Wednesday, January 31, 2007


This is a photograph of my penny box. What is a penny box you ask?
I will tell you.

8:30 am and 77 degrees.
My name is Patricia Wood and I collect pennies for luck.
It started innocently enough like all compulsions. I would be walking to my car in a parking lot -- find a penny at my feet, pick it up, put it in my pocket and say, "A penny for luck."
This habit became magnified when I finished my first novel, started my second and began the querying process.
I was not just happy circumstance to hit every green light. I decided I had to make my own luck.

I became a Penny Lurker.
I not only look for pennies that have been dropped, mislaid, rolled under a chair or at over the edge of a step -- I create my own opportunities. I hunt for pennies. I look for potential. A harried mother dropping coins into a gum ball machine with two howling children at her hip. Look! There! One penny escapes. I wait. When she leaves I scoop it up.
An elderly woman counting out change in the line ahead of me. She puts the rest in her coin purse. A stray penny drops to the floor. No one hears it.
I do.
I hear it.
When she goes out the door I pounce!
Even my friends are not safe.
"Let's clean out our purses, today." I suggest innocently, knowing a few copper coins will fall and roll into the voluminous throw on my settee.
My husband is horrified. "You have to stop this!"he says."It's stealing!"
"No it's not," I protest. "There are rules."
Certain, specific rules I must follow.
The penny leavers have to turn their back and walk away.
When they get at least 10 feet away the penny is mine!
These pennies cannot be spent. They must be saved forever. Hence the penny box.
My husband is not entirely convinced of the efficacy and ethics of my Penny Lurking.
It works for me.
So how about you?
What strange and odd things do you do for luck?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


why I am up at 2 in the morning.
Howling trades.
Giant swells in the harbor.
The 80 ft trawler behind us looks like it will break loose. The platinum skies make it eerily light.
I am rolling side to side even wedged on the settee in my salon.
I woke up to books falling on my head.
And a cat complaining that an open hatch was letting the rain in.
Oh the joys of living aboard a sailboat.
So I show a photo of us at sea.
The good times with the wind at our beam.

2:3O am and 75 degrees. Confused rough seas in the harbor and ORION is wildly straining at her lines.
I cannot sleep and I will pay for it tomorrow.
A copy editor has been assigned to my novel LOTTERY. I will get the manuscript back in two weeks from Putnam.
This, then is my respite.
My breather.
It is time to revisit my work in progress but I am loathe to leave my characters from LOTTERY. I have become supremely attached to them and they to me. Like intoxicated, affectionate friends at a party.
"Don't go," they say. "We're having such fun," they beg.
I have been unsuccessful at resisting.
Until yesterday.
I must tell you,
How I did it.
Three words.
New. Theme. Music.
I chose new music. Compiled specifically with my new work in mind.
A sort of literary "our song."
New music for new friends.
A new song for a new lover.
And that's as simple as it was to move on.
So how do you do it? What are your tricks so you can move from the old work to the new.
Tell us.
Every bit.
And now.
I think,
I 'll try.
To go back to bed.

Monday, January 29, 2007


25 year-old Airborne in his horse show heyday.
He used to be hyper and wild. I used to have to exercise him for hours before he would mind his manners in the show ring. Over time he would relax and not be so rushed. In the jumpers he was unbeatable. Quick and clean. As time progressed he learned that fancy braids and polished hooves meant the hunters. Meant to slow down. Take your time.
And when the braids in his mane came out, it was Katy-bar-the-door.
It was a shining time and still brilliant in my memory.

6:30 am and 76 degrees. The tradewinds are howling outside. ORION is weaving and leaning. Restrained by her lines.
Fast or slow.
Happy or sad.
Long or short.
There are so many choices in story structure, mechanics, and process.
Some of us jot down a rough draft in a month. Others take years. Some write literary and others pen science fiction.
I worked with jumping clinicians from the mainland when I was obsessed with showing. One man, Victor Hugo Vidal (I am not kidding -- those of you who show hunters and jumpers will know his name) shared this advice. He would say, "Make a decision. Make a conscious choice. Don't let your trip in the show ring be happy circumstance or unhappy accident because of lack of planning. Make a decision. ANY decision! But make one!"
I have never forgotten his words. They come in handy for writers too.
Make choices.
Make decisions.
Take control of your writing. Let the words flow freely but be in charge.
Victor is dead now. He died of a stroke several years ago. I still grieve, as I knew him well.
He is sorely missed in the horse show world.
So for Victor.
What decisions will you start to make?

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Baby barge.
I'm sticking with the theme: Baby.
What is a baby barge? I hear you ask.
It is a wreck just down from Hawaii Kai in Maunalua Bay. About seventy feet deep. I love diving here. The barge is a newer wreck but almost encrusted with coral and other growth. A ton of turtles. A flock of fish. A surfeit of ...sharks?!
Well there are a couple of white tips hanging out under the ledge where the barge rests on the ocean floor.
This is why I love diving here.
You never know what you will get.
Like writing.
My characters take me along for the ride. I just tell them the destination. They plan the route.

