Lucky 13: An Ode to Discworld

We are all lucky to have lived in a time and place where Discworld came to our imaginations, from the imagination of Sir Terry Pratchett. He walked away with Death this week, but Discworld lives on. (As does the Long Earth, and of course, the prophecies of Agnes Nutter and other Good Omens.)

Some quotes from Sir Terry’s work and life that remind us of our good fortune:

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”

“It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.”

And finally, fittingly…

“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”

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Friday the 13th: The Luck of Love, For Which There is No Recipe

Here is a little piece I wrote at a workshop last weekend. I thought more about writing than love when I jotted it down, but upon re-reading, I think it fits both. 

~*~

If anyone has the recipe for this, it is hand-written and stained with coffee, milk, flour, chocolate, grease.

The words are smudged nearly beyond recognition. You simply need to watch your

mother, grandfather, uncle, sister, cousin

cook. Woman in 1930's kitchen

See his hands measure out ingredients. Watch the delicate muscles in her wrists flex as she stirs. Smell the aroma of flame meeting food, hear the sizzle and splash, feel the smoothness or lumpiness, taste the raw underdone or burnt to a crisp results. Get yourself elbow deep in the perfection of creation.

Then, your

granddaughter, niece, cousin, grandson, neighbor

will ask you to write down the recipe for the glorious dish you shared.

And you will think, there isn’t one.

It’s not a recipe, after all. It is a story, an adventure, a tall tale, a wish.

Don’t worry, you say. Just go into your kitchen, and play.

A Writer’s Luck for 2015

For today’s Lucky 13 blog, I dreamed up a top-ten list of the good luck we writers wish for in this beautiful new year.

A Writer’s Wishes for Good Luck in 2015

A lucky double rainbow
A lucky double rainbow

10. The “bestseller” list becomes the “best written” list.

9. Editors earn eligibility for the Pulitzer and/or Nobel Prize.

8. Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga form a book group.

7. Independent bookstores out sell Wal-Mart.

6. Our muses discover a fountain of eternal youth, so they never get old, age, or disappear.

5. Women’s pajamas are all made with pockets, so we can write in our own PJ’s instead of stealing our husband’s/boyfriend’s/brother’s.

4. All book publishers and distributors – print and e-book – join forces to bring great stories to readers at fair prices that support a living wage for authors.

3. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the National Book Awards.

2. Martin Scorsese and Ken Burns team up to make films based on my books. (Okay, that one was just for me.)

And the most important wish for writerly luck in 2015…

1. Readers’ imaginations continue to provide the alchemy that makes our stories sing.

Grateful new year

Research shows that practicing gratitude brings deeper and more lasting happiness than, well, just about anything else. Among the many things, people, and experiences for which I am grateful this year, a few strike me as worth sharing.

  • Terrific local, independent bookstores like Jerrol’s and A Book for All Seasons, whose support for local, independent authors and their own communities knows no bounds.
  • The Ellensburg Public Library – in 2014 they provided me with inspiration galore. I’m certain I borrowed at least thirty videos over the year, filled with drama, comedy, history, mystery, and alien conspiracies. Not to mention the delightful words of authors like Spencer Quinn and Alexander McCall Smith, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. And they host the Yarn Spinners Storytelling Club every month, where we swap tales both true and tall. Without libraries like the EPL, our lives would be significantly poorer.
  • Fellow authors who give of their time, energy, and wisdom to help us newbies along.
  • Everyone I meet and observe who lends a scene, character quirk, or line of dialogue to one of my books.

And of course, readers – for aren’t we all readers at heart? In that spirit, I’ll let Carl Sagan have the final words of 2014:

5626_737716029582744_74531891_n

Lucky 13: The Power of Persistence with Audra Middleton

Today I welcome fellow author and Washingtonian Audra Middleton to join our series of stories about luck in writing and in life. Audra describes herself as “a somewhat neurotic and terminally sarcastic mother of three” from Ephrata, Washington. Audra’s love of writing began in the third grade, when she was chosen to go to a young author’s conference based on a story, “The Dragon Cookie”, which she wrote about a giant cookie that comes to life. Audra went to college thinking she would go into journalism, graduated college thinking she would go into publishing, and then went back to school to get her teaching degree. Audra enjoyed teaching, but once her oldest was born, she chose to stay home. At the encouragement of friends Audra started writing again, the result being her first novel, Watcher, released in January 2013 by Champagne Book Group.

Watcher Ecover

Abomination Ecover
Since getting published, Audra has been asked to speak about her writing journey at several local venues, the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference, and the Write on the River conference in Wenatchee, WA. Last fall she went back to work as a kindergarten teacher, but has continued to write books. Her second novel, a humorous paranormal thriller called Hitchhiker was released in November 2014, and her second fantasy novel, Abomination, was released June 2014.

Audra’s story of pitching her first novel is a beautiful reminder of the simple power of persistence.

