Wednesday, December 1, 2010

See, Now This Is What I Love About Writing...

So picture this. You're making your way through your manuscript, tweaking here and there, feeling like you know pretty much the whole story and how it unfolds, when you stop cold--realize something's missing. The paragraph you just read for the hundredth time leads logically and interestingly enough into the next, yet there's something missing. You feel it in your gut. You try and suss it out, but intellectual thought isn't any help at this stage. So you take a walk, make some tea, lie down for a 20-minute power nap.

Going back to the computer, you suddenly realize if you add a line just here it touches on two or three structural elements you were never really sure you needed but somehow couldn't let go of, or bits of character or dialogue you really love but weren't quite sure where to use or even if they belonged in the book at all. Pulls all of it together to become something larger--a plot twist, maybe, or an insight that adds deeper meaning to one or more of the plot lines. Raises the stakes, in other words.

Little miracles, these--precious gifts from the writing gods--and like all such serendipity the key is letting go of the plan and letting yourself be led by instinct. Keeping an open mind as you read your work and seeing it with fresh eyes every time.

This shot is of my "character wall" for Reese's Leap, which keeps me visually oriented to the characters and their storyline.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Thing About Publishing

Want to know what trying to get published is like? Sit down in the back yard, stare at the ground and wait for the grass to grow.

I've been getting some interest in another of my ms (a double mystery called Matinicus--the prequel to the one I'm writing now), which is a good thing, and while checking out the publishers involved I've learned some interesting stuff. It's all about distribution. Signing with a publisher means nothing if the house doesn't have a decent distributor. These are companies that visit the brick and mortar stores (B&N, indies, etc.) and convince them to stock your book. Publishers hire them for a percentage of the take. Some publishers have told me they have a distributor when what they actually have is a wholesaler. Whole different animal. These are big companies like Ingram and Baker & Taylor, who physically warehouse books, mailing out orders as they come in. They do nothing to help spread the word or pump the book up.

Complicating matters even further is the fact that some wholesalers also have distribution arms (Ingram for instance), so unless you actually push the publisher on it, you'll never known which part of the company it's using.

Just because things aren't already hard enough...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Keep On Keepin' On

Yes, I'm still here, nose to the grindstone and all that. Slowly making my way through the Reese's Leap ms and hope to be ready with a first draft by spring. Then off it goes to my readers. Meanwhile I have a fresh nibble on Matinicus (its prequel), so keep your fingers crossed.

Took my show on the road with a visit to a book group in Kennebunk, Maine this past Friday evening and it was a blast! Terrific food, great wine and very spirited discussion. This for Hunter Huntress, the book that came out in June. I absolutely love book clubs. If you have one, consider having me "in" for discussion. I'm happy to travel if you're relatively close by; I can also Skype in!

Next Wednesday, Oct. 27, I'm at the Barrington Public Library beginning at 7:00 (another Hunter Huntress event). Come on by for one of my Double Chocolate Chunk cookies!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Now Starts the Hard Part

By that I mean the real nuts and bolts editing work--going through each section of the ms, deciding which parts to keep and which to toss or expand on, and then polishing the work to where I can send this first draft out to my readers. It's here I really get to know my characters and they often surprise me! I figure this will take me into the New Year. I'll keep you posted.

Busy working on lining up book clubs and library readings and have a few coming up including Oct. 27 at the Barrington Public Library ( ) beginning at 7:00 p.m. Hope to see some of you there!

Just finished reading The Help'" which I found incredibly moving and very well written--the voices of each of the disparate characters unique and consistent. Other recent reads include a few of Michael Kimball's well plotted mystery/thrillers: Undone and Mouth to Mouth.

Here's another shot from the island on which Reese's Leap is based, this one the inspiration for Adria's cabin, "The Birches."

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Killed Someone Today...

Her name was Nancy and she was pretty important at first. As the plot developed, she became extraneous. Hard as it was, she had to go.