7:30 am and 69 degrees.
I was so busy yesterday that I couldn't post. Between my editor and agent I felt like I was in a taffy pull...and I was the taffy.
It's all good.
I survived.
I learned where those readers' guides in the back of books come from...THE AUTHOR!! SURPRISE!!
I have more questions to answer. I will give you an example:
"Which character do you most identify with and why?"
That's a good one. I thought about it and discovered it was not my main character.
It was a flawed, tender secondary character. One I neatly ki...wait...I'm not going to give it away.
I thought about all the books I read. Maybe I can gain more insight into who I am and facets of my writing if I think about this.
For example in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD I identified with Boo.
In A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY I identified with Owen, but not the narrator.
I go for the flawed...
How about you?
Who do you go for?
What character do you identify with?

Thursday, January 25, 2007


The quotient of cute is exceedingly high on this blog today.
I have made a couple trips to Midway Atoll. Tagging and tracking Galapagos sharks. Banding Laysan albatross.
Taken hundreds of pictures. Each photograph has a story behind it.
There is a story to this bird.
There is a story to everything.
I will tell you that story.

5:30 and 70 degrees.
My coffee at my side. I am waiting for a knock on Orion's hull. My neighbor. She has three children under the age of 6. Two are in diapers. They live on a 32 foot boat. I think she deserves a cup of coffee -- so I give her one.
I also think she deserves medication.
But that is just my opinion.
We were talking about stories.
The tale I tell will not be the one you describe. We may start with an identical idea and the end result will be entirely different.
That is why I do not mind the prospect of someone (gasp) taking my idea. Ideas are free. They are plentiful. They are there for the taking.
So what is your story about the baby bird?
Abandoned by his mummy?
Learning to fly?
Captured by a human?
Cold. Friendless. In danger.
Shaking with fear.
What's that you ask?
Tell us the REAL story, I hear you say.
Well, this particular baby fairy tern has been hatched on Midway Atoll. None of the birds there have a spark of fear from predators. They had no need of it. The parents of this baby laid their egg precariously balanced on the edge of the bicycle rack just outside the cafeteria. Where the egg is laid the baby stays. That's how it is. So we had to be careful taking out our bicycles and putting them in. While we did this he calmly watched us. Waiting.
Waiting for Mom and Dad to bring him breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.
To me this is a story of waiting.
What is it to you?
It can be anything your heart desires.
What is it to you?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Gordon (my husband) is an architect. Even after 20 years I still spell it wrong. He has to tromp through sites and envision what a completed building would look like tucked into the ground and landscaped.
Like a writer, he stumbles upon beauty. And like a writer he has to edit out extraneous material.
He is a sculptor of form while I am a sculptor of words.
This photo reminds me of what we both do.
It reminds me of editing.
And writing.
The decisions. Which do you keep? The fantasitcal art you see hidden? Or the tangled trees?
Or try to include a bit of both?

6:30 am and 69 degrees.
I draw the line at mittens but I do still have my flannel jammies on.
And coffee. Must. Have. Coffee.
We have been talking about editing.
I WANTED to tell you about the time my son and his friend dismantled the front porch of my 1800's farm house with just a hammer and a screwdriver.
They were 8 years old.
Big dreams.
They had big dreams.
No one told them they couldn't do it.
Least of all me as I had just run to the store for milk and eggs.
I was a bad mother you see.
I abandoned my child. Left him alone for an hour in the middle of the afternoon.
With a creative friend.
We lived in the Midwest. I was in my last semester of graduate school. We were putting our house up for sale and moving back to Washington State.
And I pulled into my driveway to see my beautiful, picturesque, wrap around veranda.
In pieces on the ground.
I will leave what happened next to your imaginations.
When you have big dreams, there is no limit to what you can do.
Editing. Big dreams. Trees or art. Which dreams do you choose and which do you abandon?
What sentences do you keep and which do you prune?
Let's talk about the struggle.
I'll start.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


How is riding like writing?
More importantly how does managing the care of a horse relate to the process of publication?
You will learn all this and more in this blog entry.
Note baby horse. Baaaad baby horse! This photo was taken after he rocketed off veering and skittering and scaring himself silly. I think it was a night crested heron in the small pond that started the whole silly mess.
Suffice it to say that my hand rose to stay even with his mouth and my leg went well forward.
I jammed my heel down and, "Boy Howdy Hung ON!"
I was just along for the ride.
And that my friends is the topic of this blog.

6:30 am and 70 degrees. My refrigerator on ORION is still broken. I have to use my freezer as a frig and turn it off when it gets too cold so my eggs don't freeze. Bummer.
I digress.
Many writers think all they have to do is write a book. In fact, there are lots of writers out there who think all they have to do is jot off a first draft. They think the copy editors preform some magic and VOILA! The manuscript is on the bookshelves at Borders.
There are many many writers who think authors just have to write.
I am here to let you in on a dirty little secret.
Since my book was bought in December I have not written ONE PAGE on my new work in progress.
I have written, yes, but not for that.
My friend Jackie Mitchard could tell you all about it.
She edits, revises, tweaks. She turns a book in.
Edits again.
She's done right?
No. She's. Not.
But she's a New York TImes best selling author! I hear you cry.
She shouldn't have to revise and edit! I hear you protest!
Horse poop! (See I told you horses would come into this!)
Check out her web site. Go to the link on the side of my blog. She talks about it. Traveling. Promoting. Figuring out how to let her readers know about a new young adult book NOW YOU SEE HER that is just coming out. Giving away tee shirts and hats.
Like horses.
People see my horses. "Gee I love to ride!" they say. "Horses are so graceful and beautiful." They enthuse.
They do not see what goes into this endeavor.
The grooming. The stall cleaning. Picking the poop out of the pasture. The vet. The hoof trimming. The training that goes into that nice little trail ride. The colic at 2 am. The lameness. The exercising that must be done even in torrential downpours.
Behind the scenes it is much different isn't it?
So the rest of the week we will visit BEHIND THE SCENES.
We will talk about what we think writing and being published is... and the reality.
Commenters you need to participate with either a question or an answer.
What is it really like?
After you get that great offer.
Getting that first editorial letter.
What's it like?

