Saturday, August 29, 2009

Progress



I spoke with my agent, Grace Morgan, this past week, wondering where she stood in reading Despite Them. She told me she was caught in the middle of a rather tedious manuscript and, sadly, hadn't been able to get to my story yet. She said a couple more weeks and she'd be able to devote her time to it.

She gave me quite a compliment, though. When I mailed the manuscript, I also sent her copies of Sightless and Double Vision, which she had not seen or read. She told me she keeps glancing at the covers with longing. "Some covers are bad, some are okay," she told me, "but yours, which I understand you created, are the kind that you just want to pick up and settle in with."

I was thrilled by her professional opinion and can't wait till she actually reads them!

As the weather begins to cool (yes, we've already had temps in the low 40s!) and the days get shorter, my focus turns to writing. I still have another month of working full-time, but am looking forward to beginning Gregor's next adventure. I've already begun the story and know a little of what it'll be about, but as usual, I'm kept in the dark on what will happen until I actually start writing it. In the meantime, he (Gregor) will toss me hints now and again, which I scribble down and hope I can find when I sit down to write. Tidbits of where he's going with the plot, possible characters, and sometimes, lines of text. It's an interesting process.

When my editors read the Eyes of Garnet manuscripts, some tried to guess what would happen next. I just smiled and shrugged, because until it was on paper, I didn't have a clue. Sometimes they tried to interject what they thought should happen, but my characters always had minds of their own and wouldn't be dictated to.

So, I wait a little longer with toes and fingers crossed that Grace will enjoy Despite Them as much as my editors did.

While we wait, if you have a moment and would like to write a review about Double Vision—or either of my other books—write one on Barnes and Noble and/or Amazon. It's always appreciated, and after all it's part of my Shameless Self Promotion!
scuba diving Great Blue Hole

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mother Nature's Fury

Saturday, August 22, 2009.

There's an anticipation of something in the air, an edginess that precludes a storm. Hurricane Bill is churning up the sea to our south. Here, thick fog so dense even the neighbors' houses look like dreamscape—not quite real, as the fingers of moist clouds dance like specters through the open fields and dark spruce. Humidity, the likes of which we don't experience often, hangs close, making it difficult to breathe. Floors are sticky and clothes are damp; towels never fully dry.

Near the sheltered coves where I live, hundreds of small islands protect our part of the Reach from the brunt of the large rollers that are pummeling the open coast right now. But there are places where the full force of the sea can be seen and felt not far from here. I'll wait until the storm is upon us to visit these places and experience the sheer exhilaration of what nature can produce.

Sunday, August 23, 2009.

Overnight we had torrential rains that flattened my deck plants and gladiolas. We woke to cloudy skies, but no fog. Perfect! We'll be able to see the waves at Schoodic Point. This place is about an hour and a half from us further downeast. The pink and black granite basalt left over from some ancient volcano lies in enormous chunks of rubble—the only thing keeping the sea from encroaching into this low-lying area.

We get there around 10:30 am and already there are many brave souls gathered along the rocks. But the Park Rangers have deemed it to dangerous to venture further than the very edge of the road.

Giant rollers lift themselves out of the icy water ever higher, making curls before crashing in thunderous abandon onto the time-smooth rocks. They gather in sets of three to five like hunting dogs in search of wayward prey that they can claim for their own. Every once in a while, a rouge wave, much larger, gets into the mix and shakes the ground as the brunt of its enormity smashes down, creating a foam that flies into the air, lingering for a moment before floating down and becoming mixed with the rest.


The wind isn't too stout, probably a maximum of 15 knots instead of the 30 they predicted. As we watch, the tide is flowing, expecting to peak at 2:30. The throng of people all wishing to glimpse this rarity along the coast is becoming thicker. A little before noon, we begin noticing droves of people retreating from the top viewing areas. The Rangers are moving them down because the waves have begun splashing over the road. There's talk of closing the park before high tide.



Within fifteen minutes, Winter Harbor's finest have decided there is too much splash over and they want everyone out of the viewing area. They herd us out like so much cattle. There are a few who give in and begin to moo. The waves are incredible now.