Talking about one of my characters, of course, and she was central to the plot of Reese's Leap as it was first conceived. But much time and many chapters later, I realized she was just bogging things down. Sometimes it's like that. But plowing through 300 pages of copy in order to get rid of her was no easy task. Took days and days. A lot like surgery. Some of her lines--those I wanted to keep--and the plot elements she was involved with handed off to someone else. Some of the others now had to do double duty. They're not happy with me, I can tell you that. Now on to yet more tweaking to get the first draft ready for readers!

This shot was taken on one of the island trails that are part of the setting for the book on the fictional Mistake Island--in reality a lovely place off Brunswick, Maine.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Upcoming Events

Always tough settling back in after vacation. Upside is the wonderful flow of creative energy that follows a break from routine. I've got my ending to Reese's Leap now, along with a final plot twist. I'll get all that in place next week and then begin a very thorough tweaking, shifting and editing of the first draft. I'm even considering dropping one of the characters I originally felt was central to the plot but now seems quite superfluous. If you're new to my work, this book is the sequel to my manusript of Matinicus, a few chapters of which you can find on my web site:

I've also been busy scheduling some fall and winter readings/signings as well as a few book club appearances. Monday night, September 20th at 7:00, I'll be reading at RiverRun Bookstore in downtown Portsmouth. That Saturday, the 25th, I've been invited to "Skype in" to a book club meeting outside Chicago. What fun! Hoping that one works out, cause it would be a great way to "appear" without the cost of flight. Friday evening, October 15th, I'll attend a book club meeting up in Kennebunk ,Maine, and Wednesday, October 27th at 7:00, I'll be reading at the Barrington Town Library. That's it for the fall, so far. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Of Books and Blueberries

To me, vacations mean lots of time for reading, and I sure do a lot of it when we sail. The last few weeks, for example. So here's what I'm into these days. Lots of Charlie Huston--really loved the three books in his Hank Thompson series. Last week I read The Mystic Arts of Erasing all Signs of Death--his dark, quirky book about a twenty-something guy who takes a job with a company that cleans up after people die violent deaths. Why he chooses to do this has a lot to do with a traumatic event he lived through a while back--something that's slowly and rather deliciously revealed near the end of the book. Despite the subject matter, or maybe because of it, it's one of the funniest books I've ever read.

I'm also a big Dennis Lehane fan and just finished reading Coronado--a book of short stories he published a while back. The book is named for one of the stories therein and what I found really interesting (besides his just plain excellent writing) is that he also includes a short play that's an expanded version of that story. The juxtaposition allows for a revealing window into the mind of this amazing writer.

I also plowed through all three books of the Stieg Larsson trilogy this summer--loving all but the last one which I felt suffered for the absence of its heroine's antics until the very end of the novel. Finally, a lovely surprise was found in Julia Glass's story of two sisters, "I See you Everywhere." I've been a big fan since reading her debut novel, Three Junes (which won the National Book Award). Amazing writing. Puts the rest of us to shame...

But hey, lest you think I did nothing more than bury myself in the pages of novels for two weeks, here's a shot of me cleaning the blueberries I'd just picked from a huge field in Bucks Harbor Maine!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Final Input

Well, okay. After taking a long weekend for a High School reunion I was badgered into attending (despite which I had an absolutely fabulous time, so thanks Becca and Liz, for insisting I go), this morning it was back to the writing. A very special morning, too, as I input my final pile of notes for the last part of the book. Which requires, I guess, an explanation of the way I work.

When I get an initial idea for a book, I find myself jotting down little thoughts--ideas for character, bits of dialogue, etc., and then I throw them in a file folder. When there are too many for the folder, they get tossed into a basket. As I start the book, the ideas come faster and faster, thus more and more bits of paper. One basket becomes two, then three. When I have a sense of where things are heading, I loosely organize the notes: one basket for the beginning of the book, one for the middle and one for the part I call "headin' for the barn." Further down the line, I divide them up even further, clipping groups of notes for sections within the baskets, then sections within sections. All of this lives on the floor under a long work table in my writing room, and as things heat up the piles begin snaking out from under the table and around the perimeter of the room. Gets messy. Pretty basic, I know, but it works for me.

