Best Summer Books

bblogo_summer-reads-2015Last week I had a wonderful surprise when I learned Letters to Zell had been named one of the Summer’s Best Books by Publisher’s Weekly. You can see the feature and peruse the rest of their recommendations here. I’m thrilled and incredibly humbled to be included.

I’ve been working a lot on promotional materials for Zell and I’m so looking forward to talking in depth about the book and the characters and inspiration for the project. The coming months are sure to be very exciting. More soon!


Cover Reveal: Letters to Zell

A belated happy 2015, dearest readers. I’ve been quiet here for a variety of reasons — some good and some not so good, but I’m back with something that will hopefully make up for the long absence: The gorgeous cover for Letters to Zell, my first novel, forthcoming July 1st!


I  couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful realization of an idea I’d had for the cover — looking out on the LA skyline from Grimmland. The wonderful folks at Cyanotype Book Architects, under the direction of 47North’s Editorial Lead (and my acquiring editor), Jason Kirk, realized this gorgeous collaboration over the last couple months. I’m honored and thrilled and could go on and on and on. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll let you know you can pre-order the book here, whenever your sweet heart desires.

Still curious as to what I’ve been up to? See what I’ve been helping with alongside Empire Lascaux over at Easy Street.


As I write this post, I’m sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen, watching the May snow fall thin and fine. It’s not sticking, but it’s as Montana as the weather gets. I wrote “Pros & Cons of Montana” as paean to my home place, the land that pulls me like a magnet, the sky that I still dream about — wide and unforgiving. Synaesthesia‘s lush new issue features countless writers I admire and I couldn’t be more humbled to be among their words. Grab a drink and a spot on the grass and read with me. Share what the bones of this great big beautiful country sing to us in the silence.

The Next Big Thing: Letters to Zell

This week, I bring you the super-duper blog tagging activity especially for writers, “The Next Big Thing.” I was tagged by the effervescent Janine Southard, whose exciting new project Queen and Commander can be followed here.

And now for our featured self-interview…

What is the working title of your book?
The working title is Letters to Zell although at one point it was After. There are a thousand books with the title After, so I wanted something a bit more original. I’m hoping that when I finish and (fingers crossed) sell the thing, the nice marketing people will come up with something more fun. Perhaps something else will strike in the course of writing.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
As I get older, I am fascinated by the roles that women take in our society and increasingly interested in the permutations of what defines success. Even with all of the options we have, I still see people who are held back and stifled by what is expected of them — people who make decisions which cause them deep suffering and unhappiness  because they’ve never considered having a choice. I’d also like to explore how we build families in our current society, as we no longer stay in one place and we tend to break and build in a dynamic fashion. We have an existing family, but we’re also able to build on to that with friendships and communities and I’d like to take some time to explore how that happens.

What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy, Women’s Literature, Literary.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I use Scrivener to write and in it’s character templates it allows you to paste pictures, so I already know the answer to this question. Cinderella (CeCi) would be played by Emma Stone, Snow White (Bianca) would be played by Kat Dennings, Rory (Sleeping Beauty) would be played by Amanda Seyfreid, and Zell (Rapunzel) — who is mostly an absent character — would be played by Drew Barrymore. I know, my movie would cost a billion dollars to make — I’m completely delusional.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Zell and her family set off to find their happiness, CeCi, Bianca, and Rory struggle to find a balance between dreams and expectations in order to embrace their unwritten futures.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’d like to go the traditional route.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
My manuscript is still in progress. I’ve taken a lot of time to figure out how to give each woman an individual voice and how much to use each voice. (For example, my snow white is an extremely strong foil, so I don’t want to accidentally overuse that energy.)I decided that allowing them each a first person narrative through letters was the best way to do that. I’m trying to go slowly enough to avoid any large scale rewrites (as has occurred in previous projects), so I’m hoping to have a first draft completed in the first quarter of 2013.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Anything that re-tells fairy tales with some amount of humor… perhaps somewhat like Wicked, though I’m using correspondence to tell the story. I can’t think of many books like it, however, so that makes me hopeful that I’m creating something fresh.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
While I’m not writing this to lambaste the media, I do think that the narrative our society has built itself is a part of the reason we have trouble fully shrugging off the burden of “should.” For this reason, I wanted to use a fairy tale base for the story, to see how cloyed these characters might be — their wants and desires squelched — if our expectations for them once their stories end were the same as our own. As fairy tales, these women have had their lives dictated to them and now they face empty pages. The story is about the decisions they make once they face that void. It’s a story of three women (and their perceived notions of a fourth), but it could be about any woman who feels pulled in multiple directions.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Though these are heavy subjects, the book will, I hope, resonate with it’s use of humor. I’m taking liberties with a base from the Grimm fairy tales for the main village and the interface with Earth. Other fairy tale characters from other canons will enter into the mix and other lands such as Neverland and Oz are linked up in the land of “Make Believe.” I hope this combination of whimsy and humor will allow readers to lose themselves in the story.

