Books Memoir

Everyone Needs a Guide

Dale and me at the launch of my first book, Look Up!, in 2014.

The first time I met Dale Carlson was in 1996 over coffee at the Hidden Kitchen in Guilford, Connecticut. She was the first person to call Words by Jen from the first yellow page ad I ever purchased.

And while we would both tell you that we were not really sure we really liked each other that day — and many days after that as well — we would go on to make almost 30 books together under the name of Bick Publishing House.

Ask me today what inspired me to write books and how I came to start my own publishing company, and I will tell you about the 25+ years that Dale and I worked together: the long hours of editing around her kitchen table, selecting art and cover designs, developing a house style, and promoting her books. All of the things I do for my clients’ books and my own books now, I learned from Dale.

But she wasn’t just a client. Dale was my long-time mentor and spiritual guide who helped me understand my family dysfunction and my mother’s mental illness, who taught me about meditation and the many faces of god. She showed by example that you can create a life on your own eccentric terms, and how it is to move around in the world in the body of writer.

Often, our approaches to life were vastly different — how we saw the world and how we coped as different as our backgrounds and ages. But in so many ways, we were kindred spirits who could complete each others sentences and easily nod in agreement more often than we expected.

We talked just recently about our work together and our long, enduring affection for one another. “It is so lovely,” she said, “to know how entwined we are! Love you, dear one.”

I love you, too, Dale.

Dale passed away on January 23, 2022. You can read more about her life here, or from her many books that are still available online.