An Appropriate Walk

•September 14, 2018 • Leave a Comment

thoreau walking quoteThis morning I finished reading Henry David Thoreau: A Life. As completing the last six pages delayed my planned morning walk, I thought it an appropriate homage to one of my literary and environmental idols to walk to the library to return the book.

 

CRAZY WRITING RESEARCH: Hoping the FBI never comes knocking

•September 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

BRAINSTORM ENDING WITH UComp dolphin graphicOne of the most common “writer threads” on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram typically deals with crazy online research and writer worries over alarming authorities, being “watched” or even being officially questioned for that research–even though I’ve never seen proof of any of that happening. I’m sure many readers can imagine–given the wide range of genres–some of the topics writers explore–although most people can’t imagine the detailed tangents many of us take as we surrender to our curiosities.

For me, one of the most interesting and engaging aspects of the writing  process–especially my fiction writing–is the research. And honestly I’ve yet to feel more than a mild “chilling effect” when I do some of my more questionable searches.

NEW FRONT COVER AUGUST 2018 WITH SILVER MEDALFor Wendall’s Lullaby–my first novel–most of my research was pretty tame–dolphin social systems, mass strandings and responses, dolphin pathology and some in-depth geography. I did do some detailed research on the U.S. Navy SEALs–tactics, equipment and weapons–as they were the closest model to my fictional Marine Mammal Specific Special Operations Teams (MSOTs). The only research I thought might touch some nerves was looking into the impacts/effects of an explosive in an enclosed space–both on the human body and the other objects in the room.

Delphys Rising screenshotFor my current work-in-progress, Delphys Rising, some of my research is a little further out on the spectrum of what might be considered “suspicious” by the Big Brothers that might be watching. The slightly crazier research has included the geography of North Korea, North Korean military installations (locations and type), North Korean submarines and North Korean missile programs.

 

Stop the killingFor Delphys Rising I’ve also done extensive research on Japanese whaling, the dolphin/small whale drive hunts in Taiji, Japan and the Faroe Islands as well as the animal rights protesters addressing those hunts. And, while I don’t consider most of these protesters “eco-terrorists,” my plot required me to look into groups that are considered that radical.

But, not all research is the kind that might draw the attention or red flags of those patrolling the internet–not unless their warped agenda is against underwater births, Hawaiian voyaging canoes and navigation, humpback whale songs, spinner dolphins, wind power or sensory deprivation/float tanks.

Of course writing this little blog (as well as the sticky note on my desk) just reminded me that I need to clarify some historical details about the use of Midway Atoll–the remote Pacific Ocean location featured in Delphys Rising. So, back to Googling I go.

 

 

 

 

Morning Wake-up Call

•September 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same fields, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson
west sunrise 1
For a long time, I’ve been a morning workout person. When I’m not injured many of those morning workouts start pre-dawn, on the water–paddling. I’ve posted hundreds of photos from my morning paddles–reveling in the warm colors and wonderful optical effects. Each morning, each sunrise is unique–some more magnificent, some more subtle.
Many times the dawn not only creates spectacular sights in the east, but also in the west–typically an orange glow on storm clouds offshore in the Gulf.
This morning, as I started my return walk to the east, the sky brightened and the fiery glow of the sun below the horizon was obvious–and beautiful. Orange rays from the sun and shadow rays from the clouds burst from that expectant focal point. It was a phenomenon I had seen on countless occasions. And, because of that familiarity–as I walked–my eyes wandered. They wandered to the water–to the north, to the south and finally over my right shoulder to the west.
west sunrise verticalWhat I saw over my right shoulder to the west stopped me–orange and shadow rays emanating from a focal point in the west. In the west?
I couldn’t recall ever having seen this before–not at sunrise. Never at sunrise.
Was it from the light of the setting moon? No. The moon was still high in the sky and but a crescent. I was stumped. I kept walking.
My mind wandered in all sorts of directions–a crashing meteor, an oil rig fire, an alien spaceship.
Of course, there were two pauses to take photos. And during the second pause I moved my gaze from horizon to horizon–from west to east. I wondered–could they be the same rays originating in the east? Could they be converging on a perspective point due to the curvature of the earth? This possibility seemed the most logical–most scientific–explanation I could fathom.
I kept walking and from that point on my thoughts shifted from explanation to wonderment. All the years I’ve spent experiencing sunrises and today I saw something magnificent that I had never seen before–something new.
The realization jostled me just enough–shaking me out of a bit of a mental slumber. Admittedly, I’ve been wallowing in a grey funk. Sad about not being able to do my normal fitness routines. Stressed after cancelling my upcoming triathlon event due to the Red Tide outbreak in Southwest Florida. I was having a hard time moving forward–looking forward.
This morning I took some steps–literally and figuratively–reminded by those rays in the west that each day is something to look forward to–something never seen before.
west sunrise 2

Blue Life: Water Therapy

•August 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I’m missing my regular morning workouts on the water–paddling my surfski or outrigger canoe. The shoulder surgery I have scheduled for mid-September has limited what I can do (exercise-wise) with my upper body.

