My Gentle Barn: Writing about Animals

Some of you know that I was writing a book with Ellie Laks (her memoir about starting The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita).  It was an amazing, deeply fulfilling project for both of us. Her stories never stopped touching my heart and soul, and I also never stopped laughing (pretty great way to spend a year).

Well, the fruits of that labor are just about ripe. The book, My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope, is due out March 25, 2014.

If you like, you can even preorder it now through The Gentle Barn website. Or you can go straight to Amazon. Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

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How to Write Your First Book

Check out this great interview with twenty-one successful authors about the experience of writing their first book—from how they made a living before they sold their first book to the nuts and bolts of getting the words onto the page.

How to Write Your First Book

Calling All Writers (read this article before you say yes to writing for free)

If you’re being asked to write—anything—for free, I just hope the person asking is your mother or your kid (or the person who shares your bed). Because if the asker doesn’t fit into one of these categories, he or she is no different from someone in a dental chair saying to the dentist: “Oh, and I just want to confirm that you’re not going to charge for this crown, right? I’ll show it to everyone; it’ll give you great exposure.”

Tim Kreider has published an exceptional essay in the New York Times that tells why it’s wrong to write for nothing: Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

You owe it to yourself (and to every writer who ever hopes to make a living writing) to read this article.

 

Writing and Failure

Last month, I wrote a blog post on the writer and rejection (If You Get Rejected, Should You Quit Writing?).

Here are some further thoughts on rejection by several oft-published writers, including the likes of Margaret Atwood: Falling Short: Seven Writers Reflect on Failure.

Are You a Good (Enough) Writer?

I just read a lovely piece in the L.A. Times by writer and book reviewer Héctor Tobar. If you have doubts about whether you’re a good (or good enough) writer, read his article: In defense of ‘bad’ writers.

Drawing Inspiration from Nature

My second office

For as long as I can remember I have craved deep greens and muddy browns. I’ve often escaped to natural environments to write, or to read over my writing. I am soothed by trees, bolstered by the earth, and draw inspiration from breathing clean, fresh, mulchy air.

I have favorite spots I escape to, places where the phone won’t ring (sometimes there’s not even cell reception) and where piles of papers won’t grab at my attention.

I once fled to Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, pitched my tent, and promised myself I wouldn’t leave until I’d gotten the upper hand on the chapter I was struggling with. (I stayed a week, but I descended the mountain triumphant, the completed chapter tucked under my arm.) Yes . . . I wrote longhand for a week in that campground void of electricity.

Now I sometimes escape to nature to take a break from writing. But, still, it raises the water table of my creative juices, keeps the well from running dry.

I’ve come to call these spots my “Second Office.” They’re free of rent, and they free my mind.

(Also check out these earlier posts: Go on a Writing Retreat to Kick Your Writing into High Gear and Recipe for a Non-Writing Retreat.)

I invite you to share some stories or images of your own writing (or creative-well replenishing) escapes.

My other second office

Writing Samples

I’ve finally finished the manuscript I’ve been working on and handed it in to our editor at Random House (ah, that’s why there haven’t been any posts in a while).  It’s a book on which I’m the collaborative writer. It has been an amazing project!  More on that as it nears publication (spring 2014).

Now that I finally have a breather, I’ve decided to spruce up my site.  Made changes here and there, including the addition of a page of writing samples. I’ve started with just one sample, a personal essay I wrote a few years ago and read aloud at the Tasty Words essay show in Santa Monica.

I’ll add more samples soon, when I figure out what I’m allowed to post (copyright issues, etc.); I do a lot of writing for other people.

To see the new page, click here.