Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas, a time of Cheer and Tears

At my Mother's house, Christmas was always a time of excess.  We did not have a lot of money, but we had enough, because my grandparent's were there when we needed a relief plan.  My Dad worked at factory work most of his life, a sawmill and a wall board plant were both in situations where the pay was barely more than minimum wage and seasonal lay-offs occurred but there were paid vacations and health insurance.  Mom took a lot of cost cutting measures, like rewashing sandwich baggies and growing a garden and canning a lot of our food.  But Christmas she began buying for at the day after Christmas sales.

     Of course things change.  The grandparents who had always bought the extra bag of groceries and paid the occasional bill, were not there anymore.
Then my brother and I married, had kids and
moved far away.  My Dad got esophageal cancer, and went from being an energetic playmate to the grandkids one Christmas- to being in the hospital, a month away from his death the next.  So Christmas became a mixed blessing, a time of family gatherings, but also a time of the glaring absence of the ones who used to gather us together.

My new home was not where the snow began falling in September and was still there in June, like the Wyoming town where I grew up.  Instead, now Christmas meant rain, and sunny days and green grass and Redwoods and even a flaming red maple in my yard.

And it meant long 3,000 mile drives in all kinds of weather, to circulate through the various family members in all the corners of Wyoming and then return home.

Christmas became a season of sharing laughter, and gifts, card games and cookies.  Long car rides and walks through the Christmas lights.  It became a time of remembering the ones we have lost but still love and a time of celebrating New children and friends who have become family, even without the blood tie.

the handmade ornaments have come to mean more than the gold necklaces decorating the 11 million dollar Christmas tree.

It has become a hectic time filled with errands and school programs, spending more than we should, and loving more than we ever thought we could.

And this year, with our baby being an impatient, out the door every chance he gets, High school senior, and his brother being only a year behind him, we see that Christmas will be changing again.

I want to dig in my fingernails and hold on tight,
I want to wrap my arms around them and turn on all the lights

I know it has to change
and I guess that is why
every moment with the ones we love
we celebrate with a sigh

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Promoting My Book

Once  took the step of self publishing, I had to become more than a writer.  I had to leave my quiet desk, and talk about my writing.  Up to that point, I never talked about what I was writing, only about the fact that I did write.  The stories and poems that flowed through my head were private and even though I loved them, I had been afraid to share them.  Now I had a book in my hands, but I wanted to get it into other peoples hands.  At first, I did it in privacy.  I sent e-mails and letters to friends and family.  I posted about it in forums and on facebook.  But I didn't have to see anyone's face as they studied the cover, and read the back blurb.

Then I got a Twitter, "Tweet" that said, something like this, "the sooner you learn to love book promotion, the sooner you will succeed at it."

So I set out to force myself to love this act which felt like peeling my skin off in public and inviting the public to look for imperfections. And guess what?  I found that I do love it, in the small, hometown way I am doing it.  I am not offering competition to C.S. lewis, or J.K. Rowling - but in my own way - I am having a fun time, and selling my Novel in the process.

The Most success that I have had, has been not on Amazon or Createspace, although both have sold some copies for me.  The most success has come face-to-face, letting people ask me questions and hold, "Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog", in their hands as they talk to me.

Arts and Craft fairs, I took my books, a card table and a standing display board with the book cover, a list of places people could find the book, something about NaNoWriMo, a little about me and the Map of Uhrlin from in my novel.  I took up very little space at the fairs so some of them let me in for a reduced rate so they could advertise a book signing as part of their attractions, imagine that!  I sold 7 at the first fair and 6 at the second I went to, and then people knew me and started inviting me to other shows. (Plus other vendors gave me a discount on some great Christmas gifts)

So far, stores in three states have agreed to buy my books for about 70% of what they sell for an Amazon, so that they can sell them for the same price.  i really want to thank the Crescent City, CA Walgreen's for being the first to stock my book, as well as other local author's and the artwork and Photography of locals.

Walgreens - 787 L St,Crescent City, CA 95531

The Thistle books, in Cody, Wyoming has been wonderful in carrying my novel as well, thanks to my Mom for approaching them for me.

1243 Rumsey Ave
CodyWY 82414

Gold Beach Books and Biscuit coffeehouse in Gold Beach, Oregon was  a lovely bookstore and art gallery.  I took a chance and gave a copy to the clerk, and was rewarded with a call just days later asking to buy six copies.

