Category Archives: Archives 2015

Resolve to get your literary estate in order


Ah, December and time to reflect on a productive year. Many writers, as they put away the tinsel and take down the tree, begin to think about things they need to do before yearend: last minute tax deductions; filing up do date; all invoices paid and accounted for. As they gather receipts and checks for the accountant, there is one more thing they should consider. What will happen to their intelligent property if/when they die?

Die, you say, we’re talking about planning for a new year. We’re being positive, not negative. But we’re also so busy looking toward the future we forget to plan for our literary estate. When we die many things are left undone or forgotten.

Example. Several of my friends have passed but they still have Facebook accounts. Every year their birthday pops up and startles me. Didn’t they die, I think because I’m getting older and sometimes forget. Since they didn’t make plans for their intelligent property or tell someone the password so the account could be closed, I get these disquieting notices that occasionally curl my hair.

Another Example. An author dies and their intelligent property passes to someone who doesn’t appreciate their books and writings, in fact hates them. Unlike Emily Dickinson’s sister who made sure Emily’s work was preserved, that author’s work is discarded, burned, gone forever.

Neil Gaiman recently wrote an excellent article on this subject. At Neil’s request, a lawyer drew up a document you can use to protect your literary estate. It’s free and you can find it here.

If you’re a writer, or any other kind of artist for that matter, as you gather items for yearend and tax preparation, make time to write down the passwords to all your social media accounts and place them with your important papers. Take time to make a will or a codicil to protect your intelligent property. Then you can begin the New Year knowing you’re ready and have everything in order.
-Bonnie Dodge

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Waiting for a query reply? Don’t wait. Write

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.

Paulo Coelho

I remember the first time I got a request for a manuscript. I thought this is it, man. The big time. Money. Fame. A Charlie Rose interview.

I sent off my manuscript and then I waited and waited and waited. It was worse than meeting a cute boy when I was younger, giving him my phone number and then waiting for the call, which never came.

Now when I query, I don’t wait. I write.

If you want to be published and your last name isn’t King, Grisham or Patterson or some of those other people on the Amazon bestsellers list, the reality is you’re probably going to have to wait. Like waiting for an agent to decide whether he or she will represent you, or for a publisher to get back to your agent or you. The great thing about the industry today is that you don’t have to wait a week for your letter to get where it’s going. There’s email. But that doesn’t necessarily speed up the wait. (Although it is a bummer to get a rejection email five minutes after you sent a query. It’s like Ouch!)

This all takes time so don’t let it get to you. Don’t check your email ten thousand times a day because it will only increase your angst. In many instances, you may not even get a reply because agents and publishers are busy and get a billion queries.

Forget about anxiously awaiting for snail mail. Only rejections end up in your mailbox if you get one at all.

If you focus too much on waiting, then the painful self-doubts rise up like an El Niño storm. As your grandmother once uttered, don’t put all your writing eggs in one basket.

My advice is that once you send your manuscript, immediately start work on another, if you haven’t already done so. The best way to forget you are waiting is not to wait, but write. Use the days productively. We only have so many, after all.

If you are fortunate and your work is accepted for publication, that takes time, too. Sometimes up to two years to get your book published. The same advice holds when it comes to waiting.

Don’t wait. Write.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

I received some great comments on this, especially C.S. Wilde’s. Thanks for your comments!

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Steps to Writing

“Now shall I walk or shall I ride?
‘Ride,’ Pleasure said;
‘Walk,’ Joy replied.”
― W.H. Davies

I love being a writer, but writing has its hazards. One of them is the amount of time I spend in front of my computer. If I’m deep into a story, I can sit for hours, forgetting to move as I struggle to create a perfect phrase or sentence. When I finally look at the clock, I’m often surprised that the day is over and I haven’t made time to walk.

It’s no secret that walking is good for us. A Harvard health letter claims walking can strengthen bones, tune up the cardiovascular system, and clear a cluttered mind. Because I try to walk every day, I know these declarations are true. In addition to lowering my blood sugar, the minute I put on my shoes and start to walk, that plot problem I’ve struggled with for hours, or that special word I couldn’t find in the thesaurus, pops into my head and just like that I’m eager to finish my walk and return to my desk.