As we walk down the road, the lucky ones are being sprayed with the salty brine as the waves reach ever closer to the road. The not so lucky are being splashed from head to toe. Rocks, the size of large grapefruits are being tossed onto the road, along with tree branches and seaweed.

The exodus is unhurried, much to the dismay of the Rangers and Police. They sense an urgency we don't share. We're here to witness this event, but alas, we reach the parking area and begin the trek out of the park. Just before that, though, we get the video of a lifetime. 

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Maine Highland Games


The day was, as we Mainers say, "wicked hot." Temps in the mid-80s and high humidity. All those factors didn't bode well with wool kilts, heavy wool jackets, and long-sleeved shirts like this fine gentleman was wearing. He was part of the Historical Scots encampment and those lads must have been roasting in their costumes.

Clan Donnachaidh's tent was one of the chosen few that garnered a shady spot, but until the afternoon breeze kicked in, it was still rather oppressive, even under the big oaks.

Needless to say, the Beer Garden was overflowing with hot and thirsty people, including yours truly. There's nothing better than sipping a ice cold Guinness draught while watching the Heavies (that's what the athletes who toss cabers, sheaths, and stones are called).

I always enjoy selling my books and talking with the people who venture into the clan tent. Many people were previous readers of my books and were searching me out for Double Vision. They were very happy to see it was available. I even had a woman stop in looking for book number four! I was flattered when she said I wasn't writing them fast enough. Actually, I am, I just can't get them published fast enough.

Once again, the t-shirt sayings were interesting. New for this year were:
I married a Scot. Pray for me.
Got Scotch?

And, of course, my husband's t-shirt about being a "kept man" was a favorite with many who vowed to come to the clan tent and help him in his quest. ;0) 

Preiden was there (first photo) playing their Scottish rock, as was a band from Scotland called Scocha (second photo) who sang rowdy pub songs and really got the crowd going, despite the blazing sun.



All in all, we had a great time, as always, and I'll leave you with a movie you can play for a bit of a Scottish experience.

video

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sign of the times

I just returned home from spending a gorgeous day in Bar Harbor; one of the few such days we've had this summer. I did a signing at the Celtic Rainbow, well, I would have done a signing if anyone actually stopped to buy a book. For the most part, I had a feeling I would just be having a great chat with Linda Keady, the owner. She's always willing to have me at her shop, and I always enjoy being there, with or without sales.

For those of you who have never heard of Bar Harbor, Maine, here's a brief overview. Tourist trap of the most extreme sort. Hotels, restaurants, more gift shops than should be allowed in on small town, and yachts from around the globe. For those looking for more nature than glitz, there's Acadia National Park with its hundreds of trails, kayak tours, horseback tours, carriage tours—complete with tea and popovers!—and garden tours. A bit for everyone.

Needless to say, the masses from all over flock to Bar Harbor. Usually. Not this summer, though. The weather has really put a damper (pardon the pun) on the tourists trade. Shops were empty, sidewalks were passable and there were places to park if you looked.

It was the perfect summer day in Maine, yet the masses were nowhere to be seen. It makes me wonder if it's just a sign of the times economically, or if people really just don't care about buying books from the author anymore. Yes, I know there's a significant savings by shopping on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.com, but it seems to me that there is less and less interest in going to hear an author speak or go to a signing.

Pretty much the same thing happened last week when I was invited to speak at our library. I hung posters, took out ads in the papers, send out invitations, and told everyone I knew. Most promised to be there and I was pumped to have a great night. I even made my Single Malt Whisky Cake!

Five people showed up, and one walked out halfway through.

Writing the books is the easy part. Truly! The rest is much like a bad business venture. Do you bail out and write it all off? Or do you wait out the storm and hope for better days?

I know what I'm doing. I'm going to do my part and write my stories and get my books out there. Then I'm going to rely on my readers to help spread the word. It can't be any worse than traveling all over and have no one show up.

But, even though sales were a bust, we had a great time. We ate well, did a little shopping to stimulate the local economy, and had a beer on the deck of a restaurant overlooking the water before heading back home.

Here's a taste of Maine at its best.




















The view from the restaurant.



















A globe trotter's yacht.















The Margaret Todd awaiting a crew.













A little local flavor.













A whale on deck while having a beer.