Kate’s Story is nearly available

It has taken longer than I expected to finish Volume II of the Farley Bend series.  In a perfect world the book would’ve been available last summer.  I struggled with the ending of Volume II, eventually figuring out how to wrap things up (at least for now).  I enjoyed writing from the villain’s perspective, and may try that again in future.

Cathy Squires did a marvelous job on the cover art for Kate’s Story, rising to the challenge of illustrating a red-headed heroine against the backdrop of a brick wall.  I think Kate’s sweater looks soft and cozy, too.


So, Do You Have Any Grandchildren?

The young woman about to cut my hair today didn’t mean to imply that I’m old, I’m sure.  My first reaction was to look around the salon and make sure the question was actually aimed at me.  Grandchildren?  Really?  Yikes!

I don’t generally feel very old, until I need to do the math to figure out how long ago something happened.  I met my friends Sherry and Walter a couple of jobs ago, while working at a job I started in 2004.  That doesn’t sound too long ago.  Then I realize it’s been seven years since I left that job for a different challenge.  Apparently it was quite a while ago after all.

I read about a study that set out to answer whether time moves more quickly as we age.  One of the researchers speculated that time merely seems to fly by because we have fewer milestones – not as many first days of school (unless you’re a teacher!), first date, first kiss, weddings and children.  We’ve been living in our current home for four years now.  My memories of moving into our first house are still vivid, though that was nearly two decades ago.  I don’t recall much about the months of routine work days between then and now, so perhaps the researcher was right on track.

All right.  Yes, I am old enough to be a grandmother.  In fact, I have a number of adorable grand-nieces and grand-nephews… so the grandmother question wasn’t that far off.  It did make me stop and think about the passage of time.  It gave my husband Pete a good chuckle, too.  And now I can cross another off of my ‘firsts’ list – the first time I’ve been asked about my grandchildren.  Though I’ll need to add that entry to the list before I can cross it off!







My Dad said, “I keep hearing you’re an author, but I haven’t seen your book yet.”

To be fair, I haven’t spent a lot of time and energy promoting ‘Farley Bend’.  I am still timid about sharing to wide audiences, though of course I’d be delighted if the book caught on and sold millions of copies.  Maybe. Typing that sentence made me realize I’m still a bit ambivalent about that.

Anyway, I promised Dad I would mail him a copy by the end of February.  He called a few nights ago to let me know that he’d finished the book.  We discussed some of the characters and settings, and he asked whether I plan to put the page numbers on the top of the pages instead of the bottom in the next volume.  Of course page numbers belong on the bottom, don’t they?

An informal survey of the contents of my library revealed the following:

Top of Page: Lee Child, Sue Grafton, Jonathan Kellerman, Sara Paretsky
Bottom of Page: Dick Francis, Janet Evanovich
Top or bottom, depending on book: Jeffrey Archer, Steven King, Earle Stanley Gardner

I’d never really thought that much about page number location, though you can be sure I will now!



You haven’t changed a bit…

Since elementary school.  Really?

A couple of months ago I ran into my one of my elementary school teachers.  I won’t supply exact math, but will share that fourth grade was several decades ago.  I walked away from the encounter with a smile on my face, for several reasons.  First of all, it is nice to hear comments like “you were always one of my favorites.”  Yep.  That’s one we all like to hear.

The more amusing part was the beginning of the conversation.  She opened with “You haven’t changed a bit!” and a hug.  Then, “Marilyn, right?”  I wonder who she was comparing me to before she confirmed my identity.  Do I have an evil twin out there somewhere?  Or, more accurately, does my fourth grade self have an evil twin?

I think voices change less than appearance does.  Since moving back to the town where I grew up, I’ve run into several people I used to know.  Though their faces may change, hairlines recede, and wrinkles arrive… voices remain the same.

Maybe that means I should record audio files to add to this site.

Nah.  I don’t think so.


Changing focus…

Volume II (Kate’s story) has been in the works for a few months now.  I had originally hoped to finish Kate’s story in time to begin work on Volume III (Parker House) during National Novel Writing Month.

