Make my day

Hi, Erik,

I have just completed Chalice and I loved it.

As a lover of English Literature (and taught Latin as well), I appreciated your email style of communication in our modern world, and the intense capture of two people developing in love.

Would love to discuss Chalice with you sometime.

I was at Dudley’s when you approached our book club, and handed out a copy. One of our book club members received it first, but I did not want to wait after (the) succinct introduction you gave us, so I ordered in for my Kindle…  you kept me up until 2.30 am!

…I can’t wait for the next.

Martha Hendrick, Bend OR

Nice week for “Chalice”

In order: An old friend and racer called to tell me he finished Chalice. I thought I’d get criticism or compliments on the racing angle. Instead, he thanked me for the story, saying he didn’t know if he’d ever read anything that described love in that way, and he thanked me again.

Then I got an email from a woman who had read about half the book: “Just wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying this read! It is creative and really sucks you in.  As we all live in such a cyber world of texting and email, it almost makes me feel as if I am the recipient of the communications between them. Thank you so much!”

Two book clubs in Bend may take up the book, they seem enthusiastic, and in a few days I will present to another that has already selected and read the book.

Finally, “Vintage Drift” did a nice article on the book in the issue that came out this week. Sales seem to be picking up a tick. Fingers crossed that more readers will enjoy and tell their friends.

Fear of Goodbye

Fear so often keeps us pinned inside lives we wish were different. So often, that fear is irrational, only an echo that sets wiring of brains vibrating, certain we will be set upon by wolves if we leave the ring of firelight.

How do we not fear pain? How do we not fear loss? How do we not fear being unloved, or not-now loved, by someone we love? How do we not fear that, back in the ring of firelight, they laugh and sing and did not notice we were gone?

Fear is hard-wired into the code of who we needed to become when we descended naked and defenseless from the trees. Fear is fed to us with mother’s milk, perhaps tainted by her abandonment, maybe spoiled by angry harsh words from her own father, or corrupted by neglect from the man she married. What’s to do with it now?

Sitting, watching a rising sun paint mountains pink then gold, I see goodbye for what it wants to be, an ogre too large when wrapped in a cloak of fear, instead of what really is, just a good bye. I miss you. That’s a good thing, not to be feared.

You need to cry

When was the last time you cried? From loss, joy, relief, fear, gratitude? When was the last time you let yourself be that vulnerable?

Well, I’ll recommend it, especially on Thanksgiving. Because, I think, there is no way to really, truly give thanks without shedding a tear. Otherwise, you’re holding back. Not nearly thankful enough.

Yesterday a friend gave me a book, and I’m recommending it to you. There’s a couple of them, in fact. But first, know that these books will make you cry tears from being embraced by someone who knows, who cares, who has seen every thing you’ve been  through, and can see through you, as well. They will bring tears back to your eyes from things you’ve been hiding from yourself. That’s good.

Each was written by someone twice as smart as I ever thought I was, and twice as wise as I will ever be. Each was written by someone who may, just may, have a bit of the antidote for the toxic, inauthentic, self-absorbed yet indifferent world some of us can’t seem to find our way through. Each was written by a woman with strength that would intimidate a roomful of warriors.

Warning: these books are at times explicit, but always honest, human, literate; they will make you cry because of what the writers are not afraid to look at, not afraid to see, not afraid to feel. These books are emotional fire storms.

They will give you reason to say thanks.

“tiny beautiful things,” by Cheryl Strayed.

“Bluets,” by Maggie Nelson.


In writing Chalice, and now again researching It’s Nobody’s Fault, I stumbled across the idea of “who” we think we are. This “sense of self” actually has a home in the left hemisphere of our brain, and it basically integrates all sorts of inputs.

Dr. Michael Gazzaniga has called it the “Interpreter.” I call it “Weaver.” Three quick thoughts, then I’ll leave it alone, for now.

First, it is important to know that one of Weaver’s primary jobs is to give reasons for what is happening in our world. Weaver is constantly weaving yarns of various colors into cause and effect, weaving them to make up our “reality.” That’s what Weaver does. Weaver explains. Always. Constantly.

Secondly, the fabric Weaver creates out of all these inputs is only as good as what Weaver gets by way of information. Some of that information is bogus. Not only external information, but internal, as well. My amygdala may fire a flash of fear through the circuits, and Weaver won’t know it’s a false alarm. Weaver will know only that there has been a signal of fear. Weaver will find an explanation for that signal, usually external, because Weaver explains. Always. Constantly.

This has been called “Tigers in the grass.” We evolved to run from tigers, so we run when the grass moves, even when it is only the wind.