Monday, January 22, 2007


Dawn. Beautiful isn't it?
I don't.
I see rose. Maybe some orange. The sky is muted.
So what's with this "rosy fingers of dawn" crap?
The topic is cliches.

5:30 am and 68 degrees. I am bundled up against the cold in my flannel pajamas. My muses are tightly coiled at my side.
So what is a cliche anyway? Webster's dictionary defines it as "a trite phrase or expression." Writers in JACQUELYN MITCHARD'S class at the MAUI RETREAT discover it can even be a word. One adjective that is so commonly used it becomes a cliche.
Blue sky.
Green grass.
Slow as molasses.
Sweet as sugar.
Red face.
You get the drift. It's no skin off your nose. You're no fool.
I was in shock. Here I thought I was an imaginative unique writer and Jackie was telling me I had more cliches on a page than hair on my head. Than fish in the sea. Than...Than...Oh shoot!
She was right.
Jackie suggested I look at things in a different way. From another angle. Examine my writing closely during the editing process.
Cliche away in the first draft but in subsequent drafts figure out a unique and unusual way to allow the reader inside the story.
"Select your words carefully," she said.
So. Thank you Jackie.
I made a pledge right there in the Vanda room at my first Maui retreat.
No more red lips.
No more empty nest.
No more black as night.
No more sun beating down.
What's your cliche?

Friday, January 19, 2007


The unassuming pufferfish.
Doesn't look like much does he? He is often under estimated.
Hungry predators looking for an easy meal make an attempt, and end up with a mouth full of prickly spines.
Mr. Pufferfish is spit out -- none the worse for wear -- and goes about his business.

7 am and 70 degrees.
New writers worry. What if someone steals my stuff. Authors are sued for snatching words, paragraphs, ideas.
Memoirs are fake.
Authors are fake.
News stories are fake.
Ironic isn't it as fiction writers? But we have to tread carefully. This years midlist author is next years darling. This years six figure book deal is next years remainders.
There is no guarantee.
No free lunch.
But yanno?
It all boils down to the first thing I learned in school.
Ya gotta work and play well with others -- no matter who they are.
So what do you think?
Do you get penalized for stepping on others? Does Karma get you in the end?
Or is it as the business world promotes.
Every man for himself?
I prefer to look at it another way.
What goes around comes around.
What you shall ye reap.
How about you?
What are your tenets?
Your code?
Your principle?
What do you live to write by?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


So here I am minding my own business. Diving. Taking photographs. A prickling behind my neck. An eerie feeling. Someone is watching me.
I turn around.
Yikes! A can of humans!
I could even see that they were taking MY picture. I could only do one thing.
I waved.

4 pm and 80 degrees.
I got my final round of edits for Lottery. Very few tweaks. I am taking a breather. Almost done. Then it goes into production.
I have to slow down. This is my last opportunity to make sure it is right. It is perfect.
I warn you. My blog will occasionally skip a day or be late. But I can see you all salivate. There is nothing more powerful than variable reinforcement.
Soon Lottery will be out of my control. I will have to go back to editing my other manuscript and begin adding to my poor little WIP who has been abandoned in the corner while his big brother Lottery went out on the town.
What would you have me do? I have already spent copious amounts of time reselecting the template on my blog. It is like I have to force myself to work. This has never happened to me before. Paul T. said, "Hey, start another project. Leave the book selling to the book sellers." But there is so much to learn. So much I can do. And it is so exciting.
What to do.
And how to do it.
What do you think?
Now commenters.
Start your engines.
They're OFF!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


A boatyard. A sailboat up onjacks. Since I am in my boat all day writing, other sailors know they can grab me to help crew on a boat going into the yard at the commercial leg of the harbor. We steer into the entrance of a deep concrete shute. The waves surge and push in that tiny area. We toss our lines. They stretch and pull. The bands from the hoist drop down and are adjusted, then we are lifted into the air. Swaying. When I'm up there I can get a bit dizzy from the height and the side to side motion.
My back cramps from all the bending. My arms ache from holding rollers up over my head painting ORION'S bottom.
This is something I experienced.
It is something I can write about with authority.

6 am and 72 degrees.
My first novel involved traveling around the world. Lots of traveling.
Just one problem. I wrote about places I had never been and left out others I had.
And it showed.
It was blatantly obvious to my beta readers where I had been and where I hadn't.
Although we writers write fiction, we have to place strands of truth our readers recognize as authentic. I am not saying you can't write about what you don't know.
I am saying make sure you write about what you do.
Intertwine the two and do some research.
And not just from books.
If you're going to write about sailboats, you better have crewed in one. If you're going to write crime novels or legal thrillers. You better talk to policemen and lawyers that specialize in those areas.
Write what you know.
Write what you don't know and learn.
Bring a fresh perspective.
But that authenticity has got to be there.
Or you are a fraud.
And it will show.
So what do you think?
Have I opened a can of Lumbricus terrestris?
The floor is now open.

