Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Book Has Just Been Published! Now What?

This month, University of Texas Press published my memoir, Walking Nature Home: A Life's Journey. It's my twelfth book, but it's the one I've been working on the longest. (Yup, it's taken me the better part of two-and-a-half decades to get the story right. I may be slow, but I do not give up!)

UT Press did an outstanding job of editing, design and production: the book's a hardcover with a beautiful dust jacket, great blurbs, and gorgeous watercolor illustrations by my neighbor, artist Sherrie York. The design positively invites you to pick the book up and dive in. The Press has gone out of their way to get review copies out to national and regional venues and has even partnered on publicity for a few key events. But the rest is up to me.

So what am I doing? My first instinct was to run around like a chicken without a head--rush in all directions, accepting every promotion opportunity offered. But after thinking carefully about my limitations, both financial and in terms of my energy (see my blog post, Aiming for sustainability at work), I decided to be very picky, choosing only those events I felt gave me an opportunity to be at my best, and grouping events to save travel and energy (mine and the planet's). I also decided to go really green and make a big splash without leaving the couch where I often write by planning a blog book tour.

So today I'm off on two very different tours: Tonight I'm giving a talk on "Gardening With Nature" in Fort Collins, Colorado, for the City's Environmental Living Series. I'll draw on the restoration of the formerly blighted industrial area where I live and is conveniently featured in the last chapters of Walking Nature Home, thus giving me a good plug for the book.

I'm also headed off into cyberspace, visiting a dozen blogs over the next three weeks, beginning here at Women Writing the West. I'll be chatting with the virtual audiences of blogs ranging from one focused on writing women's memoirs and one about our ties to place to one written by a knitter who is fascinated by the connection between craft and life, a blog news-magazine, and a gardener in West Texas who also makes hand-crafted canoe paddles. Plus, I'll be interviewed on a national teleseminar on memoir-writing. (Details on my web site and blog.)

My next stop: Janet Riehl's Riehlife village wisdom newsmagazine on March 27th. That same night in the "real" world I'll be reading at Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax Avenue in Denver. If you're in the area--virtual or real, please stop by.

Thanks for joining me in this post, and let me know what you think of the book and my tour. The schedule for both tours is on my web site and also, of course, on my blog.

You can read the first chapter of Walking Nature Home on the UT Press web site. They're offering a 33% discount off list price for online purchases, a great deal! And here's a wonderful review by Susan Albert, just posted today on the Story Circle Network book review site. So off I go....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why the West

People ask why do you live in the west. I answer, why not. In reality that is a true, simple answer, but it does not really go to the heart of why. Perhaps as a child the westerns I watched on TV became a part of my folklore. Maybe. I have to admit I did not read westerns until arriving in this area. My first novel was a Louis L'Amour I read while working in a psychiatric hospital. I was working the graveyard shift, things were quiet and I was bored. The book was lying around and I started reading. I finished about three hours later. That is a story of the past. How about the future?
I arrived here with some friends from college. They insisited they had to live in the west. With nothing better to do I came with them. They are all gone and I am still here. I am still here because I do not want to be anywhere else. There is something about the mountains, their firmess, the sense of timelessness. The sky is so open and clear. You can watch the weather and go a few miles and it has changed, or stay in one place and still have it change. The west seems to always be changing and yet remain the same mystery. There are 'ghost' that haunt the region, they seem to be asking that they not be forgotten. Those are the stories I want to tell. Starting out with a one woman show and moving on to recreating historic characters, I tell their stories. I need to keep the history, mystery and myth of the west alive. I have the feeling that those of us who love the west will be the ghost of the future, asking that our stories not be forgotten. Like the picture, the sunset, the past is brilliant. May ours be just as brilliant.
So why the west? Why not?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Different Picture

The trailer for Buffaloed by Fairlee Winfield caught my attention by it's reference to her grandmother from Norway. I purchased Buffaloed hoping for a few clues to my own grandmother, an immigrant from Sweden. Buffaloed turned out to be a fun read with a fascinating look at the not quite so old west during a time of tremendous change. It also introduced me to a determined and fearless woman. I will always look at Charlie Russell's art a little differently, certainly more intently. Very well done.