I'm not ready to vote, yet. Who votes without first following a campaign trail, anyway? I need more backing. A lot more. So, on March 5th, I will be "hitting the campaign trail" with a MYSTERY GUEST in tow. Along with any of the rest of you who would like to come along.
It will only be for a week. But in that week, I intend to tromp my way across Southeast Alaska, poking my nose into every nook and cranny I can squeeze in before time to go home, again. Of course, I'm taking my gold pan (there's gold IN EVERY RIVER in Alaska!), because one can't be all business all the time.
But I do promise to post something on this blog every night (not really, I better rephrase)--for seven nights-- to let all you dear readers know what's happening. There are quite a few patches out on the water up there that have absolutely no Internet reception at all. But I'll do my level-best to let you know what's going on. I will be gathering my information, that's what will be going on. And getting my arguments together for the final decision.
Of course, I'm not going alone--I'm not that kind of person (things are much more fun if you share them). But I do NOT intend to introduce you to my "Mystery Guest" until our first night on Alaskan ground. There will be Internet in that spot, I checked already. And after that… let the adventures begin!
I hope you will join us.
Oh, yes, and if you haven't read HOME BEFORE DARK, the very first Stella Madison Caper (in which she meets the Colonel in the most providential way), I would be happy to give it away FREE to anyone who leaves a comment on this post (along with an email address--last time, some people forgot, and I lost sleep over it). So, if you are one of those types who don't like to blast your personal information all over the Internet (I fully understand, as I hid under my hat for an entire year on this very blog), just drop a quick request to lilly (at) lillymattree.com… and I will get one out to you. And…
Should anyone be so kind as to leave an honest review, I will be more than happy to give you a FREE copy of Stella Madison Caper #2: A THIEF IN THE HOUSE. Because when it comes time to vote, I would rather not have anyone uninformed. This because--to tell you the truth, dear readers-- as much as I love Stella. I'm not so sure I could handle her for that long in close quarters, myself.
Sad but true.
Ok, so it's been more than a week. But what do you do when you've just admitted wanting to bring someone like Stella aboard (who promised to behave), and you're trying to decide if you can really do this thing. More importantly… could the Captain endure it?
My idea was to give out evidence. A bit of background about Stella with no bias involved. But, of course there's going to be bias--I love Stella and crew, for heaven sake. Then there is this thing about wanting to write stories, and more stories, and--who cares whether we go adventuring to Alaska, or Australia, or even to the moon. I just want to write stories.
I did make one minor concession (can't think when) about taking summers off between books for adventuring (and gold digging). On the other hand, there have been so many interruptions during the usual winter work schedule this year, I don't really care about that anymore. I just want to write my stories.
All of which led up to this bid to bring Stella Madison (and friends) aboard. So, the Captain is thinking about it. Meanwhile, Stella--herself-- thinks we should make a "dry run" along the route to Alaska, to see if things really could work out for everyone. After all, the Captain has the entire boat cluttered with engine parts at the moment, and I find it a bit difficult to work in all that banging and clanging a few feet away. Then there is my dear friend from Australia, who says she might be able to come along--something that could lead to a few adventures all by themselves.
Oh, good grief! Is it possible? Is it reasonable? And -- most important-- are there any divine footsteps to follow in such a wild idea? What exactly would we---how could we even--
Which is exactly what I'm talking about, dear readers, when I say--like Meg Jennings, in my novel GOLD TRAP--that turning dreams into reality is risky business. Yes, Indeed. So. I am going to present this new idea to the Captain, to see what he thinks about it. And in the meantime, if you would like to know more about Stella, you can find out about her over on my website, where she has actually talked me into giving her an entire page to herself.
Back later, to let you know what the Captain decides. And--don't worry, we're still going to vote, as he promised to take my "public opinion" into consideration. So, reason should still prevail.
Safety in numbers and all that.
Stella Madison is very special to me. This because of all the characters I have written about, she has managed to actually step out of the pages of her own books, and begin meddling in my real life. I'm not even going to try to explain how that happened (or why), as it would take up too much time and space, without guarantee of any satisfactory results.
Some other time, maybe, after you get to know her better. Let's just say we are presently negotiating the possibility of her coming along on our 2014 MYSTERY TOUR. A huge thing to ask, considering the actual living space aboard this vessel comes in at around twenty feet (below decks), and I am already sharing that with the Captain. Not to mention guests who will be popping in from time to time for brief visits. More about that, later.
