Reefs Price on the Reefs! Help Me Lighten Ship!

If you subscribe to Bookbub, you probably already got the wireless flash: the ebook price for The Reefs of Time has hit submerged rocks or something, because it’s low in the water, lower than it’s ever been or was ever designed to be. This is terrible! Help me offload these ebooks before it goes under. They’re big ebooks. And the price has dropped precipitously, to $.99!

Danger! Danger! Aaoogah! Aaoogah!

And no wonder they weigh so much: The Reefs of Time takes us to the heart of the galaxy, and a billion years into the past, to find the birthplace of the malicious Mindaru. The relativistic effects alone are… well, relativistic. Think of the mass increase! At $.99? It’s staggering.

Here are some other reasons you and your friends and your friends’ second cousins’ guy they know want to grab some copies: It is “rich, dignified prose wedded to excellent and imaginative storytelling on the grandest scale,” according to Charles E. Gannon, author of the Caine Riordan world. It is “stunning science fiction and character-driven narrative with a strong theme of ‘coming home,’” according to Aurealis Magazine. Do you need more reasons? No, you don’t.

You can help carry away copies from all major ebookstores, for an energy expenditure of just $.99! Hurry! Just click one of these:

Oh, and tell Vinnie’s cousin’s friend, if she reads this, she’ll kind of want to read the rest of the story in Crucible of Time.

Quiet Inspirations

posted in: essays, writing 0

This slipped by me when I was busy celebrating my 35th wedding anniversary (yay!) a couple of weeks ago…

It’s an essay I wrote for Readers Entertainment Magazine, called “The Quiet Inspiration for Writing.” Here’s a small snippet:

“No writer works in true isolation. Every conversation a writer has, every book she reads, every job he has ever held, every movie they watch, everyone they’ve fallen in love with, is fodder for the creative process. And most writers, I think, would acknowledge some special influences in their lives, people who touched them early on, encouraging them or maybe trying to discourage them. In my own early life, there were many… [read more]”

You can read the whole thing at https://readersentertainment.com/2021/09/07/the-quiet-inspiration-for-writing-by-jeffrey-a-carver/.

 

Acadia, Memories, Gardens, and Obstacles

posted in: Uncategorized 0

The Mothership transported Allysen and me to Acadia National Park in Maine this last week. It’s where we went on our honeymoon thirty-five years ago, and this was our first return visit. It was beautiful, frustrating, exhilarating, uncomfortable, breathtaking… and ultimately cut short. Also, we got to see some good friends in Maine we hadn’t seen in far too long.

This was our first time out together in the Mothership. I’d found it comfortable for one, and with brand-new stereo speakers installed by yours truly, I was looking forward to really vacationing, if only for a few days. Of course, I was concerned that it might be cramped with two people. And it was, when we were trying to get past each other in the aisle. But that happens to us in our pantry at home, too. On the whole, we settled right in.

First evening there, we set out on our mopeds (towed on a trailer) for a reconnoitering tour. That was fun! Or was, until we got back to the camp and I discovered the broken rear strut on my steed. That was it, for moped-riding. Blast. On the other hand, as we learned the next day when we started driving the scenic park roads in the main ship, the scenic loop roads really weren’t right for mopeds, anyway. Too hilly, too narrow. We were spared the ignominy of having to give up and turn back.

Sleeping, well… that’s another matter. We sleep on a cushioned bench seat that flattens out and, with additional cushions, becomes a bed. Ish. By myself, it had been okay. With two of us, I just couldn’t get comfortable, no way no how. This is clearly a problem we need to solve, if we’re going to do any serious traveling. We need some kind of good, but easily packable, mattress topper.  (The stereo sounded great, though.)

On a tip from our friends Joellen and Geir, we set out to find Thuya Garden. We did, but first we found the Asticou Azalea Garden, which is a cross between an English and a Japanese garden. It was exquisite. Here’s one view.