Monday, January 15, 2007


The sun creeps over the horizon.
It sneaks up behind me like a naughty child with a garden hose. Ready to spray me.
Yet with bravado.
"See." he says.
"See what I have done!"
"See what I can do?"
And it's morning.

7 am and 70 degrees. My nose is cold. My two muses are curled into tight periods. No stretched out commas this morning.
There is DEW on my deck! We only get dew when it is COLD!
It's cold to me.
I am still in my flannel pajamas like HOLLY KENNEDY.
I got a chilly reception at a writing message board (NOT AW).
MAPRILYN got one not so long ago, too.
We were just trying to help new writers.
We still do.
That was then and this is now.
It's time to move on.
Any of you with query - synopsis - publishing - journey questions please feel very free to place them in the comments section or email them to me. No problem.
My blog entries now are going to focus more and more on the process. Of creating a story more than just your mother is willing to read.
Writing for more than just yourself.
As for me?
I have two stories pulling me in half.
One is written and needs more editing. It is what I would consider women's fiction but with a slightly broader appeal.
The other is barely started but the character won't leave me alone. He wants to be next. His grasping hands tug at my neck. My shoulder. "Do me!" he says. "Do me, next!"
It's all Holly's fault.
She is going through the same thing. Her third novel is near completion. She is organized. Determined.
But there is this character. This story that does not to want wait. It wants to cut ahead in line.
The original story gets pissed.
"Wait your turn!" it says. "Wait like all the rest of us did!"
"But...But...But." The new story blusters and sputters trying to justify its rude behavior.
"What's wrong with you?" the nice story says. It is trying to be reasonable. Reach a compromise.
"You think you're special or something?"
That's just it.
It does.
It does think it's special.
And you know it too, deep down inside.
You know, too.
So you do.
You do compromise.
Maybe just a few words today. A scene. A chapter.
You get sucked in.
And Perry speaks in my ear softly.
"That is so totally cool," he says.
So totally cool.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


8 PM and 77 degrees.
Have a great evening.


9 am and 73 degrees.
My good friend and author HOLLY KENNEDY has graciously placed her query letter that got her representation on her blog, and I thought I would do the same. I think it is interesting to see the difference between snail mail, versus email (Holly's was snail mail and mine was email). I also show the original 5 pages which were pasted at the bottom of the e-query. If you notice, I set it up pretty much like a business letter even though it was sent electronically -- This was so I could print it out and know who I sent it to, and have addresses there just in case an agent wanted a full or partial sent snail mail. Everything is together and easy to find.
After it was sent, I copied the whole email and placed in a file under LOTTERY marked SENT. I made files inside marked: PARTIAL, FULL, and REJECTIONS, then moved the queries from one to another after each response so I had a record.
When my website goes live and you read the excerpt of LOTTERY placed there, I believe it will be of interest for you to see how the final version has changed from the original. For example: The word count is now 85,000. The date my character wins the lottery shifts. The amount of his lottery win increases. His name is changed from Jerry to Perry. His age lowers so that in the beginning of the story he is 31 and it ends when he is 32. Additionally there are the edits I have done for my editor. It has been fascinating so far.
For your interest, I am also including dates, times, and Dorian's initial response below.

DATE: 11:15 a.m. June 23, 2006
(My name address phone and email)
Dorian Karchmar
William Morris Agency
1325 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10019

Dear Dorian Karchmar,

I understand you are interested unusual fiction. I would like to show you my novel LOTTERY. The first five pages are included below. My book could be described as "Forrest Gump" wins Power Ball, however it differs in the respect that it is written in the realistic voice of a cognitively challenged man and could be considered a parable of our times.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
Gram would go to Hawaii. Keith would go to Mexico. Jerry would go to Pennsylvania and tour the Hershey Candy Factory.
"I am not retarded. To be retarded your IQ number must be lower than 75. Mine is 76.” Jerry L. Crandall is lucky. Gram says so.
He has two good eyes, is honest as the day is long, and has two brothers, one an attorney, the other an MBA. But Jerry calls his mother Cynthia, his siblings cousin-brother, and has lived with his grandmother since he was a baby.
At thirty-six, he has worked for Holsted's Marine Supply for twenty years.
On November 10, his life and the lives of his family will change forever when Jerry wins four million dollars in the Washington State Lottery.
No one will ever look at Jerry quite the same way again.

I had the pleasure of working with Jacqueline Mitchard at the Maui Writers Retreat and we have maintained a regular email correspondence. When I told her the premise of my latest novel she asked to see the synopsis and first chapter. After reading it, she strongly suggested I obtain representation. I've additionally been fortunate to have Paul Theroux as a mentor (he spends his winters here in Hawaii). He is quite enthusiastic about this project, and also recommended I actively seek representation after reading the second draft of my book.

