Saturday, April 26, 2008


It's insidious. Compelling. I try to resist.
Try to be a reasonable person. A nice person. I ask how my friends are doing. How their kids are fairing in school. How the job is going. Whether they've ever been to London. Ever been nominated for the Orange Prize...Oh what's the Orange Prize you ask? Well let me tell you...

It's a voggy Saturday in KoOlina Harbor.
"How voggy?" I hear you ask.
THIS voggy.

Take a look at how fuzzy the Waianae Mountains are behind ORION. (I know those of you nameless-authors-in-the-trenches from CALGARY are laughing your ass off and saying "Those are NOT mountains...They're HILLS! And pretty crappy ones at that!"

Anyway never mind that. What you SHOULD be looking at are the brand new awesome sail covers ORION is sporting.

Can you spell D-I-S-T-R-A-C-T-E-D?

So I was asked to send a signed copy of LOTTERY to an auction for a very good cause -- and I did but I TOTALLY forgot to sign it. I had to send another...

Can you spell B-L-O-N-D-E- M-O-M-E-N-T?

So let's move on. I'm supposed to be doing my very last homework assignment from Dr Brown's class, but I am blogging instead.

Can you spell P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N?

I see a hand raised. A question in the back. Yes?
"What's vog?"
You weren't paying attention. We covered that months ago. It's when the volcano (Kilauea) is erupting on the Big Island of Hawaii and it shoots sulfer gasses into the air and the wind shifts coming from the southwest blowing it over Oahu and ergo on MEEEEEEEEEE.
Can you spell S-E-L-F A-B-S-O-R-B-E-D?

ME: How did I do?

TOOLOOSE: You're getting better but you need to add even more things about yourself. How you feel. What you're going through. Being an author and all... People are interested. Really. Do you think this couch throw makes me look fat?

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Last week was wild. I started with one conference then ended with another, and had a few book clubs sprinkled in.

I think though, this is a first. A book club traveled to Hawaii and met up with me...well actually... they were visiting their member Dolores who moved from California. Their club decided to pick my book and who knew? Dolores lives within walking distance of the marina where I live!
I was fed well and they had to kick me out it was so much fun...I met up with them later when they were about to board a catamaran for a pleasure cruise.

As I said before participating with book clubs is beyond fun AND if it's not by speaker phone I get to eat good things.

Remember when I was talking about translators and foreign publishers? Well my Spanish publisher has really been proactive. Check out this...

Touloose was extraordinarily upset he was not asked to star in it.
In order to placate him I had to make him a tiny crown, tell him he was the king of the world, and take his photo.

And then when I was walking down the dock...
What did I spy?

Yes. That's right. An ORANGE dragonfly...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


What I did on Monday and Tuesday...PAC RIM CONFERENCE ON DISABILITIES
My buddy from the UK...

People from all over the world came together in Honolulu to talk about independent living, self determination, ADA, disability and human rights among many other things.

Often reviewers or interviewers will assume that LOTTERY was exclusively inspired by my father's financial windfall. They are so wrong. My experience as the daughter of a Lottery winner contributed about as much as my sailing experience and love of the water. They both added authenticity and texture to the real story. The one about Perry L. Crandall.
The real inspiration came from my years as a teacher, my brother in law Jeri, my PhD work and my involvement with the Center on Disability Studies.
Authors sometimes feel misunderstood. They sometimes feel people jump to conclusions about why they create a particular work of literature. Although I have written other manuscripts -- LOTTERY is my first published novel and yet it is indicative of my goal in writing: To give voice to those who are marginalized by our society.
Being at the conference gave me hope and reaffirmed my belief that literature is important and necessary for our souls to grow.
I gave a talk about telling the truth through fiction -- not a new concept -- it is a powerful way to develop empathy and to change attitudes about what we consider "normal" and capable.
I am still processing everything that I learned from the people I met.
So writers?
Consider peopling your story with those of all abilities.
And readers?
When a novel touches you & takes you to that special place -- let the author know their words have done their job...

Monday, April 14, 2008


Recognize that last name?

My publisher William Heinemann TOTALLY ROCKS.
They said it with flowers...

Congratulations to the other shortlisted authors:
Nancy Huston Fault Lines
Sadie Jones The Outcast
Charlotte Mendelson When We Were Bad
Heather O’Neill Lullabies for Little Criminals
Rose Tremain The Road Home

Sunday, April 13, 2008


WARNING: Don't try this at home.
My neighbor Ella is 6 years old. She's my hero.

Risk. Or maybe RISK. Or RISK!!!!!!!! Ella's an expert and I am the neophyte.

"Aren't you afraid?" I ask her.
She gives me that universal look all 6 year olds have. "Yes." She giggles.
"You do it anyway?" I persist.
"Yes." She giggles even louder, leans back and sticks her tongue out and wriggles it.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"The wind." She says. "I'm tasting the wind."
"What does it taste like? Ice Cream?" I ask.
"No. No. No." She shuts her eyes, shakes her head and laps like she's a kitten. "Like wind." She says this as if I am the silly one. I, who am on the ground watching her entwined in the rigging.
"What if you fall?" This question provokes the most laughter.
"I get wet." She says. "I get wet, silly." She rolls her eyes at me. I can't really see this, as she is too high up in the ratlines, but I can tell by her tone this is what she's doing.
I'm taking a page out of Ella's book, so to speak. I will not fail for want of trying. For want of taking risks.
The air is choked full of writerly inner dialog.

