Here are two more female sloths that I saw in Monteverde at a sanctuary. In the wild we probably wouldn't see two sloths cuddling close like these two. If you zoom in on the photo, you can see the sleepy eye of the front sloth, and right above her head is the even sleepier eye of the second one. They have been raised together at the refuge and so they're close in a way they wouldn't be in the wild. In the Power Rising series, Roebor, the dragonpanther, has flaming blue eyes unlike these. Sloths have two stomachs, I think the guide said, and digest their food veeeerrrry slowly, so that they come down from the trees to poop only once a week. Shannon has the opposite problem; her food is metabolizing so fast she fights a losing battle keeping enough food in her. In the wild we also would rarely see sloths trying to catch some shut eye with their heads so exposed. Instead they tuck them in, probably for protection. But at the sanctuary, they feel quite comfy stretching right out. Humans are generally lucky like that, too. The couch sounds good right about now.
Birds fly, dragons fly. Roebor, the Power Rising dragon, is obviously a little further removed on the evolutionary family tree from the common dinosaur ancestor than a bird like this beauty from Monteverde, Costa Rica, due to the fact that dragonpanthers are not feathered creatures like birds, but went on from feathers to evolve into fur. The dragonpanther must also have developed much stronger wings, since they don't have the hollowed out advantage of feathers. Or do they? Who is to say that each strand of fur is not also hollowed out? Not me, because I have never examined dragonpanther fur under a microscope. Anyway, this beauty is among the many many bird species that abound in the Cloud Forest and other ecosystems also found right there in Monteverde such as primary rain forest, secondary rainforest, and so on. I also saw the elusive Quetzel there, a bird that bird watchers come from all over the world to see. I am glad that with all the troubles the world knows, the beauty of a single bird can still cause such great joy for so many, including me.
This extraordinary little orchid, which I saw when I was recently in Costa Rica's cloud forest is sometimes called the Peace Dove Orchid because if you look closely you can easily make out the dove head with its neck craned and beak pointing down, its wings to each side, and its tail fanned.The orchid is even white, like the peace dove. I find this much more entrancing than the Art Imitating Life that is the Power Rising Series. In those three books, a zoo volunteer works with a beluga whale with which she has formed a special bond. The volunteer is, for a while, an attorney who doesn't love being an attorney. This is the art. In real life, I was an attorney, who, at the time, volunteered at a zoo with three beluga whales and formed a special relationship with one of them. That was the way in which my art imitated life. It was my love for that beluga, Mauyak, that propelled me into writing the Power Rising series. My attempt at imitating life pales, it seems to me, compared to this beautiful orchid. Still, this art of creating novels attempting to imitate life in some way is what writers do. It's a worthy effort, even if it pales beside something as exquisite as this flower.
I missed my chat with you last week--my apologies. I was up in Costa Rica's Cloud Forest being entranced by what I saw. This intriguing diaphanous butterfly was one such thing. None of the creatures in the Power Rising series are very well camouflaged, which leads to plenty of captures and evasions and injuries. This little butterfly has developed a clever camouflage--a predator looking its way sees mostly just the leaf there, and moves on. Good thing too, for a butterfly only lives for a day--it emerges from a chrysalis where its caterpillar had dissolved into a gelatinous goo and miraculously re-forms into a creature like this one, which must, if it is female, mate and find the one kind of leaf that her caterpillars will be able to eat when they hatch. She lays her eggs on that special leaf, flits around, and then she is done. Seems quite unfair to me.The protagonist of the Power Rising series often thought she was only going to last a day, because she found herself in such terrible straits. But she fights to live, a choice this little butterfly doesn't have. Maybe that's the strategy for survival humans have developed instead of camouflage--an indomitable will to find a way through, and a powerful love of life.
A friend of mine interned for a Japanese executive once who told her to "look to the green" when she was stressed. He was alluding, of course, to the green in nature, as in this photo of a huge plant in my front yard which reaches higher than my house. I can most joyfully look to the green here in Costa Rica where I live now. Nature, especially this lush rich green, is a great stress reducer. The protagonist of the Power Rising series, a denizen of California, didn't really have this lush option to de-stress. Now that I think of it, she was often stressed. ???? This plant, incidentally, is not a Bird of Paradise, for which many mistake it. A botanist was at pains to explain to me that, unlike the Bird of Paradise, this plant unfurls first one half a leaf and then, later the other half. The result of this uneven growth is that the base of one half of the leaf is an inch or so further up the stem than the other half of the same leaf. A good reminder: a person can be so confident they knows something--or someone--and be very wrong. A person might never correct this mistake unless they study what they think they already know very carefully.
This juvenile orangutan is stuffing her sweet little face at a feeding station in Borneo. You can see her puffed out cheek. She was apparently hungry! In this regard she is not unlike Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist of the Power Rising Series, who, due to extraterrestrial circumstances beyond her control, suddenly finds herself with a massive appetite--all the time. Why did I create a heroine who can eat all the chocolate doughnuts she wants along with her lasagna, cheesy broccoli, bananas and apple pie [the whole thing]? Because I wish I could! I hope readers enjoy living vicariously through her frequent, calorie-laden meals with the gusto I did when I was writing her dream eats. The little orangutan is at a feeding station because her mother started out as an orphan and isn't yet proficient at gathering her own food for her and the little one in the wild. The orphanage makes sure the orangutans always have food once they release them to live on their own. A kindness on behalf of an endangered species.
Would Roebor, the dragonpanther of the Power Rising series look like this? Uh no. This statue, which I saw outside Jakarta, Indonesia, is a depiction of "dragon" as it exists in the Far East, a more snake-like, wide-faced creature than the scaled, lizard-ish dragons of the European variety. And certainly nothing like the cat-featured, fur-covered creature that is Roebor. Eastern dragons were often very human, if not very nice, in their interactions with humans. This, at least, the eastern dragons have in common with Roebor, whose ancestors developed language and personalities not so different from those of humans--unlike the dragons of Game of Thrones, which were terrifying precisely because they were so unfamiliar and unknowable, so very NOT human. If you worshipped eastern dragons appropriately and didn't cross them they could bring great fortune--and if you didn't, they could bring great misfortune. In this they were like ancient gods, conjured by people struggling to explain and control the elements around them--the weather, the crops, sickness and death. Roebor is not worshipped--certainly not by protagonist Shannon!--because he is not a creature of mythology but rather simply a different species on a planet far, far away. In this respect he is a very modern idea of a dragon. And lovable, I hope, unlike this guy on the right.
Shannon, the protagonist in the Power Rising series encounters many exotic creatures--not to mention a confused shark--in her quests, some with pretty disastrous consequences for her. On our own lovely planet, we have plenty of exotic creatures of our own. Here is a white-faced capuchin monkey I photographed, of which there are plenty in Costa Rica where I live. This one appears to be giving her little baby--a very young one--a bath. She lives in Manuel Antonio National Park, which I visited last week, but they also scamper about on my roof with some frequency. I understand they are very bright little guys as well as little thieves and scamps. We have all seen them as petite captives on television and in the movies. That, of course, is not where they belong, no matter how cute, or pet-like, or human-like they might seem. Seeing them in their natural habitat--that's the ticket. Unlike some of their fellow monkey species, the white-faced capuchins of Manuel Antonio, don't shy away from interacting with humans--usually to steal something or take food. But we pass human bacteria to them with our food, so if you have the tempting opportunity sometime to feed a monkey--don't: you might be killing it. Let's celebrate that beautiful baby instead.
This image is of a horseback ride I recently took on the misty Playa Hermosa's beautiful beach just up the road from Uvita, where I live. Shannon, the protagonist of the Power Rising series, hasn't gone horse riding, although she has experienced an unexpected ride on the back of a beluga whale, and several much less welcome rides in the clawed clutches of pantherdragons. She doesn't ride her friend Roebor, precisely because he is her friend, although she did receive some assistance by holding on to the fur of his side as they passed through the vast expanse of atomic nothingness one time. Horses are interesting creatures--so large, so beautiful, and often so gentle. They could shake us off and trample the very life out of us if they wished to, and yet they don't. I wonder why. Has it been beaten out of them? Do they not mind us so much? Are they fond of our silly little race? Some of each? The horses we rode didn't wear bits, so at least their mouths were more comfortable. And when we got down to the beach, some of them just couldn't hold back: they raced like the very wind down the sand at the edge of the water. It was beautiful to see. For those moments they were truly free.
The dark waters of the ocean off Alaska, where book two of the series Power Rising begins, are a far cry from the turquoise waters off Costa Rica where I am now. When Shannon is suddenly plunged into the frigid waters of the north, she nearly dies. The waters here are warm. But one thing the two seas have in common is the ever-present power--and therefore danger--of the waters. The waters here look much more benign. But they sometimes are not. I learned this during my surf lessons a couple weeks ago, and I was merely in the white water waves, not farther out on the green waves where more experienced surfers go. A friend of mine here cut herself nearly to the bone of her thigh when she took a tumble while surfing, and her friend, only yesterday, took a surf board fin to the face. And these accidents happened on fairly friendly waves. These events make me think of the vastness of the ocean and the wonders--good and bad--within it. And this in turn makes me think of the moment in book one of the series that Shannon realized what a small speck in a vast universe she was. This perspective is helpful on a bad day, no?
While I haven't caught a ride on a dragonpanther since my arrival in Costa Rica, I did take a horseback ride through a ranch, into the jungle, and out onto the ocean beach, which was great fun. When we returned to the starting point, while I waited for my taxi to take me home, I hung out with the horse I had ridden, and to my surprise, he began to vigorously lick my hand. And I don't mean a slurp or two, but continual licking all over my fingers right on up to my wrist. He was after salt, I suppose. I have been licked by many things, but never a horse. More recently, as I turned from my street onto the road up to town, I encountered a very pregnant horse strolling up the street. She walked with me in companionable silence until she spotted some grass by the side of the road that was too good to pass up. Saw her the next day but then didn't see her for two days. The day after, she was out on the road again chewing grass, with a brand new little foal at her side. The foal looked for all the world like an Appaloosa although I haven't seen any of those down here. Aren't baby animals the best?