At any rate, Stella has taken the liberty--during her recent "caper" that has just been released--in announcing exactly what she intends to do. The trouble is, such a huge undertaking could never be confined to the spaces of her little allotment for each caper (no longer than fifty pages, can be read in an hour, and only cost a dollar). And so, the necessity of our "negotiations." And, yes--if I try very hard to see things from her point of view--I can imagine they might possibly work out. Especially if she behaves herself.
However, since everything Stella gets involved with seems to turn into a caper of some kind, I am not so sure I would like to actually experience one in real life. We have other names for them out here. Such as disasters, complications, and those things that turned out so embarrassing during 2012 we christened them wild goose chases. So numerous we had to assign them a unique icon on the blogs (in lieu of explanations) in order to tag each such event for what it really was.
All that to say the votes are still out for bringing Stella aboard, and we might have to enlist public opinion to settle things. So, I am starting a "campaign" in preparation for presenting my case before the Captain (who always has the final say). He who must grapple with having one crazy woman aboard, already, and believes too many could be hazardous at sea. Thus--beginning next week-- I will list all evidence needed to present "the case for Stella" here on the blog (some things should stay in the family), and we will hear opposing arguments, after that.
Then, we'll vote.
And may reason prevail.
What a lot of traveling we have done, but we are finally returned to the GLORY B, and the Captain is busy putting the engine back together. A big project. And not one that's so easy to work around. But--as I mentioned earlier--there is a wonderful library here on Lopez Island that makes a lovely substitute office. So, all is good.
Beyond good, really, because the island is having it's usual refreshing effects on us. Not to mention the prospects of getting the engine back together has me itching to continue our explorations of these magnificent San Juan Islands. We might even go so far as to make some practice runs up into Canada. The possibilities are endless, and I love being in that position.
Which leads me to the announcement that we will be opening the GLORY B up to visitors within the next couple of weeks, and I'm very excited about who we've got lined up. All of whom I will spotlight right here on the blog.
Meanwhile, another Stella Madison Caper has been released, called A THIEF IN THE HOUSE. To celebrate that, I'll be giving a free ebook to anyone who comments here. Just make sure to leave your email address (use the (dot) format with spaces, please, so we can avoid any robots and spiders). Or, send an email to lilly @ LillyMaytree (dot) com and request one. I'm very excited about Stella. She has an incredible adventure ahead of her…
As do the Captain and I.
I thought we had become experts at changing plans because we always have a "Plan B" to fall back on. But when necessity calls for "C, D, and E Plans" to kick in, juggling so many changes can become a slippery slope. Which is why one of my last year's resolutions was to leave my calendar open from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.
Um… it wasn't enough.
Since our family is scattered over several states, we like to make a big wide loop to see everyone about twice a year. Because of events that occurred during our 2013 Mystery Tour, we did that early this time, and were back for an unusually quiet Thanksgiving on the GLORY B, making plans and getting ready for some exciting new adventures.
But when some unexpected family emergencies popped up, the Captain and I found ourselves not only having to make an extra trip, but it would have to be by road instead of air. To tell you the truth, I don't like sudden changes. It makes me feel like I just drew a "chance" card during some overly-long Monopoly game while the board is crowded with hazards.
I also don't think fast enough to make snap decisions. Mostly because I tend to have about three different story worlds playing out in my head at any one time, and it takes me a while to navigate around them. Which is why the best I could do on this occasion was to throw my clothes and unfinished projects in the back of the car and get in.
Now it is a little over three weeks later, Christmas is over, and… I never shopped or decorated. Or gave you a gift. And I had lots of plans for all that. Most of which will have to wait until we drive another fifteen hundred miles and get ourselves back to the GLORY B. But in the meantime, here's wishing you a new year that will turn out to be your best one ever.
With lots of wonderful to go along with it!
Oh, yes, and… if you haven't read my story NIGHT VISITORS, yet (which happens to be about what you can do when unexpected things happen in your life)… the excellent PELICAN BOOK GROUP is making it available for free--without having to sign up, or join anything-- through the end of the month. Here's how:
We left our boat in an early pre-dawn (too dark for a picture, but here's one I took on another morning) and quietly rowed the dinghy across Fisherman Bay. Even the animals were still asleep at that hour. There were dark shadows of a flock of some fifty Canadian geese spread out in front of us that either slowly paddled out of the way, or took flight with an irritated squawk at such a rude intrusion into their space.
