Famous, Infamous, and Notorious Firsts Revisited by Janine M. Donoho

Self portrait

When this website launched, I introduced myself via firsts, and a giddy lift-off it was. Never fear, the navel gazing implicit in attempts at age 7 to write about planets (of which Pluto no longer qualifies), my angst-riddled teen poetry, and my first produced play at 16? Omitted. In fact, I didn’t want to write about writing at all. Instead, consider this my hand extended to those who relish a shared virtual journey.


Cowgirl resolve

So, ahoy, fellow voyagers. Let us cast off from the shores of Mundania and make this fun. There will be pictures…beginning with my 1st cowgirl hat.

Springer spaniel Pete & me

Springer spaniel Pete & me

1st best dog buddy: Springer spaniel Pete, who saved my diaper-clad butt by grabbing onto it as I rolled out the car door on a corner in South San Francisco.

1st best girlfriend: Teresa Giles, with whom I fished for catfish and carp, rode horseback through the Ponderosa pine forests and sagebrush steppes of our youth, and survived the first 10 years of schooling in Washoe Valley, Nevada.

Swing in Washoe Valley - Polly Jo, Robbie, moi, Shell, Teresa

Swing in Washoe Valley – Polly Jo, Robbie, moi, Shell, Teresa

1st amazing son: Chad Elliott, young man extraordinaire, who finds his joy with his equally brilliant and beautiful companion Shannon. He spins and mixes incandescent music, then prepares incomparable meals paired with

My oh-so-cool DJ/Chef/Sommelier son

My oh-so-cool DJ, chef, & sommelier son

the perfect wine.

1st best horse buddy: Jumpin’ Jack Flash, who I miss daily; great-hearted beauty of thoroughbred and quarter horse ancestry.

My very own Jumpin' Jack Flash

My very own Jumpin’ Jack Flash

1st whippet: Amanda Pandemonium, a washed-out show dog at birth, who brightened my day with her liquid gaze and joyous attitude even as she proved lethal to rodents.

Patrick & Mandy

Patrick & Mandy

1st rescued greyhound: Patrick, a magnificent companion gone from this world. This greyt continues to romp through my dreams.

1st girlfriend trip through EuropeBackpacks and public transportation saw us through France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. Gnocci, anyone? Here we are at Der Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

Besties in Munchen at Hof Brauhous

Besties in Munchen at Hofbräuhaus

Malaysian gate 17

Land of extravagant gates

1st trip to Malaysia: I emptied my backpack to bring back gorgeous fabrics and other lush trifles.

1st trip to Morocco: Yes, I went to Morocco and all the boys at home got Moroccan soccer jerseys. For me, mint tea began to equate with stunning rugs.

Rugs and mint tea

Rugs and mint tea

Intrepid Guy, dad & adventurous soul

Intrepid Guy, dad & adventurous soul

1st Class whitewater rafting: We began in Tumwater Canyon on the Wenatchee River—and yes, I went for my first swim. Here’s a river picture with the Captain of my Heart.

1st trip to Greece: History, anyone? Also, dogs & cats galore with all their bits attached—so shocking to Americans, who spay and neuter most domestic critters.

Nafplio - Dog, butcher shop, guy with opposable thumbs--perfect

Nafplio – Dog, butcher shop, guy with opposable thumbs–perfect

Clockwise in the thumbhole to make a wish

Clockwise in the thumb hole to make a wish

1st trip to Turkey: Cities carved from the earth and amazing textiles became my focus along with a millennia of sustainable agriculture. I once considered living there…

1st trip to Spain: Otherwise known as the sangria tour. We wept at the beauty and rhythmic poetry of Andalusian stallions, who danced just for me.

Seville April Fair

Seville April Fair

Hiking along the Portuguese Med

Hiking along the Portuguese Med

1st trip to Portugal: Can tiles be more beautiful? Also, we experienced the best calamari ever eaten.

1st trip to Egypt: Baksheesh demanded and sheesha experienced; Bedouins on the Red Sea. ‘Nough said.

Donkey drover & me

Donkey drover & me

1st pedicure: Yep, and most likely the last. Too much lost life in maintenance, don’t you know?

Now let us raise a glass to all the firsts in life—and perhaps to those finales we’ll have before we’re done. What’s on your list of firsts?

1st Moroccan carpet

1st & perhaps last pedi offset by Moroccan carpet

Zombie Fighters’ Guide to Balancing Process and Purpose by Janine Donoho

Hawk in flightIn the wild blue stratosphere of authorpreneurs, I suppose I’ve fledged. Not ready for the high thermals or gale forces yet, but I gained a few skills. What I’m struggling with? Finding a dynamic balance between purpose, which is to write new stories, and the process of social media success. I’m told this connects me with new readers.

I’m definitely better at the former. Yet as anyone who’s been employed knows,Zombie warrior process can crush your productivity—if you let it. Since this publishing blitz, I’ve virtually met virtual people that I’d love to talk with over an actual cuppa. That doesn’t get the story written, though, now does it?

In keeping with that, I’m relying on the essentials of zombie fighters everywhere:

ZombieGo brilliant with resilience – learn to adapt quickly to new adventures;

ZombieCommit to fit – dodge the body blows with daily strength and endurance workouts;

ZombieOust the doubt – dwell on the successes and treat yourself as you do your BFF;

ZombieCollude with food – eat what fuels you best and ditch the garbage;

ZombiePalm the calm – listen, reflect, meditate, and embrace the joy.

So as I teeter on the precipice with rudimentary flight muscles, I’m also embracing April as my shift from author back to writer. That means taming the blustery media whipping me to and fro. For in today’s world, we writers need to negotiate the elemental mix of air, earth, water, and fire that buffets our social media world. Let’s do so on our own terms.

How do you balance author with writer? Is participating in social media a heavier lift than writing? Or vice versa?Red-tailed hawk in flight

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, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27, 2015
The big day is here.

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