Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." ~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, March 2, 2015

Thoughts on Blog Tours

The blog tour concept has been around for quite awhile. It was really big when I first started blogging, with the idea being this was THE way to sell books. Well, by now I think most of us realize there is no THE way to sell books. A book connects to readers or it doesn't. However, visibility helps, and a blog tour is a great way to get visibility for your work.

I finally did it-- signed up for an official blog tour for my new novel, Afraid of Everything. Always before, I did unofficial blog tours for my books but this time I wanted to utilize Women on Writing. I've heard such good things about them, and believe me, it was sure great to hand all the organizing over to someone else!

I was assigned to Crystal Otto, and she is amazing! Organized, personable, available-- everything I'd like to be but aren't haha! I requested that most of my stops would be reviews, because a review is the gift that keeps on giving...long after the tour end, blurbs from reviews can help sell a book.

My first stop is at The Muffin, the blog for Women on Writing, if you want to stop by, say hello and sign up for a free copy. print or ebook, of Afraid of Everything. There's also an interview and book giveaway at Romance Junkies blog.

Those of you with books out, what are your thoughts on blog tours? Did you hire someone to set it up or do it yourself? What was the experience like, and who would you recommend?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Creating a Classic: Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction

Twenty-two years later, the film Pulp Fiction still has the power to take one's breath away. I saw it in 1993 when it came out in theaters, several times in fact. It's that kind of movie. You can't watch it just once.

The making of Pulp Fiction is an amazing story in itself, how a high school drop-out, video store clerk who lived off others, rarely showered and wore nothing but old tee shirts came to write and direct this film that went on to gross over $200 million at the box office.

Last night when it showed up on Netflix, my husband and I looked at each other. We had to watch Pulp Fiction! It had been two decades since we'd seen it, yet the power, intensity, and story-telling genius of that work has not diminished.

Whenever an artist creates a work, whether it's a film, a novel, a play, whatever--there's the feeling inside that this is special-- the hope, the desire others will see it too. There's the dream that one's creation might connect with an audience and make magic.

In reality, however, this rarely happens. Sure, there's plenty of fine entertainment. There's blockbuster movies, best-selling novels-- the movies that make money and win awards, the books everyone is reading.

Until one day, out of nowhere it seems, will come the creation of something so different, so amazing, brilliant and radical it changes everything. This was Pulp Fiction. This was also Harry Potter. When it happens, it inspires every artist with a dream to continue working.

Most of us don't expect to ever create anything of this magnitude. Still, it helps to know if we do, there are people out there who will find it. Even if comes in the form of a messy script full of typos and grammatical errors, written in spiral notebooks, about a couple of chatty hit men in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Am I on Vacation or What?

My sister came to visit last week and we had a fabulous time. I showed her around, we walked and walked and walked, she took loads of memorable pictures.

Half way through our holiday together I realized what my theme will be for the A to Z Challenge!

Last year it was Living in Guatemala. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of when my husband and I arrived at the Guatemala City airport, carrying all our worldly possessions in our luggage. This is us-- the day after we got to Panajachel--looking tired but happy. We had made it! Let the adventure begin!

 We had a lot of family visit during the year, giving me the ideal theme for this year's Challenge:  

Visiting Guatemala

It is super fun when family visits and we get to see things through their eyes. It's great to show them around and share in their discovery of this amazing land. Like seeing my sister taste a licuado for the first time!

Haha, I love this shot!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hang On to What You've Got

A recent post here on Book Marketing Buzz states that WordPress has 65,000,000 blogs (!!!) with 100,000 new ones created daily. Tumblr has over 102 million blogs. LiveJournal has 63 million. Weebly, 12 million. Blogger isn't mentioned in the article, although surely it would have similar numbers if not higher.

Lately, people are saying they're burned out on blogging and blogging is dead and what's the point and it's no fun anymore. I've wondered the same things myself. The numbers, however, say blogging is not dead. The big question remains: is it dead for you or for me personally?

In 2014 with all the changes going on in my life, I let this blog slip. I have an author website as well and I figured if Coming Down the Mountain languished it wouldn't be any great loss. People could find me via my WordPress site, and I could still post there whenever I felt like it.

After settling in a different country away from friends and family, I got more active here as part of my need for social interaction with English-speakers. Visiting and commenting on posts, even when I wasn't posting much myself, I realized how many of you on Blogger are my friends. I don't want to lose track of you.

Sure, anyone can find out about me and my books from my website. Sure, there'd be no great loss in the world if I stopped posting on Coming Down the Mountain. Life goes on. Only the truth is, I need blogging. It connects me to people who love to read and write like I do.

So whether it's for a writing outlet, or to have an online presence for marketing purposes, or because blogging can be an enjoyable, effective way to keep in touch with other people--if you've started a blog and kept it up for years, why stop now?

I think it's definitely worth hanging on to what you've got. Then again, if the purpose of one's blog has ended, perhaps it's time to move on. What do you think? Is maintaining a blog worth it to you, or not?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Catching Wild Horses

When I was little I wanted to be a cowgirl, live on a ranch and have horses. In a way my wish came true because writing a novel feels like catching wild horses.

