Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Can Anyone Get Any Work Done Over the Holidays?

If so, I'm not one of 'em. Eat, drink, and be merry. Seems to take up all my time. But, its all good. One holiday down, one more to go. Then, the writing commences. Really. Next year. Well, next decade. I hear the New Year comes in with a blue moon. Well, that's fitting because it seems lately that once in a blue moon is when I'm getting any writing done. Guess now that it is a blue moon, I have no more excuses. Right. Write. I'm on it. In just a few more days....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fish Tales will resume in 10.....9...8.......3....2.....1

Just like Dick Clark's New Year's Eve countdown and Togiak Herring. Only with Togiak Herring there is engine roar and boat crash instead of cheers and kisses. Somehow I think the resuming of this blog is a bit less exciting than either. Never the less, I'm back!!

So, for those of you who are curious, I injured my eyes months ago. UV Karatitus (snow blindness) from staring at the water w/o shades (I had forgotten them). So, kiddies, wear your polarized glasses because this has been somewhat of a miserable experience.

I was improving, then returned to work and slid down hill rapidly. Like, Superman rapid. That resulted in getting shipped to Seattle for tests. Worker's comp covered they expenses (except for the adult libations) but I had to fly solo. Day 1 started with eye exam (poke, poke, prod, dilate, repeat). Ever have your eyes dilated? Then you know you can't focus on anything closer than about a fathom away. So, half blind after the eye exam, they send me down stairs to get blood work done.

me: "How do I get there?"
nurse: "I'll give you a map."
me: (thinking) "Is she stupid? She must know I can't read a map right now. Oh, she probably thinks I'm like most normal people and I have someone with me."

So, I go down stair with my paper work in hand, not knowing where I am going. I try to read the signs of the offices. I have my face about .oo1 inches away from each sign, but I still can't read it. I show my paperwork to someone, anyone, and ask them if I'm in the right office. Great. I finally found it.

me: "I just had my eyes dilated, so I can't really see anything."
nurse: "OK. Just fill out this paperwork."
me: (thinking) "Is she stupid? What did I just say?"
me:"Um, no. I just had my eyes dilated, so I can't really see anything." I say more slowly this time, hoping it resisters.
nurse: "Well, OK. Date of birth......" she asks snidely as if I'm just too lazy to fill out my own paperwork.

She takes pity on me and just fills out my information for me. Then puts something in front of me for me to sign. I assumed it was my paperwork, but it could have been a piece of paper giving away my first born for all I know. Or worse yet, I could have agreed to be the President of the Sarah Palin fan club.

nurse: "OK. I'll be taking a lot of blood today. Did you prepare for this by eating and drinking a lot?"
me: "No. I didn't know I was having blood drawn today."
nurse: "Well, let's hope you've eaten enough."
me: "Yes, let's hope."
nurse: "Is this rubber strap around your arm bothering you?"
me: "No, its the needle sticking out of my arm that's bothering me."

I finally open my eyes after what seems like an eternity to see what is taking so long. Holy Shit! There are 8 vials of blood on the counter. No wonder this is taking forever.

me: "Did you leave me any?"
nurse: "You better go eat something at the cafeteria before you pass out."
me: "OK. Where is it?"
nurse: "Let me give you a map."

With no help of the map, obviously, I find my way to the cafeteria. Now I have a splitting headache, my eyes hurt, I can't see and I'm weak because I don't have any blood left in me. The guy behind the counters asks what I would like. Again, I explain about my eyes. He says "Oh, I've had that done before, it sucks. Let me read out menu to you." Now, why is it that the food guy is the only one who gets it and gives me some compassion and is helpful?

The food helps revive my wilted self, but my day isn't over. I still have to get an MRI. I have a map that tells me where I need to go. Its a short walk in the rain and I find it with only a small amount of wandering around. I take off all my metal as I'm told and hop in. 20 minutes of Buzz, buzz, thump, thump later and I'm done.

And, literally, I'm done. I'm weak, hurt, wilted, and near confused. All I want to do is go take a nap. I make it back to my hotel room. My key doesn't work. Great. I lug myself to the front desk and get a new key. I get back to my room and look at myself in the mirror. I look like a freak! My pupils are the size of saucers! And its been hours. How could these nurses not get that I can't see anything? They can't think I look normal........