I have talked before about the passage in this book where Shannon is left alone for a time floating in the emptiness of an atom that for her has become a huge space in which she travels long distances. Like Shannon, we've been left alone and isolated during the shut down. I imagine many of you feel as Shannon must have in this passage. Even though we know everyone is out there somewhere, our friends, our acquaintances, our clients, our coworkers, store clerks, all of them--they might as well be gone because we can't see, feel, touch, know them right now. I am sorry if this isolation is wearing on you. It would be good to recognize that some damage is being done here. Damage that you will need to be aware of and attend to when we have our people back again. It looks as though slowly, slowly, we may be coming out of our isolation, at least for now. Let's hope so. Let's go slowly, and celebrate each person, each place we get back.
I continue to worry about people out there stuck at home, many worried about putting food on the table, keeping the roof over their heads. In this excerpt, Shannon Kendricks has been through the wringer [you know the feeling, am I right?] and the experience has left her drained and hollow. Shannon doesn't see it, but we know these are symptoms of severe depression. I expect many people all over the world are experiencing their own brand of depression about now. And because of shut downs, quarantines, social distancing, businesses closing, some people may be feeling very helpless in the face of that depression; their usual remedies aren't available. Shannon is offered the chance at an adventure, a solution most of us can't swing. I will suggest this: determine to hold on, just hold on, hang in there, hold, hold, hold. Treat yourself well. Binge tv is okay. Sleeping in is okay. Blabbing on the phone with a friend for an entire hour is okay. Sitting in your back yard doing nothing at all but looking at the clouds in the sky is okay. When the kids go to bed, a long bubblebath with a candle and a book is okay. Every day, think what little treat you might give yourself. Then give it. And hold on.
In this excerpt, Shannon has ingested a deadly virus. Help has been deployed, but she must wait alone in a vast empty place. If you've been exposed to or tested for coronavirus, I imagine the waiting period must feel something like Shannon's: terrible, lonely and helpless. For those of us who are shut in, the isolation may feel much like Shannon's as well. I laugh at myself in this regard, because I am a hermit by nature; some days I really have to work at it to set up dates to see my friends or to plan grocery shop runs. I often go days and days with no human contact. Well then, you may think, staying shut in must be a piece of cake for me. Oddly, not so. I have been feeling more and more stir crazy. And yet, I am conducting my days pretty much as I did before. I have plenty to do. So why these crazy feelings of being cooped up? Psychological, of course. When I knew I could go out, I didn't need to; now that I can't go out, I want to. Ah, the perversity of human nature. Perhaps my conundrum will help inform your reaction to your own stir craziness.
In this excerpt from Power Multiplied, Shannon has suffered serious trauma and regains consciousness. She fights her confusion to try to figure out her situation. She tries hard to work the problem. I am sure that in the current crisis each of you has problems overflowing. Sometimes, in our panic or our anxiety or our depressed moods, we stare at our problems, assign blame for our problems, get upset at our problems, but we forget to work our problems. Working problems can be very efficacious because if we work them hard enough, we forget the panic, the anxiety, the depression: it is a matter of focus. Working a problem is different from taking a stab at a solution or trying the first thing off the top of the head. Working a problem means undertaking an organized effort. It means going with plans B, C or perhaps even D if plan A didn't work. It means concentrating. It means giving up our panic and anxiety for a moment in order to think things through. And that is a good thing.
In this Power Multiplied excerpt [available in 8 days], Shannon juggles two worries--a premonition of disaster and a missing whale. In her anxious calls to the Observation Deck, she has managed to transfer one of her worries to a friend. This is a hazard of our worrying; it's sometimes contagious. Even my cat and dog know something's up when I am over-anxious in my worrying. For me, the cure to excessive worry is two-fold: if I can't do anything about the object of my worry, I simply wait and see. If I can do something, I get off my duff and go into action and I allow the action to satisfy my worrying. Here in Washington, we have had the lion's share of Covid-19 deaths. So my larder is stocked , my hands are frequently washed, and because it is my good fortune to be able to stay home for much of these next weeks, I shall do so. And I allow myself to feel much better now that I have done and am doing these things. If you are an excessive worrier, don't forget this last step: Permission to let go of the angst while keeping vigilant. It works: even my dog and cat are resting comfortably on various parts of my anatomy today.
Long before Covid-19 hit our radar screens, I placed my character Shannon in Power Multiplied [lauching on the 20th] into virus trouble of her own. Her virus runs more along the lines of ebola than Covid-19's attack on the respiratory system, but in writing the scene, I spent some time pondering how I would feel if I learned I had contracted a deadly virus, just as I wonder now how I would feel if I contracted Covid-19. I live in Washington State, where there have been 11 deaths so far, primarily because the virus swept through a nursing home. Can you imagine how the other residents of the Home must feel? Terrified? Resigned? Stubbornly optimistic that they will not become one of the fallen? I am in the vulnerable demographic; and I am susceptible to respiratory problems. This means to me that if the virus comes to my county or my city, I will be closing my front door and hunkering down with my chocolates and diet Dr. Pepper until the danger is passed. No panic, no fear, but calm deliberation. And if I come down with the thing? I hope I can fight the illness with grace and determination. And live.
In this excerpt, I was playing with the notion of the confusion of a four-way conversation, complicated by the fact that two of the participants, salesti and Roebor, can't be heard by one of the others, Luke. Shannon is caught in the middle, trying to deal with them all. I decided to try this confusing cross-talk after listening to several operas and opera-rooted musical such as The Phantom of the Opera, where cross-singing is a common device. I likely wouldn't have thought of the idea on my own, but I had quite a bit of fun playing with the notion in several conversations in the book. It's fun to experiment in my writing. It's fun to pick up ideas from completely different media. I hope I never run out of fun ideas to try in my writing!
This quote from POWER MULTIPLIED appears in paragraph five of chapter one. Yet I wrote it five years after paragraph one of the same chapter. Why? As I began the sequel to POWER OF THREE, life sucker-punched me and gave me a few swift kicks, as I endured a series of bad, sad happenings. My joy in writing faded along with my joy in general. I had loved writing from an age I could count on my fingers but after college, with a child to raise, I was sidetracked into journalism and then law. I eventually found my way back to writing. I wanted to do that again, but how? Thinking I needed to hit the reset button, I adopted a new puppy, visited my sister for a week and visited a butterfly garden. Moved! Eventually I attended a few online marketing classes, knowing that if I ever wrote again, I'd have to gird my loins for the unfun part of the writing biz. Curiously, these classes provided the boost I needed. Paragraph five of chapter one was born. Perhaps the tedium of learning marketing drove me screaming into the arms of creative endeavor. By whatever magic, the book is now available for pre order and I am back!
This excerpt from POWER MULTIPLIED, available for pre-order now, is from a passage where the heroine is caught in a California wildfire. California has had its share of wildfires in recent years, and now Australia is suffering mightily from terrible conflagrations. Rare animal species may actually go extinct from the blazes themselves, or the starvation and death from thirst that follows. Just today I read about three Americans who died when their air tanker, designed for watering the fires, crashed. I visited Australia some time ago. The people I met were gregarious and friendly and kind. I visited refuges where I could study species of animals that evolved nowhere else than on Australia's isolated continent. My first scuba diving experience ever was in the Great Barrier Reef. It is sometimes hard to feel what strangers far away are feeling in times of disaster. I have never been trapped in fire, but I have, as part of my work at one time, donned a fire helmet and turnouts and experienced a true fire from inside a burning room. I can connect the dots--to the residents of California and Australia, to the poor panicked animals trying to flee the flames. I can see the houses burning, I can smell the smoke. And my heart breaks. Help if you can.
In the accompanying excerpt, Shannon touches a mouse, and it screams. I wrote this scene because I have actually heard a mouse scream. It happened one evening when I was on the floor of my living room keeping my mastiff and my smaller eighty pound dog company. My two cats and two of my daughter's three were hanging out with us close by, also on the floor. All of a sudden I saw a tiny mouse inching its way along the wall. "Oh, honey," I thought, "did you pick the wrong place to come exploring!" Being tender hearted about living creatures, I quietly got up and found a shoe box in which to trap the mouse to set it free outside. As the shoe box came down on the mouse, it screamed--a woman-like high pitched scream. Shocked the socks off me. I proceeded out the door with the little thing, walked over to some bushes, and tipped the box so the mouse could run out. It scuttled a foot or so toward the thick brush, then turned and looked at me. Seriously. Was it mistrust? Gratitude? Curiosity? Wish I knew. The sound itself is no longer strong in my memory but my own utter amazement I remember perfectly. I have never forgotten that little mouse.
POWER MULTIPLIED now sits in the hands of my editor and the cover design is coming together under the talented hand of the artist. My goal is to have it in your hands early next year. It drives me mad when an author leaves loose ends dangling. How awful would it be, for example, to leave the teaser in the excerpt here unexplained? Shannon's question is not answered in book two, but I promise, it shall be answered in book three. My goal is to have book three out a year after book two. Sure, you say; then why does a gap of some years exist between book one and upcoming book two? Life intervened. Life intervening is one way that our goals become sidetracked. During this time I was hurting, physically and mentally. Shannon once said she felt like a tomato at the bottom of a barrel of rocks. I felt pretty much like that. So I think the delay was inevitable. But the important thing was that the goal kept floating around in my mind. I didn't turn loose of it. The old adage applies: Better late than never -- to achieve one's goals. So, whatever your delayed aspirations -- when you are ready: back at it!
The protagonist in both POWER OF THREE and POWER MULTIPLIED, Shannon Kendricks, is badly injured at the beginning of Book Two, and requires casts for her arm and ankle. My plan for a little ongoing dark humor was for Shannon to require multiple re-casts when she gets dunked in the ocean for various dire reasons--until I learned that most casts today are fiberglass and don't break apart when they get wet. Rats! What to do, what to do. I think I have a solution. But that will have to remain a secret for now.
This excerpt from the sequel to POWER OF THREE speaks to the capability of all of us to give voice to our primal fears. Like many people, I always wondered if I would be able to scream if, for example, I was attacked in a parking lot and desperately needed help. I am not a screamer; I don't scream on roller coasters, in scary movies [although I am known to jump about a foot out of my chair on occasion at the sudden fright moment of a good movie], not jumping 20 feet into a lake. But when I went bungee jumping, hurtling head first with great speed toward the hard, hard earth -- yes, then without any volition on my part whatsoever, out came that bellow of fear. I was quite surprised at myself. So. I know whereof I write. What about you? Afraid you might not scream when needed? Ever surprised yourself with a good holler?