A few real life things have interfered with my time in Farley Bend.  Here were are on November 1 – day 1 of National Novel Writing Month – and Volume II refuses to be ignored.  I realized several weeks ago that Kate’s story wouldn’t be finished, so thought I’d set Kate aside for a few weeks to learn more about the Parker House and what made Lou tick.  I didn’t realize how challenging that would be.

How can I leave Kate in limbo like that?  Turns out I can’t.  So I expect I’ll forfeit National Novel Writing Month this year because I am not willing to set aside the current project (NaNoWriMo rules specify the 50,000 words during November are to be a new project rather than continued work on something already in progress).  I’ll take a turn this year at being part of the participants NOT eligible for a winner Tshirt.

I think Kate is relieved, though, that she won’t have to spend as much time in limbo now.  I can continue work on Volume II and see how it turns out.  One story at a time.

Here’s a teaser, for those of you following along: in Volume II, the villain is a present day character rather than someone in the distant past.  I am enjoying writing from his perspective more than I expected to!



Wordplay at Large – Molassacre

Over the weekend we enjoyed a harbor cruise in Boston.  The narrator was full of trivia bits and anecdotes regarding the big city, and did a fine job mixing facts and entertainment as he spoke for nearly an hour and a half about the city’s landmarks and history.

When we approached the North End, he talked for a few minutes about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919.  I had a vague idea that a major molasses spill took place nearly a hundred years ago, but didn’t have details at my fingertips.  The idea of a 25-foot wave of molasses rushing down the street at 35 miles per hour is nightmare fodder, for sure.  Imagine, too, how sticky the whole area must have been in the aftermath of the wave.  I have enough fun scrubbing out measuring cups after I mix up cookie dough.  Multiply that residual stickiness by over two million gallons of molasses…

The thing that sticks in my mind, though, is the term the tour guide came up with to describe the day – ‘molassacre’.  Twenty-one people died, which is enough to qualify the event as a massacre.  I must admit I hadn’t considered how dangerous a baking ingredient could be.  I will treat the bottle of Crosby’s in my cupboard with more caution and respect in future.

Introverts Illustrated

For as long as I can remember I have been more comfortable in small groups than large groups, and far more comfortable listening with the audience than speaking from the spotlight. A few jobs ago I had the opportunity to attend a two-day training on Myers & Briggs personality types (http://www.myersbriggs.org/).  I filled out and mailed in my pre-training survey forms, and looked forward to picking up some tips on interacting with my family and my coworkers.

During one exercise the students were divided into two groups and told to plan our summer vacation.  In my group we came up with a list of individual activities; I was headed for the ocean, another fellow was going mountain climbing, one woman was flying off to Florida and another was planning to stay home and work on crafts.

We reconvened at the end of the exercise to compare notes with the other group.  They were headed off on a cruise together, with shore excursions, group dinners, dance contests and karaoke on the agenda.  Though these people had met for the first time that day, they were planning a group vacation with each minute planned, choreographed, and SHARED.

I don’t know who was more horrified – my group, faced with the idea of an entire week sharing every waking moment with strangers, or their group facing days of solitude.  I was impressed that such a simple exercise illustrated the difference between introverts and extroverts so very clearly.  Wow!

Pete and I are just finishing vacation, getting ready to return to work next week.  No, we didn’t take a Caribbean cruise with three thousand of our newest pals.  Instead we enjoyed some quiet time at camp – deep in the Maine woods, where over the course of our stay we saw one other person.  Perfect!  My sister Jan calls our camp an introvert’s paradise for a reason.

In Farley Bend, Emily is definitely an introvert – write what you know, and all that.  I am going to need to use my keen observation skills more as I focus on other characters in Volume II.  Farley Bend would be an awfully dull place to write about if everyone living there was an introvert.


366 Very Good Days

The older I get, the more the days blur together.  In the blink of an eye the leaves are turning color again, though it feels like just yesterday I was shoveling snow and wishing for the sight of green grass.  Or even brown grass.  Or mud.  Anything but unending fields of snow and bumpy roads with miles of dingy brown snowbank as far as they eye can see.

As the pace of time speeds up, I find I have more trouble pinpointing when good things happened.  Today we spent some enjoyable time bombing around in our little red Miata, and wondered how long we’ve had this car.  Six years?  Seven?  And when was that motorcycle trip to Cape Breton Island?  Hmmmmm.

