Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas in the Frozen North


For many years, my Christmases were 70 degrees and sunny. From my house in Los Angeles, I sent out holiday cards depicting cactuses draped with twinkle lights, or surfing snowmen in sunglasses. That ended when I moved to Alaska six years ago. Of all the changes I looked forward to, white Christmases were at the top of my list. And now that I’ve enjoyed a few, I can vouch for the fact that Alaskan Christmases are truly special.

Since we’ve been losing light at a rapid pace since September, we tend to put up the Christmas lights early. Here in Homer, I began noticing light displays shortly after Halloween. With the darkness closing in, birds falling silent, and a sense of deep sleep settling in over the landscape, the whimsical lights offer a touch of wonder in a frozen world.





When I dreamed of a white Christmas, I never
imagined sea smoke hovering over the bay in icy tendrils, or pillows of snow weighing down the spruce boughs. I didn’t know that the sun’s rays would send shimmers of gold across the glaciers or that the snow would turn the beach blue at dawn. Alaska at Christmastime is one breathless moment of enchantment after another.



Many Alaskans I know throw themselves into Christmas with the fervor of campers huddling around a bonfire in the wilderness. Christmas cookies, knitting projects, homemade peach Schnapps, homemade sauerkraut, homemade current jelly. This year, I plunged into the spirit of an Alaskan Christmas by buying only items made in Homer by local artists and craftspeople. I went against the grain and ignored the Internet, instead buying handmade mugs adorned with fishing boats, a silk-screened Alaskan “prayer flag,” skeins of hand-dyed yarn made from baby alpaca wool, hand-knitted fingerless gloves, a DVD of Sandhill Cranes nesting nearby. Then I piled all my packages on a sled, feeling like Santa on the way to the post office.







On Christmas Eve we loaded up our truck with more presents, 4,000 square feet of locally milled spruce boards, snow tires for my brother-in-law, boxes of Christmas cookies, a cooler of smoked salmon, and headed north to join family in Anchorage.




But before we could leave, we had an endless list of tasks. We had to shovel a foot of snow off the roof, set timers to keep the plumbing from freezing, and empty the refrigerator. Because one thing you can count on during an Alaskan winter – the cold and ice are relentless and survival takes wits and hard work.







By the time we steered the truck through Turnagain Pass, a windstorm roaring outside, peace reigning within, I knew we’d earned our White Christmas. 



Jennifer Bernard's next book is DESPERATELY SEEKING FIREMAN, out on December 31. 

 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Winter Solstice 2013

To Alaskans, solstice is a big day. Our lives revolve around the environment,including the changes in weather and daylight. We notice how much sunlight we gain or lose each day. We celebrate the longest day of the year. My daughter had her wedding on that day this summer. On the shortest day of the year, we look forward to the return of sunlight.


People have been observing winter solstice since Neolithic times. This blog has hosted previous posts about the history, so I'll be brief this time.

The Saami, the Romans, and the Celts had mid-winter festivals that led to many of our winter solstice and Christmas traditions. There are also traditional celebrations on or near winter solstice in Pakistan, East Asia, and Mali, just to name a few. Many of us recognize it as a time of rebirth and renewal, or welcome good luck into our houses at this time.

The short days give Alaskans an excuse to stay inside and cuddle up in front of the fire. Some of us do extra reading or other indoor activities. Winter solstice is a good time to reflect, think about the past year and make plans about the future. While I'm not thrilled with cold weather, I do like the opportunity to wrap up the year and acknowledge my loved ones.

My husband and I are hosting a winter solstice party on December 21st. We'll celebrate with family, friends, good food and drink. To all of you, good wishes, wassail, and hoping you have a great winter solstice, how ever you celebrate this time of year!
--- Lynn Lovegreen

Lynn's first novel, FOOLS'S GOLD, was just released and can be found on most of the popular book sites. Check it out!

www.amazon.com
www.bn.com

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Back Up Plan...

Back up your work!

Last February, my beloved laptop did something it had never done before. After starting it, a black block came up with white writing in English, French and Japanese, telling me to shut my computer off now. I held down the button that sent it to emergency shut down.

“What the heck was that?”

