True Sentiment versus Sentimentality by Janine Donoho

Trumpeter Swans fly through morning light streaming through clouds to silhouette Whitehorse mountainLast night I finally watched Hallmark’s prerecorded Away and Back. Don’t judge me. I resisted for a time because I intensely dislike attempted emotional coercion and that’s been Hallmark’s modus operandi for too long.

Still, trumpeter swans… Then appealing characters and storyline charmed me into staying. Gone the silly and soapy scrum of recent Hallmark movies in celebration of the return to story and true sentiment. Okay, a few glitches, but more on that later.

Flawlessly cast adult protagonists delivered on story as battered widower Jack Peterson and truculent swan conservationist Ginny Newsom. Empathetic and gritty 10-year-old Frankie emerged as the fictional daughter I’ll never have. And saving Cygnus buccinator—balm to a conservation biologist’s heart.

Trumpeter swan by Brian StevensThe cinematography stunned me to tears with trumpeters silhouetted against the sun or harvest moon. Sweeping scapes of other natural beauty and even a subtle message of hope amid the human interactions lifted me. Mostly.

Now a lesson for all of us conduits of story. Hallmark engaged me until the last twenty minutes, when they imploded into the black hole of clichéd sentimentality. At that point, I forgave them—this time.

The earlier glow carried me through this misstep. They dished up the real deal Soundings Cover Upgraded 1-23-2015for much of the movie and maybe next time around, they’ll persist with honest emotion and storytelling.

Until then? I’m reading and writing. Plus launching SOUNDINGS, WATER ELEMENTAL into the world—a novel brimming with story, impactful characters and yes, true sentiment. Or at least that was my intent.

How do you feel about sappiness and overt attempts to influence us? Where do you draw the line as viewer? As reader? As writer?Trumpeter Swans


Soundings Cover Upgraded 1-23-2015

Consider yourself a natural phenomenon and Elemental to my writing. With my latest paranormal romantic thriller SOUNDINGS, WATER ELEMENTALscheduled to launch from Booktrope on February 27, 2015, I’d like to invite you into my worlds.

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Artist, Entrepreneur or Producer? by Janine Donoho

Do not flush...Oh, the rarefied air we artists breathe. Cogs in the greater wheel or isolated hermits toiling in a cave? We’re trying to figure that out even when everyone’s a “creative” and art has transformed once again into a craft populated by artisans.

Soundings Cover Upgraded 1-23-2015With the upcoming launch of my latest novel Soundings, Water Elemental, the necessities of social media have inundated me. I’m ensnared by the current model for artists who’ve morphed into creators whose daily work and lifestyle require processing for consumption. Remember the pink slime of hamburger fame?

C’est moi. Yet since I feel privileged to have such an excellent team at Booktrope, this definitely counts as a whine. Thank goodness for book manager and publicist exemplar Vanya’s practical voice calming my wildly oscillating sine wave before it flips to completely erratic.

After reading a provocative article in The Atlantic, I realize what overwhelms me—and possibly you, dear reader—is the latest obligation to be a creative entrepreneur versus an artiste. And Gladwell’s 10,000 hours toward proficiency? Evidently networking, high concept, and branding trump that in today’s world. Yes, the cult of personality triumphs.

Yet do we allow despair to suck us into its vortex? Absolutely not—resistance may not prove futile. Still the idea that creatives exist solely as corporate brands? That’s cynicism at its dankest depths.

I know a few of the writerly 1% who’ve become brands, whose stories translate into tours of economically challenged towns featured fictitiously in nudge, nudge, wink, wink their “breakout novels.” I salute them and their successes. If one of my stories rescues a town or my preference, an endangered species, I’d go for it.

You see, those 1% writers I unabashedly love did their 10,000 hours,Lapped by clouds absorbed craft, and now? Well, they’re professionals who support families, small towns, and the new corporate paradigm of “producerism.” The destructive force of a fully operational death star—er—marketplace has been brought to bear.