So I am learning to always carry a copy of my book, it slips in my purse and I have learned that it is its own best salesperson.  I can give away a copy, knowing that it will be out there, quietly letting the world know that it exists, and one book given, seems to result in more sales.  I am not getting rich, any profit, I use to order more books, and I love giving copies to libraries and classrooms.

Speaking of giving away copies to classrooms - teachers love books.  No secret there, and if you can convince a school to let you put a display in the staffroom, I have found that leaving it there, with an envelope for checks, means that after 3 days, there have been sales, especially if I time it over payday for the staff.

So, have fun talking up your book, and if you have any promotion ideas, I'd love to hear from you.

Dixie Goode

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Post I put on the self promotion thread at NaNoWriMo

If you love Narnia and Neverland and journeys to fantasy lands, then let me tell you about myself and my Novel :)

Last year, I finished a Novel (Wow! That feels great to say that!!!)

Duffy Barkley: Seek Well

but I used my winner coupon at createspace to make a proof, 252 pages 6x 9 inches of a book that I wrote nearly 7 years ago, but up until now had only read to my family and to Junior High students.

Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog

It seemed so amazing in "Real Book" form, in my eager hands, that I re-did the proof a few times and then got brave enough to publish it back in August. I opted for the pro-plan and now it is available at createspace at

and through bookstores that can order it easily, and on Amazon as a paperback ($12.99) and a kindle ($6.99).

I have had the most fun, selling it at booths at local arts and crafts fairs and convincing stores and libraries to carry it. It helps you be successful to learn to love marketing your book as much as you love writing it!

Remember being with a group of friends where you felt safer and more included than you had ever felt at home, friends you had always wanted, who made you look around with a lump in your throat, wishing you could stop time? They were a lot like the groups in all the popular stories. They were the reason people love MASH, Harry Potter, Narnia, Friends, The Lord of the Rings etc. They were a group of imperfect, overwhelmed and harassed people who became winners because they didn't have to face the overwhelming odds, alone. Even in the face of dark wizards, popular girls, bad hair days or War, they had each other's back. When one of them had a weakness, another had a strength to balance it out. When one was a jerk, someone else saved the day, and forgave them eventually.
Now times are turning more difficult again. The world needs that kind of support. We need a source of encouragement so that we can find a way to be that kind of support when we are needed. As times are dark, people look for a reason to laugh, love and hope again.
Duffy Barkley is not a dog, a middle grade fantasy, gives you those friends, that escape, that voice of hope in the darkness. Duffy is alone, handicapped, desperate. He is picked-on, lost, & yet, never defeated. In the most alien of places he finds friends. In the most dire of emergencies he finds courage. In the most evil of villains he finds compassion and a solution. In giving away what he most needs, he gains everything.
Duffy, a 9 year old boy with cerebral palsy, survives tragedy in the form of a school shooting in which his younger sister is seriously injured. Falling into a new world, he regains his health but finds himself the focus of historic prophecy. While trying to deny his place in their prophecies he discovers his own abilities & changes his life & that of others in both worlds. He enjoys being physically strong but must give it up to save the villain, and find his way back to save his sister, Izzy.

Also, My name is Dixie D. M. Goode and my blogs are at,

So thanks for making it all the way to the end. Congratulations on being a NaNo Writer yourself.

echopandora (on NaNo) AKA Dixie Goode
Author, "Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog"

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

I am one of thousands of writers who make the commitment to write a novel, or at least 50,000 words of one, in the 30 days of November.  i love the concept of doing a high speed, quick and dirty, rough draft, instead of walking around for years telling myself that I am a writer, and I have great ideas for novels, and I WILL write that book starting tomorrow, um, Next Week, er...New year's Day.
 I always knew I was meant to write, I started telling myself stories before I even knew what words were.  I wrote poems and outlined stories on every scrap of paper that came my way and yet, I cheated myself by letting life get in the way.  I only wrote when I had a deadline, an assignment to fill, or when I was writing long Holiday letters to copy and send out en-masse.
 Then I began telling my stories to my kids, until there was a young handicapped boy named Duffy Barkley, already living and breathing in the air with me.  And then I heard about two extremely helpful on-line sites, one being NaNoWriMo, and  they changed my life from, "Someday" to "Do it Now!",was mainly a site where I was encouraged to give up perfection and just bless my home with 15 minutes at a time.  What can you do in 15 minutes a day?  Create a warm, welcoming home out of Chaos, and write a novel in your spare time. Learn to Finally Love Yourself (FLY) as you do it.  And in bursts of inspiration and the willingness to just jump in where I was, my first dream of a book became a real thing that can be found on-line and in stores and held and hated or loved and has begun a life without me.
 But now, for the third time, I have made this commitment and it is November again, and I went from the surge of enthusiasm, to the, "This is terrible, I QUIT" to the "I can't stop eating, breathing and Dreaming this story," stage.

Halfway through the month, halfway through the 50,000 words, almost all the way out of my mind.  Committed?  Me?  Probably should be.
 So I had to take a break, remember that the world where my husband and children live, is not a fictional one.  I hugged my family, grabbed my camera and went outside, to breath the salty Fall air of the redwood coast and yet
 every step of the way, I felt them following me, reminding me that they can't move until I free them, that they can't find their way home until I do.  Every fictional word I write is a true part of me.  The world they inhabit, no less a part of who I am than the world I live in.
So I go back to my keyboard, back to Guatemala and the Oregon trail and mythical Uhrlin, but I sit down, fortified by chocolate, so the taste and smell can call me home from NaNoWriMo land when the story burns too real and the call of my own life is a faint memory.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blooming on Purpose

Sometimes, if you actually take the time to look at what you are doing, and try to see the message that those behavior patters are trying to tell you, it can be more significant than it first appears. Suddenly I found a message that I have been sending to myself in the thousands of photographs on my computer's iPhoto. I have taken pictures, a lot, probably every day for 39 years, which is how long ago my grandfather gave me my first Kodak. I quickly learned that having to pay for film meant I had to be extremely picky on which shots I took, and I would limit myself to pictures of friends and family, with other things in the background.

The first digital camera to find its way into my hand, changed all that. Suddenly, everything that caught my eye, also came in front of my camera lens. One thing led to another, and I had uploaded an unmanageable mass of pictures, and needed to organize them into some type of grouping. That is when it became obvious that I had taken a huge amount of photographs of blooms. I would have said I liked flowers, a bit, but I didn't have a flower garden, or buy flowers for my house, or browse through bulb catalogues.
So I didn't realize how often I stopped, and admired a bloom, and smiled at its vibrance, and preserved that beauty in my camera and my heart. But the truth was there to see, by far the largest album I could create was the one I called "blooming."

I still didn't ask myself why those fragile, temporary blossoms held my attention. But I uploaded that album to my screen saver and began to find myself mesmerized by the slide-show as I sat down to chat in a forum or write on my novel. There was something about the brave, perkiness with which those little beauties demanded the attention, of what could be a dangerous world.
While I was working on my novel, Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog, I was having to relive times when I had been abused and bullied and had learned that the safest thing to be, was invisible. I was realizing that the reason I was such a shy, observer and recorder, was a habit learned in grade school, when being noticed often meant being attacked. I had learned to hide with my nose in a book, and as an adult, I still took videos of those who sang and danced, I was behind the camera, writing in the journal, the family historian.

Then came the dreadful realization that the person who was comfortable, alone at the writing desk, would have to stand on the stage to promote the book. The writer and the marketer are two very different personality types, but in this modern publishing world, to be successful, the writer must become the promoter.
The description that I wrote of my protagonist in the introduction to my novel was an apt description, not just of Duffy but of many victims of schoolyard bullies. Myself, included.
" Then he met Skull, and for the first time, but not the last -

Duffy Barkley was called a “Dog.”

Most of us know a Duffy at one time in our lives. Some of us

have even been one at some point or another. If we were lucky we

learned to dare to expand beyond our skin, bit by bit like starting

a warm summer day with only our big toe in the cool water.

Immersing ourselves, inch by shivery inch in a world where some

people really can love us for who we are.

Duffy and the others like him learn to be invisible as a survival

skill. Sometimes it works. Sometimes they just turn down the

volume on themselves in order to go unnoticed. They tone

everything down and pull back into the smallest bubble, deep

inside their own skin. They then get so good at being unnoticed

that sometimes there is no longer any personality there to hide.

For awhile it looked like this would happen to Duffy, then for

awhile after that, he wished that it had.

Nine year old Duffy has Cerebral Palsy, which is often called

"C.P." C.P. began for Duffy when he was born too early and for

awhile didn't get enough oxygen. So, unlike those people who

develop C.P. later in life when their breathing has been cut off due

to an accident or an illness, Duffy has always had to accept that

who he is, is a person who can't keep up with his peers in some of

the most obvious ways. At nine he uses foot and ankle braces

which are a light, plastic support which straps onto his feet

over his socks but inside his shoes. Duffy balances himself on

elbow crutches with a plastic sleeve which he reaches through and

then he grasps a rubber handle grip similar to the ones on his

sister's bike.

People usually see the crutches before they notice Duffy's face

for the first time. Unfortunately, once he started kindergarten he

became good at making sure they often didn't notice his face at

all. Even his silence helped them avoid his eyes. When they didn't

include him in the easy chatter of the classroom, he wouldn't have

admitted that he excluded himself, but each time he felt even

smaller and less willing to reach out the next time he met


School was difficult for Duffy because he was teased by

bullies and called "Duffy Bark Bark." The crueler kids liked to

taunt Duffy by saying that "He walks on four legs like a dog but

couldn't lift one to pee without falling down." Duffy truly

believed that he had to suffer in silence. He thought that seeking

help would make everything worse. So he stood there as he was

teased, staring at his shoes and hoping that they would become

bored and leave him alone. He thought that the adults in his life

wouldn't understand or even if they did, that they wouldn't be able

to help. If he told, he thought he'd make his enemies hate him

even more, so he never told, not in kindergarten and not in fourth


Duffy would have hated school except he truly loved and still

loves learning, especially anything creative. He loves to draw and

paint so he was happy during art class because he could work all

alone in a quiet corner. He liked to sing in the school choir

because he didn't have to audition, and he didn't sing loud or try

for a solo so he was lost in the crowd and could relax. Sometimes

art and music were the only things that made him heave his

weakened body out of bed and pick up his crutches for another

day. Sometimes his teacher father would talk about the fact that

music and art might have to be cut because there wasn't enough

money. When he heard talk like that he held his breath and felt

like someone was discussing cutting out his heart.

He hated the classes where people actually looked at him, like

the times when he had to give a speech or write on the board. He

didn't like the in between times and above all he dreaded lunch.

Being alone at lunch was a quiet agony but better than the

demeaning little digs he endured every time the wrong kids

remembered his existence. Other kids were assigned to help him

carry his lunch tray to the table but they usually just set it down

and hurried away-He mumbled "thanks" but never met their

eyes and never ever invited anyone to sit down with him.

Duffy mainly got by, by carrying a book with him at all times

so he could escape a little and so he could have something to look

at to keep himself from accidentally meeting someone's eyes. Too

often they had only snarled, "What are you staring at, ya creep?"

Duffy didn't trust anyone who appeared to be offering

friendship because too many times he had been approached with

seeming kindness only to have himself lured into a trap so the

others could laugh at him. Once in first grade he had been happy

to be asked to sit at a table group by the five other kids

who sat there. They smiled and laughed in friendly ways and

included him in the history project as their class designed a desert

diorama. Duffy painted a background in the lid of a pizza box. He

painted a sunset, towering saguaros and silhouetted mesas. Other

kids filled in sand and small plastic snakes and hares. Their table

group won lunch with the teacher. The day they came in for pizza

the other five turned their backs each time he approached. Then

after lunch he came to the table and a pretty girl with ribbons in

her long hair hissed. "Go away. Don't you know we just needed

you because you paint the best." and they all laughed as he stood

there, blinking at his brace encased feet.

The only child Duffy had allowed close to him, who had never

betrayed his trust, was Isabel, his sister. Izzy was a laughing,

dancing Independence Day rocket who lit up Duffy's life with joy

and energy. She loved her big brother unconditionally and to his

great puzzlement, even at school she continued to brag that he

was her brother. She raced across the playground to hug him,

often nearly knocking him off his feet, but then ran on to play

with the many laughing first grade girls who always

surrounded her.