After a nap, my sister calls. I recount my day and tell her how tired I am. She says I probably need to eat something. Right, food. That makes sense. The thing about being alone when you are depleted is that you don't know you are depleted so you don't know to revive yourself. Anyway, I made it through. The only glitch was that I had my wallet in my pocket during my MRI. I didn't think about it and the nurse didn't ask me about it. So, none of my credit cards work now, just like my room key.

But, all my tests came back fine. No brain tumors, no Lupus, Rheumatic arthritis, etc. After all that, Western medicine came up with dry eyes. Hmm....All this pain and all those tests, and that's all you got? Well, I headed East. Metaphorically, not literally. I'm trying acupuncture now. And let me tell you that's some trippy shit! However, its seems to be working and my eyes, finally, after 6 months of constant pain, are getting better.

So, I'm getting the engined warmed up and getting back to the writing drawing board! More soon!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stand by to stand by..........

This blog will be on stand by due to an injury. But, don't fret. I'll be right as rain soon!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board

I'm still working on Fish Tales, but took a return trip back to the drawing board. Feeling directionless, I did some suggested reading to get some inspiration. I read Drinking the Rain, a memoir by Alix Kates Shulman, which I loved. Her descriptions are amazing. It gave me tons of ideas on how to describe some of my own stories, what to expand on, etc.

I'm currently reading Bird by Bird: Some Instruction on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. It is also giving me some insight into the craft of writing. I think its important to gather gusto before starting. I mean, I had gusto at the beginning but it started to peter out. Now, I've re-gustoed. And I think just invented a new word. Ya see, you never know what the day will bring. So, with that, I'm off writing again! Here I go. I'm going to write now. This is me leaving to write. Signing off. Over. I'm out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stay Golden Pony Boy

Wow. Seems like I am finding one hundred and one ways to not write! I'm reading, doing research, taking notes, reading, doing yoga, picking berries, etc. But, can't seem to sit down and actually write!

I think the reading and research is all well and good, but at sometime I need to buckle down and actually write. Perhaps that sometime is now..........

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stop to Smell the Roses (or Humpies)

I found an editor to work with. She is great and good at giving me feedback and ideas on how to make my writing flow a bit more. So that is where I am at now just working on re-writing. Though just because I say that doesn't mean its really happening. Truth is, I haven't written in over a week! hehe. I just need a break and wanted to get some other stuff done, like work on my kitchen and having fun. But, I'm ready now to get back on the horse. The reality is settling in that this is going to take longer than I expect it to. So why hurry? Why not stop and smell the roses along the way? So that is exactly what I am doing. Or, laying on a pile of humpies, what ever the case may be.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My 1st Rejection Letter!

Last week I sent a handful of query letters to agents. I did what I read to do, research different agencies to find out what they specialize in. Some only deal in poetry, fiction, and whatnot. So, I did my legwork. I even found an article in Writer's Digest of agents looking for new writers. I composed my letter, double checked I got the agents name spelled correctly (and more importantly, made sure it wasn't addressed to the wrong agent), then hit send.
I know the opening of the letter was risky. Hey, I'm a fisherman, I take risks. The letter started with No Shit! There I was staring at the bow of a 1000 foot cruise ship heading right for me. If I don't get out of here, like now, this thing will crush me like a bug on a windshield.
I thought I would start with an excerpt of my book. This is the story of when I almost got ran over by a huge cruise ship. Technically, commercial fishing vessels have the right away. However, in reality, I have a 28 foot fiberglass boat. If I had exercised my right, I don't think I would be here right now. Obviously, I did make it through that day, but you'll have to read the book to find out the rest of the story.
Anyway, this week I got my first rejection letter. I'm actually quite excited about it. For one, I heard back! From what I understand, in most cases, that's not the case. And secondly, it was positive. The gal said that while it sounds like I have an interesting story, its just not what she is currently looking for. So, that's good news, right? I mean, it could have said countless other things like: it is poorly written, or the story is junk, or whatever. So, I'm happy about it.
I just met with a different women who may be doing some editing for me and giving me feedback. She has a sample of my work and I'll be hearing back from her next week. I'm also working on my proposal. So, the ball is still rolling in the right direction. Everything is taking a little longer than I would like it to. That's the hard part as I am not a patient person. I got my father's patience, but I only got half. This is a good lesson in patience.
And there you have it, the haps for the week.
Attached is a picture of me and Josh from 1997 aboard the Triton. The Triton is a 70' boat that was built in about 1945 for the USCG. It now tenders on the Copper River Flats and Prince William Sound. We are celebrating sunshine with an adult beverage and you can see gill netters waiting to deliver in the background.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall: Write on Time