Finally, it is possible to catch Weaver in the act. It’s a two-step process for me. First, I recognize that my unnatural calm may be the result of the chamomile tea, nervousness might be the coffee, the twinge is from seeing a car like one driven by someone I used to know, getting up to do something may not be because it needed to be done five minutes ago, but the result of a memory that just drifted through I did not want to face.

In other words, what I think is happening, even with my own emotions, is not necessarily what is happening. It feels real, Weaver says it is real, but it might not be.

Then I sit and watch Weaver work. That gives me space. It takes a few minutes now, it used to take longer, to put Weaver in his place. He doesn’t stop weaving or explaining, because Weaver explains. Always. Constantly. But, after a few minutes, “I” am no longer being yanked around at the end of his leash.

Dudley’s, at 1 p.m. tomorrow

A few people are going to join me at Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe in downtown Bend tomorrow, at 1 p.m., to discuss some of the philosophy tucked into various passages of “Chalice.” Whether you’ve read the book or not (Dudley’s has a few for sale), or have questions about the book, writing or publishing, come on down for a bowl of soup, cup of coffee or tea, and some conversation. We’ll be upstairs.

Looking for a female voice

I’ve decided that my reading “Chalice” in two voices is less than optimal. In fact, it makes me cringe.

So, what I would like to do in lieu of posting a Youtube video of just me reading, is find a woman who would be willing to read the female “voice.” It will take about an hour, and she won’t be paid, though she will get a credit.

We will read the abstract I prepared for the book store readings, I will find some images to “illuminate” what is being read, and that will become the video.

I invite anyone who would like to read the part to contact me directly via email to

Chalice is available

Late last night, I received notice that “Chalice” is now available on Amazon, Apple’s iBook store (go to iTunes and search on “Erik Dolson”), Barnes and Noble (not quite yet), and the Vook Store.

I should have a hard copy in my hands next Tuesday, with the first print run available soon after.

What an odd mix of emotions. Fear, elation, pride, anxiety. Chalice was close to two years in the writing, some of that the hardest work I have ever undertaken. After four or so hours, I would stagger from my table and run the river trail, lift weights, get the mail, or just vegetate away from where I work, unable to string two sentences together.

“Chalice” is not perfect. Every time I opened the file, I would find things that just had to be changed. So I finally “locked down” the file. After 20 or so readers reviewed writes and rewrites, after endless edits, after the second round of proofreading by a professional, I had to let it go and be what it is. And it is not perfect.

But it is the best I can do, at this moment, on this book. And I am proud of it. “Chalice” is an exploration of ideas that are significant to me and many of you. It is a sharing of my playground, an intersection of language, passion, and reflections on what’s real and what’s important.

“Chalice” is not for everyone. As an exchange of emails, “Chalice” is in a format that some  may find difficult to follow. The characters are flawed, and many might find their exchanges  unpleasant. There is a sex scene that was called gratuitous by one reader. It’s not, but it is graphic. If that’s going to disturb you, please don’t read. Another was put off by the fact that I dipped deeply into my personal experience to give the text “life.” Yes, I did, but “Chalice” is still a work of fiction.

But about a third of those who read early drafts found value in “Chalice.” Some said that value was significant for them. This validates the effort.

A word on pricing: I finally came to the conclusion that I had to be my own guide on this. I priced the ebook at $4.95 because I think “Chalice” is worth the price of two cups of coffee, even for readers who don’t like it.

I initially set the price of the paperback at $14.95, then learned I would receive 3¢ for each book sold. Three cents. At the print distributor’s suggestion, and his noting that the book would be discounted by book sellers anyway, I repriced at $19.95 and will receive about $2.30 of that.

If enough sell so we can go to offset printing, I hope the price will come down.

Thank you, friends, family, and readers I’ve never met but feel I know fairly well: You are the reason this book was written. I hope you think it was worth it.


Next step

Chalice is finished. There are still a couple of important comments to come in, but rewriting the conclusion is finished. First responses have been very positive. Proofreader edits will be entered by the end of next week.

Finished… well, the work of the writer is finished. Work of the author continues: Legal considerations remain; the book needs to be formatted for Amazon and uploaded; I need to format for print then get it printed; and I need to hire a publicist. Actually, those are not the work of author, but part of my work as publisher.

I wish my squeamishness about the label “self-published”  would dissipate. Despite observations about the revolution in publishing, especially over the last two years, despite  exhortations by Steven Pressfield, despite my belief in the work itself, despite the existence of 110,000 words in the form of a story, despite my experience with  “professionals” who focus only on markets and not art, despite all these facets, the feeling “it’s not real” nags me.

But it is real, and it has real value. And soon, anyone who wants to discover that will be able to hold Chalice in their hand.

And I will move on to the next one.