It’s shivering cold inside the room where I’m about to take part in my first webinar panel about writing Heart Wood. If this had been old Japan during a freezing mountain winter, I might have kept warm by sitting at a table with a brazier of hot coals by my legs and a thick futon draped around the table to enclose the heat like a tent – a warming method called a kotatsu.

But it’s 2020, and without broadband internet access at home, I’m seated in our unheated Community Center in the Sierra with my own version of a kotatsu. Instead of hot coals by my feet, I have a small electric heater under the table. The wool blanket draped around the table and a wool sweater on my shoulders keep me warm so my teeth don’t chatter as I discuss writing with the other authors.

Kotatsu zooming in the mountains

My guess is that webinars and virtual zoom meetings are here to stay, so I’d better figure out how to make them work! I’m not a luddite, but I tend to embrace new technology reluctantly – just ask my husband. Without his penchant for upgrading all things techie, I’d still be getting up from the couch to change the channel at my trusty-old 1980’s-era TV set. 

Being an active participant via Zoom is easier said than done when you live in the mountains without cable, where satellite connections are fickle, and where there’s an awkward half-second lag before people hear the words you just mouthed. (BTW-most of us mountain folk still cling to our landline phones because mobile phones don’t always get good reception – a fact that’s lost on my urban friends!) But necessity is the mother of invention, so when I must be at my virtual best, I reserve a room at the local Community Center and use its high speed WiFi. 

Looking good on camera is another problem. YouTube is now filled with people offering advice: how to place your lighting so you’re not a shadowed monster; where to place your script; what colors to wear; how to sit and look natural;  background do’s and don’ts; and group conversation manners. Most sites offer at least one link to merchandise that promise to make you look professional: halo lights, tele-prompters, webcams, etc. It’s a booming business.

Before educating myself on YouTube, I didn’t realize that with my camera lens located at the bottom of the screen, it makes me look like I’m following a trail of ants across the screen instead of looking at the audience. I tried various suggestions, like elevating the laptop, but to no avail. In the end, a friend loaned me her plug-in webcam to hook on top of the screen and that did the trick.

I used to hate struggling with problems, but my attitude changed when I realized how many new brain synapses are formed in the process of problem-solving. At my 70+ age, that’s important!

How did the webinars go? The Sierra College OLLI Class on “Writing Your First Book” wasn’t recorded, but the “Friday Fiction” Panel on the Nevada County Library’s Virtual Author Showcase, 11/6/20, can be Viewed Here.

Heart Wood is the perfect gift for the holidays, whether for curling up in quarantine or as thoughtful consideration for how we can touch each other’s lives, give the earth a break to recover, empower a more feminine approach, and create a future that all forms of life can live in.

You can purchase your copy of

HEART WOOD

HERE: To support your local, independent bookstore!

Also available at The Book Seller and Harmony Books in Nevada County.

HERE: To purchase on Amazon (ebook and paperback)

If you enjoyed Heart Wood, please consider giving an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. It’s one of the best ways to support me and all indie authors. Thank you!

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