So Ella comes down and plays on the lines scampering up and down like a human crab.
And yes.
She does fall in.
Falls backwards with her eyes to the heavens.
Falls in with a giant splash.
Comes to the surface.
And laughs.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Or another beautiful day in paradise. 77 degrees. 9 pm.

Things that must be done before starting to write for the day.
Clean papers off settee and straighten cushions.
Lift Touloose off computer.
Turn on computer.
Make coffee.
Turn on cell phone and sit down in front of computer.
Push Touloose off computer.
Answer emails.
Get up and fix coffee.
Take first sip and feel human again.
Kick Touloose off computer.
Attempt to put keys back in the correct positions after Touloose's claws dislodged them.
Get up and pour another cup of coffee.
Throw Touloose off computer.
Realize notes were in stack of papers that were removed from settee. Lift Touloose off papers. Find notes.
Pour another cup of coffee.
Hear loud engine in next slip. Go up on deck and see boat careering toward stern of ORION. Push off boat and help couple tie up to dock. Listen to wife complain about husband. Listen to husband complain about wife. Agree with both.
Go back down below. Toss Touloose off computer to the floor and then feel bad and play with him with the laser pointer for the next 20 minutes.
Dump out cold coffee and pour fresh cup.
Shove Touloose off computer.
Drink coffee.
Drink LOTS of coffee.
So what about you?
What are your morning rituals?

Monday, April 07, 2008



Trying to revise, write, edit my next WIP and finish my homework for my last class for my certificate in disability studies.
Start ORION'S engine, loosen the lines, cast off and motor out of the harbor. I want to raise the main sail or maybe just use the jib as there's not much wind today.
I would rather be sailing. I'd rather anchor just off shore at our favorite place and snorkel and swim with the dolphins.
But I'm not.
Life gets in the way of what you want to do.
But not for my beta reader KEVIN. He's my neighbor here at the harbor-- I turned him on to blogging and that's a good thing. Check out his videos. Kevin designs houses and teaches Vectorworks all on his catamaran.
Let me know how you like his videos. He has several on his blog. Make him happy by commenting.
We both know what it's like to have work to do but be tempted by the ocean and the winds.
So now it's back to work. I have to create some difficulties for a few of my protagonists so they don't get complacent.
And then I'm going swimming.
Ah the life of a writer. It's tough but somebody's got to do it...

Thursday, April 03, 2008



7:44 AM and 76 degrees. Another chilly morning in Honolulu.
One of the most interesting things about having a novel published in other countries is working with translators. For those of you who are unfamiliar with how things work. This will be a quick tutorial (those familiar can skip ahead to the end-of-chapter quiz).
My novel was sold to Putnam and they bought only North American rights (English) so LOTTERY has been sold to other countries (Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, England, Sweden, Japan, Portugal, Korea, Spain, Finland, China, Taiwan, Russia, Romania...well you get the picture...)
When a country buys a novel they are responsible for doing the translation. And that's when it gets REALLY fun and fascinating.
I love language (of course I'm a writer!) so it's interesting to me to see how this is all done. Many times the author is unaware that the translation has been completed. For instance my Dutch publisher translated Lottery and I didn't know a thing! I sent a Dutch copy of LOTERIJ to my cousin Helge in Norway - who read it and pronounced it wonderful. The Dutch translator just made a minor alteration -- they changed my horse's name on the dedication page from "Airborne" to "Piloot". I like "Piloot" a lot and may name my next horse that.
My Swedish translator just needed to know whether my aunt (mentioned in my acknowledgments page) was my maternal aunt or paternal aunt as in Sweden there are distinct names for each. I thought that was remarkable.
My Korean publisher asked me to write a preface for my Korean readers and that was great fun...
But I have to say my most enjoyable experience so far has been being able to work with my diligent and brilliant Japanese translator Sayuri Kobayashi.
We both discovered that some of my words needed clarification. For example how would you all describe the Lottery ticket above in a way any reader anywhere could visualize it?
Washington State lottery tickets come in strips and you get two chances to win for each dollar paid. The ticket above is like the one Perry bought each week. It's five dollars worth of lottery tickets but just on one piece of paper. For those older people (like me!) the first lotto tickets were a single ticket that you scratched off and exposed your numbers...times change... and with the advent of computers the Lotto tickets changed as well...I digress...
And there were other things.
I had to explain when Gram expressed disgust "Mild Schmild!!! Education Schmeducation!"
Schmeducation is NOT in the English dictionary as Sayuri found out...
How would you translate that?!
Any of you who have grandparents who use colloquialisms or local turns of phrases can easily see how complex this can get. The translator then has a really important job to not only be true to the author's intent but allow their readers to understand in that particular language.
I have a lot of respect and admiration for translators who work with literature.
It's hard work. How do you translate slang?
And jokes!
How do you translate puns? And word play?
EGADS!! Wait. How do you translate this?
It's enough to make you want to pull your hair out...or shave your head... or tug your tresses...
Get the picture? um well er (Now how do I translate THAT!?)
So this post is to Sayuri san and all my other wonderful translators.

Now that can be understood in EVERY language!