As readers, I expect you are aware that authors often make use of the weather to enrich the story. Rain, for example, is used often to signal such things as "trouble brewing" or the opposite, "trouble is going to be washed away." The dark, lightning, thunder type rain might forecast the first, while a light refreshing spring rain might portend the second. In my current work in progress, it is summer in Alaska and I have portrayed it as cool but not cold until now. But in this scene, a seaplane brings Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist, back to Alaska and the weather has changed. [To understand this passage, the reader should know that throughout the book Shannon has hated the infirmary and hospitals with a passion, even though she's forced to spend an unfortunate amount of time in them.] My choice of weather is the drop in temperature. It is now no longer cool but downright freezing. Shannon feels the effects of this weather immediately. I have placed her in these conditions as a hint to the reader that something is coming that will affect her deeply, quickly, and negatively, just like this cold.
You are reading the opening lines to my book, tentatively titled POWER MULTIPLIED, which is the sequel to the first book in this series, POWER OF THREE. When I first created Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist of the series, she was much too much like me, which is to say, dull. Consequently, I decided to give her some skills and traits I wish I had. For example, Shannon has a telepathic bond with a beluga whale. I mean, who wouldn't want that? Right? And another thing -- because of her encounter with aliens and her ability now to harbor other creatures' consciousness in her mind, Shannon enjoys [and, to be fair, suffers from] a greatly increased metabolism. Which means she can eat. Boy can she eat. And she never gains weight. I could volunteer for that duty. What I hope to create in Shannon is a hero whom a reader can, even for a few short hours, inhabit and can really enjoy being. Shannon is just beginning to learn the extent of her talents. What else might she find out about herself?
Shannon Kendricks thought all she had to do was venture to a strange world and face a giant race of aliens to save her friend Roebor. Boy, was she wrong.
In this action-packed conclusion to the science fiction-fantasy trilogy, Power Rising, Shannon answers the call from the tiny Seladoran Salesti to travel to FireWorld to rescue her friend, the magnificent dragonpanther Roebor. She realizes that to save her friend, she must make a great sacrifice. To make matters worse, while she is on FireWorld, a terrible tragedy strikes, with consequences that will set Shannon on a mission fraught with danger.
Back on Earth, as she seeks a way to overcome a Power of untold magnitude, she learns that to save her planet and the entire solar system, she may be required to sacrifice her life.
Obstacles await her at every turn—dragonpanthers from FireWorld set on revenge, her Seladoran friend Essi trapped and in need of rescue, Homeland Security agents bent on discovering Shannon's secrets, and a FireWorld monster terrorizing whales in the Gulf of Alaska. With the help of her ever-loyal and beloved Luke, the indomitable attorney Tourmaline Kulkarney, and her cat Nascissus, Shannon attempts to fight through the obstacles and find a way to defeat the Power—and somehow stay alive.
In the Power Rising series, bodies of water play a big part, both good and bad. On the plus side, the protagonist Shannon fights to return the beluga whale Juneau to the sea. On the downside, Shannon almost drowns -- more than once. But on the other hand, she experiences some awesome rescues. This Costa Rican waterfall is one of many in this lovely country, which also borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This is one of the reasons I moved here. The size of these beautiful falls can be measured by the tiny figure standing on the rocks. Many people seek out rivers, lakes, ponds, waterfalls, the ocean when they are stressed or depressed or even angry, and find the waters to be calming. I always have. In fact, even the light reflecting on the surface of the little pool in my yard is enough to fill me with pleasure. Seeking the calm of water is something to try on a bad day.
No, there are no baby monkeys in the Power Rising series, and these are monkeys I photographed in Borneo, not my current home of Costa Rica. But. Who can resist baby animals and their mommas? I mean. This little guy just exudes personality to me, from his early 1900's hair styling to his eyes half closed in nonchalant savoring of some little fruit or nut tidbit. And those light blue eyelids. Love him. These monkeys were at a nature reserve in northern Malaysian Borneo that I was visiting to see a population of orangutans. Malaysia seemed to be doing a pretty good job trying to preserve their extremely endangered orangutans. I didn't go to Borneo particularly worried about the endearing orange primates but came away--especially from Indonesian southern Borneo-- very worried indeed, as palm oil plantations are encroaching on the supposedly protected nature reserves and killing many, many orangutans in the process, orphaning their babies, and destroying their limited habitat. I was very sad after I visited an orphanage for orangutans whose mothers had been killed.These guys in this photo, though, are in no danger. Whew.
This sweet face belongs to a little sloth at the sanctuary in the jungle near Manuel Antonio National Park. Poor baby would rather be free, I'm sure, but wouldn't survive. The protagonist, Shannon, of the Power Rising series, gets thrown in the slammer by a pair of dragonpanthers. She too, of course, preferred to be free and goes to great lengths to try to escape. Although a few animals do well in captivity, unfortunately many do not. I had the great good fortune to visit for a time with Keiko, the orca of 'Free Willy' fame, while he was temporarily housed in Oregon on his way to freedom far up north. Having also had the great fortune to help with the care of a trio of beluga whales, which were healthy and robust, I could easily tell Keiko was weak and unhealthy, a result of poor conditions at a tiny pool in Mexico. I can only imagine how freedom must have felt to him! Likewise, Juneau, the beluga whale featured in the Power Rising series, longs for freedom from captivity and Shannon fights hard to win her freedom. Shannon had no difficulty imagining how freedom would feel to Juneau . . . but that's another story.
This is how Roebor, the dragonpanther in the Power Rising series, might look if his ancestors had wandered down the evolutionary path retaining their scales. However, Roebor's people developed fur along with wings, and became neither lizards nor birds. The big guy pictured here, and he was a big guy, is known colloquially, if I recall correctly, as the Jesus Christ lizard for his ability to zip across water without sinking. Knowledgeable people, feel free to step in and correct my memory if I have his species wrong. Look at the spines on this puppy! Roebor has no spines, and I must say that spines would look pretty strange sticking out of his fur. Luckily for us, this lizard didn't develop the size that Roebor's people have attained, Roebor being one of the biggest among them. This big guy, which I saw running around at Manuel Antonio National Park, was quite as large as I would want to see a lightning-quick, spiny critter on the loose. Oh, but how I would love to see a glimpse of Roebor flying across the sky, blotting out the sun as he soared, his great wings spread wide!
This little kinkajou lives at a wildlife sanctuary awaaay back on a dirt road in the hills above Manuel Antonio National Park where animals are brought by locals. They have been injured or have been kept as pets and can't return to the wild jungles of Costa Rica. The dragonpanthers of FireWorld in the series Power Rising are huge things, house-sized, who live in mammoth caverns--but with modern technology. Could this tiny creature live on a world with such giants? I think so. This kinkajou lives in a world with people and jaguars and wild boars. He may be hunted [and doesn't that thought make you want to cry] but his species survives. On FireWorld he'd hardly make an hors d'oevre for Roebor, who will go for bigger game when he becomes a hunter by trade ... but that story unfolds in Power Stabilized. Meanwhile, this little one is mostly safe from predators and cared for by kind folks. It's sad, though, that he must live out his life as a captive because he wouldn't make it in his natural habitat. Always the sad case with captive animals, no matter how excellent the reason for their captivity. And infinitely worse, of course, for captive people.
On the dragonpanther Roebor's world, the seas roar with blue flames shooting high into the sky. As you will note, blue fire is absent from the picture here. Roebor also lives high above polished granite-like cliffs and not in the dense jungle here. [He wouldn't fit into this tangle; it would be smooshed flat.] Far below Roebor's cliffs, however, are forested valleys which become thicker as they sink toward the ocean. In that band of land below the cliffs and above the swamplands, it might look something like this. This scene is, of course, in Costa Rica, and is the view from in front of my attorney's office/home, accessible only through a locked gate and up a steep, steep one-way concrete road that turns to dirt half way there. I almost placed my SUV in four-wheel drive to take the road. But as I pulled out from the attorney's office and was confronted with this beautiful view, I forgot the definitely iffy way up and stopped to admire. In the trilogy Shannon doesn't spend much time on Roebor's world. I am wondering today what interesting creatures she would have found in this jungle of FireWorld. Perhaps I will dream of it tonight. Perhaps you will tell me what you found there in your own imaginings.
Shannon Ubers home here because she is severely injured. Authors are cautioned to avoid touches in their work that would date them. I have thought upon this and concluded that in these modern times with technology changing so fast--and society changing with it-- authors can't help but date their work. Think of heroines alone and threatened, unable to call anyone because the phone lines have been cut. The authors had no way to know that later heroines would have cell phones in hand to call for help. So perhaps Ubers will go the way of the land line one day. Fine. Hopefully a reader will be immersed enough in the story they will accept these quaint references and move on. Speaking of Ubers, we don't have them in my little town in Costa Rica. We have taxis, which you can sometimes reach and sometimes not, which come and sometimes not. This has been my mode of transport since I arrived for those places I couldn't reach on foot. But finally! My car is up and running. I accomplished things yesterday that would have taken a week before. Lacking an auto has been a great learning experience for me. Humbling and insightful. And shrinking my world.
Shannon is preparing to take a leap--and the consequences of falling short will be unpleasant to say the least. Last week I took a much smaller leap with less unpleasant consequences when I attended yoga and surfing camp here in Uvita, Costa Rica. The yoga was not much of a leap, although I am a beginner, and only my pride was at stake when I lost my balance. The surfing, now, was more of a leap for these old bones. I was only boogie boarding, not board surfing, so I had wisely shortened my leap from the beginning. I proceeded to spend an untoward amount of time roiling underwater, tossed by the white water, getting salt water up my nose, having once again missed my wave, fallen off it, or simply slipped from my board. Still, I loved it! A challenge, outside my comfort zone, in the company of friends. My reward? My very last run of the last day of camp was my best, a huge wave which I caught and managed to ride all the way up onto the sand. Woo hoo! Shannon, unfortunately does not have nearly so much fun with her leap. But whatever. She'll pick herself up and move on. As I did so very many times in the surf. We have to, don't we?