I turned on my computer and from there it was unrecognizable. The screen was flashing and there were random lines and pixels appearing and disappearing. Worst of all there was no response, I couldn’t access any files, I couldn’t see my desktop or even the friendliness of a cursor. This was bad, very bad. I had assignments to complete for my class, thousands of photographs, thousands of songs and every story I had ever written, except the drivel from my teen years that was typed or hand written, was in that computer.

You can imagine my expletives and insert them here. My husband calmed me and then took a look. He’s always solved my computer problems and introduced me to new technologies (so grateful for his knowledge and help). He took one look and shook his head, saying something about a graphics card problem. “You gotta take it in.”

= Gulp =

I took my computer to one of the big stores in town and they quoted me a significant amount to replace the logic board and then offered to sell me a new laptop.

I took up my precious computer and went to get a second opinion.

I went to one of the newer stores at the Mall, sleek, shiny, staffed with kids that look like they just got out of college, humming around the place like attentive bees. I got to the counter and warned the kids that if they had epilepsy they needed to look away now. I turned on my computer to show them what it was doing. One of the kids said, “Whoa, that looks like a Rave.”
It did look like a Rave, and if I could’ve accessed my computer I might have been able to play some Goldfrapp or the Chemical Brothers to compliment the Rave my laptop had become.

They quoted me one fourth of the cost the first store had. The kid then asked, “Hey did you back up the data. There’s a chance it could get wiped.”
I emailed the gang at Alaska Chapter of RWA to thank them that day. One chapter member had a computer malfunction about six months before and she lost some stuff. She urged us all to back up our work. This is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a writer. Years of work can disappear in the flash of a computer screen.

I back up my stuff on a Passport - which is a portable USB external hard drive. You can also back up your data online, rendering it impervious to fire or natural disaster. There are many video tutorials available on the internet on how to back up your data.
One more thing I highly recommend is a little USB flash drive. I use these to back up the WIPS I am actively working on at least once a week. As many writers know when you are actively working on something it’s dynamic, changing and morphing into the story you want it be. Back up that WIP and remember to put a date on it so you don’t confuse it with other versions.

Well now, I must go and back up my data.

--- Carmen Bydalek

Friday, December 6, 2013

Real Men of Alaska
Mr. December 2013

"Alex"

 


As Romance Writers, we're always on the lookout for Hot Hunky Hero Types.

This month we welcome Alex.

Here is what Mr. December 2013 has to say:

First, some basics:

Were you born in Alaska, and if not, then how did you end up here - how long have you been here?


 

 

Where was I born?  Fairbanks. 

Occupation:  Military.


What do you do for a living - and for fun?
(Age, height, favorite food, and any other statistics you are willing to share. Just remember, we are a PG 13 site & blush easily)


For fun?  I hang out with my Buds. 
I am 25 years old.  I'm 6 ft.  My fave food is combo pizza.
 

What kind of woman appeals to you, and who do you let make the first move, you or her?

I like women who are not game-players, and I like the full package.  Sexy.  Cute.  Smart. 

Oh.  I always make the first move. 
 

Winter can be long, dark, and very cold here in Alaska. What are your favorite frosty pastime activities?

My fave winter activities are indoor.  I like watching movies, having the guys over, and online gaming with International friends.  You meet all kinds of people.


And, if we ask about winter then we simply must inquire about the too short, wonderful summers. What are your favorite things to do during all the long hours of sunshine?

My fave summer activity is partying at the lake with my friends.  Since I still live where I went to school I have lots of good buddies to meet up with.
 

Alaskan men take their vehicles very seriously. What is your favorite mode of transportation – and why?

I like my Beamer.


What is your favorite Alaskan animal – to see along the highway or on your dinner plate?

It's got to be the bear.

Have you ever wrestled a polar bear, mushed a dog team, panned for gold, eaten muktuk, done the polar bear plunge, climbed Denali, run the Mt. Marathon, or any of the other, found only in Alaska, activities?

I've ocean kayaked.

What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever landed? And we mean the kind with scales and fins that swim in water, not the locker room bragging rights variety.

I'm not a fisherman.  Fishing is not my thing.  I just don't fish.  I don't eat them.  I don't clean them.  I don't like them.  Period.
 

