06 August, 2016

An #AuthorUpdate Post #WeekendWarrior Style

It's the first weekend in August, 2016, and even though it is still hot, muggy, and drought-inducing dry here, this particular weekend always triggers a whats-to-come feeling in me.

I anticipate ominous weather reports about a Canadian Cold Front sweeping down across our state to switch seasonal gears and make all the hotness go away . . . for good.

But according to our weatherman, it isn't the case this time around.

It'll continue to be hot, muggy, and DRY through next week, so maybe it will happen then, or the week after that.

Still, I'm thinking about autumnal colors, parkas and jeans, and how best to decorate for Halloween this year.

The stores are filled with a lot of the stuff I go nuts over, like notepads, lined paper, gel pens, markers, and neon sticky-note pads.

Discounts on the overly cool hardcover lined-paper 'books' I used to buy by the half-dozen and write story after imaginative story.

Using colorful gel pens, of course.

I still buy these 'blank journals' when I get some extra spending money, but am not as inclined to write in them anymore.

Legal pads in bulk.

I used to buy them in pink and purple, filling up storage boxes with my hand-written stories.

So, I guess it is Back to School even if some of us aren't heading back to school and probably never will again.

Even if the calendar says otherwise, drought and excessive heat for this long say that climate change is about as real as real gets.

Speaking of climate change, I have encountered an environmental issue in my latest novel that has me stumped as much as the issue has me in shock.

I used to frequent the Sunrise Coast (Lake Huron) on day trips and the occasional weekend getaway.

The lake levels from as far north as Alpena down to Lexington just north of Port Huron were excessively low.

Algae bloom everywhere that created a putrid smell that permeated not just the air but the eyes, the skin, and the car's interior.

Lake Huron's shoreline had receded to become swampland that took away from the natural beauty that was once a terrific day trip adventure.

So, the Sunset Coast (Lake Michigan) became my new road trip choice (even if it takes twice as long to get there).

As a child in a cram-packed four-door with the 6 of us vacationing everywhere up the Sunrise Coast into the U.P. and then down the Sunset Coast on our return trips, the memories and scenery hadn't changed much.

Until now.

I set my latest 4-Book series on an inland lake near Lake Michigan and decided last night to do a Google Earth search just to make sure my memory was still in working order.

Here's what it showed me:

We've got Little Traverse Bay on the left (which just means Lake Michigan jutting inland), Walloon Lake below 'Petoskey', and Lake Charlevoix to the lower left of that.

To the right of Traverse Bay, we've got Round Lake, Crooked Lake, and Pickerel Lake kind of underneath on the right.

Lakes Burt and Mullet are the larger, darker bodies of inland water upper right.

What is barely visible among these larger bodies of water (with the exception of Round Lake and the right portion of Crooked Lake) are the smaller lakes that have evaporated -- are no longer there or have turned into marshland.

On a personal note, I'm against Fracking and believe in its negative impact on the environment.

I know for a fact that it has occurred up north, in this particular area, since the early 1980s, when unheard of earthquakes started to occur (and still do).

I also believe in climate change, pollution, and their effects on the environment so don't doubt that the warmth increase over the last few decades is real.

I don't believe that Coca Cola is personally responsible for the depletion of our inland lakes, streams, and springs because they bottle the stuff and sell it as Evian (not from France).

I just know (and can see with my own eyes) how much this area of our otherwise beautiful state has transformed over time, and it isn't as beautiful as I can recall.

On a professional note, I'm not the type of author who likes or wants to inject personal opinion into my work.

I don't want to jump on an environmental change, fracking destroys the land bandwagon in my story, which happens to take place in an area where both issues have somehow impacted the landscape.

I'm also a bit anal about wanting everything to be accurate, believable, and obvious to readers that I know what I'm talking about -- even if things changed after a decade and not a lifetime.

So, do I relocate my Series Family to another area of the state, or do I keep them up there, in that part of Michigan, and let my memories serve as a basis for scenery description and local attractions (one of which used to be a few dozen of Michigan's more than 10,000 inland lakes) in the novels?


Since the inland lakes in this particular area are gone (evaporated, fracked to death, whatever) I've decided to relocate the family to a shore property on Lake Michigan in the same area.

Lakefront property seemed pretentious, which was why I chose to have them live on an inland lake near the bigger body of water.

Things change and so do plans and the weather, but not so much my opinion -- until enough evidence presents itself and I'm forced to re-evaluate.

And, speaking of pretentious, I'm getting tired of them as character names in the novels I've been reading lately.

Dex, Jenner, McKenzie, and Cade, to name a few.

So, while my Series Family will now live pretentiously in a swank lakefront home, I've tried my best to be as original as possible with their names while avoiding hipster-sounding choices.

They're nouveau riche Russian from England, which is also pretentious, but are transplanted in Northern Lower Michigan. I have them suffer great loss early in life as a means to ground them and hopefully portray them as being abstemious (love that word! -- as pretentious as it sounds -- lol).

Here's the opening of book 1 in the series -- Inigo's Story (yet untitled and still in the EDIT stage)

The decision to leave Winnipeg on a Ducati and ride eight-hundred-forty miles to the Essen house in northern Lower Michigan had seemed like a great idea at the time.
Inigo Essen preferred to ride rather than drive, but it was too late to admit that travel aboard a tour bus as a member of the Rugby team was a completely different experience.
And having covered only half the trek so far, a bus had more appeal than the bike.
Outside the Canadian and U. S. borders, there had been private jet flights to games in parts of Europe and Southeast Asia.
Long-distance was best by air, train, or bus.
All comfortable ways to go, and with someone else navigating.
Having just retired due to knee and ankle injuries, it was now up to Inigo to get from point A to point B. And right now, point B seemed as far away emotionally as it was miles-yet-to-go.
And with a lot more pain involved, too.
The decision to return home after more than ten years hadn’t been his, but it did have something to do with his being on a bike and not a plane.
Inigo was in no big hurry to return home.
He and his teammates had been celebrating his retirement when his oldest brother, Iliya, had phoned to ask what he’d done to get kicked off the Rugby team.
“How the hell did you find out when I just made the announcement this morning?”
Iliya's lack of response came as no surprise. And while his half-drunk buddies carried on around him at the bar, Inigo turned aside in the vinyl-fabric booth he and two of his teammates occupied and pressed his free hand against his ear to muffle some of the noise.
"You still there?"
“It sounds like your teammates are celebrating the fact that you’re finally packing it in.”
Inigo snorted with a derisive grin. “You could say that," he said as a way to deflect his older brother's attempt at character assassination. "I’m leaving before they can give me the boot. What.”
Again, more silence on the other end.
Inigo closed his eyes and started to rub the bridge of his nose when the feel of cold beer soaking his jeans caused a knee-jerk reaction. A guy seated behind him had reached over the booth holding a mug of beer, spilling some of it on Inigo’s bent knee.
The distraction managed to lessen his annoyance with his older brother's bad vibe, and as Inigo turned to slap the guy upside his head, he heard Iliya’s gruff voice fill his ear.
“It’s perfect timing on your part for a welcome change.”
“Yeah?” Inigo didn't care that he sounded as irritated as his brother made him feel. “And why is that?”
“Just get back here and find out or yourself.”
“What?” Inigo laughed. “Are you serious? You want me to just up and leave now. To hell with the plans I've already , , , Hello? Illy?”
Frowning at the phone's glowing screen in the dim light of the bar, Inigo saw that Iliya had disconnected the call.

I do hope I've piqued at least one someone's interest in the rest of the story.

How'd I do with regard to POV and show v. tell?

I've tweaked the opening lines dozens of times now, and I'm still not pleased, so I know it needs more work.

Thanks for dropping by and reading my blog post/opening lines!

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