It's official. It's here. Can't complain, we had a very nice summer followed by a nice Indian Summer. And I can't help but wonder the origin of that term, Indian Summer and if its PC. Anyway, its over. Termination dust is here and moving down the mountains, fast. A chill is in the air, frost on the ground, and snow in the forecast. (big sigh) Here comes winter. While I do enjoy winter activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, ice skating, vacationing in Hawaii, sleeping 10 hours a day, I still have to brace myself for 6 months of winter. Each one gets harder and harder. I used to love winter. Love it! Now......not so much. Guess AK will do that to you.

However, the long dark days will be good for writing. Though these days are good for writing too. I can easily put it off until the weather is bad, until this annoying noise in my heater is fixed, until after I go to yoga, until, until. Someone once said the hardest part about being a writer is writing. I laughed. Then realized, its true! But, I'm making it happen.

My proposal and query letter is in the works and almost polished enough to send off. I was hoping to have them sent off a week ago. However, I want someone to proof it. A writer friend is going to go over it with me today and an editor on Monday. Someone also told me that every thing in writing takes longer than you think. I'm finding that true, too.

Then, I have to chose photos for the book. I'm not quite ready to do that, but I guess its time. So, I'll give a sneak peak of a few that may make it in there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's the what?

Hard to believe a week has already gone by. Perhaps with will become a weekly blog. I've been busy enjoying the last of this fall weather. It was 65 degrees this weekend! Its 32 now.......Hunkering down and writing just got easier.

And writing I have been. Working on query letters to send to agents and independent publishers. And researching manuscripts. Researching query letter, agents, publishers, marketing. I would rather do my laundry. Well, that's not true, its still sitting there. Though I love research, the nuts and bolts of writing a manuscript doesn't sound like much fun. But, its necessary, so I'll do it. I've been working on a title, too. I think Fish Tales just doesn't quite cut it. Any suggestion for a book about the life of a commercial fishing woman in Alaska?

I've also been doing some revisions. The following is titled (for now) Early Morning Commute:

It’s Monday morning. The alarm would goes off at 4 am It barely gets a ring in before my feet touch the cold wooden floor of my little rented room at Fisherman’s Camp. I stumble around quietly as the walls are paper thin and find the clothes I laid out for myself the night before. A blood stained sweatshirt and oil stained Carharts with holes in them from battery acid. They feel chilly when I put them on. I’m already in fishing mode as I tip toe down the dark wooden hallway. I hear my footsteps echo and I will them to be quieter. Just as one pulls up the anchor as quietly as possible, I slip out the door. It’s a move not of consideration, but of slipping out unnoticed to get a head start. Early bird gets the worm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

OK, now my head is spinning

My AK Women's Writer's meeting last Thursday was a bust. I showed up and was the only one there. Not all is lost......I go to Barnes & Nobles (B&N) where Bob Bell is having a book signing for his latest, Oh No, We're Gonna Die, Too! We chatted. He gave me some tips and told me about Todd Publications here in Anchorage and his experiences with them. While I did previously convince myself that POD publishing was the way to go, I'm now on the fence and am considering an independent publisher.

Last night I went to the AK Writer's Guild monthly meeting, also a B&N. Nancy Lord was the presenter. Her 7th book is out, Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life. There was a discussion of literary arts vs. genre and where Shakespeare would fit in.

Also, a discussion of George Orwell's (author of 1984, Animal Farm) essay Why I Write. His 4 points of this statement are: 1. Sheer egoism (opposed to egotism) or having something important to say. 2. Aesthetic enthusiasm or having appreciation for good craftsmanship. 3. Historical impulse (reporting on the present). 4. Political Purpose, either affect peoples thinking or even nudge or push the world in a certain direction. It got me thinking of why I write. I think he sums it up better that what I could have but gives some good food for thought. More of that is this quote by James Baldwin "The purpose of all art is to lay bare the questions that are obscured by answers". Hmmm. (I hope I got that quote right, but you get the gist anyhow.) I try to apply that to my own writing.

