Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Crazy Month: To Hawaii and Back

Back in February, I had this urge to run away from home. Well, get away from things. I was sick to death of having gotten through the publishing cycle with DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK and I really, really have an aversion to marketing. So I allowed myself to be persuaded to take a cruise from Los Angeles to Hawaii. Cruising is something we've never done--mostly because I thought it would be too confining to be on a ship for 14 days. I figured I needed to find out what cruising was all about since everyone I know has taken several cruise trips.

Princess Golden is a big ship and they have service down to a science. Since we live an hour's drive from LA, all we had to do was pack our bags (as many as we needed because we didn't have to deal with airline baggage restrictions) and take a shuttle service. Getting through security and boarding was easy and efficient. Our bags were delivered to our room in a timely fashion. The room was well-maintained at all times. If you needed anything, all you had to do was ask. I popped a Dramamine and hoped for the best.

The first five days were at sea. That was a little too much for me, but I had the whole ship to explore and there were plenty of activities. If nothing else, you could eat yourself into a coma, which I noticed a lot of people were doing. There was so much food available all the time. By the fifth day, I was very anxious to make port. For the next four days, we hit the Big Island, Oahu, Kauai, and Maui. We planned an excursion for every day.

Golden Princess - tendered at Lahaina
Promenade Deck

The Piazza in Midship
Kauai - My Favorite Excursion

Kipu Ranch, Kauai - Rain Forest
Kipu Ranch, Kauai - Zip Lining
Oahu, Waimea
Oahu, Waimea
Oahu, Polynesian Cultural Center

Oahu, Polynesian Cultural Center
Botanical Garden, Big Island
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Botanical Garden, Big Island
As you can see, Hawaii is a good place to escape to, but there was not enough time to really enjoy it. Next time, I will hop a plane and pick an island. It's a tossup between Kauai and Maui. Then I'll plant myself on a beach.

Here are a few positive things I took away from this trip:

  • We were lucky to have very good weather all through the trip, but Mother Nature is unpredictable. Previous cruises experienced cold weather and rain. 
  • I liked the opportunity to meet other people. There were a lot of Canadians and Brits onboard who were obviously escaping their cold winter weather.
  • The service was outstanding.
  • The food was pretty good overall and abundant, but a little too salty in some cases.
  • Entertainment was good, but not always top notch.
  • Activities were varied. There was something for everyone, but the staff seemed to lean toward satisfying their demographic which was mostly retired people. I don't like being reminded that I'm old.
And here's what I personally did not like:
  • The last five days at sea were too much for me. I didn't get enough time on the islands. Then to top it off, I got sick. At least on two of those last days, I was curled up in the fetal position and drugged up on Nyquil. When you are on a boat with 3000 plus people, you are bound to get something no matter how careful you are.
  • In the end, the experience was a little too planned for me. Too much of a controlled environment. But that's what a lot of people like. They want their every need catered to.
I was happy to be home. There was a ton of vacation laundry to take care of and we needed to retrieve our old Maine Coon cat from our daughter's house. A month behind on starting my garden plants, I couldn't wait to get my seeds started indoors: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs, and flowers. My husband who had managed to stay healthy during the entire cruise, came down with bronchitis. It was the first time he has ever had such a bad cold. While he was drugged up on cold medicine, I got busy working on the flower beds in the back yard and planning for upcoming remodeling and house painting. The vegetable garden needs to be tilled and I need to start planning for a complete landscaping and new driveway and patio. My watercolor class starts this week and I bought art supplies and did some painting. 

I suppose all this frantic activity, including the vacation, is to avoid the question of what to do with my novel--actively market it or just forget about it? Late last night I was searching for a book to read on my Kindle and I noticed an author who had a 5 star rating and over a thousand reviews. I wondered at what kind of marketing effort that must of taken, and then I started reading some of the reviews of angry readers who bought the book based on the ratings and who really hated the book. The book was poorly written, boring, implausible and so on, but it had a high sales ranking. One reader after another complained about being duped and that they would never again trust an Amazon rating. Wow, I thought. That's a downer. On the one hand, the author had certainly figured out how to be an entrepreneur, but had overlooked the part about being an artist. The thing is, these days you have to be both. I just haven't figured out how to come up with a compatible entrepreneur-artist approach. The moral of this story is that you can't run away from your problems. Eventually, you have to face them.


  1. So, I guess marketing a book is like taking a cruise; you need to do the research and expect stormy weather, but appreciate the experience when the adventure is over?


    Well Linda, you'll figure it out. I've seen how you persevere in a project once you take it on. Unlike the cruise, you will have a lot of control over your marketing strategies :)


    1. Ha! Control? Yes, I'd like some of that. If I figure out a marketing strategy that works, I'll be sure to share it.

  2. Hi LInda. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about cruising...both the good and the bad. We are considering taking a cruise some time in the future and it is good to get another opinion. The photos of Hawaii were awesome--haven't been there, but will one day I hope.

    I am ploughing through your book. I don't like to review when I haven't read something, even though I know it's accepted practice (what isn't?) these days. So far I'm loving it, and you're one of the first blogger self-pubbed authors that I can relax with and not be editing all the time. Well done...

    When I finish it, I will definitely write reviews for wherever you want them.


    1. Thanks so much, Denise. I know there are a few typos that escaped editing and I will be getting those fixed in the near future. I tried so hard to avoid that, but no matter how many eyes you have on it, something gets by. I hope you enjoy the story. It's been quite a learning process. Now I just wish I could get a handle on the marketing side of the equation.

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