Wednesday, January 10, 2007


6:30 am and 74 degrees.
Here I am. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We were a week out of Honolulu heading toward San Francisco. I always knew these Japanese glass floats could be found on beaches, both in the Pacific Northwest where I was raised, and in Hawaii. In fact, when I was assisting in shark research on Midway Atoll, I found a small one nestled in the sand after a storm.
I knew there had to be some floating around out in the water, but it's a big ocean. I kept my eyes peeled.
How do we get it?
Hold my heels and dangle me off the side! I said.
I scooped it up.
A treasure. In the middle of the ocean. So unexpected. But I was looking, you see. I was primed for possibilities.
You may think this has nothing to do with the business of writing. But it does. It truly does.
It is the answer to several questions I have been asked.
"Tell me about the use of writers' conferences and which do you recommend." and "How did you get blurbs from Jackie Mitchard and Paul Theroux."
The Maui Writers Conference and Retreat was the best investment I have ever made in my writing career. For those of you on the east coast you may have a large selection of conferences but the intimacy of Maui and the location bring a diverse number of writers, authors, agents and editors together that makes for a unique and unbeatable networking opportunity.
I am fortunate to live in Hawaii. This is my home. I am so grateful to Shannon and John Tullius for putting on this amazing CONFERENCE.

I will talk more about conferences and retreats at some other point but suffice it to say I do not think I would be in this position now without the contacts I made there. That is where I met Jackie Mitchard who has given so generously of her time to students from the Maui conference. I recommend taking a class from Jackie to anyone of any genre. She teaches at various workshops all over the country.
Opportunity. Being in the right place at the right time. Like glass balls.
Is it luck? Good fortune? Or studied planning?
I used to teach riding lessons and have horses. Someone called me to see if I would teach Paul Theroux and his wife how to ride. They knew I was a professional trainer at one time.
I said yes.
We became acquaintances and then friends. A mutual friend let him know I had a manuscript. He offered to trade riding lessons for writing lessons. The rest is history to use one of those diabolical cliches.
He heard my ideas and told me to get busy and write. He read the first draft of LOTTERY and predicted it would my first novel published.
It appears he will be right.
Glass balls.
It's all about glass balls.
Looking for them. Spotting them bobbing out in the ocean.
And figuring how to scoop them up.
Glass balls.
Find yours.


Anonymous said...

Very true... Mine was a rusty old tin box where I kept all of my special things. And after lots of hard work and some spin, it became my first published novel. And the contacts? Well, those don't just drop into your lap without investing time and effort either. You must network and open yourself up to meeting other authors, ask their advice, learn from them, and be in the right place at the right place at the right time... Oh, and your writing must shine if one of them is going to offer you a blurb! That's a given.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, the elusive Paul T. you mentioned on my blog!

I love that you found that glass ball . . . and that you had to dangle from the side of your boat to get it! Haha!

Excellent comparison. Before I even got to the part in your entry that said "what does this have to do with writing" I had already made the connection. Writing does not just happen, publishing does not just happen. Even when it looks like it does. You have to be looking.

And you have to know what you are looking for.


Amy MacKinnon said...

Beautiful post, Pat. I love the analogy to the glass ball; another kind of treasure, no doubt. I agree that in large part we are capable of creating our own luck and opportunities.

To paraphrase Edison, "Success is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration."

Therese Fowler said...

Or, as Thomas Jefferson said, "The harder I work, the luckier I get."

If you hadn't been looking for that glass ball, it's unlikely you'd have seen it when it you cruised nearby.

I love how you can extend your glass ball metaphor--having to be dangled over the side in order to trap it with your feet is akin to the risks you've taken (existentially speaking) to get LOTTERY written, represented, and sold.

Now you've got me thinking...what's MY metaphor?

Have to get back to you on that one!

M. G. Tarquini said...

You can do internet from a sailboat in the middle of the ocean?

That's a ridiculous question, isn't it? Guess I won't be writing a seafaring novel anytime soon.

Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind words. I left you an answer there.

I saw your deal announcement the other day and thought your novel sounded interesting. I look forward to when it hits the shelves. If you have a mailing list, put me on it?

Kim Stagliano said...

WOW - what ARE they? And you went to Midway as in Midway Midway? My DAd is a WWII Navy man (never left dry land because he had college training, LOL!) and he'd be envious!

I have a feeling though that as a writer, glass balls would be shattered pretty darn fast - we need STEEL balls! :)

Anonymous said...

Strangely enough, my mother is one of those ladies who is always in search of glass balls for her garden.

You really are an inspiration, you know. I am so glad you decided to blog. It is hard to find a writer who is published (or even just with an agent) who is willing to speak frank without running new folk like me through the wringer. So again, thank you.

ORION said...

You CAN email in the middle of the ocean. We call it sail mail and the signal goes through the single side band radio.
Yes that midway. It is now a marine sanctuary. I will try to find and scan some photos for you.

This is such a wonderful blogging community.
How cool you guys are!

Heidi the Hick said...

I am so glad you found me. I need this kind of contact!

May I link you?

ORION said...

Of course Heidi! Be my guest.

Anonymous said...

What a fun post - and what a gorgeous glass ball! My dad had a few of them - we used to live in Samoa and he got them there. He was teaching how to build fishing boats and loved to go deep sea fishing.
Anyway, pop over to France whenever you please - I'll be happy to give you the grand tour!
And wouldn't I love to come to Hawaii!!