Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meet Logan -- The Other Solid Excuse

A word from the other authorette, Judy:
Why did it take six years to wrtie Hot Cross Buns? Hummmmm....

First excuse is I require at least eight hours of sleep (Ten is preferable.). I've been pondering perhaps insomniac authors have a huge advantage on us somnolent authors. Not to mention I often work 50-60 hour weeks --  not counting frequent travel time.  I need my sleep.

However, the primary excuse for excessive procrastination is I am a mom.  I only have one kid, but he's one of those three-plus athletes.  Logan played four years of high school football, lacrosse and the time-energy-resources-suck of all sports -- hockey. Most weekends from October through March, my husband, John, and myself were packing an SUV for a 3 to 10-hour drive (one way) for the thrill of watching a puck ricochet around an ice rink. I loved every minute of it, but honestly, being a hockey mom was another full-time job.

The last excuse is I'm one of those writers who needs total seclusion with minimal distractions.  I don't write at home. I definitely couldn't write with Sarah around.  She's too fidgety and funny.

Yesterday, Sarah asked if we could meet up this weekend to work out some publishing details for an October 1 (this year) of Hot Cross Buns. I can't.  I'll be feeding a bunch of Logan's college friends staying with us over Hoopfest weekend  (

No can do, Sarah. Gotta go watch street basketball with 30 million people and play mom to a cluster of college kids.

I rest my case.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Solid Excuses


Of course there is a good reason it took six years to write Hot Cross Buns!  This evening, I was reminded of one of my personal favorites.

Welcome to Windmill Road on Moran Prairie.  I get to day dreaming sometimes when I ride out among the wheat fields.  I'd like to say it's because I'm a romantic, but it's really just an attention span thing I have going.  In fact, I have ridden off into this field while in a day-dreaming stupor.  I have witnesses. I look back on that other evening when I left the pavement and mosied into the knee-high wheat with pride.

Sometimes Judy would get a little anxious about my hankerings to get outdoors. It was fully justified.

Note: Judy's excuses to follow in a later blog.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Writing Therapy

First there was talking about the book, and I mean A LOT of talking about the book.

Molly Cook would not have been proud.

We met Molly a few years before the genius idea of cowriting Hot Cross Buns had even sprouted.

Judy and I were struggling with our individual writing projects, primarily because we are excellent verbal spewers of words, which we'd done magnificantly for years. It was great fun, but our individual writing projects were moving at subglacial speed. Finally, we deduced writing therapy was in order. We needed someone to perform a sort of literary Heimlich manouver on us.

Judy found Molly, a part-time English professor at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, 20 miles west of Spokane. We would meet with Molly one night a week in the middle of winter for a couple of months for private writing sessions. The drive was a bugger, unless you enjoy black ice, but the price was right.

Molly's "classroom" was located in a slightly defunk, foliage-shrouded box house in an equally defunk neighborhood.  It wasn't Molly's home. It was her writing hamlet, that special place real writers are supposed to escaped to. (I immediately made a mental note to myself: Find a special place to write. Foliage preferable.)

Molly was a gracious (She served us tea.), late middle-age woman whose tall, willowy frame folded comfortably into her cozy, book-filled special writing place. She began the session by asking all about us, but shared little about herself. (Over the next two months she fed us bits of personal information, such as a love interest about to go caput, books she'd written, two daughters and something about Maine. There was just enough mystery to give her credibility as a writer.)

Let the writing therapy begin.

In her very soft -- I think there was a hint of genteel southerness -- voice, she said "In one minute describe your parents using the word blue."

I was immediately creeped out. Having spent time in the other kind of therapy, this exercise was sounding way too therapyesque.

Judy put her head down and silently ripped off two pages. Bam! Done!  I scratched out about two sentences while muttering the eff word, frequently.

This exercise was followed by weeks of similar tasks and Molly's analysis of our work.  She diagnosed me as being strong in character development.  Little did she know I'd had a jump on that task thanks to a year's salary invested in the other therapy.

Molly deduced Judy exuded a sense of security and openly let thoughts and words tumble out of her head quickly and freely. I was jealous of Judy. I'm too analytical.

After two months, we carved a notch in our professional training resumes. Okay, maybe just a scratch, and said so long to Molly.

And then, predictably, for at least another year we continued to talk about our indivicual books.