And last but certainly not least, in your opinion, what is the most romantic thing about Alaska, and why?

Alaska is always romantic, especially when it's cold. The cold keeps you indoors and snuggling.


Our Thanks to Alex for this interview and his candid answers!

To our Readers: Please check the AKRWA Blog each Friday for a new topic, and come back the First Friday of each month to meet new Real Men of Alaska!

Until next time...keep your fires burning!


Friday, November 29, 2013

THANKSGIVING

Forgive me for standing on my soapbox, but Thanksgiving is the most important holiday of the year.

Now, don’t get all weird on me - I’m not discounting the other important days. Your birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, there are others. But, Thanksgiving is important.

Friends, Black Friday is not a holiday!

Cyber Monday is not a holiday.
 
Counting the shopping days until Christmas is not the way to celebrate the love, joy and GIVING THANKS for the season.

This year, we moved directly from school clothes and Halloween to Christmas tree lights, fuzzy blinking sweaters and fudge.

Thanksgiving is the day I look forward to all year. To give thanks for the fact that I won the life lotto. I have electricity and the wherewithal to have a computer. My little home is warm and dry and filled with everything I could ever need. I have an abundance of food to share with friends. It would be with family except they’re too far away, but my telephone works, and I have the technology to let my grandson shoot me with his nurf-ball gun. We laugh. Life is good.


There is something so terribly wrong with shopping on Thanksgiving.
For forcing the clerks to forgo turkey with grandma to be at work at some ungodly hour so Uncle George can get fifty dollars off the latest game of the year.
Really?

I remember a little adage, What if they gave a war and nobody showed up, remember that one? Well, what if they had a sale and nobody came? Take a stand - don’t go shopping until it’s time to go shopping. I promise I won’t get on the reason-for-the-season Christmas soap-box.

But, I’m here to remind us all that Thanksgiving is the day. The one day we slow down, consider the traditions of the day, and give thanks for the life we have built for ourselves.


Sometimes, buying brown ‘n serve is just as good as the time it took to make homemade, because sitting on the sofa with Aunt Harriet, this year, may be your last chance to ask her how she made cranberry sauce.

Life is precious and short and Thanksgiving is only one day. Stay home or spend it with friends, eat too much, laugh until your sides hurt, cheer you favorite football team, pass around the newest family baby, drive slow, be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I love you all,

--- DeNise


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hi there!

Greetings from the 49th state! 

Alaska.

Land of cold, snow, ice, and incredible views.

Now -  I live here, but I don’t do much outdoorsy stuff. In fact, my son, Benjamin --- (who is getting married in Peru next summer, which will turn me into a tourist at Machu Picchu) --- Ben has informed me that what I do is pretty much portable. I write. I need a laptop. I’m portable.

He’s right.

However, if you’re considering (or already deep into) a career as a writer, there is one thing you probably don’t consider, but need to. Your health. Trust me, nobody else is going to make sure you get exercise and eat right. Except maybe a personal trainer. Which brings me to the rambling reason for my BLOG today: 

Alaska. In November. And outdoorsy stuff.

First, I want to introduce you to Coal.  He’s eleven. In dog years, he’s what…closing in on 70? You’d think he’d be slow. Easy-going. Ready for his nap. 

When I took this photo, he was hiding under his “I’m a very nice dog” exterior. Looks harmless, right? 

Oh. You would be so dead wrong. When it’s time for one of his walks, Coal makes a personal trainer look like a marshmallow. He has zero patience. And gets ready with a collar and leash. He doesn’t know what my problem is and why I take so long. And he chews me out as I get dressed for stalling him.

Now,  I like walking. I’m in great shape. (or so they tell me at the yearly physical) And I really do like taking Coal for his walks. He loves it. His tail is always wagging. And we meet all kinds of other people during walks when the weather is nice. 

Babies in strollers. Other dog-slaves (also known as owners). Joggers. Hand-holding couples out for a stroll. 

And I have to tell you. The views are incredible. 

I bought a really nice camera a couple of years ago just so I could take photos of the gorgeous views. 

Here’s one I took last month. 