The Thuya Garden was nearby, but to get to that, you had to climb 250 steps of various types and angles. Parkour for seniors. Thuya garden was different, but equally stunning: vast beds of various kinds of native flowers. And hummingbirds!

We also saw the seaside, of course.

And we met up with some local friends, who by coincidence were there at the same time. And we saw the Wild Gardens of Acadia.

But in the end, we didn’t stay as long as planned. Word came from home that our dog, Captain Jack, had needed an emergency visit to the vet. What appears to be a tumor had erupted on his lower gum, and it is likely quite serious. We are awaiting the biopsy report to see if it’s cancer. We cut our trip short and came home early, to be with our buddy Jack and also Jayce, who was left to dog-sit, but then was faced with having to take him in for this. Right now, it’s a waiting game. Updates to follow. Here’s a candid shot of Jack.

Beware the Tides of Ida

It’s been an interesting couple of days. This time last night my phone was screeching warnings to take shelter because of possible tornadoes and flash floods from the remnant of Hurricane Ida, which, having left a swath of destruction across the heartland, was now pummeling the Northeast. The only shelter I had available was the stern of the Mothership, so I just kept my head down and listened to the rain pound on the roof. I was fine, am fine. But I couldn’t help noting the irony that here I was in the path of Ida this weekend, when I’d postponed my original plans, last weekend, to stay out of the way of Henri.

The day before that? Beautiful, sunny. I rode Buckbeak to Woods Hole, looked around at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, where fifty years ago, as a fresh college grad, I knocked on the trailer door of just-becoming-famous undersea explorer Robert Ballard and asked him about careers in undersea exploration. (He was totally gracious to this wet-behind-the-ears wannabe writer/diver who had interrupted his work.) I also stopped by the Landfall Restaurant, where that same summer I’d worked as a dishwasher and busboy, and I had a cup of chowder and chatted with the granddaughter of the man I’d worked for. (She’s now one of the owners.)

Riding back, along the seashore, I stopped to sit and gaze across the water at Martha’s Vineyard, unaware that my friend Richard Bowker (read his stuff!) was over there, taking his own holiday. Neither one of us saw President or Michelle Obama, that I am aware of.

Tomorrow morning I pack up and head home. Was it a good trip? Yes. Did I start to unwind and think meaningful thoughts about my book? Yes. Did I get a lot written? No. But productivity was always a secondary goal. Thinking and rediscovering the threads of creativity was primary. On that, I got a start. I think I have more of these retreats in my future.

Clearing of the Head, and Other Stories

I got a good look at my campsite for the first time this morning. It’s nice! A lot of the neighbors have cleared out, the weekend being over, so it doesn’t feel at all crowded.

I stretched out the kinks—somehow the bed didn’t feel as comfortable this time around—had breakfast, and set about to readjust the leveling. (I felt slightly head-down last night, which isn’t ideal.) While adjusting the leveling, which involves jockeying back and forth up onto pyramids of giant Lego pieces…

I learned something important: Always secure your coffee before bumping your ship up and down and back and forth. Or at least make sure the travel mug is closed. After mopping up the coffee from the floor, I determined that I had indeed gotten us more nearly level. (I now envy those big rigs that have hydraulic pistons that emerge from underneath to do the leveling for you.)

I needed to go clear my head. I hopped onto Buckbeak and drove into Falmouth to see the harbor. It is quintessential Cape Cod: the boats, the rustic buildings, the ferries. And I found what could be my next Mothership…

Or I’ll bet this one goes really fast, probably close to warp speed…

Enough of enflaming my boat envy. I went down to where I could sit on a rock and just look at the ocean for a while. Ahhhhh. I actually felt the springs starting to unwind, just a bit. I found myself wondering how many ferries there are in the world named Island Queen. Thoughts about the new book drifted into my mind. I couldn’t take it for long. I had to come back to the campsite and open my laptop.

And write this.

 

The Mothership (Not) at Sea

A week ago, I cancelled a planned writing retreat in the Mothership, because of the approach of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Henri, which at the time seemed aimed directly at Cape Cod. Fortunately for us, Henri turned out to be nothing much for eastern Massachusetts (in unfair contrast to Hurricane Ida, which is right now slamming the poor folks in Louisiana).