A few minutes later, we heard the familiar sound of a harbor seal coming up for a breath of air, who was curious enough to follow us all the way across from about two feet away. A wonderful escort as we headed toward the twinkling lights on shore, across water that was "smooth as glass." I will miss this island even for the few weeks we will be away.
Three states in three weeks. Twice a year the Captain and I head out from wherever we happen to be to take care of a little business and catch up with family members along the way. This time, it's to welcome our daughter home to Oklahoma from a deployment in Afghanistan (thank you, Lord, for keeping her safe!), and to take in a writer's retreat in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia (where I happen to be writing this post from, today). Then we will finish up with a road trip from San Diego to Santa Barbara in California, before finally heading back to the GLORY B and resume our big adventure.
Today, I am incredibly thankful for mountain vistas that roll into the distance in various shades of blue to merge with the sky. I have done a lot of research on this area for one of my novels, and always wanted to see it for myself. What a bonus that the changing leaves are starting to flutter and swirl down with the slightest breath of this amazingly fresh air. I can see how locals might get "thirsty" for it whenever they travel away. Such a lovely place to work.
Now, we'll see if I can actually get something done!
GLORY B update: The engine heads are dropped off at a shop near Seattle, to be picked up good-as-new when we get back. There is also a new (to us) propane stove in the back of our car that will replace the old kerosene model which had to be removed before we left. Lots of work waiting, but enough to finally get us "under way," again. Glory Be!
I have always said the Captain gets most of his love of boats from his Scandinavian ancestors. So, what a surprise it was to discover that one of the first settlers of this island was a man with the same last name and origin as his very own family. Which didn't excite him as much as it did me because he said a lot of people could have that name. But I tend to believe everything, so I'm going to look into it.
At any rate, this ancestor, who went to sea at the age of sixteen and traveled the world, said the "wickedest shark he ever saw" was right here off the coast of this island. So, when I noticed a place on the map marked Shark Reef, I wanted to go see it. It's out on the southwest tip of the island, facing the "big water" at one of the most volatile confluences of current, ocean swell, and winds. Which is probably why it is such an abundant feeding ground for all manner of sea creatures.
Not that I expected to see a shark from some rugged point of land, but you never know. So, I took the camera and we threaded our way through a lovely forest path for about fifteen minutes just to get there. What an amazing scene!
A great rocky reef spread out like a thin crescent moon along the shore, covered by sea lions basking and barking, and even arguing over the best spots. Some were fishing in the fast-moving currents, and seagulls kept swooping down to catch a quick bite whenever one came up with a fish. In less than a minute, we even saw a family of dolphins swim by.
I snatched up the camera, and we began an immediate (rather emphatic) "discussion" about whether you could, or couldn't, capture anything decent while shooting into the light. I admit I'm still new enough at this filming stuff that I get somewhat beside myself at the prospect of an exciting subject. So, we both decided to have a turn (to try things our own way), and Puh-leeze do not take any shot of me other than the back of my hat.
Which was why it was a bit embarrassing to round the corner afterward, and find several groups of people (that had been only steps away) spread out along the rocks being absolutely QUIET. So as not to disturb such a pristine wildlife observation area. All of a sudden, I felt like I had talked out loud in a movie while trying to find my seat.
Still, it was a fantastic afternoon, even though we never glimpsed so much as one shark fin cutting through the water below. And considering the fact the place was also referred to as Shark Reef Sanctuary, I thought I better check some facts before writing this post.
I found out that if I would have seen a shark in the water out there, I probably would have been written up in the local newspaper. Because there are no sharks out there, anymore. What hasn't been commercially fished to extinction for a popular recipe called "Shark Fin Soup" has been done away by enthusiasts who enjoy hunting large, predatory animals. And should any "strangers" happen through from other territories, they are rather immediately dispatched by local killer whale pods.
So, even though such a sanctuary has been set aside to try and make matters right for these creatures that once had their own place in the cycles of ocean life around here, only one species has managed to thrive. That is the bluntnose sixgill shark that lives between 300 and 3000 feet off the bottom, and rarely makes an appearance into the light. Much less near Shark Reef.
All of which left me feeling a bit sad. Along with a major determination to capture as much wildlife on video that I could, out here, in case the same thing happens to anyone else who lives in these amazing waters. Mostly because trying to start a "be nice to sharks campaign" would be a really hard sell.
Maybe even as hard as selling books.