Archive | March, 2014

Finding a Class Reading my Novel

6 Mar




 I work as both a writer and as a substitute teacher. The two are mostly unconnected although talking to kids helps me to think of ideas for my writing and to make my characters really talk like the kids do. Recently, walking through the hall before school. I found myself suddenly surrounded by a group of girls, “Mrs Goode! We are reading your book. I love the way you go back and forth in time,”

and on and on while I stand amazed.


That is WHY!!


  I found out it is Mrs. Hooper and her class reading it. A few informed me which 1 kid doesn’t like it. I actually laughed – 1 kid doesn’t? That is such a Win! Thank you Sandi !  I am lucky because this wonderful teacher first read my book with her book club, a group of a dozen adults, and chose to share it with her class.  And then I am also lucky because a class set of 38 books was purchased last year by the school district’s instructional media center.



 Of course, that kind of luck starts with some book promotion on my part and it is hard for me to add promoting and sales to an already busy life as a mom, teacher, writer. It is also not the best match with the shy, observer type personality that a writer tends to be, but years of teaching have taught me too, and I can speak up when I have to.


So one of the best bits of advice that I read on Twitter was the suggestion that every free copy of your book that you put out into the world is an ambassador, working away while you are not looking, to promote your writing.


In this case, I gave a copy of my book to a 5th grade teacher, she read it and suggested it to her book club, which bought 10 copies.  Then they had me come talk to them.  I also gave a book to another substitute teacher, she gave it to her husband, who gave it to the director of curriculum, who gave it to the IMC Librarian with the instructions to go to Amazon and order a class set.


It doesn’t always work so well. A lot of give away books, I never hear about again, but some result in wonderful reviews on Goodreads or in blog posts.



 So, three day later I was back at the school where they had started my novel.  This time the reaction was bigger even than before. The kids surrounded me at the bus line, asking me to autograph their arms or notebooks or scraps of paper and begging to know specific details from the book,


“Why did you start the story in St. Louis?”


“Have you ever ridden to the top of the Gateway Arch?”


“Is that Old Grandma really based on yours?”


 And now I have kids, telling me that they want to be writers, and asking me how.


I have kids asking for a sequel


and when I tell them that the next book has been begun


and that it is about Volcanoes and Pompeii and My. St. Helens and connecting two boys through 1901 years, they sound as excited as I do.


 I find that I did get to visit many of the Oregon Trail sites as I researched and wrote, but I probably won’t get near Pompeii or Vesuvius, and yet I have learned to travel without ever leaving my desk, and to take classrooms full of kids with me on the journey and I thank my lucky starts every day for this gift.




From Letters to pictures

6 Mar

Lately I have been working on putting together the old letters, and once i had them assembled I tried to load them into one of the blog2print sites and make a book.  It worked but was expensive, so that the letters and picture part of my blog, just from two months of posts made a book over $120 for a hardback, so I bought an $8 pdf of it and called that good.


Now, while I am thinking about what to write about next I have been looking at the pictures I have on my desktop from playing with old Photographs on 365 project and on PicMonkey and Ribbet


So I will share some of those today

 When I was a child I lived in the desert, the high mountain desert of Wyoming, and spent summers at 10,000 feet in snow and tundra. But somehow, I wanted to grow up and be a dolphin. At first I went through a phase of being very angry that my parents had not named me flipper, then when I talked them, who were both so afraid of water that they held on to the towel rack all the way through their bath, into signing me up for swim lessons, and I spent hours swimming underwater, pretending to be the mermaid I knew I would grow up to be. And that was years before Disney showed me there could be redheaded mermaids. Ariel came to the big screen the year I started teaching and I took my first class to the theater to see.

 The picture is of a cigar box that a friend from an online forum made because he knew me as “Echo”

Hello, Hello!! I have named myself “Echo,” not because of the myth connected to the sad girl who wasted away to nothing but her voice, although after I am gone, I should be pleased to think that some of my words linger on. I love the images of places where one stands and shouts out in joy and waits to hear the echo come back.

When I was a young girl, going through the, “I love horses” phase of my life, there was one very special Morgan mare living on my cousin’s ranch in Wyoming. I never owned her, but I rode her, and fell off of her, and admired her and dreamed of her. Her name was “Echoes of Pandora” but we called her “echo” and when I first began posting on forums like, and I used her name as mine, “echo.” I have posted some of my things on redgage using “echo” too. Sometimes that name has been taken, and spaces aren’t allowed so I use pandorasecho, on twitter and a few other places as well.

Gradually I reminded myself, when it became tempting, even fun, to get involved in the sniping and rude behavior that the anonymity of the web invites, that I only wanted to leave behind “echoes of kind words,” and I remembered that what Pandora had left behind, an echo after all the troubles she had turned loose on the world, was HOPE. So passing on Hope, and kindness became my goal for any interactions I would have on-line. A goal, which has helped me to police my own words and posts so as not to injure someone I’ve never met, just because I can think of the funny, cutting thing to write.

I have always needed creative activity. I have to write, or draw, or weave or sculpt or paint, or doodle on a rock with a sharpie. Having a blog seems to fit in with this need very well. I usually, doodle and then put it away in a storage box but sometimes I want to share what I have done, beyond leaving the doodled on rock on the river’s edge for someone else to find and wonder about.

When I wonder what are the things I am expert at, what can I share, I come up with the following things that I have quite a bit of experience in:


hopefully, I will send echoes of my knowledge out to where it can help someone else as well. It is such a mixed world of pleasure, beauty and pain and ugliness. Hopefully the echoes of my life leave a little bit more in the balance on the side of appreciation and a little less on the side of isolation. I know that I have read things other people have written, and looked at their artwork, and found myself just a little better because of it. Perhaps it is my turn to give a little back.

 This Pioneer Cemetery is on the Campus of the Oregon Ducks. I got to stroll and take pictures while my husband was attending a music Festival

“And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle—
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.”
― Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

“the much-sought prize of eternal youth
Is just arrested growth.”
― Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

“I tramped through the country
To get the feeling
That I was not a separate thing from the earth.
I used to lose myself
By lying with eyes half-open in the woods.
Sometimes I talked with animals…”
― Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

 Here the real winter sport seems to involve trying to keep up with the weather and understand that it isn’t spring. Everything is confused by the drought and unusually warm December and January so it looks like April around here and I’m afraid none of the blooming fruit trees will produce fruit this fall.

 this is a painting I did years ago when I was a freshman in college, but we are in the midst of clouds and getting a real full moon is not happening, in fact we had 9 1/2 inches of rain at my house since last Friday

“I fancied my luck to be witnessing yet another full moon. True, I’d seen hundreds of full moons in my life, but they were not limitless. When one starts thinking of the full moon as a common sight that will come again to one’s eyes ad-infinitum, the value of life is diminished and life goes by uncherished. ‘This may be my last moon,’ I sighed, feeling a sudden sweep of sorrow; and went back to reading more of The Odyssey.” 
― Roman Payne

 This is my oldest son with his blind, loving dog and the fishing float that he found while our at sea crabbing

and my husband and I with our youngest son


 Hobbs Wall was a redwood logging company which had the logging camp shown above. That isn’t my picture but one that the Del Norte County Museum was displaying on their facebook page from the late 1870’s or 1880’s I’m guessing. The three bottom pictures are mine. Two rooms in my house were two of these bunkhouses. Then a third room was built between them to make a three room house and gradually a second floor and other rooms were added but the original roof and wooded shingles is in the closets and crawl spaces upstairs.

 In this picture the books that stand out are the three I have published.  There is 

Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog

Duffy Barkley: Seek Well

and Double Rime In the Oregon Trail

 another Christmas photo collage


 a treasure of a picture that my son Austin took while out at sea to tell his Mom a special message

 My life has been filled with books, and it started with these, the kids picture books that were always abundant in our house even when we were low on money for almost everything else. On the wall is the quilt from my crib that my grandmother made for me.

“You may have riches
and treasures untold
mountains of rubies and
boxes of gold
but richer than I
you never can be.
I had a Mother
who read to me.”
Author unknown at least by me

It isn’t possible that weather can be just one image, I swear. You have to have others to convey the concept.

“La la la la la dee oh,
Whether the weather be rain or snow
Pretending can make it real
A snowy pasture, a green and grassy field

Walking In the Sunshine, sing a little sunshine song
Put a smile upon your face as if there’s nothing wrong
Think about a good time had a long time ago
Think about forgetting about your worries and your woes
Walking In The Sunshine, sing a little sunshine song ” Roger Miller


 Here the real winter sport seems to involve trying to keep up with the weather and understand that it isn’t spring. Everything is confused by the drought and unusually warm December and January so it looks like April around here and I’m afraid none of the blooming fruit trees will produce fruit this fall.

a poster I made when my boys were little and the youngest was deeply into the Irene Vinton picture book


Look out for Pirates