Many thanks, again, to Janine Southard for tagging me. Next week, I’ll hand things off to several talented friends:

Viable Paradise XVI

Today I am allowed to spill the proverbial beans. I’ve been accepted into this year’s class of Viable Paradise 16. VP is a writing workshop held in October in the beautiful locale of Martha’s Vineyard. I’m so excited to spend time with other writers in such a beautiful place and I know that it will be an amazing opportunity to make my project more than it could have ever been in the vacuum of my own office.

I’ve been so fortunate, lately, that I can hardly get my head around this news. Suffice it to say, I cannot wait. To all my new friends, hello! I am looking forward to our adventure. xo


The order of things

If you’re like me, the process of thinking then doing can often get reversed. Particularly when things are complex, I tend to do things and then ponder their consequences.

Yesterday, I had the extreme joy of seeing my column debut at Used Furniture Review. When I wrote the column, I wasn’t thinking about it getting accepted. That gave me the license to write something very honest. While at first that was very hard to do in front of people, it’s getting easier. Onwards…


I’ve never had a day like Sunday. It was almost comedic in its bounty.

It didn’t start out hopeful, with A leaving for Boston again — this time for a month. When I got home from the airport, I had an email. My story, “The Spider,” was chosen third in the thrice-yearly On The Premises contest marking my first official pro sale.

I was so busy celebrating that I was almost late to rehearsal. And rehearsal smelled like feet. And I wanted to be somewhere else, somewhere where people cared that I had sold a story, not whether I had scissors or bobby pins.

During a break between acts, I checked my email again. An email from my favorite online magazine Used Furniture Review notified me that my column proposal had been accepted, so I now have a monthly gig that I completely adore. This morning, when I opened my email, the box was full of writing related work tasks and I can’t believe that I’ve been lucky enough to turn this into my vocation. Now, back to writing…

Clarion West Write-a-thon

Clarion West (CW) is an organization that helps writers, established and emerging, hone their skills, develop a community, and share resources. Without the classes and networking that the organization has provided, I’d still be a long ways away from the things I’ve already accomplished. Each Year CW raises money via their annual Write-a-thon. Writers like me ask for modest donations on behalf of the organization. Then we spend the six weeks between June 17 and July 27 working towards our stretch goals.

This year, I’ll be writing at least six flash fiction (short stories under 1000 words) inspired by children’s songs and rhymes.

Week 1: Teddy Bear’s Picnic + Jack and Jill
Week 2: Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly + Little Miss Muffett + Itsy Bitsy Spider
Week 3: Three Blind Mice + Hickory Dickory Dock
Week 4: Old McDonald + Farmer in the Dell
Week 5: Mother Hubbard + Jack Sprat
Week 6: Peter Pumpkin Eater + The Muffin Man

I’m asking my supporters to sponsor me with a $10 donation in hopes of raising $200. In order that you have something to show for your gift, I will be offering incentives for those who’d like to have a little fun in the process:

For every $10 donated to Clarion West, you can either:

1. Become “Tuckerized” (your name or the name of someone you love will be used in a story as a character)


2. specify a place or setting in one of the stories


3. supply three words to be integrated into the story

For $50, I will write a story with all of the above included and you can supply the story or prompt of your choosing.

More information, as well as the donation instructions can be found here:


It’s been quite a year already, as is evidenced by my empty blog. I had some excitement when a short piece was published in the “Readers Report” section of “The Rumpus.” And next week, I’ll be rolling out my Clarion West Write-a-thon page for the six-week fundraiser. During that time, I’ll be writing and traveling and dancing, dividing my time between Seattle and Montana.It promises to be an exciting summer — I feel on the verge.