It’s OK. No one’s been hurt. She made it quick and clean. But for the next few weeks, there’s gonna be a new sheriff in town…


You have three people to blame for this disaster: my husband, my writer friend Iris Graville, and Social Media Maven Kristen Lamb.

I’ll start with my husband. Former professor at the University of North Carolina, therefore HUGE Tarheel basketball fan. When we moved to the Pacific Northwest 23 years ago, he continued to fly back every March to watch the ACC tournament with his fellow crazed fans friends.

During our sabbatical in New Zealand…yup. You got it. He still flew back. And when the underdog Tarheels WON that year, my husband became a legend among fans.

But he always hated the hassle of flying. So when he retired in 2010, he declared, “That’s it. From now on, I’m driving to Chapel Hill.” Then he uttered the fateful words: “You’ll come too, won’t you?”

And thus was born the Great Annual Cross-Country Road Trip. We are now about to begin our fourth. Along the way to NC and back, we’ll catch up with family members and long-lost friends, visit some national parks, and discover byways we never knew existed in places like, I don’t know, Oklahoma.

So, where does my friend Iris Graville come in? She talked me into attending the January Residency of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. I got so much out of it, I attended a second year. And that’s when I took Kristen Lamb’s class on blogging for writers. Not only did she teach me to enjoy blogging, she convinced me that good bloggers blog REGULARLY. I.e., no excuses.

Road trip? Get out that iPad, girl, and tap away.

So I figure…if I’m blogging from the road…and I really do mean from the ROAD…I might as well make the road part of the blog. OK? Fair warning, though. I’m still getting the hang of this Device iPad. So I can’t blog in pretty colors, and you’ll probably notice a few more typooooos than usual.

But hey, I’ve learned to do this:


So, kids, buckle your seatbelts. I’ll check in every few days and let you know where we are and what we’ve seen. And meanwhile, you can tell me…

How do you feel about road trips? Love ‘me? Get carsick just thinking about ’em? Want to meet me in St. Louie?

Madrona Branch Press: Lessons in Logos, Publishing, and Humility

I thought this was the equation: carefully-edited manuscript + self-publishing tools + a lil’ bit o’ cash + a lotta time = BOOK. I thought I was all set to launch my YA novel, The Flying Burgowski, out into the world.

Turns out I was missing a few variables.

“What’s your publishing name going to be?” my book designer, Bob Lanphear, asked me about a week ago, over the phone.

“Umm, you mean, like, a pen name? I wasn’t planning to do that…”

“No,” he explained patiently. “The name of your press. You know, what you want it to say on the spine of your book, on the back cover, on the copyright page, under the title.” He named three other books he’d designed, books by friends of mine: Iris Graville’s Hands At Work, Lorrie Harrison’s Kindred Spirits, and Holly Bower’s With Love and Butter. “Look at those books and you’ll see what I mean.”

“But I don’t have a press, I’m self-publishing,” said Gretchen, Queen of Obvious.

“Yes,” Bob said. I couldn’t actually hear him rolling his eyes over the phone, but if he wasn’t, he sure had a right to. “But there’s no need to advertise that fact to the world. Your book will look much more professional with the name of a press, rather than” (here he named a fairly well-known  corporation associated with chewing up small bookstores and spitting them out book company. “So you should choose a good name. Then let me know what kind of logo it should have.”

Me: “Logo?”

Bob: “eye roll”

So I got right to work on that. Unfortunately, I have a terrible horrible non-existent poor eye for design. (I think that’s why I write: since I can’t draw the picture, I need the thousand words.)

Fortunately, I have a great sense of metaphor and a beautiful landscape to live in. As soon as I started thinking of a good name for Gretchen Wing Press, Inc., the image came to me: that self-supporting madrona branch. Remember that? My metaphor for independent publication.

Fortunately again, I have Bob. He took my madrona branch from this…

tree 3








to this:

Isn't she lovely?

Isn’t she lovely?

So–phew. Thanks, Bob. Got that taken care of.

Two days later I met with my  guardian angels of all things literary writing group to go over my Marketing Plan for The Flying Burgowski.

“Do you have your author web page set up?” they asked me.

“My blog? Yeah–all set!” said Gretchen, Queen of Oblivious.

“Noooo….” my group replied kindly. (I’m paraphrasing, ok? But they were kind.) “An author page is a static page where people go to learn about you as an author, or about your books. It has a link to your blog. But it’s not the same.”

“I need one of those too?” I whimpered said. “I thought I was all ready…”

Again: no visible eye-rolling. (I chose a great writing group)

But once again, with the help of web-maestra, Adrienne Adams at Cloud Islands, I got my author web page set up and linked to Wing’s World.

Don’t believe me? Click here.

So NOW can I make a book? Tune in for the answer on February 7, right here!

But meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever designed or imagined a logo for yourself? What did you choose, or what would you choose, and why?