What Are the REAL Odds of Success? Extreme Ownership & the Best-Selling Author

Kristen Lamb reminds me that I am a writer.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

Many of us are doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you’ve been following this blog the last two weeks, then you probably know I’ve had a horrific case of the flu. While this does mean I’ve sidelined editing (have to have higher thinking skills) and teaching (kind of need a voice) this has not excused me from writing.

In fact, it’s been pretty good for my writing since Robotussin apparently chloroforms the internal editor and is like Skittles to the Lizard Brain who is now running around in my head with scissors.

Oh God! It has the glitter! Hold on! Back in a minute….

Where was I? Yes, Lizard Brain is great for creating, and if I keep my pace, I should finish my 50,000 words tomorrow. Right now I am at almost 41,000 words and have been averaging about…

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Old-Fashioned or New Trend?

A few weeks back I attended an annual meeting of the Wisconsin State Questers as a guest. The gathering was held at Janesville’s Rotary Botanical Gardens and was the perfect venue for a crisp autumn day. Those in attendance were just a small portion of the international organization committed to the study, preservation and restoration of antiquities, artifacts and historical sites.

There are fourteen Quester chapters here, most of which are in the southeast portion of the state. The Monroe chapter, Swiss Attic Fanciers and others with names such as Blooming Prairie, Explorare, Heritage Trails, and Prairieville Pioneers, meet monthly. Their commitment is to learn and maintain their heritage and they explore the past with the enthusiasm of a treasure hunters.

I was impressed with the pomp and circumstance of the event, which included an accounting from each chapter, awards and recognition ceremony for service, and a silent auction fund-raiser for future restoration projects. Although the entire day was interesting, the highlight was the lunch and guest speaker. The meal was a catered affair themed around the Wisconsin supper club.

Milwaukee producer, director and author, Ron Faiola, gave an impressive presentation based on research for his own book and movie projects. Wisconsin Supper Clubs – an old-fashioned experience, is a tribute to the tradition of these restaurants. He explained what makes the supper club not only unique from other eateries, but why Wisconsin supper clubs are different from those in other states.

Did you know? Supper clubs are only open for the evening meal.

I guess that’s self-explanatory, but to tell you the truth, I’d never given it any thought. A restaurant serving breakfast or lunch cannot officially be called a supper club. Most of these establishments are family run businesses that have been passed down through generations. There’s the tradition of serving a relish tray at the table or a salad bar verses a side salad. Some menus include food unique to the location, like wild game, turtle, frog legs, or a friday night fish-fry.

The popular cocktail? The brandy old-fashioned sweet. Which we determined, based on an impromptu pole at our table that day, is difficult to get outside of the state. A fact backed by Ron when he stated that Wisconsinites drink more brandy than anyone else does in the country and the old-fashioned served elsewhere is made with something other than brandy. Beyond that, if there’s ever any doubt you’re dining in a supper club just look at the décor. If there’s an eclectic mix of dark wood paneling, year round twinkle lights, and taxidermy on the walls, you’re in a supper club.

What began as a fine dining and social experience in the days of Mad Men, has become a cultural phenomenon connecting generations. With an emphasis on quality food and service it’s no surprise the supper club is making a comeback in bigger cities like Seattle, Washington D.C., and New York.

Is this old fashioned dining experience to be the new trend?

For me, exploring the supper club tradition with a group whose mission is the preservation of such things made the Quester event a winner. I was so excited to get a signed copy of Wisconsin Supper Clubs – an old-fashioned experience. I informed my husband as soon as I got home that dining our way through these supper clubs was our new bucket list item.

The book is beautiful! Filled with stunning photos and stories of fifty Wisconsin supper clubs across the state, it is a work worthy of coffee table placement. At least kitchen counter top, which is where I have mine.

Catch up with Ron Faiola: Wisconsin Supper Clubs-an old fashioned experience

To learn more about the Questers: Wisconsin Questers


Me with author Ron Faiola (and yes, there’s something weird going on with my hair).