So where I have I been, you might wonder. I like connecting with you and it depresses me when I miss a week, and even worse, two! But life happens, does it not? You have my apologies. In this excerpt Shannon has just returned home after a harrowing series of events. Having just returned home myself, I feel much as she feels, except that my time away was neither harrowing nor life-threatening, as Shannon's was. [There was the incident at Customs, where I was trapped in hot sticky lines of people wending their way slowly, slowly, toward the immigration officials, but the life I would have LIKED to threaten was not my own] I had left Costa Rica, because, as a non-resident [yet] one must leave every 90 days. Some people just don't go. Some people try stepping into Panama and coming right back in, but I thought I would take the opportunity to visit my loved ones. Shannon's beloved one partook in her time away as well, but he came back with her. Alas my loved ones did not come back with me. So there was sadness in my return, and yet, like Shannon felt, I feel a deep satisfaction in returning home.
Shannon interacts with several huge dragonpanthers in the novels in the POWER RISING series. Speaking of huge, I watched the first half of King Kong last night--I love the great apes. That's why I only watched the half that takes place on Skull Island. I skipped the rest where the poor lug is brought low. I was pleased they modeled Kong after a silverback Mountain Gorilla. Points for realism. Well except for the size thing. And the taste for human flesh. Shannon becomes great friends with Roebor, the arrogant yet valiant dragonpanther, just as Ann forges her own bond with Kong. We like seeing this type of bond happen. I wonder why. Is it some subconscious urge to believe that we needn't be afraid of the vast unknown enemy lurking in the primeval recesses of our brains? I wouldn't know. I always root for Godzilla too. That's why I am tense about the new movie coming out, King Kong versus Godzilla. My two oversized underdogs. Who wants to choose who to root for? Well maybe Kong since I've seen the silverbacks in the wild. But then again, I am delighting in the lizards huge and teeny here in Costa Rica...
In this excerpt, Shannon looks up in dismay at a squadron of dragonpanthers. I envisioned this flight group to be flying silently, the quiet adding to Shannon's unease. I was wondering tonight how they might have sounded. Not like seagulls' rough cries. Probably not like birds at all, since dragonpanthers' resemblance to birds begins and ends with their wings. They might have roared, I suppose, dragon-like, or snarled, panther-like, but I think in the end that they would be silent fliers, their voices silenced in the pleasure of the wind currents. I am thinking of sounds tonight because I heard the monkeys howling last night. And there is a lizard [or two] hanging about my bedroom which makes very delightful chirping noises at night. I never knew lizards were chatty. Now that I'm in Costa Rica I also hear an entirely new litany of bird songs. And there are many of them! I hear them all day long, singing their strange songs. Dragonpanthers don't sing. I'm quite sure of it. But I suspect they might hum a little.
Here Shannon is snatched up in a dragonpanther's claws--and who knows WHERE those claws have been. Yet Shannon never does the laundry. What miracle is this? Most of your protagonists in action-oriented novels don't have time for such nonsense as washing their dirty clothes or putting a stew on to simmer. Getting smudges off mirrors. Pulling a few stray weeds as they stroll down the sidewalk. Clipping nosehairs. Because we get enough of that in real life. I am getting plenty of the mundane in these first days in Costa Rica. I did finally get the stove to work and actually cooked something for the first time in six weeks! The dryer, however, is still a hot mess, with dirt and spare parts spread out over the washing machine cover. And now that I've learned my household goods are coming any day, I discovered my front retracting car gate doesn't work--a real problem for the movers trying to bring furniture in through my narrow human gate. So, I am scrambling trying to fix that. The mercado, which is like a farmers' market--craft fair, has finally reopened after Covid, though, and I had some fun there on Saturday. No more buying fruits and veggies at the supermarket for me! And now I can even cook some of them.
While Shannon truly ventures into the exotic, I experienced my own small adventure yesterday. The wheels of bureaucracy continue to grind very slowly here and so I decided to chuck my efforts for a day to take an all-day snorkeling tour out to Cano Island. What splendid fun. We took a river down to the sea and saw a black-tailed boa and a pack of Mono monkeys up close for quite a while. Then to the sea. Turquoise and warm waters. Green-billed turtles, sharks, and amazingly colored fish of all varieties. We had lunch on an isolated beach back in the shade of the palm trees and then took a tour through the mangrove jungle with an explanation from our guide as to their importance to the local economy and--crucially--to Mother Earth. Only five of us made this particular trip so it was cozy and friendly. I lost my hat on the speedy ride back and they went back and picked it up for me. Oops. Yes, a much better trip than Shannon had on FireWorld. Now to find a gas tank so I can do a load of wash....
This excerpt is the blurb for my third book, Power Stabilized. My life blurb today is similar: "Cathy Parker thought all she had to do was venture to a strange country, unpack her things and get on with the adventure. Boy was she wrong." [Actually, I knew there would be more to it.] But the big shocker is that, although the people in my house before me were on the internet, I can't get it for two years. Hmm. So I thought to get an unlimited data phone plan and use my trusty phone as a hot spot, but non-residents can't get a plan without certain paperwork. I thought I had the right paperwork with me. I did not. I need a new document from the Bank. I had to set up a bank account anyway so I went to the bank and sat two hours until it was my turn. At least we had chairs. By the time I reached the window and the clerk set up my bank account, it was almost closing and there were more long-suffering people to process. So I let the paperwork for the phone company go. Next up: the utilities. What adventures await me there?
In this excerpt, Shannon's cat Narci goes into hiding to avoid the attentions of a pair of dragonpanthers. My own cat is in hiding tonight, poor baby. As I have prepared to take off for Costa Rica, he has seen more and more of the household items he has become accustomed to in his territory disappear, many to charity, a few to the curb for people to pick over, some to the trash. Yesterday after my daughter took the final possessions she wanted from my house, it was just the air mattress, the cat and me. This morning I deflated the air mattress and we were down to zero. But that state of affairs didn't last long because then we were off to the vet for shots, parasite treatment and his health certificate [which I now have to drive two hours away to have approved by the USDA.] And then we landed at my motel room. That was three hours ago. My poor little Jmacky hasn't stirred from his carrier. Hiding, not from dragonpanthers, but from a room as strange and frightening to him as the alien creatures were to Narci. At least he still has me.
Here Shannon takes a jump through a wormhole to an exotic world and she has much to do. I know exactly how she feels! I am eight days from receiving a 40-foot container into which I must pack my earthly belongings and the old beater 4Runner I acquired for the rutted dirt roads of Costa Rica--and it's much more complicated than I imagined. Then I must finish up everything here before I catch my flight with my cat in tow on Feb. 4. So much still to do! So many things I am sure I have forgotten. My house is full of boxes, with a few half-packed, waiting for last minute items. I am trying to wrap my most precious furniture in furniture blankets but I can't do them all. A job for the packers. And what in the world I will do with all the boxes and blankets and wrappings in Uvita I have yet to discover. I did pay the electric bill down there so the lights will be on when I struggle into my living room with the cat, my carry-on and two suitcases. Hmm. I don't yet where the key to the front door will be. Better find that out.
Shannon Ubers often in the final book of her trilogy [just released!] largely because she tends to get into scraps where she either destroys her ride or incapacitates herself, uses wormholes to travel, or flies unwillingly in the clutches of a dragonpanther. I have been thinking about vehicles of late because the roads in the area I'm moving to in Costa Rica can be, shall we say, iffy. As a consequence, I traded in my lovely 2010 Prius for a 2004 4Runner because it stands higher off the ground and has 4 wheel drive. Now I must rent a flatbed to move it from my driveway to the cargo container, drain the gas, disconnect the battery, and strap it down. These are actions outside my skill set. Had to laugh about one thing: it was lightly raining when I bought it. When I arrived home I discovered the windshield was slightly pitted, probably by hail. I thought they were raindrops. Oh well. I just pretend I'm in perpetual light rain.
Narci is Shannon Kendrick's loyal little black cat with a knack for mind reading and anticipating company. 'Narci' is short for 'Narcissus,' a name that would be apropos for most cats--am I right? My own cat JMack is a nostril licker. I have told him that he undertakes that endeavor at his peril since I frequently suffer from a clogged honker. But lately his attempts to wake me up have taken a more sinister turn. Instead of the gentle pat, I've been getting the sharpened claw, awakening to a sudden swift shock of pain. Ouchie. The offending claw may hit the nose, but it may also hit the cheek, the lips, the brow, even the eyelid. I'm not loving it. It's curious, this habit of cats to pat their owners awake, either gently or with a real smacakaroo. [why oh why didn't I get the gentle patter?] I recently watched a you tube video of clip after clip of face patting cats. Where did this behavior come from? I have no idea. I only wish I had a better solution than hiding my blood-crusted face under a stifling wad of blankets.
And with a flick of his giant thumb and forefinger, Bale the dragonpanther dispatches Shannon into a huge but apparently inescapable jail on FireWorld. In the course of her exploits, Shannon takes perilous journeys to RiverWorld, to FireWorld, even to the tiniest confines of an alien brain. I am about to undertake a much more modest journey, but to me it feels just as perilous. When I finalized my plans to move to Costa Rica [there is so much to do that one has to start planning and doing about six months out] pandemic numbers in my county were hovering around 11 - 14. Now they are in the mid 200's. I traveled to Costa Rica [carefully] in October and found the Houston airport a nightmare. What will it be like in February? What will the pandemic numbers be like? Could I possibly obtain the vaccine before I go? Doesn't look likely. Am I as brave [or as foolhardy] as Shannon? Shannon's love, Luke, would tell me not to go. But then, sadly, I haven't got a Luke. I expect I'll go.
In this excerpt from Power Stabilized, which is NEARLY READY to launch, Shannon faces two huge and frightening dragonpanthers. This episode probably sprang from my creative consciousness because of an encounter I experienced with a bull elephant. I had travelled to Tanzania on safari and the guide of our enthusiastic group of five had taken us down to the river right to the edge of an elephant herd, which gradually drifted by us until we were surrounded. A young bull elephant picked that moment to challenge the big bull for mating rights. They were only about fifty feet away. We had front row seats to the fight, which didn't last long, and ended in the defeat of the young bull. All hyped up from the encounter, the big bull turned toward us and trumpeted, as if to say, you want a piece of me, come try it. Our guide told us to remain absolutely still and not make a sound. It was a tense moment, for that huge elephant, if it had chosen to, could have ground our Land Rover into pulp and us with it. Discerning that we decidedly didn't want a piece of him, he eventually stood down and we beat a hasty retreat!