I am currently working on my PhD in education at the University of Hawaii. My cognate (minor) focuses on disability and diversity. I am committed to my writing career and have other novels completed. LOTTERY is commercial fiction and is complete at 72,000 words. I would be honored to send you the manuscript and look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely and Aloha,



My name is Jerry L. Crandall. I am not retarded. You have to have an IQ number less than 75 to be retarded. I read that in Reader’s Digest. I am not. Mine is 76. Gram always told me the L stood for Lucky.
"Mister Jerry Lucky Crandall quicher bellyaching!" She would scold. "You got two good eyes, two good legs, and you're honest as the day is long." She always called me lucky and honest. Being honest means you don't know any better.
My cousin-brother John calls me lucky too, but he always snickers hard after he says it.
"You sure are a lucky bastard. No high-pressure job, no mortgage, no worries. Yeah, you’re lucky all right." Then he looks at his wife and laughs harder. They are lawyers.
John told me lawyers get people out of trouble. Gram said lawyers get people into trouble. She ought to know. It was a lawyer that gave her the crappy advice on what to do about Gramp's business after he died.
"I never should have listened to him. Should have waited. Look at John. Look at that guy he defended. That stock crap. That accountant. You can’t tell me he didn’t get a little payola on the side." Her gray hair would come out of her bun like it was mad too.
I am thirty-six years old and I am not retarded.
"You have two good ears, Jerry. Two! Count ‘em!" Gram would hold my chin and cheeks between her fingers so tight my lips would feel like a fish. She stopped doing that because of the evil arthritis. Arthritis is when you have to eat Aleve or Bayer and rub Ben Gay.
"You're lucky." She said. "No evil arthritis for you. You’re a lucky, lucky boy."
I am lucky. I know this because I am not retarded. I know this because I have two good arms. And I know this because I won four million dollars in the Washington State Lottery.

Chapter 1

I write things down so I do not forget. From the beginning. From before the beginning. Writing helps me remember. It helps me think and that is a good thing. I am slow, that is what my teacher Miss Elk said.
"Just a bit slow, Jerry." The other kids had different names.
“Moron! Idiot! Retard!” They cried with tongues and fingers pointing. But Miss Elk told them to be nice. She said I was not any of those things.
Gram said other people are just too fast. She told me to write things down in a notebook.
"I'm not slow, I'm old. I have to write things down," she said. "People treat you the same way when you're old as when you're slow." Gram had me do a word a day in the dictionary since I was seven.
"A word Jerry. That’s the God damned key. One word at a time." God damned is an adjective. It can also be a noun like, "I'll be God damned!" Gram will be reading something in the newspaper and it will just come out all by itself. Out of the blue. "God damn." Or sometimes "GOD damned." Or even, "God DAMNED." At eleven, I was on page eight of our dictionary.
"Active. Change, taking part." It is a struggle for me to read.
"Sound it out Jer." Gram chews the inside of her lip when she concentrates.
"Squiggle vooollll...caaaa...nooo..." It takes me a long time to figure out that word.
"Squiggle means related to. Remember Mount Saint Helens?" Gram has a good memory for an old person and knows everything. On May 18, Mount St. Helens blew up. Six days after my birthday. We had ashes from breakfast to Sunday, Gram said. They were a fine gray sand that got inside my mouth when I went outside, just like the stuff Doctor Reddy used when he cleaned my teeth.
"What’s breakfast to Sunday?" I asked.
"Don’t be smart." Gram always cautioned me about being smart.
I was still in the A's. Gram and I sat down and added it up. Our dictionary has 75,000 words and 852 pages. If I did one word a day, it would take me 205 years to finish. At three words, it would take 51 years. If I did five words, it would take 12 years and six months to get through the whole book. I wrote this all down. It is true because calculators do not lie and we used a calculator. Gram said we needed to re-think. Re-think means that you made a mistake and have to change your mind. You don't want to say you were wrong so you re-think.
"Pick up the pace Jer. We have to pick up the pace." Gram clapped her hands together to get my attention and make sure I was listening. I remember I was on the word auditor. An auditor is a listener. It says so in the dictionary. I decided right then to be an auditor. A listener. I remember this.
We picked up the pace and by the time I turned thirty-five, I was on page 337. Gram was right. That day my words were herd, herder, herdsman, here, here, hereabouts and hereafter. Hereafter means future.
"You have to think of your future!" Gram warns about the future each time I deposit my check in the bank. Half in checking and half in savings. For my future. It is very important to think of your future because at some point it becomes your past.
My best friend Keith agrees with everything Gram says.
"That L. It sure does stand for Lucky." Keith drinks beer wrapped in a brown paper sack. He works with Manuel, Gary, and me at Holsted's Marine Supply. I have worked for Gary Holsted since I was sixteen years old.
Keith is older and fatter than me. I do not call him fat because that would not be nice. He cannot help being older. I can always tell how old people are by the songs they like. For example, Gary and Keith like the Beatles so they are both older than me. Gram likes songs you never hear anymore like Crazy For You by Patsy Cline and Always by somebody who is dead. If the songs you like are all by dead people then you are really old.
I like every kind of music. Keith does not. He goes crazy when Manuel messes with the radio at work.
“Who put this rap crap on? Too much static! The reception is shit! Keep it on oldies but goodies.” Keith has to change it back with foil and a screwdriver because of the reception. Static is when somebody else plays music you do not like and you change it because of reception.
Before Holsted's, I learned reading, writing, and math from Gram and boat stuff from Gramp. After he died, I had to go to work. I remember everything Gramp showed me about boats and sailing. Our family used to own the boatyard next to Holsted's.
"It's a complicated situation." When Gram says this, her eyes get all hard and dark like olive pits, or like when you try to look through that tiny hole in the door at night. That is not a very smart thing to do because it is dark at that time and you cannot see very well.
Just before he died, Gramp took out a loan for a hoist for the yard. A loan is when someone gives you money then takes collateral and advantage. After that, you drop dead of a stroke by the hand of God. A hoist lifts boats up in the air and costs as much as a boat yard.
That's what the bank said.

