Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Kurdistani nurse and me......

I've lived a rather humdrum life with only rare occasions readers would consider out of the ordinary. But recently, a wondrous and unusual opportunity presented itself in the form of a Kurdistani counterpart. A delightful woman / nurse / writer from Kurdistan emailed asking to interview me. She hoped to translate the interview into her language and submit it to regional nursing magazines and poetry journals. I'm not certain how or why she chose me after searching the web for female nurses who are also writers, but I'm so pleased she did. I do not mention this fine woman's name in my blog because I forgot to get her permission for that. She did, however, give her enthusiastic permission to write about our interview.

I'd heard of the Kurds, of course, and knew that they are a people with a rich history, culture, and roots in ancient times. Kurdistan today is a large region that covers northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and a portion of Armenia. At this point in time, it's a region and not a country, but Kurdistan has its own language and its own flag.

She captured and held my interest immediately with one sentence in her first interview question: "I think doctors and nurses must tenderize themselves with literature." What an amazing thought!! That one sentence opened up a dialog that freed us both to be ourselves, to talk as friends and fellow travelers, to share an honesty rare between our cultures. During our interview, we spoke of many things: our work as nurses, our love of poetry and prose, the sorrows humans of all cultures experience in times of war, our cultural differences and human similarities. She contacted me in early October 2006 and the interview ended this week.

As a free lance journalist, my Kurdistani interviewer is very skilled at framing pertinent questions and understanding her subject. She opened her heart and spirit to me, an American, and shared pieces of herself. She knows and understands our culture far better than I do hers. And now, I'm blessed with a new friend. We may live on opposite sides of the world, but our similarities as humans far outstrip our differences. The experience of knowing this woman has been a gift.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Random thoughts

I'm still giddy because a major online bookseller finally has my two Dandelion-published books for sale. The Alley of Wishes was released in 2003 and My Name is Esther Clara early in 2006. Neither had been available for purchase from that bookseller until recently. The mysterious ways of booksellers boggle the mind. Most brick and mortar bookstores don't carry my books unless I place them there on consignment, so people hoping to purchase my work must buy from the publisher, amazon.com, or me. Amazon.com has always featured all my books as soon as they're available, so I'm grateful for that.

I've mentioned Tom Parker's blog, Dispatches from Kansas, more than once. Anyone who has not been following his serialized journey to the desert southwest needs to hop on over to his blog immediately. Parker's writing style is amazing. That old Colorado country boy turned Kansan tells a compelling story. Go to http://dispatchesfromkansas.blogspot.com and read for yourself. Parker has a book out with the same name and I'm hoping a sequel will soon follow.

No one writes a humorous story better than Kansas author Max Yoho. His latest book, The Moon Butter Route, received the Kansas Notable Book Award for 2006. What exactly is moon butter? Well, think delicious fresh-churned butter blended with moonshine and other tasty ingredients. If you think Kansas and Kansans are boring, Max Yoho's characters will convince you otherwise. You may even want to MOVE to Kansas for the fun.

The Christmas season is upon us. Just in case book lovers on your list are bored with the same old formulaic books, maybe it's time to think outside the New York Times bestseller list and go for hidden gold with a book by Tom Parker or Max Yoho.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Laura Sanow, HELLO!!

I was so pleased to see your post about the Sanows. But I wish you had left your email address so I could communicate with you. Next time you visit my blog, please leave your email address. I'd love to meet more of the Lawrence Sanow and August Sanow relatives.

My trip to Iowa in October was a wonderful experience. I got to see the Sanow homeplace and take pictures of it, and met some really nice relatives. Wish you could have been there.

Stay in touch. We can swap Sanow stories.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Drum Roll Please.......

Did you miss me? Were you bored with my blog about agents and publishers? Well, you'll have to take the bitter with the sweet. I'll try to redeem myself today. Today's info is sweet because a couple pleasant happenings occured in my world.

First, this past week I discovered my two Dandelion-published books are now available on Barnes and Noble website. The Dandelion edition of The Alley of Wishes was published in 2003 and has never been available for purchase on barnesandnoble.com. My Name is Esther Clara was released in January 2006 and was also unavailable....until recently. I can't explain why BN did not make them available when first released. That's one of life's writing related mysteries. But I'm happy they're available now and grateful to my publisher for making that unexpected miracle happen.