In this excerpt from my soon-to-be-released novel Power Stabilized, I touch lightly, just for a brief moment, on the strangeness of a world that mixes new and ancient ways. I will admit here--you are the first to know--that I hoped that readers would wonder whether the same applies to the United States--do we mix the new with the ancient in our ways? I think we do. I mention it here to point out how even stories that seem to be very straightforward without much in the way of philosophical underpinnings can quietly--and intentionally--slide more weighty issues under the reading glasses of their readers. One of the main objectives of writers, in fact, in painting alternate worlds is to point out the foibles of this world. Some writers are more aggressive and insistent about this than I am. I am hoping the gentle touch will give you pause at some future moment of experience, and this line, or one like it, will return to you. And you will think, "Ah. I see."
In this excerpt from Power Stabilized, soon to be released, Shannon has just experienced a horrific tragedy, and fate is about to slap her down again. To make this transition from one terrible event to another, I have enlisted some different and contradictory elements of the weather. A black fog has settled in, which is both a natural outcome of the first terrible event, but also, I hope, conveys the mood that event has evoked in Shannon, and the moral bog, in her mind, of what has occurred. The fog persists in spite of a high wind blowing in from the Sea of Flames. How could the fog persist when--on Earth at least--the wind might disperse it? We aren't on Earth for this scene, which provides one easy answer. But another answer is that Shannon's mood and the moral wrongness of what has occurred have not been dispelled: for Shannon the fog persists. The wind serves another purpose. It is a warning to the reader that Shannon is not in the clear yet. She is about to be whipped forward toward another heartbreak. A reader needn't think about these connections too much; instead my hope is that the reader feels the connections, absorbs them, knows them on a deeper level than conscious thought. If this occurs, I have succeeded.
In this excerpt, Shannon has just awakened from a terrible explosion to learn she is seriously injured. But she has things to do: a friend to aid, an alien woman to rescue, whales to save, a solar system to preserve. So she perseveres. I made her this way to shine as an inspiration for us when we must do the same. But sometimes it is hard to know whether to persevere. I have just faced this question myself in deciding whether I should move permanently to Costa Rica. This has been my dream and my goal but is it the right move for me? Am I being foolish thinking I could overcome the obstacles to picking up and organizing such a drastic move? Am I too old for such an endeavor? And on the other side of the coin, would I just be a quitter if I don't go? Would I be taking the easy way out if I stay home? Would I be missing an adventure that I won't have the chance to indulge again? Hard, hard, hard to know the answers. But answer them I have. I am going. p.s. I will have internet.
In this excerpt from the soon-to-be-released POWER STABILIZED, Shannon has been immobilized by despair. Imprisoned, betrayed, at the mercy of an alien who wants nothing so much as her suffering and death, she's able to rally. I have been thinking this week that I have presented you with my glass half empty lately. Angst over my edit from hades. Heartbreak over having to leave my mastiff behind. So I decided today I would be a glass half full person, no matter what. Pick myself up, as Shannon does here, and get to work. So I shall point out to you that my manuscript for the new book is at the proof reader as we speak, I'm trying to get to Costa Rica next week to sign papers on a house and see if I can take the rainy season, and I am enjoying every second with my Tulip [and spoiling her like crazy]
This excerpt is a description of the seas of FireWorld. I rather feel as if I've been dropped into these seas today, because I am being tortured by editing demons in editing hellfire. I recently completed a thorough developmental edit with a well-respected, thoughtful and intelligent editor, then sent my manuscript off for a copy edit. But now the copy editor--whose identity I don't know because she works for an organization--who doesn't know I just completed a high level edit, thinks it needs a higher level edit. Hmmm. Two editorial minds disagree and I'm stuck in the middle. Who is right? Or, put another way: whose ideas would better serve my story? The difficulty is that I cannot afford to pay the rather high price another higher level edit would cost, especially just to be confronted with a difference of opinion on what works best for my novel. Do you feel me twisting, twisting in the blue flames? I decided to stick by my developmental editor and her suggestions and politely declined to pay for another higher level edit. I will get the copy edit back and work through those changes. But now I will have that nagging, niggly doubt: would my story have been better if. . . . Ah, the joys of writing.
In this excerpt to the upcoming conclusion of Power Rising, Shannon has just sustained a terrible wound. She will spend the rest of the story keeping a stiff upper lip and doing what she must do despite the injury and tremendous attendant pain. I, on the other hand, sustained a nasty cut above my eye--the scar will not be pretty--and I'm all pouty and not feeling like doing much today. In Shannon's case, an explosion gave her the injuries. In my case, I had a small mishap with my 170 pound dog, who, for the first time ever, took off in retreat from some of her favorite people with my hand firmly gripping her leash. The pavement and I had an intimate meeting of the minds. The difference between my paltry efforts at soldiering on and Shannon's reminds me that we expect a lot from our fictional heroes. They are much like us but they step up and perform the extraordinary. They are our best selves. The selves we dream we could be. The selves we can believe in. We need them. Today however, I'm a little resentful.
I thought I'd spend a moment showing you how different the final product of an author might be from where she started. In the excerpt, the first paragraph is from an earlier [not even the earliest] draft of the third book in my trilogy. Below the line is the current opening. Quite a change! Shannon does still fall out onto FireWorld later on, but hopefully the book now starts a bit more urgently. Will this be the last version? Maybe, maybe not. I've beaten it to death, my developmental editor has had her whack, but it's now headed for its copy edit and proofreader. I will confess I have skimped on editing in the past, but decided to put this one through the entire process to evaluate any improvement, given my thin editorial budget. But the change here didn't come from the editor. Beginnings are difficult in stories and authors usually try different approaches on. What do you think? Have I made an improvement?
In this excerpt, Shannon and her crew are out in a longboat with a pair of Right Whales to protect them from an alien attacker. My own closest encounters with whales were, as I have mentioned, with the beluga I got to hand around. I did have also have a wonderful experience with a humpback mom and her calf up in the seas of Southeast Alaska. We were sailing in a 35' boat when a huge gathering of whales came our way. We cut our engine and stayed quiet, watching whales breach and eye hop and tail slap. Then along came a young calf, curious to have a look at our boat. Right behind him came his momma to see that no harm came to him. I was up in the bow all excited watching them take passes by us as my companion sweated--the mom was longer than our sailboat by far! Suddenly she spy hopped right in front of me, just a few feet away, her huge head coming up even with my own and her dish-sized eye looking straight into my eyes. It is very difficult to describe that moment except to say I felt a connection, one that I will never forget.
In this excerpt, Shannon is desperate to escape from drangonpanther jail. We can relate. We have been locked down for all but essential tasks for months, and, given the resurgence in many places, just when we thought we'd been given the Get Out of Jail Free card, we might be trapped again in our little home hoosegows. Shannon was desperate enough to escape that she considered fleeing through the sewage tunnels. Pretty desperate. How desperate are we? Desperate enough to risk contracting Covid-19? Desperate enough to bring a grave illness home to our families and friends? I sense many people are answering with a loud 'yes.' I can't blame them. At the heart of their willingness, though, is, I think, a fundamental inability to grasp that yes, catching the virus could really happen to them and it could really cause their deaths. Deaths. It seems almost impossible for people to sense how very dangerous this virus is. It is too remote; too theoretical; too abstract. They can't see it out there; they know they could contract it, but not that they will. They believe the odds are in their favor. But it it really worth rolling the dice if losing means losing your life or that of someone you love very much? I hope not.
In the short quote opposite, Pip, a female dragonpanther, is opining on the difference between males and females on her world. We could all take Pip's view to heart to include the future in our thinking and not limit ourselves to the moment. But this week I'm having trouble with that perspective. I'm dazed by the pandemic, the unwarranted deaths, the protests, the riots, the unwarranted responses, the beautiful responses. In many places, officials have managed their return to normalcy from the pandemic very well. The future should look good. Yet my eye is riveted on those death numbers that keep rising. The protesters are being heard. The future should be filled with hope. Yet my eye is riveted on the backlash to those protests, just now becoming visible. I'm still afraid to look too closely at the future. But I'm tired, too tired to look too hard at moment.
In the series Power Rising, I incorporate several black characters, the most important of whom is Becky, described here at a pivotal moment in her life, where she is given hope, thanks to Shannon. My plan for my black characters has been to ignore their color and simply integrate them normally into the story, as if their race did not matter. I have liked movies, books, and ads that placed black people in everyday situations without making a big deal about it, saying, I think, 'these characters belong here.' This was okay before. Before Mr. Floyd. Before the protests all over the world. Now a stronger message is required. A message that says, 'these characters should belong here but they're not here yet. Will you help them?'
This is the opening paragraph of the current draft of the last book in my trilogy. I can't promise the opening paragraph of the final draft will look anything like it, though, because I am in the dreaded revision phase now. Although I love the redrafts in which I read through the entire text and lovingly hone and smooth and amplify, that's not the work I'm doing now, and this phase I am not loving. In these revision sessions, I am weeding out those words most authors use in the wonderful headlong dash to finish the first draft. Adverbs? Too weak---throw them out. Filler words? Find them, chuck them. Passive tense? Make it active. 'Very"? Rewrite. Overdo the word 'breath' or 'eyes' or hand' or a dozen other words? Off with their heads. Tomorrow I will do a cull for too often repeated words too close together. Oh joy. Then I can get back to word crafting. Thank goodness.
Here is an excerpt from my unpublished third novel. You will note the presence of dragonpanthers. I'm a dragon fan--isn't everyone a dragon fan? Those dragons in Game of Thrones? Outstanding! Traditional, in many ways--they were huge and fire-breathing, with scales, and fearsome! So very fearsome. Nothing sentimental about them. We all want one of those to show off to the neighbors, am I right? So I felt very strongly that I should have a dragon--in my novels if not in my back yard, but I was a little tired of the scales. Yes, yes, there is a strong tradition of dragon scales, but fundamentally, do the scales make the dragon? Are scales essential to the truth of dragonness? I think not. So instead of dragons that are essentially flying lizards, I decided upon dragons that are flying panthers. They still breathe fire though. That does seem a very dragonesque trait. And they are fearsome. When they want to be. And large, very large. When you go to bed tonight, perhaps you will put yourself to sleep with a dream featuring you and your special dragon. I don't mind if it's a dragonpanther. So long as it flies. I do think a dragon, like your dreams, must be able to take wing, don't you?
In my newest novel I'm having some fun with the wardrobe of Katie Kulkarny, an attorney with a great imagination. Her attire is different each time she appears. I like to have fun with colors in my clothing as well. [Oops, there goes the sensible, get everything in black wardrobe], so I am partial to solid colors that I can combine in interesting ways. I do love red and black, and especially a nice cobalt blue and black. For some reason, I have never been partial to prints or stripes. How weird is that? But I did observe a co-worker whose creativity popped out in the way she matched her earrings to her wardrobe. I used to wonder with great admiration how in the world she found earrings with a strange pattern on them--that exactly matched the strange pattern in her dress. Some people find that creativity pops out for them in household furnishings. In flower arrangements. In matching bedsheets and bedspreads. In plantings in the garden. In a thousand ways. Now that we must stay in and stay distant, I bet your creativity is popping out in various ways as well. I say, let it shout! But if the sadness of the times has you down, try picking one thing to mess about with creatively. It helps. Promise.
In this fast-paced science fiction thrill ride, gravely ill Shannon Kendricks, attorney and seaquarium volunteer, must return the alien child Essi to her world, while trying to free a captive beluga Juneau, and combat a pair of ancient aliens set on destroying Earth. Her friends can help, but not everyone will survive. On the upside, with the arrival of the alien child, Shannon’s physical appearance changes dramatically and she now possesses useful, near-magical traits to help her with barriers that appear insurmountable. Will Shannon succeed in her quests before it is too late, or run out of time? Find the answers in POWER OF THREE, a thrilling novel from Cathy Parker.
In this excerpt from Power of Three, Shannon has troubles brewing. How will she find her way out? That's also what I'm wondering. I too have troubles. Last Tuesday we had a full-throated downpour here in Uvita, Costa Rica. In fact, not only was it pelting on my patio where I watched the rain's straight and emphatic path to the earth but I discovered I had a similar rain shower happening inside my bathroom. Uh oh. Fortunately the room appears to slope ever so gently toward the walk-in shower drain and I could mop in that general direction to clear the flood. Note to self. Must get that fixed. My car also arrived--but I can't drive it yet because it failed to pass some inspection or other that I need to get plates for it. Something to do with emissions, although it was thoroughly checked by my car shop just before I left Washington. Hmm. So I must get it fixed and drive up to San Isidro, an hour away, for another inspection....Never mind. I found the cutest little salamander in my pool the other day with a beautiful gold stripe down its black back and a bright red tail. I'm good.
In this excerpt Shannon takes in the beauty of a beluga whale, for perhaps the hundredth time. And still she is delighted. It will come as no shock to you that I wrote this passage from the heart, a loving tribute to the time I spent with the whale that served as a model for Juneau. Through freezing winters and wind and rain, I never tired of spending time with her. Similarly I had wanted to go to Rwanda forever to see the mountain gorillas in the highlands. One day, I just said, heck, I'm going. I had to remortgage my house to do it, but I loved every second we spent on the mountain. The remortgage turned out to be disastrous, by the way, and someone asked me how I could remortgage just to go see mountain gorillas. I was stumped. Because in my head the question was 'who WOULDN'T go to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat if there were any way they could get there?' Then there were the orangutans in Borneo--I saved for ten years for that trip. Now I am in Costa Rica in a place where the humpbacks gather to give birth. . . .
Here, Shannon looks at her desk piled with work and no longer feels the urge to dig in. No longer loves the daily grind. It is said, frequently and loudly, that authors must write every day, whether or not they are 'feeling' it On bad days, this writing might last only five minutes, but IT MUST HAPPEN, say the pundits. Only once, at a conference, talking with a small group after his lecture, did I hear a writer and college professor admit that people couldn't write every day, it was just not possible. When I took up the Power Rising Trilogy, I had no difficulty writing every day. I LOVED writing every day. When I was 'in the zone,' I would look up with surprise to find that six hours had passed without my awareness. This love carried me through the first book and 10,000 words into the second--when life, with its tragedies and its setbacks, knocked me off my feet. Suddenly I didn't write. Not for three years! But I found my way back and now I write every day. Well, almost every day. I have a yoga and body surfing camp coming up. . .
Many authors are choosing this week to write about their opening pages. Beginnings are hard. Most beginnings need changing after the rest of the book is written. I hated my first opening to the first book in my series Power Rising. And my second try at it. And my third. I'm not in love with this one either. But I tried a technique called Bookends, where the beginning in some way mirrors the ending. I figured since I hadn't found another way forward, this method would be fun to try. By the end of this book, Shannon is turning around again to face another suitor in much different circumstances. This method was satisfying to me, whether or not it produced the bestest of the best. Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, the stove kind of works now, if you jiggle the knobs just so. But the mechanic showed me the burned out insides of the dryer. Disaster time. So, I think I will go off to Manuel Antonio National Park next week. There's a logic to that, right?
In this excerpt from Power of Three, Shannon is beginning to experience what will become immense cravings for food, caused by her brush with alien beings. I have immense cravings for food too, and I haven't even been brushed by aliens. This is problematic for me right now, because my stove and oven aren't working. That would be okay if my microwave were here, or my instapot. These items, however, are with the rest of my household goods aboard a ship somewhere on the high seas. So I am eating cold. This too would be all right were it not for the fact that my refrigerator is freezing my leafy greens and fruit. Still, I have managed to ingest a splendid amount of extremely fresh pineapple, papaya and so forth. For these reasons, I confess I've been eating out more than usual. Today my taxi driver and I stopped on our way back from San Isidro [where I was fingerprinted for my residency application] and ate lunch on the beach. Can't beat that.
In this excerpt, Shannon's usually sharp mind fails her when she faces a serious problem. But she has back up: Luke will help her think things through. I am in that same boat tonight. I have just finished doing everything I could think of to be absolutely ready for tomorrow's send off to a ship container of all my remaining worldly goods. Tonight I am trying to think through everything that should have been done to see if these items will get out the door tomorrow morning safe and sound and complete. I am beset with worries. Did I take too much? Did I not take enough? Should I have insisted on getting loaders who could arrive precisely at 8 a.m. when the container is supposed to arrive? Both my loaders and my flatbed for getting the car onboard sent me last minute texts saying they would be arriving closer to 9 and 9:30, cutting my two hour window for the container very short. Did I pack everything well enough? Should I repack anything? Is my inventory value amount for customs good enough? Did I...Aargh. Well. I've done my best. Tomorrow will be what tomorrow will be. I'll do my best again tomorrow. And to do that I must sign off here and hit the hay. Wish me luck.
In this excerpt from the first book in the Power Rising Trilogy, Shannon crosses over from the world she has always known to the alien and unfamiliar. She does pretty well with it; she never would have survived all three books and everything I threw at her if she were not flexible and resourceful. I am about to throw myself into the alien and unfamiliar when I take off for Cost Rica at the beginning of February. I hope I can be as resourceful and flexible as Shannon. My flexibility is being challenged already. I was supposed to see my worldly goods off on a ship container on Friday the 15th. Packed all my boxes and sealed them up tight, secured my loaders and a tow truck to get the car onboard--only to get word there would be a week delay. Hmm. Okay, I rescheduled the loaders and tow truck. But I am not about to untape all those boxes for a week's worth of living. The cat and I will make do without. We can be flexible.
With the current need to shelter away from the ones we love, our world often narrows down to a tiny universe. In this excerpt Shannon feels the fact that one person is a tiny cog in a big universe. Has this ever happened to you? I remember the first time it happened to me. I was a fourth grader and we were reading about the Roman empire. It suddenly struck me that those Romans thought and felt, laughed and cried, and yet I didn't see it: it was a real time that would never be real for me. I understood viscerally; and it was a strange, strange feeling. I remember that feeling still, and it makes me think of individuals I will never actually be aware of, living lives on the opposite side of the globe, who think and feel, laugh and cry just the same as I do. I know this intellectually, of course, but I don't know it in my gut except in those moments when I really imagine their actual existence. I like feeling this reality that exists outside of my awareness because it reminds me that the sadness or loneliness or pain I feel today is really rather small potatoes. I can deal with small potatoes.
The excerpt here is the reader's first introduction to Shannon Kendricks, a zoo volunteer, an attorney, an independent and yet vulnerable woman. As I settle in for Thanksgiving this year, I find myself wondering what Shannon would have been thankful for as this series, Power Rising, begins. I envision a rather cold and thin Thanksgiving for our protagonist. She would, first and foremost, have been thankful for the beluga whale Juneau, and the volunteer work that allowed her to spend hours with the whale; for her good friend Becky; for the not-so-satisfying job that placed a roof over her head and food on her table; for her health--and that would have been about it. By the end of the trilogy, she will have much, much more to be thankful for and I envision that the Thanksgiving she experienced after Power Stabilized closes will be a good one indeed, punctuated by some sadness and loss, to be sure, but still much fuller and warmer than the one I have pictured here. Pick up a copy when Power Stabilized comes out next month and see if you agree.
In this excerpt from the first chapter of the first book in the Power Rising series, Shannon, the protagonist, takes heart, takes energy, takes satisfaction from her friend, the beluga whale Juneau. She is, in a word, inspired by the whale. Different kinds of inspiration feed us. When I need serenity, to calm and center myself, I look for water--the ocean, a lake, a pond. If water isn't available, I look to the green, to plants, to trees, to forests. When I need energy, I look to the wind, to the rushing, tumbling river, to a snowy walk, to recollections of wildlife adventures. When I need to renew my sense of wonder, I look to the animal world, to nature. And when I need to renew my desire to create, I look all around me at the wonderful creations of others, to art, to literature, to movies, to music. It's quite true that inspiration is all around us. The trick is to open our eyes and our souls.
This extraordinarily short quotation from Power of Three mirrors my own state of affairs tonight perfectly. I was nodding off at 10 a.m., and at 2 p.m. By the time the clock struck 8, I was ready to retire for the night. But I couldn't because I want to write this bubble and I want to complete my Spanish lesson and I still have my blurb to write for the back cover of my new book, Power Stabilized, and I'm doing a reading from the book on Sunday [via zoom of course] that I have to practice. And why am I so very tired on this particular night? Because I stayed up well into the early morning hours finally, finally finishing re-editing and re-editing the awful mess my last editor made of my manuscript. Once I climbed into bed, I couldn't shut my brain down. Before I knew it, it was time to struggle out of bed to go get my vaccinations for my trip to Costa Rica. So now I am...so very tired. I have a feeling it's gonna be a laugher of a Spanish lesson.
I picked this excerpt today simply to cheer myself up, as I have been having a low day. Thinking of the beluga I used to help care for always cheers me up. Low days. We all have them, perhaps more than ever because--pandemic, forest fires, winter temperatures, hurricanes. My day isn't bad compared to people suffering the worst of those. My day is low, though, because I am struggling through what I find to be the most terrible edit of my work I have ever experienced. The editor made such a mash of it, I am able to progress in my reworking of the manuscript only very, very slowly. A real nightmare. Add to that--I may be moving soon and I have encountered a major roadblock in taking my English Mastiff with me, my sweet Tulip. How can I leave her behind? I truly don't know. For these reasons, I almost didn't write this bubble. No heart for it. But in the end, I decided to let you know about my low day. I'm lucky it wasn't low like some people are experiencing low, but still. You know how it is. Some days just wear on a person's soul.
I've had personal experiences with belugas and with humpback whales, as I have mentioned in past bubbles. I also have had an encounter with Kieko, a.k.a. Free Willy, an orca. I have another orca tale for you. Make of it what you will. I took my daughter to Sea World when she was about five as a special treat. I told her she could pick one thing from the gift shop and she picked a big stuffed toy orca. She carried the toy with us as we made the rounds, including the show at the orca enclosure. After the show, we walked down to see Nemu through the underwater glass. He swam right up to us and appeared to eye the toy orca very carefully. And as we walked up the side of the enclosure on our way out, he followed my daughter every step of the way. I think he recognized that stuffed animal in my daughter's arms and was puzzling out its mystery. Was it alive? Why did she have it? Was it supposed to be him? I don't know why else he would be attracted to her, why he followed her. I'll never know for sure, but the experience left me feeling an odd connection with him that I will never forget.
Thus begins the trilogy Power Rising, when Shannon spent all her time pursuing a heavy duty legal career and volunteering at the SeaQuarium. No time for vacations. I, on the other hand, have just returned from a splendid vacation fishing in the Rocky Mountains on the White River, a place my family has gone for three generations. Here is my LOL fish tale: I was fishing alone under a bridge, when I caught a whopper. This section of the stream was catch and release so I needed to remove the hook and let this big boy go. I soon realized, however, that I'd left my tweezers on the bank down river. What to do? Leave the thrashing fish in the net in the water and hope he didn't take the rod and reel down to the depths with him? Didn't dare. So I hunchbacked my way down the river bank, the netted fish in the water held by one hand, the rod in the other, giving the trout encouragement as I bumped him along, until at last I reached my fallen tweezers. Presto zippo the hook was out and the big fish was free. No one to witness either the whopper ☹️ or my struggle down the bank ????.
I've returned to the first book in the trilogy Power Rising for this introduction to Shannon's loyal and brave mastiff. I also currently have a mastiff. She's smallish for a mastiff but still comes in at 170 pounds. So she is definitely my elephant dog. You may remember her from last week wherein my face became intimate with the pavement. I plan to take a trip soon and I will stay long enough to want to take her and my cat with me. The cat is a piece of cake. Roomy airline-approved kennel and we're good to go. My big girl, not so much. Who knew so many airlines didn't have cargo holds big enough to take her kennel? Who knew so many pet shippers would say, sorry, can't help you, or yes, for a package total of $12,000. Yeeeeouch. Not in my budget. Finally I found a shipper that discovered Lufthansa could take her. She has to go a longer route, but not for $12,000! Now, however, I am worried about her kennel. The airlines are very particular, it seems. Will this huge [expensive] kennel filling my living room be big enough? Turns out, maybe not....
Shannon Kendricks is 32 years old as the trilogy Power Rising begins. By the time it ends, she might feel about 102 because of everything she's been through. One of the good things that happened in her birth year was Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan was elected the first Islamic woman prime minister ever--Shannon would have liked that. One of the worst--Pan Am Flight 747 exploded due to a terrorist bomb, killing 259 souls. In my birth year, a lot was going on, but most of it was bad. The Soviets exploded their own atomic bomb. The communists gained power in China. Apartheid became official in South Africa. America's first mass murderer killed 13. Had I known, I might have crawled back into the womb. But Meryl Streep and Bruce Springsteen were born. And George Orwell wrote '1984.' I wonder if the happenings that year left their mark on me.
In this excerpt from Power of Three, the first in the trilogy Power Rising, Shannon is facing what used to give her joy but now does not. As an attorney, I can tell you that spending your days as Shannon once did leaves you with little time or energy to read. Don't you love it when you have time to read? I have that right now for a number of reasons, one of which is that my county can't seem to get to Phase 2 of Washington State's reopening plan, where one can go to restaurants, hair stylists, dog groomers, all those places. ☹️. I am a night owl, so the fact I am about to lay on you isn't quite as bad as it sounds, but it's pretty bad. Last night I went to bed and intended to read for a half hour, but I got into the story and didn't want to give it up--and read right on through the night until 7 a.m. Oops. I managed to get 4 hours of sleep but needless to say I am drooping now. Still. How delicious to be able to power right on through dawn on a good book. ????
Here's to surviving. This excerpt introduces Narcissus, Shannon's little black cat with sapphire eyes. Thinking about Narci reminds me of a funny thing that happened with a cat I babysat for a year. Ramsey was a middle linebacker of a cat--just plain big and brawny. My driveway sloped down the side of my yard, the result of which was that my wrap around porch was higher than where I usually parked. Ramsey would jump down from the porch onto the hood of my car when I came home from work for a little loving. One summer evening, a lovely family of three were walking up the sidewalk with a sedate golden retriever at the same time as Ramsey thumped down to greet me. As they passed the driveway, Ramsey assumed a "not in my house" look and charged down the driveway. He then jumped [jumped!] the dog, wrapping two big paws around the dog's neck, and hung on as the dog reared up. When Ramsey had made his point, he stalked back up the driveway. The nice dog walkers stared at me. "He's very territorial" was all I could think of to say.
Here, Shannon is cleaning fish buckets at the end of a tiring day. When I volunteered as a zookeeper's aide in the marine mammal section--something that particular zoo no longer allows--those fish buckets with fish scales stuck tenaciously to them were the bane of my job. But most of the job brought me pure joy. One time, three of us were allowed in the pool with the three beluga whales to hand feed them during a "show." We dressed in ill fitting wetsuits off the biologist staff's rack and slid into the water with our buckets of fish. The staff put the belugas through their behaviors, "waving," arching out of the water simultaneously, and so forth. When the whales completed a behavior, they swam to us for their rewards, up close and personal! When the show finished, we stayed in the water to play. My favorite beluga swam up for rubs--the belugas have sensitive skin and they loved a good rub--I rubbed under her flippers, along her sides and fluke, around her nostrum, on her lips. Even her tongue! She liked nothing so much as a good tongue rub. The water temperature was 55 degrees, so my lips eventually turned blue and they made me get out. But what a way to spend a sunny afternoon!
In this excerpt Shannon is so weary and weak from the presence of aliens, she almost dies. These problems will continue in the sequel, Power Multiplied. There is a saying in the world of magic that no gift comes without a cost. Shannon accrues awesome talents but the source of those skills is killing her. I had occasion to lay still and think about being so powerless not long ago. I fell off my back porch when a rotten railing gave way and I landed on the collapsed wood, breaking a rib. It hurt, but I muddled on through the day and retired to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night with a pain in my torso so sharp I could not move. Couldn't roll, couldn't sit up. I thought then that I might die right there in the bed because the pain was too great to overcome. People would look for me, of course, eventually. But would I die of thirst or starvation first? Possibly. Very terrifying. I eventually shifted just enough to allow me to go back to sleep and in the morning it took everything I had, but I rolled to the edge of the bed and was able to reach my phone. Yay. I would live to write another chapter!
I spent some time in Power of Three and its soon-to-be-released sequel Power Multiplied developing the character of Juneau, based on a beluga I loved named Mauyak. I found a friend of a different species in Borneo--an adolescent orangutan in an orphanage deep in the jungle whom I knew for only half an hour, but whose bright personality shone through in moments. She wanted to play and came loping over to me in the ungainly, endearing side-to-side gait of the orangs and gave me a good push. She was only 3 or 4 years old and reached only to my waist--but strong? So much stronger than me she could have ripped me apart. But instead, she leaped into my arms and laughed. Push, leap, laugh. One push ended with me on my tush and that brought the biggest laugh so far--and right back into a hug she jumped. Oof. I was laughing too, and she seemed to delight in that as well. All too soon, my group was leaving the orphanage and I was pinned to the ground with this orang in my lap and no way could I move her aside. She didn't want to go anywhere. I'll never see her again, but I'll never forget her laugh.
In this excerpt from Power of Three, Shannon finally catches on that she has suffered a friendly invasion by an alien child. Shannon's story opens as she cuts off a romantic relationship and feels exhausted after a hard day as a zookeeper's aide. [I know whereof I speak: like the time I broke my nose while shoveling musk ox droppings. . . but that's another story.] Shannon's concerns soon pale when she comprehends that she is only one person in a very large universe. I like to engage in this exercise when something negative happens to me. In the grandest scheme of things, even my worst experiences aren't that big. Knowing this, I find that I can handle the catastrophes a little better; perhaps because I share my woes over the vast nothingness of space and then I see my woes as tiny compared to--wait for it--the end of the world. Conversely, and perhaps paradoxically, when something good happens, I like to experience it deep in my very core, holding it tight, as if nothing in all of creation matters as much as that kernel of joy. Joy is mine to hold close and I needn't dispense it to the stars as I do my grief; I hold it close to my heart. 99 cents.