Riding the editing roller coaster without hurling.

Samhain Publishing is celebrating their 10th Anniversary and as a new author I wanted to join in the fun by sharing my first ever edit experience.

My initial contact with Samhain Publishing editor, Noah Chinn, was by email when he notified me of his interest in my debut novel, STILL LIFE. What an incredible feeling it was to have someone recognize the voice within my writing. I’ll admit I tried to play it cool as I waited for my contract but ended up hounding him for the paperwork. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get a chance to sign it before he’d change his mind.

Once signed, it was just a matter of waiting for my manuscript to get to the top of Noah’s schedule. In the meantime he suggested specific reading/notes to prep for the upcoming edit, which filled my time. This educational material was helpful, but suffice it to say…nothing could have prepared me for the first round of edits.

The day had finally come when my baby, STILL LIFE—the result of so much of my time and effort—was about to be made, perfect. However, before sending me his edit notes Noah instructed me not to panic.

What the hell? What did he mean don’t panic?

Anxious to get going I blindly promised I wouldn’t.

What follows is a paraphrased version of the conversation that Saturday, which I kept for posterity. (For those who know him, note Noah’s signature green font 🙂  )

Noah: “ How’s it going? You might feel overwhelmed with the edits you see, as well as all the feedback I’ve given.  Don’t worry. But feel free to contact me as you go through it. My door’s always open :)” 

Me: “I find it easier to go through simple deletes and changes first, kind of clearing the crap so to speak, then I’ll go back over your more detailed comments and take my time. I want this to be a learning experience after all.” (Note my naïve enthusiasm)

Noah: “So, what do you think of the editing suggestions so far, and the process we’re using together?  Feel free to ask me anything along the way.” 

Me: “It’s going great. I think our left/right brain thing is compatible. Enjoy the suggestions and changes. Nice to know I’m on track.”


Me: “I will admit seeing the solid color (multitude of stacked comment bubbles) has me freaked out.”

Noah: “Yes, I can imagine it seemed intimidating at first, but I can already see from your pruning down of the easy stuff that what you’ll be left with is going to be easy enough to handle. Have fun!  This stage of the editing process is fun, in my opinion, because you can feel the story get stronger and more cohesive as a result.  It’s when you’re beating yourself up over commas and that one word that just doesn’t feel right no how matter how you play with it that it can get frustrating ;)” 

Much later…

I was drowning myself in microbrews from the back of the fridge with my hubby in the background urging me to contact Noah every time I started a fresh round of sobs and cracked a new bottle open. Somewhere around 8:30 pm I finally took his advise and emailed Noah.

Me: “Hit a low point today. 😦   Editing has been painful and mortifying. Feeling like a fraud. I had no idea the story was this ridiculous. I know I can correct some problems easily. Others, I’m not so sure. What I need to know is how much turn around time do I have for revision?”  

Noah: “We’ve got time.  Don’t worry.  The story is there. I wouldn’t have accepted it if it wasn’t!  Relax.  You’re no fraud.  That’s why we go through this a couple of times before the Final Line Edit.  The story isn’t ridiculous, it’s fun.  Embracing the humor will allow a lot of things to slide that might otherwise be scrutinized to death if it was meant to be a more serious deadpan novel.  Again. Relax. You’re going to do fine :)” 

The next day…

Me: “I’m feeling better today. I freaked out. Sorry about that. Got my big girl panties on now and am dealing with issues one at a time. Thanks for propping me up. (Several beers didn’t hurt either).”  

Noah: “This comic pretty much sums up the process for ALL of us writers ;)”


Thank you, Noah Chinn, editor extraordinaire and word slayer, for keeping me sane and educating me in the process.

Happy Anniversary, Samhain!!

Check out the 20% off sale on ebooks site wide until November 15th.  #Samhain10