Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Tidbits from Conferences and Speaking

Whenever I’m speaking or attending conferences, I jot down interesting tidbits that people say or give me. Here are some recent ones:

Nothing happened in Great Britain or any of its possessions (including America) from September 3 through September 13, 1752. People weren’t bored out of their minds, it’s just that those dates never occurred. The reason being that Great Britain changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar and the date went from September 2, the last day before the change, to September 14 on the new calendar.

A man donated things to a garage sale and his wife went and bought them all back.

Quoted from W. Somerset Maughan: There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no knows what they are.

How do you know your wrinkle cream works if you don’t have wrinkles?

An older couple went off on a SKI holiday: Spending Kids Inheritance.

Friday, September 17, 2010


At the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference a week ago, one of the speakers mentioned some of the famous writers who have had a large number of rejections. When I started writing I submitted short stories to magazines and anthologies and on my 112th submittal sold my first story, “Never Trust a Poison Dart Frog,” to a publication titled, Who Died In Here? which was a collection of short stories with a death or a murder taking place in a bathroom. That ties James Lee Burke who was rejected 111 times for The Lost Get Back Boogie which, when published, was considered for a Pulitzer prize. Other ones of note: Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance had 121 rejections; Jack Canfield and Mark Vitor Hansen had 134 rejections for Chicken Soup of the Soul and Louis L’Amour had 200 stories rejected and more than 350 rejections before making a first sale; John Creasy had 774initial rejections. So the message is very clear—perseverance. As writers, just like sales people, we have to move past being told no, and the next one may be the one that’s accepted.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Week That Was

This last week was like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. On Labor Day we flew to Orlando to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with our son, daughter-in-law and two of our grandkids. The travel went well, uneventful and we actually arrived ahead of schedule. We stayed at the Loew’s Royal Pacific which was within a short boat ride or walk of the Universal Studio Islands of Adventure where the Harry Potter rides reside. We had a three day pass and by staying at on onsite hotel we were able to get into the Harry Potter part of the park an hour early each morning as well as have express passes to avoid the longer lines on many of the rides. The town of Hogsmead and the Hogswart castle were impressive. We had butter beer; I particularly liked the frozen version which was like a cream soda slushy with cream on top. By getting in early we avoided the long lines through Hogswart castle and could enjoy a leisurely stroll through the castle. Since our grandson is sixteen months old, we did the child swap where one of us could wait with him and then swap out to go on the ride. I had done my homework the week before and finished the seventh book in the series. The ride takes you swooping through the castle, out on a quidditch pitch, chased by a dragon and dementors, spit on by giant spiders and all you could ask for in a four minute heart-pounding adventure.

We got back on Friday, again a flight that arrived early, and then I was off the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver. This was an opportunity to catch up with friends, meet a number of new people, attend workshops to improve my writing craft and promotional skills and to enjoy a few laughs. A couple of sound bites. One of the speakers quoted Nora Roberts: I can fix a bad page but not a blank page. Another: one of the rules of writing: Just do it from the philosopher Nike. When I have a chance to unbury, I’ll review my notes and post some more observations.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Stream Hike

When I take a break from writing and speaking engagements, I like to walk. Recently I have taken a new kind of hike—a stream hike. Rather than walk on a path, I walk in a flowing streambed. The first time I tried this, I used reef walkers but found my feet got sore when walking on the stones in the stream. What worked much better was a pair of old hiking boots. I went in a stream that was low flowing and not more than two feet deep. Being the end of August and beginning of September, the water wasn’t that cold. Several things I learned. It’s important to use walking poles for balance. Use mosquito repellant. Do it when the sun is out so you can see the bottom of the stream. Following these guidelines, it can be an enjoyable form of exercise with beautiful scenery and no crowds. And your feet don’t overheat.