Publishing Notes: Hiring an Agent

August 10th

Basket Baby signing

When I signed my first publishing contract with Asymmetrical last year, I was overjoyed that it included not only the contract for “Basket Baby,” but for first rights to my next three books, too. I had a unicorn in sight: a small press interested in a multi-book contract. It was time to write.

“Counting Coup” came together within a year, including considerable research and interviewing of individuals who attended Indian schools. The story, in parts, has been workshopped in a writing group, and heavily edited by my writing partner — Bert. It is still in the beta phase, with several copies out for final comments. I hope these will be minor and grammatical, not thematic. The pace of writing this story, by comparison to the first two, felt nothing short of magical. I was in the writing zone, and knowing I had a publisher to hand it off too made it that much more fun.

The next step in this career is to hire a literary agent. As a former member of the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, I have a handful of friends who are serious authors. We work on our love for telling stories when our day jobs allow. Add family obligations to this schedule, and the time for the business of selling books quickly falls away. Those with agents fare better. Their stories have marketing dollars behind them.

When writing query letters, you have to be your best cheerleader, which is uncomfortable. Like dating or interviewing, you want to provide just enough information to bring interest, but not too much. With my shoulders back, I am trying to sell myself to agents in New York and Los Angeles with a sincerity about my love of public health and writing.

Asymmetrical is in part run by “The Minimalists,” who you may know from their recent Netflix special, or their popular books and blog. It has been neat to be associated with Josh and Ryan in this small way. Sadly, the press will be closing later this year. The future of my next three books, including “Counting Coup,” is now uncertain.

As my old marathon coach and dear friend JT would say, “Time to put your head down.” In other words, don’t give up. Look at your feet, think of how far you’ve already come, and keep pushing.

Thanks for your continued support and reviews! Please pass your copy off to someone to read. Every reader helps spread the story.



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The Foz

August 1st


This furry cuddle monkey came to stay with us last week for a few days. He is one of the sweetest pups. He is just the right size to hold and loved resting in my arms or on my chest when he was trying to get back to sleep.

The other dogs were not as amused.


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Heirloom Hacienda
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Come on in!

July 30th

Nelson Mandela Fellowship dinner

This weekend, we hosted a handful of women from Africa for dinner. They are here studying with the Nelson Mandela fellowship at ASU for the summer. Hawanatu is a doctor from Sierra Leone. Sia is an accountant, also from Sierra Leone. Theresa works in human rights in Ghana. Tsige is a civil engineer from Ethiopia. They were learning as much about each other, and the 30-plus others in their group, as they were about America.

Nelson Mandela Scholar Dinners

I am thankful to have sat with them and listened as they talked about their country’s university systems, healthcare and what they expect as they return. I wish the program worked in reverse and I could go for six weeks to learn from them!


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Africa, Arizona
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Disappearing 9

July 29th


A dear friend of mine is organizing a summer quilt block challenge; she and others will put together the “disappearing 9 patch” squares into quilts and they will be sold for charity.

I took one look at this square and said it was outside of my ability. And frankly, the square above is far from perfect, but I am really happy I made myself try to do it. This tutorial is excellent.

Here is where my quilting is lacking: precision. I have such a hard time getting my pieces exactly the same and sewn with exactly the same seam allowance. Coincidentally, do you know what makes a beautifully crafted quilt? Precision. I’m not giving up. Later this Fall, Blair will be hosting a series of online quilting classes for folks like me — those who want to improve their skills but cannot sign up for one more in-person, drive-across-town commitment. Here is to hoping it helps strengthen my skills.

(I write this while cuddled under a new quilt my mom just sent this week. It is stunning and so far outside of my skill set. WHY can’t these sorts of skills be genetic?)


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Who doesn’t need a wool hood during the summer?

July 28th

Cowl hood for Finny


When I recently visited Finny, she said she’d like to have a hood she could wear under sweatshirts when it was rainy or cold. We looked for a pattern and a color of yarn she liked. And within a couple days, this simple project was done.

Cowl hood for Finny

While this makes no sense for a Phoenician, I am considering knitting a few more of these for family and friends in Colorado. I can see how this would be super cute under a pea coat, or pulled down like a chunky cowl.

What’s on your needles?



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Master of Take Out

July 5th

Inspired by Master of None, I borrowed a friend’s Kitchenaid pasta maker attachment the other day with the high hopes of making J ravioli. Several hours later, we ordered takeout.

The process:

Homemade pasta -- ravioli flop

Homemade pasta -- ravioli flop

Homemade pasta -- ravioli flop

Homemade pasta -- ravioli flop

Homemade pasta -- ravioli flop

Homemade pasta -- ravioli flop


The sauce was great. My trick is to use ground beef and ground pork, and to cook it all day with diced vegetables and a large handful of basil from the garden.

The pasta was under cooked and gross. The ravioli weren’t pinched tightly enough, so a lot of the filling escaped, and I didn’t roll the dough thin enough. Sadly, I am not the master of homemade pasta.