FROM: Dorian Karchmar
To: ME
DATE: 11:20 a.m. June 23, 2006

I'd like to see this. Feel free to send via email. I would appreciate an
exclusive read on it for 3 weeks. If that is not possible, just keep me
in the loop if other agent interest arises. I'll be out of town until
July 5th, but will look forward to reading upon my return.

Best, Dorian

I will ask Holly to talk about the road to representation and I will do the same.
Stay posted.
Ask any questions you want about the querying process.
Does seeing these letters help you clarify what an agent is looking for?
What else would you like to know?
Just ask.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


2 p.m. 81 degrees.
OK this is the last time I mess with the blogger template but when Holly found this harbor scene I just had to use it!
My email is back up and I am trying to put back my links.
Today will be spent getting this together.
If anyone has questions:
email me at
Aloha and talk to you later

Friday, January 12, 2007


Every two weeks he is back. Eating the new growth of seaweed. He is patient and waits until it is ready. He is conscientious and dependable. The turtle in my yard. My very own Chelonia mydas (green sea turtle).
If I can be like him, as a writer, then I can accomplish much. Like the tortoise and the hare. Plugging away word by word. Line by line. Page by page.

7:30 and 73 degrees.
Google alert is cool. I put in Patricia Wood & LOTTERY and this is what I found.
Of course now my character's name has changed (that's a whole other story). A caveat to all new writers: everything is negotiable! My UK publisher will get the newly edited copy of my novel soon, but it was certainly a thrill to see this.
There is a northwest swell coming into the harbor. My boat is swinging at the dock. ORION is large so it has to be quite nifty wave action for me to feel it. I have a rail around my table so my coffee does not fall off, which is good.
Those are my subjects today.
I have been giving a few of my blog buddies a hand. WARNING!!! If you ask them - they will tell you I am BRUTAL!!!
You have to know your story.
If, in a two minute elevator ride, you cannot easily tell someone what your book is about --
When I finally (and it IS hard) develop my two or three sentence description I know I (At Last!) have a handle on my book.
I have strategies.
Sometimes I go chapter by chapter listing what happens in ONE sentence (no cheating) and then condense. Sometimes I look deeply at my characters and talk about who is transformed.
You have to find the angle to your story. A fresh and unique approach.
Sometimes I set that novel aside and start another project and then go back.
Other times I think hard just before I go to bed and I will wake up at 2 in the morning with an AHA!
It is a struggle.
There is no magic formula.
It does not get easier.
In a sense it does.
When you finally admit to yourself it is much harder than you ever thought it could be, and accept the mental wrestling as a given --
and only then can you move forward.
Stop saying, "I can't shorten it!"
Stop whining, "I need 5 pages for the synopsis so you know everything that happens!"
Stop complaining, "Why is this so hard?"
Be like Nike.
Just do it.
And shut up about it.
You can ask me.
And I will tell you.
The Zen. The Haiku.
Of the mysterious query.
That elusive synopsis.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


OK. Here it is. Tell me what you guys think!

Patricia Wood

A funny, poignant, and wise novel about a very rich underdog who shows everyone just how little his IQ says about his smarts.

Perry’s IQ is only 76, but he’s not stupid. His grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive: She taught him to write things down so he won’t forget them. She taught him to play the lottery every week. And, most important, she taught him whom to trust. When Gram dies, Perry is left orphaned and bereft at the age of thirty-one. Then his weekly Washington State Lottery ticket wins him 12 million dollars, and he finds he has more family than he knows what to do with. Peopled with characters both wicked and heroic who leap off the pages, Lottery is a deeply satisfying, gorgeously rendered novel about trust, loyalty, and what distinguishes us as capable.

“What I love about Lottery is that it is much more than a novel about a windfall affecting a simple soul—it’s a book about a stupendous event affecting a great number of people, especially the reader.” —Paul Theroux

“In her debut novel, Patricia Wood defines poignancy in words of one syllable. Lottery is solid gold.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard

Patricia Wood is a Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii, focusing on education, disability, and diversity. Lottery is inspired by her work, as well as a number of events in her life. She lives with her husband aboard a sailboat moored in Ko`Olina, Hawaii. This is her first novel.

$24.95/$31.00 CAN
6” x 9”
320 pages
Export rights TK
Other rights TK


A leaf scorpion fish. Remember the white one several posts ago? They come in all colors. Brown. Purple. White. Pink.
There is room in the ocean for them all. Some people don't like the brown ones. They say they are too plain. Others dislike the white ones. Some hate them all except for the pink.
I guess it's subjective.
Kind of like books, don't you think?

7 am and 75 degrees.
Sharp eyed bloggers will see evidence of a sibling on the post about my PhD. Little known fact number 27: I am a twin.
I just received the final catalogue copy for LOTTERY this morning.
For those of you interested in the process, many, many things go on when your book is bought and much of it at the same time.
The first thing that happened was the publisher had a meeting in which they decided when my book was to be released.
That was when a decision was made to "Crash" or fast track it. (That is when a book comes out less than a year after it is bought).
I got a call from my editor telling me she was doing a second read and that hopefully I would have a marked hard copy of the manuscript and an editorial letter before Christmas. There were not many changes. I had them back to her by January 2. During this time I wrote essays on why I wrote LOTTERY and was given the catalogue copy to read and approve. I came up with lists of authors I would like to read my book. (Contrary to popular belief they have to be living).
Now? I am waiting to see if my novel will go to copyediting next or whether we need one more pass.
I might post my catalogue copy here. Would you all like that????

