Events at The Cabin

The Cabin in Boise is an active resource for both writers and readers. You might want to subscribe to their monthly newsletter (nicely not too frequent) to keep abreast of happenings, which this month include:

Scary stuff!

Read Freely vs. Banned Books

  • Success: $10,000 was raised and 1,000 banned or challenged books were distributed by 100 local volunteers

And there’s always more…

Like I said, you may want to sign up for their newsletter. (Scroll toward the bottom of their home page for a form.)

New Environmental Thriller

At the apex of his career, Doug Diehl becomes superintendent of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, and just in time to watch Congress drill it out from under him. The largest refuge in the country. The largest terrestrial megafauna migration on the planet. Turned into an oil patch, and on his watch. And now he has to live with it. If he can.

This debut novel by Boise author Todd Graeff promises to be a page-turner: Rick Arranger of Limberlost Press says, “I don’t know of another environmental novel since Ed Abbey’s that can get your hackles up the way Good as Given does.”

If this is your cup of tea, find Good as Given, with it’s unmistakable cover art by Ward Hooper, at:

More about the author

An aficionado of the anything-worth-doing-is-worth-overdoing school of compulsive behavior, Todd Graeff has dedicated his first 73 years to conserving wild places, pursuing adventure beyond the borders of good judgment, and writing about his more harrowing experiences. While his non-fiction and fiction have been widely published, Good as Given is his debut novel. Todd, his wife Mary, two high-test English setters, and one lap dog live in Boise, Idaho, where he continues to push the boundaries of good judgment.

Long Live Romance!

Romance Writers’ Week is coming 24-28 October 2022. This is a free week of writing training with expert authors, publishers, and marketers (including NYT bestselling author, Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones & the Six, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and more).

Did I mention it’s free. Register here. And no travel cost: it’s all online.

  • Learn from award-winning romance authors including Sarah MacLean and Lizzie Camilla Blackburn
  • Connect with fellow romance authors in daily networking events
  • Gain valuable knowledge and practical skills to help you obtain your writing goals
  • REPLAYS WILL BE AVAILABLE AFTERWARDS FOR ALL WHO REGISTER

Sponsored by ProWritingAid.

Photo by 德綱 曾 on Unsplash

Read Newspapers @ Library

Yes, there are lots of newspapers and magazines to trawl through at your local library — but your library card may be your passport around those irritating paywalls, as well.

(A brief aside, recognizing that work deserves monetary compensation, including writers and responsible journalists, and the organizations they work for. All true. But we still are irritated by paywalls, aren’t we?)

Check with your local library to see if their services include subscriptions to magazines and periodicals such as: Idaho Statesman, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, New York Times, and more.

If you’re in Boise, check out this page in the BPL’s Research and Learning section for what you might be able to access.

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

Nancy Weston

With books running from mysteries to memoir, Nancy notes: “As I have matured, met people, had encounters, failures and triumphs and learned about life, I have filed away hundreds of interesting characters, events, encounters and sights. Now my mind fills with stories to share and my challenge is to select the one that is right to tell right now.”

Her works include:

  • Digger’s Izzy
  • Valley of Shadows
  • Ice in the Guise of Fire (published August 2022)
  • The Cruelty of Swallows (to be published later in 2022)

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

Not really.  I have a list of stories in my mind that I want to tell.  Once I find the one that inspires me at the moment, I pretty much devote myself to getting the outline, then a rough draft of the story.  Then I may set it aside and work on something else or do something entirely different than writing.  Once I come back to it, my mind is fresh and I read it again.  This helps a lot!  Once I get a complete story arc that I like, I get an edited copy for my beta readers.  While they read the manuscript, I take another break.  Once I get their feedback, I may mull over their commentary or not, but I don’t rush into the next draft.  Time is my best friend in the process.  Once I start work again, it is to complete a final draft of the work, although that may be many revisions later.  When I have a complete final draft, I send it to be edited again. 

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

Only that I like background noise, music or even the television in the background.  I prefer to be alone, but it’s not necessary so long as there isn’t conversation in the room where I am working. 

Who do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

Write.  I find that there is always something to write about – even if it is what if feels like to hit a wall.  Is it frightening?  Is it frustrating?  Am I blank or is it that there are too many competing thoughts.  Whatever, it is a story to tell and it is movement in the process. 

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer” (AKA “writing into the dark”)? Or are you somewhere in between?

I start with a preliminary outline, very loose, but especially character development; who is the cast of this story?  That is typically where the flow of the story begins.  I might also list locations, sometimes a preliminary timeline.  I might take a moment and put down very two dimensionally what I want the story to say.  Once I start writing, it goes where it goes.  And sometimes I get surprised where the story leads.  That’s the fun and the creative part of the process.

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

Maybe Circe by Madelaine Miller.  I like Greek mythology and I loved the female take on the stories I have read and heard about all my life.  Before that definitely Hunger Games!  For some reason, I couldn’t put that one down.  Not a great book but a compellingly fascinating story idea.

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

I rarely recommend books unless I get an idea of what a person might like.  I have a fairly eclectic appetite – which is why I belong to a book club so I get exposed to books I wouldn’t just pick up and read.  Some I like and others not so much.  I am always surprised at the fact that books I like, others don’t and vice versa.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

Right now I am doing a lot of research for a story idea so mostly non-fiction like The Dawn of Everything (Graeber and Wenbrow).  I like Dan Brown and I’d love to fall in love with an author.  Hasn’t happened for a while.  I was in love with James Michener, James Clavell, Agatha Christy, Michael Crichton, John Grisham and others.  No one lately.  Maybe I am just overwhelmed by the sheer volume of good work out there to be read right now.

Find Nancy Weston online

Genalea Barker

Genalea has an Associate’s Degree in English Literature and a deep-seated passion for stories which highlight mental health and body positivity. Her short fiction has been recognized by Idaho Creative Authors Network, Idaho Writers Guild, and Women on Writing. Select works have been published with Bookends Review, Grande Dame Literary, Gemini Magazine, and Writers in the Attic: Rupture.

Watch for these Young Adult Contemporaries:

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I’m a busy mom to four young children, so my “routine” is mainly to write whenever I have both the time and brain power to do so. Usually late at night after everyone is in bed, and occasionally during the school day when I only have my toddler at home with me. 

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

Not particularly, though I do like to have something caffeinated nearby, especially if I’m on a tight deadline, or working on tedious edits. Chocolate helps, too. 😉

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

Typically, take some time off to read during what would normally be my “writing time.” Often times immersing myself in someone else’s words will help my boggled brain relax and find the right words again. Other times, I’ll change gears, so to speak. If I hit a wall with a full-length manuscript, I might take time out to write a short story, personally essay, or blog post. 

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer” (AKA “writing into the dark”)? Or are you somewhere in between?

Though I fall somewhere between being a “plotter” and a “pantser”, I do lean a little more toward figuring it out as I go. I always reach a point with my plotting where I can’t do it anymore and I just need to see where my characters take me. 

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

I often find myself recommending Kelly deVos, a Young Adult author. Her books feature a lot of body positivity, which I think is very important for readers of all ages, but especially young readers. 

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

Currently: We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz, The Secret Cure by JD Spero, and about ten others. 

What advice do you have for readers?

Only read the books you want to. It’s okay to not finish a book you really hoped you would like. Always, always, always leave a review, especially if you finish a book by an indie author, and NEVER return an eBook after you read it. 

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with? Why?

Laurie Halse Anderson. Her books were some of the first that truly burrowed into my soul and made me realize I wanted to be an author one day. I’d love to talk process and inspiration with her, sure, but mostly I’d just love to thank her. 

Do you have early memories of reading or writing you’d like to share?

When I was in first grade, my parents brought home our first computer. One of the first things I learned to do was create “books” using the Paint program. The “illustrations” were truly terrible, but it didn’t stop me from printing those “books” out and reading them to my entire class at school. I’m so grateful to those teachers who indulged me. 

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

Laurie Halse Anderson, Kathleen Glasgow, Kelly deVos, Ashley Woodfolk

What do you most enjoy about being a writer? What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

I love the catharsis of being able to give a character exactly what they deserve. I least enjoy that place about 2/3 of the way through a manuscript where I know what I want to happen and how it will influence the final outcome of the book, but I don’t quite now how to make it happen. 

What would you tell a new writer?

Find good writer friends and critique partners, and don’t be afraid to share your work and accept feedback. It’s how you’ll grow. 

Find Genalea Barker online:

Sometimes, a Shepherd…

Remember when discovering a new book was always a fun experience? Any more, one feels battered by vendor advertisements or lost deep in the machine that is Goodreads.

Enter Shepherd.com – now in beta, but eminently functional.

Tell me where else you could find human-curated (actually, author-curated) lists of:

Or browse by Wikipedia topic and find a treasure trove of books on friendship, China, or Magic-Supernatural, for example.

Recommended by your website editor as a fun and positive and most interesting browse.

First ‘Trouvères’ Adventure

A new book from our recently-profiled Idaho author, Ellis “Skip” Knox.

Theft, illusion, and murder in a ruined paradise

The Compagnie des Trouvères are to perform at festivities on the beautiful island of Capreae. When a young illusionist is accused of stealing the duke’s signet ring, Val and the other Trouvères step in to prove his innocence.

Young lovers are here for a betrothal. Powerful nobles are here to put their mark to a peace treaty. But someone is out to ruin both, and no one seems to care if an obscure illusionist pays the price for their schemes.

No one, that is, except for the Trouvères.

About the world of Altearth

The Signet Ring is the first in a series, but it is the fourth book that is set in Altearth, a world where magic is real, monsters roam the land, and the Roman Empire never fell. These include:

  • Goblins at the Gates, which tells how magic first came to Altearth
  • A Child of Great Promise, the story of a girl who thought she was half-elf and half-human, but discovers she is neither.
  • Into the Second World, an adventure story that reveals central mysteries about Altearth.
  • Mad House, a novelette about the unlikely pairing of a sprite and an ogre, and a house going insane.

And now The Signet Ring.

Here you can meet Valentin, Charlot, Enzela, Miron, and Tusco—acrobats, actors, and magicians—who will fight for you when no one else will. In subsequent books they will travel across Italia, into Germania, and then to Gaul. They will seek justice for the wrongly accused, but eventually must face their own accusers.

Ellis “Skip” Knox

Ellis L. (Skip) Knox is a writer, medieval historian, and the creator of the fantasy world called Altearth, a place where magic is real, monsters roam the land, and the Roman Empire never fell.

His work includes several short stories published in online magazines as well as these intriguingly titled novels:

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I have a study with my books, computer, and table. I write four days a week (I’m retired), usually for two to four hours.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

Not really. I’m organized, but I ain’t that organized!

What do you do when you hit a wall with. your writing?

I declare it isn’t a wall, and keep writing. That is, I’ll do research, make notes, write fragments of scenes, anything to keep going.

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer” (AKA “writing into the dark”)? Or are you somewhere in between?

Definitely in between. I’ve always planned, though the book goes off on tangents almost from the start. I used to worry about this, but now I don’t. 

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

Probably the first couple of volumes of Josiah Bancroft’s Books of Babel series.

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

Joseph Conrad for descriptions, Raymond Chandler for dialog, Ray Bradbury for poetic prose just this side of purple, Robert Howard for the purple stuff, Leo Tolstoy for pure story telling. Patrick O’Brian for all things naval, plus how to write good historical dialog.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

A tower so packed and tall I’m hard-pressed to even describe it.

What advice do you have for readers?

Slow down. Especially if it’s a book with good prose. Give the author an even break.

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with? Why?

Two, Joseph Conrad and Jack London. Both for the same reason: to hear them tell the story of their life.

Do you have early memories of reading or writing you’d like to share?

I’ve always read. The first time I remember a book grabbing me was A Tale of Two Cities, which I read in 7th grade. The first that entranced me was Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I fell in love with the prose so hard, I actually typed (on a manual typewriter) entire chapters, just so I could chew the words. And, of course, my first read of Lord of the Rings, which I encountered in 1966. My first fantasy story (well, I did read The Hobbit immediately prior, in the same year).

What books and/or authors have lost influenced you as an author?

The ones I’ve already mentioned. Tolstoy, Conrad, Chandler and Hammett, Bradbury, plus Asimov, … oh, too many to recall.

What do you most enjoy about being a writer? What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

Writing. And writing. It’s the old line: I hate writing, but I love having written.

What would you tell a new writer?

Just write. Ideas aren’t stories. Finish: an incomplete story is not a story at all; only finished counts. Best advice: be prepared to ignore any and all advice.

Find him online at: