Just under three weeks ago, I set off on a voyage into the unknown: my first blog book tour. After looking at other author’s blog book tours, I settled on nearly a dozen blogs to visit, each “speaking to” an audience I might not ordinarily reach, but one I thought might be receptive to Walking Nature Home. (Thank you Dani Greer, Donna Druchunas, and Deb Robson for invaluable advice, and Susan Albert for a fantastic model!) I imagined the blog tour as a compliment to my scattering of book release events at home and on the road, and really had no idea what to expect.
What I’ve found in the blogosphere is an incredibly warm welcome, inspiration and insight into my work and my life, and readers I would never otherwise have met. Thanks to you all, especially to the generous bloggers who hosted me. Each took on a different aspect of Walking Nature Home, and each illuminated the book and its message in a new way. What a gift!
Here’s the tour in summary, with links directly to each post:
3/23: I start here with a look at the Walking Nature Home and its story of hope and redemption, turning a life-shattering diagnosis into a journey of listening and love.
3/25: Next stop, the blog of Women Writing the West, an organization of women whose words illuminate the West, past, present, and future, on book promotion and especially blog tours.
3/27: On to Janet Riehl’s wonderful Riehllife e-newsmagazine of village wisdom from a variety of viewpoints, cultures, and at least two continents, with a post on the extended village that inspired and produced this book I have worked on for the better part of three decades.
3/29: Deb Robson of the Independent Stitch on fiber arts, life, and publishing writes an inspiring piece on what she found in Walking Nature Home, complete with snippets that made me want to read the book again!
3/31: Sharman Apt Russell and friends’ Love of Place blog gives me an opportunity to muse about homesickness and what it has to teach us.
4/2 Knitting wizard and author Donna Druchunas, who has a memoir in progress herself, interviews me on her Sheep to Shawl blog. Her wide-ranging questions touch on some of the trickiest things about memoir: how personal it must be to succeed, how the book changes over the writing, how to structure the story, and how long it can take to get the story right.
4/4 At Brush and Baren, I turn the tables on artist and nature journal publisher Sherrie York, and interview her about what it was like to illustrate Walking Nature Home. Her answers remind me of what a great sense of humor she has, and why her art speaks to such a wide audience.
4/6 Artist, writer, gardener, canoe paddler, runner, and college professor Susan Tomlinson turns her perceptive eye on why great challenges can also bring great rewards in her post about Walking Nature Home on The Bicycle Garden.
4/7 My visit to Women’s Memoirs with memoir authors and coaches Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett, includes a writing prompt called “picking up the pieces” on how to write about an event that reshaped your life. You can also listen as Matilda and Kendra interview me in the first of their new series of Author Conversations (which they managed to pull off live despite an internet outage in California that knocked out Matilda’s internet access just hours before the scheduled interview!).
4/8 Sculptor Susan Gallacher-Turner focuses on what Walking Nature Home taught her about the healing aspects of finding your voice and doing what you love in her very personal and moving essay.
4/10 My visit to Telling HerStories, the group blog of Story Circle Network allows me to consider how writing this very personal memoir changed my life at a variety of levels, from the obvious on of getting hooked on writing when I first began the story decades ago, to the subtler shift in the balance of my life from private to more public.
4/12 At that brings us back here to Walking Nature Home to end what has been an interesting, engaging, and illuminating blog book tour. Thanks to all of my hosts and to you all who have read and commented on these pieces. You’ve enriched my understand of my own work!
Endings are always bittersweet, and this one particularly so, because this has been such a rewarding tour. It also reminded me of all of the gifts that writing Walking Nature Home has brought me, including these:
Getting to know and work with an incredibly perceptive, bright, and savvy publisher, who also has a killer sense of humor, Theresa May, editor-in-chief of University of Texas Press.
As I looked for a publisher for my memoir, I was lucky to have encouragement and advice from big-name agents and some big-time publishers. But I got nowhere until I realized that I wasn’t looking for a big name, a big advance, or big prestige. What I wanted for this book of my heart was someone who loved the story so much that they would go out of their way to turn it into a beautiful book, and would have enough faith in it that they would understand that it might need to sell the slow and steady way, hand to hand and heart to heart. Within weeks of having that realization, I spoke at a conference put
on by Story Circle Network to celebrate the publication of a beautiful anthology of womens’ voices on the Southwest, What Wildness Is This. And met Theresa. Here’s how Theresa tells the story:
The first time I heard Susan speak, she talked about the billions of lives all around us and beneath our feet, and of her own connection to the natural world in ways both professional and personal. Her words made such an impression on me that I had the nerve to approach her after the presentation to say that if she were ever looking for a home for one of her books, I hoped she’d keep the University of Texas Press in mind. She mentioned that she was, in fact, working on a memoir that she hadn’t placed yet. I hardly dared to hope that we’d be lucky enough to get to work with her, but she and I kept emailing and talking after the conference, and this beautiful book is the result. I suppose the stars were aligned.
Yes, they were, and I’m lucky to have found Theresa and University of Texas Press. The entire staff there has been an pleasure to work with, so here’s a shout-out to all of you, especially those I’ve worked with most closely, including Theresa, Lynne, Nancy, Ellen, and Colleen. Thank you for bringing Walking Nature Home to life!
Another gift that came as a beautiful surprise, like the first mountain bluebird returning in spring, its plumage blue as a chip of sky, was a letter from one of my writing heroes, Barry Lopez. I sent a copy of Walking Nature Home to Barry to say thinks for the inspiration of his writing and his encouragement along the way, and after he read the book, he wrote a letter so beautiful that it still takes my breath away. Among other things, he said this:
It’s a lovely, brave, inspiring book…. Sometimes I think the highest praise we can give to a book is to say that it helped. This one does that.
Wow! I’m still floating.
Last, but not at all least, this book and the blog tour have brought me new friends. One of them, fiber artist Cathy of Catena Expressions was so touched when she read Walking Nature Home that she and her partner drove to Fort Collins to hear me speak the night before the big blizzard that shut down most of northern Colorado. They waited patiently after my talk to show me the most gorgeous ceremonial rattle made by a friend of Cathy’s and to bring me a gift, a moebius cloud knitted in a gorgeous porcupine stitch pattern with beads attached along the edges. (The detail photo shows a lovely ruby-red heart bead, one of my favorites.) For all of you fiber-folk, note that the yarn is her friend Grayce Aggen’s plain and fancy wool, spun at the Taos Mill from Grayce’s own sheep. Not only is that moebius cloud a beautiful work of art and heart, it really came in handy on our five-hour drive from Fort Collins to Denver in the blizzard the next day….
Thank you, readers, blog hosts, University of Texas Press, and the entire community that has helped me birth this book. Now we’ve just got to keep moving it from hand to hand and heart to heart. So if you’ve read Walking Nature Home and its story has touched you, give it a hand: write review on Amazon or for your local bookseller, mention it on Goodreads or other book-lovers’ web sites, tell your friends, buy a copy for someone you love…. And let me know what you think about the book. Blessings to you all on this day–Easter, spring, a time to begin anew!