Shorty after our workshop, Molly fled Cheney for Whidbey Island, Washington state's writers' Mecca full of wonderful hamlets in which to write. We're on a mass e-mail list for Molly Cook's Skylark Writing Studio. MCSWS offers "workshops, coaching and encouragement" to those who, among other things (and this is real), take words but not themselves seriously and believe writing is joy not drudgery.

So much for writing therapy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Our Dads

The fruit didn't fall from the tree when it comes to the proximity between Judy and her dad and me and mine.  We're both lucky that way.

After someone dies -- my dad died over seven years ago and Judy's just last year -- people have a habit of saying "They're in a better place."  I still argue the "better place" would be right here with us. 

Both men lived lives of adventure, love, success -- and healthy doses of angst.  More significant, they knew how to tell a good story and laugh.

Sometimes, writing this book of ours was not so fun.  Once in a while, Judy and I took turns being prickly Thanks to our dads, we always laughed our way onto the next chapter.

Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

One Day Over a French Cup of Joe

The Rockwood Bakery, where books are hatched.

I have no recollection how Judy and I decided to write Hot Cross Buns, a.k.a., The Book.

What I do remember is sitting in the Rockwood Bakery on Spokane's South Hill with co-authorette Judy. She was telling me a story about meeting the perfect fella for the daughter of a friend. Maybe she prefaced the tale with "I have an idea for a book!" More than likely I was licking the foam off the top of my latte as I have a habit of doing, and was listening with one ear, another prominant but unfortunate habit I have.

One or two lattes later and, booya! we we're going to co-write a book. We decided to enable eachother (for some reason "enable" strikes me as the appropriate word) off our bums and write. Obviously, we didn't pledge to write fast.

Judy saddled right up to the idea of writing a story around this perfect guy she decided would marry her friend's daughter. Now, I'm not a big fan of romance novels, but it was an idea and I wasn't exactly burning up my laptop writing whatever book it was I wanted to write on my own. It was kind like skiing with friends and following the leader down the run you hate. I couldn't just stand on top the mountain all day.

Judy's badminton coach, camp counselor days would prove quite helpfull over the years.

We left the Rockwood Bakery ready to roll, or write, or something.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beach Book or Dock Book?

The differentiation between a beach book and a dock book has caused me a bit of angst since Judy and I started writing Hot Cross Buns six summers ago.

Here in the Inland Northwest, we go to "the lake." It's a generic term describing any one of the jillion small, big and really big fresh-water lakes dotting Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Western Montana. Oh, and you never have to specify which lake. It's just "the lake."

Judy seems comfortable with the descriptor, "beach book." Probably because she grew up summering on the vast beaches of Virginia. By looking at our aged skin, she was probably reading under an umbrella, which can be rare finds on docks. Na me! I spent the majority of my summers planted on a long shadeless wood dock at "the lake" in North Idaho, where we're long on docks and short on beach. I read "dock books."

As we tried to squeeze Hot Cross Buns into a literary genre, which is a little like trying to squeeze a wet body into a Speedo one-piece, "beach book" prevailed. To further extrapolate -- whether read on an airplane, commuter train, car or in bed, it's a beach read. I've accepted the shun of splinter-inflicting docks of my youth and adulthood.

But here's the bottom line. No matter the preference, you're going to get a sunburn.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Beginning


Ignore that first blog post. It was a test I can't erase. So goes life. I'll learn.

Consider this the first official post on Slow Read To A Sunburn. (More on the title later.) This is a rearview mirror look at two first-time authors’ journey through co-writing a novel, Hot Cross Buns. (A lot more on that later.)

Just as we divied up writing the book chores, we're sharing the post book-writing duties. Hence, I (Sarah) will do much of the blogging. Live with it.

Coming into the starting block six summers ago, we both brought valuable experience to novel writing. I brought a few years as a news writer – most notably at the Sandpoint Daily Bee (It’s in North Idaho.) and perhaps too many years in marketing. Judy brought years of professional fundraising and most importantly, her brief yet tenacous career as a badminton coach in the late 1970s. Do not poopoo this bird-beating experience. It exemplfies her stick-to-itiveness that kept me honest (and frightened) for six years.

Both of us are over-educated, but unlike many successful authors, neither of us have MFAs. We also never encamped at isolated writing estuaries for weeks at a time and indulged in uninterrupted hours of writing while others silently accommodated our earthly needs for food and what not. But, we do have extensive experience in consuming beach reads and the sunburns to prove it. (More on that later.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

And now, with winter weather nipping at our toes, Slow Read To A Sunburn is launched.