I did also have a very lovely visit with one of my favorite professors, Jeff. He has written a book and is working on getting it published. We had a great discussion of how the process has been. His experience is a bit different as his book is a different genre than mine. We need to follow different paths. However, our methods and viewpoints aren't too different as we are both Aquarius and both Plums. We share similar view points and its great to discuss accomplishments and concerns with like minded folk.

Though I am now confused. Not about the philosophy of writing, just the nuts and bolts of the process of being published. Do I need an agent? How far along do I get before I write a query letter and proposal? Do I need those things for an independent publisher? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Close Encounter of the Ruminating Ungulate Kind (AKA a Moose)

Actually, it was 2 moose. And actually, it wasn't this moose. This moose is at a nice safe distance. The moose my friend Suzie and I almost ran into was only about 10 feet from us. But the alders were so thick we didn't even see her. We were hiking along Rabbit Lake trail admiring all the fall colors. Her doggie Max was in front of us. He smelled her, wimpered just as I head a rustle in the alders. It took my mind a moment to compute that that sound was bigger than a bird. I stopped and said "there's something in the bushes". Suzie stopped. We backed away slowly. Then, I went through the mental rolodex in my mind of what to do in moose encounters. If your mind doesn't find the information it wants, it just fills in with the next best info. So, what to do in bear encounters kept coming to mind. But, bear and moose are much different and therefore, require different responses. After a moment of this back and forth in my mind one single idea came forward. RUN!! So we did. Not that you can out run a moose, but better than sticking around and finding out if they were gonna charge or not.

We ran a bit down the trail and ascertained that we were between 2 moose. They were both female and both adults. Great. Sandwiched between 2 thousand pound animals. We could hear stomping. These chicks were having some sort of dispute, probably since its fall and rut season. We didn't want to find out, just wanted to get out of there. We finally decided to make a break for it. We walked slowly past them. The smell was incredible. Anyone ever smell moose? Very distinct. Kinda like halibut, only gamey. We start strolling along then decide to beat foot it out of there.

Fall is a beautiful time of year in Alaska and can best be enjoyed by hiking. Running into wild life is just all part of the fun. That trip we saw about 5 moose all together, the rest were at a safe distance. We also saw a dall sheep. I love seeing wildlife. I just don't love (literally) running into it.

Here are pics from the rest of the trip.

Rabbit Lake

Friday, September 11, 2009

What's going on in AK waters

Below are two links from the Anchorage Daily News (ADN). The first is from this spring and is a slide show of the Copper River Salmon fishery. This is where I fished my boat for 5 years.

This link was just posted at the ADN this week and taked place down in Homer AK.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Getting my net off the reel........

So I’m finally getting my net off my reel, so to speak. I’ve been working on editing and revising some of my stories before I write any more. Wanna read an excerpt?

May 15, 2000. There were gale force wind warnings out. The weather was already snotty, the wind was blowing about 25 knots, and the seas were at least 18 feet. It was cold and raining. I was on my 28 foot boat. My steering wasn’t working properly. And I on my hands and knees puking. Puking on my fish and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.
That was a synopsis of my first day fishing my own boat on the Copper River Delta. I had decided after about 8 years of crewing on boats, that I should buy my own boat. I was 28 years old and was having one of those, ‘what am I doing with my life’ moments. Sure, I had a few years of college under my belt, but didn’t yet feel the need to go back. Besides, I was living in Cordova, and the degrees offered by the community college are limited. I had my private pilot’s license and had considered going to get my commercial license. I had the application for a state loan sitting right there, right next to the application for a state loan to buy a boat and permit (licensed needed to commercial fish). I don’t recall how I made the actual decision on between the two, it could have even been a coin toss. But I do recall thinking that sitting in a cockpit of a little plane all day long would be difficult for me. I like to be active, move around. A 28 foot boat would give me much more room to do that.
The rest, as they say, is history. I received a state loan to buy into Area E drift gill net salmon fishery, otherwise known as Prince William Sound (PWS) and the Copper River Delta, aka ‘the Flats’. I had never even had a loan before. I went from not even having credit card dept to a $90,000 loan practically overnight. I searched around, made a bunch of phone calls and bought a permit. Then I looked around and bought a boat and trailer. After that, I got a net, a gear locker, a harbor slip, a parking spot for my trailer, and found a radio group to be in............