So anyway, the big deal about this morning? All the little notes I've been collecting for over two years now are finally gone--absorbed into the ms in one form or another. Now the real work begins: honing character (expanding some roles, maybe deleting one or more altogether), tweaking plot, etc.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Too Funny

Working from the boat today. Love it out here--quite, peaceful, great for those creative juices. But I had to take a break to share this one with you. Seems after all my recent chest-thumping and pleading with Snowbooks to please, please, please get my listing for Hunter Huntress up on (their US site, opposed to Amazon UK--a totally separate corporation with its own bizarre set of rules) and getting nowhere because it appears this is not something publishers can control, it seems I finally am. Listed I mean. Not because some big US wholesaler has decided to stock the book, which is the only way to get listed if your British publisher doesn't happen to have a US distributor (ah-hem), but because some readers with Amazon Seller Accounts are putting new and used copies up for sale.

Which got me thinking...

I, too, have an Amazon Seller Account. Maybe I could get Snowbooks to use me as a shill? Of course with the enormous costs involved in shipping crates of the things to me from Britain, not to mention Customs charges and the enormous discounts Amazon demands, I'd make about $.13 a book. That's thirteen cents.

Amazon. Amazin.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hidden Pictures, or Just When You Had It All Figured Out

Remember the magazine, "Highlights for Children?" A monthly, I think. Anyway, I used to go through it looking for the "Hidden Pictures" page each time my mother dragged me to the orthodontist's office--you know, the one with a list of objects you're supposed to identify within a larger, far more complicated picture? Maddening as hell. There were always two or three I gave up on, only to stumble across them while I was looking for something else entirely.

Last week's writing went something like that.

All week I'd been smugly picking my way toward my "I'm-sure-this-is-how-it's-going-to-go" ending for Reese's Leap, in-putting the final plot elements (later to be more fully developed, edited and polished), when I came across a Hidden Picture. Same kind of thing. I was looking for nothing more than a simple segue from one scene to another, when out of the blue one of my characters uttered a line to another that changed everything. Well, maybe not everything. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic here, let's just say this one innocent comment exposed a deeper truth at the base of the entire book. No lie. This, maybe twenty pages from the end. Imagine.

After a nerve-wracking half hour calculating how much rewriting it was going to take to make this change work (not so much as it turns out; appears the germs of this particular plot element had been there all along), I spent another bit of time wondering why this particular insight hadn't occurred to me before. Why a comparatively minor character knew more about where the book was headed than I did. Know what I decided? No matter how fast I try and pound my way toward the book's finish, gathering the seams of plot lines and cinching them in, the big truths simply won't be rushed. A fact it seems I have to relearn constantly.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Toast to Vacations

Back at work since Monday and it feels good. More than good. You might have noticed the total lack of anything resembling "writing talk" in my vacation entries. Frankly, with all that was going on I had little time to contemplate much of anything in that regard. Didn't worry about it too much, though. I had the sense it was a good thing; that somewhere beneath all that fun the story wheels were turning, moving me toward a number of plot decisions I've been struggling with lately. Sure enough, after taking Monday to get caught up with 3-weeks worth of domestics and other pressing matters in our land-based world, I was back at it and quickly realized I knew exactly how to proceed. The way seemed utterly clear. Just proves the old adage that much of a writer's work is done away from the computer. Trust is called for, and patience a-plenty. Ideas are spun of gossamer, after all. They need time to churn and settle before finding their way to the page. So here's to vacations, where much of the hardest work is done!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Tickety-Boo

Our 9:30 a.m. departure Friday morning from Dipper Harbor was the start of a L-O-N-G overnight passage, one that didn't see us dropping the hook until 6 p.m. the next day. I have to say I really don't like overnights; they always kind of freak me out. We do it in two hour shifts, one of us always up, alert, and in the cockpit--tweaking sail trim and keeping an eye out for other ships. Cleave was on from 10 - 12; I took the 12 - 2 shift; he was on from 2 - 4; then I had the dawn watch. I gave him some extra time in the bunk then woke him with coffee and a hot breakfast.
Besides the loss of sleep (which leaves me feeling logy all the next day), I hate the reduced visibility at night--floating out there in total darkness with 300-400 feet of ocean beneath our 40 foot piece of fiberglass. But sometimes it's unavoidable.

