Tag Archives: The Next Fifteen Minutes

What makes some people’s dreams come true?


Coming off a successful weekend at the PNWA Writer’s Conference, where I signed my book for people who actually paid money to read it, it struck me that a dream I’ve kindled in my heart for years has finally come true. I’m an author.

Looking around the conference I saw others with big dreams. You know the look: the fluttering hand at one’s breast, the rapid speech, the flush of possibility aflame in one’s cheeks.

Perhaps that’s why I love to ski. Gazing at a mountain, something bigger than my fears, I dream of skiing it, arcing across the steep slopes, gliding through the powdery bowls to feel my heart knock at my ribs, suddenly weighty with potential. Our ordinary days have a way of chiseling down our dreams, knocking off chunks of the granite vision, revealing, perhaps not the masterpiece we knew was hidden inside but instead just ordinary rock—crumbling and dusty.

The mundane work of the day to day—getting words on a page, driving to work in the rain, when we know it’s snowy somewhere in the mountains, lacks meaning when put up against the big moments. We set aside dreams for the practical, chip away at the masterpiece until it no longer stands quite so tall.

Maybe that’s why we root for the underdog. Our souls climb a little higher when Rocky knocks out Apollo Creed to become the heavyweight champion. We know, deep down, that if he can do it, maybe we can too.

My new writer friends clamored around my table at the author signing last night, thrusting their new copy of my book in front of me to sign. They were rooting for me.

What makes some people’s dreams come true?

Is it luck? Hard work? Something else entirely?

I’m not entirely sure, but I suspect it has to do with risk. Only when we put ourselves out there, conjuring dreams too big to hold, risk exposure and failure and utter ruin, that we even have a chance. Squirrelling away our potential like a bank account saves nothing. Only by exposing our granite dreams to the elements, maybe chucking away the shelter of the staid, can the true masterpiece emerge.

It would have been easier not to write this book. I could have clutched John’s recovery to my breast, clutched it so tight that no one could pry it loose. I didn’t have to fray our lives into separate strands to be followed and teased out of the tapestry, doing the hard work of making sense out of pain and struggle. But I did. I could have written this book for myself—kept it within the pages of my journal, just ramblings and musings of a dreamer. Instead I have exposed it to the world, unclasped my hands to release it.

Dreams can be frightening, unwieldy beasts, and it’s no wonder so few ever realize them. But I know the feeling of triumph. I learned it on the slopes, when the impossible suddenly becomes possible, when my skis snake through in just the right sequence of turns to make me feel like I’m flying. I know, now too, the weight of my words, and how light they suddenly feel, released to the sky.

The Next Fifteen Minutes: Advanced Reader Copy


The ARCs arrived in the mail yesterday. An ARC is an Advanced Reader Copy of a book, sent out a few months before publication mainly as a tool for publicity. ARCs are sent to

Still Life with ARC

book reviewers, libraries, magazine editors, television hosts, Oprah, anyone and everyone who might care to know you have a book coming out. And, of course, anyone and everyone that might be able to help spread the word that you have a book coming out.

I feel like a parent watching my child graduate from high school. Dr. Seuss said it best with, “Oh! The Places You’ll Go! You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.”

I want her (I’m already calling my ARC a her) to soar to high heights. She’s already flying along. Just this morning she took her first walk along the slackline, demonstrating balance and focus and a sort of literary concentration usually only demonstrated by advanced yogis or Cirque de

Quiet the mind, balance the thoughts

Soleil performers. Too bad I didn’t get it on video; it was pretty impressive.

Dr. Seuss continues on in his anthem to all graduates, “Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.” My ARC took her first lap on the SUP this morning, enjoying the sunny calm of Lake Washington. I watched her blissfully negotiate boat wakes and sun glare with the grace and calm of a professional. Needless to say, I have high hopes.

Of course, it won’t be easy. I know this. The ARC, she knows this too. Steep climbs, challenging reviews, maybe even a slump, albeit brief, in sales could happen along the way. Dr. Seuss knows this. “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.” She will probably become one of those books, those obsessive types that constantly refresh their Amazon Author page, hoping for 5 star reviews, checking her sales ranking when she could be out skiing or running or sipping a latte with other book-friends. No doubt, she will have a crisis of confidence at some point along the way. She’ll falter.

But she’ll get back up again. “On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl.” Not even the Hakken-Kraks will keep her down.