As our culture tracks Jane Austin’s “aha” moments, then equates them to “yo quiero taco bell”, I wonder which of my favorite writers would fail to publish today. Which undiscovered voices will be lost in the rush toward “producerism?”

Now I’m dragging my sorry artist’s butt to the kitchen for breakfast, then out to clean both cat box and pup yard. Today’s odyssey? The cupboard’s bare and I actually do live in a remote, yet plush “cave.” On, on.The view from here

Grit by Janine Donoho

Where the world drops away.

Where the world drops away.

Grit—those pebbles that irritate tender folds of skin during extreme hikes. Wildly enough, grit’s also the resolve to persevere through setbacks. In other words, LIFE, or as I call it, “Putting on the big girl panties.”

Walking buddiesI’ve a confession to make. After a spin cycle of agitated road trips, firefly visits with friends, and the blue funk that rolls in after launching Intrepid Guy on another cross-global deployment, I’m less than excited about spelunking into my writing today. There’s the primal thrill over my coming launch of Soundings, Water Elemental, but I’m still a bit—well—flat.

Sparkling wine days are over for the time being. Ceaseless snow amasses across the highlands. Intrepid Guy sits in a lovely pink hotel room in Penticton until the airport connecting him to Vancouver, British Columbia, clears for flights, and I need to shovel the entryways and figure out why our faithful soapstone stove refuses to burn—yes, low oxygen, but why? Later, after I do my daily work…Writers make the best friends

In that vein, I brew coffee, a gift from a best friend and writer, before facing the blank screen. Pavlovian conditioning comes through and words begin to flow. Yes, I’m that writing hound. For what is this chosen pursuit other than goals set and pursued? Relentlessly.

Today’s mantra? Be brave. Gain stamina and persistence through practice. Show grit. It’s the real deal.Grit

My Writing Habit by Janine Donoho

Airborne Italian greyhound

Airborne Italian greyhound

Early each morning—and even earlier as our earth tilts away from the sun and carries us into winter—Nina Sophia stretches out of her fluffy sheepskin pelt and cloudsoft binkies to hop onto the human bed where she burrows between duvet and blanket.

That’s my cue. You see, I’ve reached that blissful state where children and a day job no longer compel me. Thus I begin the slow ascent toward my enduring habit of writing. Intriguing visuals and thoughts float through my consciousness until I’m too full of inspiration to stay abed.

View from my snow cave

View from my snow cave

That’s when I scoot the groaning Italian greyhound over to my warm indentations and bolster her with a pillow, furnishing her with that sense of pack she craves. Then it’s off to wash the sleep from my eyes and slip into my work attire. Today that means soft flannel bottoms with loopy bunnies that exclaim “I love you” in girly pink and cream. Yes, blushing as I admit this, but hey, they were a gift from Intrepid Guy. Over a cami I layer warm wovens. After all, this is the far northwest beyond which “there be dragons”—and Canadians, eh? Plus it’s snowing.

Your-dream-doesnt-have-an-expiration-dateFrom a perpetual carafe replenished as necessary after my morning ritual, I heat a cup of dark roast mixed with a splash of soy. Off to my chosen place I go. Since I’ve been at this for decades, that space has been honed to my preferences. Thus I slip into fingerless gloves and spelunk into other worlds.

While many of my writer friends cultivate writing schedules that encompass Starbucks and other public spaces, solitude works best for me. I do enjoy the friction implicit in more lively settings, but not when it comes to getting the words down. For that I cultivate a more tranquil practice. And yes, whatever your artistic process, own it and bring consistency into your practice.

Now I’m back to my edit of SOUNDINGS, Water Elemental. Happy writing!

Red morning skies promise more uninterrupted time to write

Red morning skies promise more uninterrupted time to write

There and Back Again by Janine Donoho

Mt. Rainier across the Sound

Mt. Rainier across the Sound

Over the Puget Sound and whitewater rivers—through coastal woods morphing into inland forests, we traveled home to the Okanogan Highlands—and temperatures in the teens. Brrr. Tears were shed as we left behind our temporary pack, lifelong friends and family.