Anyway, it was quite the relief to finally pull into Cape Porpoise, shrouded in fog as you can see, and drop the hook for supper and a good night sleep before continuing on the final 25 miles the next day. Couldn't leave the boat though, as we hadn't checked in with US Customs, which we did Sunday afternoon in Portsmouth.

Well, hope you enjoyed coming along on our sailing adventure; we sure enjoyed your company!

Headin' Home!

Wednesday proved to be a hot, windless slog back to the RKYC for our final night on the river. It was so hot, Cleave and I motored the 16 miles with the awning up! Hey, gotta do what you gotta do...

Once at the club, Cleave and I walked the 5 miles (round trip) to the grocery, then toted everything back--enjoying the much-needed exercise. After showers and cocktails with the crowd on Skater (see photo of the group arriving!), we took a cab with the group into the city of St. John for some shopping at the City Market and dinner st Billy's Chowder House. Excellent Bouillabaisse!

Knowing the tide would be slack at the Reversing Falls at 12:15 Thursday, our three boats left RKYC at 10:45 next morning, got through uneventfully, then said goodbye to St. John Harbor and sailed over to Dipper Harbor for out last night in Canadian waters. Dipper is a wonderful, working harbor where a long line of fishing boats nestle on moorings behind a huge, 30 foot tall breakwater. And after an uneventful night, Cleave and I said goodbye to the rest of the flotilla and blasted off for a non-stop, 40-hour sail back to Portsmouth.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our Final Days on the St. John

Monday we once again had wind, and the three boats tacked back and forth across the Lake for a few hours before heading off toward Kingston Creek on Belleisle Bay. Now we are officially on the return run, planning another run across the Reversing Falls toward the mouth of the St. John River mid-day Thursday. On Kingston Creek we spotted a nesting pair of Bald Eagles, unfortunately too far away for a photo. Darn!
Tuesday morning we slept in, had a late breakfast of oatmeal with fresh blueberries, read a few hours, then motored the 10 miles back to Whelpley Cove for a last night before two of our party leave us.
This will probably be the last vacation post till we return to Portsmouth ,as we'll be offshore for several days. I promise the skinny on that when we hit the mooring!

Our Time on the St. John, Part 2, or "The Girl with the Dragonfly Tattoo"

Saturday the 17th dawned another fiercely hot day, and we spent the first part of it motoring to Gagetown, a small village that promised a very good pub for lunch. It was here that Cleave and I finally tried "poutine," an odd, uniquely Canadian plate of french fries smothered in gravy and curd cheese. I know, I know, but we had to try it. Thank God we split one dish, each ordering a salad to stave off a spike in cholestrol.

From there it was on to the back side of Grim Ross Island, which proved to be a favorite spot for the fast powerboat, water skying and jet ski crowd. Noisy, for sure, but highly entertaining.

Sunday morning dawned another hot one with the added bonus of high humidity. I took over for this leg which turned out to be a motorboat ride as there was no wind, doing the steering and navigating to Big Cove on Lake Washademoak on my own and somehow managing not to run aground in some very shallow waters. This was a pretty amazing place--peaceful and with warm waters perfect for swimming (see shot of the ladies in their water toys!) It was here that we encountered scores of mating dragon flies. Golden pairs, glittering teal pairs. Just beautiful. One pair even alighted on my arm for a bit, earning me the nickname The Girl with the Dragonfly Tattoo!!

Our Time on the St. John, Part 1

After a peaceful night on a RKYC mooring, we managed a trip into town for provisions, snagged a long hot shower courtesy of our hosts, then sailed downwind with our spinnaker up (you've seen these things--big, balloon-like sails that seem to float before the boat) in very hot temps for about 16 miles to Whelpley Cove, where Cleave and I managed a five mile walk to a produce stand. Re-energized by their amazing ice cream, we headed back, had celebratory cocktails on Skiya (one of our companion boats) and hit the sack.

I surprised Cleave with blueberry boatcakes in the a.m., then our little flotilla headed off once again--this another spinnaker run of about 28 miles to a place called Colwell's Creek. Along the way, we had a hard take down of the sail and lost the sheet (rope) when a shackle let go, sending the line racing through my hand and leaving me with terrible rope burns!! Not fun.

Colwell's Creek might be more aptly named "Cows Creek"--a narrow slice of water with herds of the things on both sides, low-ing to each other all evening and into the night. After dropping our anchors, one of our number located an abandoned steamship pier which we appropriated for an impromptu sunset BBQ.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bliss to St. John and the Reversing Falls

It was a rough rainy sail the next day, and we almost missed the planned 8:30 a.m. departure! Canadian time is one hour ahead of EST, and while I was good about resetting the clock in the main saloon, I completely spaced about setting the one in the forepeak, where we sleep. So when I woke at what I thought was 7:30 and looked around, I saw both other boats raising their mainsails and pulling anchor. It was really 8:30! A bit of scrambling ensued, but we managed to leave with our small fleet--sailing right into more fog which became one of the hardest rains I can remember. One of the other boats decided to sail through it, but we fired up the old "iron topsail," put the autopilot on (which C can drive from his nav station below), and had a toasty warm, albeit LONG and very rocky motorboat ride to St. John Harbor. It's been said (and I relay this with all modesty) that I could cook in a washing machine and I guess that's right. On one particularly memorable trip, and while in near-hurricane conditions during which most of the crew was on deck tossing their cookies, I was below happily putting the finishing touches on a roast chicken dinner). Anyway, I spent part of this nasty ride backing chocolate chip cookies which I presented to the crews of the other boats on arrival in St John.

Next on our list that day was navigating the Reversing Falls of the St. John River. This is an amazing place (see photo at slack tide, when the water at the falls is even on both sides). When tide is high or low, this literally becomes a waterfall, with a drop of as much as fifteen feet.

After successful navigating this tricky bit, we motored the final hour of hour 10 1/2 hour "sail" to the Royal Kennebecassit Yacht Club, arriving in time for this lovely sunset.

Welcome to Canada--eh?

Tuesday morning the 14th ( I think), we motored out of Mistake into yet more fog, heading to Head Harbor to clear Canadian customs. It was a terrific sail, once the sun burned off all the haze--doing more than nine knots. This is more than hull speed for us (defined as "one point three times the square root of waterline length," of which we have forty feet), but we were given a good kick by the Bay of Fundy tide. We were also able to clear in over the phone once we got into Head Harbor, unheard of after 9/11--or so we thought--but it saved a lot of time waiting for someone to drive in from God-only-knows-where, and we were able to hot-foot it the final hour over to a peaceful anchorage called Bliss Harbor for the night. These photos are of the beautiful dramatic coastline as we came into Canada, and the lovely Head harbor Light.

Of Rainy Lay Days

Sunday the 11th, Marty and Russ finally caught up with us at the Cranberries and we decided on a lay-day. Spent it reading, listening to the rain on the cabin top and cooking. Finally threw up our rain awning and hosted a little coctail party which was good for the soul. After a peaceful night sleep, we woke Monday to a clearing sky and lazed over breakfast in the cockpit (the Famous Skater Blueberry Cofffee Cake!!--email me for the recipe...), waited for the wind to come up and had a slow, unhurried sail up the dramatic coast of Mount Dessert and beyond--arriving at Mistake Harbor (near the Canadian border) just as the others were pouring the wine!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friday to Saturday in Perry Creek, then on to the Cranberry Islands

So halfway down The Fox Island Thoroughfare, there's this nifty little anchorage called Perry Creek. The sun was out here--the fog drifting overhead looking for someplace else to land, I guess (Cleave says the heat from the land mass pushes it up and over till it reaches water again). We dropped the hook and spent the night, having drinks with friends from a few other boats we ran into. After a wonderful hike up the Fox Rocks to the top of the mountain (see photo of my hubby and one of Skater at rest) we had a great BBQ of ribs and hit the hay. Saturday dawned with foggy wisps trailing into the creek, so we threw up the main, pulled out the jib and sailed the 6 hours over to Little Cranberry Island, just off Mount Dessert, and waited there for the rest of our party to catch up. Marvelous dinner out at the Islesford Inn. Yay!

Foggy Rockland Departure

Sorry it's been so long between posts, but it's hard to find wireless when you're cruising 3 miles off the coast of Maine, often spending your nights in harbors inhabited by nothing more than seals and the occasional curious porpoise.

So anyway, after re-provisioning, we decided to leave Rockland on Friday (even though the other two boats in our entourage wouldn't be leaving till the next day), and even though a fog bank hovered ominously over Penobscot Bay just outside the harbor. What the hell, we decided--there must be something on the other side of it, right?! Gotta say, there's nothing quite as sphincter-puckering as sailing full bore though the fog in a channel busy with boat traffic. But sure enough, the fog lifted just as we entered the Fox Island Thoroughfare (lovely little waterway that separates the islands of Vinal Haven and North Haven) and I was able to grab these shots for you--one of a typical "Maine Cottage" (something with like 23 bedrooms) as well as a shot of the three masted schooner, "Victory Chimes."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Heading for Rockland

We spent much of Tuesday the 6th with Ellen, Don and Leslie--doing a Boothbay Harbor shopping trip, lunching out, doing laundry (the girls having gone through every towel on the boat in 4 days!) then a BBQ up at the cottage before kissing all goodbye and heading back to Skater. Up early Wednesday to head to Rockland via Mussel Ridge Channel, where we were met got it: fog! And I mean lots of it. Started to clear a bit just as we turned the corner at Owl's Head, making for Rockland Harbor--at least enough that I could grab this shot of the Blue Hills of Camden for you! Now it's tending to business for Cleave, while I top off the groceries and take care of miscellaneous chores before we head out on the next part of our adventure. Might be a while before you hear from us again as wireless is spotty, but I'll be able to post again withing the week.

Tentative schedule: Saturday: Rockland to Mackerel Cove, Swans Island; Sunday: Mackerel Cove to Mistake Harbor; Monday: Mistake to Head Harbor, where we clear Canadian customs, then Head harbor to Bliss Island.

Stay tuned!

The Fun Continues...

Monday morning, July 5th dawned oppressively hot, so we put off leaving Quahog Bay till we'd had a good long swim. This was to be our last leg to Boothbay where we'd drop the girls with Auntie E for the rest of the week and continue east to meet the two other boats accompanying us up the St. Johns River into Canada. No wind, so we were forced to motor the four hours to Back River (the back side of Boothbay Harbor) where we dropped the hook. The motoring made for a smoother ride--a nice change for the girls, who'd felt a bit "whoopsie" during the rougher first few days at sea. In the Back River, we were surprised to find Ospreys nesting everywhere--a truly wonderful sight as these magnificent birds were once rarely encountered here! We took the dinghy up the "crick" for fried fish at the Trevett Country Store, Lacey happy to finally have some of her beloved fried Maine shrimp, then "hit the hay."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Of Casting Off and Little Girls

Vacation begins!! Saturday afternoon, July 3, our erstwhile crew of ten-year-old girls dropped the mooring and we trading the near hundred degree temps of Kittery, Maine for a stunning, if roly, four hour sail to Cape Porpoise, Maine. Lacey and Tori escaped most of the heat by riding behind in the cooler, though bouncy dingy. Next day, July 4th, dawned just as sunny and hot but with little wind, so we motor-sailed the 6 hours (hear refrains of "Are we there yet?)" to Quahog Bay and spent much of the late afternoon swimming. A BBQ dinner complete with deviled eggs (thanks to the girls' efforts) and a dinghy explore with Cleave completed our day. It was early to bed that night as all were exhausted, but Lacey woke me about ten to see three different towns' fireworks exploding in different parts of the night sky. Very cool!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The deal with Amazon...

Well, for those of you waiting for Hunter Huntress to turn up on (US), the wait continues. And will continue into the foreseeable future. Maybe longer. The book is very happily up and selling on, but it seems that in order for books published in Britain to be listed on the American site, one of the big US book wholesalers (like Ingrams), has to decide to carry it. And so far that hasn't happened. It's a bit more complicated, but that's basically the deal. Soooo, for a current list of places where you can buy the book, as well as the appropriate links, please see my website:

On a more positive note, the shifting around of some of the plot elements in Reese's Leap that I mentioned in my last post has gone really well and far more quickly than I thought, which made me realize while I was cutting here, pasting there, throwing out paragraph after paragraph altogether, and dragging lots of other stuff to the last part of the ms, how this change will make for a much better book. Ups the emotional ante, so to speak. I love it when that happens. I once tried to do this on another ms with disastrous results. I hadn't really thought the whole thing through, was the problem, and when I was done realized I'd completely buggered the plot. That was NOT a good day.

Minimal actual writing the next few days; have to get everything pulled together for the sailing trip we head off on starting this weekend. This photo is of one of our gung-ho crew, 10-year-old granddaughter Lacey, who's on board for the first leg and loves going up the mast for her Grampa. Stay tuned for uploads of the highlights and you'll be on a virtual vacation in a matter of days!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Here I sit on another Sunday afternoon creating the writing work list for the week. I usually start thinking about it sometime Saturday, helps to get me where I want to be by the following Friday. That's especially important this week as we leave for a much-needed vacation Saturday a.m. and I want to get through a complicated bit of revision beforehand. Just to refresh, I'm near the end of the first draft of the sequel to Matinicus (see for an excerpt of that ms), and I now realize I've revealed a rather important plot twist too early in the novel. Instead, it will make a perfect jaw-dropper just toward the end. I get excited when I have this kind of insight, despite the fact this particular kind of change requires careful surgery--character observations and bits of conversation taken from here and over there, all gathered up and moved around without disturbing the rest of the whole.

In a recent article, the writer Thomas Emson said about revision: "It's the most difficult part of writing a book, but the most honest part. It's where your story is unearthed. I've learned never to trust a first draft. The second draft is where you find your truths." So true. So for me, the fact I'm just now realizing that this bit of plotting isn't right means I'm entering that second, almost magical phase of writing a book. Slogging through a first draft is a lot like feeling your way around a dark room with no idea where you're headed, bumping into this and that and unsure why. With a second draft, you're eyes have adjusted enough that you can make out the important bits of furniture, maybe move things you've been stumbling over, kick other things away altogether. Bad analogy, I know; but you get the point.

So hooray. And, yes, I'll be taking the laptop along on vaca, hopefully uploading some sailing shots when we can find wireless. For now it's back to pulling threads. I'll let you know how I'm doing midweek.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Taking the bad with the good

Friends are everything, don't you think? So many helped out at Thursday night's book launch at the Portsmouth Athenaeum, it'll take days to get through all the thank-yous. It was a glorious evening after a day of T-storms and about twice as many people came out as were expected. Lots of insightful questions; lots of books sold, which always helps the bottom line. This was my very first "reading" and boy was I nervous. It ran about half an hour which I think is typical. Now I'll set to honing a shorter one, for those readings I'll be doing in conjunction with other authors.
Only bummer was just that day I received another rejection of my ms of Matinicus--this a very lovely one from Minotaur Books (div. St. Martins Publishing). Hand signed, even. Not quite as pretty as the one I received from Unbridled Press for Hunter Huntress, but close. But, hey, that's okay. File it away and send out another; that's my modus operandi. You should see my rejections pile--gotta be a foot tall. Damn proud of that!
Now, as the excitement of the last few days starts to fade, I can finally get back to writing. See me smile. See me sigh. This, after all, is what it's all about.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Creative Silence