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.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


10:30 am and 75 degrees.
Blogger and I are struggling. Blogger 5 versus ORION 0.
I will post more later.
Stay tuned

Monday, January 08, 2007

Monday Monday So Good To Me...

As you all know by now I heart invertebrates. Sea slugs, tiny crustaceans, creepy crawlies. When I dive I usually do not stray far. I poke around beneath coral shelfs and under rocks. This photo is from a night dive. A pin cushion sea star and a beautiful rosette of eggs from a spanish dancer. Sometimes unexpected things are the most wonderful of all.

5 am and 74 degrees.
How do you like my counter? I got it from SAMS SPOT (and when I get a bit more competent I'll put a link to her blog). It is not spyware or anything evil, I just think it is so fascinating to see how many visitors from all over the world come to visit. THANK YOU ALL!!!
THANKS for visiting. THANKS for commenting and most of all THANKS for all your good wishes!
This morning an alert friend sent me the Publishers LUNCH in which LOTTERY is prominently featured.
OK so let's review.
My edited version is being read by my editor.
My agent is on a week hiatus. Actually it is a company wide retreat. And I have a meeting with one of my professors this morning.
I have a decision to make.
To finish PhD or no.
I am so close (course work done, committee and proposal approved) but far (comps and dissertation to go) and have SO MANY other obligations now.
And besides.
I am trying to figure out what I will use it for now?
Why do I want my doctorate?
What would you guys do?
I can sign up for a one credit independent study while I decide, but I will have to make a decision.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Question I Have a Question

5:30 am and 74 degrees. I know. It's Sunday. I should be asleep but I have so much more inspiration in the morning. Thank you bloggers for your input as to my blogging regularity. I will focus on blogging when i have something of import to say, questions to answer and photos to post speaking of which I will take Sunday off from that particular pleasure. Boy try to diagram THAT sentence!
One of my well wishers has left a comment that has also been asked on other forums. I thought this would be a good opportunity to chat about it.

"When did you begin revising your original manuscript? Was it before or after sending out query letters? Did you do it yourself or did you hire an established editor?"

My first novel draft was written in the spring / summer of 2004. I had spent years writing articles, starting novels, wanting to write a novel but was never successful at finishing. When I turned 50 I realized that if I was going to pursue my dream it had better be now. I wrote my first draft rather rapidly and obsessively -- taking only three months. It was really REALLY rough and raw. After I had my first draft I let it sit and started another project. At the time, I was teaching high school so I had summers off. The following year I went on leave of absence to work on my PhD and immersed myself in educational academic writing. I never do anything half-way. That first summer (2004) I was tempted to go to the Maui writers retreat and conference but I resisted. Deep inside I felt I was not prepared. I started sending query letters out in 2004/2005 and edited my first novel. I was woefully ignorant. What was most helpful was having a completed manuscript to work with (edit) and starting another project right away.
I was a bit rusty, but the academic papers I was required to write picked me up and dusted off my grammar and mechanics. I discovered I still had that spark to make people want to read my papers even though the subject was education and not fiction.
I received occasional handwritten notes on my rejections complementing me on my writing. At the time, I did not know how rare that was. I did not have any professional editing help. I bought mass quantities of writing books and started to educate myself about the business of publishing. I feel doing your own editing teaches you much. By the time I attended my first Maui writers conference I had a finished manuscript and one work in progress. After the Maui networking I learned much more about self editing and was able to utilize that in my next three manuscripts. LOTTERY was my third finished manuscript. My editing process includes a large group of beta readers (NOT writers!). They are invaluable for what I term the WTF factor. I queried before I was ready or what I like to say BM (before Maui) and AM (after Maui). After Maui I got requests for fulls and partials on my first novel. I stopped querying number one and began querying my third novel in May/ June of 2006 and obtained representation that July.
After working on my novel with both my agent and my editor I am glad I did not resort to a "book doctor" and I am glad I attended retreats and conferences to learn how to make my writing better. It makes me more competent and my editor made the comment that I have the cleanest prose she has seen in a long time. There were really few changes and suggestions (so far).
I hope this answers your question.
Any others?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bizarre Horse Photography

11 am and 79 degrees.
I have to make a decision and you guys need to help me out. Do I blog everyday or take weekends off? This is such a great start to my day but weekends get crazy. New York is quiet and I can sleep in. Not that I do. But I could...if I wanted to or if Tooloose was not Too hungry Too wait Too more hours Too be fed.
How do you like the bizarre horse. He looks like he's abused. He's not, but it is interesting how different things are when you look at them from other angles. Just like your work in progress.
Is it a romance?
A mystery?
A thriller?
Science fiction?
Does it have commercial appeal?
I find I have to look at my writing from more than one angle. With a different lens. Sometimes it is distorted. Like in a fun house mirror and other times it is a thing of beauty.
I have been asked about my path. How I got to this point. How long I have been writing and about my querying process. Is this of interest?
Do you want to know how I got here?
I will be giving you insight into my journey as a debut novelist. What do you want to know?
Give me your questions.
And I will answer in this blog.
As best I can.
So be my guest.
Ask away...

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Next Step

These clever creatures blend in successfully with their ocean environment yet when found, display a beauty that sets them apart.