Yesterday, I decided I was going to stop wallowing indoors and went for a wonderful five-mile beach hike at Honeymoon Island State Park. To say I was reinvigorated would be an understatement.

I took my writing journal along just in case I had any story ideas or other inspirations along the way. I stopped at the half-way point–the north end of Honeymoon Island– and jotted about a paragraph. It was nothing earth-shattering. Just a few words. I was having a hard time thinking about anything other than just being out on the beach, close to the water–immersed in the skittering of the sanderlings and sandpipers along the waters edge, the gentle lapping of the calm Gulf and the sweat running down my face. I was content with being in the moment.

My return hike took me along a mostly similar route–though I did walk closer to the dune vegetation and made a few detours to a backside of the island tidal lagoon. Still, I was mostly retracing my steps along the water’s edge. It was then that I noticed the dark shapes in the yellow/green water of the sandy shallows. At first I thought they were cloud shadows on the surface–but they morphed continuously below the surface with the subtle undulating flow of small waves. Liquid edges changed and the shadow clouds moved towards shore–dissolving in silver bursts of baitfish.

That was my supreme moment of wonder on the hike.

I stopped and wrote a few descriptive lines in my journal while I stood–water washing over the toes of my sneakers. I tried–unsuccessfully–to capture the phenomenon on video with my phone. I carried on with my hike–content with reconnecting with the marine environment that gives me so much joy by continually filling me with wonder.

LAMENT FOR A TREE

•August 9, 2018 • 1 Comment

Tree isolated. Acer saccharum mapleThere is an empty lot in our neighborhood that is now much emptier.

Located at the end of our street, the vacant lot was almost park-like because of the large, oak tree that grew close to the edge of the canal–overlooking the water. The property must have always been “undeveloped”–at least since the neighborhood and canal were built–as the oak tree seemed too large and old to have ever shared the space with a dwelling.

I never enjoyed the shade of that tree. I never sat and looked up at the epiphytes living within its branches or looked down at the ants crawling over its roots. I never got closer than admiring it while walking, running, biking or driving by. But, there were few times in passing that I did not notice–and admire–the grand old tree and smile.

Today that tree came down in a crashing collapse of branches fracturing on the hard  ground–shockwaves coursing through the streets–mighty limbs dismembered by chainsaws and deep roots ripped from the ground by a backhoe.

The vacant lot will likely be developed–soon. It is private property after all and the position and size of the tree made the placement of a house (particularly since the norm is really too overbearing for any waterfront lot) impossible. 

Regardless of how the lot is filled, that space (and the neighborhood) will always be a little bit emptier without that magnificent tree.

 

Cousteau Day 2018: Celebrate!

•June 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

jacques-cousteau-v1-1It’s difficult to put into words how much I was influenced by the work of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. As a young boy I read of his adventures in National Geographic Magazine, spent many an evening laying on the living room floor watching his television series and specials and was an early member of The Cousteau Society.

Because of Cousteau and the love of the oceans he instilled in me, I learned to Scuba dive in eighth grade and devoured more and more books on the marine environment and its creatures.

The Cousteau Society and Captain Cousteau informed and inspired my environmental thinking. I devoured the Cousteau Almanac–an exhaustive compilation of facts and figures related to human impacts on our water planet. It was a ground-breaking work and something I wish was duplicated again today.

And while I never became the marine biologist I thought I might, I’ve always maintained my interest in and kept contact with the oceans–whether through my relationships with others more directly involved in marine research or simply paddling my surfski or kayak.

Cousteau’s inspiration continues to permeate how I think about the world, what I’ve recently written (Wendall’s Lullaby) and my current writing project (Delphys Rising). Join me in celebrating the birthday of a man who was a pioneer and a champion for the home planet we (somewhat erroneously) call Earth.

Calypso by John Denver

IndieReader 2018 Discovery Awards Review

•June 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

While my first novel Wendall’s Lullaby didn’t win an award, the jury from IndieReader wrote a nice review:

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WENDALL’S LULLABY is an intricate mystery with thought-provoking and heartbreaking moral questions, believable government conspiracies, lives both human and cetacean on the line, and a bit of romance. The science is plausible, the characters mostly likeable, and the plot, especially near the end, full of enough twists and turns to keep the reader fully engaged with the story.

Little things like positive reviews and book sales are great motivators for any writer. They certainly help make it easier to sit at the keyboard and work through the tough spots in my current work-in-progress–Delphys Rising. So, if you’ve read and enjoyed Wendall’s Lullaby–please take the time to leave a review on Facebook, Amazon and/or Goodreads. Even a few lines can help keep me motivated and will also get you that much closer to reading the sequel.

 
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