Archive for December, 2011

For those of you who read and appreciated my blogs, “Got Rejection Dejection?” Parts 1 & 2, here’s the link to an excellent article written by Susan Perry about this same topic:


Happy writing!

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I’m writing my second novel about Gracie Kinkaid, a woman on a mountain Search and Rescue team. As a result, I’ve often considered the subject of women operating in a man’s world, whether it be at work, at church, at school or in life in general.

This blog is in honor of my mother, Evangeline Lamberts–my role model for women in a man’s world, my role model for fighting for what is right and just in the world.

In the early 1960’s, my mother was president of her local chapter of the League of Women Voters (still an incredibly important organization). Also in the early 1960’s, she was elected to the city commission–the first woman in the history of the City of Grand Rapids. She was also the only woman on the County Board of Supervisors along with 87 men.

Those were the days of the Jackie Kennedy pillbox hats and matching shoes and purses, when women always wore dresses. We dressed up to fly on airplanes and go to church and wore only dresses and skirts to school.

I can remember my mother going off to a meeting wearing a pink suit, a little pink hat with a veil, matching shoes and purse, matching pink earrings and necklace.

She used to complain because at her County Board of Supervisors’ meetings all the men smoked cigars. After every meeting she would have to have her suit dry-cleaned.

When I was older, she told me how the men’s wives often shunned her possibly out of jealousy, possibly because they were afraid she was going to steal them away. I know she enjoyed men’s company, but stealing other women’s husbands couldn’t have been further from her mind. She enjoyed the politics, the excitement, the brainpower.

Mom was unyielding and outspoken which some people found irritating. But that never seemed to bother her. She operated with absolute integrity. She was always up for a battle, fighting for what she thought was right and honorable and just.

One of my favorite stories about Mom who was only 5’3″ tall: One day she was stopped by a passerby on the sidewalk of downtown Grand Rapids.

“Are you Mrs. Lamberts?” the man asked.

“Yes,” she answered with some trepidation.

“But you’re so little!”

Little in stature. Great in spirit.

My recollection is that she wanted to run for mayor. She probably would have won–she was that popular. But rumor had it my father, whom I loved dearly and who was accomplished in his own right, didn’t want to be the mayor’s husband. (Remember, this was the early 1960’s.)

How many other women throughout history have missed living up to their full potential or been held back by the men in their lives or the religious or social standards of the times? Countless numbers. How many still are?

All you women out there who are reading this and need a little nudge (or a boot in the butt), think about it.

Put aside your fear, your worry, your inhibitions  or whatever it is that’s holding you back.

Then go out and change the world!

Do it and make a difference!

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“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

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It’s 7:15 in the morning in Colorado. Eight degrees below zero (F). The morning sun’s first light hits new snow on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. What a marvelous world we live in!


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Last night, not far from where I live, two men died in two separate accidents. Neither were wearing seatbelts. Both were fully or partially ejected from their vehicles.

I. Don’t. Get. It.

What prevents people from wearing seatbelts when they’re right there and it takes less than five seconds to put them on? Pure unadulturated laziness? Defiance? Stupidity? What?

For the record, in one of the cars, a passenger was wearing a seatbelt and sustained NO injuries. That’s zero! None! Nada!

Here’s the equation:

Seatbelt + accident = you live.

No seatbelt + accident = you die.

Of course, I’ve oversimplified things to make my point.

What in the world does wearing a seatbelt have to do with Search and Rescue?

While I served on a mountain search and rescue team, my very first fatality was my very vehicle “over-the-side.” A car driven by a young man still on his learner’s permit was driving a treacherous stretch of curving, steep highway known as the Arctic Circle. He hit a patch of black ice, hit his brakes, and launched the car off the side of the highway and down a steep 300-foot embankment. The two people in the front seats were wearing their seatbelts. They both lived. In fact, the driver climbed all of the way out of the canyon to get help. The two people in the backseat weren’t wearing seat belts. They both died.

I went down with a litter to bring one of the bodies up to the top. The other body was hauled up with the car with a wrecker because it was in such terrible shape.

It was ugly! I’ll never forget the images of the dead or the smell.

Get the impression I feel strongly about this issue? You betcha I do!

If by posting this blog, I can get ONE person to wear his or her seatbelt–especially during this holiday season–and possibly save that person’s life in the future, then it’ll have been worth the five minutes it took me to write it.

Wear it!

For more information about the National Association for Search and Rescue, please visit their website at:



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I received so many comments on the “Got Rejection Dejection?” blog that I started thinking about why we’re singing the rejection blues in the first place. What are some of the reasons our writing gets rejected by agents or publishers or producers?

Here are some ideas for you to consider:

1. Are you realistic enough about the quality of your writing? Giving your essay or play or whatever you’ve written to your mother to read and having her hand it back to you with a gold star doesn’t cut it. You need an objective critique from someone reasonably well-read and knowledgeable about the writing process. Is there someone you trust to give you open and honest feedback? Is there a writing group you can join? If not, think about forming one yourself. One hundred percent honest and open comments may sting, but they’re invaluable in helping you become an even better writer.