Gazzam Park with Pack

Gazzam Park with Pack

Urban amenities I miss:

  • pumpkin yogurt and Sawatdy Thai cuisine,
  • the Bainbridge Athletic Club, and
  • Gazzam Park’s needle strewn trails.

What I embrace instead:

  • frozen mango sorbet,
  • my elliptical and rowing machines, and
  • Okanogan National Forest.
Okanogan Forest

Okanogan Forest

Evidently both ambivalence and resilience describe me. Now I’m bending my mind around edits to SOUNDINGS, Water Elemental, along with other authorial tasks. Winter cave time approaches as flames crackle in the soapstone fireplace and Nina Sophia, Italian greyhound extraordinaire, stretches out on the rug with a sigh.

Iggy basking

Iggy basking

Gone Missing by Janine M. Donoho

You may find it astonishing that a person can go missing from the electron cloud that defines our world. Especially to those in such forward-thinking nations as Malaysia and Nigeria, where most commerce occurs on smart phones, this seems far-fetched.

However here in the United States of America, we enjoy spotty coverage at best. And when a monster wildfire like Carlson Complex melts the few fiber optics supplying this rural area, well, some of us disappear—or at least temporarily plummet from the vibrating electrons that generate the cloud.

Frankly, when measured against the loss of 300 homes, 250,000+ acres of living earth and incalculable numbers of dead and maimed critters, both wild and domestic, this proves an infinitesimal concern.

So allow me to direct you to a storyboard of summer in the Okanogan desert of Washington state. Let the photos serve as chronicle.

Now before the next supercell of thunderstorms rolls in, I’m off to finish my edit of SOUNDINGS, Water Elemental.

My Bliss Meter by Janine M. Donoho

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALet me admit that vortices of ‘why bother’ have been known to draw me into their gyrations. With a throbbing knee keeping me from decades-long walking meditations over the last month, my outlook has swung wildly into Danger-Will-Robinson-red before bumping into cautionary yellow.

Even so my thanks-o-meter has begun to migrate into the sweet green zone again as I enjoy moments of gratitude so richly textured that the sky actually opens and celestial beings pour through—although decidedly not of the religiosity variety. Instead my unnatural immobility focuses me on what registers with both normal and extrasensory perceptions—an indulgence and a categorically unscientific way of viewing the world. It does speak to an integrated brain, however.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today I’m enthralled by the fire in our soapstone stove. Within the temperature registers a balmy 60+ degrees Fahrenheit rather than the double-digit minuses outside. Our basking hounds sigh and groan, adding a joyful dimension. Beside me are stacks of books to read. Bliss.

Travel stickersA handwritten letter from a best friend included these inspiring stickers of maps you might expect to see on old steamer trunks—along with beautifully rendered birds. Then there’s my Wacom tablet, which required a year of scrimping to buy. The tablet works brilliantly with Corel Painter 12—a promise of exhilarating skills to gain and visions to liberate.

Can I even joke about the uninhibited delight I find in MSOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA writing programs? Especially when compared to typewriters with carbon copies and the ancient Commodore 64 on which I wrote my first novel, losing chapters at a time when the system burped. I simply love my artful pens, too—gifts received with each published novel. Another two for CHOSEN BY MIST (Book 3 of MISTBORN CHRONICLESand SOUNDINGS (Water Elemental) will be joining the medley of five this month. What writer can resist a fabulous pen?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally this Tuesday I look forward to getting both cortisone and hyaluronic acid injections into my aching joint. By the end of next year, I may while away the winter months recovering from a more permanent fix. Exuberant dancing, extreme hiking, and other endorphin-crazed activities could fill my life again. On, on!

Another gift? Some communities translate well into electron clouds, especially when you connect with those wild ones who will howl at the moon with you. They can loft you into the stratosphere when other means fail. So thank you to those unconventional, big-brained creatives on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. You expand my horizons from isolated to ecstatic herd member.

Let’s start a conversation. What gets you over the bumps and pegs out your gratitude meter?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27, 2015
The big day is here.

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