Thanks, Henry.

•September 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

388px-Benjamin_D._Maxham_-_Henry_David_Thoreau_-_RestoredIf one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
–Henry David Thoreau

I read Thoreau early in my life–and often. As a budding “environmental thinker” before the end of high school, I know I at least read some excerpts of his work in 10th grade English–and I still have the well-worn and annotated copy of Walden I purchased for a course at New College in 1984. Since that older book has become too fragile to frequent, I have a newer, hardcover version that I go to for reading now.

As much as I admire Thoreau–his beard choice AND his unwavering pursuit of HIS life–following his path is not always easy–his quote about advancing “confidently in the direction of one’s dreams” lacks reference to one vital component–endurance. While, I think it may be implied, I think it’s important to note that the journey to success he alludes to may take some time–more time than most people imagine when they set off down a particular road.

But coming from an endurance racing background–familiar with the build-up of training involved in reaching a goal–persevering in the long-haul is always a part of my plans–even now as I pursue my writing (in addition to my race business) with more focused vigor. I’m in this for life and as such realize the way to success is a process–a long-term process–even with regards to one work.

Thoreau JOURNALWriters put themselves and their work out there–open for all to see, read and critique. I’ve been lucky enough with Wendall’s Lullaby to get some very good reviews–people who couldn’t put the book down. I’ve also been lucky to get some very critical reviews–harshly worded enough to sting my ego, but mostly filled with comments that, once I put ego aside, are helpful in creating a better work.

writing notebook and white boardWith those critiques in mind, I’ve been updating the text of Wendall’s Lullaby–with the goal of uploading a better version to Amazon within the next day or so. While there are many downsides to being a self-published author, one of the advantages is the ability to quickly edit, adapt, improve and “republish.”

So while I complete my update (and continue work on the follow-up tentatively titled The Delphys Effect), I thank Henry David Thoreau for pulling me down the rocky and fulfilling road of living the life which I have imagined.

 

 

My Love of Dolphins–Origins

•September 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

bottle-nosed dolphinOne of the basic tenets of writing is “write what you know.” Well, there are many people who know me and are wondering, “How does Kip know dolphins?”

I developed my interest in dolphins and the oceans early in my life. I grew up in Leonardo, NJ–not exactly a dolphin or ocean “hot spot.” In fact, the little town was on the south side of Sandy Hook Bay–an area not know as a pristine marine environment. On a clear day, the views from Leonardo Beach and Leonardo Marina took in not only Sandy Hook, but Staten Island and New York City. As a kid, I’d go fishing from the jetty at the mouth of the marina with friends from school and surf fishing with my brother Kevin from the beach. My friend, Jack Hueston and I would beachcomb, sein for bait fish (to keep or sell) and check our trap for “killies” (again to keep or sell).

LEONARDO NJ AREA

At the same time two things helped develop my love of the oceans/marine environment and, eventually, in dolphins–family vacations to Anna Maria Island in Florida and watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau on television.

We stayed at my grandparents’ house on Anna Maria Island–only about 100 yards from the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. In the mornings, we would often walk a few miles on the beach–me, stooped over collecting sea shells (I developed into quite a collector) or looking out over the water for dolphins. As I got older, I’d search for live sea shells while snorkeling and if dolphins were passing by I’d try to swim towards them. I never got close enough to see them or swim with them–but, I always tried.

jacques-cousteau-v1-1The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau was what drove my interest in dolphins and in being underwater. My friend Jack and I bought snorkeling gear–mask, snorkel, fins and (for some reason) dive knives. We found a place along Sandy Hook Bay (near a small fuel tank farm) where a concrete-encased pipeline had turned into a small artificial reef. With sometimes a whopping five feet of visibility we’d snorkel along the “reef”–observing fish, little anemones, crabs and mollusks. As a shell collector, I was always interested in the various snails, oysters and mussels we found.

At the same time, the TV show inspired me to read Jacques Cousteau’s books–every thing from The Silent World to Dolphins. I began to read more books on dolphins and very early on discovered the headier dolphin works of researcher John C. Lilly. In my seventh grade life science class, I remember doing extensive research for an oral presentation on the dolphins that were being killed in tuna fishing nets.

