Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The questions of a writer's life



My long-time friend Sue (Long) Wemyss, a coach, organizer, and... 1984 US Olympic Cross-Country Skier, has been spearheading the book, Trail to Gold: The Journey of 53 Women Skiers, about US women Olympians in cross-country skiing beginning in 1972. Here's the book's blurb from Amazon: 

Fifty-three American women have participated in cross-country skiing in the Winter Olympics between the years of 1972 and 2018. In 2018, forty-six years after the first team competed, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall won Olympic gold in the Team Sprint, in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the first Olympic medal for U.S. women's cross-country skiing. Five decades of women skiers stood up and cheered, celebrating this long-sought-after achievement. This book shares the collective journey of these women Olympians, with the skiers themselves telling the story. Part I combines individual stories along a variety of themes, to collectively demonstrate the challenges of competing against the best in the world. In Part II, virtually every one of the fifty-three wrote her own profile to describe her skiing career and post-Olympic life. Photographs throughout put faces with the stories and add vibrancy to the narrative. The anecdotes in Trail to Gold: The Journey of 53 Women Skiers, paint the picture of women's cross-country skiing over 50 years--a fascinating history recorded in personal heartbreak and triumph and in fun vignettes from life on the trail.  

Trail to Gold is Sue's first major piece and over the past year or more I've received a series of different questions from her. Yesterday's was the most fun: "Here's a fun question for you--what kind of pen do you think works best for signing books?" For those who don't write, the question may seem a bit banal or obvious. Thing is, ask a writer and here's what you get:   

What fun! Truthfully, the kind of pen is an important question. You don't want it to smudge. I use a medium black felt-like pen on my books that have regular paper that accepts the ink well. Monnie uses a regular blue or black pen... My friend Tom Newkirk uses a black pen. Test the ink on a back page that's similar to the page you'll sign on (I usually sign on the Title Page that contains the title, subtitle, the author(s), and the publisher’s name and logo. It is always on the recto... or right-hand side.) Monnie signs on the half title page see below. My friend, editor, and coauthor, Tom Newkirk, signs on the very first page... see below. It's all the fun of this work. 
From Monica Wood

From Tom Newkirk

I'm guessing Sue got more than she bargained for with my response. Thing is, many writers live vicariously through other writers' successes. Oh, yea, we get jealous... oh do we get jealous, but we also love a friend's success as a way of motivating us toward our own. 

Sue wrote back afterwards with the following: 

Thanks! Another new learning for me--the technical aspect of book signing! 😊 That's a really good suggestion, to test the ink out.  I predict a lot of our books will get signatures.

And I bet they will. In effect, there are 53-plus authors of this book, so there should be signatures galore. And book sales should go well and that brought about thoughts on book signings: 

Book signing advice: If you ever have to do a local signing, like at Great Glen... bring your journal and ask people to sign it as a keepsake for you. That way, if someone comes up to your table with a book and you forget their name, you can read their name from the journal. Facing 150+- people, I forgot a neighbor's name when signing The Mosquito Test. I just went blank--talk about humiliating. Monnie wrote about my embarrassment in her book, The Pocket Muse. My students use that journal-prompt book and love the story. (There's a lot people don't know about a writer's life. ;-)     

And Sue admitted: "Great idea! That would definitely happen to me, I am terrible remembering names!"

Man, can I relate. After that final note, I brought Bailey out and found a package in my garage and I immediately wrote Sue: "Serendipitous that today my copy arrived. Beautiful!"

The Writing Gods at work...



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