I also have a tendency to save favorite single panel strips from page-a-day calendars, and occasionally print similar graphic jokes.  After a while the area around my desk became littered with things that make me chuckle.  Inevitably some of my favorites began to fade or wound up covered by other new, shiny things.

A few years ago I bought a bound book and turned it into a perpetual calendar.  My goal is to record at least one good thing on each date.  I’d also like to identify a birthday for each date, and to select dates that match up with my favorite graphic jokes.  It’s still a work in progress – as new grand-nieces and grand-nephews arrive, I add their birthdays.  It’s turning into a thing of beauty, and reminding me each day of how very lucky I am.  Eventually I’ll have recorded an entire year of adventures, birthdays, blessings and chuckles.

Perhaps the folks in Farley Bend will share birthdays with some of my favorite people.  If you’d like a character to share your special day, leave me a note in the comments below.

Pizza and Communication

A couple of decades ago my husband and I discovered a small pizza and sandwich shop named Vesipucci’s.  I do not remember how we heard about Vesipucci’s, but I do remember that they featured a sandwich called a nightmare, and that their pizza was the best I’d ever had.

A few years later the owner opened a new location in Portland after selling the Lewiston shop.  Pete and I began planning pizza picnics, and quite often planned errands in Portland around lunchtime so we could stop in and buy our favorite pizza (ham and pepperoni).  Owner Dave recognized us when we stopped in for pizza, and we encouraged him to sell the Portland location and open a new branch closer to our home.  Dave would laugh at our suggestions but refused to commit.

Last fall we noticed staff changes in the Portland location, and we were disappointed by the quality of the pizza we bought.  A month later I tried calling for a pizza, and was informed that they wouldn’t have pizza dough ready for a few hours.  Really?  No pizza dough available on a Saturday afternoon?  What was the world coming to?

We grieved.  Perhaps that’s an exaggeration… then again, maybe not.  Vesipucci’s pizza was not merely tasty in its own right, but was tied to memories of early dates and picnics.  And the sandwich they called a nightmare – 4 meats, 4 cheeses, veggies and seasoned oil on their own homemade bread.  Nothing like it anywhere.

Yesterday my aunt pointed out an article in the local paper – Vesipucci’s was back in Lewiston!  Of course that meant Pete and I needed to go out for pizza last night.  I called in our pizza order, and was told it would be ready in twenty minutes.  Hooray!  Would it be the pizza we remembered?

It turns out we are not the only ones with fond memories of Vesipucci’s. The place was mobbed when I arrived, and I wound up waiting another half hour to collect my pie.  Was it worth the wait? Absolutely!  It was devine.  Though Vesipucci’s is now close enough to home to bring a hot pizza with us, we decided to honor tradition and eat in a scenic spot overlooking the river, as we used to when we bought pizza from the Portland location.  It was a very tasty meal, and we enjoyed watching the river flow by as we ate.

What does this have to do with communication?  I wish I’d known prior to yesterday’s newspaper article that Dave sold the Portland location and was working on a move back to Lewiston.  And it would have been nice if the young woman working the register could have predicted I had another half hour to wait and shared that information with me.  I heard several other customers grumbling about the wait… if they’d had more accurate time estimates, perhaps they’d have waited more patiently.

So why this blog post?  I am working on Farley Bend, Volume II.  If you want to know how that’s coming, please click on the ‘add a comment’ link below and ask to be added to the Farley list.  I’ll let you know how things are going, and what you might expect for a publication date for Volume II.


If You’re Thinking About Australia…

You won’t find much information here about that Farley Bend!

Before I named the town, I googled Farley Bend to see if such a place existed in the United States.  The first several returns pointed to a real estate agent named Farley who lived in Bend, Oregon.   I decided readers were unlikely to confuse my imaginary town with a broker on the opposite coast, so Farley Bend wound be fine.

Turns out there is a Farley Bend in on the Murray River in Victoria, Australia!  Want to go there?  Population zero, so it’s likely a quiet place.  I gather it’s a reserve of some sort (wildlife, maybe).  I’d love to visit, some day.

Coordinates for the Australian Farley Bend:

Latitude: -36.031250000
Longitude: 144.616531372

I haven’t yet selected coordinates for Farley Bend, Maine.