Thirty days ago. What a gorgeous autumn day. Isn’t it nice?

My camera works great…except in winter. 

I discovered a few things. The little camera buttons are impossible to find and push with gloves on. Everything is blurry because it’s really hard to keep from shivering - especially if you take the gloves off. 

It’s hard to do anything in the dark, since I use one hand to hold the leash and one for an LED flashlight thing. If I go flash-less I get great shots of big black nebulous stuff. And if I keep the flash on, I get shots of the closest subject at hand, which turns out to be Coal’s behind. 

I had given up taking winter photos (due to the above) even when the full moon is hovering atop the mountains or the aurora borealis is making colored stripes in the sky. The views are incredible. Breathtaking. But alas. I don’t have the right camera.

Then came November 2013.

What is going on with the temperatures? I’m trying to write an inferno type setting for my next Vampire Assassin League novella. It’s hot. The cover is hot. Everything about it says heat.

It’s already January temperatures up here. We have a solid ice shelf to walk on. Temperatures are in the negatives. 

I managed to get this shot, not to advertize any businesses, but to show I’m not making this up. 

It was -5 (Fahrenheit) the other morning.  That’s like -20 something in Celsius. 

You might also notice the incredibly colorful mess of light in the frame. That must be another issue with using my digital camera in freezing conditions. (No need to call the UFO people. It really wasn’t there)

Now. I carried mail in Wyoming for three years. I was on a walk-out route. That means I walked for six hours every day, in all kinds of weather, carrying up to 35 lbs of mail in a satchel. 
I do recall days outside that had a wind chill factor of -60. (They were brutal) 

I realize now, however, that those days were good training for my work-outs with Coal. Ah. Coal. My physical trainer. He makes me take him three times a day. Twice for 20 minutes. Our last walk in the evening is 30 minutes. This is not optional. He just gets his way. And he knows it.


So. It’s Alaska. Winter temps. 

I’m going outside for a bit. I know what to do. For this kind of weather, you just need to dress right. Start with all kinds of light layers (at least two on the legs. Three on the upper body. I even have a snowsuit for January but I just started wearing that.). 

To get ready for our walk, I start with my ear head-wrap. Then the uber-thick cowl my daughter made for me. Then the neoprene face mask. Then my Eagles hat. I figure if it keeps NFL football players warm, it’ll work for me. My goggles. Up here, freezing my contacts to my eyes is a possibility. (For our night walks, I wear my own real, thick glasses) 

Here is a close-up. 

I look pretty much like a sci-fi creature. 

I’ve now advanced to my next-to-the-thickest gloves. Two pairs of socks – the outer pair is extra large - and I have snow boots with such heavy-duty cleats on them, they weigh over 2 lbs each. 

I know. I was complaining. My hubby weighed them. He told me to think of it like I’m wearing ankle weights to work out. And I’ll be in fantastic shape for Machu Picchu. Ha. Ha. Ha. (He is such a comedian.)   

Here is what Coal and I look like just starting out on during our daylight walk.

  And here is a pic of those boots and our path.

You’re probably wondering why on earth I do this. 

Well. I’ve got some great reasons. 

I really love my Labrador – and he is worth it. 

It’s really great exercise. You have no idea how good it feels to come in where it’s warm and snuggle beneath an afghan. 

And the views really are breathtaking. 

I decided to try to get some images again. This time I took them during the day walk. And nobody else is out here walking. So. What do you think?






Anyone want to join us?

--- Jackie Ivie



Friday, November 15, 2013

Why I Love Alaska

As of late, my local RWA chapter has been blogging about all things Alaskan. I’m not a well-seasoned or elegant blogger, my sisters are much better at it. But after careful consideration, I’ve decided to share what I love most about this enchanting state.

There’s so much…

Of course, I love the fact that most of the important accomplishments in my adult life occurred here; my wedding, college/graduation, my first house, my career as an environmental scientist, and the publication of my first novel.


 

Although these are all blessed events, I found something even more valuable within the boundaries of this vast playground— a real home.

I’ve lived in six other states (Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, and Delaware).


None of them compare.