This is a good place to note that there are different levels of feedback. Learn to identify them and treat them accordingly.

a) I’ve found most feedback to be well-intentioned, but some feedback is vindictive, mean-spirited or self-serving–a way for that person to boost his or her own vanity or ego, a way for them to feel better about themselves. Ignore these people and their comments and try never to deal with them again. They’re counter-productive and a waste of your time.

b) It’s up to you to decide how valuable the feedback you receive is. Will the ideas and changes being suggested actually improve your story/script, make your work better, or will it just make it different?

2. Are you careful and detailed enough in proofing your submissions before you send them out? Are there grammatical or punctuation errors? Are there typos? Have you spelled the name of the person to whom you’re sending your work correctly? Have you called someone named, Chris, “Mr.” when it should be “Ms.?” Are you submitting an article about mountain biking to a parenting magazine? Is your novel or screenplay formatted correctly? Nowadays you can find writers and submission guidelines for practically every magazine or publishing company or literary agent online.

If you’ve done any of the above, you’re showing the editor or publisher or whomever that you’re not taking your own writing seriously enough to do the research and/or to proof your own work and that you’re not enough of a professional yet for them to take you seriously in return.

3. Have you sent out your work before it’s really finished? I know terrific writers who have gotten impatient and sent out their work before it was really finished. There just aren’t enough publishers, editors and agents out there; the field is too tight for any writer to take this type of chance. Once you/your work has been turned down by someone, he or she may offer to read other things you’ve written, but chances are that’s it. You’re out of the running as far as he or she is concerned.

It’s not worth it!! Be patient. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. I’ve actually lost count, but I rewrote my as yet unpublished novel, “Don’t Get Dead,” a minimum of six times before it reached its current version. That’s a 65,000+ word novel. SIX times.

4. Writing is an ongoing, neverending learning process. You’ll never learn all there is to learn about writing. That means take a class if you can. Read as much as you can about the craft of writing. There are a thousand books and magazines about writing out there. If you can’t afford to buy them, go to the library. Or forego that new sweater or CD and ask for a writing book or writing magazine subscription for Christmas instead. Read as much of your genre as you can–mystery, sci fi, romance. And read as much of any other genre. And the classics. (You heard me.) In other words, do your homework!

Most importantly, keep writing. Like anything else, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

5. Arrogance and a bad attitude will get you nowhere! If and when you receive a rejection, be gracious, be polite, be humble. (While you’re at it, be that way all the time.) You want to be able to submit future work to that person. If you’re rude to him or her, you’ve burned that bridge.

For some of you, much or all of this will be a rehash of information you already know. For others, most or all of it may be new. Whatever it is, I hope it provides that one spark, that one idea that helps you get your work produced! Or represented! Or published!

Happy writing!

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I started this blog as a platform by which to promote my new mystery series about Gracie Kinkaid, a woman on a mountain Search and Rescue (SAR) team. I realized, however, that I’ve written a lot more blogs about Writing than about Search and Rescue and maybe it was about time to do another post about SAR.

But what to write?

I just discovered in a file an old newspaper article I had written during my days on the Bear Valley Search and Rescue team in Big Bear Lake, California. It had a sidebar about what to do when hiking or sightseeing around the valley.


With a few changes and updates, here’s my lazy SAR post for today:

If you’re hiking or exploring in the great outdoors, follow the Rule of P’s:

1. Prevention can save you time, energy and expense.

Bring a map and know how to read it. A GPS by itself is NOT enough. While they’re getting more and more accurate and reliable, GPS’s are notorious for providing misinformation in the form of inaccurate coordinates, addresses and roads.

And your cell phone may not always have reception (planning a future blog on this alone!).

Use your head. Know your limitations. Be responsible. The mountains and desert may be beautiful, but they’re not always user-friendly.

2. Preparedness is key to survival. Always carry adequate water (More on this in another blog coming in the next couple of days: The Rule of 3’s). Wear sunscreen, a hat and clothing appropriate for the climate and terrain. Be prepared for any abrupt weather changes, i.e., temperature drop, rain, snow, etc.

3. File a flight Plan before you leave. Let someone know where you are going and when you should be expected to return. Be specific. It’s much better to call out the troops early than to wait until it’s too late.

4. If you do get lost, don’t panic. Stay calm. A Positive mental attitude is #1 on the list of requirements for survival.

5. Whether you’re lost while hiking or while driving, Park yourself right where you are and STAY THERE! A moving target is harder to locate. And staying where you are conserves energy and body heat.

6. Protect yourself. If you have a vehicle, use it for shelter. If you’re on foot, find or improvise a shelter and stay put.

These suggestions just scratch the surface of wilderness survival, but any one of them might just save your life!

Remember: it can happen to you.

“So That Others May Live”

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