightstand.

At the beginning of this adventure, I was waving a white flag and whining about being an introvert. Shame on me. I was mulish enough to write the books in the first place; I just needed to adjust my ears a bit. I’ve got some old time donkey traits that serve me well. I’ll bray it out just like Edgar, with confidence, honesty, and when required, stubbornness. Why, it’s a compliment when you look at it in the right light.

Is there some dream that your past is keeping you shy about? Because I’m pretty sure we all have an inner donkey if we look. I’d bet my ass on it.