At one point in time, I switched from wanting to be a malacologist (a scientist who studies mollusks–the live critters who create sea shells) to wanting to be a marine mammologist. Of course, I was attracted to the charismatic megafauna. Because of Lilly’s influence, I was particularly interested in dolphin communication.

So, the seeds of my interest in dolphins were planted young. And, that love of and interest in dolphins–and those early influences of Cousteau and Lilly–definitely have had a major impact on the creation of Wendall’s Lullaby.

FINDING BALANCE–Writing, Working Out & Managing My Events

•August 30, 2017 • Leave a Comment

lifesABeachLogo_greenOne of the challenges I knew I would face once I dove back into “serious” writing was finding a balance between writing and other things that are important in my life–my family, my workouts and my Endeavor Racing/Life’s A Beach Triathlon events.

On Monday, July 31, I committed to finishing and self-publishing Wendall’s Lullaby. For most of the next week I did little for my event planning and got in almost no workouts. I wasn’t heartbroken about the workouts–I had just finished a rigorous mountain bike race in North Carolina the previous weekend–but, my event planning definitely suffered just a little. Still, I was okay with the temporary binge-focus on writing, editing and formatting–managing to get an eBook version for Kindle and a paperback version up on Amazon within eight days.

COVER PAPERBACK 6 X 9Since that time, I’ve been inspired (by notes I found stashed in a box) to start my follow-up to Wendall’s Lullaby AND have been spreading the word out about the book. I’ve spent a little more time working on my trail running and Life’s A Beach Triathlon events–especially since my Sarasota Life’s A Beach is coming up fast. I’ve even managed to get in a few more sporadic workouts.

The BIG challenge I face–especially with workouts vs. writing–is the mornings. I’ve typically been a morning workout person. I love to start the day with my workouts–it’s a beautiful time of day (sunrise), it’s when I seem to have the most energy and focus and it “guarantees” I’ll get something in before the other activities/needs of the day can interfere or derail.

New Book NotesI’ve been drawn to writing in the mornings for much the same reasons–the refreshed focus, mental clarity, high energy and quiet beauty of the morning. Of course, this puts me directly at odds with getting in my workouts/training.

The added challenge is that writing (for me) can be very much a “flow experience.” Once I get started, if I’m “inspired,” I may continue to write past the time I had allotted for writing for that day. Or, I may have all intentions of starting a workout first thing in the morning (or even trying to squeeze one in during the afternoon) but have an idea I want to write out that preempts the workout (because I don’t want to risk losing the thought forever or because the thought prompts a longer bout of writing). In some ways, as a writer, that’s a good problem to have.

Concept2 RowerIn other ways, it messes with the head of the Kip who likes to feel fit and healthy. So, as I move forward trying to balance these elements of my life, I’m especially working on fine-tuning my morning workouts so that they are more efficient–in the amount of time I put in and the results that I get. It means more use of the Concept2 Rower and the local streets for rowing and running intervals. It means more circuit-style workouts that incorporate full-body movements. And, it means putting in more efficient time on the water–more intervals in the surfski and less of the long, steady grinds (except with my OC6 crew) I love.

What was this morning’s workout?

4x through this circuit:

  1. Concept2 Rower: 2 minutes
  2. Kettlebell Thrusters
  3. Web Mountain Climbers

Then, 4x through this circuit:

  1. Concept2 Rower: 1 minute
  2. Sissy Squats with Side Lateral Raise
  3. Low Back Extension w/”Row”
  4. Crossover Rows on Ball

 

Book Reviews – Wendall’s Lullaby

•August 29, 2017 • 1 Comment

Bottlenose DolphinBook reviews are essential to adding credibility to a work that might not have been published through traditional means. Without the assistance of a traditional publisher putting the work in the hands of a reviewer, the responsibility falls on the writer.

Since publishing Wendall’s Lullaby at the beginning of the month, I’ve spent at least an hour every other day researching reviewers, writing emails and trying to entice them to read and review my first novel. There are a couple of reviews in the works (yay!).

 

 

 

COVER COMPLETE WENDALL'S LULLABY 2In the meantime, check out these two reviews:

Amazon Customer Review

Review from Readers’ Favorite

And, when you are done reading your copy of Wendall’s Lullaby, please take a minute or two to write even a short review on Amazon.com and/or on our Wendall’s Lullaby Facebook Page.

Thank you!

A Surfski-paddling Dolphin Biologist?