That's Mt. Rainier in the distance

She already has her sights set on climbing Mt. Rainier. Crevasses lurk there, hidden below melting snow, and other dangers too, like rockfall and avalanches and urgent changes in the weather. Again, Dr. Seuss would remind her, “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”

So here I am, sending her out into the world. She’ll hit the bookstores officially on October 1st, but for a little while longer anyway, she’ll exist as an ARC, her fingertips reaching for success and acclaim, and hoping for the very best.

Most writers would offer to give away an ARC at this point. And I should probably do the same. I started this blog after attending a writer’s conference in which I heard the repeated admonition, “You don’t have a blog? You really need a blog. Every writer has one these days.” And so I started to write a little about my writing, but mostly about other things in life that I find inspiring and awesome. But here I am, blogging about my writing again. It’s not a strong suit for me. It feels a little too metaliterary for me (I just made that word up. See I can’t even stick to the hallowed OED, or Oxford English Dictionary, for you non-bookish types).

Here’s where you, dear reader, come in. Help a girl with an ARC out. What kind of contest

Stand Up Paddleboarding

could I use for this supposedly necessary giveaway? I need some ideas here. This is, of course, assuming that any of you are actually dying to read The Next Fifteen Minutes, and simply cannot wait until the October 1st pub date. And if the only person out there dying to read it is you, Mom, don’t worry. I’ve got an ARC set aside just for you.

But for those of you who aren’t my mom, what say you? Remember, the purpose of a giveaway on a blog is to gain more readers. We bloggers are hungry for readers, for site visits actually, reflected in our blog stats and more importantly, in reader comments. Your comments are the filet mignon of blogging, they are the private powder stash, the uncrowded glassy wave curling just for you. Reader comments tell us that you actually read our blog, that you care. I’m aware just how pathetic this must seem to you non-bloggers, but trust me on this.

I could simply do a contest where I take a random drawing from all the comments left on this post. But that feels a little too much like the oldest profession, like I’m just a little too hungry for love, if you know what I mean.

So, how about some other ideas? I’m all ears. And so is my ARC.

Ski Patrollers Don’t “Share”


Professional ski patrollers rarely talk about their job. We don’t want to brag, for one thing. Up until I wrote a book about it, I never shared specifics either. “So you just ski for work?” Someone might ask. I’d tell them, “not exactly.” I help people when they get injured, I’d say, vaguely. I

Blaine Horner enjoying another day at work

might also mention that I  mitigate avalanche hazard. With explosives.

That’s when I usually would get a blank stare. Or widened eyes. Maybe even an averted gaze. People didn’t really know what to make of me. I spent my life where others vacationed. I didn’t own a home. I had no children nor any desire to ever be a mother. I was a ski bum.

Typically I’d get one of two reactions: jealousy or embarrassment. Either the listener would want to know more about how the job, how I got into it, how he (usually he) could get paid to gaze across the slopes at the jagged tips of mountains holding up the sky. Or the listener would smile politely, force herself (usually her) to close her gaping mouth and look away. “Oh, that sounds nice.”

Patrollers are supposed to be stoic and reserved, strong and impartial. But mostly, I think ski patrollers are just afraid that if they tell others about how great our jobs really are, someone just might take it all away. After all, we are paid to ski. That part is true. We also stand witness to the awesome power of nature–we watch winter storms gather and twist, pressing snow down into the crevices, building the snowpack. Hiking in wind and snow and rain, we stop to notice the change of light, when cold crystals hang suspended above the slope and the slanting sunlight peaking beneath the clouds illuminates the air with an electric current.

Anna Dearrieta, Crystal Mountain Ski Patroller, ski cutting a slope

We throw explosives and start avalanches, marveling at way the slabs break up and gather momentum, their tenuous hold now severed. We ski down, unhurried, before the slopes are open to the public, carving the fresh groomed, splitting the untracked powder, inhaling the uncrowded air. We help people that are injured, hopefully easing their pain. I have seen beauty and death, gratitude and anger, all in a single day on the job.

So it feels a bit odd to spill the beans. In just a few months, readers will know all about me, all about my job. Some will wonder why I do it. Others will wonder how they, too, could have such a great job. But my fellow ski patrollers will wonder what the big deal is.

The Next 15 Minutes, Cover Art

When I first started talking to publishers about my book, I quickly realized that the skiing part was the draw. The medical memoir niche is pretty full in the publishing business. But the professional ski patrol niche is empty. That’s because, like I said, ski patrollers don’t talk about their jobs. Ever. We hardly talk amongst ourselves. And if we do, it’s understated and humble and under the radar. As if we are getting away with something and if we declare it out loud it might dissolve.

