"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The time has come...

The walrus said, to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and ceiling wax, of - wait, no, that's not it.

The time has come to release Snoopy's memoir. You can get it on Amazon in Kindle, and in paperback on Createspace, Amazon, and (I hope within the week) Barnes & Noble or your favorite indy bookstore.

I am beyond excited about this book and I hope you try it out. I will be launching the book at the Lights, Camera, Action Horse Show in Burbank, California this weekend, and will post pictures of the event. Here's what all of the AQHA Trail Circuit Champions will win:

A signed copy of the book, some horse cookies, and a great tote from Professional's Choice. Cool, yes?

Next weekend I'll be at the Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento, where I hope to be meeting more friends and readers.

After that, there will be more games and giveaways, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's here but not here.

I've really got a gazillion things on the to-do list today, including riding, teaching, shopping, and writing, but I wanted to quickly let you know that Snoopy's book is officially launching this Thursday.

Here's a secret, though: unofficially, it's already available.

That's right. In order to ensure that people could get it on Thursday, I opened the distribution channels and downloaded the files. Barnes & Noble and Indiebound haven't put it up yet, but the Kindle and paperback versions are live on Amazon. Go ahead and get it early. I won't complain.

I'll also be running some contests soon for some cool prizes, so stay tuned.


Check out Michele Scott's new book, Silent Harmony. It's YA, it's about horses and a girl and paranormal and intrigue and I can't wait to read it. Get it here.

Sorry, gotta run now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I remember when the TV series Mork and Mindy aired in 1978. It was a sweet, gentle comedy about an egg-centric alien, played by Robin Williams, who comes to Earth.

I also remember when Robin Williams had his first large-venue comedy concert during the TV show's run.

If you weren't around, or conscious, during this period, let me give you a hint. Many, many people went to see Robin Williams expecting Mork from Ork. Many of those people brought their children.  All of those people were surprised... none of it happily.

This is what happens when you are not clear about your brand.

My buddy, Michele Scott knows her audience and has branded herself accordingly. Readers who like fun, romantic mysteries, or young adult stories, can read Michele Scott. (By the way, Silent Harmony is being released May 28. Get it!)

Readers who like dark thrillers, read A.K. Alexander.

All of her books have surprises in them, but none of them should be that a reader thought they were getting a light-hearted mystery and they got a psycho-sexual thriller instead.

This is what happens when you communicate your brand correctly.

I began life writing humor essays under my own name. Then I wrote a mystery and thought briefly about a pseudonym, but I was talked out of it. According to my publisher, if I published under another name, any payments would be made out to THAT name, which meant I'd have to jump through a bunch of legal hoops to create an alias.

My shin splints don't like it when I jump.

Now after eight years as a humor columnist, three mysteries and two books of my columns, I'm releasing something completely different with Snoopy's memoir. It has been hell trying to figure out the genre, but it's not mystery and it's not strictly humor.

Although it's "By Snoopy, as told to Gayle Carline," I did consider the pseudonym route again. (I have learned that the hoops I have to jump through are not as high as they used to be.)

I'm nervous about my brand. What if I'm diluting it?

After much thought, I made the decision to stick with who I am. Although the genres are different, I believe my style of writing - the easy, conversational, hopeful stories that come out on the page - remain the same no matter what name I assign to the cover.

Am I making the right choice? There's no way to go back and do it over to see if it works better if I call myself Abby Normal. All I can do is study my options, make my pro/con lists, and try to choose wisely.

Sorry, I just had to include this one.

How important is an author's brand to you?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

And many happy returns

It's that time of year again. Dale and I are celebrating another anniversary. Last year I did a whole giveaway, which I'm not going to do this year, although I am planning some fun things for the future. In particular, I'm looking forward to releasing Snoopy's memoir.

Dale and I are scampering off to Cambria for a fun weekend of wine tasting, touring Hearst castle, and enjoying the views. (If you're planning to rob us while we're away, let me just say that we have some pretty vigilant neighbors, an attack cat on the premises, and Sonny Boy will be stopping in unannounced. Oh, yeah, plus we don't have anything worth stealing.)