•August 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment

In Wendall’s Lullaby, South African expert on dolphin social behavior (and Dr. Angela Clarke’s significant other), Dr. Robin Nicely, paddles a surfski to stay in shape. What’s a surfski?

A surfski is a long, narrow, lightweight kayak with an open (sit-on-top) cockpit and a foot pedal-controlled rudder. Originally designed for lifesaving use, they are also now used for fitness paddling and open water racing. South Africa is one of the “hot beds” of surfski racing.

DCIM108GOPRO

The earliest races were the Scottburgh to Brighton in South Africa, a 46 km event first held in 1958; the Port Elizabeth to East London in South Africa, a 240 km event held every two years since 1972; and the most famous of them all, the Molokai race in Hawaii, a 60 km event first held in 1976. The Molokai is also considered the unofficial World Championships of ocean ski racing.

For more information about surfski paddling/racing worldwide CLICK HERE.

To order Wendall’s Lullaby go to my author page where you can choose from the Kindle (ebook) or paperback version.

Look for Dr. Robin Nicely to return in the follow-up to Wendall’s Lullaby. And, it’s likely he will be doing at least a little more surfski padding.

 

Dolphin Towne, Tortola, BVI

•August 23, 2017 • 1 Comment

Marine life background - jumping dolphins, glowing sunsetOne of my favorite locations in Wendall’s Lullaby is the New Age, swim-with-the-dolphins resort founded by media heir Jasmine Summers.

When a hurricane left the infrastructure of Tortola’s original, hotel-based swim-with-the-dolphins program too damaged for the ownership to afford repairs, Jasmine stepped in to keep the dolphins on the island. What she eventually created with her family money was a (somewhat) ecologically designed resort meant to provide more natural space for the dolphins and a more spiritual experiences for her guests.

I had the pleasure of visiting the island of Tortola twice–once for several days during the Expedition BVI adventure race and later for one day while on a cruise. Both times, I visited some of the locations mentioned in the novel. I’m always regretful that while I did visit the Bomba Shack, my timing wasn’t right for one of their famous full moon parties. Regardless, I got a great feel for the landscape and the people and would welcome any opportunity to return.

I encourage everyone to visit Tortola and the other islands of the British Virgin Islands.

And, if you are interested in reading Wendall’s Lullaby, visit my author page on Amazon.

 

Build, Therefore, Your Own World

•August 17, 2017 • 1 Comment

“Build, therefore, your own world.” While Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the conclusion to his essay “Nature,” was referencing action in the real world, I couldn’t help but think of this line this morning while brainstorming ideas for my follow-up to Wendall’s Lullaby.

Writing fiction is the act of creating worlds–people, places, things and cultures. Even fiction “based in reality,” like Wendall’s Lullaby, allows the writer (me!) the freedom to create.

One of my favorite parts of writing fiction is the exploration of new places–the research–that goes into choosing and developing a location for part of the story. In Wendall’s Lullaby, I enjoyed “revisiting” Tortola–an island in the British Virgin Islands that I had visited twice in reality. I was lucky enough to spend a few days there in 2001 as I paddled, biked and ran during the Expedition BVI adventure race. I later made it back for a day while on a cruise with family. Something stuck in my mind, because Tortola became the location for Jasmine Summers’ Dolphin Towne.

As I start to sketch out ideas for my next novel, I’m looking at some new locations in which to set some of the old (and some new) characters. Sometimes, the locations I choose are places I’ve never visited. That’s where the fun starts–the research; the learning about new places. Google Earth helps tremendously in visualizing new places (both with satellite imagery and tagged photos)–especially locations I’m not ever likely to visit.

midway atoll wide view

The remote islands of Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are high on my list of locations for the follow-up book and a great place to build a fictional “world.” The coral atoll is most famous as the location of the World War II Battle of Midway (June 1942). Historically a U.S. Navy facility, Midway was “operationally closed” in 1993. A National Wildlife Refuge since 1988, it is now part of the larger Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument (now, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument). The atoll is currently under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA and the State of Hawaii.

Of course, in a fictional world, it’s quite possible that there were some loopholes specific to Midway built into the executive orders and legislation creating the wildlife refuges and national monuments. But to find out more–just exactly what kind of world might be constructed on Midway–you’ll just have to wait for the follow-up to Wendall’s Lullaby.

 
%d bloggers like this: