Thursday, June 26, 2008


We're back from a lovely week in Boise, Idaho. Let me tell you a bit about Boise. It is one of the nicest cities in the country, a secret the Boise residents don't want me to reveal. But I just can't help myself. Why is it so great?
  • Climate: I was born and raised just outside of Denver, Colorado and have NEVER gotten used to the humidity and skunkiness of the Northeast. (Skunkiness is defined as grey, hot days with lots of haze, heat and humidity.) Summer in Boise features blue skies, sun, dry air and cool nights--just like my hometown.
  • Emphasis on the outdoors: There's a greenbelt that runs from miles and miles all along the Boise River. You can walk. You can run. You can bike. You CAN'T drive a car! Parks and festivals abound. Bike lanes are common. What a place to raise a family. What a great place to live as gas prices continue to soar.
  • Lots of coffee shops that AREN'T Starbucks: Each one is unique can walk there!
  • Nice people: It's true. On the surface at least, people in Idaho are nicer than people in the Northeast. From waitresses to rental cars, we were overwhelmed with kindness, manners and thoughtfulness. They are even nice at the airport!

I'm sure I just scratched the surface. Boise offers a lot more.

The purpose for our visit to Boise was to spend time with my brother and his family. While we were there we gave a workshop for authors at the Garden City Library just outside the city limits. (The library is brand new and gorgeous.) About 30 authors attended our presentation and afterwards we met with as many as time would permit to discuss their individual projects.

I was impressed with the quality of the writers we met. If you read this blog regularly, you can guess what we talked about--the business of writing and the quality of the work. The authors asked interesting and intelligent questions such as: How much money do publishers pay as advances? (It depends.....) How popular is narrative nonfiction? (Very.) Is it OK to query several agents at one time? (Sure. Just don't put all their email addresses in the "send" field.) Do we use an author-agent contract? (Yes.) How do we negotiate the author-publisher contract? (With great respect and humility and an eye on the bottom line, public relations, and marketing.)

My personal favorites that evening? The young lady who considers herself a modern pirate and the gentleman who sees the world through the experience of making omelets. Jon's personal favorite is an author whose partial we had already requested. She, her children and her mother drove 5 hours from Salt Lake City to meet us. With this kind of effort on the part of authors, we just hope we were helpful.

Look out New York--the Boise authors are headed your way!


berlinwritergirl said...

I love Boise also. What a great city. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me.

Brandon Berntson said...

Weird, I was born in Boise, but grew up all over Colorado, including Denver. My brother lives in Sun Valley, and I try to go up every summer for fishing in Hemingway country. Beautiful, just like you said.

Laken said...

I have been writing for year, but am very new to the world of manuscript writing. I am over half way done writing my first manuscript and I have so many questions! Do you have any recommendations as far as where to start and how to get my foot in the door? I've found what I love and want to make this a career but am unsure what it takes. A great read perhaps, or putting myself out there, in unfamiliar territory, to learn all I can about this empire. Any comments or emails would be helpful. Thanks anyone!