Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Best Wishes

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, all of that.

Thanks to those who grabbed the e-book during the aforementioned flog.  We climbed to Number one of all kids Kindle books in the UK for a bit - ahead of Harry Potter and the Hobbit.  I had to have a lie down when that happened.

I'm at work on the sequel to Up, Back, and Away in fits and starts.  Thanks for asking. I would be able to move it along if some deep pocketed individual or entity bought the rights.  Ahem.

I'm also working on another project that has a deadline for the end of January.  More about that soon.

 In the meantime, I wish you all, dear readers, the happiest of holiday seasons.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Is it Vulgar to Scream "Sale!" "Sale!" ? (sorry).

Hey there!  Put down your derby hat and cane and stay awhile.

If you've read the book you might like to poke around here, especially some of the older posts where I reveal my inspiration and other fascinating things.

If you haven't read the book yet, well, you're in luck because from now to December 8, if you can scrounge 99 pence or 99 cents, depending, you can get the eBook from Mr. Amazon.

Here's a link for you Staties

and here's one for you readers in Mother England.

When you've finished, come and talk to me about what you thought (so long as you're nice).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Have You Read the Book?

If so you may be curious about the "banded stone."  For those who haven't yet read Up, Back, and Away , the stone is a key element in the time traveling (and, by the way, what are you waiting for?)

Anyway - there is a real banded stone.  This is it:

Time travel sine qua non?

I went hunting for it with my children one day while I was writing the story.  I found it in one of the most magical places I know in Vermont, the wooded trails at Shelburne Farms.  I'll admit that I haven't tested it for time traveling purposes.  Of course, that would be pointless since it only works when you also have the correct bicycle and handlebar bag in which to place it. And those are not available to me.  Still, it is a talisman.  Maybe someday I'll pass it on to a specially interested reader...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Short-Winded Lady

I went walking yesterday after Jeopardy ended. That means not only that I am incipient old fart but also that it was 7:30 pm before I got out the door. This time of year here in Vermont that means the light is going fast.

I almost didn't go because darkness was falling and because I'm lazy. As usual, however, my minimal exertion was richly repaid.  It was such a fine experience I thought about it again today, while I was out on another walk which was also nice but not so crowded with unexpected pleasures.  I thought I should go home and write about my nice walk last night for the record.

It's not much really so feel free to leave now if you are easily bored.

More on this is a minute...

Still here? Here's how it went.

I walked down my driveway to the dirt road on which we live and from there onto the paved road which is only three houses away. The paved road is not heavily traveled so it is pleasant for walking.

The houses in our neighborhood are all different, having been added piecemeal over about the last 150 years. A derelict apple orchard was repurposed as building lots for several of them and the apple trees are still here, though not tended.  I grabbed a small sour apple as I passed the first house on the paved road and took two bites.  It was good but I didn't want to risk bowel trouble so I stopped there.  I then remembered a pledge I made to myself earlier this summer to pick some wild flowers and August tis the season for wildflowers. I wanted to pick them because this summer I bought (for one dollar at Goodwill) a little flower press.

Wildflowers, of course, grow in profusion on the roadside. I grabbed a few as a I passed, aiming for varied colors and shapes. I don't know the names of the things I picked.  There were some little daisy-like things, a purplish number that I believe might be a cornflower, buttercups (I think, they were smaller than the buttercups I remember from childhood), and those orange bell-shaped flowers that grow on something like a small bush...  People of New England, you know what I mean.

I carried these as I walked toward the red barn that was my turn-around point.  When I got to the barn (actually just short of there as night was getting more serious), I turned and faced the mountains - well, significant hills - that make a wall at the end of this particular road, about two miles distant.

It had rained during the day and as dusk gathered there were pools and tatters of mist in half a dozen places on the dark green hillsides. Mists also swirled around the hilltops.  I hadn't noticed the mists til just that moment.  They were very beautiful and a lovely surprise.

The Japanese have a word for this - my kids give me grief about the fact that I say this, "The Japanese have a word..." every time I see such mists.  I can't remember their word. I will look it up later.

I listen to music while I walk.  I can't remember what was on, Squeeze, I think, when a jogger and her giant white dog came up behind me. I was picking another apple at that moment, thinking fine thoughts of our misty hills and trying to remember the Japanese word, when the dog woofed. Having been caught picking an apple (they are wild, but still) I started. I took a bite and, finding it corrupted, threw it out and had no courage to pick another with a witness.

The jogger was a fellow fattie, though much younger than me. She gave me a kind, rather embarrassed smile as she wobbled by.  The dog - who hadn't scared me a bit really, he was clearly a gentle giant - was on a leash. As they passed, the dog kept looking back at me, slowing his owner.

After the jogger had gotten about twenty yards ahead of me, the dog just sat down in the middle of the road as if to say. "I've had enough of this nonsense. Why aren't we on the couch where we belong? I want to stay with that apple picking broad."  The jogger, embarrassed, patted the dog's head. She then gave him a stiff pull on the leash and started jogging again. He was defeated and trotted along behind her like a furry ball and chain.

To her credit, the runner kept at it til she was out of sight. It was uphill so I was impressed.  No doubt she waited to go jogging until the road was likely clear of observers and, then, damn, there I was.

I walked past the old barn that comes up just before our dirt road. It is weathered and brown but has a shiny new tin roof.  It is a barn for a Vermont Life photo shoot.  I felt I cut a romantic figure, walking past it with my bunch of wild flowers in my hand.

I put the flowers in the press as soon as I got back into our dining room. I felt sort of bad about pressing them - something so 'pit and the pendulum' about tightening the screws.  I'll take a picture when they're done in two weeks. I will want to remember this.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Thanks & Another Top Tip: Robertson Davies

Hello ethereal friends.

Thanks to those of you who picked up the book this last week.  I hope you'll like it and tell others.  If you don't like it, fair enough, but you should feel free keep that to yourself.  (Kidding! [sort of]).

Anyway, while you were shopping for books this weekend I was taking my high-school-senior daughter on a whirlwind tour of the great universities of Ontario and Quebec.
U of T in the summer sun...

On this trip, for the first time in my long association with Canada, I visited the University of Toronto.  For me this is literary hallowed ground.  It has produced uncounted Canadian (and world) eminences, including Margaret Atwood, but for me it is to be cherished as the sometime intellectual home of Robertson Davies.  He was the founding master of Massey College there. Davies  is one of my literary heroes.  His physical appearance (beard, eyebrows etc.) - and his name - inspired the character of Morgan Davies in Up, Back, and Away, and his work, especially his masterpiece, Fifth Business is my top  tip for you today.

When I got home to Vermont after our trip this weekend I did a quick search on Amazon and found to my near horror that there is no e-version of Fifth Business, nor of any of Davies' other books available for sale.  This is really incomprehensible (executors of Davies' literary estate, take note).  He died in 1995 and he seems to have vanished into almost complete obscurity in the US and England.  Canada keeps the flame (Fifth Business was number 13 on the Canadian Classics list on Amazon.ca when I checked this morning).  Dear reader, I truly have your best interests at heart in recommending Davies to you.  Fifth Business is his best work - I once saw it called the best book ever written in Canada.  It's an engaging, lively page turner full of wisdom and mystery too.  I enjoyed it at twenty as much as I did at 45 - for different reasons.   You can start with that. I'm betting you'll want to carry on reading the rest of the Deptford Trilogy immediately.

When I was 22 I wrote a letter to the great man, and he wrote back.  Here's a link to a blog post about that, including the text of his kind reply to me.

As noted, you can't get an e-books by Davies, but used copies abound and your library ought to have at least a few titles by him.  If they don't you might tell them to get some.

I hope you'll read Fifth Business and maybe some of his other books and come back here to tell me "Thanks!"  Cheers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Happy May, Thanks, and Top Tip (Cecil Beaton), as Promised

Pansies and my pigeon toes
May is dwindling and I'll be sorry to see it go.  We are coming off the coldest January - March temperatures in Vermont in more than 90 years.  I'm not making this up.  Go check with NOAA if you doubt me.  (So much for all those old timers who like to boast about how cold winters were when they were young).  Reprieve from our hard, cold winter arrived, at last, this month in a blaze of flowering glory.

Thanks to all who picked up the e-book this last week during the kindle countdown deal.  My enjoyment of May was boosted by sharing the Amazon best seller lists with the likes of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman (two of my writer heroes), however briefly.  A UK deal e-book will be coming in June so stay tuned.

Of course, I understand that news of my e-book deals is of limited interest but to thank you for bearing with me I have a top tip...  Ready? "Cecil Beaton."

I've been an admirer for years.  He's most famous as a photographer, and for good reason, but he was also a writer, a painter, a high society flibbertigibbet and, perhaps most importantly for my purposes, a diarist.

I have been drifting through the last volume of his unexpurgated diaries for weeks now.  This volume contains entries written in the early 1970s in the twilight of his years.  Beaton was a social climber and prey to appearances all his life, but he was not a shallow person - or maybe he was a deep person with shallows. He's a terrible moaner every time he is inconvenienced or gets sick ("I've had the worst cold of my life these last days...") and can be very fey (a room requires un note de rouge) but he was also very perceptive, hardworking, and tough minded. 

I was touched that he was touched by a passage from The Pilgrim's Progress that was read out at a friend's funeral.   He rebukes himself for not having read it himself and (correctly) admires the beauty of the language.   He writes vividly and well (most of the time) and there's lots of fun gossip and the occasional brilliant insight.  He is genuine admirer of Queen Elizabeth II for good reason (she's good at her job and presents herself perfectly) but he doesn't hesitate to criticize her hair-do.  He is knighted in this volume and his details of the ceremony and the after-party are fascinating. He is sharp eyed and sharp tongued, but he doesn't spare himself, even describing the sad state of affairs of his genitalia following a prostate operation.  Here's a link to a New Yorker article about his diaries, FYI.

Thanks again for following along.  Thanks to all who downloaded the book. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have anything to tell me.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Read This

Clare Flynn, a fellow writer, is doing a series on writer's spaces on her blog.  She just posted a little piece on the cabin in Vermont where I (mostly) wrote Up, Back, and Away.  You can read that here.  There's an entry on her blog about guy who writes from a VW bus.  You'll find that there too, so what are you waiting for?

A tantalizing glimpse of the aforementioned cabin..
Well, before you go and while I'm here, thanks again to all you UK Kindle readers.  The e-book has been hanging in the best seller spots in its various categories for weeks now on Amazon.UK. If you're one of those kind readers, don't be shy!  I am here to answer questions, read comments, what have you. Of course, if you have a complaint, that's for another department which is currently closed.

I hope your New Year's Resolutions are working out better than mine.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

England Repays The Love

Happy New Year!  What are your resolutions for 2015?

Just Behind Harry and his Deathly Hallows, Just in Front of Monster Farts and Jeremy Clarkson.  A happy place.

Mine include getting back to work on my writing.  It has been fun working on repackaging, and pointing at, Up, Back, and Away but it's time to get back to the plow and break some new ground.  I did want to stop in here, however, and say thank you to all who picked up the e-book on Amazon.UK during the countdown deal this last week.  I hope you will enjoy reading the book and tell your friends if so.  If not, sorry for any let-down and for keeping that to yourself.  Kidding!  (Sort of).
"Most Wished For"  O, Thank YOU!

Anyway, during this last week I grabbed a few screenshots at Amazon.uk.  Hanging around in the company of Harry Potter is pretty thrilling, let me tell you.

I'm not leaving, BTW.  Book news and related info. will still be posted here, I'm just going to throw my shoulder to the wheel of some new things.  Thanks again.  Best wishes and all the best to you.