 There’s something magical about the fresh air, ice cold water (from the tap), seeing snowcapped peaks every day, eagles overhead, moose stripping bark off my front yard birch trees, the seemingly endless days/nights, a crackling fire in my fireplace on a frosty evening, Christmas, the first snow, the first warm day in summer, eating a reindeer dog in downtown Anchorage, a hockey game, flipping through all the cable channels with reality shows focused on Alaska and grinning because I live here, all the wonderfully tiny villages and towns I’ve visited (reachable only by plane), salmon and halibut, humpback whales surfacing in the water only a few yards away from me, a carriage ride downtown in the dead of winter, getting to wear boots and jeans to work every day and having it considered fashionable, four-wheeling to the edge of a glacier, hunting, fishing, hiking, men (very handsome), the cultural experiences I’ve had, and most of all—just being here.

That’s it.


 Alaska isn’t for everyone. It’s a hard place to thrive if you’re opposed to dark cold winters.

However, if you’re one of the lucky few to call it home, you know what I mean—its paradise.

--- Violetta Rand



Friday, November 1, 2013

Real Men of Alaska


Mr. November 2013

"Seth"
 
 




As Romance Writers, we are always on the lookout for Hot Hunky Hero Types. This month we welcome Seth.

Here is what Mr. November 2013 has to say:



First, some basics:

Were you born in Alaska, and if not, then how did you end up here - how long have you been here?

What do you do for a living, and what do you do for fun.

Age, height, favorite food, and any other statistics you are willing to share.

(Just remember, we are a PG 13 site & blush easily) J



I was born in Alaska, raised in Alaska - 25 years.

I am a gunsmith - playing with fire, going to a range, mostly outdoorsy stuff.

I am 25, 150 lbs and 5'11.



What kind of woman appeals to you, and why?

Gun-loving German women.



Where is your favorite place to take a girl on a first date, and why?



Gold mines up in Hatcher's pass.



What's the wildest thing you've ever done in Alaska since you’ve lived here?



It's a tie between: falling into a frozen river and living - and driving a doorless jeep cherokee.



Winter can be long, dark, and very cold here in Alaska. What are your favorite frosty pastime activities? (not counting the obvious of course.)

And, what is the coldest temp you’ve seen/been in?



Watching movies , playing games, working on my rifles, and the coldest I have seen was -40.



And, if we ask about winter then we simply must inquire about the too short, wonderful summers. What are your favorite things to do during all those long hours of sunshine?



Being outside working, out at any rifle range long enough to accommodate my guns.



Alaskan men take their vehicles very seriously. What is your favorite mode of transportation – car, truck, snow machine, four-wheeler, etc., and why?



Ural Motorcycle and Ural 4320 6x6 truck.



What is your favorite Alaskan animal – to see along the highway or on your dinner plate?



Bear, on both counts, very tasty.



What exactly is it that makes an Alaskan Male so wonderfully macho and appealing?

We do things on our own, and make things happen that people don't believe, even when they see it.









What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever landed?



18 inch red salmon, no idea on weight.



Other than making love under them, what is your favorite thing to do when the Northern Lights out and putting on a show?





Chill by a warm fire and enjoy the show.



And last, but certainly not least in your opinion, what is the most romantic thing about Alaska, and why?



The privacy we enjoy, very easily.





Our Thanks to Seth for this interview and his candid answers!



To our Readers: Please check the AKRWA Blog each Friday for a new topic, and come back the First Friday of each month to meet new Real Men of Alaska!



Until next time...keep your fire burning!


www.akrwa.blogspot.com





Friday, October 18, 2013

Visiting Alaska is not Folly


The Last Frontier
in the United States of America.


It’s true.
Nowhere else can you find the raw beauty of mountains and streams, glaciers and oceans, forests and wide open spaces like this place I’ve called ‘home’ for the last 44 years.

Also known as The Land of the Midnight Sun, it is mind-boggling to take it all in, especially in one visit, or one lifetime.


Even if you were born and raised in Alaska, as my children and grandchildren, the 570,665 sq. miles of mostly rugged wilderness is over-whelming.


But, don’t let that stop you.