We've been married for 21 years, and I can honestly count them all as happy. Yes, sometimes we were both too buried in the mundane things of life to pay attention to things like romance. Sometimes we're still that way. But underneath it all, there was a feeling of peace and contentment, and the idea that marriage wasn't just a word, it was a solid thing that exists along with our individual selves. It needs what we all need: attention, respect, trust, love.

Twenty-one years ago, I walked down the aisle, feeling both joyful and comfortable. I still feel that way.

Now... let's celebrate!

I will do ONE fun thing for YOU this weekend. The first person who can identify where our wedding was held can have a free book. Any of them, any format you like. (Hint: we live in southern California.)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Mom clears things up

Mother's Day is nearly over. Facebook has been awash in sentiments today, all lauding the wonderful mothers who have dug in deep, worked hard, and loved endlessly.

I've written a couple of posts about the day and being a mom, etc. One was in 2009, where I paid homage to a couple of real muthas, along with the next-day follow up of my own reasons for being glad I'm a mom.

In 2011, I wrote of a truth I don't discuss much, unless it's in the company of very close friends and sometimes not even then. During this day, when everyone is crazy happy proud of the woman who raised them, it's hard to be that child on the sidelines going, "yeah, not so much for me."

So today, I'd just like to make a few things clear:

1. For those of you with wonderful moms, cherish them. You don't need to gush over them every day, but be happy to hear their voices and say Please and Thank You a little more often. And if your wonderful mom has left you and you miss her, I am so sorry for your loss. I wish you peace. More than that, I wish for you the capability to see your mother in your own eyes, in your hands, in the way you laugh or hold a cup of coffee. Let her live in you.

2. For those of you on the sidelines with me, having a not-wonderful mom is not the end of the world. You certainly learn what not to do. In some ways, it frees you to seek a different path, to find a new way of being. And do not worry if you cannot ever reconcile with them, even at the end. Blame and fault-finding and apologies are a waste of time. They were not able to parent you. It is what it is.

3. As for myself, I count my time as a mom as the best part of my life. Yes, I traded my waistline for a son. I often stressed about juggling time between my work, my baby, and my need for sleep. I second-guessed every decision I made, apologized when I knew I screwed up, and still yet worry that I have instilled fears in him that I tried to avoid. But if I could go back in time and actually SEE the paths that were available to me, I would not have chosen any other way.

Marcus sent me this video for Mother's Day.

I love the boy already, so this just makes me happy that I love him.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Speaking of writers' conferences

Yeah, I know. No one was speaking of them. So just listen while I speak.

You all probably know that I have a new book coming out in a very few weeks. From the Horse's Mouth: One Lucky Memoir is my horse's story about his life, and how breaking his leg changed us both.

You also all probably know that I go to two writers' conferences a year, both run by Southern California Writers' Conference, headed up by Michael Steven Gregory and Wes Albers. They hold one conference in San Diego on President's Day weekend and one in Newport Beach in September.

I've told the story of how I was inspired to write Snoopy's book after attending a workshop by Charmaine Hammond. What I don't know if I've made clear is that all of my novels have come from SCWC.


Even if I don't get the inspiration for each plot at these conferences, this is where I've learned the rules of the fiction-writing road. I learned how to tell what genre I'm writing and what its rules are. I know that no one walks in a novel -- they stroll or amble or wander (willy-nilly is optional). I know that a chapter should never end with my character going to sleep. (Being knocked unconscious doesn't count.) All of these things came from sitting in workshops, or reading my first few pages in a read and critique session.

If you are a writer, especially one who is floundering about the publishing arena, you need to go to a working conference. Naturally, I'm recommending SCWC, but if you can't get there, get somewhere. Meet other writers. Mingle with agents and publishers without seeing them as aliens from Planet YouSuck. Find out whether complete strangers are enthralled by your writing, and if they aren't, find out how to make them enthralled.

Also, a good conference should teach you how to learn about the business. The times, they are a'changing.

SCWC is offering a discount if you sign up early (the "Early Bard" discount), so if you're interested you should hop over and sign up. Space, as they say, is limited (even if it is the final frontier).

Michael and Company made a series of animated videos dealing with writers, agents, and editors. They are humorous AND timely, which is amazing since they were made three years ago. I suppose that makes them timeless. Here's the first one:

Check out the others.

Also, if you want information about Snoopy's book launch, go to his blog. He's got the scoop.

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