So I have come today to Falmouth on Cape Cod in the Mothership, for a five-day retreat. I am ensconced in an RV park, hooked up to electricity and water and internet, and with the blinds closed, I can’t even see the rows of RVs parked nearby. I guess tomorrow I’ll venture out and have a look. (As usual, and not intentionally, I arrived after dark.) One thing different this time is that I brought Buckbeak, my trusty moped, to get around the area on. This is my first time using the trailer that I was so focused on fixing up back in June. It worked great!

Aside from The Ponce Chronicles, I have been completely unable to write for months now. In hopes of changing that, I sit here in the Mothership, quite cozy and comfortable, listening to music I’m piping from my old Zune into the coach’s stereo. And yet I am agitated and anxious because I have not truly relaxed in a manner conducive to thinking in… I don’t know how long. I have five days here to unwind and start remembering what my writing was all about. No pressure!

I have a fridge full of good food and good beer, and also some chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies baked for my birthday the other day. (I just turned 42, give or take a few decades.) It’s a start.

 

The Importance of Reading Schedules (Correctly)

posted in: adventures, Mothership 0

Our Mothership, aka Winnebago Era campervan, needed to have some work done on the camper side of things. On advice of our mechanic, I took it to an RV center in Bourne, just across the canal on Cape Cod. It needs to be there for a week, and it’s an hour and a half drive. I did a lot of thinking about how to drop it off without Allysen having to drive all that way behind me to give me a ride home.

My solution was ingenious. Take the train. I packed my bike in the back of the camper, and from the RV center, I biked to a nearby restaurant, the Lobster Trap, and had an early dinner on their outside patio. (Inside, there was no consideration at all to Covid distancing or mask wearing. Seriously, how stupid can people be? Don’t answer that.) Then I stopped for some ice cream and biked a couple of miles toward the tiny platform beside the canal bike road where the Cape Flyer train stops on its way between Boston and Hyannis. I had my ticket; the train features a free bike-carrying car; I had an hour to sit and read. Perfect.

Except… when I pulled up to the crossing by the RR lift bridge, half a mile from my destination, the lights started flashing and I heard a train horn. What’s this? Even as I took a picture, I felt my heart sink. I watched as the Cape Flyer rolled by, close enough to touch, and slow enough to jump aboard if this had been a movie. Rumble rumble, onto the bridge, over the canal, and my ride to Boston was going, going, gone. If there’d been a bike lane on the bridge, I could have chased it to the next station (Buzzard’s Bay, not far beyond). But no.

I whipped out my phone and checked the app. What had gone wrong? Where’s that schedule? There it is, right there! Leave Bourne at 8:35 p.m.! Not at 7:00!

Which, upon closer examination, turned out to be true. On Friday evening. But this was Saturday, and on Saturdays, it left Bourne at 7. And yes, it’s the only train.

Ringa-ringa-ringa… “Hi babe, you feel like taking a little drive in the truck? To Cape Cod? Right now?”

No, let’s not talk about how stupid people can be, okay?

Ponce Chronicles 2021, Part 10

We’re home! Back in Boston. I have never felt so tired in my life. I finished the deck railing well after dark on the last day and moved on to other essential repairs—such as securing the planks on a little bridge that were flipping up like a cartoon gag when you stepped on them. Here’s the final deck railing section, and the finished project the day we left:

By some miracle, we made it to San Juan in time to catch our JetBlue flight, after a near-all-nighter cleaning up the construction zone (the whole house) and packing. I tried to sleep on the flight, but it was a lost cause. Now, though, I’m all refreshed (hah!) after ten hours of sleep in my own bed. My own bed! I plan to rest for a week. Maybe two.

I thought I’d close this year’s Chronicles with some stray oddities.

