Do good with a good book

Too much of my state is on fire again this summer. The six hundred-plus residents of the small town of Pateros had to evacuate last night, and I understand somewhere around one hundred of their homes won’t be there when they return.

From the cool joy of talking and learning about writing and books over here in Seattle, my small contribution is to donate my share of all proceeds from An Alien’s Guide sales at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference this weekend to the local Red Cross. So if you are coming down to our Author Autograph Party tonight, know that your purchase will do a small good for a small town.

If you aren’t local, then take a moment to send a thought to the universe for anyone who needs our attention and support, and share what you can.

Join Us in Seattle!

Every year, the terrific folks who put on the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference host a Friday night autograph party. Open to the public, readers (and fellow writers) can meet their favorite authors, talk about books, buy a book, bring a book to get signed, and hob nob with others who love writing and reading.

This Friday, join us at the Hilton Airport Conference Center near SeaTac airport, starting at 8:30pm. PNWA is ready for “over sixty award-winning and NYT best-selling” authors to be at the party with their books. I’ll be there to sign copies of An Alien’s Guide (available at the on-site conference bookstore, or at Amazon, Smashwords, etc).

But don’t be surprised if you join us and find, at that moment, I’m not at my assigned seat – because at heart I’m a reader. It’s quite likely I will have wandered over to meet one of those other authors, someone who created a story I’m about to fall in love with, and I’m getting a book signed, too.

If that happens, just holler. (And if you mention this blog post, I’ll give you some cool You, Jane swag as a souvenir of a fun night you’ll want to remember.)

More info at

Cherish the Moment: July’s Lucky 13 Story

On the thirteenth of each month, I host a guest blogger (or write a piece myself) about the role luck plays in writing, and in life. This month’s planned guest blogger needed to reschedule. She’s dealing with a young son who has a serious illness.

Two nights ago, I ran into a friend who had just lost his teenage son to an apparent suicide. And the day after that, my mother helped move her beloved husband of the last four years to a care facility, as his brain tumor makes it impossible for her to continue to care for him at their home.

A double rainbow in the sky over Ellensburg, just before a storm swept through.

A double rainbow in the sky over Ellensburg, just before a summer storm swept through.

So in their honor, I’m giving this month’s lucky blog (and my contribution to the Writers’ Vineyard, since they fall on the same day) over to a plea to us all to cherish each moment we have with those we love.

After all, as writers and as humans, being given someone to love is the best luck we can have.

Savvy Authors: Small Press, Big Rewards

Here’s an excerpt from my recent contribution to the Savvy Authors blog, a little bit of a thing about working with a small press. (Last week, when it came out, I was puppy-sitting a small dog. Small puppy, big distraction!)

I remember the moment I opened the email that held within its deceptively simple pixellated words the phrase “contract offer.” I squealed like a little girl who just won the biggest, fluffiest, pinkest stuffed pony at the circus midway. Moments of suspense passed heavily for my boyfriend, who could not understand the meaning behind my squealing. “Is everyone okay? Is it bad news? Are you all right? Do you need the Heimlich? How many fingers am I holding up?” He tried everything until I calmed down enough to explain I’d just been offered a contract to publish my first novel.

Read the whole post here. 

Independence Celebrations

My annual ritual on Independence Day (July 4 here in the US) is to celebrate independence from something meaningful. Past years I tried spending a day being independent from worry, from judging others, and from clinging to expectations. (For last year’s piece on my No Expectations holiday, click here.)

As I’ve been promoting You, Jane and its message of “write your own happy ending,” it seems celebrating independence should be natural. Yet when I woke up this morning, and sat on my porch with my coffee (always) and my brother and sister-in-law’s puppy (a dog-sitting treat!), I thought about all the reasons we should celebrate our dependence on one another.

We don’t go through this life alone. We all experience times of deep loneliness, I know. And, many of us crave time by ourselves for quiet thinking (or enjoying some rock and roll cranked up loud on the stereo). But every day, we rely on others to make it from sunup to sundown.

Summer Sunset

A recent summer sundown here in the Burg.

We depend on people to open stores, patrol our streets, put out wildfires. Run gas stations and keep water flowing through our plumbing system. Pick up our garbage, teach our community’s children, repair power systems so our lights will turn on.

If we’re truly lucky, we also depend on people to listen to us. Take us seriously when we need it, and make us laugh at ourselves when we need to. We depend on the company of our dogs, cats, and other animal companions to be sure we get up, fill water bowls, go for walks, and laugh at them (or ourselves, when we need to). We depend on friends to let us know they’re thinking of us, and family to annoy and delight us in the way only family can. We depend on a lover’s touch, a sweetheart’s whisper, a partner’s willingness to hold us as we weep, vomit, grieve, heal.

So in honor of Independence Day this year, I salute all the ways we need one another. Let us be joyful in our acknowledgment of our reliance on others, and grateful for the opportunity to be the one someone else depends upon today.

Coffee Thoughts: Coffee, Books, & a Blog

Today I’m guest blogging on Coffee Thoughts, in their “Coffee, Books, & a Blog” feature, thanks to the good folks at Coffee Time Romance and More. Here’s a sip:

Coffee Thoughts LogoHello coffee and book lovers – have I found my tribe or what? This early summer morning the sun is out here in central Washington state, and our notoriously wicked valley wind is a-blowing. I’ve got a nice little sheltered patio where I sit and sip the equally wicked strong coffee that gets me going every morning…

Maybe we can all relate to feeling stuck, being afraid to move forward, needing some kind of crisis to push us into the future. Truth is, we’re all authoring our own life stories.

Read the whole piece here!

The Wisdom of Laughter: Real Life Lessons from Fiction

Several people in my circle are dealing with cancer and other serious illness. Old and young and in-between, they must find ways to cope with diagnosis, treatment, surgeries, and caregiving. And decisions. So many decisions that have to be made. For June’s “Fictional Lessons for An All-Too-Real Life,” it put me in mind of this passage from You, Jane.


It was all enough to make a Doubting Angel really, well, doubt herself. She’d tried not to show it much, especially to the Wicked Spirit, but he always seemed to know anyway. He’d laugh at her. It reminded her of a bumper sticker she’d seen one day. “Your friends will help you up when you fall, but your best friend will knock you back down and laugh at you.”

The Doubting Angel didn’t entirely see how that made someone your best friend, especially when she craved comforting reassurances.

But the Wicked Spirit knew the wisdom of laughter, why it was often better to knock someone back down. It made them prove to themselves they could get back up. And why it was better to laugh at them—to remind them that a bad day is not a broken computer, or a lost set of keys, or rain in July. A bad day is not a temporary fall.

A bad day is a drug addiction that ruins a young life. A bad day is a plane crash that takes young men in their prime. A bad day is a bright yellow taxicab that comes out of nowhere and hits a child.

The Wicked Spirit would have to give a few people a few very bad days. And he would have to find a way to get them to laugh.

That’s why the Wicked Spirit never traveled without Dogs. Dogs know the wisdom of laughter, too, and they know it’s even more important when a day is truly bad. Critically injured child bad.laughing dog

That’s when laughter is at its most scarce, and anything scarce becomes more precious.