Second, we may be moving soon. We've moved many times in the last 40 years and swear that each time will be the last. Moving is not an easy task and gets less easy, less an adventure, the older we get. Still, if all goes as planned we will be moving to another town soon. I'll keep you informed as we progress.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Agent and publisher queries

Several writers contacted me in recent weeks hoping I could advise them on either agent or publisher queries or both. Most writers I know consider finding a reputable agent and "name" publisher necessities. Unfortunately, I'm not much help in that arena.

Twenty-five years ago I had a New York agent who snagged a reading for an early version of The Alley of Wishes with Knopf. For reasons I won't go into here, that placement was not pursued to final acceptance or rejection. When I revised TAOW early in the 21st century, I queried Knopf. Their reply was swift and professional. I received a small manila envelope containing my query, uopened, and a letter explaining their action: Due to the threat of anthrax prevalent at that time, Knopf was not opening unsolicited mail. So I self-published TAOW and several months later Dandelion Books asked to re-publish it. I happily agreed.

I've never queried a New York publisher since. Dandelion published My Name is Esther Clara, also, and I'm thankful for that blessing.

In the last six years, I've queried two agents. Both read the first two chapters of TAOW and gave two different critiques. One agent took a pass, said I TOLD her about the characters instead of SHOWING them. The other agent said I did a wonderful job of SHOWING her the characters, but since the book did not fit into any particular genre niche, she had to take a pass.

So there you have it in a nutshell, writers and readers, why I'm a poor one to advise anyone on agents and New York publishers. Between writing, reading books for review, and living a normal everyday life, I don't have the time, energy, or patience for such games. It isn't rejection I fear, it's wasting months of precious time.

Every person has different goals and dreams. I write my books for reasons that have nothing to do with money or fame so the way I've chosen to publish my books works well for me. My way is not acceptable to writers who prefer the New York route to publication. Whichever way you choose, good luck!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Surprise, surprise......

The gas prices that had dropped so dramatically before the election jumped a dime after the election. At least that's what happened in my neck of the woods. I doubt if the price increase will stop with a dime.

Maybe the increase in gasoline today is an amazing coincidence. Maybe the decrease in prices before the election was another coincidence.

Maybe I'm just too suspicious.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No Paris Breakfasts, but.......

"Paris Breakfasts" is the blog of the day today. I thought, well crap. I've never had breakfast in Paris KY, let along THE Paris. But every life is different. What may seem mundane to some brings joy to others. Two major holidays are fast upon us and my mind is taking me back through several decades, remembering.

I'm old enough now to look back on the past with fondness. The mind is an amazing instrument. Some memories hide behind doors, just waiting to be accesssed so they can dance through my thoughts again. Five generations have been carefully stored behind those doors.

Great grandparents were an important part of my life as a child. Nearly every Sunday after church, Grandma and Grandpa Ford, Mom, and her four urchins piled into the car and headed for Frankfort, Kansas to visit Grandpa's parents. A mob of great aunts and uncles and second cousins ate, played, gabbed, argued politics, and pranked each other for several hours. In the middle of all this activity, Great Grandma sat quietly observing while Great Grandpa joked and teased the children. They've been gone for more than fifty years but they still live, tucked away in my memory banks. Once they were young, dreaming of what life would be when their kids came along, now they're a part of my history.

My maternal grandparents were almost like parents to me. I grew from infancy to adulthood with them nearby, correcting or encouraging in tandem with my mother. I am who I am as a person today, in part, because of their influence. They lived in a very small house, but every Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas is memorable because of them. When their four children and fifteen grandchildren packed themselves into that tiny space, bedlam reigned. All it took to bring instant silence to the place was Grandma or Grandpa saying one word or pointing one index finger at the gang. I miss those days of family togetherness, and the food at Grandma's house was at least as good as anything in Paris, France. That's what I imagine anyway.

Mother, grandparents, several aunts and uncles, and two cousins have gone to glory. That's sad and I miss them, but they still live in the passages of my mind. Mostly I allow them to be young and vibrant, laughing and telling stories about their youth. Or sometimes I envision them playing cutthroat games of pinochle after dinner. Families used to do such things before football games on television or other exotic pursuits took precedence. Can you imagine it? And I'm old enough to remember those times, if only in memories.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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