Lucky to be Published

I had actually given up on my first novel at the time that I got my publishing contract. I spent years writing Watcher, a fantasy novel. It was a labor of love, but after many rejections from literary agents via query letters, and some jarring feedback from my on-line critique group, I decided maybe it was time to shelve my ‘baby’ and concentrate on something a little more mainstream.

Fortunately, I had already I joined the PNWA and paid a hefty sum to attend their summer conference. In addition to writing seminars, the conference provides opportunities to pitch to agents and editors in person. We were strongly advised not to pitch a work in progress, so I went ahead and tried to pitch Watcher. I bombed my first few pitching attempts, in the beginning being too nervous to complete a sentence, later being so exhausted I just rambled incoherently, at one point confessing that I may have ‘screwed myself’ (thereby ensuring that I had).

My last pitch session was with an editor. I almost cancelled, because the brochure made it seem like it was more of a Q & A rather than a pitch session, and I did not think the editor I was assigned dealt in the fantasy genre. Luckily I attended a “meet the agents and editors” session and discovered not only was it a pitch session, but that the editor to whom I was assigned did have a sci-fi/fantasy label. I met with her on the last day – another lucky break, because at that point I was so completely exhausted and overwhelmed by the whole conference experience, I decided I didn’t care anymore, sat down, and managed to have a lucid discussion about my book.

We clicked. She was interested.

Six months later, I signed my first publishing contract and I have continued to publish books ever since.

Thanks so much for letting me share my story of good fortune today!

~*~

You can find out more about Audra and her books at her website or her Facebook page.

One Year of Lucky 13 Stories

Last September, the 13th fell on a Friday. That evening as the sun set, my brother married his true love, exchanging vows in the shallow waters of a mineral lake left by ancient glaciers. It was a day of the best kind of luck for our family, and inspired this series of Lucky 13 stories.

Fellow authors and artists including Julie Eberhart Painter, Jude Johnson, Carol McPhee, Jill Blair, Linda Rettstatt, Ceci Giltenan, Celia Breslin, and the dear late Jane Toombs graciously shared stories of how luck played a role in their writing and their lives. And coming up next month, Audra Middleton describes the luck of the pitch that landed her first book contract.

The series also inspired my blog’s tag line – every day, good luck comes in the strangest of ways. It’s a line from British singer/songwriter/master slide guitarist Chris Rea’s song “God’s Great Banana Skin.” And I believe it’s true. All we have to do is pay attention, and the good luck shows itself.

Today, for example, at the end of a ragged week filled with technical troubles, bumps in the road, and minor setbacks, everywhere I look I see spots of luck.

The early morning sunshine streaming through a window, making a warm spot on the rug for my toes to bask.

A steaming cup of coffee, strong and dark, ready to wake me up to enjoy a Saturday morning with nothing of any importance scheduled.

My pile of to-be-read books tempting me from the bedside table.

Books to write, stories to tell, walks to take, music to listen to, art to create.

Friends to call and meals to enjoy.

And, of course, you, dear readers.

And all the things that will happen today to start a new chain of good luck, working their mysterious ways, traveling paths I can’t even imagine, paths that won’t make themselves visible until they’re in the past.

Every day, good luck comes in the strangest of ways.

 

 

Lucky 13: A good luck story from Carol McPhee

This month I welcome award-winning author Carol McPhee to our Lucky 13 series. Carol is published with Wings ePress and Champagne Books. Her home is in Nova Scotia, Canada, where she lives with her husband of fifty-two years. Since their four children are grown and flown, Carol has plenty of time to let her imagination soar into stories of love and new beginnings.

Like many authors, Carol wrote for years before publishing her first work after a stroke of good luck. Her luck came with the help of the aforementioned husband – no wonder they’ve been together so long. 

My Good Luck Story

I had been writing for several years and submitting my manuscripts to every place that was open to publishing romance stories – with no luck. One day my husband and I visited the restaurant of a B&B that I had previously used as a setting in Something About That Lady. My husband, being the chatty person he is, mentioned to the hostess-owner that I had written a romance novel with a scene involving her home, but the manuscript had never been published.

Remarkable words came out of the woman’s mouth. “I have a publishing company; send me 100 pages.” Needless to say I hopped to the offer and days later she requested the whole manuscript. She published it in her online newsletter as a weekly series. A year later it was picked up by Wings ePress and years after I got the rights back, the manuscript was re-edited with a new cover and published by Champagne Books.

~*~

Carol’s web site: “Strong, smart, sensuous heroines; heroes to die for.”

ALASKAN MAGIC“An enchanting tale of romance, second chances and life in the rustic Alaskan wilderness” – best-selling author, Linda Rettstatt. 

UNDERCOVER TROUBLE A tragedy sent her into hiding, a tragedy will set her free.

Cover and link to buy Undercover Trouble by Carol McPhee

Cover and link to buy Alaskan Magic by Carol McPhee