Every afternoon at two or three o'clock, I go into the hills to see what I can find. It takes a couple hours since I not only have to find them but catch them. Maybe only one at a time. Then I have to get them down to the ranch and into the corral. This takes hours, days, weeks, months.

Once all the wild horses are gathered into one place, the training begins. It's hard work, exhausting work. Often I feel very alone, pushed to the limits of my abilities, and wanting to do anything but this. But I keep at it, moving toward a vision only I believe in.

Then one day I notice the horses are no longer resisting me but responding to my hand. They move into place. That's when the magic begins and I can't stop working.

And then it happens. These animals which were once wild and running free have become my friends. They love me and I love them. Our work together which before was a struggle of constant resistance is now a joy. We are as one, creating a magnificent show.

Art has happened.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year, New Home, Same Old Goals

My holiday blogging break has ended and so apparently have many others of the blogs I like to read. I always enjoy reading first of the year posts, seeing what you're all planning and dealing with as the new year begins.

As for me, I just want to get back to the writing. After publishing Afraid of Everything, I took a break for travel and it ended up being a two month hiatus due to house-hunting. We came back from our trip to learn the landlord had sold the one we were living in.

At first it was bad news, since we were settled there and thought we liked it. But now that we are in our new place, a larger home filled with light and open space, we realize the other house was dark, dreary and depressing in comparison. Plus it had a wooden loft type ceiling, which housed all kinds of critters: birds and squirrels nesting in it, not to mention the horrid termites.

Since we're out, I wonder how we stood it for as long as we did. Not like there were squirrels and birds inside the house, but we often heard the pitter patter of little feet above us like upstairs tenants.

We now live behind this gate:

The lane leading into our property with the house on the right, an orange tree on the left. The garden has an orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, banana and coffee tree. Clearly, someone was thinking breakfast when they designed it.

I am checking out the closets. You wouldn't believe how many of the houses we looked at had no closets.

This outdoor thatched patio is ideal for big parties, probably wasted on us without our family. Otherwise, it would be used every weekend for bbq's and birthday parties. There's another one just like it in another corner, that my husband wants to use as a workshop. Only thing is, he got rid of all his tools when we left the States. I guess he can sit in it, relax and dream about what he'd do if only he had the tools.

We were relieved to hear this place is not for sale. We'd like to make it our permanent home in Guatemala, not leaving until we move back to the States, whenever that will be. As I begin the new year in a new home, I reflect on a fresh start and new goals, except they're the same ones I had when we moved to Guatemala last year:

Get fluent in Spanish
Walk daily and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
Write a novel

What are your goals for the new year?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Paddling On to More Adventures in 2015

This doesn't look much like the Decembers I'm used to but I'm enjoying it anyway. Despite feeling as tipsy as I look, my first time on a "stand-up" paddle board.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my blogging friends... wherever life takes you! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

The post-Thanksgiving Food Coma

Ever eaten so much at Thanksgiving dinner you feel like you're in a food coma? Aww, come on you can admit it! And why is it the day after all we want is hot dogs or pizza? I used to work at the Costco food court and I think we sold more pizza on the Friday after Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. With all those great leftovers at home too!

Then there's the different kind of coma, the one I imagine in my recently published novel Afraid of Everything. Ever wondered what it's like? I did, and it inspired me to write about how it might be from the point of view of the coma victim.

Mason Canyon at Thoughts in Progress features and reviews Afraid of Everything on her blog. Thanks, Mason!

To experience a different kind of coma than the post Thanksgiving food coma, download Afraid of Everything for your Kindle, now just $2.99.

Helena Carr is afraid of everything. After a crisis at work, she quits her job and feels lost. It’s time for a serious change, to beat the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. Something different, unplanned and radical. Sell her house, move to a foreign location, turn her life upside down in an effort to end the emotionally paralyzing fear. 

Before Helena can act on her options, however, she has a terrible accident on a Southern California freeway. Instead of going on an exotic vacation, she is in a hospital, in a coma, traveling to strange worlds of another dimension, meeting people who seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.

As Helena explores this intriguing new world, she realizes the truth about her past and the purpose of her future. And she is no longer afraid. Helena is at last ready to live. But first, she must wake up from the coma.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blogging with a Theme

Sometimes I waver on my blog, not sure what it's about or what I'm doing here. This comes from lack of focus and purpose. And then April approaches and I get excited deciding on my theme for the A to Z Challenge and planning my posts. The focus returns for at least one month!

Besides discovering and meeting new bloggers, I enjoy the challenging process of posting the entire month on one theme. One year my theme was literary terminology; the year my cookbook came out, it was recipes; last year it was living in Guatemala.

Alex Cavanaugh interviews me this week for the A to Z Challenge Blog on my Guatemala topic. Pretty sure I'll do another aspect of living in Guatemala for the Challenge, because it helps me appreciate the wonderful land which is now my home.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Creating a Body of Work

To become a writer: 

 Develop talent 

Polish craft 

Create art 

This will consume at least 2/3 of your lifetime. Still in?