If things had kept going the way that they were Duffy would

have made it to high school graduation in a bubble of his own

creation. Inside the walls of that bubble he would have shrunk a

little every day. He would have gone on believing that because he

was different he was also somehow less than the other, more

graceful, "normal" kids who seemed to have no problems in

knowing what to say and when to laugh. Maybe Izzy could have

kept enough joy in his life that he wouldn't have given up.

Maybe? Yet even in the everyday world of school and home,

things have a way of changing. Suddenly a stagnant situation can

no longer be taken for granted.

One day Duffy was noticed and rejected. His bubble shattered.

It seemed his world was breaking up beneath his wobbly feet. For

awhile he just wanted to fade away. He might have done so

except for the love he felt for Izzy. His small sister had always

been strong and vibrant and filled with the joy of life. Now she

was quiet and pale and near death. For Izzy's sake, he wanted to

help but then his parents sent him away. They said that he couldn't

help except by agreeing to leave them alone so that they could

concentrate on what needed to be done.

He either had to give up or become stronger. If he didn't die

then he had to choose to be very visible. In fact, Duffy, silent no

more, would have to sing that solo. "

And when I began to realize that I might not have to literally sing, I would definetly have to stop being invisible, is when I heard the message that the flowers had for me.

Yes, there will be people who want to cut you as soo as they notice you. Yes, if you leave the shelter of your tightly closed "bud" you will be faced with wind and frost and hail. Even, Yes, your glory may be very brief, and you will die.


Yes! You will be beautiful, you will be noticed, and the memory of your unique fragrance will linger in the air.

And when all is said and done, if you have dared to BLOOM - There will be seeds remaining once you have faded away

And you will never know how far those seeds will travel, or where they will find fertile ground
but you will know, that you were brave enough to give them a chance to bloom in their own turn.

So I have begun. I published my novel. I talked it up on-line, I carried a copy with me to show friends, and then i went to marketers and to art fairs and I began to share my own gift with the world. So far, no-one has trampled me, or tried to cut me down. And I am Blooming.

So, This message was for me, but if it found a place to take root in your heart as well, BLOOM.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Browsing our Guatemala album

Sometimes, the most important times of your life remain so crisp, and detailed and immediate in your mind; that is can be a real shock to realize that it has been years since you were there, that you have grown and moved on, no matter how the scents and flavors still fill your senses.In June, of 2002 my mother, my brother and my two sons and I travelled to Guatemala. It was a quick, vivid trip filled with delicious tropical fruits, laughing children, hot, sweaty work and rowdy games of blind man's bluff. It feels like it just happened. But in eight years my children have become men, my Mother has stopped traveling, and I have published a novel, "Duffy Barkley is not a Dog." The first book hints at my fascination with this area of Central America but now I am beginning to write a sequel and the Guatemalan character becomes more important.

And so I have been pulling out the dusty photo album and reminding myself of the smaller details. The fresh roasting coffee smell, the vivid fuschia flesh of dragonfruit the mystery of a watery road through bullrushes. I have looked at the intricate and original hand-woven clan clothing that the Mayan wore, and remembered the recent and bloody battles between the Spanish and Mayan in the very peaceful town where we played with laughing children.
I remembered how my sons were giants compared to children older, but less well nourished than they were, and yet how even with no words in common, they shared the rules and structure of each other's games. "Duck, Duck, Goose" "cat and Mouse" soccer, basketball.

And after we learned a few terms, the older people treated my children with respect and interest. Their delight in finding an American child who would stop, and try to say, "hello" in Tsuitajil was obvious and endearing.

My brother's handicap has never been a barrier. People respond to his smile quickly, and in this foreign language culture, most of our communication was done just as his always is. With smiles.

It felt at times like we were there forever, and at times like a part of us has never left.

We are more consumer oriented when we are at home. We all want the newer, therefor better products. But we were closer to each other without those extra things entertaining us. Every day, we still reach out and connect, even now that my boys are in high school, but in a large part, it started in a place where we only had ourselves and an old plastic ball and a lot of strangers staring to see what we would do next.

When we left, we took some of the realization that we have too much, with us. It hasn't made us drop the internet connection, or give away all our extras, but it has helped us remember not to allow the piles of stuff to become a barrier, and to see the people, and this beautiful world, as more important.