Rainy weekend on Skater, which I've spent working on my talk for Thursday's Launch. Yesterday's "Creativity and Silence" seminar in Manchester was great. So empowering to spend the day with other writers and Anne Le Claire is a great one, as well as a terrific teacher. Many eye-openers for me over the course of the seven hours, not the least being her discussion about how choosing to "be in silence" redirects energy inward, increasing creative drive. Maybe that's why I get so much work done out here the boat!

Another rejection for Matinicus came in this past week. Just threw it in the box, which is now quite overfull, and sent out another ms. I've been through this so many times now, I don't even feel the sting of it anymore (well, maybe a little). After all, Hunter Huntress was rejected almost 40 times before it found a home...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cheek by jowl with Richard Russo

Lots of excitement here. Besides all the fun of getting ready for next week's Book Launch and Reading party in Portsmouth (NH), I dropped off a second batch of books to RiverRun, our local indie bookstore. So exciting to see my beautiful cover on the table beside so many fine writers, and right next to Richard Russo! With all the excitement it's been hard to keep my morning focus on the writing of new work, but last week's decision to shift of part of the ms from the middle closer to the end feels oh-so-right now I've gotten going on it. Makes for a better dramatic arc and keeps the surprises coming till the end, lending the final few chapters more heft. Looking forward to finishing up the first draft of this one and getting it off to readers (okay, maybe not till the end of the summer, but at least the end's in sight)!
Heading to Manchester Saturday morning for a writing seminar on "Creativity and Silence" by novelist Ann Le Clair. Can't wait!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A rainy Sunday morning on Skater

After a stunning night at the Isles of Shoals, a lazy Sunday morning finds me sitting at anchor in the rain mulling over the coming week's writing. For a while now, I've been struggling with the "lumpy feel" of the middle of my current ms (Reese's Leap, the sequel to Matinicus--see my web site for excerpts), and only Friday realized the problem. So tomorrow I begin the process of tearing the middle of the ms down and removing the plot elements I now know should be introduced later in the book. A bit of work, but so worth it. And that's a big part of the draw of writing--at least for me. Pulling a book together is a lot like doing a puzzle--moving the pieces around till you get the perfect fit. Terribly frustrating when it's not working, rewarding as hell when you get it right.

Anyone for blueberry pancakes?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Okay, well, how about a bit of shameless self-promotion to start? Sounds good to me...
So here I sit, Day Two of the UK launch of Hunter Huntress, waiting for Amazon to get its act together and list the book as available in this country. Actually, this would be a good time to make my usual pitch for buying it (if you're so inclined) from our local indie bookstore, RiverRun, who already has it in stock and will gladly ship it out without hassle or delay. RR's a cool store run by great people who go out of their way to support local authors. Simply shoot them a message at and let them know you want to order my book. Not sure you want it? Head to my homepage where you can listen to me read the first chapter.
On the home front, the weather's been absolutely gorgeous here in southern NH, and we celebrated summer's early start by spending Memorial Day weekend on Skater out at the Isles of Shoals--Skater being the 20-year-old sailboat cum summer cottage we spend all winter working on while we count the days till we can put her in the water again. The actual sailing being secondary to sitting peacefully on the mooring of a summer evening, you understand, gin and tonic in hand and staring in mild shock at all the gelcoat cracks we never got around to fixing...
By the end of the weekend (what husband Cleave called this season's "shakedown cruise"), we had a whole new list of things to fix, including the head (don't ask), and a leaking forepeak hatch. At least we've got a couple weeks till we drop the mooring again.