Posted in
Domestic Art, Heirloom Hacienda, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
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Happy 4th!

July 4th

Happy Fourth of July from our zoo to yours!

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!



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Celebrate!, Nelson
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One Way Tee

July 3rd


One way tee

One way tee

When I saw the One Way tee on the cover of Interweave Knits, I knew I wanted to try it. I’d never knit lace before, and this is the perfect blouse to wear over a long-sleeve t-shirt in the depths of a Phoenician winter.

Logically, I finished this project in June. It took about a month to knit in Madeline Tosh Shire.


  1. Madeline Tosh yarn is gorgeous, but doesn’t come in dye lots. The next time I use this yarn, I’ll buy it all at once to ensure the color scheme is close.
  2. Saddle shoulders with lace are a pain. So is knitting a sweater in pieces. I prefer knitting bottom to top, in the round. If I made this, or one like this, in the future, I’ll do the math to knit the body in one piece.
  3. Lace takes a lot of precision. This is not a project I could do while watching Netflix.


Next up: Big Cozy knit scarf

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Dear World, It’s Me: Delinquent Blogger

June 12th

Mexico City trip

I’m going to avoid the trite apologies to the digital heavens about not checking in. I haven’t written anything here for a long time. My browser, for the first time in 10 years, didn’t remember how to get here.

So, that’s weird.



Hi, y’all!


I’ve been married for nearly 8 months. I could write books on those 8 months. They are mostly this dreamy state of happiness where boxes continue to arrive from Macy’s, and dinners are made with care, and I receive love letters, and I’m living in a beautiful home. That beautiful home on the edge of the desert also happens to be the dustiest place I’ve ever lived. It is gorgeous and clean for exactly one hot minute. (Literally hot. 118 later this week.) And, there is the whole thing about living with another being you just pledged the rest of your days to.

I waxed and waned here for years about how desperately I wanted to be married. I wanted a husband! I mean, I quit my job, sold my stuff, and moved to New Jersey for two months once upon a time because I was romantic. Once married, I could add “wifey” to my bio and laugh and be smug with the others who I envisioned had a life royale.

Well, look. Come to find out, life is a bit more nuanced. I am wary of how many people ask me in a whisper, leaning in with an eyebrow raised, “So… how is married life?”

How is married life?

Married life is weird. And wonderful. And a switch in perspective. I’m doing this forever. I’ve never done anything forever.

I wonder when people ask this leading question if they are actually asking, “Are you having great sex?” Or, more likely, if they are looking for immediate cracks in the levee. Are you sad you’ve decided to jump into this age old cultural and religious tradition where the property of your father is legally transferred to your future husband?

(The name change process is an entirely different post. There wasn’t a single step that was simple, and I’ve yet to relinquish my passport for the swap.)

So, how is married life?

It’s fun. I love coming home to my husband, who’s  interested to hear how my day was, while dogs nip at my feet and beg for my attention. I love this family. I love our home.

And, married life is tricky. We are two adults with established routines, habits, bed times, bank accounts, and traditions. Thrown together, there is a fair amount of adjusting for everyone to make it feel good, fair, and loving.

And for now, today, it feels better than good.



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Let’s Knit Together, Shall We?

March 13th


Seattle SweaterMy friend Rachele recently completed watching Gilmore Girls and would occasionally text me, “OMG. Paris is the best!” or “OMG, I love Emily!” Or “Why do Lorelai and Rory consistently make the worst decisions possible?” #maxmedina #thedeanrendevous


Just, yes.

Seattle Sweater

And then came the text, “Um, Paris’ scarf is amazing and I totally want to knit it!”

Paris and Rory’s scarves are amazing. They are also double knit and way too much scarf for Phoenix at anytime of year, much less so this week when we are going to be in the 90s. I told Rachele I’d read something online about a GG scarf knit-a-long, with yarn kits and the patterns, and we could host our own. And then I took a closer look at the pattern and thought, “I’m never going to be able to wear that. It is going to take me a year to knit. And it is not going to be inexpensive. Hey! I know, maybe I should knit that Purl Soho dovetail scarf I’ve wanted to make forever instead.”

Seattle Sweater

And that, friends, is how we came upon the Spring Knit-a-long (SKAL). Here are the rules:

  1. The first rule of the SKAL is you do not talk about the SKAL. (Just kidding. Tell anyone you want, especially those who love to knit.)
  2. Pick a scarf you want to knit.
  3. Knit it.
  4. Send me a photo of your project in the works, or completed, and ideally: you wearing the end result!

There is no timeline, no pattern and no need to stress. This is an open invitation to knit something pretty for your neck and show it off. That’s it. I think Rachele may just bite the bullet, learn to double knit, and make the Paris scarf — which she could rock in Colorado.

I bought a soft merino yarn in a buttery yellow and another skein in a royal purple. I hope to get started this weekend. I’ll share my progress here, and on Instagram.

Knit on, friends!


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