What do you think? Feedback is welcome...........

Actually, I’ve been dividing my time between researching self publishing, making contacts, and writing. Tonight I go to my first Author’s Group.
My inclination is towards becoming an IndieAuthor and doing a POD (print on demand) publishing thang. Pretty much because I like being the captain of my own ship. My last season fishing I started getting into direct marketing of my own fish. Basically, this is much more work, but eliminates the middle man and all the profits go to the fisherman, aka me. When you folks buy fish in the store for 20 dollar a pound, the fisherman who caught that fish, who risked life and limb and mortgaged his asshole to catch that fish is probably only making about 1.50 a pound. Yes. 1.50 a pound. I never liked that either. If you want to know of a good direct marketer’s source, Rick & Sarah are good friends of mine. Their web address is :

Anyway, I’m thinking big house publishers might be the same story. Therefore, I’ve been doing a little research. So far, what I have found of self publishing are a few websites that do it: Lulu, CreateSpace, and Booksurge. Of these 3, I’m leaning towards CreateSpace, but more research is required. I also found this cool book: The IndieAuthor Guide by April Hamilton. You can go to her website and even read parts of it online.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Beginning

This is a blog about a recovering commercial fisherman writing about commercial fishing. Well, my experiences about fishing. Ok, a memoir about fishing. Except I hate the word memoir. Don’t ask me why. Ok, you can ask me but I can’t really answer that. I guess there are just some words that some people like. I once met a guy who hated the word Petri dish. Petri dish. That didn’t mean he didn’t like biology or anything, just that word. And I mean he really hated it. I sent him a made up joke one using it in the punch line (sorry, it was like 15 years ago and I no longer remember the joke) and he said he was so pissed he got up and punched the guy who was next to him. So, OK, I don’t hate the word memoir as much as this guy hated the word Petri dish, but it does grate me. I guess we have the French to thank for that. This blog will take you along my journey of writing my first book (unless you count the book I had to write in 7th grade, it was something about a banana with super powers who helped people, Banananman, but that doesn’t really count). So far, it’s called FISH TALES: something something (I’m not sure what yet). Again, puny. I know, what can I say, I’m a puny gal.
So, I’m not really sure how to write a book. Or get it published and actually have people read it. I mean, I have some ideas, but this is all a new experience for me. We’ll see how it goes. So far I have about 100 pages or so. But, well, I have 100 pages written in Word, size 12 font Calibri. I’m not sure how many pages that would add up to in a book. It’s a series of short stories from my days of living the dream on the high seas. It all started this spring (the writing, not the fishing). I was finishing up grad school and writing my professional project (aka thesis). I had done tons and tons of research and writing the previous fall. Then a few months before my project was due, I changed my topic. It must be the Aquarius in me. We can stop on a dime mid stride, change course, and never look back.
It started when my professor told me to follow my passion. This is great advice, but easier said than done. Follow my passion. Great. Ok. What are my passions? It’s a good question to ask yourself. What gives you energy, opposed to what takes energy? Well, I like writing. I like writing about traveling and fishing. (I should probably take the time to clarify one term I’m using: fishing. When I say fishing I mean commercial fishing, not sport fishing. I don’t sport fish. Not that there is anything wrong with it. Its just that catching fish one at a time doesn’t really do it for me. However, writing commercial fishing each time is a drag. Thinking commercial fishing is a drag. Hence, “fishing”. “Great” she said. “Traveling and commercial fishing”. (That time, it was my professor speaking, not me). “Write about commercial fishing. Everybody has travelled. I’ve travelled, we’ve all travelled, but we all haven’t commercial fished. How many woman can say they commercial fished?” Well, I’m not sure so I can’t really answer that. Besides, I think it was a rhetorical question anyway.
So, I did. That’s how I started writing about my experiences fishing. I wrote about my first time out and not knowing what in the hell I had just gotten myself into. I wrote about some of the beautiful sights I saw, the food I ate, the places I fished, the people I met, the times I though I was going to die, and the struggles I went through. I turned in my project and got an A. And, I had so much fun writing it. It actually did give me energy. I can’t really explain it, but I was happier then than I had been in a really, really long time, if ever. I still am. I like riding the happy wave. I would encourage you all to find your own passions and hop on the happy wave.