But now that I’ve started sharing, I can’t stop. It’s as if a subterranean channel has been dug, and now it flows all the way to the ocean. The channel cannot be undug. Just like you can’t squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube. Now I look forward to blogging, posting stories about my life in the mountains. My memoir, about ski patrolling and how it saved me when my husband got sick, will debut in a few months. I’ve come to celebrate it. Because a lesson I learned during my husband’s illness is to celebrate each moment. Even when there’s an unspoken rule about remaining coy and humble.

So here goes. I’m stepping into unfamiliar territory. It’s a little scary, but it’s thrilling too. And haven’t I always sought out adventure?

Spring at last



Hi 40 °F

The forecasters are calling for actual sun up here at

Crystal Mountain today and tomorrow. We have a dusting of new snow up here and the skies are clearing! I better get out there fast. Spring might just last two days.

I also have another bit of good news. My editor just signed off on the final revision of my memoir. Woot woot! We are on track for the November pub date, with Advanced Reader Copies on the way. I look forward to the checking out the galley proof soon.

I’m hooked on surfing


John catches a wave at Cedro's

It makes perfect sense. Ski in the winter, surf in the summer. After a week with Hillary at Peaks and Swells Surf Camp, learning to ride the waves in Costa Rica, both John and I are hooked. As we flew home yesterday, my husband regaled me with future surf destinations–Bali, Peru, Maui. Hey what about those isolated breaks north of Vancouver Island that we see from the float plane? Could we surf those? I think it’s going to take a few more

Happiness is riding a wave all the way into shore

waves before we’re ready for anything like that, but we’re on our way.

This weekend marks the end of Crystal Mountain’s “regular” season and the beginning of the spring season. We will be open for skiing on weekends (starting with Thursdays and Fridays too). Personally my fingers are crossed for a good corn cycle and long, sunny days on the mountain. After that, who knows? Maybe more surfing.

Oh yeah, and in between surfing and skiing, my memoir, The Next Fifteen Minutes, comes out in November. So I need to squeeze in some promotion here and there–maybe a quick guest appearance on the Today Show or Oprah’s final episode or something. As long as it doesn’t cut into my surfing time, that is.

Seriously though, I’m feeling like a very lucky girl. By all rights, my husband isn’t even supposed to be alive. Even more than catching waves myself this past week, I loved watching John catch them. Most of all, I loved the look on his face. Determined to catch a wave, then focused while up and finally exultant as he learned to carve and turn along the face of the glassy curlers, I thanked the universe for our luck.

The Next Fifteen Minutes Publication Date


My memoir, The Next Fifteen Minutes, is going to be published October 1st, 2011 (just in time for Oprah!) by Behler Publications. Here’s a sneak preview of the cover. Currently, I’m knee deep in final revisions (well, hopefully final!) tightening and polishing the manuscript one last time.
Strangely, the rain at Crystal (yes, that’s right, the dreaded “r” word) has been a hidden blessing. I’ve been able to take a few extra days off a week from patrolling in order to finish the draft. So I’m making the most of this drizzly, decidedly non-La Nina weather pattern and sitting my butt in the chair and pouring over my new computer (yes, my insurance came through after my old one was stolen).
Of course all bets are off once the snow returns. I am, after all, a powder girl at heart.

Guest Post on Girls Trek Too


Cara Lopez Lee, author of the excellent book They Only Eat Their Husbands, a memoir of adventure in Alaska and around the world, graciously asked me guest post on her blog Girls Trek Too.

Cara writes that “adventure isn’t about vacations or danger. Adventure asks you to more deeply explore the world you travel in, and the world that travels in you.”  Check out her blog and my guest post here.  And thank you Cara for including me in your amazing tales of travel, adventure and personal growth.

The Next Fifteen Minutes Finds a Publisher


This summer I met Lynn Price at the PNWA Writer’s Conference, and immediately knew I wanted to be a part of her team.  Lynn is the editorial director at Behler Publications, a small publisher that focuses on “personal journeys with social relevance”, which perfectly sums up my memoir The Next Fifteen Minutes.

This week, I signed a contract with Behler, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I look forward to working with Lynn and getting this book out into the world.  The lessons learned during John’s illness changed my life, and I hope to offer them to readers.  Check out Lynn’s blog and her gracious introduction of me to her team.