6:30 am and 74 degrees.
My heartfelt thank you to all of you who extended their congratulations.
I am simply overwhelmed.
The outpouring of good wishes stunned me.
But really?
I am not surprised.
The writing community has that tendency to cheer when one of its members finds success.
Not like the crabs in the bucket who pull their escaping neighbors back down into fatal captivity.
So what's the next step you ask?
Let's review.
Querying (rejection/acceptance)
Revision (tweaking) for agent.
Revision (tweaking) for editor.
Wrote detailed CV (resume) and author bio. and synopsis of book.
Answered lots of questions about why I wrote my book.
Wrote essay on why I wrote this book.
Started acknowledgments page.
Wrote dedication page.
Read and LOVED catalogue copy.
Set up website with dutiful son until 2 am.
Re do blog twice so the colors do not clash with website!
Send links to website so that agent and editor can peruse and give feedback.
Work on editing book 2.
Add to work in progress.
Vow to not waste so much time online.
Drink coffee.
Lot an lots of coffee.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


2 pm and 84 degrees.
My deal is now posted on Publishers Marketplace!
Lots of you do not have a subscription. I will paste the deal here:

Debut Fiction:
Patricia Wood's LOTTERY, the story of a 32 year-old, mentally challenged man, whose life is forever changed when he wins 12 million dollars in the lottery, discovering who his true friends are and the deep reserve of his own abilities, to Peternelle Van Arsdale at Putnam, in a significant deal, at auction, by Dorian Karchmar at William Morris Agency (NA).
Rights sold previously to Jason Arthur and Susan Sandon at Heinemann in the UK; Arena in Holland; Keter in Israel; and Sonzogno in Italy, in pre-empts.

Dan Lazar from writers house was nice enough to send an email congrats. Although he requested the full of Lottery he ultimately passed. He saw the posted deal. WHAT A GENTLEMAN!

Thanks to my extraordinary agent Dorian Karchmar from William Morris.
You Rock!

And all my blog buddies.
You guys rule!
Mahalo and Aloha

Peel Her Off The Ceiling

I was hovering, adjusting my BC and saw this little guy hanging out.
He was the size of my thumb.
A baby frog fish. My favorite.

9:30 am and 78 degrees.
I did have coffee. That much I know. I have been returning emails and trying to come back down to Earth.
I have known about my deal since December 6 but seeing it in print hit home.
Hearing about another foreign rights sale widens my eyes.
Thinking about my book being in print makes my heart beat faster.
Imagining people I don't even know reading and enjoying my book gives me a thrill.
I worked on my acknowledgment page today. I am paralyzed with fear I will leave someone obvious out.
Like my agent.
My editor.
Or my husband.
That's why I'm doing it now. It is quite long. (And I hope somewhat entertaining).
I do not know when my deal will be on Publishers Marketplace.
I simply can't think anymore.
My brain is full.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007



From Publishers Weekly 1/1/07
"Putnam's Peternelle van Arsdale has acquired North American rights to Patricia Wood's Lotteryfrom Dorian Karchmar at William Morris. This debut novel is about a man with mental challenges who wins $12 million and discovers both his true friends as well as the deep reserve of his own abilities. Wood, lives on a sailboat in Hawaii. She already has blurbs from Paul Theroux and Jacquelyn Mitchard; Putnam plans to publish in fall 2007, and Berkley will follow in paperback."

I feel official.
My Novel LOTTERY is slated to be released August 2007.

Starting Fresh With A New Look

7 am and 77 degrees. (No I did not plan that).
I am anxiously awaiting the January issue of Publishers Weekly for my posted deal.
I will cut and paste it here on this blog when it comes out.
My son, Andrew, is hard at work putting the final touches on my website.
I turned in my manuscript to my editor with her suggested changes.
I got a chance to read and approve the catalogue copy for my novel.
I was notified yesterday that the foreign rights have just been sold to Israel.
So far my book will be translated into Italian, Dutch and Hebrew.
That is just a start.
Each day brings something new I must learn.
There is more to this business than merely writing a book, although that is the catalyst.
The strange thing is?
I am getting used to it.
Slowly but surely I am getting used to it.
I have become proactive.
I am a writer. When my book is published in August of this year I will be an author.
So I am trying on the label now.
Note the change in the blog.
"An author from Hawaii."
How cool is that?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tooloose: Too Human Too Be A Muse...

5 am and 77 degrees.
Here's the thing. Touloose is eating Too much. (Hence his name. TOOloose). Having lost out the muse competition to his adopted sister, he now is working on becoming human.
He has no self control.
Tooloose has gown out of his PFD (personal floatation device) as evidenced by the above photo.
This could be a problem on a boat.
My dad has been given the job to replace Tooloose's life jacket with the next bigger size (or maybe next 2 sizes).
He is now into DOG sizes.
That's pretty embarrassing for a cat.
If he was a cat.
He's not.
He's a muse wannabe.

So then he decided to play scrabble with us.
Of course he needed help. (Having no opposable thumbs and all).
Makes it hard to place those tiles and draw from the bag yanno...
But we spent a pleasurable hour.
Except for debating whether cat-words were allowed.
Meow is worth quite a bit on a double word score.
Never play scrabble with a cat-muse.
They cheat.

Monday, January 01, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!***####@@@@****####@@@***

1 am and 75 degrees.
Hydroid growth on the YO wreck just off Waikiki looks like fireworks.
Happy New Year to all!
I'm going to bed.
I'm too old to stay up this late.