I've given you this excerpt before but I brought it back so I could tell you about something that happened when I was touring the Tarangire Wildlife Preserve in Tanzania. I happened to be placed in a great group of six strangers who became friends traveling in a big old Land Rover with the best guide ever. He had driven us down to a river to experience being in the midst of a large elephant herd. We came to a dead end--and face to face with a huge bull elephant and three females just as a poor solo male decided to challenge him. [these solo males, alas, are denied any females] So we had front row seats to a brief, loud, tusk-clashing pushing match, which the challenger lost. Then the big bull turned to us, ears flapping, trumpeting, all worked up, as if to say, "You want a piece of me too?" Our guide said, "Don't move, don't make a sound." My heart stopped a beat! That bad boy could have turned our vehicle over and squashed us flat. After several tense minutes, he calmed down and turned away, while we beat a hasty retreat. Sequel coming in March.
In this excerpt from Power of Three, protagonist Shannon reports some of her volunteering duties to her supervisor Becky. As a volunteer zoo keeper's aide some time ago, I also fed the sea otters. The staff at the time let me hand feed them. They would come up to me one at a time and I would hand out their food bits or throw it near them in the water, heaping the rest of the pailful on the shore when they were occupied breaking oyster shells and so forth and I had to leave. They made the most delightful, quiet, little chittering noises when they accepted their food. One otter especially, Homer, seemed to get a kick out of taking my offerings from my hand--so much so that she, being the pickiest eater, often kept coming back for more even though she didn't want the food. After a staff change, I was no longer allowed to hand feed them--too dangerous they said. I missed hearing their tiny noises and the feel of their small paws touching my fingers. So in MY zoo, Shannon was allowed. Hah! 99 cents for this book to January 13.
In Power of Three, one prominent heroine is Independence, Indy for short, the mastiff referred to in this excerpt. I created Indy in honor of Quiddity, my own neapolitan mastiff. Quid was rescued from a puppy mill, a hapless mother, bred repeatedly, left to live in her own filth, skin disorders untreated. She was tasered to take her puppies from her. Due to the property laws at the time, a very real chance existed that her abusive owners would get their adult dogs back. They sued for that right. I had a plan for Quid to have "accidentally" run away and become lost if they won. And if some time later she turned up and I "forgot" to tell those brutal people, well, too bad. They lost. She always had terrible skin problems and deformed feet, among many other medical issues, but she also had plenty of sunshine and hugs. She was sweet and gentle and loving and lived to the ripe old age of ten -- a triumph given her condition. She taught me how to really see an animal. I understand my animal companions better because of her and I understand myself better because I had the privilege of caring for her. I miss her still. 99 cents until Jan. 13.
In this excerpt Shannon tries to convince herself that her heart is still in her work as an attorney, when in fact it most decidedly isn't. Who needs joy? she asks herself. This might have been me talking. It took me a very long time to find my joy--in the writing of this book and its sequel, and I have more splendid moments to come in the new year as I create the third novel in the trilogy. When I am lost in the story I am bringing to life, hours and hours fly by and I haven't moved from my chair, and don't want to. These are some of the best days of my life. Alas, being an author means I also must be a marketer and I can say without hesitation that marketing brings me no joy at all -- except to tell you that Power of Three is on sale for 99 cents through January 13. I hope it brings you a few hours of pleasure.
Partaking in all of the season's lovely traditions sends forth deep and comforting emotions, mysteriously, from a hidden place deep in the chest. The character Shannon, as you can tell from this excerpt, isn't one for emotional closeness. Something in her past has closed her up. I don't imagine she engages in many happy holiday traditions at this point in her life. My own very best Christmas tradition centered around the flour-covered, kitchen-disaster, full on Christmas cookie bake. Cookies not just for us, but for brimming-over plates for a dozen friends, Yes, a heck of a lot of cookies. And not just one or two kinds, but seven or eight! Half the fun was taking them around to eager recipients--eager because the cookies were good! We knew this because we tasted amply of them first, just to be sure. The primary burden was on my mom in my childhood, and then it was all mine. I still remember sitting in the dark, the room lit only by the lights of the Christmas tree, feeling tired down to the tips of my toes, not getting up any time soon tired, after the last of the plates were delivered and my little girl was in bed. It was great! #holidays #happyholidays #holidayseason #Christmas #Christmascookies #99centbook #.99book
In this excerpt Shannon stops for a moment to enjoy the summer sun. Shannon is good at taking a moment to really see and feel what is around her, even when things are not going at all well. We can see that despite her worries, she did in fact notice that lovely warm breeze. Did that happen to you this year? A moment when, in spite of your worries, or the daily grind, or your health, something -- a beautiful day, a puppy, a song, a mountain, a child, a word -- wriggled its way right up to the front of your awareness? Enjoy it again right now! I hope it happened lots and lots of times, and you can spend time with your memories and be deeply content. And if you can't quite think of one, be especially alert now so that you can find one pleasing moment before the year is over. This is one important reason I wrote Power of Three; I hoped I could give my readers a moment [or a hundred moments] of pleasure when the outside world makes pleasure tough. I've got my fingers crossed for you.
When I first drew the character of Shannon Kendricks for POWER OF THREE: the novel of a whale, a woman, and an alien child, I based her closely on myself. You write what you know, as they say. However, some of the earliest feedback I received on Shannon was that they didn't like her. Yeeouch. So I set about changing many aspects of her. But characters in novels go through their own change and growth by the story's end, and so I kept one aspect of her character - her antipathy to emotional closeness. [yes, based on me] and worked on her emotional growth as one small aspect of the story as the novel progressed. In the exploration of Shannon, I hoped to explore this aspect of my own preference for emotional separation. And, in allowing for Shannon's growing fondness for a variety of people and aliens, I believe I actually changed right along with her. Ironically, as I brought about her change, she brought about mine. In the sequel, POWER MULTIPLIED, Shannon learns the price of emotional closeness. #BlackFriday #BlackFriday19 #BlackFriday2019 #SmallBusinessSatruday #ShopSmall #CyberMonday #CyberMonday19 #CyberMonday2019 #CyberWeek
In this excerpt, Shannon faces the shocking information that she may be dying. To date I have never had to face a terminal medical diagnosis, thank goodness, but I wanted the reader to feel this punch to the gut as real. In my own life experience, I have been in a few tight spots, during which, in retrospect, perhaps I ought to have been a little more in touch with my own mortality, and yet at the time remained unrealistically optimistic about my own invulnerability. But just once I had my doubts. I was on a pretty tame horseback ride when the fellow in front of me lost his water bottle; my horse spooked and took off running in a crazy mindless zigzag up into the hills above the trail. I couldn't bring him under control. Nor could I continue to keep my seat much longer the way he was cutting back and forth. I was going to have to bail and seriously contemplated that I might break my neck. I tried to recapture the icy horror of that thought in writing about Shannon.
In the excerpt here from POWER OF THREE, I am having a little fun with my protagonist, Shannon, who suddenly finds herself extremely hungry and inexplicably craving seafood. The reason for this particular craving soon becomes clear in the novel. I particularly enjoyed placing Shannon at the mercy of her cravings because so many of us do experience such torment. I am a confessed chocoholic and my better self must do real battle with my weakling self when the chocolate longing grabs me. I found it therapeutic to allow Shannon to indulge her cravings without much of a fight. Somebody ought to be able to eat what they long for, even if I often can't, right? How about you? Any particular cravings? Are you, like Shannon, powerless in the face of them, or do you valiantly resist?
In my bio, I mention that I spent time as the Jill of all trades for a small weekly paper. I lived in Baggs, Wyoming, and arrived in the dead of winter. One of my many, many jobs was to drive down to Craig, Colorado once a week to help put the paper to bed and take back copies that were not mailed out for distribution around town. One night as I drove back in a blinding blizzard, I could not see further than my headlights could fight through the white out, which was about ten feet. Crawling along, my whole focus on that small cone of light, I suddenly saw a huge elk step out of nowhere into the headlights. He was magnificent, with a large set of antlers and he seemed twice the side of my little Volkswagen. He paused for just a moment then stepped on out of the light and was swallowed by the white night. It was magical for me. I'll never forget it. Quite unlike the day Shannon is enjoying in this excerpt!
When I created the special telepathic bond between my protagonist Shannon Kendricks and the beluga whale Juneau, I knew one thing. I didn't want a "cute" relationship between a pet-like whale and her 'owner;' I wanted a relationship as it might possibly be between a wild creature and a human. As a result, some of Shannon's understanding of the whale comes through dreams. In this way, Shannon filters the content so that she -- and you the reader -- can understand it, but the underlying experience is the wild creature's. In this excerpt, Shannon dreams of Juneau's capture when she was very young by the people who would place her in captivity. It begins with Juneau's love of the wild and ends with her terror. I can't pretend to really know the mind of a wild animal and I am hoping to help readers see this point too. Shannon stays out of the mind of Juneau to the extent she can precisely because she has experienced its wildness. And she cherishes that unknowable quality in Juneau.
The beluga Juneau in POWER OF THREE is based on a real life beluga Mauyak who once lived at the Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. [Pt. Defiance is nothing like the SeaQuarium in Ocean City of the novel]. I enjoyed the good fortune of being able to work with her and spend time with her long ago now and when she was shipped off to Chicago, where she still lives, I missed her terribly. Still, I was glad for her because she'd had no luck giving birth to healthy surviving babies here, which I believe was very hard on her, while she has had several offspring who survived in Chicago. I was always torn about my experience with her, because it meant so much to me to spend time with her, while I knew in my heart of hearts she should never have been captured in the first place. This is why, in POWER OF THREE, I tried for a compromise idea; where the whales and dolphins could be truly free but able to come in for husbandry and where people could watch and come to know and love them as I did. Has anybody out in Chicago been to see Mauyak lately? How is she doing?
Several important strands woven into Power of Three pop up in this beginning excerpt. First, you can see that Shannon is a loner, and it is not serving her well. Why is this? Will she ever learn how to let people in? Second, you are introduced to Juneau, the beluga whale, who seems to mean more to Shannon than just about anything. What lengths is Shannon willing to go to for this whale? Third, Shannon and Becky are solid friends. If events overtake them that put this friendship to the test, will it stay strong? And last, Shannon and Juneau have just been engulfed by the inexplicable and mysterious. How will they handle this? Will they survive it? Could you?
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