Anchorage Museum

Musk Ox taxidermy 


It's not all wilderness. Contrary to popular belief, Alaska has museums and art galleries, hotels and shopping, theater and fast food chains. Maybe not on the grand scale of the Lower 48, but it's all here.


 
 

 

 






Anchorage Museum

Touring Mammoth Exhibit 










Anchorage Museum

Sewn seal gut strips - Raincoat

 

Alaska Botanical Gardens

 

We also boast about our wildlife, Fur Rondezvous, dog sled races, Denali National Park, record fishing, small and big game hunting, skiing and the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) that are like no place on earth.

There are people from all walks of life.
(I am partial to the many wonderful writers that live in Alaska, of course. Check the AKWRA web site & past blogs for info & books available, written by Alaskan authors:

http://www.akrwa.blogspot.com/2012/06/wonderful-akrwa-authors.html


When Vitus Bering,
a Dane working for the Russians, & Alexei Chirikov discovered the Alaskan mainland & Aleutian Islands in 1741, the huge land mass of Alaska—equal to 1/5 of the continental U.S.—was unexplored.

When
Secretary of State William Seward arranged for its purchase from the Russians for $7,200,000 in 1867, they dubbed Alaska “Seward’s Folly”, despite only paying about 2 cents per acre.

Folly? I think not.
 


Potter's Marsh - south of Anchorage

Aside from Alaska’s oil reserves, fisheries & wood industries Alaskans have preserved wetlands, such as Potter's Marsh south of Anchorage, and over 100 State Parks (3.5 million acres) for future generations to enjoy.



Portage Glacier Area

 


Places like Mendenhall Glacier in the North Tongass National Forest and Portage Glacier, south of Anchorage, are a tourist’s dream come true.



And with a population of only around 710,000, Alaska has lots of room to host visitors.

So, start planning your trip to Alaska, and check out our authors & books – we'd love to share our unique perspectives!
 

http://www.akrwa.blogspot.com/2012/06/wonderful-akrwa-authors.html


There is so much more to be said about Alaska, and our AKRWA authors can't wait to tell you!

Next turn, I’d like to tell you about a little place called Eagle River, just outside of Anchorage, where I live.
   
                    Interested?

          Keep checking us out!


    http://www.alaskawriters.com/membersites/akrwa/index.html  



--- Jae Awkins



 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Right Word


I love words. I love complicated and interesting words. Fun sounding words and words with unusual meanings. It’s a little hard to weave into normal conversation, but I’ve managed to do it on occasion. One of my favorite words is “defenestrate”.

As a writer, it’s not my job to always use the coolest word or I would say, even the most accurate word. I have to use the right word.

There are unusual words that might be correct but if the word is too unfamiliar to the reader, you run the risk of losing them. I don’t think we should dumb down our writing but sometimes the most specific, accurate word isn’t the right word.

I also believe some authors end up sounding pretentious.  I know when I’m reading a book and I run into certain words, I feel as if the author just wants to show me they know what the word means. 
For example, the word “defenestrate”.  As I said, I love this word. I would not, however, throw it into a book even if it was the most accurate word.  Who wants the reader to feel as if they need to look up words while they’re reading? I want my readers captivated by the story, not feeling like they need a vocabulary lesson.

The To Do List (Welsh Wolves 1.5)
Coming Oct. 25
I write erotic romances and I don’t want my love scenes to get boring. I’m always trying to find new words for what’s happening in my books.

Take the word “thrust”...always looking for good ways to say that. Let’s face it. Whether I’m writing m/f, m/m or m/m/f, someone is usually “thrusting” at some point.

Check out the word “thrust” in the Thesaurus and you get: advance, blitz, boost, drive, impetus, impulsion, jump, lunge, momentum, onset, onslaught, poke, pressure, prod, propulsion, punch, push, shove, stab, whack, wham.

All good words. Some I like better than others. Some I’ve never thought of and some I will never use in a love scene. Poke and prod just aren’t sexy. Wham? Don’t think so. Drive, shove or stab would have their uses as things get hot, heavy and maybe a little rough.

