Lucky breaks


Local author shelf at Portland’s “Another Read Through.”

I find it difficult to believe my grandfather’s decades old, now, quote that he profited enough upon publishing The White Headed Eagle, to “buy up” house-wise from 3306 to 3846 N.W. Thurman Street in 1935 Portland. Now, this book about John McLoughlin was a good read and I do understand the difference in yesterday’s housing costs – but the book was not a page-turning thriller. Hard to imagine a book in that genre making more than enough to simply buy one’s daily caffeine in today’s world. Just another reason I wish Dad was alive. He would know the truth.

img_1671Don’t get me wrong. I never expected to make money on my book: I was thrilled to simply publish it. Every day I am thankful I have a paying day job I enjoy and appreciate (as did my grandfather), even if it frequently competes with my finite amount of brain and creative energy. I can’t imagine being an author who financially makes it on their writing – though I commend and perhaps even envy them. Some days.

Smart people warn us green writers to be realistic. I get that. But even then, some days it is hard to be a newly published writer with no name, no agent, and holding unrealistic hopes for getting a book out to even a teeny tiny percentage of the masses. So today I remind myself – and maybe others even newer than me to the journey – of all the lucky breaks I have in fact received. And even more importantly – I send a hearty shout out to those who gave me them. I fully appreciate you.

  • Local resources: I appreciate the Oregon Historical Society’s Davies Family Research Library and Willamette University’s Hatfield Research Library for their dedication in protecting and preserving stories, history I have been fortunate to be tied to through family: Daddy Dick and Sam Gill and William Willson and Chloe Clark and J.K. Gill and William Montgomery. You can in fact – while wearing white gloves – read the original 1880-1890 diary of steamboat engineer Sam Gill. Or sit at your computer and admire the longhand of Chloe Clark’s journal. What other stories lie in these protected files?
  • A “good-fit” publisher: I appreciate my publisher, Bedazzled Ink Publishing. Proud to be one of nineteen female authors to write one of their twenty 2017 published books. Eager to read soon-to-be released Bink Books by Birgitta Hjalmarson and Patricia Taylor Wells, and others.
  • Local writing networks: I’m lucky to have joined Willamette Writers, where I have met kind and awesome writers like Margaret Pinard and reconnected with old friends like Warren Easley. And to be totally honest, I feel particularly beholden to the amazing Kate Ristau who so devotedly supports other local authors, even in the midst of her own successful blogging and book releases. It’s the little things; and sometimes they feel so big.
  • Supporting Bookstores: From what I can tell, the bookstore Another Read Through, is the premiere local bookstore dedicated to supporting local authors. Owner Elisa devotes shelves to us and by promoting regular book readings she makes all of us feel like we are, well, actually, authors. Elisa is truly one of my current heroes. If you adore books and want to support local authors and businesses, put this bookstore at the very top of your list.
  • Supporting people: I can’t forget the enthusiasm and kindness of those who schedule book talks for me like Molly at Wilsonville Springs, my friends at the West Linn Historical Society and West Linn Library, and McMenamins Wilsonville Old Church who made me feel like a rock star.
  • Friends and readers: Finally, you readers who take the time and write a review or tweet my news; it’s not till you are published do you realize how much this matters, to an author’s spirit and promotion of our dream.

And finally, some advice. From little me. Powells – we know you are big. We know you boast prominent authors who travel many miles to speak at your store, and that you sell books by the carton. But don’t forget that, after all, some of us remember when you opened your doors and we spent our Christmas cash on your books, bought gift cards for our own children, and even today tell ourselves, “just one more” when we shop. Many of us once imagined how cool it might be to get a book on your shelf. I felt as if I’d won a sweepstake when I finally learned you agreed to have one copy of my book up deep in your red room, even if I felt a bit like I had been begging. But other local authors I know never heard back once they submitted the paperwork request. We know you are popular; and we appreciate that. We get that writers are a dime a dozen. Maybe just remember we are your community, and a bit of kindness means a lot.

Okay. This is a bit much, really. You’d think I’d won a Pulitzer or something. It’s just that I do appreciate those who take the time to support me, and other newbie authors trying to share their voice. And sometimes we don’t give thanks enough in today’s world. Oh – and if you want to be another of my own special heroes – and were looking for the opportunity to provide a review of a local memoir, say one that spans seven generations near our Willamette River….give me a holler. I’d love to send you a copy.


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