Last year I wrote about the Ho Chi Dog Trail we’d discovered running through the property. Stray dogs had found a gap in the fence at one end and periodically came racing through in well-behaved packs, going about their business and disappearing up near the car gate. It was kind of fun, but not the sort of thing weekend renters want to see. I found the gap and plugged it with metal fence rails hastily zip-tied into place. That was a year and a half ago. This year, the gap was back: one rail knocked out and cast aside. Did the dogs do it? Who knows? But mark my words, they won’t do it again. We had the rails welded into place, by the fencing crew who were on the job last week putting up real fence in place of the mangled old cyclone fencing.

Speaking of putting things up, one small but important task was figuring out an appealing way to hang curtains in a room with concrete walls and awkward corners. Allysen came up with copper pipe as a great curtain rod, and I figured out a way to carve blocks of wood to drop them into, so they’d look good and be easy to take down, and yet not fall down when you wanted them to stay up. Securing them to the walls was the hardest part. Even with a hammer drill, that old concrete was tough!

I’ve yet to address a crucial subject: craft beers. They have a number of really good craft beer makers here on the island. You can buy their beers in the grocery stores now, which previously you couldn’t. My favorite is Ocean Lab Brewing Company’s Ocean Ruby Grapefruit Pale Ale. But weirdly, you still can’t get it in restaurants! If you ask for Puerto Rican beer, you get your choice of Medalla or Medalla. (Pronounced “meh-dah-ya.”) Medalla’s a light lager, on a par with Bud Light—decent enough, if you’re hot and tired and want to glug something to quench your thirst. But as a tasty brew with a meal? Not even close. When we asked the restauranteurs why they don’t carry the local craft beers, they said, “Not enough demand. Only the tourists want it.” Well, but… don’t you want to attract tourists?

Still, my preferred drink down here is rum punch, following a recipe created by Allysen’s dad, Phil Palmer. “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak.” Fresh-squeezed lime juice, dark sugar syrup, amber rum, and water (in the form of crushed ice). Top with Angostura Bitters and fresh-ground nutmeg. Simple, and unbeatable. We’ve cut the sugar some, and are more straightforward about the weak. So now we say, “One of sour, one-and-a-half of sweet, three of strong, and forget the weak.” (We still use the ice, of course.)

(At home, in fact, my recipe for frozen margaritas is based on this formula: “One of sour, one of sweet, three of strong, and three of stronger.” Lime juice, dark sugar, Triple Sec, and tequila. And lots of ice.)

Here’s the final rum punch of the trip, and a fitting close to this year’s Ponce Chronicles:

Ponce Chronicles 2021, Part 9

I haven’t posted in a while. That’s because I’ve been building a deck. If you haven’t been following, I’ve been replacing a rotted-out wooden deck beside the swimming pool at Casarboles, my wife’s family’s place in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I’m in a race against the clock (we leave for home in two days, having already extended our stay by two weeks), and it’s been a bear. In the middle of it all, I developed an ear infection, probably from protecting my ears with noise-canceling earbuds, complete with ground-in dirt. Did I let that slow me down? I did not! (Well, maybe a little.)

Here’s a sort of stop-motion record of what I’ve been doing:

Grinding and painting the steel supports…

Last floor plank laid, yours truly ready to keel over…

The new floor, shown to the audience in daylight by a far more attractive model; old, rickety railing system still in place…

Old railing gone, new railing begun… two days to finish…

Okay, back to work!

Ponce Chronicles 2021, Part 8

Progress! With a capital P. Here’s the pool deck yesterday. I filled in that gap and then some, today. Geez, I’m tired. But I have hope of getting it finished before we leave.

And here’s a new bit of railing. It replaces the well-crafted, elegantly curved railing that Allysen’s dad built, and which some boneheaded weekend tenant broke and tried to conceal by hiding the pieces in the bushes. Deep breath.

By the way, in case you’re wondering how I got those curves in the wood to so nicely match their pairs on the other side…

I found two pieces of warped lumber at Home Depot. Their curvature was exactly what I needed.

 

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