Often I find myself suffering foggy brain syndrome. When I sit too long, everything slows down, including my brain. A quick stroll, even just ten minutes, helps combat this affliction. Walking moves my muscles and pumps fresh blood and oxygen through my head, triggering the release of feel-good chemicals and making it easier to get back to work.

I’m not the only writer to find walking beneficial to my craft. Henry David Thoreau said, “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” Gretel Ehrilich said, “Walking is also an ambulation of mind.” And Thomas Mann said, “Thoughts come clearly while one walks.”

Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast, “I would walk along the quais when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out.” And Henry Miller said, “Most writing is done away from the typewriter, away from the desk. I’d say it occurs in the quiet, silent moments, while you’re walking or shaving or playing a game or whatever.”

The next time you get stuck with a plot point or are facing writer’s block, put on your shoes and go for a walk. It might just be the right step to take to further your writing.
-Bonnie Dodge

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Kid’s book about Knievel jump on sale on Kindle in time for anniversary

billiecover2014- 3

Ten-year-old Billie Nevile wants to be a daredevil, just like her hero Evel Knievel. She also wants a best friend. When Evel comes to town to jump the Snake River Canyon, Billie learns she has to be a friend to make friends and that not all heroes have to soar over canyons.

“BILLIE NEVILLE TAKES A LEAP” is an award-winning young adult book by Bonnie Dodge and Patricia Santos Marcantonio and inspired by Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump on Sept. 8, 1974.

In commemoration of the upcoming anniversary of jump, the Kindle version of “BILLIE NEVILLE TAKES A LEAP” will be on sale for 99 cents now until September 8.

Soar with Billie and enjoy the ride.

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Writing takes as long as it takes

When I was a reporter facing a deadline, I had to learn to write well, accurately, and fast. I had to see the story in my head and do it.
As a fiction writer, I’ve kept that mode. That doesn’t mean I don’t research, edit and rewrite, and rewrite and edit. But often, I felt bad that could write so fast because aren’t all writers told it takes years and years if your project is going to be good. Of course, some of my projects did take years. But some didn’t and that made me feel like a hack. Writing was starting to feel like work, which it is, but it should also be damn fun and fulfilling or why the hell are we doing it?
Then at a conference, authors Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch spoke about how they write quickly. And they are successful writers. Indeed, they have great credentials.
To me this was one of those ah-ha moments that made me extremely happy.
It was okay that I wrote quickly. But writers still wrestle with this.
Recently on the Stage 32 network, of which I am a member, there was a long discussion about how long it takes to write a screenplay. The opinions were all over the place.
My only opinion: It takes as long as it takes.

Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatsby,” considered to be one of the best American novels, over a summer and fall in 1924 with revisions the following year, when it was published, according to a University of Southern Carolina website.

It takes as long as it takes.

Weeks, months or years. No matter how long it takes, the thing we shouldn’t give up is telling a good, well written story.
Time is relative, after all.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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Why Writing Conferences are Important to Your Mental Health

Earlier this spring, my writing partner and I discussed attending the Idaho Writers Rendezvous in Boise presented by the Idaho Writers Guild. We knew the basics, money was tight, and it meant being away from home for three days, not to mention away from our writing routines. With so many excuses, it was easy to talk ourselves into staying home. But we knew it was important to network, so we made time in our schedules and went.

We’re glad we did. We both had hit a brick wall in writing. We were buried in work—the editing, the marketing, and revisions. Every day was a grind—responding to emails, putting out fires, scheduling book signings, and trying to make time to write. Under the strain of the daily routine, we found ourselves in an agonizing rut. We were writing, but we weren’t having fun.

You’re smiling now because you know writing is work. Hard work, and not every day is a picnic. But it should be, right? At least some part of the day should make you glad you’re a writer, or why are you doing it?

That’s where our heads were when we attended the IWG conference this spring. We must have been in the right space at the right time because two of the presenters helped us reset our brains. Highly successful writers, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, opened our eyes and reminded us why we chose to be in this business. My partner had an aha moment when she discovered it was okay to write as fast as she does. She had self-talked herself into thinking she had to slow down to be normal, and she wasn’t enjoying the process. It went against her natural drive. I learned it was okay to let go of the “shoulds.” I was reminded that the only should I needed to listen to was the should that makes my writing better. Our two-hour trip home was electrified as we discussed these affirmations and formulated new projects. We felt free to let go of the expectations and enjoy writing again.

Maybe you’re on the fence about attending an up-coming conference. Maybe it would be easier to stay home. But while you’re deciding, don’t forget to look at the things you might learn; some things that may even surprise you.

-Bonnie Dodge

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Favorite recipes and their stories highlight new book

Family Recipes from the Snake River Plain

A grandmother’s special treat. Gingersnaps made for weary travelers by a generous pioneer woman. A cake from home that comforted a soldier during World War II.
These are only some of the recipes found in FAMILY RECIPES FROM THE SNAKE RIVER PLAIN, which brings together favored dishes from people who call Idaho home.
There’s even an ode to fry sauce.
What makes this collection so unique is the stories about the recipes. How potato pancakes got people through tough times. Two sisters’ Milk Toast. A grandmother’s special yellow bowl. The Great Zucchini Wars. How onions saved a family in times of hardship.
Heartwarming and entertaining, these family recipes and the stories behind them show what makes the Snake River Plain so special.
The book features the work of 27 regional writers.

On sale now at for $9.99.

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Writers need WCE (writing continue education)

My husband is a CPA. Every year, he’s required to take continuing education. CPE as it’s called.

I’m a writer. I have no such requirement on me. Instead, I have an obligation to take continuing education. We writers need WCE (writing continue education).

Why? To get better, to challenge yourself, to make sure you haven’t fell into a chasm of lazy and overconfidence. People who think they know it all just go sideways. Those continually learning have no place to go but up.

One of the best ways to find WCE is by going to a writing conference. I attended one recently and not only got my fill of education, but my batteries charged as well, to use a cliché.  If you’ve been writing awhile, you know a lot of this stuff (plotting, structure, character development, etc.) but conferences help you remember why it’s important and to keep doing it if you’ve forgotten.

It also revs you up to hang out with other writers who share your passion. If you can’t afford to go out of town for a conference, there are good online writing education courses that are very reasonable. Check out Writer’s Digest for a start.

Professionals like accountants, attorneys and doctors must take continuing education to keep practicing their profession. Writers who take continuing education need it to keep their edge.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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‘Billie Neville’ donation part of national Kiwanis project


Revis Turner, Utah Idaho Kiwanis Governor, donated BILLIE NEVILLE TAKES A LEAP to a book project at the national Kiwanis gathering in Detroit earlier this year.
Revis said the project was to donate 100,000 children’s books to the Detroit area schools and libraries. Each district governor was asked to bring a book that represented their district.
“I thought yours would be very interesting read. We included bookmarks and book labels with the books,” he said.
The young adult book, written by Bonnie Dodge and Patricia Santos Marcantonio, is about a girl who dreams of being a daredevil during the excitement of the Evel Knievel jump over the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho. The book also received an Idaho Author Award in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Revis Turner

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Family Recipes from the Snake River Plain launches June 13

Family Recipes from the Snake River Plain

Recipes passed down through generations. Dishes served at local restaurants or by pioneers.
A new book, FAMILY RECIPES FROM THE SNAKE RIVER PLAIN not only features family recipes, but their stories, which were contributed by 27 regional writers.
The public is invited to a book launch and signing from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 13 in the First Federal Conference room of the new Twin Falls Visitor’s Center.
The event will include readings, giveaways, and samples of some of the recipes from the book.
Published by River St. Press, the book uniquely brings life to the recipes with the stories behind them. The stories include how pioneer Lucy Stricker made gingersnap cookies and griddle cakes for weary travelers, what a cake from home meant to a soldier during World War II, reflections on a grandmother’s lime green Jell-O dessert, the sweetness of Idaho potato candy, and how onions helped a family survive rough times. There is even an ode to fry sauce.
Based in the Magic Valley, River St. Press publishes regional books including the ghost story anthology “Hauntings from the Snake River Plain,” and the award-winning children’s book, “Billie Neville Takes a Leap.”
The book is available at

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