As a writer, it’s all about choosing the right word for your story.
--- Tielle


And a few notes about “defenestrate”. Part of the reason I love it is because it comes from the Latin word fenestra. De-fenestra. You de-window something or someone. It’s usually used as a term of political dissent. Its first known use is in 1620, according to M-W.com. I looked it up on Wiki-pedia (I know the challenges of Wiki-pedia but I’ve heard this story before).

The term originates from two incidents in history, both occurring in Prague. In 1419, seven town officials were thrown from the Town Hall, precipitating the Hussite War. In 1618, two Imperial governors and their secretary were tossed from Prague Castle, sparking the Thirty Years War. These incidents, particularly in 1618, were referred to as the Defenestrations of Prague and gave rise to the term and the concept. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

I Am Not an Imposter
By Liz Selvig


The definition of being a “real” writer at its most basic is simple—when you write and that’s what you want to do, you’re a real writer. In our profession we’re always looking for the satisfaction of publication, it’s true, but deep down we know that if writing is at our core we’ll put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard whether we are published or not.

So, I here stipulate that all of us reading this blog, with exceptions for our friends and non-writer fans, are writers. My question is: what makes us feel like real writers?  

Some of you have felt “real” from the moment you wrote your first word and that’s as it should be. Me? I still feel like an imposter most days. I love to write—or, more accurately, I love to have written, because the actual writing is hard. But writing a book in my case definitely takes a village—and some days I feel like I’m just an actor in front of other people watching me play a part. After my first book came out I thought I’d feel cool. Like I was walking with giants. Hah! I felt like I’d won a special backstage pass to watch the cool writers be cool. I visited. I smiled. I shook a few hands. Got a few autographs. Then I was just me again. Not a cool kid.

I know its poppycock. We’re each on our own journey. We’re each cool. I had a list of goals similar to that of my writer friends and I’d met them:

1. Finish a manuscript
2. Enter a contest
3. Win a contest
4. Send out queries
5. Get an agent
6. Sell a book.

Any one of those steps defines a real writer—even in the commercial sense. So why did I still feel like I was pulling one over on the writing universe?

I rode the wave of fun that accompanied the release of my first book and I even signed a handful of them. I got some nice reviews and compliments from friends and family. It was all great. And then the wave broke as waves do, and I had to go back to grindstone—as writers should have to do. And there I stalled.

Several writer friends published second and even third books. Numbers for them soared and promo for them continued. At RWA and RT they had piles of several different books. I was promo-ing the same thing. And I was, like, waiting for the book fairy to come down and give me another book (preferably without any help from me). Barring that, I needed at least a kick in the shorts and a lecture to get the dang book done.

But I was a fluke. A one-hit wonder. I was competing even with my own good reviews. 

Finally, finally I wrote and revised and slogged my way through a second book. I turned it in and waited for my agent and editor to come back with a gently worded Dear John letter. “Yup—you wrote a lovely book—now go back to your day job.” 

Of course that didn’t happen. I have a lovely new book, “Rescued by a Stranger” coming out in three days. And I admit, once that second book had been accepted, I honestly felt like real writer. I would be multi-published. Legitimate. Not an imposter.

But even as I basked in that feeling the little noggins in my brain started. Other real writers had more friends on FB, they were debuting at #3, #2 even #1 over at Amazon. They had fans, they had street teams, they had their acts together, and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing promotion-wise. They, they, they …

...and it smacked me upside the head. I was and have always been measuring being a “real writer” with the yardstick of comparison. I saw what I perceived as “real” and believed if I hadn’t done the same things, I wasn’t yet legit.
 

It’s a crock. Which, of course, most of you know. This is the secret: we simply ARE real writers. We don’t have to try. There will always be someone doing something different, having more or less success, reaching a goal we’ve set before we do. It doesn’t matter. Comparison is the kiss of death. Comparison shuts writers down. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Liz.

Young Liz - working on her writing


What’s it mean to feel like a real writer? I’ve discovered exactly what it is—believing that you have a story to tell and loving that story whether one person reads it or 100,000 people read it (one of my goals, mind you, despite my advice). It’s being able to say just to yourself: Hi, I’m (insert your name here) and I am a real writer!

So 'write on' my real writer friends—you each have an incredible gift. Don’t waste time analyzing it—I already (over)did that for you.